Werkin' It: A Lesson on Pushing Your Own Limits

If you've been reading along for the last few posts, you know a little bit about me. It's also likely that if you are reading, you came by this because of links I've shared on my Instagram or other social media. For the past two weeks, I've been stepping outside of my comfort zone where I make things quietly or participate in community events under guise of babies or cameras. I thought that sharing my experiences here could also be inspiring for anyone else ever considering a comfort zone push of their own. 

I am a big fan of burlesque performance. I have been attending a show around the holidays for the past couple of years called "The Slutcracker". It is a more risqué and much more fun (in my opinion) version of the classic Nutcracker. The creator of this amazing show, Sugar Dish, has been putting on a series of "werkshops" going on from mid October until the end of November and invited any and all to join. If there was ever a chance to try my hand at burlesque performance, I felt like this was the time.  I already know and accept that I am painfully shy when it comes to using my body to express things. Sometimes throughout my life, I feel like that might have held me back from doing things that I really wanted to try. I think about my sweet babies, and I hope that they won't have some of the same fears I did. With those things in mind, I packed up my heels and set off for Central Square for the first class. 


The first class was a heels class. Learning to dance in them, and in my case, just walk in them. Sugar demonstrated and mentioned that she had seen girls clunking around on cobblestones downtown toe first and that it was really not the appropriate way to walk in heels. I sheepishly thought "yeah, that isn't very graceful is it?" I wish I could tell you I was able to keep my heels on for the whole hour and a half. But I didn't make it. About an hour and ten minutes into the class, the balls of my feet were hurting and I could feel my calfs practically vibrating from being worked out for such a long time. I am a sneakers and Toms type of gal and dancing, heck, even walking in heels takes a TON of work. I had been so distracted by my concentration to stay on my feet, that following the choreography Sugar was teaching was insanely difficult. I ended up taking off the heels and my understanding of left and right improved slightly, I wish I could tell you that I became a whiz at the choreography, I still found it tricky to follow along. When the class ended, I felt exactly what I was hoping to feel. Like I had gotten some good excersize, and that I'd actually done something that scared the hell out of me to try. 

The second class was called Twerk and Twirl. Sadly, I missed this one due to having a cold and not feeling very well. I learned that the third class was hoop dancing with Lollihoops. I really thought "this is going to be a bigger mess than heels were". I have to tell you. I LOVED IT. In my whole life, I have never been able to work a hula hoop on my hips. I start, get half a rotation, and the hoop clatters to the floor. It's very frustrating. However, there is a secret. The bigger the hoop, the easier it is to work. Where you put your feet is also important. I grabbed the biggest hoop she had, which was pretty darn big, and gave it a shot while feeling a bit skeptical. With every rotation of the hoop on my hips, the more excited I got. When Lolli encouraged us to move around with the hoops and try working them up our arms and using our hands, I was amazed that I was able to do it. I had so much fun at hoops class that I was really sad to have the hour and a half come to an end. I may even take a class of hers in the future. 

Next week is beginning ballet. When learning the past subjects of future classes, I've felt nervousness and fear. I'm trying to change that in preparation for the next class. I remember doing ballet class when I was really little. I remember that I had a growth spurt and became really gangly. I lost coordination and ended up quitting in frustration for my lack of coordination. I'm looking at this class as a make up session for saying adios to ballet 31 or so years ago. 

Drool for Days. A Tutorial for Drooldanas

I won't lie. My day to day life is now a bit more damp than I would like to admit to or think about. One baby drools a lot. Three babies combined, drool a ridiculous amount. We already have a lot of laundry, and with the beginning of the drooling age, my laundry numbers have the chance to go way up. Bibs are a reasonable solution, but I can never find ones that I like. I spend all of this time picking out their outfits and getting them dressed, to cover them up with a bib feels wrong. For a long time, there was no solution. Bibs were my fate. 

