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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Saturday, April 28, 2007

the bon vivant of poems

There's an airy distance in poetry from the writer to the reader. Poems can lie fallow for decades until they are read and then fall still, yet again, awaiting discovery by an appreciative reader. Cheryl grasps this limbo and propels once stale words into visions of sweet sentiment and heartfelt glories in the vernacular. A true wordsmith, she makes me lust for what was loved yesterday by those now gone.

Like no other, Cheryl sees movement in the static verse, and lends poems full texture and stature in her art. Her "small stories studios" creations make the flat three dimensional...they help forgotten faces to sing and samba, fairies fly, and children chortle once more.

In a fantastically distinct style, Cheryl Kuhn breathes new life into old books, poems and long-ago chanted ditties. Her one-of-a-kind mixed media collages are a wind’s song, lifting prose from dusty pages into our view. She can pluck a poem from obscurity and surround it with texture to highlight the story she sees within. Her signature blend of original old photos and found objects makes each creation captivating. She snips and cuts words, salvaging them from dustbins and shelves where they sat unappreciated since the generation that created them.

I adore that her work begs me to pause and read a short verse and reflect…a wonderfully refreshing bit of lovely in the everyday. We send Cheryl our best wishes for a speedy recovery and a return to good health soon! Thanks to Cheryl for the amazing box of treasures that arrived this week...we know she won't be working for sometime...but we know she will certainly be reading those old books she so loves.

E-mail if you'd like to see her latest creations or read a close-up image of any of the poems her work illuminates....
xxoo Jen O'Connor
Earth Angels Toys

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Momentos of the Soul

Stacey's work reaches far down into me, pulling memories forth from faded days, creating new fantasies and begging a nod to nostalgia. Her work -- her "Momentos" have a depth of soul that fascinates me as much as Stacey Bear does herself. She is luminous, with that dark side that is so compelling to ever ebullient me. Her work is as wonderfully full of feeling as she... sensitive, with longing and a lust for adventure and the treasured button in a jar-full of castoffs.

She sings in her work with painterly details and delicate brushwork that begs a closer look. Stacey's talent is exceptional, with a divine edge of unfettered imagination. Her work is story deftly told to the listener in a visual and tactile harmony. A great gal pal confessed to me that we both need to build additional walls in our homes to fit in more of Stacey's creations... I couldn't agree more. I love her and all that she makes. Some of the pieces I have sold for her haunt me still...

Stacey lives and works in a brick home that has been in her husband Doug's family since the 1840s. Built in 1812, it has three foot thick walls that hold captive memories and the gorgeous patina of time. The steps to her studio rise past the family portraits and old photos, themselves worn down to concave depressions. So many footfalls up and down over the much time spent in those rooms gathering tales. Old walls may ache for new plaster, but never mind, they are festooned with bright colors from Stacey's palette and pockets of her fancies are strewn about. This house is canvas to her beloved collections of old toy monkeys, shells, antique dolls, wee doggies, and her minds eye for color and texture. There's the dollhouse in the dining room, the tavern bar in the den, the fabulous spool tower in the living room, the bowl of felted fruit, the fabulous wallpaper, and more...(This is the stuff of magazine layouts so watch for a peek into the Bear home and Stacey's studio later this year. Jane Dagmi, Editor-at-Large for "Country Living" magazine is preparing a piece...)

We made a road trip to York, PA last summer during a heatwave...Rory, me and Rosanne headed west to hang in the Bear's backyard, hunting for shade and slugging icy cold cokes under the trees where an old chandelier hung from a party we missed. We walked the dirt roads that lead off their backyard into a never ending horizon of soybeans, splashed in the town pool and slept in old twin beds with cool linen sheets. The morning was heaven. Those wide wooden floor boards underfoot, the coffee...I could have stayed the summer.

Stacey's work is fabulous, with many layers and sides to see. Dimensional, passionate and true, as sure as the talent of the artist. And here's my advice, get on Stacey's good side....she knows every best antique shop and hunting ground from Baltimore to Boston. And she is seriously fun to be with.

I have to thank Stacey for all she has done for me and the Earth Angels' artists...It was Stacey who brought Jane Dagmi to our event last May. Three cheers for Stacey and her gal pal networking that resulted in our 6 page spread in the March 2007 issue of Country Living. And many thanks too Stacey for the wonderful batch of new work. E-mail us of you'd like a sneak peek before they are posted to the website....

xxoo Jen

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Bluebirds are Here...

Happiness, helpfulness, heartfulness...the bluebird brings a song of hope and mirth. Have you ever seen one? You know the tales, the folk lore and the myths.....In almost every culture the bluebird makes a cheery appearance. In the 17th Century the fairy tale "L'Oiseau Bleu" made it's debut with much of our contemporary lore and love for the bird descendant. But long before, the Navajo had revered the Mountain Bluebird as sacred and associated it with the rising sun...ahh "the early bird". And in Korean traditional, the bluebird had a hotline to the gods and was a metaphysical operative reporting on human behavior...."a little bird told me"...

