Meet Jen! founder & owner

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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BIG NEWS! Jennifer Murphy is Martha's Guest


Please tune into Martha Stewart's TV show on MONDAY, APRIL 2nd to see my pal Jennifer Murphy as the special guest for the crafting segment. Now how cool is that! Just check your local listing for times and channels...
here's the link to Martha's site
Congrats to Jen....this is well deserved recognition for her talent and style. The word is Jen will be teaching Martha to make something fun for don't miss it!
Here is Jen pictured with friend and fellow artist Letty Worley and her Mom, Pat Murphy at my home last fall. Love those talented gals!
xxoo Jen

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

On Angels' Wings...

Friendship comes on angels wings for this sweet Italian putti reminds us...

Here is friend and fellow collector, lover of teddies, dolls, folk art, and all things pink and green...Rosanna DeBellis, and her beautiful daughter Nicole, of Mantova, Italy. They have visited us in Warwick 3 times and I need to get to Italy to see her amazing home and collections.

Thanks Rosanna for the pictures shared here...there are so many more...and we will be sure to post them over time so that all can enjoy...what a collection! How totally yummy and PINK!!!! And yes, we can think pink can't we!!!

Rosanna takes decorating, and the color pink, to new heights...just look at the wonderful stacks of sweaters festooned as they sit in the wardrobe... she lives with art all around her, wears it, shares it, loves it! Little Nicole is just as fond of the pink and green theme and here are some images of her and pink and more pink...every wonderful!

Delicious, devine, delightful, delirious, de-lovely and DeBellis! you recognize any other "Angels" friends among the photos? ...yes, there's Heidi's elephant, Maree's dolls and more work and treasures from Nicole, Lynsey, and Jody...and I love the image of Rosanna wiht Robin, Nicol, and Dawn...I am reminded of so many wonderful friends that have come to me through the world of art...
love art, eat cake, have fun
xxoo Jen

Saturday, March 24, 2007

May I?

May I??

Here is the question begged in RED letters from my dining room hutch... May I try; will I love it; can they alter art? May we take something and add to it, meld textures and forms, time periods, the old with the new? Can we enjoy something...maybe not as it was initially art?

YES! We can and we do! Look at these gals at a workshop Jody Battaglia hosted with us. We loved getting our hands dirty and our minds busy as we put ideas into brave artists are for being able to do this time and again! And maybe even braver when they alter art...when they use materials and objects not as they were intended....when they layer, revisit, and re-create....

The temptation to alter what is already there, make it better, make it whimsical, make it our own.... It's a lush concept, dribbled with funky nostalgic components, texture and sentiment. ALteReD aRt just might be kitsch's little sister....and we already know I love KITSCH!

Spunky and so very today, we reach for art that is tweaked anew. Old photos of those forgotten are freshly found in Cheryl Kuhn's "small stories studio" creations. Cheryl takes old images and alters them, adding layers of wood, metal and paper. Words are coupled with the images to breathe new life into old written art...literature and books, forgotten poems and long-ago chanted ditties. Cheryl has just emailed that a new box of work is on it's way. (We'll post these to the site next weekend...let us know if you'd like to be on a sneak peek list as her work does go quickly...)
In the realm of the wearable, Dara DiMagno bravely alters yesterday's photo art. I am so drawn to her work, wearing one of he pieces almost daily. They are kaleidoscopes of vintage metal, found objects and forgotten faces. Old silver utensils, odd findings, scraps from long-ago played games, tin types and old photos, steel cut Victorian buttons, Bakelite charms and baubles these she layers quips and monikers in collaged fonts. The altered elements emerge as charming stories...fancifully adorn what was there... and making it her own.
And in her series called "queens of kitsch", Ashley Carter takes 1940s paper dolls and creates a realm of frothy millinery flowers and faux confections as skirts, wands and fun and what an altered use for paper dolls... and I am quite sure those vintage hat ornaments never thought they'd be turned into fairies' wands and party centerpieces!
These artists alter materials to make their own creations....and I have fallen in love with them for it. I admire their bravery, their whimsy and their STYLE!
So yes, you may! Have your own style, your own flair, your own love of art for what it is, what it was and what it can be to you...
xxoo Jen

Thursday, March 22, 2007

...assemblage art rocks

Assemblage art is often incongruous in its components. It can be unsettling in its perfectly, imperfect matches of texture and form. I find myself in love with certain know the ones laden with nostalgia, a bit chippy, their assembled bits the worse for wear but fresh in their new form. Provocative, maybe a bit bedraggled, utterly charming and sometimes just plain silly...these are the ones!
What do you think? Do you love the mix and match of it, the collaged feel, the retro elements...

