Change is in the Air (and on the ground)

May 4th, 2016

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This notice was posted last weekend in Nashua (NH) at the Celebration of Needlework show, where I introduced the beginnings of my old line with its new look. By all accounts, people were sympathetic to the plight of those still suffering from this major loss in Rutland, VT (the workers of Rutland Plywood and the town that supported them), as well as of me (and presumably the many other woodworkers the world over who enjoyed the fruits of their labor).

I was gratified also, to realize that my creative life will indeed go on and artistic endeavors can still be valid and appreciated, even when change is prompted by forces beyond my control.

I’ll be representing these changes in my wood tool offerings soon, on my website (www.WOODbyC.com) as well as in my (sadly neglected) Etsy store, and also (hopefully soon) in the several League of NH Craftsmen galleries who carry my work.

Stay tuned.

May the 4th be with us all…

First out of the gate…

January 23rd, 2016

It’s nearly time to launch my New Year of craft fairs!

Both locally and in select distant places, I’ll be bringing my work directly to you once again this year.

It’s always best to shop for my tools in person, where you can see the colors clearly and feel how they fit in your hand.

Plus, it’s a great opportunity to get good deals on multiple purchases!!

Looking forward to a happy and prosperous 2016 for everyone!

Tinkle Bells!

December 16th, 2015

Flight home approaches Boston

Whee!


I’m finally back from visiting my dear family, friends (and customers) in the SF Bay Area, where my work was shown at the Celebration of Craftswomen.


I sincerely thank those who made purchases from me there, and those who didn’t… because now I can return to selling my work on my website!

I’ve been busy listing more seam rippers, scissor pendants and these… Check out my new, tiny Holiday Tinkle Bells, where (from now until Christmas Day) I’ll offer you FOUR bells for the price of THREE!

Every bell is one of a kind -- pic links to all of 'em!

Far Pavilions…

November 18th, 2015

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, know this: I’ll soon be bringing my wooden goodies to your neck of the woods!

Thanksgiving weekend, shoppers can find wonderful works of art and craft made by women from all around this country (including mine) here at the Celebration of Craftswomen show (benefiting The Women’s Building of San Francisco since 1978), held at Fort Mason’s Herbst Pavilion.

Click this LINK to Celebration of Craftswomen WEBSITE

If you’re there, and if you make a purchase at my booth (#609), and you say the magic words (“Golly Gosh Batman, these are sweet”), then I’ll add a little magnedot to your shopping bag — for FREE — wheee!

After the show, I’ll get to enjoy visiting with many old friends (and family) in the North Bay Area. I’m looking forward to that, too!!

Back Behind the Lathe

August 23rd, 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve been back behind the lathe on a regular basis, since my hand surgery last fall. But I’m getting there! This photo was a preview of my portable turning booth for the League show last summer, and I’ve since acquired an old foot-powered sewing machine table that I might try to hook up to my lathe… for when the power goes out this winter! It would keep me turning AND keep me warm. WIN/WIN!!

Flax Me Now!

June 24th, 2015

Where on earth is my head lately?? Lack of woodworking is having a peculiar effect. I’ve begun to imagine other lifestyles… like being a flax farmer!!

These little start-ups are my first attempt at producing a field full of delicate blue flowers atop long sturdy stems. Ripe for the picking and thrashing and eventual weaving!

It’s true, flax plants produce wonderful, nutritious, edible seeds (when cooked — the raw ones contain cyanide, I hear), and also fibers to make linen, and even oil (linseed oil) for finishing wood. A trifecta of fabulousity in one, single plant.

What could be better in the garden of a vegetarian woodworker?

What’s happening with that memoir??

June 18th, 2015

Update: June 2015

Skeletal repair of my left thumb is done, but not my memoir, by any means! Turns out writing personal stuff is a far more difficult task than ever I imagined.

Still, for those who’d like to read my Intro, I’ll post it here, in bits. Adding more from time to time.

Btw, that’s me in 1975, on the VW that carried me across the country and began my craft adventures!

Cheers!

Cynthia (I’m the “C” in WOODbyC)

FOREWORD

The summer of ‘75, I took a casual drive out west. I wasn’t intending to stay, but did so – for three-plus decades. My life turned away from corporate office jobs, and instead, along the handcrafted path of creativity.

After graduating in Creative Arts ~ Interdisciplinary from San Francisco State University (1978), I drew on my independence, inspired by dad’s skill and mom’s art, and began my career as a “Street Artist” in Berkeley, California. Many fine art and craft fairs followed.

In 2008, I returned to NH to care for my elderly parents, coincidentally finding a niche for my handcrafted tools within the local fiber arts community and the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. My work (especially seam ripper, scissor pendant, and edge presser tool) has been recognized for its style and uniqueness in several magazines of the trade! I’m thrilled that in some small way my work supports the creative expression of others.

Using composites of dyed Northern Birch (ideally suited to my craft), I also take a tiny stand in defense of Mother Nature’s rainforest.

Now, my hands have called a “time out” by developing severe CMC basal joint arthritis. Surgery was performed on one thumb (just before Thanksgiving) and the other will follow suit eventually. During the ~8-month recovery, I’ll be starting my craft artist memoir – “Turnings” (with wood turning projects). So, stay tuned…

TURNINGS

A Craft Artist’s Memoir

(with woodturning projects)

by Cynthia Ellis

Introduction

Sunday, June 29, 2014 – 5:15 PM

Transmission fluid
pouring onto pavement
signals yet another sea change in my life.

