A not so brief bit of a biography

I’ll just start off by saying that I’m no youngster. I mean, I’m not REALLY old, but I’m on the downward slope of the hill. Just letting you know this because once I step into “The Way Back Machine” it’s a long ride to get back to the present (the machine reference itself may give you a clue as to the general period of my childhood). In other words, I’ll try not to make this too long, but even a few sentences per time frame are going to add up. Besides, if you’ve spent any time on my web site or blog, it has no doubt already become obvious that I’m a rather wordy person.

Anyhow, here goes:
I’m a second generation native of Tucson, Arizona. A “desert rat” through and through.
Since I started down my artistic pathway, which was at the tender age of three, according to my mom, I’ve never been able to get enough of drawing and “making stuff”. What I wanted to make changed about as often as my moods. My mom encouraged creativity, and throughout our childhood my brother, sister, and I were treated to just about every craft project craze that came along; plastic models, wood burning and carving sets, resin casting, fantasy film, tin can art, decoupage, quilling, latch-hook rugs, chemistry sets, crochet, model railroading, and on and on. Now I suppose the chemistry set wasn’t really “artistic” but my brother and I certainly came up with some creative uses for it! It was also natural for me to fall in love with “all things artistic” since I was surrounded by a very large family group of artists and musicians!

When I was old enough to be allowed to ride the bus to our public library, I checked out book after book on drawing, painting, crafts, furniture making, puppetry, architecture – you name it. If it was a book about crafting or creating, I read it and tried to absorb it into every fiber of my being. Copying pages at the library was 10cents a sheet on the Xerox machine, which wasn’t always affordable to me after bus money and whatever else I spent my allowance on. As I recall, that machine was out of service fairly often anyhow, so I hand copied many book texts of interest and traced diagrams, patterns, and drawings I thought might be useful later. I’m not sure what I thought I would need them for, but I was sure I would need them at some point!

In elementary school I had a few teachers that encouraged my artistic endeavors and had me enter my work in art contests. I won a number of them, but to be honest, most of my time in school was spent on trying to figure out how to get out of school. In high school I worked on the school paper and won The National Scholastic Press Award for Excellence in Illustration. At 16, I also garnered my first professional freelance work designing advertisements for some of the local businesses.

When I was still in my teen years, my grandmother showed me a magazine that featured an article about Coleen Moore’s Fairy Castle and I was fascinated! I tried my hand at making some miniatures, and searched for any local stores or groups involved in the hobby. Around that time the miniatures hobby was just taking off and a new store opened in Tucson. Shortly after that the Tucson Miniature Society was started. I’m proud to say I was one of the charter members!
It wasn’t long though, before time and life caught up with me and I became interested in one or two things besides crafts and animals. … Oh, I haven’t mentioned my absolute love of animals and nature before this. Animals have been as much a part of my life as art has been, but it would take several more pages to go through my adventures in animal care and training, and I think the majority of you who are visiting here are more interested in my creative background – I’ll shorten this part of the bio by saying my pets have included dogs, cats, chickens, horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, tarantulas, an iguana, turtles, tortoises, a parakeet, and various assorted snakes and lizards.  I have worked and volunteered with a number of animal care and wildlife rehabilitation organizations, 4-H, horse shows, etc. and I’m pretty good at training animals too   My husband thinks I should be a professional dog trainer, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have time to do that and create art.

Okay, so, I married, had two amazingly wonderful daughters, and devoted my time to other things such as tea parties, craft projects, sock skating, and the general joys of raising kids. Although I still did freelance art work, it wasn’t my primary focus. I had a few “regular” jobs too – the best of which was working in the marketing department of a mining engineering firm, but here again, I’ll try to stick to the artsy aspects of my life.

If it seems like I’m jumping around a lot after this it is because, for your reading pleasure, my typing convenience, and general avoidance purposes, I’m skipping over some of the “drama and trauma” years and events in my life.

There – we’ve already moved forward to the late 80’s! My artistic endeavors through those years included specialty auto painting, tattoo design, murals, a line of “birth remembrance plaques” and working as an “in-house” illustrator for a firm producing children’s books and home décor products. I was on the board of the Tucson Arts and Crafts Association, and my husband and I had our own graphic arts business for a time, but for various reasons we decided to move on to other things.

