After 5 months of very little marketing or production of new pieces, I am back with a bang! I suffered the horror of the shingles virus for the entire month of May (I advise all to discuss with your doctor the feasibility of getting the shingles vaccine as it is truly a horrible illness that can cause excruciating nerve pain (and when I say excruciating, I mean I'd rather go through childbirth again over this illness!)).
I travelled to Great Barrington, MA in the beautiful Berkshire mountains this past weekend to sell at the Berkshires Arts Festival July 1-3. This was a high end juried art show featuring 200 vendors. I must say I felt truly honored to be amongst these great artists who sold jewelry, textiles, paintings, photographs, pottery, hand-painted wood bowls, and furniture. I made so many new artist friends from all over the Northeast and spoke to hundreds of interesting customers. I always enjoy people's reactions to my quirky characters. Most people say they have never seen anything like my creations and many laugh or smile while perusing my booth, which truly delights me. As a psychologist, I like to joke that my art is therapy, not only for me as I create, but also for those who feel happy as they look at my whimsical and quirky characters. Here are some pieces that I sold at the fair:
Aside from enjoying a good show, I am very excited to say that I got into two new galleries! I dropped these 12 pieces off at Evergreen Gallery in Great Barrington, MA yesterday. Right after the gallery owner put some of my pieces in the window, I saw the actor Chris Noth, formerly of Law & Order and Sex in the City, emerge from the café next door and as he walked down the street, he stopped and looked at my window display! How exciting!
Here are the 9 pieces that Carlene from Lenox Print & Mercantile bought wholesale from me for her delightful store:
In addition to these wonderful developments, I returned home to find out that The Eclectic Collector Gallery in Katonah, NY had sold yet 3 more of my pieces (for a grand total of 22 since November!). I am so thankful to be supported by gallery owners, other artists and, most of all, my customers! Here are the 3 that just sold at The Eclectic Collector:
I'd better go into production mode now that I've been depleted of my inventory! Yay, what fun.
I'm back to creating after a two-month hiatus. Inspired by my recent trip to Tucson, AZ, I decided to create a few new Southwestern style assemblages. All of them use silver plate roll top butter dishes or vegetable dishes for the horse's bodies. The horse heads are from salt or pepper shakers, and the various cowgirl, cowboy, Native American chief and Native American squaw bisque figures are vintage 1940s and "Made in Japan." Each piece is uniquely adorned with various Western or Native American style accessories and some have gemstones for saddles and/or animal companions. If you are interested in purchasing a piece, simply click on the photo and it will direct you to where you may purchase it! Here they are:
Below are my older Southwestern assemblages, all made within the past two years. Some of them use old or reproduction tins, metal jello molds, or cheese graters for horse or cow bodies. The cow heads are also vintage salt or pepper shakers.
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The past two months have been exciting ones for me artistically. In early November I connected with The Eclectic Collector Gallery in Katonah, NY and in two months have already sold 11 pieces! One of them even sold to a top politician (unfortunately due to privacy issues, I need to be discreet). I feel so honored! Here are the pieces that sold in Katonah:
In addition, as many of you know, I had the honor designing and decorating, with my assemblage art, New York City's American Folk Art Museum Christmastime window! It was called "Santa's Circus" and was on display from November 21 - January 2. You may read my blog that tells all about it by clicking here.
I also had the privilege as one of 9 vendors to sell inside the museum during their Fab Folk Fest 3 on the weekend of Dec 10-11. During the window display and my booth, I sold 16 pieces! I also met some GREAT vendors and customers. Here are photos of what I sold at The American Folk Art Museum:
I feel so blessed to have finished 2016 with a BANG. Thanks so much for all your support and interest in my one-of-a-kind quirky characters! Happy 2017!!
I was honored this Christmastime, 2016, to design and decorate, with my whimsical assemblage animals, the NYC American Folk Art Museum's window, right near Lincoln Center! The display will be up until Jan 2 and is located on Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets. The physical address is 2 Lincoln Center. If you're in the area, please go check it out! Here is a video of the window display. Make sure to scroll further down to read about the conception of the design and to see more photos and details about the cast of circus characters!
