Soft in the Head

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"TraVeL ThRouGh ThE LaNd Of “Soft in the Head”
...the home of “Singing and Dancing Mice & Humorous Frogs!”.

Where “Original Designs” of patterns and soft sculpture characters come to life..…

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For Patterns check out the...."Soft in the Head" site
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Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before "breakfast". Lewis Carroll
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For Finished Characters: Click Here

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Imagination Keeps Me Young......

Unlocking the Magic......
When we're young it seems that all things are possible.  We have that special childhood power that keeps all the monsters under the bed, nightmares end with the rising of the sun and we think everyday smells like pancakes on Sunday.    We like to surround ourselves with the stories of enchanted forests, shimmering faeries and magical elves because as a child we are eternal optimists in a sea of doubt and these little characters are able to take us on many magical adventures without even leaving our backyards

When I was a kid my dad and I shared a fondness for the outdoors, especially the garden.  Many times I would sit in an old apple tree and watch my dad spend countless hours turning the soil and navigating streams of water down each row. He was amazing at finding something magical in the simplest of things....like a knot hole in a tree or an abandoned gopher hole. 
He loved to make up stories that would involve these special places creating all kinds of characters who lived there.  I used to get teased because for the longest time I thought that our tomatoes were actually grown by a family of badgers that my Dad had told me lived at the edge of the garden.  It had to be true cause my Dad said it was.....
He also convinced me that his pet pig, Geoff, (yes, he actually had a pig named Geoff) was a King from another land who was hiding from an evil wizard so he was a pig during the day and a handsome King at night.  Yep, you guessed it I camped out at the barn to watch him change but always fell asleep before it happened....As you probably have guessed I was quite the gullible child but was never lacking when it came to my imagination!

Daydreaming was a constant companion and with my Dad's help we found many uses for those day dreams.  We would build Faerie houses!  Much to my Mom's dismay dirt and I were the best of friends and spending all day digging in it was heaven to me.  I remember building mounds of dirt with tunnels and twig porches and wooden doors.  Dad would use his hoe and sculpt a winding brook to run past our little houses.  We spent hours building pebble fences and planting flowers around our Faerie houses....they were good times! 

Life was not always a walk in the park and like all families we had our ups and downs....but I choose to only remember the happy times and the time I spent with my Dad in his beloved garden were some of my happiest.  I contribute my vivid imagination to all those "garden story times" we had so many years ago.  I still build Faerie houses and with each twig and pebble I use I smile and remember the apple tree, tomatoes grown by badgers,  my Dad and Geoff the Swine King! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Finding My Comfort Among Pages.....

"Comfort For My Soul"

All of us have our favorite places that we haunt to find comfort or to sit and  just "think".  My place is an old bookstore....the dustier and mustier the better!  Since I was a young kid I loved books and often found myself a quiet place in a remote corner of the barn with one planted up to my nose.As I got older my mom and I found our favorite outings were those that took us to some bookstore hideaway that was often run by an eccentric gentleman and his cat!  Mom would be involved in a heated discussion about current editions while I would be off looking for adventure in the over-crowded and dusty aisles of books...always looking for that special volume that would send me into yet another world of intrigue and derring-do! 

When Dan and I travel we are always on the look out for some random "over-stuffed" relic of a book store, the older the better.  Once I walk through the door I feel as though I have been transported to another place and definitely to another life.  Books are the best friends and "comfort food" for ones adventurous soul!  Dan and I could spend literally hours mulling and wandering through the volumes of places and imagination and often coming out with our arms full of information and new adventures.
 
When I visit my old stomping grounds in Wa. state one of my VERY favorite places to visit is the Duvall Book Store.  I'm always guaranteed to find  something interesting where I can get lost for a few hours to a few days!  Not only that but the whole atmosphere of this bookstore is friendly and magical.....from the giant stuffed bunny that greets you at the door to the bench made out of old discarded books.  Every place you look is full of that kid-like sense of adventure and mystery mixed with a serious dose of dust and cobwebs!  I love it!!!!!
What is even better is that soon this will become my hometown and I will able to visit often.
 
Dan and I are so fortunate that all three of our kids are avid readers and it has carried over to our grandkids.  Books are the doorways to a never ending road of adventure, love, mystery and education....the ultimate gift you can give your mind!  

I have to keep reminding myself of this as we finish packing the the 40th tote of books that we will be taking with us on our new adventure and move to Washington! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

To New Beginnings.....

"Going Home and Lovin' It"
Our life paths open many doors for us as we travel along and it's up to us whether to acknowledge and go through that door or not.  Over the past year many such doors have presented themselves to Dan and I and we finally went through one and found amazing possibilities on the other side. 
 