I often look at the hutches around my home. Their displays are constantly changing, morphing in the direction of one holiday and then back again. Every once in a while we yell, "Don't touch the hutch!" This means somehow, through some magic, a wonderful 3-d collage has emerged on the shelves.
The collected elements have combined in a marvelous soup of a display. This too is what assemblage art is like to me. I love the way it holds it own, heralding it's bright diffidence to conformity and beckoning a reaction.
Kitty B is the mistress of assemblage, carefully curating her odd boxes of whimsy by freezing bits of everyday life for inspection. In her art, Kitty elevates castoff tools, misfit toys and leftover tidbits in her celebration of whimsy, selecting and then surrounding them in their own little world of paper and glitter, whimsy and mirth. Calico & Buttons are her two very favorite things, so she’s named these assemblage pieces and framed collages in their celebration. They hang everywhere in my home.

New friends, artists Bill & Marcia Finks concoct funky and fun wall dolls from a bevy of metal findings, castoff doll parts, and forgotten bits of yesterday’s everyday. Their assemblages convey movement despite the rusty oddness of their dashingly askew component parts. These two transform broken rhinestone pins, rusty metal bits, remnants of ribbon and curling wire into delights. The new story, told deftly by their assembled parts, creates an appeal that is charming, nostalgic and just a bit sassy. We are thrilled to be working with them and have just posted their creations to our site!

Lisa Kaus delves into the depths of assemblage with her tinnies and houses. Wood and metal, findings and paint blend seamlessly in her work. In an earlier blog, I showed a detail of one of her assemblage houses sporting the #7 of my home address....I love her and her work too! I cannot wait for her to visit us in May for the 6th annual Spring Soiree...and Lisa, can I have permission to share some images of you in your studio for a future post...I would love to highlight you and your work!

So assemblage art is there for the making. Favorite things collaged, a story to tell in 3-d, memories to hold or create anew, assemblage art makes it possible. And yes I DO WEAR IT! (see prior post!!!) Jill Schwartz's Elements jewelry is assemblage art at its best....just miniature in form. My favorites are the Ovaline Chirp Chain and the Square Beaded Tweet necklaces .
Do you like it, have you made it, do you think it rocks?
ciao for now!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Do YOU wear art?

So you love it, you collect it, you make it, you admire it, you enjoy it, and you share it. You hang it on walls, sit it on shelves, and let it adorn your heart and home. But, do you wear it? Do you show the world your love of pretty, whimsical and artful handmade things? Do you make each day more your own through the expressive donning of artful baubles?

I must admit to decorating myself each day like a cheerfully bedecked Christmas tree. While I feel my wardrobe choices are often limited by the need to dress for battle...I am chasing 3 little ones all day...I never hold back on the accessories. Bangles, big rings, and the pin on my omnipresent denim jacket...these artful pieces of jewelry make me, feel like me, no matter the day, what I wear, or what I might be up to. Party clothes or play clothes, the art goes with me!

Here's the vintage candelabra in my master bath, it begs me to try a new necklace each day. My bracelets nestle in an old valise, and my rings and earrings in big chipped bowls. It's a grab 'n go, free for all of texture and color. Felt, metal, fantastic plastic, big beads, little beads, chains, odd bits of yesterday, all are ready to festoon!
My beloved dress form, affectionately referred to as "Margarette", was made famous by her recent appearance in the March 2007 issue of "Country Living". I think she looks as good as she did when she was made in 1905. It must be the Elements jewelry!
Can you tell I adore Lynsey Walters? How can I not feel good when I wear her happy felt creations. They remind me of her cheerful spirit...ahh, I could listen to that Scottish accent all day...And here's Ulla when we first met at "Halloween & Vine". I fell in love with her and her jewelry at the same time! My first piece from Ulla's hands was a wonderful reliquary pendant/pin entitled "hocus pocus". Look I was wearing a necklace by Nicole Bowen that caught her eye too!
Of course I am thrilled Stacey Bear has started to make jewelry too, as has Leslie McCabe. Each creating in their signature style, but in miniature wearable form!

So many of you asked about my 20 Year High School was very interesting, to say the least. And as I dressed...thinking of all the wonderful friends in my life today...I decided to take them with me. I wore a necklace by Dara DiMagno, a ring from Jill Schwartz, and bracelets by Lynsey Walters. These pieces were like touchstones for me...the dress was red, though fairly plain and tailored, but it was the jewelry that made me feel good and like the evening might just be fun after all. Each piece meant something to me, as do the hands that made them...
So do you wear art? Do you have handmade jewelry languishing in a box? Go ahead, play dress up just for yourself. Feel fabulous, glamorous, and fun. Make memories, bedeck yourself, bedazzle and adorn with jewelry, be beautiful...