Cue my friend Anne. She is mom to two lovely littles. I ran into her at the Somerville Fluff Festival and noticed that her kids had these REALLY cute little bandanas on. When I commented on them, she told me about the magic of the drooldana. She mentioned that she'd gotten them at Buy Buy Baby. They were damn cute, but taking the number of babies I have hanging around into considerations, I'd have to buy a million of them to make a dent. In situations like these, my first thought is almost always "I bet I could make that". 

I considered the function on them.. two layers of fabric that will be absorbent enough to catch their drool, but not thick enough to strangle them or make them look like they're wearing turtlenecks. I went to a local craft store and picked up a few regular cotton bandanas. At first, they can be a little stiff, but after a few washes, they become nice and soft. I picked 2 for each baby. One in the traditional bandana design, and one in what looked to be a mock Batik print. I looked at a few fabric stores, and the terry cloth they sold by the yard was too thick. T-shirt material seemed too thin.. What I ended up settling on was some receiving blankets they came home from the hospital with. I grabbed the ones they were swaddled in on the morning of their release, the hospital put some in bags for us to take, and they also had them rolled up to put into their carseats. The trio was so tiny when they came home, that they practically swam in their carseats. Rolled up receiving blankets helped give them some padding, and now I have a million of them hanging around.

I gathered all my supplies and started cutting. One half of a bandana is too large. I ended up cutting them in half while they were folded the triangle way. I figure the middle part could possibly be used later for a baby headband or a quilting project of some sort? To make sure it is the right length, you can fold the edges down and kind of hold it up to your baby's neck to get an idea of what would be too short, and what would be too long. Some babies, like my second baby, have chunky little necks. It would have been a bummer and a waste of time to make them too short. 

Another tip for making your cutting easier is to trim the sewed edges off of the receiving blankets and iron all of the fabric you are using. I am usually pretty lazy about some steps, but ironing always seems to pay for itself in terms of making sewing projects more simple. The other thing that I can recommend is pinning the fabrics you are going to sew together. 

Once everything is cut, place the two pieces of fabric that you are going to sew together face to face. There is a definite front and back to the bandanas, and you want to make sure that whatever you are using is face to face. When you sew them together, you also don't want to completely close everything off. Leave one corner open, in this case one of the tails that will be at the back of the drooldana. You will want to do this so they can be turned inside out and get the faces of the fabric to where they are supposed to be. 

starting a bit away from the corner so there is enough room to turn them right-side out. 

starting a bit away from the corner so there is enough room to turn them right-side out. 

Once you've got them all turned right-side out, you're going to need to do two things. This is probably the trickiest part of these super simple creations. You'll have to sew up the corners and then add a strait stitch all the way around the edge to both help seal the corner and give these things a bit of stability. Again, using pins to help hold those edges together while you tuck the corner in a bit will help make them look more polished and save yourself a bit of headache in terms of not having enough fingers to hold it all together. 

There are many ways you could finish these off with a closure. I would not recommend using the tie method because, if your baby is choking, undoing a tie could take too much effort and time. You could also use snaps. While I like this idea, I'm not sure it would have worked for me mostly because I've never done it before and I don't have the time to dedicate that much time to this project. I ended up choosing good ol' velcro. I did not have time to make it to the fabric store to get the type that you sew on, and the craft store didn't carry it. I'm trying something new with this velcro that advertises itself as "no sew". These things are going to go through the wash a million times, and while the package says that it'll stand up to washing, I'm not entirely convinced. I'll give it a try for now, and if it does come unattached, I'll just run over it with my sewing machine. I will say, this velcro was very sticky to start with so try not to get it stuck to your fingers, and maybe also use a crummy pair of scissors that you aren't overly in love with.

Attach the velcro, give it a good press, and ta-DA!!! You've got your very own drooldanas. I thought my trio couldn't be cuter in them, and I can't wait to make more with some scrap pieces of printed jersey.

my trio modeling their drooldanas

my trio modeling their drooldanas

March, Walk, or Crawl to the Beat

It's been a busy time since I last wrote about urban chicken raising. In the year plus, I served as the coordinator for one of the country's largest art events, Somerville Open Studios, and I did it all while expecting triplets. Our family welcomed the babies at the end of May, and since then, I have been figuring out where they fit into my crazy world of art. Merging art and parenting has not been an easy task, but hanging with these sweet babes is pretty darn awesome. Plus I REALLY enjoy making things for them. 

