Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Studio Visit

My studio was a bit straightened up - for a brief moment - last week, when we invited a group from our oldest son's boyscout troop to finish up their art merit badge by visiting an artist's studio or workshop.  Showed them a bit about what I do and how I do it.  One boy even knew what mod podge was from an art project he'd done at school!  The others just kind of stared at me.  But that's ok. 

This week the table is crammed full of stuff again.

If you're interested in taking a more in depth tour of this space + how it's organized (including stories behind some of the special pieces on the walls) check out this blog post from a few years back when I first got reorganized, with my hubby's help of course!  We hadn't painted yet, but otherwise things are still about the same! 


Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy Family.

Here is a fun family project for you! About four years ago, I sat my family down and handed out paper and pencils and had everyone draw a "self portrait" of themselves. Those portraits were proudly framed and hang in our hallway. We (and everyone who visits) have enjoyed them the past few years (they are GREAT conversation pieces!), but I noticed that they had gotten quite outdated as the kids have gotten much older and may see themselves a little differently. So, we decided to update our own portraits. This time they got a wood panel and a sharpie marker and then I followed up with my craft paint. The main thing I stress during this activity is "DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY!" Because lets face it. Some people in this house are artists.....and some are CPA's. And that's great! So without further ado....let me introduce you to my family.....You probably all recognize this lady. She's me. And this artist's rendering is true to life. I love the color green and love things that have wings. Enough about me. Moving right along.....

This is my handsome husband. He's a CPA. He rocks the tie most days. He's "all business" during the day, but we all know he has a wicked devilish sense of humor. He's my complete opposite and the complete love of my life. God knew what he was doing when he put Joe and Laura together.

This is my oldest son, Jackson. He's 15. He's super smart. Like crazy wicked smart. He has long surpassed me in smartness. If you're playing board games you should try and get on his team. He plays the drums and loves his Mt. Dew. He's a respectful guy and is just all around cool. He makes me really proud.

This is my middle son, Noah. He is 10. He is the king of one-liners. He makes me laugh every single day. His life is complete, now that the Patriots are going to the SuperBowl. He is going to play baseball for the Chicago Cubs when he grows up and said he is going to fly his Mom to all his games. He is a mini-Joe in almost every way, so I know he is going to turn into an amazing man someday.
This is Lily Margaret. She is 6 and is precious. She is girly in this house full of boys. She likes to color and she likes to shop. She is shy but will attack and try to take down her brothers if the need arises. She is creative and has a wonderful imagination. She wants to be a Mom when she grows up.

...and this is the "beloved" family dog, Cookie. She is 6 years old and I'm just now starting to like her. She's growing on me. At least she's not one of those poo-eaters.

There you have it, everything you wanted to know and more about our family. I encourage you to try this with your family. It will be fun! And remember...you don't have to be an artist.....just have fun and laugh at yourself!

Linked to Flamingo Toes, Tatertots and Jello and Be Different Act Normal.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good Day Sculpture Winner!

The winner of the Good Day sculpture is.....

who said this, "Today is a good day because it's a gift - the present ;) Jesus made this day so it's a good one!"

 Big congrats!

The winner was chosen randomly by the Random Number Generator.

If any of you are interested in purchasing your own flower sculpture, you can find it for online purchase at Cranberry Junction Gifts.  Or you can find a retailer in your area by visiting the store locator.  (You'll have to check with individual shops to determine whether they have this specific piece.)

Kathy also wins this original house ornament too because she was kind enough to share our giveaway with her facebook friends.

Thanks to everyone who shared a shiny moment of their day with us.  It felt like a privilege to get to spend a little piece of our day together! 

We'll take a teeny, tiny break from the giveaways, but we do have more stuff to hand out -there's even a rumor that one of them might be a Lazy Susan (ooooooh!!!) so keep on coming back to visit!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good Day Giveaway!


See, I told you we'd be doing another one very, very soon!

Who knows what could happen today....oh, the possibilities!

...In any case, we know that every day is a good day for a giveaway!  See, you're already heading in the right direction!

The giveaway is for our Good Day sculpture from "This Thing Called Family!"

It sits 10 inches high and is made from metal and wood composite.  It encourages you to view each new day with optimism and hope.

If you can't wait to see if you've won this guy and want your own NOW, go check out Cranberry Junction Gifts, where this flower can be purchased online!


One entry per person.  Tell us what's good about YOUR day today.  Also mention, in your one comment, if you've shared on facebook to win an extra prize!*

Leave a way to contact you, or we'll have to choose somebody else!

