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holiday cheer to last all year

pet love-shows a platter with a white lab

To find holiday cheer in dark times like these, you need to live in the present. The present; being thoughts of those you love and what treats you might make or wrap up for them. Looks like many of us will heed the call to stay home for Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas as well. While it is tough to miss this long tradition of gathering together, making sure your loved ones stay healthy is something to be truly thankful for.

health & happiness

A wonderful gift commission I did recently; was to paint a much loved white lab that had recently passed away on a platter for a sister to give her brother. Pets can be remembered or celebrated on custom ceramic. Just contact me directly and we will come up with the perfect thing.

Happycat holiday cheer!

Our furry family keeps us happy and healthy. If I am feeling down I take a walk with Ozzy, cuddle with one of the cats or hug a goat. A cup of tea in a cheery mug is helpful too. IDEA!! Why not give a jolly handmade mug with a favorite tea or bag of local coffee?  I have added 2 more designs for this season only.  Happycat and Peace  dove. Two for $72. Buy two sets of two and get a fifth mug to keep for yourself. Just specify which designs when you order.

Drink your tea in peace.

I’ve been making, finding and shopping for gifts. Many years I am so harried gift giving is more like a list to tick off than the action of thoughtful love for an individual to come up with a treat perfect for them. I don’t like to shop on line. Please make every effort to support small local businesses this year, trust me Amazon is doing ok. Taking that one step further… try to buy earth-friendly gifts- watch the plastic over-packaging  and single use-cardboard boxed/plastic packing materials and fossil fuels to get it.

We have always shipped in reused packing materials. There are several wonderful businesses that are happy to save boxes and packing for me rather than throw it in the dumpster. When you wrap your gift up, why not be creatively green? Wrap it up with newspaper, magazines, fabric or market bags.

handbook-for-individual-action-to stem-climate-change
cover

A gift for the planet!

More creative thinking on earth friendly living in my book: Come Together . handbook to retool for the future. Buy two for giving-get a third one to keep. 

Please take time to explore my web store! Find some holiday cheer that will last all year…and beyond.


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SEED. spread empathy each day

logo for Seed spread empathy each day

Spread empathy each day. To grow empathy you need to lay the seeds of tolerance, acceptance and love. It is a practice like Buddhism, filled with self awareness of motive and action. I started writing SEED several years ago, but it is always topical as we face racism and mistrust in our unsettled world. I have decided to give the book away now like seeds scattered to the wind. I hope anyone who relates will further it to their friends and on beyond.

simply request a PDF at [email protected] or you can view it through this link:

Danasimsoncom Matted art card with envelope, Love blooms image, text love grows love.

SEED. spread empathy each day 

This is my effort to combat a deepening culture of anger, mistrust, arrogance and short sighted actions based in ego, greed and power to benefit a few rather than the many. Integrity has been eroded by opportunism. The idea of “Us” now reflects various groups rather than everyone. This societal change has been festering for many years, forming an uncomfortable dark-minded normal. Empathy starts with each of us offering the light of consideration in our actions. It is my hope that this little book may act as a positve tool in the meditation of an open heart and listening mind.  Thank you friends!

Danasimson.com Matted art card with envelope, "Live in peace and peace will live in you" quote, peace dove over earth image.

a little book to open hearts

I still believe the pen is mightier then the sword. Images can change minds. That is what my art has always been about. In giving away my art and words I hope they become weaponized in the loveliest way. This is the kind of book you can open anywhere in its pages, to snack on a story. I like to write books I hope are useful, like my book to create positive environmental change; Come Together . handbook to retool for the future. Available as an ebook or in print. (178 pages of easy, smart action)

Thanks for your interest.

Stay safe . health & happiness.

-Dana

 

 


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My colorful ceramic sea creatures cover a villa in Spain!!

handmade ceramic sea creatures and fish on the Villa's exterior

I was commissioned to create handmade ceramic sea creature wall decor for the exterior of a villa on the sea in Spain. This was quite an undertaking requiring months to create. I had to design each piece so that it could be attached to the exterior wall, look fabulous and survive being shipped to Europe. My client requested 35 fish all different some swimming in one direction- others in the opposite.

colorful ceramic starfish
colorful ceramic starfish

Each sea creature must be exciting and different.