As many of you know Dan has been struggling with some serious health issues that resulted in him having to take an early retirement.  With this came the realization that we will no longer have health insurance for a year because we are both 64 and Medicare doesn't kick in till we are 65.   Researching options here in Virginia presented us with nothing so we began to evaluate our options which of course were limited.  The one that made the most sense was to go home to the west coast.  Washington state provided us with a health insurance option and a wonderful new place to live....but the best part is it will be closer to family and life long friends.  The perk that I didn't expect is that so many of my artist friends live in this beautiful state and I will still be a part of that "art" community that I love so much!  I just found out that by dearest friend Johanna Parker's parents will be practically neighbors so Johanna and I are thrilled that we will be seeing each other in the near future.
 
Since I've never been one that minded change I'm very excited with what this new adventure will hold for both Dan and I.  I'll continue to travel to Michigan every year to be a part of  the "Ghoultide Gathering" and this will give me the opportunity to see old friends, make new ones and get some much needed family time since our daughter and her family only live 45 minutes from Ghoultide.  
 
Virginia has been good to Dan and I and we'll be leaving some wonderful friends behind but they will know that our door in Washington will always be open for a visit and since Seattle is one of my favorites places I can give everyone a great tour.  
 
An added bonus to our move is that Dan will be back in the environment he has loved and helped nurture....the great Northwest Mountains with their rivers and streams.  Being an avid flyfisherman and having fished the entire west coast, he is thrilled to be going home to catch and release the entire state of Washington!  He's even toying with writing again, having been published many times in the past,  this will be a good thing!  So many possibilities to keep us young and excited about life.   Now, I have to figure out a way of cramming 42 years of stuff into a one bedroom home....it's like trying to cram an elephant into a thimble!  Eeeeek!
 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March Marketplace......

"Spring Is In The Air"
Since most of us have experienced a major deep freeze this winter it's so nice to see some warmer temperatures on the horizon.  With the warmer temps comes thoughts of spring and with spring come "BUNNIES"...my all time favorite thing to create!   I never tire of finding new and interesting bunny characters.  This month on the PFATT Marketplace I tried a couple of new ideas, well, one isn't so new but the size is and that is "Mrs. Butters".  If anyone is like me, as far as collectibles, sometimes you just run out of room for larger collectibles and like to have a sweet smaller piece that will fit on a shelf or in a cupboard....this is "Mrs. Butters".  She is a  remake of one of my favorite designs but she
is only 9" tall and sooooo sweet.  I really love how she turned out, so much I almost kept her!  

Embracing my primitive roots I came up with "Biddy Bits" a little rag tag bunny with her own egg.  She is quite worn and an overly loved little bunny that comes with her own large mache Easter egg.  I've always been fond of rag dolls and "Biddy" definitely fits into that category.  

Spring isn't always about bunnies but quite a few other warm and cuddly little characters and some of those are ducks!  I think we all find little ducklings fun and full of cuteness!  This is why  I have created two, "Puddles O'Kelly" and "Isadora"....each is made using one of my favorite fabrics, mohair.  I just love how they turned out each having their own personality.  
Unfortunately all these characters are "one of a kind" and are only available on the PFATT Marketplace...Hope you will pop over and check them out and maybe even adopt!   I know they would love to be at your home for Easter! 
Click here for the Marketplace:  PFATT Marketplace 
 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Changing It Up.....

         "Staying Positive"
Taking the example that my Buddha is giving me I'm keeping a positive attitude about everything no matter how buried or over-whelmed I get.  I just have to believe that eventually I will see over the top and the view will be breathtaking!

The last few months have been a true test to staying positive but with the help of a close and loving family and the gift of amazing  friendships I have been able to weather the difficulties that seem so insistent upon knocking at our door.   The challenges that Dan and I are facing are, indeed, tough and difficult but when you can do them together it makes all the difference in the world how you live...

There are also BIG changes on the horizon for "Soft in the Head"....good ones!   I'm excited about all the new prospects that are introducing themselves to me and also meeting the people behind them.  One of my newest ventures is making tea cozies from my whimsical characters.  Thanks to the incredible council of Suzie Stowell, who suggested this idea, it has taken form and my first one was received well and sold right away on the EHAG Emporium. It seems our future will be one filled with new ventures and ideas without ever having to let go of the whimsy that fuels my heart.  

Right now I have thrown myself into the crazy and magical world of Halloween.  Ghoultide will be here before we know it and I have so many new characters dancing around in my head and on sheets of paper scattered throughout my workroom.  A new raven and witch have found their way through the chaos in my head and I'm very excited to see if the image on paper can be transformed into a scary figure made of cloth.   Even though my talent is limited it still surprises me how some of my whimsical characters manage to come to life.  I do love that "primitive" world but I also enjoy embracing color and the fine tuning of a character that is ofter not found
in "primitive" work.  No matter the changes that will be descending down around my world I know that my love for Halloween and those crazy and whimsical characters waiting to be created will keep me grounded and happy! Also the love and support I have from my better half, Dan.....he always has a smile waiting for me every morning when I wake up and one for me as I close my eyes at night!  It's those small parts of life that will always mean the most! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

PFATT Marketplace for February 
Meet "Muffy" the mouse on the PFATT Marketplace along with some rather dabber bunnies!

