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The ‘Darn Good Artist’ Category...

Artist Profile: Jeanie Mossa of Planet Calamari

August 27, 2014

Jeanie Mossa of Planet Calamari remembers drawing on the wall with jumbo Crayola crayons when she was about 4 years old.  The vision in her head was clear, but the result turned out to be just a jumble of crayon marks…definitely not a happy moment for her parents.  She says, “I guess that’s the difference between being an artist and doing art: one you are, one you have to learn.”  She credits her Italian grandmother with teaching her to  sew, crochet, embroider, and create and give her skills that blessed her as a future artist.

In addition to her art and creations, Jeanie publishes an e-zine, Bohemian Soul, a fusion of art and healing for people and their pets.  You can sign up to receive it right in your own inbox on the Planet Calamari site.  Darn Good Yarn’s own Nicole Snow was the featured interview in the last issue!  Jeanie is also working on a book that started as a children’s book and has transformed into a book of illustrations and affirmations to heal the child with in all of us.

Jeanie’s inspiration comes from a myriad of places.  It comes in happy moments when she is dancing in the kitchen, playing the banjo, or watching a fun movie.  It can come in the shower or while eating Mexican food. She lives close to Washington, D.C. and it comes through her visits to the Smithsonian Art Museum, the United States Botanical Gardens, and the National Museum of the American Indian.  It also comes through the nature preserve that is close to her home where she takes a walk with her husband every Sunday.  She loves strolling among the trees and flowers, seeing stunning blue heron, hawks, geese, dragonflies, and an occasional deer.

On those walks, when she sees a stick or branch, Jeanie’s mind races trying to think of what it could be. If her brain comes up with an image, she picks it up and takes it home to work with it.  Usually the image and the finished product look nothing alike, but she finds that if she stays in the flow, she can make her muse happy.  If her muse seems to have run off to Paris, she says her secret fall back method is to watch marathon Ugly Betty reruns.  Jeanie says, “Her bubbly personality, colorful ill-matched clothing and caterpillar eyebrows sing to me, and some of my more whimsical pieces have been created thanks to her! I think of Betty Suarez as my substitute muse.”    Once she has a process going, she likes to experiment with different mediums: things like clay, paint, found objects, wire, and glass, anything that can be molded.

With those mediums, Jeanie creates number of amazing items including vibrant jewelry, whimsical mixed media art, and enchanting Nature Spirit Beings.  Nature Spirit Beings are a special creation of Jeanie’s.  She says they are, “tiny shamans, medicine women, and mystical deities inspired by tree sprites, fairies, ancient Goddesses and fairytales.”  She has enjoyed making odd and delightful creatures, stuffed animals, and sculptures since childhood and when the National Museum of the American Indian had an exhibit last year, Much More than a Doll, she was amazed by the detail, color and symbolism.  Around the same time, she experienced a health crisis that eventually required surgery and she made a Nature Spirit Being for herself as a way to deal with what was happening to her.  Each doll has an intention.  Her first doll was bravery and since then she has sewn a small note with a message or prayer inside, very similar to the Latin American Worry Doll.  As she takes daily walks, she comes home with a pile of sticks and is always for searching for items to upcycle for her creations.  She is currently working on creating online classes, videos, and live workshops that will teach others how to make Nature Spirit Beings and will include aspects of healing along with instructions on how to make the dolls.

Jeanie is in love with Darn Good Yarn‘s sari ribbon!  She is worried that she may need a twelve-step program soon to deal with her addiction.  She found Darn Good Yarn when looking for earthy alternatives for jewelry to hang her paper clay pendants.  She had ordered some silk ribbon from a different source and was unhappy with the quality, so she went searching again and found Darn Good Yarn.  When she called to inquire about DGY’s silk ribbons and a real person answered the phone and guided her through our products, she was hooked!  She also loves buying from Darn Good Yarn because of their dedication to Fair Trade.  Her favorite product is the At the Bahamas Sari Silk Ribbon with its vibrant purple, magenta, and blue hues.  She has been known to use sari silk ribbon for all sorts of things from wrapping packages, to crocheting scarves, to decorating a set of crutches and the big black boot that came along with it when she fractured her ankle.

