Deadlines and Creativity

It feels like Bead and Button just finished and the deadline for submitting classes is next week . . . August 17th!  I do understand their schedule and how tight it is . . .  really I do! So into the studio I went!!

Being creative because of a deadline . . . . how is that supposed to work? Do you freeze up or do the creative wheels start turning? Is there a storm of new ideas . . . .  or a big empty space between your ears??? Here’s how I got through it . . . .  by just starting.

I knew I didn’t have to start from scratch on these classes. The three of the classes that were selected and taught last year will be in the submittal package again. Why not, they worked . . .  everyone completed their pieces . . . .  I call that a success!

But what about something new?

In July, I taught a modified version of the Channeling Mondrian class. This class was all day rather than 3-hours and we completed lariats as the objective. I love what you can do with these graphic veneers!! Loads of fun. And yes, that will be submitted.

Yuhr-Mondrian Lariats

I also felt that there may be . . . , just may be, a need for a beginner polymer clay class. So I brushed off a project I taught at a retreat in 2015 called ‘Gone Fishin’.  The finished pieces look complicated . . .  multiple pieces and movement. But the class really just focuses on learning basic polymer clay canes that are then used in a variety of ways to decorate a stylized-fish skeleton.  These are what might be referred to as ‘foundation’ canes the bulleseye, jellyroll and stacked stripes. They are frequently used as building blocks for so many other polymer canes, veneers, surface treatments, etc.

Last year I received a lot of positive feedback on my colorful polymer pieces. Several people commented “I want to learn that!”.  So I definitely wanted to find a way to simplify this technique into a one-day class for 2019 where everyone could be successful. So after some more pondering . . . and a little playing . . . . I started seeing things! Yup . . .  faces started popping up . . . .  so I went with it!  I came up with a pendant (or pin) that I am calling Picasso-Inspired Portraits in Polymer. Do you see them??

Yuhr-Picasso Portraits in Polymer-group

I am pleased with my submittal and hope they are well received. But only time will tell . . . . about two months to be exact! Fingers crossed!!




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Walking in Wales – The Journal

No trip (for me) is complete without a travel journal. And I can finally say that this one is completed!! Not many of them get that stamp unfortunately. I get very close on most . . .  or close enough.

So how much ‘stuff’ do I carry with me to do this? Well I have found that I ALWAYS carry too much stuff and most of it never gets used, at least while traveling.  The basics that I really need to take include the journal, a mechanical pencil, an eraser, and two black permanent pens (I use Faber Castell Pitt Pens in S and F). I also use my Koi small watercolor set a little bit. But all the other little stamps, one stamp pad, markers, pens, extra papers, envelops and add ins . . . . . nope . . . . not one thing got used!  All of that stuff . . . if used . . . .  was back home when I was completing the journal.

I would love to say, lesson learned, but no doubt I will take extra stuff with me next time as well. It’s the ‘you never know’ lurking on the sidelines!

Someone asked me, “when do you have time to do this while traveling?”  Well, one of my secret weapons, is a stack of gridded cards from Project Life (you could use any 3×5-inch type cards). I then punch a whole in the corner of each card and put them all on a ring.  I use at least one for each day I am traveling. Each night before I go to sleep, I make notes about what happened that day. Not just where we went and what we did, but the people involved, the funny things that happened (or not funny but interesting), the things learned . . . . you get the idea.  If I don’t write it down . . . . . that evening . . . . . it is often forgotten.  Since these notes are not in my formal journal, just kept in a pocket of the journal, I don’t obsess over their neatness, spelling or order of events for the day. Often as I write I realize, ‘oh yeah, before that we did this’. So it is added with an arrow or asterisk pointing to the right order. This gives my mind permission to free-flow in a relaxed manner . . . . . after all . . . . it is bedtime!


After a trip, I gather all my collected paraphernalia, my journal and my travel note cards. I flip through my notes and journal looking for any major things I missed and where they can fit. I then put my collected items in chronological order to see what should be kept and used in the journal and what can be disposed of. Often it is only a small piece of a map, the graphics from a store bag or a coaster from a bar that is kept and used in the journal.  I even printed out a couple of photos to include in the journal from my HP Sprocket. This is a sampling from the Wale journal pages!