The wonderful thing is that all these references and links to the blue bird across time and oceans are positive. I daresay no other creature has such a resume! It's no wonder I adore them....and do you know who else I adore?....Cindy and Bob.

They came for a visit this week. It's our tradition, just about a month before our Annual Spring Soiree, Bob and Cindy make the 2 hour drive and spend the day getting me going with the party preparations. Without fail they wing in and roll up their sleeves. We roost at my kitchen table for the day and work away as diligently as birds building a nest.

Bob and Cindy have been in my life for 6 years now, along with their beautiful daughther Jennifer (...she seemed a little girl when I met her and now she's an upperclassman on the Dean's List!) They have helped me at every show I have done for more than 3 years, every party, before each event, during and after (Bob has, single-handed, carried more boxes, appliances, doors, and odd bits of furniture up and down my basement steps... than all the rest of us put together!) Tireless, true friends making it all possible. Putting up with me, my baloney and somehow loving the circus of it all!

This week they arrived with a birthday present for me. The wee Jody Battalgia blue bird in its nest pictured above.... What a perfect gift...I loved it..And then, the planets began to aling in full blue bird style.....As we unpacked the boxes that arrived that day, we found that Nicole Bowen had sent bluebirds on cupcakes and bluebirds in sweet enamel cups with sewing notions. Then today, Jill Wiener dropped off a blue bird teapot and kitchen goodies including this lidded bowl. Then Jennifer Lanne sent the bird and the nest... I began to look around at all the bluebirds that have arrived since Cindy and Bob were here and it brought me this wonderful sense of happiness. This blog post just had to be dedicated to the bluebirds of happiness in my friends.
When I began to look through pictures for ones of Cindy and Bob, none were to be found save those I just took on their recent visit (Cindy cannot stand getting her picture taken!). But VOILA! I finally found a picture of Cindy with her great pal artist Judy Eppolito....and look carefully, see what she is holding in her hands in the tent by all the grand teddies???....Yes, a bluebird. This picture was taken in 2004...and Cindy and Bob are still alighting with happiness and helpfulness on their wings. For this I love them.

And to those of you who will be here at the party in a few weeks, know that it would not be possible without them. Just as I could never be happy wihtout my true friends.

xxoo Jen O'Connor

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How do you pick?

How do you make them, choose them, pick them? What you like, your favorite flavor, how to decorate a room, where to put something on a shelf, what you love... ? Decisions are funny things with lives of their own. Some of us carefully weigh the choices and slide into a decision that fits like a glove, others charge in head first and make their choice, whatever choice, work. What do you do? I try to read the roadsigns... I let fate take a hand an lead me, open minded, to a conclusion that seems right, even if it's odd turns and bizarre twists in the road have bought me there.
It's those strange undulations of the path that brought Jennifer and I together.... When Jen emailed me as a customer to buy a pair of "Hotcakes" earrings, I recognized her name from Diane Allison's blog. In my life one thing usually leads to another so, totally trusting kind fate to have put us in contact I said to her, "We are meant to work together". And I wholeheartedly believe we sure as chocolate will remain on my most loved food list forever, along with sushi and the fried shrimp at the Colonnade in Atlanta. And nevermind fate,THANKS DIANE!
So how do you pick them? What do you hang on your walls? You pick what you love, what feels good to look at, and what seems full and ripe. Jennifer Lanne's works are among my picks for sure. It's just hard to choose a favorite among her canvases that drip with sensuous color and whisper of nature.

She loves her life. It shows in her festive use of hue, her penchant for taking the every day around her and spinning it into painterly wonders that pay homage to what she knows best …floral, fauna and farm…
Her brave strokes tell us of happy days, good memories and vistas filled with the possibilities of an afternoon in the country. Her work has the strength of classic themes, but the scale is bright with a freshness all her own.
I do think I just might have to pick a new favorite color…Jen makes me love them all! Her painting are pure delight, succinct of story but dense in fragrant shades that capture a mood and throw it back at us with three cheers for deep, apple greens, the oceans's collection of blues (which are in stiff competition for our attention with the sky's own shades) goldenrod and feisty orange....
Hmmm how to pick among colors....or among plums, cherries or apples...I say chose what ever is closest to your heart. It's the one meant for you...and nudge fate to help you. After all, she just might be feeling kind today, most likely she is, if she's been looking at Jennifer's art...
I cannot wait to meet Jennifer when she visits in May for our annual Spring Soiree. Do you think she'll wear those earrings?
xxoo Jen
PS ....please note...we are experiencing such high traffic on our website that certain pages are just crawling and some are not loading correctly. Paul is working on this diligently and we appreciate your the meantime we are unable to upload new images to the site so we are preparing email updates and can send you images of the latest arrivals...including Jennifer Lanne, MUDCAKES, Ulla's jewelry, Elements, , EarthGirl, Momentos, and Jill Kenny's bears.