A lot of crafting went on too, especially at Halloween time! We were fortunate enough to live on acreage in the mountains surrounding Tucson (with our dogs, chickens, horses, etc. ) where we gave Halloween bonfire parties and had a grand time making special effects, costumes and decorations.

I always carved special pumpkins for our Halloween bonfire parties!

A brass candle snuffer I made with a lady bug on the leaf

Frankie – paper mache Halloween mask

One of my children’s book illustrations, for the book “The Lost Smile” by Sharon Shi

A drawing from my ball point pen & colored pencil phase.

Colored pencil drawing of a fun little fairy dance I once joined in on

In the late 80’s I developed neurological problems which stumped the neurologists. I had some numbness, fatigue, and various symptoms, and then one day, I was at work and lost the ability to walk. I regained that ability with physical therapy, though it has happened a number of times since then. 

Though their initial diagnosis was probable multiple sclerosis, after years and years and years of tests and treatments, and various neurologists, I ended up going to one of the leading neuromuscular specialists in New Mexico (where we were living at the time). My diagnosis was that I have myasthenia gravis and spastic paraparesis or Primary Lateral Sclerosis. With this diagnosis came medications that have helped tremendously.  Though the symptoms of these diseases have slowed me down quite a bit and there have been some rough patches, I am very, very, fortunate to be able to say that with medication and the occasional rehab session and physical therapy sessions, I have been able to continue to do what I love. I am, however, not particularly fast at getting projects done. I debated about adding this very personal information to the bio, since it also falls under the drama and trauma category for me, but these conditions are part of who I am today (and maybe it will explain a few things for those of you who meet me when my voice is “off” or I’m having a weak and tired day) so there it is.

Now back to my artistic life – Almost 20 years after my initial experiences with the miniatures community, I happened to find a flyer for the Tucson Miniature Society show and sale. I went, and “found my tribe” again at last! I’ve been actively involved in miniatures ever since! Crafting miniatures is the only thing I’ve found that encompasses all the information and techniques I learned through the years. It allows me to work with all mediums and styles, and, yes, that obscure book of furniture designs I painstakingly traced out when I was a kid could come in handy!

The community of miniaturists was (and continues to be!) supportive and enthusiastic in helping me learn more about the craft. I became a member of the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts, and the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. With so much encouragement from my fellow miniaturists, I also began striving for more realism and accuracy in my work. At that time I concentrated my efforts on 1:12th scale animal figures. As I mentioned, I love animals, and especially the animals of the southwest desert I grew up in – I wanted to capture their uniqueness in miniature and share it with others.

My hummingbird carvings proved to be popular and so I “took the leap” and began selling my creations. As my work progressed, I applied for “Artisan” membership in the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA), and three years after that, applied for and was awarded “Fellow” membership in the category of animal figures.  For a time, my husband and I created animated miniatures, but he has since put more of his efforts into his own robotics projects.  I still have some animated pieces in the works, but it hasn’t been my primary focus.

To further my abilities, I took as many local classes as possible and also began attending the IGMA Guild School in Castine, Maine. What wonderful experiences I’ve been blessed with in our “little world”! I have now had the opportunity to attend Guild School as a student, and as an instructor for several years.  I have also had the pleasure of being able to attend and teach at NAME National and local functions, in addition to being allowed to give classes to miniaturist clubs throughout the southwest. 

Yet, even within the miniaturist world I always wanted to explore making and creating new things, so moved into many different areas aside from animal figures. Since my initial wood carvings I’ve learned how to work with metal, polymer clay, and my most favorite medium of all time, Creative Paperclay® modeling material.  The two mediums I have stuck with since I started using them are colored pencils, and creative paperclay (okay, crayons too, I love crayons!).

Still…..other projects call me, other media beckons, and sometimes the familiar old pastimes give me a nudge and I have to stop what I’m doing to draw or paint. I keep sketchbooks and notebooks filled with ideas and plans, which I couldn’t possibly finish, but feel the need to write down and sketch anyway. Who knows what I’ll work on next?
I’ll no doubt continue to create miniatures, but I’m sure I’ll also stop here and there along the way.

My children have long since grown and married, and I am lucky enough to be good friends with the adults they’ve become! I’m also exceedingly thrilled to have five perfect grandchildren!!! We already spend many fun hours creating things or just being silly or hanging out together, and I’m excited to continue on my journey of learning and growing with them.