Winner will be chosen by random number generator on Thursday night, Jan 26 at 10pm CST.

*If you share on facebook, 
(it's easy: click on the "f" facebook button at the bottom of this post) 
you'll win this EXTRA PRIZE:

original home {happy} home 7 inch ornament

Good Luck, and go make today amazing!

PS:  A few new items were added to the etsy shop yesterday.  It no longer stands empty!

Monday, January 23, 2012


The winner of our "Hold Hands" wall art from This Thing Called Family is....

(We used the random number generator,  which chose #50, to pick our winner.)

She said this:
"I love all of your pieces! I have a few and would love to add this to my collection. I would hang this in my master bedroom. Thanks!"

 Elisabet, email us at paperprayers@hotmail.com -along with your mailing address to claim your prize!
 Congratulations, Elisabet!!!!

Since Elisabet did not leave a way to contact her, we will choose a new winner for this prize if we don't  hear from her by Wednesday night.   

And as promised, we'll start another giveaway very, very soon!!!

***PS:  SIX new items were added to the Paper Prayers Etsy shop today!  Go check it out! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Day Giveaway!


Just because it's snowing here in Iowa and the kids all got out 2 hours early, let's have a giveaway!

These lovebirds are from "This Thing Called Family!" This piece of wall art is 10x20 and has a dimensional metal tree and birds.  It's based on a version of the custom orders that we do, but this one you can purchase right from retailers!   Makes an awesome wedding, engagement, anniversary or Valentine's gift.  It can be purchased online from Cranberry Junction Gifts.

One entry per person.  Tell us what you'd do with this piece if you won it and be sure to leave us a way to contact you.  *Tell us too, in your one comment, if you shared it on facebook!

*If you share this post on facebook, I'll throw in this friendly little owl block (just like the ones I gave out as teacher gifts,) who's rooting for you:

Really, he's cheering you on inside.  Don't let the look on his face fool you.

**The easiest way to share this giveaway on facebook is to click on the "f" facebook button in the green rectangle at the end of this post.

We'll choose a winner Monday night, Jan 23, around 10pm CST.

Winner will be chosen randomly and will not be dependent on your answer! (We only asked what you'd do with it because we're nosy like that!)

Maybe then we'll start ANOTHER giveaway right away!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Did That All REALLY Just Happen??!!

One of our new sets!  -This Thing Called Family

Thursday night of the Atlanta Market, Demdaco invited us to a meet and mingle event where we got to connect + express our gratitude to the business owners that carry our line.  We are so thankful to them all!!!  They have so many awesome products to choose from at market.  It's humbling that anybody ever picks ours.

Business owners "shop" TTCF + place their orders.  Sales reps use handheld devices to scan the products they choose.

We also had the privilege of meeting some other artists and designers - some of whom we've been fans of for a long time, others who are now our new favorites! Meeting these artists was a totally surreal experience.  These are successful women who have made a name for themselves....at least in our little art world  :-)  - and they're all a few steps ahead of us in this journey.  These are people who we admire because of their creativity and passion.  They've worked hard and actively pursued their goals to make a success and a living at this whole art thing.  And then here we are, having stumbled our way into this licensing gig.  (Demdaco found us!  How often does THAT happen?!) We're just regular moms first, who are so very fortunate to be in a position where we can do what we love to do, as much or as little as we want, or as our time allows.  It's just our way of expressing ourselves and being a blessing to others. 

New! This Thing Called Family

Anyway, I was a little intimidated to meet this group of artists.  I thought I'd come away feeling like I'd rubbed elbows with the "rich and famous."  I'd put these women on a pedestal as these unachievably perfect, totally together, successful people who I could never be like.  I don't know why I thought this way - it wasn't anything they did or didn't do.  I guess it's just what you tend to do when you only know someone from facebook and blog world! 

New! This Thing Called Family

INSTEAD,  as I met and visited with these artists, I quickly realized something.  They're real people.  Genuine, honest-to-goodness, real, down-to-earth people!  And I don't say that to minimize any of their achievements because they STILL have our undying admiration and we're STILL big fans of their work.  But these gals are more like us than I ever thought they would be!  They get nervous doing stuff like this.  They have goofy senses of humor or are self-proclaimed dorks - just like us!  They are content to work on top of their washer and dryer - just like Green Girl works at her kitchen island - because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO: ya work with whatchya got.  They worry about how they'll manage to balance family and art too. They feel all the same pulls and don't always know what to do about it, don't always make the right choice, but they give themselves a little grace and they re-prioritize and somehow it all ends up OK.  They admire our artwork as much as we admire theirs.  They felt like instant friends.  There were no egos involved or competition.  Just authenticity and mutual admiration of kindred spirits.  I know it sounds cheesy.  But GOOD cheesy. That's really how it felt!  I know we've begun a connection from here on out that is more than hitting the "like" button on their latest status updates.  I'm already looking forward to future face to face visits and to rooting for them in all their artistic endeavors.      

