Tuesday, November 29, 2011

holiday traditions

For the first time in as long as I can remember, our holiday decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, we had to include my mom's handmade bear ornaments. I love how my youngest daughter decided to line them up across the front of the tree. I don't think they've ever made that formation before -- I love it!

My daughters are seen here decorating our fresh Noble Fir. They decided to start their own tradition of decorating a small tree to keep in their bedroom. They made one from tree bough cuttings and a trunk stump. I think they did a splendid job. What do you think?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

my black friday thru cyber monday promotion

Random Berries No. 2 - Original drawing - pencil+ink boxwood leaves on coffee-stained
watercolor paper with wine-stained berries

To celebrate the season I'm offering a special promotion that runs Black Friday through Cyber Monday - FREE Worldwide Standard Shipping on all items in the shop. Enter "BUYHANDMADE" at checkout to receive this discount.

Choose from original art and handcrafted eco-textiles:

  • Original Paintings here:

  • Limited Edition GiclĂ©e Prints here:

  • Original Drawings here:

Please be sure to check out these amazing deals from other participating Poppytalk Handmade vendors here. Thank you for considering handmade gifts this holiday season.

Cheers, Mandy

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

inspiration: mary's granddaughter + Cindy Steiler

"butterflies II is embroidered with soy silk,wool and cotton floss on antique homespun linen. The porcelain doll arm is from Germany and was dug from the earth from the grounds of an old doll factory that operated between 1890-1910. Small wooden laser cut butterflies fly out of the woman's stomach. It is framed in a reclaimed barn wood frame made for me by Jim who runs the Etsy shop barnwood4u. It is backed in antique, hand dyed linen and rayon/wool blend felt. The piece measures 8 inches x 8 inches by 3 1/2 inches deep. It can be hung on the wall or can sit on a table or shelf."

Since debuting my Dust Bowl Glimpses paintings in August and participating in a few Poppytalk Handmade online markets, I've had the pleasure of making meaningful connections with some incredibly talented and supportive artists.

One such lady is Cindy Steiler who keeps an inspiring blog, Mary's Granddaughter, and creates original fiber art using antique reclaimed materials available here.

Cindy and her work are well known in the artist and handmade communities. She is also an incredible storyteller. I admire her talents AND her approach to making art. Her work is pure genius!

Cindy is currently working on the following projects, Documenting the Past: Two New Projects, and is looking for artist submissions. I'm honored that she asked me to share a bit about my mom, Relda Jane (who just so happens to be celebrating her birthday today - happy birthday mom!), and my great-grandmothers, Relda and Velda.

Rather than accidentally leaving out critical details, I will let Cindy tell you about them in her own words. Enjoy!

I Learned From My Mother Who Learned From Her Mother

My favorite childhood memories center on spending time with my great-grandmother, Mary Steiler. She taught me to sew, quilt, crochet and embroider, all while sharing amazing stories about her life. What she passed to me had been passed to her along a long line of women, inspiring in me a lifelong passion for creating.

Through my work I hope to capture the essence of my relationship with my grandmother while exploring and celebrating all women and girls; our relationships, our daily lives, and our traditions. I want to use my work to preserve and continue the traditions of both craft and story in a way that honors these lineages, but is decidedly modern; that is intensely personal, but accessible to all.

This winter I am starting a new project called 'I Learned from My Mother, Who Learned from Her Mother'. Through this project I plan to explore and document traditions and traditional craft passed from generation to generation within families through storytelling and art. This will be achieved through a mix of traditional needlecraft and sculpture and will also employ my background as a set designer to create small installations. The images of the pieces and stories will be assembled into limited edition hand bound books.

The Grandmother Project

The 'Grandmother Project' has grown out of the 'I Learned Form My Mother Project'. Many of the submissions I have been receiving have included beautiful stories of the tellers' amazing grandmothers and I feel compelled to celebrate these women. My aim is to document the lives and unique beauty of our grandmothers through storytelling and art. This will be accomplished through a mix of traditional needlecraft, sculpture and installations. The images and stories will also be hand bound into book form.

I would love to include your stories in my project! If you'd like to share please email me at info@cindysteiler.com. I have questions prepared to help guide you in your story telling for both projects. To thank those generous enough to share I will be conducting a big giveaway. Details will be posted soon. Everyone who has submitted thus far will automatically be entered.

All the best,

Friday, November 11, 2011

salute to my grandfather and his China connection

My grandparents, Viola and Emery Fossett

I'm incredibly proud to share my grandfather's story on this Veterans Day. Emery Fossett served our country in World War II. He finished with the title of corporal in the US Army Air Force, medical division. He served in India, Burma and China during WWII.

My grandfather took this photograph of the Burma Road which he helped build.

My mom (the oldest of his four children) tells me that my grandfather helped build the infamous Burma Road, a vital supply route for military and supplies for the people of China as they bravely fought the Japanese invasion. Much of the building was done by hand.

My grandfather took this spectacular photo of the Golden Horse Archway in Kunming (circa 1943)

While stationed in Kunming, China, my grandfather managed to capture some incredible images of the people and city on film, including the legendary Jinma Chinese and Biji Chinese Archways. My grandfather loved horses so it is not a surprise to learn that he took this photograph of the Golden Horse Archway.

The archways of Golden Horse and Green Rooster have long been the symbol of Kunming. People refer to Yunnan as the homeland of Golden Horse and Jade Cock, which are the pattern for the city emblem. On the eastern bank of Dianchi Lake stands the Jinma (Golden Horse) Hill; and on the lake's western bank stands the Biji (Green Rooster) Hill. The two hills form a pass of strategic importance in the city. In remote antiquity, a golden horse ran out of the sun while a green rooster flew out of the moon. Wherever the horse and rooster appeared, trees grew luxuriantly and flowers bloomed, signaling prosperity. They eventually settled on the banks of Dianchi Lake and protected the people of Kunming.

Golden Horse Archway - Kunming China (present day)

Golden Horse Archway - Kunming China (present day)

I am overcome with emotion every time I think about my grandfather being in China, helping the people of Kunming, and knowing that his future great-granddaughters would be adopted from China (Sichuan and Fujian Provinces). When I share his story with my daughters they are equally touched by the China connection. I miss you dearly Grandpa, Love Mandy

Monday, November 7, 2011

'tis the season....choose handmade

Christmas Dinner for Horses - Washington DC (circa 1918)
(click link to view all the beautiful details in the photo)

The holidays are my favorite time of year. There are traditions old and new, visits with family and friends, and plenty of excuses for eating all those decadent treats. As you celebrate this gift-giving season, please consider gifting handmade treasures. I for one enjoy receiving a gift knowing that it was brought to life by an artist or craftsman who is passionate about their trade.

Last year I blogged about the wonderful conversation that Jan and Earl of Poppytalk began in 2008 about buying handmade. Those reasons still hold true today.

Perhaps you'd like to get a jump start on your shopping. Check out these amazing finds over at Poppytalk Handmade's Pre-Holiday Market.