Conception of the Window Design
I have been selling my assemblage animals in the American Folk Art Museum's Gift Shop for a little over a year. In May, I met with the Director of Retail Services, Stefanie Levinson, to pitch my idea of a whimsical vintage circus display for Christmastime. She was all in! My first idea was to have a large round wooden platform that would rotate with Santa in the middle and various circus animals revolving around Santa as if they were performing around the perimeter of the Big Top. I also wanted to have aerialists, perhaps stuffed monkeys, teddy bears and antique dolls, performing and moving up and down in the air above the performers. However, when I realized that I would only have half of the depth of the very tall and narrow window to decorate, and that we had no technology to create movement, Stefanie and I decided on a tightrope scene. I went back to the drawing board and came up with this prototype:
The idea of a tightrope would add to the whimsy, as of course it was absurd to think that horses and elephants could cross a tightrope!
Creation of the Circus Characters
As it would be a Christmastime window display, Santa had to be the Master of Ceremonies. I made a cotton batting Santa in the Victorian style with a cut-out from an old Victorian greeting card for his face. I found this wonderful wooden horse at Homegoods and proceeded to make the Santa doll sitting atop. He has a soft body with cotton batting hood and coat, which are embellished with gold trim, cream crochet lace, and brass buttons. I created a sack out of burlap and stuffed it with a bottle brush tree which I decorated with various glass balls and miniature wrapped packages. Dangling from Santa's sack and arms are vintage ornaments, German snowmen incense smokers, and various toys.
Santa on Large Wooden Horse
Just in case the original Santa was sold before the window display would be dismantled on January 2, I made a back-up Santa that could be displayed either crossing the tightrope or down on the circus floor. This Santa, also in the tradition of Victorian décor, is riding a vintage lithographed toy horse. He is in profile and his head is again made from a Victorian greeting card. His body is soft sculpture cotton batting with pipe cleaners for hands and legs. He wears a vintage hand-crocheted red scarf around his neck. With a red and white striped sack sitting behind him, he carries a white bottle brush tree and toys such as a sewing machine, toy soldier, sled and wooden elf. He is adhered to a wooden platform covered in white glitter to look like snow.
Santa on Antique Horse
I wanted to convey different elements of a vintage circus, including the now politically incorrect "freak show." Thus, I designed and assembled "Lady. Carmichael and Mr. Chips," my "giantess" walking her pet Schnauzer. Her head and arms are antique china doll parts from the late 1800s. I used a very large vintage Carmichael's Chips tin for her body, Victorian wooden spools for her arms and legs, cast iron shoe stays for her feet, and wooden spool ends for her shoulders. I decorated her and her dog with lace, vintage jewelry and embossed brass. She holds a miniature set of spectacles in her hand. Lady Carmichael measures 22 inches high.
Lady Carmichael and Mr. Chips
My diminuitive lady is named "Bellflower." She measures approximately 7 inches tall (10 inches with the parasol) . Her gown is an upside down Marguerita glass or compote dish, her head and arms antique china doll parts from the late 1800s, and her parasol is an upside down brass umbrella shaped candelabra! I decorated her with antique hand-crocheted lace, embossed brass, and Czech glass buttons.
My final "freak show" creation, is "Tiger, the Big-Pawed Circus Cat," which is not displayed in the original window design but was made as an "extra" in case other pieces sold out of the display. Tiger's porcelain head comes from a liquor decanter. His body is a vintage Tiger Chewing Tobacco tin and his feet are furniture castors, with the two front paws being extra large lion's paw castors. His neck is assembled from an oil can, brass punched plate, and an oil lamp ring. His head is adorned with filigree brass décor and a brass lamp finial. Riding atop Tiger is a clown figurine playing the violin.
Tiger, the Big-Pawed Circus Cat
Other animals that I created to perform on the circus floor include: "Corky the Circus Elephant," "BellaRina," the black ballerina cat, "Necco and Satsuki," the tiger with a Geisha riding atop. Corky's head is from a liquor decanter and his body is a wonderful embossed circus themed tin shaped like the big top. I made him sitting on his rump, with his legs up in the air. His legs are Victorian industrial spools. His neck is made with a metal Jello mold, a brass embossed clock face, and a black wooden curtain ring. His hat is made with a brass embossed escutcheon and a lamp finial. Around his neck is a chain with a pendant which includes a bottle top with the word "Corky" on it and a drawing of a clown.
