Drawing Challenge, Day 1

“Saving Seeds”

My friend Claudia is always doing challenges. She finds these things on the web or just gets an idea to do something and that is the way that she structures herself to accomplish something that she wants to do. Yoga, decluttering, writing…..The last really substantial challenge she did was the 30 day Novel challenge where you write a novel in 30 days. She did this almost 3 years ago now. She finished the writing part and has been doing the editing on this first book for these past 2 years. This past November, she started a second book before the first one is complete. I am hoping that she gets the first one accepted by a publisher and gets rich and then shares that wealth with me because I have listened to the struggles of this challenge weekly with her.

A while back, while thinking about how she does these challenges, I came across a guy on Facebook that was doing a 20 minute a day drawing challenge. When you draw, it really is something that you have to practice, just like anything else to keep your skills. I Googled drawing challenges I did find this guy’s blog, so I signed on.

I am not one to follow rules though. My intention today to draw for 20 minutes, turned into an hour and a half but I had a finished drawing. 20 minutes is not going to work for me. BUT, if I can challenge myself to draw something every day for 30 days, I am at least following the rule to at least draw something every day. I feel that is the important thing… to put the pencil to paper.

So, here is my first day’s drawing…. I will try and post my drawings here every day and then make a gallery out of them at the end.


Shipping Materials…


I have been a full time potter now for about 3 years and while I have had some friends donate shipping materials to me, I have found that I have not had to purchase these materials. First, I can’t imagine doing that because I just don’t have the funds for it and second, there are items in all of our houses that will cushion fragile items without spending pennies on that kind of thing. I thought it would be helpful to other potters to showcase the way that I ship an item, or more to the point, what I use to ship an item.

  1. If your house is like mine, there is lots of junk mail that gets delivered to your house every day. What do you do with it? Do you recycle it? Do you just pitch it and it ends up in the landfill, ultimately causing your county taxes to rise? Do you compost it? My solution to packing material is to shred the junk mail and store it for packing. I bought a small shredder at Target for about $40 and each day, or when the pile gets too large, I shred it and store it as packing materials. If you don’t have a need to ship something to use it in this way, you could also compost it. Many printers now use a soy based ink that would be fine in the compost pile and it can line planter boxes to use as a mulch. You could cover it with a wood mulch so that it doesn’t blow away but, I have used it as a weed barrier in my cold frames.
  2. Plastic bags are something that I have eliminated from my local grocery store but that doesn’t mean that other food substances don’t make it into my house in some kind of plastic bag. Think apples, potatoes, onion, oranges, granola, coffee, the list can go on and on. So, I reuse those bags and stuff the shredded paper into those and they work just like those air filled bubble pillows that sometimes come in a package. My paper stuffed bags may be a bit heavier than the air filled pillows when I have to figure the cost of the package but that cost is offset with not having to purchase a shipping product.
  3. And wrapping paper. I have a great source for my wrapping paper. My old employer just so happens to toss a wonderful brown and white paper and I occasionally can connect with them and pick up a large batch of this to have a substance to wrap a package with.
  4. My clay boxes are great to ship in so those get used a lot to send out wares. There always seems to be boxes here as well so I have not reached a point in three years that there has not been a box somewhere in my house that I can ship an item, both large and small. There might come a time that I might consider purchasing some nice gift boxes but so far there has not been a need for that either. Make do with what you have is always been my motto, as many of you know.
  5. Clay comes in a really heavy plastic bag and if you go through a lot of clay, as I do, you have lots of those bags lying around the studio. I will take those bags and run them through the washing machine. As the washer is filling up, I catch some of the water in each bag so that they get good and wet and then I hang them up to dry and they make awesome packing material or transporting wares inside the shredded paper.

I will admit that the only item that I have purchased for my wares has been “orange bags”. I found an online source to purchase a net bag that looks like an orange bag as a branding tool given that my company name is Laughing Orange. I promote the bags at shows by hanging them from my tent and give each customer my speech about the importance of recycling, explaining the shredded paper in the bag and ask them to use the bag at the market for their produce and to reuse the bag. Because the bags are red, they draw customers in and they are curious about what their purpose is.

Tape is the only material that I am having to purchase at this time and I wish I could find an alternative to that but I don’t see that happening for a while.