When I create my wall sculptures; whether fish, turtles, owls or other wonderful animals, my intention is use textures and color to make a piece of art that interests any viewer. I use stamps that I have shaped and sculpted, jewelry, zippers, and odd bits of things with useful textures to cover the animal in a way that enhances their structure. Usually people purchase a single wall sculpture to add zip to a room-inside or outside, others will group several on a wall. This was my first commission using sea creature decor as architectural ornamentation. And it turned out great!

handmade ceramic octopus

The client was so pleased he reordered twice as many more! 20 crabs, 10 octopus, 4 turtles, 10 star fish and  30 more fish!

outside of villa with ceramic fish

fish on wall looking toward the sea

Figuring out how to make delicate sea creatures like crabs and octopus so they would be durable, meant some engineering improvements like clay slab backing.

clay sea creature crabs
sculpting and imprinting designs on crabs
colorful handmade ceramic crabs
colorful handmade ceramic crabs

blue and green handmade ceramic crabs

The other sea creatures presented other challenges but were fun to figure out and create!

ceramic squid sculptures
ceramic squid sculptures

a variety of handmade ceramic octopus

handmade green aqua crab

I love doing commissions, whether is tile, sculpture or paintings. Your ideas are a spring board offering me an opportunity to design and discover.  If you would like sea creatures to hang on your wall, or to use as architectural detail give me a call. I am happy to work with you to determine colors, subject matter and construction. Prices will vary depending on the level of labor and complexity. We will quote the price based on each job. 


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the animals are innocent . an exhibit to lament climate change

exhibit at Henry Sheldon Museum

the animals are innocent . Digital exhibit available for Museum websites or video showings. 

The folkart boats and paintings in this exhibit may be loaned to Museums but would need a benefactor to facilitate shipping and insurance. 

the animals are innocent . an exhibit to lament climate change

https://henrysheldonmuseum.org/exhibits/the-animals-are-innocent-ceramics-by-dana-simson/

   Intricately detailed hand crafted folk art toy boats full of animals and engaging paintings whimsically pull viewers into a world where water has displaced animal habitat. In tippy canoe and migrants to?, several dozen white rabbits are crowded into a lushly carved canoe on wheels.

abbits in a folkart boat on wheels depict the issue of migration
Rising seas, weather extremes leading to political unrest will compel both animals and people to seek new homes. In using animals to illustrate this issue I hope to open a channel of empathy that racism or territorial disputes might block otherwise.

Another has a fox steering a forest nestled in a boat to safer harbor in parts unknown.

fox floats a forest in his boat
Trees are precious, restoring the correct carbon balance to earth’s atmosphere. Deforestation, as human populations harvest or remove trees to plant crops, diminishes earth’s capacity to rebound from climate change. The disappearance of forested areas threatens animal and plant habitat providing food sources and wild areas.

close up of fox steering boat

Story text accompanies each boat, explaining the predicament that will be faced by its passengers. The exhibit begins with the following words:

 A long story has been written since the first bits of life began here on earth.

This is the chapter where we face ourselves.

 “I created this exhibit in hopes of nudging people to look beyond themselves to not only what we will be facing in the future through climate change, but also the impacts we are responsible for affecting earth’s other living creatures.” -Dana Simson

a boat full of happy rats
Three rats figure out their next move.
One of the most adaptable and intelligent animals, rats have
traveled by ship for centuries and are adept at helping themselves to whatever food they might pilfer while aboard.

detail rat with cheese flag

There are 10 folk art boats on wheels in the exhibit at present, but more will be added. A boat on fire full of Koalas is in the works to decry the current horrible fires ravaging Australia. As habitats  change, challenges rise for creatures living there.

A polar bear looks backward and a penguin searches the future
A polar bear and penguin search for new home to sustain them.
Their boat is filled with broken safety glass as chunks of ice.
While both are endangered, the Polar Bear will have a much harder time.
He looks to the past to what was. The penguin looks forward hopefully.

detail of polar bear in boatI hope to create a video of the exhibit so it can travel worldwide to offer it’s message. Some of the paintings in the Animals are innocent are below:

bear and cat in a boat
Animals are set adrift with little to sustain them.

Bare Boat

a deer with birds confronts us
The animals need our voices to be heard.

The Messenger

Love is symmetrical. Love the earth and she will love you in return.