I love my travel journals. I make them for myself . . .  they remind me how lucky I am to do and see all the things that I have done and seen. I share them with the hope that it inspires someone else to capture their moments and have fun doing it!

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Walking in Wales

I recently completed my travels to Wales. The plan – a little walking adventure to see historic and beautiful natural sites in Northern Wales. Expected weather typically 50 to 60oF, with clouds, wind and drizzle.  This sounded lovely!!

Okay, so the phrase ‘best laid plans’ comes to mind.  Here’s what actually happened!

Our itinerary included the following:

While I put the trip together, I was only responsible for the first and last accommodations.  The rest of our accommodations were handled by Contours and they were all pretty good, for the most part. Although one fell into the category of ‘youth hostel needing update’, but it was all part of the adventure. Our two favorite accommodations that really stood out and I would highly recommend were:

  • Snooze Restaurant and Bar in Llandudno – This is a small, high-end boutique bed & breakfast has fabulous food, creative drinks and lovely accommodations. It is a small quaint, well-appointed hotel just off the promenade.
  • Min-Y-Don Guest House in Llanfairfechan is a wonderful place. The rooms have all been updated with very luxurious finishes. The owners who are your hosts, chef and in-house magicians are lovely. Big warm hugs goodbye were welcomed as they sent on our way down the path!

The Welsh people were lovely . . . .  really and truly lovely. Everyone said hello as you passed on the trails, as you stood there trying to read a map in the city they would ask if you needed directions, and many  . . . . after hearing our American accents, would stop to chat or sit with us at the Pub. Those encounters often made our day!

Only one day was typical of Welsh weather and, of course, we decided to venture to the top of Great Orme in Llandudno. Windy, wet, and cold. The old saying was ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it will change’. And change it did!

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-great orme

The rest of the trip the weather was actually stunning, mid to high 70’s, clear blue skies, and light breezes (or no breeze). But as we all had prepared for much cooler temperatures, we were roasting! Yes, we could ditch the jackets, but the sun was ready for cooking so we kept the long sleeve shirts on just for the sun protection alone.

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 6

Walking distances were estimates only and typically under-estimated by 25 to 50%!! And we were not taking side trips from the trail! That does mess with your head as you are trying to pace yourself for the day. During one day of walking I saw this sign. I could not stop laughing as i truly related to it as I stood there!

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-favorite sign

Of course there were opportunities to cool your feet along the way. The initial few minutes felt great . . . .  and then my feet felt numb. Someone said the water temperature was about 16 degrees C (about 60 degrees F)! And there were people swimming  . . . . without wet suits!!

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 7

The Northern Wales Coastal Path were varied . . . . . paved, grassy, rocky, wooded and sandy.  We covered a portion of the path through Conwy Valley and another portion on the Isle of Anglesey coastal trail. The views were just as varied. I can see why it is so treasured by the Welsh.

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 1

Typical signage for the coastal path. Very well marked.

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 3

Low tide along the Northern Wales coastal path.

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 5

Cliff top views just south of South Stack Lighthouse. Note how calm the water was . . .  no wind at all!

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 2

An art installation along the Northern Wales path.

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-coastal path 4

South Stack Lighthouse


Seagulls were just part of the landscape . . . and sound-scape. I don’t think they ever sleep.

And the castles!! Yes, I loved the castles. Still so impressive after hundreds of years. It was so interesting to see how the towns were built up around them . . . .  evolved and integrated together so seamlessly!

We ate out way through the country. Our favorite was the bread and butter at breakfast. Seriously!! Often took leftovers in a napkin for snacks on the trail.  The Welsh do dairy products well.  Of course, there was the occasional fish & chips and we even snuck in an afternoon tea . . . or two!! For me, the best meal of the trip was a lamb duet (cutlet and mini Shepard’s pie) at the Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr. And the cocktail menus were intriguing.  I am familiar with flavored vodka’s and even rums, but flavored gin??? Apparently, it’s a very popular item in the UK as is the old standard gin and tonic. But with the flavored gin, it was a whole new experience that we thoroughly enjoyed – rhubard and ginger, edleflower, grapefruit and an orange marmalade.

