I’m going to try something new, and hold a customer appreciation giveaway each month until the end of the year. If it goes well, I’ll continue the tradition in 2019. Since this new adventure begins on All Soul’s Day, I’m offering this handcrafted day of the dead mask as the very first handmade giveaway gift.
To enter, just send a photo of yourself wearing my work & allow me to share it on my sites + social media. There are several ways that you can share your photo – the very best way is to scroll down to use the handy form that I created just for this purpose, but you can also just share the images to Facebook or Instagram and tag me along with a comment that you’d like it to serve as a giveaway entry.
For each photo that you share, you’ll receive one entry good for the remainder of the year. For a second entry, share a story about who you are, what you do, and/or why my work resonates with you. And yes, you may submit photos that you’ve sent in the past, IF you include a damned good story!
Each month, I’ll draw one winning name. November’s winner will be chosen on Friday 11/30 at 6 pm PST
I’m doing this because your photos really do mean the world to me! I absolutely LOVE seeing my work out there in the wild, being enjoyed by cool people. More importantly, I love hearing your stories and learning about the amazing things that you do in the world! When you share who you are and why you enjoy my work, it motivates me to keep creating and to continue to improve.
Those photos and connections mean more than I can say. So I’d like to foster that, and to let you know how much I appreciate you. Thanks so much for supporting my craft, and for always inspiring me!
My mother is Mexican and Spanish, and I grew up in Los Angeles, a city that is steeped in Latino culture. My abuella came from Mexico to America in a covered wagon in 1918, and my daughter and I had the good fortune to hear this story from her directly. Despite all that, my own upbringing was pretty American. My family still continues our tradition of making turkey tamales on Thanksgiving, which we’ve done since I was a little girl. I love Sandra Cisneros because her writing captures the feeling of my family in such a poetic and sentimental way, and I can speak Spanglish at a toddler level. That’s about as Mexican as I get.
Similarly, my father was Native American (Cheyenne-Arapaho) and ??. He identified with his Native roots, and drew most of his spiritual and ethical principles from that. You know, the idea that “we are all connected” and we should walk in balance and with respect for mother earth. I don’t mean to cheapen those ideals with buzzwords and catch phrases — I’m just trying to convey the concept quickly. My dad’s art and ideals were deeply influenced by his Indian heritage. He passed that along to me to some degree, by taking me to pow wows and teaching me what he believed in; but I didn’t grow up on a reservation or anything. I grew up roller skating along the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice 😉
These cultures are certainly a part of me, they reflect my family and my history. They have colored my perspective, and helped to shape my thinking; but I didn’t really live them the way a first generation Indian or Mexican person would. As such I view them as my heritage, rather than my culture — if that distinction makes any sense.
There are aspects of each that resonate with me. Little fragments that I like to keep alive in my own way, however diluted. For example, my dad’s people had a great reverence for life. When they hunted, they took only what was needed, and made an offering to the spirit of the animal to express gratitude for the nourishment and sustenance it provided. Their respect for that animal’s life motivated them to use every part of the body. In keeping with this, I smudge every hide that I use in my leatherwork with sage, and silly as it may sound, I thank that cow for the sustenance (income) it provides. I do my best to use every scrap, so that nothing is wasted.
My mom’s ancestors have a beautiful way of viewing death. Every year in Mexico (and much of California 😉 the people celebrate Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. It is not as morbid as it might sound. Rather than mourning the death of loved ones who have passed, this holiday (which actually spans two days) is intended to celebrate, honor and remember those who have passed. I’ve always appreciated this holiday, for that sentiment and also for the beautiful artwork that it inspires.
This year, it is especially important to me, as I’ve lost several friends and family recently. Most notably, my father. Even though we knew it was coming, it still hit me pretty hard. We did not have a perfect relationship — in fact, we butted heads a lot — but I always loved and respected him. I’ve been doing DotD inspired stuff for some time, but even more so over the past year. Silly as it may sound, it has helped me to work through my grief for my dad and to focus on the positive. It reminds me to honor what he taught me, and to value the aspects of him that live on in me and in my daughter.
