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What in the World are Snuffle Mats, Balls, and Bins?

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Snuffle Mats, Snuffle Balls, and Snuffle Bins. Almost any object with holes cut into it or manufactured into it can become a Snuffle Item for dogs and cats… and maybe other critters, too. Allow me to explain.

A snuffle mat is a flat backing with holes in it that people tie (double knot) strips of polar-fleece (fleece) onto, and it becomes a food puzzle for their pet, usually a dog or cat. 

-The first is to take a Holee Roller ball (the ones with the hexagonal open areas, that no one really knows what to do with, and they usually just sit in the dog’s toy box,) and tie fleece strips to it (leaving 3 to 4 of the larger holes open so treats can be put in and fall out.)

-The second kind is one that you make solely out of long pieces of fleece, cut strips from the edge towards the middle on both sides, the roll up the long pieces (lengthwise,) and tie the roll in the middle, then fluff out the fleece strips to make a ball. These you can really hide the treats down in, and are great for longer treats.

A snuffle box is a box that people tie strips of fleece into so they face the interior of the bin. This is a real challenge for some dogs to stick their face in past the fleece strips and find the treats.


Making your own snuffle items:

I would start with a snuffle mat for both the human and animal’s sake. The snuffle mat is the easiest to make. A lot of the tutorials online use either a plastic or rubber mat as the backing. I don’t like this one bit, as they are difficult or impossible to wash in the washing machine. I came up with using a towel for the backing. I simply cut small holes in the towel, and am able to feed the fleece through as easily as if I were working with a plastic or rubber backing.

I like using about 1 to 1.5 inch by 10 in polar fleece strips for the snuffle mats. I’m not really too terribly precise with cutting these strips. When they vary a little bit, it gives a little bit different feeling to the pets when they dig into the snuffle mat. I wouldn’t go any wider than 2 inches. I prefer to not go that wide. Also, don’t go any smaller than 1 inch, you won’t get good coverage.

Do NOT use t-shirt or other fabric for snuffle mats. I tried several different materials and found that none of them help up or held nearly as well as the polar-fleece did, especially for washing.

Here is my YouTube video for cutting the towel:

Here is my YouTube video for making the snuffle mat with the towel:

Here is my YouTube video of my dogs using their snuffle mats:


I would then recommend making and introducing snuffle balls next. They are just as easy to make as snuffle mats, and my dogs love them! One likes to shake hers, and the other like to roll hers.

I make the fleece strips 1 by 8 inches for snuffle balls, with large Holee Roller balls. I make them smaller and slightly thinner for the smaller balls. If the fleece strips are too long, the treats have a very difficult time making their way out of the snuffle balls and onto the floor. The first one I made I had to cut the strips down once I had them all tied to the ball. The dogs were not impressed with it until I cut the strips down, then they could get the treats and had a blast.

There’s not a YouTube video on making the Holee-Roller snuffle balls.

Here’s a YouTube video of what the ball looks like when it’s completed:

This video is from Donna Ewing.

YouTube video for making one of the polar-fleece only snuffle balls:

This video is from My Furry Family, and she does a great job of instructing how to make this style snuffle ball.


Once the pets (and you, the human) have the hang of making and using the snuffle mat and snuffle ball, then you can start getting creative and a little more challenging, and make a snuffle bin. I used a cheap plastic bin I got at the dollar store (it cost a dollar) and I tied a bunch of 1 by 10 inch strips of polar-fleece inside the bin. This was the more difficult one to make, as the space inside the bin got smaller, the more pieces of fleece I tied. It’s not impossible to do, just a bit of a pain in the wrist.  

Snuffle bins can also be used for scent work training, as well as giving treats or meals.

There is not a video on making a snuffle bin.


Other uses:

At this point, anything that has holes cut or manufactured into it can be made into a snuffle item for your pet.

There are more uses for a snuffle mat that just that of giving enrichment to a pet.

We use our large snuffle mats as a soft, fluffy barricade so our cat doesn’t escape from out the bottom of the screen door. There’s a gap between the door and the frame (strangely) and I put them down to fill it, just so she doesn’t get any ideas. She’s never escaped, or tried to get outside, but she is a mighty huntress and may try to follow something through the opening. Better safe than sorry for our indoor kitty.