So, if you are a fellow potter and are curious about how you can use what you have to pack your wares or are just looking for ways to avoid having excess junk mail in your house, I hope you find these tips helpful when you are packing or shipping a box of something to someone else.

On the Tenth day of Christmas…

My True Love gave to me… Ten Ladies Dancing. 

lots of festive ribbons

So you think you want to give someone dance lessons for Christmas?

Then let’s look at how we could wrap up dancing lessons so that it is a creative package for someone to receive. Let’s brainstorm and then look at gift wrapping today so that we are not using resources that will end up in the landfill. Hopefully, you will not really have to purchase much to wrap your gifts. I am lucky enough to have resources at my work place of large sheets of paper.  I usually try to use that paper for the base of my packages and add lots of adornments to it to create a unique look.

vintage card tags

A Gift of Dancing Lessons could be as simple as purchasing a gift certificate for the lessons and then wrapping it in a shoe box with a pair of old dancing shoes. If you have dance studio in your area, you could go there and see if they have an old pair of dance shoes that you could decorate and put the certificate into inside the box. The shoes could be as much a part of the gift as the certificate. They could become a “sculpture” of sorts that you paint, glue glitter to, or  add ribbons to. Then of course, wrap them in a shoe box and decorate the box. You may decide not to add the dance theme to the outside of the box so as to not give your gift away.

Martha Stewart glittered ornaments

I just finished wrapping the gifts for the child from the angel tree at work and used a white paper that is used to separate the fresh plates for the presses at work. It was fairly thin so I had to use several sheets so I didn’t get show through of the gift. I had purchased some pretty ribbon at Michaels and tied the ribbon on. The tags were the creative part of those gifts because I found some vintage Christmas card images of children and printed those, cut them out and put them on some other scrap paper and tied them on with a gold string. Design Sponge had a really great article yesterday about gift toppers using found objects such as buttons and string. And these paper ornaments from Martha Stewart’s site are some beautiful ornaments that I have put on my tree from card stock. They also make wonderful gift tags.

  1. Save your paper from year to year. Or save the gift bags that you get from year to year and reuse all these items
  2. Save ribbon from year to year. I have a box that is ribbon scraps that I dig into all the time for something to add to something else. I also try to tie the ribbon so that it is one long piece so that when the recipient unwraps the gift the ribbon is still usable for the next year.
  3. Save tissue paper, even if it has holes in it. Folded and placed into the box layered with another piece just makes the gift look like you put extra care into the wrapping. If you get desperate you can set your iron on a low setting and actually iron the tissue paper but I like the wrinkled look.
  4. Use found objects to tie onto the package. small pine cones, old cards that are cut up into new shapes, cookie cutters, buttons, as in the Design Sponge article above,
  5. Draw on the package or stamp a design on the paper
  6. Have a gift wrap party and invite friends over to make paper. (If you have a cheap source for paper like I do)
  7. Try your hand at making homemade paper using old mail that you put in the blender and mix up, pour the pulp onto a screen and use that paper to cut out your tags. You can add seeds to the mix and they could plant the tag in the spring for an added surprise. Use cookie cutter shapes to cut the paper out or use a template for Christmas shapes like stockings or birds.
  8. make applesauce ornaments to tie on the packages Recipe here…
  9. make paperdolls to wrap around the package
  10. use fabric to tie around the package the way the Japanese do. If you get bandanas then the recipient also has a handkerchief for those hikes in the woods, better yet, get one of the bandanas that have a topo map printed on it of trails in the nearby National Park

These are just a few of the ideas that I try to focus on when I am wrapping gifts so that I have as much thought into the wrap as I do the gift and also keeping in mind trying to not waste resources so that I keep the paper out of the landfill. Over the holidays the biggest source of extra waste is the use of wrapping paper and cards that package Christmas gifts. On average, over 8000 tons of wrapping paper and almost two billion cards are thrown out throughout the season. By simply reusing or recycling your wrapping paper and cards you will be able to help reduce the over 300,000 tons of holiday garbage created each year.

Some great resources are:

Just remember to RECYCLE as much as you possibly can. Start a box this year to store the ribbons and paper that you unwrap Christmas morning and next year you will be surprised at the money you save and the space that is save in the landfill. Plus you will have a box of supplies to dip into when you need that added punch of creative something for a new package.