Before and After, Corky the Circus Elephant
I was thrilled when I found a porcelain jug in the shape of a tiger's head! I also was thrilled when I found this vintage Necco hard candies tin with Cinderella style graphics. The coloring was a perfect match. The tiger's tail is a brass embossed curtain tieback in the shape of an acanthus leaf, while her head is adorned with a gorgeous brass keyhole embellishment and her neck with a brass filigree leaf and berry design. In front the tiger has a round brass embossed decoration with a satin bow. The tiger's legs and feet are Victorian factory wood spools. The podium upon which the Geisha figurine sits is a fancy brass filigree curtain tieback adorned with satin ribbons. "Necco" is the tiger and "Satsuki" is the Geisha performing a coy fan dance.
Necco and Satsuki
"BellaRina" is a very large piece at 26 inches high. Her black cat head was a 1930s or 1940s ashtray. It would've laid more flat on the table. Her tongue was where a smoker rested the cigarette and her mouth is open to collect the ashes. This is the ultimate repurposing! She stands atop a large round Quaker Oats tin which serves as her platform. Her legs and arms are also Victorian wooden factory spools. Her tutu is made from the top of a children's spinning top combined with a cylindrical vintage floral tin and tops from two tins. Her neck is made from a wooden dowel and her hat is a mechanical carnival ride toy.
"Rena the Ringmaster" I created to lead the tightrope crew. I found a wonderful vintage tin with circus scenes for her body. Her china head, arms and legs are all from the late 1880s. I used an undulating milk glass dish for her ruffled collar and adorned it with antique crocheted lace, an embossed brass keyhole escutcheon and a red ribbon. Her hat is a vintage party horn. Her arms are extended with wood dowels and her arms and legs are embellished with the crochet lace and red ribbon. In her right hand is her circus staff, made from a metal pole and vintage ribbon parts from a vintage prize medal. The pole she holds is wrapped in criss-crossed red ribbon and the staff has a center medallion made from a vintage brass button cover.
Rena the Ringmaster
Also atop the tightrope is "Cheval de Cirque," which means "Circus Horse" in French. The horse's porcelain head is a vintage salt shaker and her body a Hague's Pretzels octagonal tin. Her feet are pulley wheels. The horse's head and neck are embellished with gold braided trim, hand-crocheted vintage lace, Czech glass buttons, and a beautiful brass filigree ornament. Her tail is a drawer pull. Two clown figurines are performing tricks atop the horse, using the podium which is made from a brass candelabra and jar lid.
Before and After, Cheval de Cirque
I wanted to make a character on stilts, so I came up with "Stilts the Clown." I used matching vintage party horns for his stilts, a new Ambessa brand tea tin, and built the armature for his arms out of a coat hanger. I dyed wood beads to match his tin. His head is papier mache and from a vintage clown puppet. His neck is a faucet handle. In the window display, he is at the end of the tightrope parade, tooting his horn.
Stilts the Clown
In the interest of having a variety of animals for my circus display, I was pleased to find this lion head from a vintage liquor decanter. The body of "Lion King" is a Manning and Mackay's cough drops tin, his tail a brass acanthus leaf curtain tieback and his legs stained wood candleabras. I topped his head with a brass lightbulb sleeve which I bent into the shape of a crown.
This elephant piece, which I call "Balancing Act," shows two little dogs doing tricks on the balance beam atop an elephant. The clowns are playing music for the dogs. The elephant head also came from a liquor decanter and its body is a Heinz's Pearls' tin. The elephant's feet are brass furniture castors and his tail a hose nozzle. The elephant's head is adorned with a brass escutcheon and crochet doily.
Below are photos of my piece, "Amaretti's Circus Dogs." The first photo shows the individual pieces I assembled to make the sculpture. I used a large porcelain salt shaker for the horse's head and an Amaretti Virginia cookie tin for the horse's body. A brass curtain tieback in the shape of an acanthus leaf serves as the horse's tail. The feet are furniture castors. The horse is embellished with brass furniture drawer pulls, embossed escutcheons and crochet lace. The clown figurine is holding a brass bracelet which serves as a hoop through which the dogs can take turns jumping while riding atop the horse.