Somerville is a pretty great place to raise kids. When we found that we were expecting, we did the research that every parent does.. good neighborhood, good schools, the usual. One of the things that I liked the most about Somerville is it's never-ending calendar of family friendly and very fun events. This past weekend is one of my favorites, as I've never seen it in other places that I've lived. The Honk! Festival of Marching Bands. 

Every October for the last 10 years, the city of Somerville is taken over by marching bands from all over the country. When I first found out about this crazy festival, I was sitting in my living room wondering why the hell there was a marching band on my street. Since then, my knowledge of the event has grown, and for the past three years, I have had the opportunity to participate in the parade that happens on the last day of the festival. The parade goes from Davis Square down in to Harvard Square and is a heck of a lot of fun. Along with the marching bands, they also invite community organizations. Organizations such as Somerville Open Studios. 

As it turns out, last year at the parade, I was likely pregnant without knowing it. This year, I was excited to get the 4 month old trio out into the world for "babies first marching band parade". SOS is full of amazing and incredibly talented volunteers and it was decided that a wild array of dragons and monsters would grace our group. Heading up the creative effort was one of my favorite artists Hilary Scott. I asked him if it would be possible to work on something for the babes to ride in, suggesting that maybe their stroller could be transformed into something. He'd seen photos of the stroller and asked me to bring it over. Measurements were taken and he had the idea that it could be turned into a monster-ey, dragon-like head that would make the babies look as though they were being eaten. I thought it was a fantastic idea. He rustled around in his amazing garage and pulled out some hula hoops to compare them to the size of the stroller. It was easy to see that his creative mind was building this fantastic creature. 

Building the framework for the monster

Building the framework for the monster

The day before the parade, the building began. He helped other participating artists get creative in building monsters to carry and wear in the parade. Many piles of scrap foam, lots of foam adhesive, and colorful paints were acquired and his back yard was transformed into a fantastic place where all of these ideas came to life. 

Along with all of the fabulous monsters, I decided that the babies couldn't just be babies. They needed to get in on the dragon fun too. I whipped out my crochet hook and made them some sweet little dragon hats. While October in New England can sometimes be pleasant and warm, it can also turn on a dime and be cold as hell. If it was cold, they'd be adorable dragon babies. If it was hot.. well, then they'd just be tiny humans being devoured by a monster. My GWAR-loving husband would be amused either way. 

For the most part, the babies slept through the parade, but somewhere around 3/4 of the way though, my sweet but very feisty middle baby woke up. I'm pretty sure that she was either going to lose it or love it, and I'm super happy she decided to love it. She looked around as though she'd decided that fame was definitely her game, and she occasionally gave little screams of delight, and LOTS of excited grins.

Eventually, about 3 hours after our parade adventure began, it came to an end. We fed the babies in Harvard Square and then decided that getting on the T with our monster stroller wasn't really the right move and that walking back would be the best idea. While it was a long walk on its own, the number of times we were stopped were uncountable. As it turns out, when you have a monster stroller and three babies in a parade, things are fairly normal. When you walk down the street with the same stroller and there is NOT a parade happening around you, not only are you seen as an oddity, but an oddity with triplets. It can get a little crazy sometimes, but it certainly was a fun day. I look forward to involving the trio in whatever fun community event rolls around next. 

Walking by windows gave me a good perspective on how crazy we looked. 

Walking by windows gave me a good perspective on how crazy we looked. 

