Tag Archives: Arts

The Cheeseburger Head Spider and Other Rare Arthropods

Here it is, the Cheeseburger Head Spider.

Here it is, the Cheeseburger Head Spider.

It has happened again.  I was wandering the aisles of Barnes and Noble (yes, bookstores do still exist), and I found a craft book that I was compelled to buy.  It was Bead Bugs by Amy Kopperude.  When I find books like these they invariably add to my list of random skills, which I am hoping will one day coalesce into some sort of monetizable activity, but this has not yet happened.  See my posts “It’s Every Sock’s Dream to Become a Sock Doll” and “I Stole My Daughter’s Present and Made Art With It” to get an idea of the wide range of my incredible talents.

So I bought the book and brought it home.  I already had a few bins of beads and wire tools, as I make jewelry occasionally.  And can you believe it, the Gem and Jewelry Show made its way to San Diego just a few weeks after I bought the book.  So my son Sam and I (check out his cool blog on my blog roll) went to the show, picked up even MORE beads and some wire, and I got to work.  In the book I bought the artist was diligent about keeping her bugs on the realistic side.  I wasn’t really, and I blame my son.  He insisted we buy these glass beads shaped like cheeseburgers, and then when I asked him what kind of spider he wanted me to make for him he replied, “A cheeseburger head spider”.

Some pics of my creations are below.  I also happened to buy some glass owl beads at the show, and there happened to be a project with an owl in cage in my new book that I adapted for my owl beads.  It came out wonderfully.

There are a few take home lessons from this blog post.

1.  You may think you have enough beads, but you never really do.

2.  I’m pretty sure cheeseburger head spiders don’t exist, but they should.  Wanna hear my joke? What do cheeseburger head spiders eat?  French flies.  Oh yeah, I’ve still got it…

3.  If brick and mortar book stores disappear, serendipitous finds like my bug book won’t happen nearly as often, and I won’t be able to continue to add skills like Bead Bugger to my resume of life.

Three beetles having a meeting.  The turquoise bug to the left is one of my favorites.

Three beetles having a meeting.

A caterpillar and and ant.  Isn't there a fable by Aesop with that title?  There should be...

The caterpillar and the ant. Isn’t there a fable by Aesop with that title? Or am I thinking of the joke where they walk into a bar?

Cats.  I know, I have issues.  The same place that I got the owl beads, cheeseburger beads, and octopus beads had cat beads.  Which I bought.  Because I have an illness.  How can you not love cats???

Cats. I know, I have issues. The same place that I got the owl beads, cheeseburger beads, and octopus beads had cat beads. Which I bought. Because I have an illness. How can you not love cats???

One of my absolute favorite things I have made lately.  I hung my caged owl in my garage/lounge/art studio, over my corner table.  Perfect!

One of my absolute favorite things I have made lately. I hung my caged owl in my garage/lounge/art studio, over my corner table. Perfect!


A set of wine charms I made for my friend Leslie for her birthday. I still have to put the little attachment rings on them. I found another use for those awesome owl beads!


Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography

I Stole My Daughter’s Present and Made Art With It

Our friends the Tibbetts (see the 12 Tonys page and the post on Pretty Baby, Tony’s porche) gave Emma a present for Christmas.  A set of six small black canvases and some gel pens.  They have been sitting in the kitchen, waiting for Emma to open them up and use them.  She waited too long…

A bit of back story is required at this point.  The kids’ elementary school has a wonderful art program called Fine Artists.  The lessons are designed by our resident artist Kathleen Kane Murrell (http://kathleenkanemurrell.com/), who teaches them to the parents, who then teach them to the students.  The parents get to make the art themselves during workshops, and a recent lesson was based on decorated matchboxes by Picasso.  I thought my “identity box” was so much fun to make, since I really, really like little things (see my post Microworlds).  I glued many things on that box, like a single purple plastic high top tennis shoe that I found on the ground a least a decade ago and have kept for no particular reason since.  I also glued things with particular meaning to me, like a small Buddha because I collect them, and a thimble because I sew sock dolls (see my post It is Every Sock’s Dream to Become a Sock Doll), and a grey cat because I must always own a grey cat (the current is Julius).  I enjoyed scouring the house, all my shelves, and bowls, and hidey holes, for small objects to attach to my box.