Before and After, Amaretti's Circus Dogs
Creation of the Aerialists
I had previously purchased a fairly large antique German china doll which I had planned to repurpose into an assemblage piece, but when I was designing the window display, I realized she would make a fabulous aerialist. I brought her to a woman who owns a doll repair shop and asked her to make a Victorian-looking circus outfit. I then bought from her 5 smaller antique dolls which I then painted to match the larger doll. I added some lace trim to the smaller dolls and found the perfect colored diaphanous wired ribbon from which to suspend the dolls from the window ceiling. Below are photos of the aerialist troupe dolls in various stages of completion.
Transformation of the Aerialist Troupe
Creation of The Set
I made the tightrope out of 3 wooden boards in the shape of an elongated upside down "U," which I painted a flat black hoping that the platform upon which my creatures would sit would fade into the shadows. The front top edge was covered with a large rope to give the illusion of a tightrope. I made wooden ladders that I stained and to which I attached four of the aerialists in various positions to give the impression that they were performing "tricks" while ascending the ladders. I shredded various colors of cardstock for the circus floor to give a festive look. Here are photos of the tightrope platform development:
Early Stages of the Tightrope Platform
Finally, there was the backdrop which I designed to look like a vintage circus tent with a banner saying, "Santa's Circus." I designed it and the graphic designer for the American Folk Art Museum, Kate Johnson, translated my design into graphic form and had it printed onto a large canvas sheet. This canvas backdrop could then be hung from the ceiling of the window. I did not get to see the actual backdrop until the day of installation, so I was extremely pleased when it came out perfectly!
Interview by the Local Newspaper, Nashoba Valley Publishing
I wrote up a press release for the local newspapers and e-mailed Anne O'Connor at Nashoba Valley Publishing who promptly responded and came to my house to interview me about the project on November 17. She did not end up using my press release, but rather wrote up my description of the process in a "10 Questions" format. Here is the photo she took of me and some of my circus creations and the link to the on-line newspaper article (which ended up in the Nashoba Valley Voice on 11/25/2016 and The Lowell Sun on 11/28/2016):
Installation of the Window Display
With the help of American Folk Art Museum staff and my husband Joe Tansey, I installed the window display on the morning of November 21. My teenage daughter, Alexandra, took photos and video of the event.
Step One: Measuring Where the Aerialists Should Fall on the Backdrop
Step Two: Zachary Hanging the Aerialists from the Ceiling
Step Three: Putting the Floor Circus Characters in Place
Step Four: Placing the Confetti
Step Five: Adding the Tightrope Platform and Performers
Step Six: Lowering the Backdrop into Place
Step Seven: Viola, The Big Reveal!!!
All of my assemblage sculptures are for sale through the American Folk Art Museum Gift Shop. If interested, please feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or call the gift shop directly at 212-595-9674.
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Just recently I decided to put more effort into marketing to various galleries. I started by looking at where Amy Flynn of Fobots has sold in the past. She is one of my favorite assemblage artists and has become so successful that she no longer needs gallery representation! Below is a photo of her delightful assemblage robots made from various found objects. Her website is: ifobot.com.
In looking at galleries in which she has sold in the past, I came across The Eclectic Collector in Katonah, NY. I decided to e-mail the gallery and include a photo of my giraffe assemblage, "Frederick the Great" to try to catch the gallery owner's attention. I also provided links to several different pages of my website. Much to my delight, the owner, Ellie Kimelman, called me within a half hour of my sending the e-mail! After speaking with Ellie, we decided that I would send to her 12 of my animals on a consignment basis. I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to gain more exposure to collectors of one-of-a-kind quirky and whimsical art!
Here are the 12 items that I'm sending off to The Eclectic Collector. Hopefully they'll each find new homes (and not be returning home to the nest)!
All 12 Animals Going to The Eclectic Collector
Here's the website for The Eclectic Collector
Today I received in the mail the specialty magazine Just Steampunk! Vol. 8 and found out, to my great delight, that several of my one-of-a-kind whimsical and steampunk-style multi-media sculptures and art collages were published for a second year in a row. One of my Boston Terrier dog pieces, "Domino," even made it onto the front cover!