I am going to go out and grab some marigolds and candles today, so that I can create a special altar in his memory. I’ll add pictures of him and sage that he picked, along with photos and mementos of my grandparents and my friend Mahala, who died of cancer last fall. I’ll spare you the full roster (suffice to say that it is long) but know that it reflects much love for many wonderful people who have added to my life. Meanwhile, I’ve created this virtual altar over on Etsy. My online ofrenda:
Wow, what a great Halloween season! I know it sounds weird to call it a “season” since Halloween is really just a “day” — but I prepare for this far in advance, so it feels like a full season to me.
This year, I got to work with some of the coolest customers ! I also learned a lot. I’ve been doing this for well over a decade now, and there have been quite a few years where Halloween kicked my ass and totally wrecked my hands, too. I love the flurry of sales, but it’s still harsh when I’m bandaging my wrists and alternating heat and ice packs on my hands by the end of October; and of course, my family doesn’t enjoy seeing me babbling incoherently amidst a pile of leather scraps and glitter. They may find it amusing, but they don’t enjoy it.I guess I can get a little mean…
With that said, I was determined to pace myself this year. For the most part, I think I did a pretty good job — as evidenced by the fact that I am even capable of writing this. There’s still room for improvement, and I see several things that I can do differently next year. So there was a learning curve, but it wasn’t as steep as years past. I’m extremely happy about that.
My customers were amazingly positive, patient and encouraging, and I cannot express my gratitude enough. The closest I can come is to offer you all a 15% discount off all orders in my Etsy shop from now through Friday, November 4th, 2011. To take advantage of this offer, simply use the code “thankyou” at check out.
Now that Halloween is over, I think I’ll take a brief respite from mask making so that I can focus on hair accessories and beaded jewelry. My beads have been calling to me for months now, and I’m more than ready to listen. Beadwork is slow and meditative — perfect for winter, and for unwinding after the bustle of Halloween madness.
So that “nasty head cold“? It may have morphed into bronchitis… On the plus side, the doctor has me on a treatment plan. I’m doing my best to be patient/gentle with myself while I heal, and to get as much creative time in as I can. I kind of need to be creative right now — it keeps me from climbing the walls and helps me to stay positive.
Three weeks is a long time to be sick, especially when we’re finally starting to get a bit of summer sun! I’m hoping it will stick around long enough for me to be able to get out and enjoy it. In keeping with that wish, here’s a sunshine sugar skull mask that I recently finished 🙂
Hopping on a plane tomorrow to go visit one of my oldest friends down in southern California. Kim and her daughter are crafty too — Kim makes beaded jewelry and really cool wine bottle decor, and Alli does a little bit of everything (poly clay, gourds, henna, soap making) — so we’re going to share a booth at one of the local festivalson Mother’s Day weekend. The show is called “Dead on the Mountain” and it’s a great big hippie fest with tons of Grateful Dead cover/inspired bands.
I’ve been beading a lot the past week or two, which is a nice change of pace since I’ve been so focused on leatherwork for the last several months. So I’ll have plenty of beaded jewelry for this event, as well as a good selection of leather barrettes, fascinators and hair slides. Not sure how well the masks will do, but I’m bringing a bunch for good measure. Hopefully, we’ll do well there as I’d love to have a reason to visit more often. I miss the sunshine, the redwoods, the ocean and mostly, my peeps. I’m very excited for a chance to see them!
I am deeply grateful for the support of my customers, family and friends, who have helped to make this another wonderful mask making season! It makes me realize how very blessed I am, so I’d like to pay a little bit of that positive energy forward…
It’s exactly one week till Halloween (home stretch!) and I’m definitely feeling the effect of the last 2.5 months of non-stop mask making. As this photo suggests, my studio is feeling it too! I typically work within a certain degree of controlled chaos, but at this point in time, any semblance of “control” is long gone … my workspace is just flat out chaos. I had to clear a path just to get this shot.
That said, I’ve decided to slow down a bit. We’d considered setting up at the Fremont Sunday Market today, but it was pouring rain this morning and R is just getting over that flu bug. So instead of doing the show, I’ll get my studio in order and put finishing touches on a few custom orders.
If I have time and energy, I may mess around with those dark faerie wings that have been sitting on my worktable for the last few months … or possibly the sugar skulls that I started, but haven’t had time to complete. There’s also a raven queen mask that’s just begging for final details.
Yeah, this is my idea of “taking it easy”. Fortunately, I love what I do so the majority of today’s to do list is relaxing and enjoyable … well, except for the cleaning up part 😛