So You Want to be an Urban Farmer: Adventures in Chicken Raising

I have what may be considered the tiniest yard in Somerville. It is roughly 7ft wide, by 40ft long, and it runs along the side of my house. Mowing takes less than five minutes. As a matter of fact, it takes longer to untangle the extension cord and drag the mower out of the basement (because, of course, there is no room for a garage or shed.) and then put it all back than it does to actually mow the yard. I don't even call it the yard. I affectionately call it  "the patch". When we bought the house, I had quiet ambition for growing some tomato plants and maybe a little herb garden in the tiny bed off our deck. Being that the yard was so tiny, those goals were easily accomplished. 


"Did you know Somerville lets you have chickens?" my husbands said to me one day after we'd purchased our home in Winter Hill. He had this idea in his head from the beginning of our house search. Before we found our home in Somerville, we had placed an offer on a house in Framingham. At that time we were living in Teele Sq, and Framingham was nowhere near my first choice, but I tried to buy into the romantic dream of watching hens peck around this yard. Once that house was dramatically crossed off the list thanks to mold and major electrical issues, I assumed the dream of hens went with it. 

I had heard about the city's urban agriculture movement, but seeing as how we had a patch and not a yard, a coop was out of the question. I was clearly very wrong. Before you can ask "want some fresh eggs for breakfast?" the chicks and coop were ordered on.. get this.. mypetchicken.com. We logged on and found that there are a lot of breeds to choose from. Since we live in New England, and having chickens in the house for the very long and cold winters didn't sound like a whole lot of fun, we chose breeds from the "especially cold hardy" list. To great disappointment, the Easter Egger breed was not available (who DOESN'T want blue and green eggs?!) and so after a little research about temperament and egg production we ended up with four chicks on the way. Two Golden Bluffs and two Partridge Cochins. The arrived in mid October at the Union Square in one very small and peeping box. The reaction of the ladies at the post office was pretty amazing. Opening the box? NUGGET CUTENESS OVERLOAD! (Yes, we called the chicks "the nuggets")

peep, peep, peep! If the box moved significantly, the peeps intensified. 

peep, peep, peep! If the box moved significantly, the peeps intensified. 

Petrified baby chicks. Traveling across the country on your first day in the world is no doubt terrifying. The yellows are Golden Bluffs and the black are the Partridge Cochins. 

Petrified baby chicks. Traveling across the country on your first day in the world is no doubt terrifying. The yellows are Golden Bluffs and the black are the Partridge Cochins. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, we were tasked with naming the nuggets. There area million appropriate names for chickens, and we waited to see how they acted so they ended up with appropriate monikers. One chick, a Bluff that seemed to have the bossiest attitude, was named Dorothy and her twin became Rose as they tended to stick together. One of the Cochins seemed exceptionally awkward. Never walked around unless you really pushed her into it.. she became Blanche. And last, but not least.. Sophia. Our golden girls. 

Since they arrived in October, that meant they had a couple months of indoor living until they were old enough to live outside and not freeze to death. Their coop arrived shortly after they did. While we researched building a coop from scratch, It was starting to get REALLY cold outside. We ordered a pre-fab coop and I decided to give the hens-to-be a paint job befitting of the historic vibrant houses of Somerville. 

Our fancy-pants coop. 

Our fancy-pants coop. 

Having the chicks inside was something we loved. They resided in a 20gal, and then shortly after, a 40gal fish tank in our dining room. They would peep excitedly when they saw us, and spent a great deal of time being handled and cuddled. 

Blanche and I on the couch.

Blanche and I on the couch.

Dorothy perches.

Dorothy perches.

Then Halloween rolled around.. 

This is what "incredible concern" looks like on chicks. 

This is what "incredible concern" looks like on chicks. 

The girls grew so fast. Within days of arriving if you looked closely at their wings you could see their feathers starting to come through. Soon after their wing feathers, if you looked under their fluff, you could see what appeared to be tubes growing through their skin. It was a little freaky and soon they started to look nothing like chicks OR chickens.. but awkward little peeping creatures.. I still thought they were adorable. 

Rosie. Sunning and hanging out. 

Rosie. Sunning and hanging out. 