We have friends who have an autistic child, they use the one I made them for texture therapy.

One friend uses hers a her teenage daughter’s bath mat. Okay, in all honesty, the daughter absconded with it.

We have other friends whose older dogs use it as a cushy dog bed, and another who friend whose dog thinks it’s the best shake it around toy ever. He doesn’t like it when they try to stick treats in it. He shakes it out, then takes it into his crate so the humans can’t do that again.

Our cat will also rub and roll around on hers when we put catnip on it. She gets all nipped up, then takes a nap on it.


Washing and drying snuffle items:

With our dogs snuffle mats, once they have eaten their meal or treats out of them, I pick them up and throw them in the washing machine. Since they are fleece and towels, I can also toss them in the clothes dryer. I don’t want them destroying them, or trying to nibble on them because they smell like food, so I pick them up when the dogs are done eating.

I’ll also wash the Holee-Roller snuffle ball in the washing machine on cold, but will air dry it. The polar-fleece only snuffle ball, can be untied and washed and dried, then rolled back up, and tied once fully dry.

I have a front loading washing machine, so I’ll be able to wash the snuffle bin on cold, too. I will let it air dry.

Cooking is an Art: Boeuf Bourguignon withOUT Alcohol

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Boeuf Bourguignon Without Alcohol
by: Susan Holt

Prep time: 1 1/2 hour
Cook time: 4-5 hours

Peel 15-20 fresh pearl onions (or use a small bag of frozen pearl onions) and set aside in a small bowl (I used fresh)

Place the following into a mixing bowl:

10 carrots cut into about 1 inch chunks
5 stalks of celery, diced
1/4 of a small head of fennel/anise, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced

-Transfer mix into a preheated, buttered, large soup/stock pot and sweat until everything but the carrots are translucent. (1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil needs to come up to temp before adding the veggies.) On my stove, a sweat is between setting 5 and 6 on a scale of “Low” to 10.
-Once cooked, transfer mix back to the mixing bowl and set aside. Keep it close as you’ll add items to it until everything is ready to go into the stock.

Add the pearl onions to the mixing bowl

Clean and quarter 1 small box/package of white (or button) mushrooms
-Add a little more butter to the bottom of the hot pot, and turn the heat up to med-hi (8 on my stove). Saute the mushrooms for about 3 minutes, or until they turn a little golden.
-Remove them from the pot to the mixing bowl with the aromatics.

3-4 lbs of cubed chuck steak
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp rosemary
2 medium bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
-Brown the meat in the pot. Do not cook it all the way through, just quickly brown the outside.
-I cook the spices in with the meat to open the spices (bloom the flavors), and to season the meat.
-Once the meat is browned, remove it to the mixing bowl with the aromatics and mushrooms.

Decrease the heat down to med-med-hi (6 on my stove), and add in 1/2 can tomato sauce
-Cook until it bubbles and turns a little darker.

Add to the cooked tomato sauce:
1 box of Beef Broth (I used Swanson’s because I didn’t have any homemade in the freezer)
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp red wine Vinegar
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

-Add everything from the mixing bowl into the pot of liquid. It will look like there’s not enough liquid, but there is, especially once the liquid from the veggies and meat go back into the pot.
-Bring the pot back up to a boil.
-Once it boils, turn it down to a simmer (2.2-ish on my stove), and simmer for several hours (4-6).
-I made this around lunch time so it can simmer all afternoon and be ready for dinner.
-This can also be prepped the day before and put in a crock pot to cook all day.

At the very end, you may want to taste it, adjust the seasoning (salt & pepper), spices, pomegranate juice, and the vinegars to make it taste a little more like red wine. This is done directly before serving and is done to your taste.
-I added half as much pomegranate juice, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, thyme, marjoram, and 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper at the very end just before serving.

Serve with a nice crusty bread, sliced, ad buttered.