Wear Art, Eat Cake, Have Fun
xxoo Jen
Earth Angels Toys

Saturday, March 10, 2007

...have you had a day like this?

 of those milk for the coffee - 5:04 am, chocolate syrup spattering on the floor - 7:18am, annual appointment with the tax man at 11:00am, and a 20 year high school reunion at 7:30 tonight in Queens...ugh
...and me, ever ebullient, has a dented armor today, tarnished with the tiny troubles that I reached into the red chest that sits in the front hall, that cheery red chest that we found antiquing in Vermont (you know the one that almost didn't fit in the car, when Micah almost left me on roadside after an hour trying to load it in the hot sun, with the little ones meandering around the gravel lot...) well, THAT cheery, cherry red chest holds all our pictures...I reached in and blindly pulled out a stack (they will be in order someday, it's my goal for my 5oth birthday some 12 years out....)

The stack of was friends playing with my kids here at the house. Ro, you are always the designated family photographer...that's why we just had to adopt you. And Lisa, you party girl, you always look fab even with our mayhem around you. And look, there's Robin and Denny the couple of the century...ooohh I wish these were I am off to the digital files to see what I can share...

Here they are...found some. Our porch seems the best perch in the colder weather we are all about the kitchen of course, but as soon as the air warms us, we are on the porch, living half way between the house and the yard, and that is where my friends gather. We have pots and pots of tea, tropical girl drinks when the mood strikes us, while the kids play in the yard. We watch the odd car pass by and here we are on our porch having fun...

Hi to Ro, Heidi and Jody, here's my sister Roseanna, Nicol and Stacey....and there's Pat and Leslie, oh here's Laurie and her Tasie with Jill, Niole, Nanci, Jodi, two Lisas, Danielle, Judy...what days, what friends.... ahh...I am feeling so much better...Do your friends do the trick every time? Mine do, as do the wonderful memories.

Now, if i can only face all those old faces at tonight's event....hmmm well I am going mostly for curiosity's sake...will I still be afraid of the girls who sneaked cigarettes in the bathroom on East Bottom? I went to the largest private high school in the US of A. Yep, St Francis Prep which perches on the LIE in Queens. Run around the building 2x and it's a mile, this place was huge, so were the egos, the offerings and the possibilities (do you watch HBO's "Entourage"?)...but I barely remember it seems so far away... so are the faces in the yearbook...but the ones on my porch are bright and beautiful!

Friendships cultivated in the real world with shared loves, not just circumstances. Such a treat to have real friends, true friends, fun friends, old friends, new friends...

...and I just went to call my friend Diane Allison, she's already up and working this morning, but I cannot use the phone. My "adorable" 20 monther, Rory, decided to dump it into the sink last night. It, of course, landed in the pot that was soaking...ahhh of those days...I will take them all with my friends to cheer me.

xxoo Jen
Earth Angels Toys

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

the bewitching cocktail of kitsch

....raise your hand if you love kitsch...ok, now raise your hand if kitsch scares you a little bit...ooohh look... your hand was up both times...Kitsch has the raw edge of a missed joke and no rules of play. It works in today's decor to unsettle, beg a giggle and disarm pretenses....

Kitsch is the chest of wonders from which I can rarely extract myself without stealing a bit of wit and whimsy. Since youth, I have imbibed its one legged plastic dolls, chipped carnival chalkware puppies, and mysteriously tacky tourists' souvenirs from forever ago.

Look how it appears unabashedly in my delicately colored bedroom... I am completely intoxicated with the work of Kitty Babendreier. I collected Kitty's work feverishly for years, and I am no less than overjoyed that she is now one among my "Angel" artists! Thanks Kitty for all the fabulous mixed media boxes, kitsch-laden collages and bits of magic brew you have sent this way....

I love the way Kitty's boxes nestle beside Pat Murphy's sweet bear, just in front of a small stories studio piece ...and those beaded chairs....yum

...drink up the textures in the next image....... isn't the combo of a kitschy celluloid baby just plain fun next to Jen Murphy's bunny??? Julie Arkell's papier-mache collage hangs nearby from my dresser post. Kitsch revels in the odd, embraces the forgotten, and mixed it all up with contemporary art, beloved antiques and voila!'s a perfectly yummy decor cocktail best shared with a friend of similar humor! ...and on that note

Jane...may your bakelite and be-baubled scepter herald (in a 194os typeface...) your indulgence in this medium time and brave..go girl!

... and Thea, I relish in the knowledge, your fabulous herd of plastic, and dare-we-say..."light-Up" camels (gone astray from a manger somewhere in Staten Island) ...were a mere dune away from the dustbin when you rescued them from oblivion, elevating them to their current and lofty posts as confidants in your office...if those camels could talk! ...and how fitting, we met in Cairo, but we are both just chicks from Queens....