I feel so honored to have 33 of my pieces represented! Here are the photos of the magazine pages:
Above is page 59 which shows three of my pieces: "Hitchin A Ride," "Ella Fitzhugh," and "The General."
The two-page spread on pages 60 and 61 shows three of my dolls, "Butterfly Bertha,", "Time to Feed Baby," and "Rosebud," and two of my Native American assemblages, "Alo, Spiritual Guide," and "Shima, Maker of Pots."
The two-page spread on pages 62 and 63 show a collection of my cats: "Jasmine," "Miss Kitty,", "The Birdwatcher," "Kimiko," and "Sakura," as well as a collection of my dogs, "Domino,", "Lassie Phone Home," "Harley Daniels," "Maxwell," and "Kingston."
Page 83 shown above has two of my Alice in Wonderland multi-media collaged shadow boxes, "Alice Returns as Queen and Heads are Gonna Roll!" and "Rabbit is Too Late to Save Alice from Herself," as well as my steampunk clock, "Time Flies."
Another two-page spread on paged 118 and 119 displays my Day of the Dead assemblages: "The Offering," "Not Enough Coffee," "Dia de los Muertos," "Angel de la Muerte," "Angel of Mercy," "Time Quietly Kills," "Tommy Edison," "Little Prince," and "Evil Genius Rides Fluffy."
And finally, page 120 shows three of my elephant assemblage sculptures: "Corky, The Circus Elephant," "Prodigious Pachyderm,", and "Pagliacci e Biscotti."
Unfortunately, the magazine misspelled my last name as "Shephard" instead of "Shepard," which put me into a frenzy to work with my website host, Weebly, to ensure that anyone who googles my name can find my website!
I feel very grateful and honored to have my art work be so well represented in this magazine that comes out once per year and is jam-packed with multi-media artists' work, covering the areas of home décor, fashion, paper arts, dolls and animals. It is 122 pages long and only has a couple of ads on its last page! It can be purchased by calling Scott Publications at 1-800-458-8237 or ordering online at www.scottpublications.com. It costs $12.95. It can also be found for a limited time at some Michael's Craft Stores and Barnes & Noble.
Here is the link to my blog last year about being published in Just Steampunk! Vol. 7.
I had a lot of fun creating this collection of "mini" dog assemblages. Each dog is under 5 inches and at $50 and under, very affordable! I'll be selling them in person at the upcoming Fab Folk Fest at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Center, NYC, December 10 & 11. If interested in purchasing one of these sweet pooches, or a collection of them, please contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). Here they are one-by-one:
What fun I had as a vendor at the 2nd Annual Springfield, VT Steampunk Festival, Sept 23-25, 2016! The weekend was filled with festivities all located at the Hartness House Inn shown below:
Steampunk is defined in the dictionary as: "science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology." I like to think of it as the Victorian age meets the technological future. H. G. Wells' Time Machine and War of the Worlds as well as Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea are good representations of steampunk literature.
The original owners of the Hartness House mansion were James Hartness (September 3, 1861 – February 2, 1934) and Lena Pond Hartness (August 28, 1865 – March 18, 1933). Mr. Hartness was an executive and governor of Vermont (1921-1923). He was a bit eccentric, with interests in aviation and astronomy. In 1910 he built the Hartness Equatorial Turret Telescope, one of the first tracking telescopes in America. He built the telescope several yards away from the house and, because he didn't want to walk outside in winter to look through the telescope, he built an underground tunnel from the house to the telescope. This unique history of the Hartness House made it the perfect venue for this steampunk festival.
With approximately 30 vendors selling various steampunk style products, there was something for everyone at The Trader's Bazaar. Here are photos of me and my booth:
Here are photos of some of the other vendors:
AuraLynne makes exquisite Victorian-style hats and corseted outfits. I particularly loved the ensemble that she's modeling in this photo. The hat that I am sporting in my photos I purchased from AuraLynne last year. Her website is: www.auralynne.com.
Jess LeClair, from Adventure Awaits! is a true artist with an MFA. She designs fabulous and humorous steampunk-style cards such as these shown here. She also designs jewelry and etched wood boxes. Her website is: www.AdventureAwaitsMe.com.