Now, remember, these canvases are just sitting there in the kitchen, and I probably pass them by 4 or 5 times a day.  About a week ago, after the kids were in bed, I was hanging out by the fire in the living room, and checked out the bookshelves for something to page through before bed.  I lit on Mixed-media Doll Making by O’Brien and Opie.  There is a chapter on making dolls using a canvas turned backwards as the body (this creates a small space or stage to work in), and then attaching found objects for the head, arms, and legs.  AHHH, those little canvases, just sitting there, for like, at least a week and a half…

In my defense, I did invite Emma AND Sam to make a canvas doll with me, they both declined.  So the other night I broke out the paints and papers, dug through boxes and drawers, got out all my beading and button bins, and went to town.  The result is six little canvas dolls, ready to hang on the wall.  Since I also stole Emma’s angel coin for “Guardian Angel”, she has claimed that one to hang by her bed.

So this is a warning to all of Emma’s and Sam’s friends and relatives.  If you are going to give them presents, clothing in their size (not socks, since I make sock dolls!), toys, or books would be a better option than art supplies, since I obviously have no shame about pilfering presents.  But as I like to remind them, I gave them the gift of life, so they are forever in my debt.

Guardian Angel






Universe Man


Oh Canada


Good Doggie



Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography


I’ve always liked little things.  Small figurines and toys, bonzai, the pygmy maramosets at the zoo.  The idea for this post came from some small gardens I’ve made and wanted to share, but I’m also going to include some info on two books on the subject, as well as a poem by Billy Collins.  First a look at my shelf.  It is over my sink and has my favorite little things on it that I’ve collected over the years.

Microworlds in Books

The two books I wanted to share are Microworlds by Mark Valli and Margherita Dessanay and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death by Corrine May Boltz.  A word of caution about sharing these books with kids.  The majority of Microworlds is kid friendly, though 3 or 4 pages are absolutely not.  The Nutshell Studies are small models of a actual crime scenes, complete with corpses and blood.  Emma and Sam have both looked at it, but some kids might find it too much.  The pictures I’ve included in my post are okay for kids.

I bought the Nutshell Studies after I saw a review in the San Diego Union Tribune.  It is the story of a series of models built over many years by Frances Glessner Lee, a wealthy widow.  She was fascinated with police and police work, and built the models for use as a forensic training tool for investigators.  There are 18 dollhouse style crime scenes based on real cases, built on a 1:12 scale.  Each scene is filled with meticulous details, down to hand knitted miniature socks and cabinets filled with food.  One of the most charming things about the vignettes for me is the glimpse into the houses and way of life in 1940’s and 1950’s America.

I found the book Microworlds at the San Diego Museum of Art.  The book describes the work of 27 artists, who all create and then photograph miniature worlds.  Many use small figures they purchase through companies that supply hobbyists or at garage sales/swap meets, and some create their own figures.  Some artists’ work is very whimsical, like posing small figures with eggs, which suddenly become mountains.  As I mentioned above, some of the themes are more adult.

Microworld Gardens

I enjoy growing plants, and our yard is stuffed with them.  They stay out all year round (San Diego weather!), and if you can afford the water, most things will thrive (though some do need to be moved to the shade in summer).  I, of course, like little succulents.  We have plenty of  sun here for them, and if you get the right ones (not jade plants), they grow slowly and maintain the feeling of a miniature world.  Below are some examples of microworld gardens I’ve done.

I made these a couple of years ago from old ceiling light fixtures. The kids surrounded the plants with special rocks, marbles, and small figures.

The kids made this (with some help!) for their dad for Father’s Day. The meditating baboon is from the Lion King.

I created this this past spring as a class gift for Mrs. B., Sam’s teacher. We glued glass stones around the top, and added fairies donated by Emma and a shell filled with the fairies’ treasures.

My friend Jeri had a corner of her patio that was filled with dirt and stones. We transformed it into a gnome garden, complete with lava rocks and birdhouses.

Bonsai, by Billy Collins

All it takes is one to throw a room
completely out of whack.
Over by the window
it looks hundreds of yards away,
a lone stark gesture of wood
on the distant cliff of a table.
Up close, it draws you in,
cuts everything down to size.
Look at it from the doorway,
and the world dilates and bloats.
The button lying next to it
is now a pearl wheel,
the book of matches is a raft,
and the coffee cup a cistern
to catch the same rain
that moistens its small plot of dark, mossy earth.
For it even carries its own weather,
leaning away from a fierce wind
that somehow blows
through the calm tropics of this room.
The way it bends inland at the elbow
makes me want to inch my way
to the very top of its spiky greenery,
hold on for dear life
and watch the sea storm rage,
hoping for a tiny whale to appear.
I want to see her plunging forward
through the troughs,
tunneling under the foam and spindrift
on her annual, thousand mile journey.


Filed under Arts/Crafts/Photography, Books, Gardens/Plants/Nature