Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all had a great day doing whatever you want and ate some great food with good company!


Advice to Young Artists

It’s show season and I’ve been thinking about all that I’ve learned since I started in this artly life I’ve lived.

I’ve been an artist of some sort all my life. I’ve been sewing for about 55 years or more. I started out making clothes for my imaginary “Little Ratties” who were my friends after I saw Cinderella at the theater. This was it’s very first showing. Yeah, I’m that old.




I’ve made jewelry for over 20 years. I’ve been a writer for a while now–since before I started making jewelry. I wrote my first poem in second grade.  I’ve learned a lot along the way so for this post I thought I would pass along some things I’ve learned along the way. I hope they help someone.

Advice to Young Artists

  • Don’t give up. You will have many failures. We all have. No one rides a bicycle without training wheels on the first try. Michelangelo didn’t carve the David his first time sculpting. You will have bad days, weeks, months, and maybe even years. Do not give up. If you love your medium, keep at it.
  • Don’t compare your work to other people’s work. Your work is always going to be different. You may learn things faster or slower than others, but that is just what you do. Be content with it.
  • Don’t mistake your first efforts for fine art. Your first art pieces will seem either like garbage or the best thing in the world to you. Keep working for a year and you will look back on your first tries and see how far you’ve come. You may even be a little embarrassed. I’m not saying to keep them hidden. Get opinions from people you respect. Take their advice if it makes sense to you. If someone wants to buy one, sell it, then go and get more supplies.
  • Use the best supplies (not necessarily the most expensive) that you can afford.
  • You will be obsessed with your new art. Other people are not. If you find yourself talking about it and dominating the conversation, stop. Just stop. Your work should speak for itself.
  • If you take a class, don’t hog the teacher or the equipment. Other students paid to learn too. You are no more important than they are.
  • If you take a class, ask questions, learn about the equipment and get to know the other students. You can make some lasting friendships and maybe find some collaborators. Good things come from good relationships.
  • If you take a class, DO NOT copy your teacher’s (or anyone else’s) work. Copying is easy, but not creative. You are not a Xerox machine. These people have spent many hours, years–decades even–perfecting their art and techniques and have graciously offered to teach you some of what they know. Let them have their own thing. Do YOUR own thing. Use the techniques you learn in a new way and/or with other materials.
  • If you find a shop in which to sell, don’t copy the other members of that shop. MAYBE you can make similar things and sell them in another town. Maybe. Make sure that they don’t sell in the same place before you do. Artists are very possessive of their style. Don’t copy. See above.
  • As you get better at your craft, be understanding of younger artists. Try to be patient with their enthusiasm and transgressions. Remember, you were a beginner once too.

Who do you…oh, okay.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before. If you didn’t know, I’m a genealogy addict. ADDICT!!! I love reading mysteries, and genealogy is my personal mystery. 

I was reading my friend Ruth’s post about a small shocker of a discovery in her ex’s family tree and started thinking again about my suspicion that my mother wasn’t who she thought she was.  I got my DNA tested and began getting matches and “Circles” from Ancestry, but none for the Hickey line. My Poppy and his brothers and sister, were they really my relatives? True, my mom had red hair like they did, but… 

You see, Granny & Poppy were married in April of 1935. I found the license in the Knox County Archives records. Granny never told anyone the date. My mother, their only child, was born in August of 1935. Do the math.

On a side note, I totally understand this. They were engaged for years. They had just come through the Great Depression and the horrible accidental death of Granny’s little sister. They had very little money, few prospects and my Granny came from a very dysfunctional family. They were in their early twenties. It must have been practically impossible to wait for marriage. Poppy’s family got around too. From A WAY BACK. Although at this time he and Granny went to church–she played piano there. He settled down and became domesticated after meeting her from what I’ve heard.

Then there was my mom’s unusual middle name, Hu. She was named after a friend and neighbor, Jehu Hinshaw. Hmmmm…  I had taken this named-after-a-friend thing at face-value all my life. Now it made me think.

But Poppy really liked Jehu too, so…  I wondered about this all for a couple of months and then…Voila! My Hickey line showed up on Ancestry! Whew! 

But I had mixed feelings. Thankful that my family was really my family, but now I didn’t have a new mystery to figure out. I guess I’ll just have to keep chasing my regular dead ends, Manerva Jane Parson(s) alias Wilson who married George W. Hickey–old enough to be her father, and my nemesis Jane McClain.

Jane & her many children

Argh! Jane, why didn’t you name fathers for any of your kids? She was apparently a Jezebel. I can’t find her parents either. I believe that Susannah McClain was her mother but lack proof. And there are “Jane McClains” everywhere.

Manerva, you behaved a LITTLE better, but where did you come from? She is one of my “Circles” on Ancestry, as is George Hickey, and Gilbert Hickey, their son. There is photographic evidence that she was a real person even though, apparently, she had no parents.

Manerva Jane, where did you come from?

Oh, well. Back to the hunt in my downtime.  Meanwhile, I’m sewing. 

Jane, your days of being a ghost are numbered!