The first artist we met by venturing out of the Demdaco showroom to her very own brand new space in the Darrah&Co. showroom.  Her name is Michelle Allen:

She's the artist behind Allen Designs.  We love her spirit!  You can visit her blog and website to see her playful, colorful art.  We're big fans of her owls, clocks and soap spitters!  She has her own little team of employees, develops products to be manufactured + ships from her warehouse/studio. It's been so interesting and a lot of fun to watch her journey.

Another high point: meeting artist Marjolein Bastin. From Holland to the US, her detailed nature artwork has connected with people all over the world through her partnerships with Demdaco and Hallmark. Plus our grandma, Mamma Winger's mom, has always been a huge fan. So this was a special moment for Connie! AND us girls grew up reading + loving Vera the Mouse, which she created! Thanks for sharing such special pieces of wisdom with us, Marjolein! http://www.marjoleinbastin.com/en

Connie (caught in a tearful moment) and Marjolein.

Here we are with our product developer at Demdaco - Kate (it's been a blast working with her - she's full of great ideas!) and Holly Christine the artist behind Colorful Devotions

Connie, Kate, Laura, Holly, Jill

Go check out Holly's website to find out more about her - she's super nice!  It felt like we already knew each other - just that indescribable 'somethin' - I'm pretty sure that's got something to do with Jesus. :-)  She sells many of her own products on her website, so we got to pick her brain about what that's like.  Sounds like a lot of work!
Holly's line, Colorful Devotions, was displayed in such a fun and colorful way in the Demdaco showroom!

Another artist that was a complete surprise to meet was Jessica Swift.  It's a good thing that we all had badges with our names on them.  We recognized her name right away. (We follow her blog and facebook page.)  My opening line was, "Hey!!! Where are your rainboots?!  You're not wearing any!"  I'm subtle like that.  But seriously, go check her out - she's a very talented surface designer and artist who has the greatest pattern and color sense. 
Holly, Connie, Jessica, Laura, Jill

We laughed our butts off with artist Cindy Wunsch of Studio Be.  We knew right away we were going to like her because she just tells it like it is.  And with her southern accent, she totally pulls it off!  She has a studio in Nashville where she teaches classes + invites other artists to come teach as well. She asked us if we'd ever be interested in teaching a class..... 

Connie, Cindy, Laura, Jill

Cindy's line is brand new this year and the showroom staging for it was wonderful - she even got one of the window displays!

Studio Be

It was a long time dream to meet Kelly Rae Roberts.  The success of her collection with Demdaco paved the way for other original mixed media artists and sent Demdaco soaring into a new, pioneering, creative direction.  Now they are working with all kinds of mixed media artists with unique stories to tell.  We're just excited to be a teeny tiny part of it and to witness and root for the journeys of other artists.  We just knew that our paths would cross someday and it finally happened! 

Here's just a small portion of the stunning KRR vignettes in the showroom:

More and more of us artists began coming together to visit  (I think we have some kind of creative force field) until finally THIS happened:

There are 5 ladies in this picture above that I have not mentioned yet.  And although we only got to meet them briefly, we're just as big of fans of their work!

In the back left hand corner is Lori Siebert.  She is the designer of the very successful glassware line Sylvestri Glass Fusion.  

Next to her in the back is Megan Halsey who created the line Farm Fresh - a line of giftware with a Farmer's Market/Organic theme.   

In the front left hand corner is Caroline Simas.  She is so sweet!  Her new line, Multiple Blessings, debuted at this market and it's so fun and colorful!    

Next to Caroline is Sharon Feldstein.  She is the creator of Story Squares - a colorful collection of toppers and squares that you can mix and match to tell your own story with art.

Last in the picture, but certainly not least, is Leigh Standley, over in the back, right hand corner.  She is THE Curly Girl!  This gal has a great sense of humor + a unique voice that shines through in her work.  She owns a shop in the Boston area called Marmalade.  We were so excited when she told us that she carries some of TTCF in her shop!!!

