NOLA in the Rain

We left our home the day after Christmas 2016. We spent the last 3 months planning, packing etc for our year long adventure.  We decided to keep our small home in Seminole, Fl  and rent it out via  AirBnB .  With no experience in this we were somewhat hesitant but we have found the site easy to use, the support staff excellent and we have much of the spring completely booked.

After spending 4 days in Naples with our good friends, we took off, and haven’t looked back.  Our first big stop was New Orleans.  Weather in Naples was beautiful!  But we knew some colder, wetter weather was in our future for sure!  Our week in New Orleans was very wet and cold. We managed one day of sunshine while in NOLA and spent that day visiting the French Quarter.   We parked in Bayou Segnette State Park.  It was a very clean, easy in and out park and want to stay here again hoping for some sunshine and warmer weather.   With all the rain they’ve had recently, we feel like we are parking in the swamp.  I’m sure the area is very pretty in the spring and summer but hey…in the winter,   no bugs!  (Unlike the million chiggers in Naples!)  I can always find the sunny side of life.

At the moment, too much rain and cold weather have taken a toll on our fire pit and the park grill is struggling to stay above water!

The swamp keeps inching closer each day with the constant rain. And, it’s cold…cold… cold…cold….did I say cold???  The first night there it was 25  and we couldn’t figure out how to get the furnace to come on….what newbies we are!!  (electric blanket at Walmart….$80….wow I didn’t know they were so expensive…that’s what Florida living for the last 15 years will do.)  We finally did find the right button (the next day) for the furnace and that night it ran all night long.  I’m starting to get used to the noise of the furnace.

The next day, we discovered we had the original batteries in our truck we purchased in March when our truck batteries decided it was time to take a hike.  3 hours later, and $300 bucks, we have 2 brand new truck batteries!  Can it get any better???  How about 3 solid days of wind and rain….no internet and no tv.  We could connect, but the constant wind/weather just made the station come and go.   (Seriously rethinking dish network right now).

On to the fun day in the French Quarter!  We started our day by taking the ferry from Algiers across the Mississippi to the French Quarter.  Parking our truck in Algiers in a small lot, we walked to the Ferry…it looked deserted to us…maybe the cold, maybe the “off season”….but we soon paid our $1 and boarded and arrived on the other side of the Mississippi in just about 12 minutes!

First…off to Cafe Dumonde…yes…it has great beignets and strong coffee!  Not expensive and worth the walk.  Too bad we ate them all before I thought of taking pictures.

Next, we went walking through the Market and I found this little gift shop of local art called The Artist Market on Decatur St.  Lots of local art NOLA style and I found some voodoo dolls there…made from polymer clay.

Being a polymer artist myself,  I had to find out more about these  unusual voodoo dolls.  Little did I know that I would find  such a personable and interesting person. After seeing her work, and getting her name from the store,  I found the artist, Jeanette Myer by  searching Facebook.  She has no web site, she says, all her time is spent creating and she has a large business which does entirely herself. Her art can be found in all Fleurty Girl Stores and there probably isn’t a Carnival person that doesn’t know her name.

We decided to meet and talk and I’m so happy about that!  She started saying to me that polymer saved her life!  Turns out, Jeanette comes originally from New York,  spent quite a bit of time traveling while airbrushing and etching custom cars…she settled in New Orleans and loved it.  Then….Hurricaine Katrina happened.  While weathering the storm up north with friends and family, Katrina was destroying everything she owned.  Her compressors for airbrushing, supplies etc.  Three weeks later, her home and everything she owned was still under 8 feet of water.  She lost everything and returned to New York.   While there, a woman brought her a gift…she was hoping for a pair of shoes or jeans, but when she opened the box, she found a collection of tools and polymer clay.  She put the box away and didn’t think much about it, but one day, it must have called her name, because she says when she opened it and began to explore…she just could not stop!  In the first months, she made enough money from making Carnival items to pay for her tip back to NOLA for the first Carnival after Katrina!  There, she found a market for her style of art and she decided to move back.  Today, she is known in the French Quarter for her clay creations.  A large part of her time is spent making and adorning  hats for the multiple Carnival dance troupes and others.  Jeanette is a master of production.  She must have had more than a hundred voodoo dolls she was working on that day.  She has a mold for the basic shape and then adds polymer canes, beads and pins and my favorite part…the wild bristly hair!  She told me she started out making huge canes and reducing to get the thousands of slices she needed to keep up with requests. Now, she states she purchases quite a few of her canes online.  ( I didn’t even realize that people made canes to sell!)  She says this has made her work much easier and allows her to keep up with the demand she has for her voodoo dolls and flour de lis.

After moving back to NOLA, she now lives in a typical row house in a part of the city that didn’t flood out with Katrina.  Her house, if you have never seen one of the old row houses, is one room wide, and seven rooms long.  She invited me to visit and I counted at least four of those rooms as part of her studio!  You enter in her living room and then begin a journey through her studio rooms…engulfed in feathers, fabric, beads, garlands…anything you can imagine that goes in to making the flashy Carnival items!  One for  hats, one for making polymer clay items, several for supplies and finished production items.  A visit to her studio is full of color, full of life and full of fun!  The day I visited, was actually the first day of Carnival.  It’s the day everyone finds out what their theme will be for this years hats.  After our visit, she was off to her vendors to get inspired!  I can’t show or tell what that theme is going to be for 2017, but you can see one of last years hats below, along with her voodoo dolls and other fun items she sells in local stores.

I loved meeting Jeanette and seeing how polymer is a part of her life.  She is definitely one of the modern folk artists of our time!  If you would like to know more about Jeanette, she is on Facebook.  Thanks so much for sharing some of your precious time with me Jeanette!  Definitely one of the best highlights of my trip so far.