Here is the full ingredient list:

15-20 fresh pearl onions
10 carrots cut into about 1 inch chunks
5 stalks of celery, diced
1/4 of a small head of fennel/anise, diced
1 shallot, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 small package of white (or button) mushrooms
3-4 lbs of cubed chuck steak
2 Tbsp parsley flakes
1 tsp thyme (+ additional just before serving)
1 tsp marjoram (+ additional just before serving)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp rosemary
2 medium bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 box (or 2 to 3 cans) of Beef Broth (I used Swanson’s because I didn’t have any homemade in the freezer)
1/3 cup pomegranate juice (+ additional just before serving)
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp red wine Vinegar (+ additional just before serving)
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (+ additional just before serving)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (+ additional just before serving)
1/8 tsp cayenne (just before serving)

I created this recipe with my husband because I am allergic to alcohol, and it’s the one thing I really miss being able to eat. We did a brainstorming session, some research on the internet, and ultimately came up with this delicious stew. It certainly did hit the spot, and now I don’t have to go another 15 years without it.


Things to keep in mind when adopting a new dog

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

For those of you in the market for a new dog, here are some things to keep in mind when looking for your new buddy. (Since I volunteer at Arizona Animal Welfare League, there is some AAWL specific information in this write up.)

Any pet you adopt is making a lifetime commitment to that pet. You are signing up to care for that pet, take it’s needs into consideration, and do the best you can for that pet for the rest of it’s life. This is something that should not be taken lightly. As someone who volunteers at an animal shelter, I know pets understand they’ve been left behind, given up, and feel the pain of that rejection. Make sure you are ready to take on another living being before adopting a pet. (If you adopt from Arizona Animal Welfare League, they will take the dog or cat back from you at any time for any reason. Once the pet has come through AAWL’s doors, that pet has a lifetime commitment from AAWL. Please don’t take the dog or cat somewhere else to surrender it if you adopted him/her from AAWL. Please take him/her back to them AAWL Thank you.)

1. Do not let the look of a dog turn you off from the attitude of the dog. I see more people walk away from a perfect fit just because the dog doesn’t fit the picture one person in the family has in their head. The dog needs to fit the needs of the family, including all of the other pets and kids, not the aesthetic of one person. Conversely, don’t fall for the look of the dog and insist on adopting a dog that is too much for you and your family to handle, just because it’s cute or pretty.

2. You need to have the time and space for a new dog. Dogs are not like cats, you can’t leave them alone at home over the weekend with a big bowl of food and water, and a litter box. Dogs need exercise, play time, training, and positive affection/attention from their human(s). If you leave for more than a few hours and can’t take your dog with you, they will need to go to a reputable boarding facility, or a pet sitter will need to come to your home.

3. You’ll need to decide if you want a couch potato dog, a walking buddy, a weekend hiking buddy, or a daily long distance running dog. This is very important for the health and well being of both you and your dog.

4. If you live in an apartment or rental house, first see if dogs are allowed, and if there’s a pet deposit and monthly fee, so you can budget appropriately. Also check with your lease or rental manager to see if there are any dog breed and/or size restrictions for your rental.
-If you move, make sure you check with your new rental to see if dogs are allowed there. If they are not, don’t rent a place where you can’t take your dog with you.

5. If you have a roommate, check with your roommate to see if s/he’s okay with having a dog, since s/he’ll be helping you tend to said dog when you’re out of the house (potty breaks, snuggle time, feeding, etc.). If/when you have all those ducks in a row, see if s/he wants to join you to pick out a dog. You both have to be comfortable in the same space with the dog, and the dog has to be comfortable with both of you.

6. You need to budget for a new dog (adoption fee, initial vet visit, dog food, leash, collar, food and water dishes, crate, dog beds, toys, treats, deposit and monthly pet rent for those who rent, etc).
-AAWL’s adoption fees run from $75 up to $475 depending on the dog/puppy, their age, and how long they’ve been at the shelter. The AAWL adoption fee includes the pet being spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, and their vaccinations per their age (puppies and kittens sometimes need a booster from your vet after they’ve been adopted). Vaccinations for dogs at AAWL include Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, and Bordatella (which is for kennel cough). (Note: These adoption fees don’t actually cover the cost of the spay/neuter, microchip, vaccinations, and/or other medical treatments as needed at AAWL. Most of the costs are covered by direct donations.)
-You will need to leave with the dog on a leash and collar, by law. A leash and collar combo at Bebe’s Boutique at the main AAWL shelter will cost you $18, which is less than at a pet store, tags are $5-$10 depending on the style.