Eventually December and Christmas rolled around which meant that the girls were old enough to move outside. I felt a bit like an anxious mama sending my babes out into the world, which in this case, was a freezing cold coop in our yard. They were enormous and really didn't fit in the 40 gallon tank they were calling home. They LOVED it. the freedom to scratch around and explore their little coop made them really happy. To help them fatten up and survive the cold, we made them oatmeal in the mornings and warmed their water. 


Since they moved outside they've completely blossomed. We started getting eggs about 6 months after. Watching them peck around in the yard is always a treat. They have big personalities and watching them chase each other when one finds an appetizing bug is always very cute. Not to mention, they still retain their affection for people since we used to cuddle them as chicks. The Cochins are the most friendly and sometimes will hop into my lap to be petted and scratched. 

Caring for them is easy. They get fresh food, water, and scraps of veggies and other leftovers from the kitchen every day. Once a week their coop is cleaned which includes scooping the shavings out of their coop and changing the hay in their nesting box. In return for this simple care, they murder and eat the hell out of all the pests that plague my garden beds AND THEN they turn those pests and kitchen scraps into eggs that we get to eat. If you've never tasted a truly fresh egg, make it a priority. They are yellower and creamier than the eggs you find in the store. Not only do we eat them, but our neighbors and friends are also egg beneficiaries. It's not easy to keep up with eating 2-4 eggs a day. 


If you ever considered getting hens.. DO IT. 


One last photo.. 

During Nemo the Blizzard.

During Nemo the Blizzard.

Live a Life of Yes: That Time I shot TEDx and Came Away With a Lot More Than Just Photos

Flash back to January/February of 2014. I had been seeing friends post about either going to or looking for speakers for TEDx Somerville (this is the point where, if you don't know what TED Talks are, you should head for google.) The theme was "movement" and I couldn't personally think of that would make me a good candidate for speaking and my art (paintings and such) don't really present themselves for the theme. I had some interest in purchasing a ticket for the event, but true to my procrastinating nature, the event sold out and I'd missed my chance. 


Flash forward to March 28th. It was a Friday night (just two days after my birthday, no less) and I was helping a friend scoot a new futon into her studio. The phone rings and on the end was Jesa Damora, a marketing guru and owner of FunnelCake Marketing here in Somerville. I'd known and liked working with her through Somerville Open Studios 2013 and had participated as one of the artists for her marketing talks with SOS 2014. She explained a few details and asked me if I would consider shooting TEDx on March. She offered some marketing advice (which I am horrible at) in exchange for shooting the event. My answer was immediately yes. When it comes to shooting events like this for and around Somerville, my answer is almost always yes.

In the big picture, there are not many things I'll say "no" to. 

This is what it looks like to clean all of your lenses the night before "The Big Event"

This is what it looks like to clean all of your lenses the night before "The Big Event"

I showed up that Sunday morning to Brooklyn Boulders, which is a very neat-o rock climbing gym that I'd heard a ton about and seen from quick drive by glances, but had never been inside. I will say, it's a very impressive space. I arrived around 8 to shoot early things like the setup (watching Nate Swain's amazing 30ft Dandelion paintings get hung was very impressive), to light setup, and to the mayor of Somerville's arrival where he met some of the speakers and performers for the day. The whole morning was a whirlwind of art and preparation.

Nate Swain's painting of Dandelions hangs above the crowd that was happily nestled on Yogibo's. How can TED talks be anything but wonderful when you get to enjoy them on a luxury beanbag?!

Nate Swain's painting of Dandelions hangs above the crowd that was happily nestled on Yogibo's. How can TED talks be anything but wonderful when you get to enjoy them on a luxury beanbag?!

Moving forward to the start of the speakers. I enjoyed where Aaron Cantor was headed with his swift movements and talk about how our bodies are really meant to move. He was very graceful in the way he moved around the stage and contorted his body into suave configurations. 

Next up, was Matthew Dicks. His talk was called "A Life of Yes". He started off with a story about how his friend Benji called him and asked if he wanted to be a wedding DJ... his voice and the way he started his talk made me pause. I paused so long that I only ended up getting one useable shot of him. (bad photog!!)