My new friends, Marcel and Alison Dion, from Artistic Anachronism, make all sorts of Victorian-inspired jewelry, including these fabulous and authentic chatelaines. These are intended to hook onto a woman's pocket or belt at the waistline and often would have sewing necessities such as scissors, a thimble basket, needle holder, and magnifying glass. I am hoping to have one custom made by Alison! Their website is: www.ArtisticAnachronism.com.
Here are photos of customers and vendors enjoying themselves:
Aside from shopping, the weekend was filled with various fun events such as parlor games, absinthe tasting (a potent green aniseed-flavored liqueur, originally made with the shrub wormwood), a burlesque show, various musical bands, afternoon tea, steampunk-style board games, and talks on astronomy, how to create a costume, and Steampunk 101! Thanks to all the event coordinators (particularly Sabrina Smith), vendors, customers, volunteers and Hartness House Inn staff who helped to make this a really fun experience!
Some of you may have read my blog from May entitled:
My Recent New York City Marketing/Buying/Selling Adventure
where I explained that in marketing my assemblage art, I spoke with the store manager Lourdes Martinez-Baide from the exquisite gourmet chocolate shop, MarieBelle, in the SoHo area of New York City and pitched to her the idea of making some animals for sale in the shop from their lovely hot chocolate tins. Here is the unveiling of my first two dogs. I hope their customers like them so I have the opportunity to make more! And thank you so much Lourdes for giving me this wonderful opportunity!
Here is "Queen MarieBelle"
Here is "Pharoah MarieBelle"
I think they'll fit right in with the opulent décor. What do you think?
If you live near the city or get a chance for a visit, make sure to check out this fabulous chocolate shop and café. Here's their website and address:
484 Broome Street, NY, NY 10013, phone: 212-925-6999 X 1.
You may also order products online.
My husband, daughter and I had the privilege to attend the pre-opening celebration of the Museum of Whimsy (MOW) in Astoria, Oregon on June 24, 2016 and then the ribbon cutting ceremony on June 25, 2016. This is the most unique museum I've seen and it is filled with incredible "eye candy." I spent several hours admiring all of the wonderfully detailed items displayed on two floors of an architecturally significant and beautifully decorated historic bank. It is owned and curated by Trish Bright, a very talented woman with a knack for interior design and an eye for exquisite and unique antiques and artifacts as well as artists' one-of-a-kind creations.
Trish Bright collaborated with museum curators and artists around the world to create her whimsical museum filled with such wonders as antique and artist-made hand-beaded Native American bags and photo frames, African headdresses, and gorgeous flowers; large 3D paper wall circus and fairytale-inspired dioramas; a Victorian taxidermy miniature horse; a replica of a British canal boat with authentic folk-art hand-painted accessories; and many other delights too numerous to mention.
I feel incredibly honored to be represented in this museum, with 11 of my one-of-a-kind assemblage sculptures spread out amongst three different displays.
Museum of Whimsy, 1215 Duane Street, Astoria, Oregon, 97103, phone: 425-417-6512.
Open Friday through Monday, 11AM - 5PM, with a $10 admission charge. However, it is best to contact the museum directly to verify this information before visiting.
The Museum's website is: http://www.museumofwhimsy.com/
The Museum is on Instagram at: museumofwhimsyastoria
I hope you're able to make it to this museum and enjoy it as much as I did!
Photo of me outside the Museum on opening day, June 25, 2016.
My assemblage sculptures that are all part of a whimsical tea party table display:
Below is the Admiral Dewey Parade Display, in which 5 of my assemblage pieces are parade participants:
"Patriotic Pup," "The General," and "At the Zoo"
Below are my two cats, "Wilhelmina VandeMew" (stretching) and "Sakura" (sitting) who are relaxing by the arts and crafts tiled fireplace on the 2nd floor of the museum:
My husband and daughter enjoying the pre-opening reception of the museum June 24:
I am 58 years old, a wife of 26 years, a mother of a wonderful and independent 19-year-old daughter, a clinical psychologist who treats adults in private practice, and last, but definitely not least, an artist. Whew! That was a mouth full. My passion is creating one-of-a-kind whimsical sculptural animals, dolls, and cake toppers (with a little multi-media collage thrown in for good measure). I hope you enjoy my creations as much as I enjoy making them!