7. Other things you should mention to the adoption counselor assisting you:
-If you have a lot of people over to your home often
-If your friends and family bring kids over
-If you’re planning on taking your dog everywhere
-If you’re a first time dog owner
-If you’ve had small, medium, or large dogs in the past
-If you’ve never had a puppy before (as in 8 weeks to 1 year old dog)
-If you can’t take on a dog with medical issues
-If you can’t handle a dog that has jumped the fence
This helps immensely in finding a dog that you will be happy with for the rest of its life.

8. When you take your new dog home, take it immediately where you want it to go potty (the backyard or the puppy park area of the apartment complex). Let the dog have some time in the space to smell everything and possibly go potty. Once the dog goes potty, give them lots of praise and lots of affection. When you’re done, you can take them inside the house. When I get a new dog, it doesn’t matter the age, I like to take them outside every 2 hours for a potty break. It gives them the opportunity to easily learn that’s where they need to go potty, and is a lot less stressful than cleaning up the house. You can always keep the leash on the dog until they are comfortable with the routine of going back into the house after a potty break.

9. Remember, you new dog doesn’t know where it lives yet. Some will figure it out in a couple of days, others may take a few months. At first don’t leave the dog unattended in the yard (for at least 2 weeks). This is for their safety. (I still go outside with my dogs and check that the gate is closed, every time.) There have been dogs adopted that have been taken home and jumped the fence out of panic, or have dashed through an open door, fairly quickly after being adopted. Most of them are recovered with no harm done, but some receive major injuries while out, some do not recover from their injuries or are never found again. (Honestly, all of us at the shelter struggle with hearing this the most.)

10. Every city in the metro-Phoenix-area has leash laws. Keep your dog on it’s leash at all times. This is for the dogs safety. Daily walks on leash will help your dog(s) know his/her neighborhood and how to get back home if they do get out for any reason (thunder storm, fireworks, someone leaving the gate unlatched, etc.) This doesn’t guarantee they’ll find their way back on their own, but it can help.

11. If you want a specific breed of dog, Google that breed and the word “rescue” or “adopt”. This will take you to breed specific rescue web sites. Sometimes shelters get in pure breed dogs, but it’s hit and miss. If you feel you need a pure breed dog, please remember to #AdoptDontShop

12. If you adopt a pet from another shelter, please make sure that pet is spayed or neutered.
-Having your pet altered (spayed or neutered) cuts down on the pet over-population that all of America is struggling with. The good news is that euthanasia rates at high-kill shelters are down in the past decade, but there are still hundreds of thousands of pets that are euthanized for lack of shelter space every year. Getting your pet spayed/neutered is important!
– A pet adopted, is a life saved. Period. If you don’t adopt from AAWL, I’m not going to be mad at you. That just means you found your pet somewhere else. It gives that shelter room to intake another pet and possibly save another life.

I hope this information was helpful.

Phoenix ComiCon Booth 468

Friday, May 27th, 2016

I will have a booth at Phoenix ComiCon next weekend, from Thursday, June 2nd to Sunday, June 5th, 2016.
The Vented Hat Lady
Booth # 468
If you’re there, please stop by and say hello!

Next Sale is on May 1st, 2015

Thursday, April 9th, 2015


You are cordially invited to the Alwun House in downtown Phoenix on Friday, May 1st, 2015 for the opening of the Arizona Intertemporalist Steampunk Exhibition. I will have a small sales booth, # W-3 on the map below from 7- 10 PM. I will have Vented Hats as well as leather and cast resin jewelry. Please come on out and support the show. I look forward to seeing you there!