If you take time to visit all of these ladies sites, you'll quickly see that they've ALL got a LOT more going on than the lines I mentioned - they're busy doing all kinds of amazing things all over the place!  
 What a lot of talent and accomplishments all squished together into one photograph!  It's amazing that my camera didn't catch on fire!

One final highlight to mention was meeting Susan Lordi earlier in the day, but somehow we forgot to get a picture!!!  She is the creator of Willow Tree and was one of the first artists to begin creating for Demdaco in 1999.  She helped shape it into one of the top companies in the gift industry today. She shared a bit about her philosophy and process behind creating each sculpture. Each piece is personal + conveys a feeling or emotion. She hand-carves each original, then a mold is taken from her original. It was a pleasure to meet Susan! Here's a picture of part of the Willow Tree display in the Atlanta showroom:

That night, after meeting all of these gorgeous people, we laid in our hotel beds (Mamma Winger and I ended up sharing the king and Green Girl got the roll-away because she's a major blanket hog who won't share - I know you were all wondering who ended up where.....And did you know that the Four Seasons only has rooms with either 2 twin - yes - TWIN beds, or 1 king?  There are no rooms with 2 doubles! Weird, huh?)  Anyway, we laid in our king bed and our roll-away and we said to each other, "Did that all REALLY just happen???!!!"  

New! This Thing Called Family

We are so, so, SO grateful to be a part of this Demdaco family!

New! This Thing Called Family

*Special big thanks to Jonathan, Cultural Conversation Leader at Demdaco, who asked us what we'd like to get out of being in Atlanta and when we said 'meet some other artists,' went out of his way to introduce us to several people we wouldn't have otherwise met! 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Atlanta Market + Demdaco, 2012

We are still experiencing the after effects of spending time away from home.  It's always a bit of shock to come back to our real lives!   Especially when you splurge and stay at the Four Seasons!   Can we be real though? We were a bit out of our element! We're used to staying at places where you get a free continental breakfast and there is no tipping of any kind involved!  We don't normally stay at places that offer evening turn down services or have bathrobes or have restaurants that lay your napkin in your lap for you and cause you to doubt the language the menu is in, because you don't recognize anything on it!  But by the time we decided to go, rooms were scarce that were anywhere close to the AmercasMart.  We knew that at least this hotel was close to MARTA (or "Martha" as we affectionately like to call her) which would get us everywhere we needed to go.  So we went for it!  Somehow we were upgraded to a Terrace room!


The market itself is huge.  I mean like overwhelming humongous.  It was our first time at the Atlanta market, last year we went to the Chicago version, which we thought was big, but it's not nearly on the same scale as Atlanta!  There are 3 buildings like this:

Floor and more floors.  FULL of merchandise.  With this many choices, it's a wonder that anyone ever finds or picks our line to carry in their store!  It's kinda crazy.

DEMDACO invited us to a special mingle event on Thursday night where their customers and artists could meet.  We had the opportunity to meet and thank many business owners who carry our line, many of whom we recognized through connecting on facebook!  Some even wanted to take our picture with our display.  Surreal.  General feedback was that the lazy susans, family rules, and welcome sign have all been good sellers for people and so have the small winged plaques. 

Everyone at Demdaco had such nice things to say about "This Thing Called Family" too.  They are so excited about how it's first year went and are very optimistic about its future!  We met many new sales reps, saw many familiar faces from our previous visit to Kansas City headquarters and got to visit more extensively with the product developers for our line.  They got us all pumped up about 2 more releases later this year of TONS more awesome new things to TTCF, plus thinking ahead to 2013!  We can't wait to get started on designs for 2013.  We've got so many ideas that it's going to be a challenge to narrow it down!  Guess that's a good problem to have!

The Demdaco showroom is huge!  Here's some pictures of our display:
6 new sets of phrases

The three on the left are new!

Some close ups of more new crosses:

New owl nesting dolls
New Look What I Made, magnetic board
New Share, Spend, Save set
New Perpetual Calendar -Alleluia!  Doesn't it look like it has a halo?!
New Step Stool!

We can't tell you enough how much we enjoy the atmosphere at Demdaco.  They are genuine and friendly.  They are all about people and building relationships - both internally and with their retailers.  They are concerned about creating something that is meaningful and lasting: in spirit, in business and in products.  They made us feel right at home, when we are so clearly still new at this.  Wandering around the showroom and overhearing sales reps as they talked to customers, it's easy to see why Demdaco is rated #1 in customer service for the whole gift industry! 

*Next time we'll share pictures and stories of all of the talented artists that we had the pleasure and honor to meet!