Friday, April 13, 2007

She's My Earth Girl

Form so often follows function, we can forget that the form can be dubious, distracting us from the mundane use and surprising us in the ultimate practicality of the piece. I am of the opinion that it completely normal to have rows of chickens, cats, clowns and the stray penguin on my counters...pottery of course....each a useful sentinel, guarding what they hold. Cheer dispensed generously along the route to the cookies in the jar, or the flour in the cow canister. Nary a dull spot here with Jill's pottery in the room as I write. Her bulbous creations sport googly eyes and perky lips that watch me, hunched over the laptop and pounding away...I think those barnyard buddies are smirking at me for sure....

Jill Wiener has a wry wit, a quick affection for the festive in the everyday, and a love of soy milk in her coffee. I love that we are friends. By the time we met, I had long admired her Earth Girl pottery, and had bought it, hoarding it, not willing to share it with my customers.... I was known to even hide it when collector friend company was coming so as not to have to share!

So just how happy was I when we met and she agreed to let me sell her work? I was jump for polka dotted joy happy, marmalade on warm buttered toast happy, singing bluebird happy. You know that feeling... it's the same when you pick up something handmade that you know you will love forever and you realize, wow this is actually mine...and it's the only one in the whole world...That's how I feel about Jill and all she makes. She's my Earth Girl!
When I visited her barn and studio in "the middle of nowhere", truly a beautiful spot, at the end of the mile long driveway guarded by garden gnomes and hothouses, I knew I was in for a treat. She works with abandon whisking the clay on her wheel into thrown majesties of form leaving just enough room in her delightfully functional wares for a dash of whimsical personality. She has more colors and clays in her palette than flowers in her yard...and that's saying a lot since Jill grows a cutting garden I'd take over Versailles.
Can you tell we have fun? My Mom couldn't get us to stand still for the picture, those cupcakes looked good enough to eat... So Yum Yum to the form that strays from the norm in the hands of the Earth Girl!
xxoo Jen
ps...Jill has just delivered a new batch of creations...we've prepared a "Newsy Update" to share the images and details....let me know if you'd like me to email it to you...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Little Red Robin & Denny the Hood

There are those people who walk into your life slowly and, before you know it, they know you...and all your faults...and they love you anyway.
These are my pals Robin & Denny.

We all met because Denny is a giver. He loves to spoil Robin (albeit well deserved!) with fabulous surprise gifts. I must say this really intrigues me because my own dear hubby, as wonderful and adorable as he is, has nary a gift in sight....but I digress... So Denny is this fab gift giver... The finding of the gift is always enrobed in secret, and his purchases are the stuff of his "Hood" moniker. When he called to order both a birthday and Christmas gift for his wife Robin we got to talking...about collecting, what Robin loves, her favorite colors...I ended up sending him two utterly fabulous Heidi Steiner lady bears...

Just after Little Red Robin received the gifts she called me. She had to offer thanks for my help to Denny in his shopping...she loved the bears, Heidi's wonderful flourishes, and she could tell they were sent on their way to her with pure affection for the artist and her creations. We discovered we love so many of the same things, the same folk art and teddies, the same foods, and the friendship just took off... I loved her before I met her.
Let me add that Robin's sense of humor strikes the chord of pure delight in me. On more than several occasions she has made me laugh til my sides ached and the tears puddled...(I am sure some of you were there at 10 Railroad for the telling of my Dad's "suit" mishap -- Heidi you must have been there!?) It's often her droll delivery of self-effacing truths that have me pucker at the thought of my own assets and faults...and as only a true girlfriend can, she calls at 4pm to confess how much chocolate she has had for the day and then assures me that she must have eaten more than I....
Denny and Robin are two of my favorite people on the planet. They are just plain fun, but beyond that, they are the most generous of spirits known... Quite frankly, I wouldn't... and well, my business wouldn't... be here today without them. It is they who take the days off from demanding jobs to roll up their sleeves and cook and serve the hundreds and hundreds of fellow customer friends who attend our parties, soirees, teas, flings and fetes... How is this possible? Why do they do this for me? More than that, why was Robin willing to wear that polka dotted apron this February with me and our gal pal extraordinaire Sue Parker?
I adore that Robin has an affinity, nigh a passion, for vintage sewing notions, yet does not sew a stitch...but look who's talking, it's Denny that collects antique shaving accouterments and he's got a beard! You see these people are fun....and look at some images of Robin's displays ...ohhh....ahhhh... and can I move in???
What gifts these friends are! Cheers to them and all the wonderful friendships to be found amid the giving, collecting and accumulating of cherished objects!
xxoo Jen

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