Arizona Steampunk Society Scavenger Hunt Rules and Regulations

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Arizona SteamPunk Society Scavenger Hunt 2015 Rules and Regulations
Code Name : S.T.E.V.E. – Steampunk Treasure-hunt Extravaganza for Victorian Enthusiasts

Please read this entire set of rules and regulations.

How to Enter:

Simply fill out the on-line form (link listed below).

Please Make sure you have the following information before you log on to sign up:
Team Name
The names (first and last) of every person on your team.
The email addresses of each adult on your team.
The phone number (optional) of each adult on your team.

Link to the on-line sign up form:

(There may be 3-5 people on each team. There must be at least 2 adults per team.)

Time Frame:

April 1st – December 31st 2015 (8 full months)
There will be at least 1-2 events every month that people can go to to get their photos taken at. (Monthly dinners, Second Fridays, Conventions, etc..) These are not the only places and events you can take photos at. Please feel free to take your photos when and where you can. Make it an adventure!

Individuals and/or teams do not have to follow the list chronologically. Any item can be done at any time, unless it’s a multi-part item, in which pieces need to be done once per month (such as the Geocaching or The 8 Month Challenge). These multi-part items cannot be done all in one month. Any single item listed can be done at any time during the 8 months of the Scavenger Hunt.

Photography and Video:

Photos and video must be digital and may be taken with a cell phone camera.

Photos and videos must be submitted monthly, by the last day of the month. All photos must be submitted by December 31st, 2015, or they will not be eligible for this years Scavenger Hunt or prizes.

Each team is required to take their own photos and videos, and submit their own photos and videos.

Be as creative as possible (without breaking any laws!) in the set up of your subject(s) in your photos and videos.

Please take either landscape or portrait oriented photos only. Please do not turn the camera on an angle if at all possible.

Photo and video submissions must all be labeled with the team name, item number, and the item title of the Scavenger Hunt item. It is very important for the judges to have this information so your team may receive points.


Judging will take place between January 1st to February 28th, 2016.

Judges may not participate in any Scavenger Hunt activity as a Team Member, nor may they assist a Team in any way, including taking taking of photos or videos. Judges are expected remain impartial.

Judges will be have been selected from different areas of the state of Arizona.


Participants may be age 5 or older. There may be no less than 3 and no more than 5 participants per team. There must be at least 2 adults in every team, no exceptions.

We invite every Steampunk in the State of Arizona, including, but not limited to, those in the Arizona Steampunk Society, and any other Arizona based Steampunk group to participate in the Scavenger Hunt. This Scavenger Hunt is open to any and all Steampunks who live in Arizona.


All laws of the United States, the State of Arizona, Arizona Counties, and their cities and municipalities must be obeyed at all times. Scavenger hunts are for having fun, please always show respect to those around you who do not participate in our choice of fandom. If, at the sole discretion of the Judges Panel, a Team or individual is found to have broken these rules or the law while performing the Scavenger Hunt, your team will be disqualified.

Teams must be courteous and respectful to everyone, including their teammates, other Scavenger Hunt participants, the Steampunk Community at large, and the public. This includes judges (who will remain as anonymous as possible), other competitors, people at every location, especially the populace at large and merchants, vendors, docents, etc..

Always play fair. Don’t let your competitive instincts drive you to ruin other people’s chances to win, if you do – you’re team might be disqualified. This means no cheating, lying, stealing, sabotaging, or copying other people’s work. Sabotaging other teams will result in disqualification.

All challenges must be completed and pictures MUST be taken only during the duration of this specific scavenger hunt. Challenges completed or photos taken outside the time frame will receive no points for that item. If photos/videos are found by the Judges to be unacceptable the Team will be notified so that new photos/videos may be taken. The duration for this year’s challenge is April 1st through December 31st, 2015.

Be creative, classy, no nudity or depictions of lewd acts. Photos/videos submitted must have a maximum of a PG rating: AZSPS is a family friendly social club.

Have fun!!!


Prizes will be awarded at Wild Wild West Con 5 (March 2016). At least one member of your team must be present at the Award Ceremony at WWWC5 to win.

Prizes are still being determined at this time (March 2015). Announcements concerning prizes will be posted on the Facebook.