So the blog tour continues....along the way, my beloved treasures, objects, art, and vintage goodies mix with my kitcsh-y bits and encourage me to chuckle at yesterday's whims and face tomorrow with mirth. To me these odd treats are like the fun hors'douerves in my decor, setting off the serious and the pretty with a visual nugget of fun.

...I am thinking pink for the next blog and celebrating, not only the alter ego of kitsch sometime soon, but it's brave new little sister....altered art
... until then
peace, love and snowglobes
xxoo Jen
Earth Angels Toys

Monday, March 5, 2007

my cupboards' wonderland...

...Like the small Gulliver in the land of the giants, I want to jump right into the magic of my collections and live amongst the odd bits of celebrated found objects, art and memories that are curated by my cabinets, shelves and cupboards. There, scale turns dizzy in beloved vignettes, where the odd bit of scrap paper can harbor value beyond gold, and mementos of days gathering curiosities now endure the gracious patina of time.
The hutches, perches and wee nooks of my home somehow harness the magic of my collections...they make enchanting showcases of wonderful textures. I find treasured and special items, many that were dear in price, are all the more fascinating over time. What was wrought by the hands with love and care holds my interest still...though often required to make room for new goodies that invariable require a post in the growing displays!! In my bedroom, Brides and their shy Grooms make friends old and new on plates by Jill Shcaefer and wish boxes by Ashley Carter.

Here are gal pals Judy (mum to talented Nicole Bowen see the wee cupcake doggie she cradles along with a Jill Kenny teddy), Susan a long time doll friend and great gal pal extraordinaire Dawn strutting their favorite goodies in my bedroom. Thanks again to Nicol Sayre for the fabulous gift of the Alice doll Susan shows off! I have a long time love affair with Alice in Wonderland, and cannot resist her charms and utter scattered whimsy.
Along the tour we started on this BLOG yesterday, here is a favorite Alice painting from a whimsy box that hangs in my bedroom. This original work sprung from the imagination and hands of the lovely and talented Stacey Bear...her Momentos realm is fascinating. When I see a new batch of Stacey's work I become intoxicated and beg my home to grow more walls like some odd abode from "Wonderland".
...and as some unknown someone urged the curious Alice, "drink this"
xxoo Jen

...home sweet creative home

 homes are our castles where we rule with style and abandon. Filled with memories, friends (look at these fabulous gals!) and love...and dare we say...some, or the sum of many, treasured objects. The door to my home opens so many times... to let in friends, boxes of treasures from artists, new ideas, and simply fresh air.

I love Jo Packham's book "Where Women Create"....I treated myself to a copy last fall and devoured every favorite chapters were of course on Debbee Thibault and Jill Schwartz...

...and it got me to thinking...where do I create? Well, I have a ramshackle desk here in my kitchen at #7 (immortalized by Lisa Kaus in the multi-media piece above...) There sits the hot-rod of a laptop on a counter above one very messy drawer...truth be told. From this humble perch I run my little Earth Angels big studio for me, sad to say. But, my entire home is my playground, with an ever changing seasonal palette and displays. Visit once and on the second trip don't expect to see the same things in the same migrates floor to floor, paintings change walls like I change shoes, powder-rooms don fresh paint overnight...nevermind the little vignettes that dot the hutches, cupboards and shelves.
This is where and how I create, unwind and and around my HOME...Ulla has suggested I open the door to my home and take you all on tour through the for more entries on displays and rooms that celebrate my personal style, and collections. And yes, please do send your images of home, and where you create so I can share them too.

I thrive on the ideas and new things, new energy and new I am loving BLOG land...thanks to Diane Allison for the help this morning. (Diane, Paul is trying to roll me over to the new BLOGGERS version where I can create links to all my Earth Angels artists...thanks to all of you for your patience.)

...rememeber...Home is where the heart sings. - Bonnie Taylor Talbot
xxoo Jen

Saturday, March 3, 2007

flutterby...butterfly magic

...every day some magic flits into our lives. If we are lucky enough, we might just harness some of it to keep for ourselves... we were getting ready for one of last year's parties, this huge and feathery velveteen-like moth flew about the house finding favorite spots to rest...yes, the one you can tell is moving among the sparkly and soulful creations from Jill Schwartz .

This mini-me "mothra" seemed to harbor a mildly mad infatuation with Ashley Carter's glittery butterflies . Can you blame him?

I confessed my own similarly passionate feelings for Ashley's winged Goldbug Studio creations in a recent confession to friend and fellow collector Gina Chambers (shown here with gal pal, doll artist Nicol Sayre). Gina has seen me, as all real friends should and still love me, at my best and worst...but Gina, I surrender, you are simply a faster runner than I! You fly!
I am so glad you flitted into my life Gina, Nicol and Donna, and all of you that flutterby and fill my home with magic and joy...visit again soon.

xxoo Jen
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