And we can’t forget to mention Jeanie’s crocheting pup, Quan Yin Kali Wu.  She’s a rescue dog from the Tennessee floods in 2010.  She also goes by just Wu or Quan Yin and Jeanie had this to say about the meaning of her name: “Quan Yin is best known as the Chinese Deity of Compassion.  Wu is the last name of the martial arts teacher that informally adopted my husband into his family. And she picked up the middle name Kali, the Hindu Goddess of destruction, after she devoured (literally) an expensive Frida Kahlo book I had checked out from the library.”  Despite her appetite for books (she’s destroyed others as well), she is just about the perfect dog and the Pawsitive Relations Director of Planet Calamari, as well as Four Paws Acupuncture, Jeanie’s acupuncture veterinary clinic that she ran when she lived in Salem, MA.  Jeanie no longer treats patients, but she write books and articles, and teach a distance learning class on holistic medicine to acupuncturists and
veterinarians.  Oh, and we can forget to add that Jeanie’s two black cats who would feel left out if we didn’t mention them, Nubi Wan Kenobi and Luna Miso Poosie.

Thank you Jeanie for sharing your art and process with us!  We are ecstatic to have you as part of the Darn Good Yarn family and can’t wait to see what else you create.

Find Jeanie in all of these places:

Planet Calamari
Planet Calamari Gallery Shop
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube
Twitter

Artist Profile: Patricia Judd, Doll Maker

August 11, 2014

When Patricia sent us this picture of the sassy and fabulous doll, “South Beach Diet”,  that she made for the Hoffman Challenge for Dolls, we couldn’t wait to see what other unique creations she had made and get to know more about her!  She found Darn Good Yarn while browsing online to look for unusual yarns for her fun creations and was immediately hooked by the idea of recycling silk, the colors, the textures, and the opportunity to do some good.  She ordered a sampler box and loved everything in it!  ”South Beach Diet” features sari silk ribbon yarn to tie the umbrella and multicolored banana fiber yarn as ties on the chair cushions.  Patricia loves the vibrant colors that Darn Good Yarn added to her creation and we do too!
Patricia’s grandmother and mother instilled a love of color, texture and patterning in her from a young age.  She remembers her grandmother helping her make a felt heart-shaped pincushion for her mother when she was about five years old.  She found it while cleaning out her mother’s sewing room after she had lost her and now it has a place of honor in her sewing room.  Although she struggles sometimes to keep perfectionism out of her creations, Patricia remembers the advice of a wonderful teacher who one time told her that there are no mistakes, only opportunities for embellishment!

About 15 years ago, Patricia bought a doll from a local crafter as a gift for her mother and the crafter let her pick the hair and eye color. She thought it might be fun to make one herself, so she found a local class from doll artist, Billie Rooker.  She used doll making as a therapeutic outlet during her years as a high school math teacher and likes to joke that even if the students were out of control, the dolls would sit still!  After making porcelain dolls for several years, she found an online class for soft dolls and made a doll that she describes as “gosh-awful” with a “nosed that looked like a mashed potato and hands that looked like Shrek.”  Ready to give up, she found a class from doll artist Judy Skeel that was close to home and came away from that class with a doll that had a beautiful face and a perfect nose!

Patricia usually starts with a pattern when she makes her dolls.  For “South Beach Diet”, she started with Rhonda McGinnity‘s “Still Waiting for Mr. Right.”  Even though she starts with a pattern, her favorite part of the process is changing the doll into a completely different character and making it her own with the use of hair, face type, colors and dress.  ”South Beach Diet” was inspired by a weekend at her sister’s house in South Florida in January.  She also enjoys taking classes and learning new techniques from doll artist’s and is looking forward to the Windy City Doll Workshop in October where she will take a class from Peggy Wilson.
Doll making isn’t her only hobby, she also knits and crochets and is looking forward to a scarf that she’s working on with some of the banana fiber yarn from her sampler pack that is in a bright yellow and grey!  She sews (she made her daughter’s wedding dress!), smocks, cross stitches, does crewel, and has tried quilting.  Her favorite hobby and art though is spending time with her grandchildren while they paint, color, and work with clay.  She has two grandsons, Ethan, 7, and Sam, 4.  While playing “I Spy” in the car, one of them told her that he spied something grey-white…after a few guesses, he revealed that it was her hair, even though she swears her hair color is ash blond #12!  They also enjoy making fantastic Spiderman webs from eyelash yarn with grandma.  And here is Patricia’s granddaughter, Finley, 4 months, in a dress she crocheted, from a pattern by Ira Rott on Ravelry.  Beautiful!
Thank you Patricia for taking the time to share your art and your process with us!  We’re happy that you found us and can’t wait to see what else you make with Darn Good Yarn!