We also managed to fit in 2 museums…The Cabildo and the The Presbytere.  These 2 museums were inexpensive and informative, covering everything from The War of 1812, the history of Mardi Gras and even a very moving and educational exhibit of Hurricane Katrina.

Ending the night, we wound up….where else???  ….Bourbon St….dancing the night away!   If only I had written down what bar we were in and who was playing…gotta get better at this for blogging!!

New Year New Road…Where are you going?

Big changes happened last year in our little saga of life.  We retired, we sold our house, we bought an RV, we started traveling.  January kicks off a year of planning for us.  Downsizing and rethinking what we want out of every day life consumed much of our minds and hearts last year!   Retiring made us think of endless days with nothing on the horizon and sounded boring and somewhat void of purpose.  What do you do after you no longer have to punch a time clock, answer to a boss for your time, or get up at the crack of dawn?  We soon discovered that staying in our jammies all day left a lot to be desired.

We took a trip to Europe last year which caused us to start thinking about the fact that we had not seen so much of our great country.  We began thinking about all the interesting and unusual places in the US that we had never seen.  Thus began the plan for spending the next year (at least) traveling and exploring.  Ed loves researching geneology and I love making things with polymer clay and meeting other artists…so the plan began.  We bought and purchased our Montana 5th wheel which we lovingly named DIMIR (did I mention I’m retired) and set off on some trial runs…  a trip to the mosquito paradise of Myakka State Park, another trip to Gatlinburg for a big RV Dreams Rally to learn the ins and outs of living in less than 300sq feet, and then the big push at the end of 2016, a six week tour of Ohio (for the grandson’s wedding,  Niagra Falls (because we wanted to), a day’s journey through Canada to see the locks in Souix Ste.Marie and then a trip to Wisconsin, coming home via Michigan again and a trip to Mackinac Island.   We wanted to avoid I 75 so we traveled south on I 65 through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and ended up sitting out Hurricaine Hermine in  Florida Springs RV Park.   After being on the road for so long, and spending 4 days in the monsoon rains here…we were ready for home, but sad to leave the road…only a wanderer gets this part.

sign found in some store, that says it all!

Aside from a couple of minor issues…hitch problem in New York and not ever figuring out how to get our electric hot water tank working, we managed quite well and our enthusiasm never dwindled.  We can do this!!  And we haven’t killed each other yet.

Here are some photos and from the first months.

 

Our DIMIR

Tube rafting in Michigan with family.

Yummy fudge on Mackinac Island….Of course, it’s completely calorie free!

 

Progress photos of  my first canvas in the series I plan to do while on the road.  The last photo is the picture I took in Gatlinburg along the Roaring Fork River.   Created with polymer clay (white Premo!) and then antiqued and then painted with Genesis heat set paints.

Classes, classy ladies, and more!

October found me quite busy!  I started teaching a few classes….of course they were all in the same week!  Here are a couple of photos of the student work.  Now is the time to think about booking a class for next year!  Please use the contact form to email me and you will be notified when new classes are listed!  Here is an interesting fact regarding the classes below.  The canvas classes were done by polymer guild members.  The Bird in a Pumpkin class was done by 7 courageous students who had NEVER TOUCHED POLYMER before.  I was totally impressed!   Now they all want to come back for more in December.  Check out the link in the caption below the Bird in a Pumpkin photo!

thanks to all the lovely ladies who made it so much fun!
thanks to all the lovely ladies who made it so much fun!

Davie Canvas Class 2014

I’m doing two Christmas Shows.  The first is at Raymond James Financial with my daughter Emily Shrider who is one of the art curators there.  The second Holizaar 7 

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mini pelican ornament

This is a really unique, fun market for your last minute Christmas gifts!  I’ts not your mamas bazaar!  I’ve been attending this show for years and buying my cool  Christmas gifts here and this year I applied and now I am a vendor!  Whoo Hoo….it’s always soooo much fun.

I’ve also been designing some new clay items at the Clay Center of St Petersburg and taught a polymer Bird in a Pumpkin Class there in November.

So much fun, they are coming back for more! Check out the Happy Holiday Tree Class in December...just click for details
New polymer work!  They all had so much fun, they are coming back for more! Check out the Happy Holiday Tree Class in December.

These two cuties participated in the charity event for the Tampa Bay Watch and both found new homes!

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Finally, I entered the Helen Breil/Kazuri West Stamp contest and won 3rd place with my little birdie.

And I made a lovely angel for my sister in law.  Pictures to come later!

All in all…a great and busy month!

Whew!  I need to retire…hahaha….did that in May….I’m working harder now!

Fun at the IPCA Arches Retreat in Columbus Ohio

I’m coming back to my roots this week at the Arches retreat! My heart and mind are full with memories. Born and raised in Ohio, I loved watching the “script Ohio” magically appear on the OSU football field, exploring Old Man’s Cave on a Sunday afternoon, the crisp fall crunch of leaves, on the way home from school…yes I walked to school…my time for dreaming! All the old memories are flooding my heart and mind. Making me want to reconnect and reminisce. what fun! I’ve even discovered another one of the attendees at the Retreat is a former classmate of mine at Worthington High School.

I’m with a truly wonderful group of people here, getting to explore polymer clay! I am bursting at the seams with ideas and projects and new tools!

The Nature of Mark Making….Maggie Maggio class at the Arches Retreat.

Here is a glimpse of what I made in class The Nature of Mark Making. I’ve been drawing on polymer for a while…but her class has taken me from simply using clay like you would a piece of paper, to making a beautiful piece of jewelry…although it’s not quite finished, I’ve been wearing it daily just because I love it so much.