If you have an item(s) you would like to donate as a prize(s), please contact the AZSPS Social Secretary, Susan Holt, at:

Prize Categories:

Grand Prize – This will be the team with the best combination of all of the prize categories throughout their entry photos and videos.

Most Points – (If there is more than one group to earn the most points, the Judges will play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock to determine the winner.)

Most Items Completed – (If there is more than one group to complete all of the Items, the Judges will play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock to determine the winner.)

Most Creative – be creative, but be safe. Using your imaginations may garner you extra points.

Most Humorous – use your sense of humor, but be kind. Using your sense of humor may garner you extra points.

Best Use of Goggles – Goggles! Need we say more? (Remember, when the goggles are on top of your head, it is “before an adventure”, when they are on your face protecting your eyes you are “on an adventure”, and when they are around your neck you are “knackered (tired) from an adventure/post adventure”.)

We realize everyone can not attend every event, so attending all of them and participating in all of the items is not mandatory.

The minimum number of item entries for the Competition portion is 35 out of 48.

There is a “just for fun” category. The minimum number of item entries for this portion is 8 (one per month).

Teens and Kids (5-17 years old):

Teens and Kids can participate in this Scavenger Hunt, as long as there are at least 2 adults (18 years old or older) on their team (this is mandatory). Adults on the team must participate in the Scavenger Hunt as well. Teams can be made up of 3 to 5 people. A parent or legal guardian must be present with any child/children under the age of 18 while that child/children is/are participating in this Scavenger Hunt.

Please let the AZSPS Social Secretary, Susan Holt, know who the teens and kids are on your team. The AZSPS will be providing special Certificates to all teens and kids who participated.

Scavenger Hunt Items Guidelines:

Please spend as little money on these items as you can. This is meant to be something fun and entertaining. We know everyone has a different budget to work with. We do not want anyone going broke trying to complete every Scavenger Hunt item on this list. If you can do them all, want to do them all, and can afford to do them all, we welcome you to go for it. If not, please do what you can when you can. There are several free admission events, and several items that can be done at home, in the Scavenger Hunt time frame that everyone can attend. Have a wonderful time!

Some item descriptions in the Scavenger Hunt are very specific. Some item descriptions are very vague. On the vague ones, we want you to use your imaginations and think outside of the proverbial box that your spiffy Steampunk boots came in. Maybe you could even use that boot box for part of a creative item.

The judges are already looking forward to what this creative group can come up with.


Locations will be posted via each teams email addresses at the beginning of every month.

Locations might be either a longitude and latitude, an address, a photo of the location, or a pirate map.

A Steampunk item will be placed at the location already. To receive points for this item your team must get two photos in that location. The first photo must be of the item that was left there. The second photo must be the item you are leaving there for the next team to find.

Please make sure the item(s) you bring to each geocache are Steampunk related and are in a watertight container or bag.

We will try our best to make each location relatively easy to reach.

*** The link for uploading the photos and videos will be provided to the teams via email in April 2014.

Looking Ahead to 2015

Saturday, December 27th, 2014


I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while, Thanksgiving happened, and it was just hectic from there.

As some of you know, last January I tore a ligament in my ankle. I had two months in a brace, then two months in a big orthopedic boot, then two months of Physical Therapy. I thought all was going well, until I over did it severely at Thanksgiving. I went back to the Ortho doc, who has ordered another MRI, and said it looks like it’s just not healing on it’s own. This does not please me. Anyhow, I may need surgery. This does not please me either. However, if it can be fixed, it should be. My hubby knows I have three arts shows/Cons on the schedule and can help with those, and I have friends who have asked if they can help at them as well, so I will at least be able to make those commitments, which I am grateful for. I am not looking to add any more shows/Cons onto my calendar at this time, unless they are small and very local, until the ankle gets figured out.

The shows I am committed to are:

Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios, March 13-15, 2015

Fine Art in the Garden at Shemer Art Center, March 21, 2015, 9AM – 4 PM

Phoenix ComiCon at the Phoenix Convention Center, May 28-31, 2015

I will be taking commissions with the caveat that I may be down for the count for a while. A friend of mine had a similar surgery last year, and it took her 2-3 months before she could sit normally for a little while and work on projects.