February is Hopping....

We're "Hopping" Around Here...
With most of the east coast and mid-west digging themselves out from under Mother Natures bad mood this workroom is all about "Spring".   I love bunnies and always have enjoyed making them.  Next to Halloween it's my favorite character to create.  In fact I even had some Halloween bunnies at Ghoultide Gathering last year and they were received rather well.  There's just something about this furry four legged little beastie that just warms my heart.
It could be that many years back we had a "house bunny" that left his loving paw print on the hearts of our entire family.  Needless to say, bunnies ROCK!  

Some of my new bunnies are making their debut on the PFATT Marketplace this month.  They're a bit different than what I normally do but I'm liking this direction.  It's always fun to add that splash of whimsy into a character and bunnies seem to be an easy match when it comes
to whimsy!   As much as I enjoy the "primitive" look I always seem to drift more into the world of whimsy when creating, I just can't help myself.  

As winter continues to raise it's frozen head this ol' softee will continue to keep spring alive in her small cluttered workroom.  Spring is a new beginning and with new beginnings comes that sense of adventure and promise.  The "Soft in the House" house is filled to the brim with the hopes of adventure and promise and so we are passing some of its magic your way!  Stay positive!
 





 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Forgetful or Day Dreaming?

Not forgetful Just a Busy Mind.....
Every once in awhile I feel just like "Alice" chasing that proverbial white rabbit. I wake up in the morning with all the best intentions of having a productive day and I end up with a mountain of unfinished business! It never fails, all my best intentions always seem to sprout wings and take flight right out the window....

WHY ME? I am an intelligent, somewhat organized woman. I've done the lists, memos to self and even taped off my keyboard so not to get caught up on the internet....why can't I finish what I have planned for the day.
 

I day-dream! Yep, I'm admitting to this most common malady of ALL artists! The simplest sight will send my mind somersaulting into a kaleidoscope of ideas and stories. Just as one character starts to take life on paper my hand starts to jerk and start on another. After a mountain of white paper begins to grow in the corner of my workroom I begin to realize that I didn't finish the dishes or finish printing out my orders. The order for Mrs. P is still undressed while Mr. C's character still needs his legs and the day is half over! There
are seriously days I feel like I'm chasing that little white fur-ball down the hole into oblivion! ARGH!!!!! 

Some seem to think it's me approaching old age! WELL! Whose old? Isn't old just a three letter word or in some cases a four (olde).....Do I need a twelve step program for day-dreaming? Now I'm doing it again, here I sit writing when I should be dressing Mrs. P's character and helping Mr. C's to walk....and cleaning up the white paper mountain in my corner! 

I'm thinking spaghetti for dinner and we need cat food.....oh I forgot to turn the washer on and Dan could really use.........oh that bunny would look great with a feather hat and that mouse could use an antique cup and saucer....what's for dinner?  Here I go again!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Country Life In A Country Store....

Our Home...Once Again....

Again many of you have asked about my home....well here it is again. It's an old country store....something like you would see in "The Walton's". There are only four rooms in the entire home, a kitchen, living area (the biggest part) bedroom and a workroom/bedroom. Oh, I forgot we do have a bathroom, sometimes I feel an outhouse would be more appropriate considering the surroundings! LOL! This store is part of a "Historic" area up here in the Blue Ridge mountains and sits right on the "Carolina Trail" where many of our ancestors traveled to reach their destinations when this country was young and unsettled. You can still find broken pottery and arrowheads throughout the field behind us and often we see people doing just that.

Our home has a strange set-up and very little light (few windows)so the pictures are a bit jumbled. The main room is divided into our livingroom, familyroom and diningroom. It has the original counters, shelves and fixtures from the store when it was operational. Since I have virtually no closets or storage I use the shelves to stack my blankets and quilts or excess dishes. I do, however, have one corner of the store devoted to my beloved Halloween and it stays out 24/7cause a day without Halloween is like jello without bounce! The walls have chipped paint and rusty nails protruding out in random places....but they just add to the character of this old place. There are buggy whip holders hanging over one window and from the ceiling. We even have one of the original wood barrels that held orange syrup for drinks.