This is his talk. Watch it and then keep reading.

Does this make you want to go out and say yes? It should. 

The rest of the talks also made me want to go out and do all the things that TEDx talks are meant to inspire. The arial artists that were featured during the intermission swing from amazing heights and thanks to Bekka Wright of Bikeyface, my one-speed red cruiser has been seeing more road time in Somerville. 

Esh Arial Arts

Esh Arial Arts

If you'd like to check out my photos from the talk, they can be found here.

It made me think back to all the times over the years that I've said no, and I have a bit of regrets about it. 

The yes's this year since hearing him talk have been some big ones. The biggest one to date is...

Do you want to be the coordinator for Somerville Open Studios 2015? Yes. The SOS community is inspiring, amazing, intense in all the right ways. I feel like meeting the people I've met and seeing the art that comes from them is inspiring and moving. It makes me want to strive to be a better artist and learn new things and to always push myself to learn and create more.

Some of the smaller yes's I've taken on in the past few years that will be soon featured in the Crane Blog include:

-Do you want to raise chickens?

-Do you want to lead a Brownie Girl Scout Troop?

-Can you paint all of these mannequins?

Remember. Just say Yes.

How We Get By

What do YOU do? I get asked this a lot when meeting new people.. internally it causes a bit of a panic attack, mostly because I'm not sure how much time they have in their day for me to explain it. 


I recently attended/photographed a talk called "How We Get By" at Lesley University hosted by Tim Devin, Jason Pramas and Matt Kaliner. It featured a panel of 10 artist, as well as Mr. Devin himself,  talking about how they actually get by. It was a bit of an eye opener for me because I came to the realization that we were all, very much so, in the same boat.  One artist, Coelynn  McIninch, spoke about having a bevy of  jobs that , while they didn't particularly relate to her art, they certainly helped to fuel it. One of the things stuck with me so much, that it inspired me to take out my pens and watercolor pencils. "Never apologize for whatever it is you have to do to make your art".



I ended up being the photographer for the event as just a little over a month before, I'd shot Matt's wedding. Matt and I's friendship is more complex than just photographer/client, but through knowing him I agreed to shoot the event under the guise of exposure. I'm pretty well known for doing this for friends. While it's not always financially feasible, I do consider it to be part of my "art". The Honk! parade for instance.. While I was happy to share and use the photos to promote Somerville Open Studios (have I mentioned that I am also SOS2015's coordinator?) I absolutely enjoyed figuring out the most creative way to showcase the color, life, and excitement of the parade AS WELL AS showcasing what Somerville Open Studios has to offer. Those photos can be seen here


In the big picture, I've taken on many non-art jobs to help fund all of my art related jobs. The most notable being nanny, landlord (this is undoubtedly the most frustrating) and managing a little store in Cambridge called Hubba Hubba (this gets the vote for most entertaining). My art related work is expansive and ultimately gives me the most pleasure. Photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, painter, teacher.. The list can go on. 


The goal for my blog is to feature all of these projects and jobs that I take on to be an artist and to get by. They are always fun or at the very least interesting in some way or form. I hope you'll check in to see what's going on in studio. This summer promises to be a busy one. Coming up, a design for a custom beer label for an old friends wedding. 



Welcome to the Crane Blog!

Hello and welcome to the Crane Blog! I figured I'd start off by telling a bit about myself and what it is I actually do. 

My main job and passion is photography. I love capturing moments in time for families. My two favorite things to shoot are children's portraits and weddings/interesting events. I am always up for interesting photographic challenges!!

When I am not photographing children and events, I am usually creating something in some capacity. An "artistic tumbleweed", if you will. Painting, illustration, urban farming, DIY and sewing are just a few of the things I like to do. 

This blog will feature a lot of my artistic ventures whether they are photography related or just creative sharing and things I'm learning along the way. 

Stay tuned for more!!