In hindsight, we would have changed a few things. Moving to different accommodations every night was a drag. The areas in Northern Wales we visited were all fairly close and local transportation (train, buses and taxis) is plentiful.  We should have picked one or two places and walked/explored from there. This would have allowed more time visiting the places, rather than walking from place to place. Often by the time we got to our destination and rested our feet, things were beginning to close for the day. This is in no way a slight on the group that arranged our walk. They did exactly what they were supposed to.

And while we did ‘stop to smell the roses’, we also discovered that our kind of walking is more destination oriented like to galleries, restaurants, museums and . . . . . maybe a few retail stores! I can’t wait to see what we come up with for our next adventure!!


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Traveling with Kids

I think I am lucky . . .  I mean really lucky, in so very many ways.  Recently I was able to travel with two of my sons, and their families, a group of 10, that included all four of my grandchildren, ages 6 to 10 (see my little pirates below). I looked at this as an incredibly wonderful opportunity, a two week transatlantic cruise with stops in Portugal and Spain!

Yuhr-little pirates

The kids have seen my travel journals and always ask questions about them. So on our recent trip I set each one up with their own travel journal. I kept it simple (store bought, not handmade), added their name and travel itinerary (just printed from the computer, no hand lettering) and packed a bunch of supplies. My goal was to encourage them to draw or write in the journal each evening before dinner. No rules or other guidelines . . .  no pressure . . . . . no judgement.

I also purchased for the trip a new little travel printer from HP called a Sprocket. This little dynamo prints on special paper that is roughly a 2×3-inch sticker. I thought the kids could select their favorite photo of the day to add to their journal each evening. While I loved the printer and the other adults also thought it was great, the kids were less enthusiastic about it.

Don’t get me wrong, the kids loved drawing in their journals. But it was rarely about the trip and that’s ok . . .  they were being creative and fundamentally that was what I was encouraging.

In addition to the trip,  I am trying something new this year. Each of my grandkids got to pick out a store bought journal from my stash (yes, there were plenty to select from). Each kid draws something in their journal . . .  anything . . . . sign and date it . . . . then passes it back to the me and I draw something. It will be interesting to see how long we can keep this up.  I am hoping it captures a little piece of them within the pages that we can both look back upon and enjoy. Only time will tell!


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Walking in Wales

I can plan travel, I do it all the time, in fact, I love doing it. However, when asked to plan a trip with a couple of gal pals, I was both intrigued and a little nervous . . . . okay a lot nervous. We wanted to try something different, do something more adventurous and go where none of us have already been (but not too far away).  Those were the overall criteria. In addition, I needed to include the following:

  • A walking holiday
  • The British Isles
  • Planes, trains, boats
  • Charming cities for sightseeing
  • Quaint B&B’s
  • A reasonable budget

No problem . . . . . right?!?!

So two weeks have been planned between Wales and Ireland. A couple of the criteria have been bent a little, but all in all I think I nailed it!

Overview of trip

The itinerary includes a couple of nights in Llandudno along the Northern Wales coastline to recover from travel and start our sightseeing. Then the first 3-day walk takes us castle to castle between the towns of Conwy, Llanfairfechen, Bangor and Caernarfon. We then travel to Holyhead by train for the second 3-day walk along the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path. Our walking days vary between 7 and 12 miles and should be fairly “easy”. Afterwards, we return to Holyhead to catch the ferry to Dublin where we spend our last three days before flying home.

Where we pinched pennies – We are flying coach, not even premium economy! The three of us will be sharing a room and allows a bit more to be spent on a room. But it still works out to be only one bathroom for three women.

Where we splurged – We are using a company to facilitate our walks, Contours. They arrange accommodations, move our luggage each day, provide us with maps, etc. But the big splurge was getting a private driver to pick us up at the Heathrow airport and drive us to Northern Wales. Yes, I know I could have done this by train or bus and my English friends are probably rolling their eyes at this one. But after traveling for almost 24 hours the thought of navigating subways to central London, then dragging a bag to a train station and traveling another 5-6 hours (depending upon stops) was not appealing. This splurge only required a little arm-twisting!

