19 April 2011

pets-ercise brings wholesome care straight to your fur kids.


tara honey is a professional pet sitter based in barto, pennsylvania.

visit taraspetsitting.com & be sure to check out her blog for animal companion-smart tips & insight.

03 April 2011

( the whims of weaving )

the whims of weaving
by jennifer hetrick

decades ago, boyertown resident diane kennedy hadn’t guessed that she’d one day be weaving her way through life one basket at a time.
today, kennedy’s baskets have sold locally and shipped across state lines.
but to suspect or assume that her basketry is anything remotely ordinary is a mistake because her pieces set themselves apart from commonplace baskets, clearly redefining what weaved pieces can be when someone practicing a specialty craft moves away from the followed norms.
kennedy’s baskets take on a more organic form both in shape and also in inspiration by way of the materials she uses. a good portion of what she incorporates into her baskets comes from her own backyard, while she orders in reed supplies from the country seat in kempton.

what originally sparked kennedy’s curiosity in basketry is her earl township home which sat covered in vines when she purchased it in the late 1970s. an acquaintance jokingly suggested she strip down the house’s invasive plant collection, then using it to weave baskets. but she took the recommendation seriously, signing up for a basket-weaving class soon after, and since then, she hasn’t looked back.
her time spent in a studio at goggleworks led her to start realizing the potential of her art taking on unexpected final looks, trusting herself, slowly losing the structural constraint of staying in line with commonly practiced basketry.
“my dad used to own an alternator & starter business,” kennedy said, noting that she weaved abandoned materials from his shed into one of her baskets.

“normally, i would never have used metals and car parts in a basket,” kennedy said. the piece sold right away at a show.
kennedy is a member of the reading-berks guild of craftsmen and sells her pieces at shows but also ships them across the country when people from far off places set up orders with her.
“there is no basket that can be made completely by a machine. every basket was made by someone and has a story or a history,” kennedy said with passion in her voice.
“i see patterns in the woods,” kennedy said about walks with her dogs or time spent hiking. “sometimes, i’ll see a form in a piece of bark or wood, and i can see the basket right away.”

( garlic baskets are one of diane kennedy's specialties )

“when i go to try to create it though, it doesn’t always turn out that way,” kennedy said, “and that’s what’s so fascinating about working with wild materials too, that you can’t control it—they are wild and often have their own ideas.”

honeysuckle, grapevine, wisteria, and willow are climbing plants she uses once in a while in her final basketry samplings.

in some pieces, she incorporates exotic materials like date palm branches and fruit stock, coconut fiber, dracaena draco, and philodendron sheath.
with the therapeutic angles of what she does, kennedy sometimes weaves out her life in baskets after losing a loved one or close friend. she calls them life baskets, not to sell but to work through her own grief.
with the pieces she makes, kennedy said it’s very important to her that baskets are useful and functional. she also said that if handled well, they can last forever.
“a good rule of thumb is that anything that can be wrapped around your wrist can be weaved into a basket,” kennedy said.
onion and black walnut husks boiled, sitting for a while, are what she uses as stains on baskets. a single black walnut tree in her yard keeps her supply plentiful.
“art really does come in all different forms—i see it in the most common of things,” she concluded. “you need to believe you are an artist.”

the 15th & 16th of october in 2011 mark the dates for the pennysylvania guild of craftsmen's  fine craft festival in blue bell at montgomery county community college. admission is $7 for adults and free for members & children. hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on sunday.
to reach kennedy about her basketry, call 610.689.9887 and check out her other work on flickr.com by searching basketry by diane kennedy.


to enter for a chance to win one of diane kennedy's garlic baskets (seen above), comment below. please include your e-mail address in the comment. this contest ends sunday, the 10th of april. good luck !

02 April 2011

( art as work: students learn about the bigger-career picture )

art as work: students learn 
about the bigger-career picture
by jennifer hetrick

last fall, we featured boyertown junior high west’s art teacher stephanie stamm in her efforts to whisk art professionals into her classroom for students to meet and learn from about the real work world. in light of stamm continuing to bring this exceptional opportunity to her students, news, not blues will be highlighting her classroom visits periodically throughout the year.
among the slew of varying artists boyertown junior high west art teacher stephanie stamm reels into her classroom for students to meet throughout an academic year,  one whose work particularly piqued teenage curiosity this past march is children’s author, illustrator, and calligrapher carol haile of wyomissing.
having published a handful of her own books by now, haile is also a graduate of boyertown area high school, which made her visit to junior high students all the more special during her later winter guest appearance.
she has four published books, two of which she illustrated herself, the princess tree (2005) and elephant overboard ! (2007), and a fifth is in the making as an alphabet book starring berk county's own moo-happy cow supply.
looking back at the evolution of her writing, haile gleaned that she didn’t necessarily expect to one day be penning children’s books, handling their artwork too.
"i wrote prolifically while i was a student in boyertown and enjoyed seeing my byline in newspapers and magazines," haile said. "i never thought of writing a book particularly."

"books were mysterious things to me," hail said, "and i was having enough difficulty getting my work published as it was."
"i had accumulated enough rejection slips to wallpaper a gymnasium," haile joked in earnest.
after collaborating on a book with freiman stoltzfus who left the country for a time to be in venice, haile felt anxious to attempt another. her editor sam keiser encouraged her to further pursue a story she had started about two pandas who take a trip on an infamous ark. eventually, a dream vacation came to life on the book market in all of its 32 pages, with illustrations handled by robert miller.
the princess tree takes place in olde ireland. haile had trouble finding an illustrator for it who would know the literal depiction of the story as well as she knew it inside, and so she finally decided to pursue the illustrations on her own.
"i approached the artwork as a calligrapher and quickly discovered that an illustrator had been lurking within me all along," haile explained.
"she was so joyful and positive, and so complementary of the boyertown area school district," stamm said about haile. "she stressed how lucky the students were to go here."

( all photographs are a kind courtesy of stephanie stamm )
while talking about her books, haile gave students an introspective look at her publishing process, ideas, illustrating endeavors and even a thoroughly detailed history of writing and calligraphy, stamm said.
"i tremendously enjoy visiting schools and sharing my work with students," haile said, reflecting on her visit. "i tell them to study hard and move forward armed with lots of knowledge—and then, when the opportunities present themselves, grab them." 

visit carol's website at www.caroljhaile.com.