Thank you all for understanding. I am looking forward to the shows/Cons in 2015 and I hope to see you at at least one of them.

How to Talk About Art

Friday, September 19th, 2014


A friend of mine asked me the other day about how to talk about art with more than just sayings like, “awesome”, “lovely”, “that’s so cool”. I thought, “Hmmm, I guess it’s something I’ve had to learn.”

Some of you are new here, so let me give you my qualifications to answer this question with some authority. I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a Ceramics Emphasis from Arizona State University, which in and of itself doesn’t necessarily prepare one to talk about art. Part of each art class was critiquing each others pieces, so that was learned there. Also, I was a Docent at the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM) from 2009 to 2014. PAM has one of the absolute best, most acclaimed Docent programs in the World currently. There is a two year training program with amazing mentors and guidelines on how to speak about art. This is honestly where I learned to talk about art as a whole, and as individual pieces.

So, back to the question of how to talk about art or give an artist pleasant (good or bad) feedback.

If I like a piece, I will flat out say I like it. I will then pick something specific that I like about that piece. (Ex: I really like how the greens and blues in your piece make it look iridescent.”) Expanding upon a though is as easy as pie when you ask yourself “What do I really like about this piece? Why do I like it so much?” It really enables you to tell the artist , your friends, and yourself why something hits your hot button.

If I don’t like a piece, I will try to find something in it I admire. “I really like your use of scale and proportion in this piece. It makes the setting almost believable.” Finding something you can connect with in some pieces of art is very difficult., but you really can usually find one element that you can say something constructive about.

If the artist presses you about that piece (which has happened to me before), and wants to know what else you like about that piece, be kind when you answer. Remember this person has poured their heart into this one ugly piece of work. Also remember, someone else will think it’s the best thing they have ever seen. In answering, it’s okay to take a long second look. It’s also okay to be perfectly, clearly honest, yet remain kind. “I’m sorry, but I’m struggling with this piece. I really do like the part I mentioned, but the rest is just a mystery to me. Can you explain it?” You may get a description of the piece, or the process, or both. Don’t ask the artist, “What does this piece mean to you?” You may get a bunch of hooey for an answer. If you get the artist talking about their work, you may learn what the piece is about to the artist. I find it helpful to learn about the piece because it can give me an appreciation for the art or artist. Having an appreciation for the piece or the artist does not always translate into liking the piece, but it does give you a different perspective, and you get to learn a little, which is alwasy a bonus.

Remember, no matter what you say to an artist, keep it positive. Positive, constructive feedback is always welcomed. Suggestions on how an artist can “do it better” when you are not directly asked that question are not appreciated. Find something you can connect to, or even enjoy about that piece (even if it is just one color off in a corner). Believe me, the artist will usually understand your intent and meaning. Last, but not least, ask the artist about the piece. Artists will tell you about their work, as long as you’re polite and open to a conversation. Don’t feel pressured to talk to an artist about a piece, though. If you really don’t want to spend another minute looking at it, just tell the artist to have a great day and move on.

Remember, art is subjective, but there’s always something in any piece you will find interesting.



Saturday, May 17th, 2014


Phoenix ComiCon (PCC) is Thursday, June 5th through Sunday, June 8th, 2014. Marlie and I will be vending there in our booth, number 1087, we are listed as “Holt & Currie” in the event book. We will have my Vented Hats, Cast Resin Pendants, and Fancy Beaded Pocket Watch Chains, as well as her Bags and Hand Bound Books with Handmade Watercolor Paper, along with a few other pieces. Come on down to the event, pop on in to the booth, say “hello” and by all means, do a little shopping. We hope to see you there!


r2d2-esque Boot

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014


If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I was strapped into an orthopedic boot to stabilize my ankle. Since I’m out of it at home, I decided to make it a little more exciting to wear. The plain grey was just not working for me.

Here is the link to my FB professional page, direct to the photos of the r2d2 inspired boot.