So the plans are made and the start date is quickly approaching. Nerves are starting to take hold and words like “whose idea was this walking holiday” are running through our heads.  Although I expect we will be laughing our way through this little adventure, but that is part of the fun. And I haven’t told my companions that I have all the short cuts and bus stops along our walks plotted . . . .  just in case!

And everyone knows that all of my adventures includes a journal! This one is no exception. For this one I used a painted piece of canvas I had lying around, a funky button from my collection and some leather lacing. For the signatures I have tried to leave more white pages for sketching and watercolors but threw in a few printed scrapbook papers. I sewed a pocket in the back will hold a few extras such as a couple of envelopes and little ‘comment’ cards that can be added as needed and a ring of gridded papers.  This ring of papers is so important to me when traveling. Each night I review the day and write down what happened. This isn’t just a listing of the itinerary, but the little things, the funny mishaps, interesting people, the feelings I had at a certain point or surprises along the way. For me, that is what makes traveling so much fun.


I promise to share my review of our trip when we return. I love the idea of a walking holiday . . . . .  lets see how it actually goes.


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Bead and Button Review

I have returned from teaching three classes at Bead and Button in Milwaukee. It was a whirlwind of work and a rollercoaster of emotions.  Overall it was a positive experience and yes I would do it again!

I learned lots of things about myself and teaching.

  • You have to be prepared for a wide variety of skill levels.
  • You have to be prepared with extra supplies.
  • Remember to take photos, lots of them!!
  • I found that I like working with a timeline for the class typed out and taped down next to my work area. It keeps me on track and lets me assess if I am behind or ahead or just right at any point in time.
  • If you are relaxed and having fun, your students will be too. In one class, I got a little frazzled and needed to get my act together quickly. So be prepared for the unexpected. You won’t know exactly what to expect, but just that something will happen that catches you off guard. Deal with it, move on, and get back on track as quickly as possible.

In general, I considered all three classes a success since everyone left with finished pieces. I loved hearing the exclamations from people after we reduced a cane and then sliced into it or when we added a final layer of patina to pieces changing the look completely. I hope I get to see some of the class reviews to get a better understanding of how each student felt about their experience, content covered, and finished project.  I only remembered to snap photos at the end of two classes!

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-kandinsky bracelet classYuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-mondrian pendant class

At the “Meet the Teachers” event a ton of business cards were given out and a lot of opportunities presented themselves.  Some of them I can control and follow up on, some are not in my hands. In addition, the feedback on my class samples and other work was incredible! It was so positive and enthusiastic. This totally increased my confidence (and yes . . . . my head swelled a bit . . . . okay, a lot!).  Someone I met at this event snapped a couple of quick photos of me and my table (thank you Allison Norfleet Bruenger).

Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-teachtable 1Yuhr-theflyingsquirrelstudio-teacher table 2

So I am already thinking about what I would do differently, how I could improve, and what classes that I want to submit for 2019. The deadline is sometime mid-August, but it will be here before you know it!!

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Some Eye Candy

Prior to leaving for Bead and Button I needed to get some new work completed. I put my nose to the proverbial grind stone and got it done.  I am pretty happy with the results.  And while I am still working with the colorful Kandinsky-inspired style I am always trying to improve. Pendents and pins are fun, giving me a good sized area to play with.

My earrings are very popular, but not for everyone. They are a bit large and I have tried to reducing the size a bit . . . . .  still working on that. But they provide a wonderful pop of color, I love these.

Yuhr-colorful earrings 1

But the rings and bangles are my favorite right now. I am particularly fond and proud of the way I have captured the color on the bangles.

I have done some experimenting with this style. Here, I am playing with white and black backgrounds. Does it work as well? Or is it just different.

I am also trying to sign all of my work. I started when I received a wax seal stamp of my squirrel logo as a Christmas present from my sister-in-law. It worked well but was too big for some of my pieces.

Yuhr-squirrel stamp 1

So I got a smaller stamp made from It is designed to be used with metal clay, but it works great with polymer clay too.  It is small, detailed and was a great price!

It is small enough to be used either on the back of a piece or even ‘hidden’ in the pattern on the front of a piece. What do you think? Too much?

Yuhr-colorful bangles 3


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