My third year selling wood turnings at the Vermont Quilt Festival finished with a twist. Heading home in record time (under an hour to pack out the booth and start driving), my setup is the envy of many vendors, as everything stacks neatly into one load; a tall and efficient system that took years to perfect. It makes me chuckle.

Of course, I’m not pitching 350-lb. long-arm quilting machines to the attendees, nor bolts or yards of fabric, or racks and stacks of notions and sundries. Instead, every item I sell, I make by hand. Which means usually fewer than 80 thumb-sized turnings over a four-day show, from a snug selection in a 5’x8’ display. It’s no surprise I’m a sprinter out the gate and gone!

This show is one of a handful that reaches my standard of “good to excellent” for sales. Which justifies the move to a motel a state away from home and a stone’s throw from Canada for the better part of a week. With humble gratitude and a little pride I can say I’ve aroused some very steadfast fans of my hand-crafted woodwork, and delight in the times when a new design debuts to an appreciative audience, or someone proclaims “This year I’ll treat myself to one of Cynthia’s tools!”

So after gassing up in Burlington I began what was normally a four-hour journey, in the summer sun of 2014, expecting to reach my southern New Hampshire driveway well before the start of “60 Minutes.”

Forty miles later the van was churning up a long, steep grade, overtaking a slower car, and pressing on toward the crest. A quick check in the rear view mirror, I spotted a cloud. When a little station wagon passed with a girl in the window pointing, eyes wide, mouthing the word “Smoke!” realization struck. That cloud belonged to me alone!

It’s been many moons since my vehicle’s trusty performance took such a daunting detour, and I’ve always feared breaking down on a road trip to a distant show. Although four hours is still close to home in the larger scheme of quilt shows. In January, the flight to a big one in California was followed by a grueling ten-hour drive! But that’s another chapter.

I pulled off the highway to investigate. Got faulty reassurance from some guys at a gas station and headed back out, but only briefly, before smoke poured forth again with a vengeance. Clearly, serious help was needed…

How will Etsy evolve?

March 4th, 2015

When I first began selling my work online I started with eBay. It was a challenge to figure out the best way to present my “brand” (WOODbyC) through a venue that also offered massive quantities of mass-produced stuff from all around the world, or even junk from basements far and wide. But I enjoyed it, did a decent job, and made a pretty good return over several years, earning “PowerSeller” status eventually.

Which felt like quite an accomplishment, given that I religiously sold only items that I, personally, made one-at-a-time, by hand.

A separate, personally-designed website followed, which brought its own challenges and rewards, with an Etsy store close behind. I have to say, I have never done much shopping on Etsy, and when trying to search for items that might interest, it was not a very easy task. Of course, I didn’t spend much time on the matter.

Maybe you have had better luck…

Even so, Etsy has not provided much income to me over the years, and now the news of Etsy’s plans to “go public” by issuing an IPO have me underwhelmed. (This link is to an article in today’s Guardian online.)

What might be your thoughts??

Shovelin’ Up a Storm

March 1st, 2015

New England is known for its fickle weather, so this winter’s dousing us with a power-killing snowfall on Thanksgiving, but skipping over December entirely wasn’t that odd. January didn’t have much to add, but February was brutal.

My thumb was still in a restrictive splint until about the third week, but once released, I went back to work. Not woodturning. I got to work shoveling snow from here, there, and everywhere!

Gratefully, I was able to extract the snow blower from a stuffed garage, and got it to work clearing the long driveway (instead of me paying nearly $50 a pop to a guy with a big plow).

When news stories kept mentioning roofs caving in nearby, I became concerned. Never before had I been on my roof, so to start with, I stood beside it on a ladder with the garden hoe, and pulled off as much snow as I could reach.

When that option got tedious, I finagled a tool to attack the edges elsewhere around the house. With a vision from a YouTube video, I found some material scraps in the basement and fashioned this gizmo I call the Slice & Slide.

It worked fairly well, especially after I cut and bent and attached a metal bean can along the handle, which would fracture the falling blocks of snow so they didn’t (always) hit me in the face!

Eventually I couldn’t avoid the necessity of climbing atop the roof itself, as the bathroom vent was within 4″ of being covered by the next snowfall. Figuring that would be bad, I climbed up the ladder with my snow shovel, brought along a big sheet of plastic to anchor at the lip (and stretch up the slope) onto which I tossed my shovels full of snow. That worked wonderfully well to shuttle the “white sh*t” (as my dad used to call it) off the roof and down to the ground, where it proceeded to bury the ladder.

Which I didn’t mind, because, after that long-though-pleasantly-sunny afternoon, I do not look forward to a repeat appearance!

Lovin’ Life

February 14th, 2015

When your body gets damaged, repair slows everything else down, so you’re basically forced to refocus priorities. That can be frustrating and annoying and seriously debilitating. But happily, it can also be invigorating, and enlightening.

I’ve been lucky so far. Mostly quite healthy and without injury. (Knock wood.) But these hands of mine (these wonderful, opposable thumbs especially), quietly and relentlessly developed arthritis over thirty-five-plus years of self-employed crafting. Necessitating surgical repairs.

In the months leading up to the first (on my left thumb), my angst morphed into excitement over the possibilities. Knowing a forced furlough was upon me, I prepared to leave woodworking behind for a time, and looked down a different road.

One filled with words and images, like that of me on a Volkswagon in 1975, about to embark on a great adventure. Leading to now, as I begin to write about my TURNINGS ~ A Craft Artist’s Memoir (with woodturning projects). Stay tuned…