The original cash drawer is still inside a counter and even rings when it's pulled out. Like I said, tons of character. We even have a resident ghost or should I say ghosts. Apparently the land this old store sits on holds many spirits from days gone by and they often like to visit.....good thing I don't scare easily! All in all this place has many stories and tons of character. Good thing Dan and I don't mind the occasional invasion of natures critters or of the supernatural! We have an open invite to anyone that would like to visit....just give us advance warning so we can set some guidelines to our furry and spiritual friends!








They always say home is where you hang your hat. We not only have a hundred places to hang a hat but many hats to hang! This old store is a constant reminder of how fun and interesting life can be if we just let go and truly enjoy a simpler time....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Holding on.....

Marley the Ghost.....
Do any of the artists out there hold onto a special piece you've created? Is there just one that you can't bear to part with? Marley was mine....I have always had a soft spot for ghosts at Halloween and then there is the "Christmas Carol" at Christmas, soooo to capture my fondness of my two favorite times of the year I made Marley. The pattern is sold on my website: www.softinthehead.com but I was never able to part with the model for that pattern. 

Marley sits in my Halloween Corner  inside one of the vintage built-in drawers I have on the wall of this old country store we live in.  It's kind of a place of honor for him. 

There is no rhyme or reason why this particular guy called my name but he did and every time I look at
him I have no regrets in keeping him for myself.  There have been many times I've gotten excited upon the completion of a character and thought to myself "wow" should I keep it...but they just didn't touch me the way this Ol' primitive ghost has.  Maybe the "Art Gods" were giving me something they thought I needed, a piece of my artsy soul to hold on to.  If that be the reason then I thank them! 

Marley is always there to make me smile on those days where a smile seems lost and difficult to find.  I will look at this Ol' ghost and he reminds me just how fortunate I am to have a job I love and one that keeps my young and excited about tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Gift of Friends.....

The Gift of Friends......
As we grow older we reflect many times at how our lives have turned out thus far and often share these reflections with friends and family. It always seemed to me that friends were much more accepting of our decisions than family. Is it because friends just like to share in the adventure, mine always did! No one never knew what to expect where I was concerned cause I was the adventurous type and loved to live life to the absolute fullest. With this being my nature it was always a comforting thought to know that my friends had my back as well as my legs, arms and head! 

Now with the years rapidly creeping up and taking hold I've had to slow down (much to the relief of many) but my mind is still as adventurous as it was in my 20's. Many of my friends have also slowed down but our phone calls and visits are still filled with laughter and stories. Though, the years have separated many of us and we have all walked down much different paths we still have that connection that bonds us together called friendship!

If I were to place all of us in a room at one time I think you would see the humor and adventure that grows when we're together.  None of us are alike....we differ in sex, color, weight, height, religion and nationality but the one constant is we loved to live and we were there for each other when we needed it most and that unspoken bond keeps us tightly woven together like a VERY colorful quilt!


One can have all types of friends, the more types the bigger the adventure!  No one should live their life in black and white....spice it up with copious amounts of color and what better way then the diversity of people (especially artist type people LOL)...Open your eyes, your heart and life to experience and friendship....it is the greatest gift you can give yourself!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Coffee or Tea?

What Is Your Secret??????
Most "prim" artists, by now, know how to age their creations using common household products like tea, coffee or cinnamon. Over the years I have read numerous methods they use when applying these products.....they go from spraying, dipping, sponging and painting. Drying the creation also varies in process and some of these are quite extraordinary ranging from baking in an oven to hanging creations on a clothes line during a sunny day. Funny what we, as artists, will do to get that desired look we want, isn't it? I love trying new things and discovering what works best for me. I'm not much of a "follower" when it comes taking classes or reading instructions from someone else, I like to experiment....maybe I was a "mad" scientist in another life, lol, interesting thought! I have my own mixture of coffee that I use. I've tried many different variations but always come back to my own concoction of instant coffee, vanilla and sugar...sounds like a Starbucks drink huh? Also I have found that painting this mixture onto the fabric works best for me and using a blow dryer to dry the fabric limits the blotches, though some artists like blotches, I'm not one of them. The primitive and aged look is truly one of my favorites though I'm not a real big fan of the "extreme primitive" look, I like the more whimsical look and using my method of drying keeps the blotches down to a minimum all the while giving the creation a nice aged look and feel. I not only paint the body with my coffee concoction but I also paint the clothing once the character is

dressed. This gives the clothing a stiff and crumbled look which is often perfect for something that is used and old. Using ground cinnamon in all the nooks and crannies of you character also helps enhance the lines in your characters face or just to make it look worn. Primitive doll making is fun and almost fool proof. I've even found using common everyday inexpensive hairspray to seal the cinnamon on the surface of your doll works fantastic with little or no harmful fumes and it's a blast to use when making hair dos with roving! Time to mix up another batch of my "primitive glop" and get to work!