 

The exhibit “the animals are innocent” can promote change.

I wrote Come Together . a handbook to retool for the future, to compliment this exhibit. The content offers easy changes to promote a healthier planet through daily choices we can make starting now. It is available through Green Writer’s press or on my website:

https://www.danasimson.com/product/come-together-a-climate-change-guide-to-retool-for-the-future/

You can reach me through my website. Thank you for your comments or for sharing this post!

best wishes for a greener 2020,

Dana

I will be posting easy ways to “walk the walk” and my upcoming adventures working for bottom up change for a happy planet.

 


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Come Together . A handbook for daily action to stem Climate Change

handbook-for-individual-action-to stem-climate-change

Out Fall 2019 . order now for a pre-print discount and I will sign your book. Green Writer’s Press . 170 pages . ships by Oct 1, 2019

Come Together is a useful handbook for a greener future is full of things you can do now to help stem climate change. It is an engaging handbook to launch a movement of individuals to tackle global warming by simply retooling our daily actions. Take easy proactive steps develop a long term perspective based in civility, integrity and an invigorating love for our earth. Save money, lose clutter, live well, feel happy and healthier as you pull for the planet.

page-samples-showing-market-bag-tricks-fro shopping
interior spread . Little things add up!

 

A useful handbook for a greener future
Make smart changes through a bottoms up strategy for now where each of us is empowered to make a difference in little ways that trend to big solutions.The Movement of One is both the individual and all of us connected in this common goal. Pass this book on. We are the change.

interior-spread-from-book-Come-Together-on greener-travel
interior pages on greener travel . 

 

We need to Come Together to stem climate change

Find actions you can take to reach out to others in a positive way to go forward together. We can agree on one common goal. That we must address the health of the earth and take steps to live more mindfully on a daily basis. Come Together addresses how to tackle areas in both your home or office to simplify, declutter and create greener, healthier spaces. All areas of your day, from travel to shopping and eating better are covered. Learn to make your own personal care products and about the health benefits of essential oils. Save money  and remove toxic products from your home by using simple ingredients to create better cleaning supplies then chemical leaden commercial ones. 

how-to-recycle-hazardous-materials-commonly-found-in -your-home
how to recycle hazardous materials . things to avoid if possible

 

Take control of what you expose yourself and your family to

Learn about toxins that are not only bad for you, but can easily flow from your home into water supplies and the water we drink. It is as easy as changing your mindset to care. Pro-active practices make it easy to avoid buying into our addiction to plastic and false conveniences.

Read this book and pass it on- the earth will thank you. Earth day should be every day!

Out Fall 2019 . order now for a pre-print discount and I will sign your book.


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French Barrettes; Artfully handmade ceramic

handmade french barrettes in ceramic

Honey bee french barrette handmade ceramic

 French Barrettes are my newest obsession! Fun, functional and great gifts for your gal friends! Each one is as individual as they are.

birds hair clip on Beverly

Our handcrafted ceramic hair clips and barrettes are backed with a sturdy clasp to secure your tresses made in France. Choose styles combining clips in floral, retro stars or birdies (2 per order) or french barrettes: blue bird, bee, fish, crab or floral. Color is incised in the pattern accenting each detail.  Tuck up those loose locks artfully. These are wonderful gifts, but trust me, if you do keep one for yourself, it will become your go to-to doll up your do. Get 5 for $50 and save 10$

blue crab barrette

Pressed & painted  French Barrettes

I made a series of stamps by incising, adding bits and carving clay to make a reverse image. These come in handy as I cut out each barrette, pressing it into different clay reliefs that I have used for other projects. Next I use my smaller stamps to further detail each rectangle of clay. The edges must be smoothed, before I place each carefully over a dowel, weighing down either edge so a gentle curve is created. Each ceramic art barrette must fit the metal structure of the sturdy clip made in France.

After firing to bisque, so the clay hardens to a durable material, I begin the coloring process. The raised relief and incised areas will add interest to the surface of the barrette as the glazes flow. I use a mix of under glazes which do not flow, staying where they are placed and flow glazes. The flow glazes accent the hills and valleys of the pattern.

bee french barrette in hair

I employ my ceramic hair clips barrette nearly every other day. If I just want gather my thick hair in a pony tail or just gather a few wisps to keep hair from falling in my face, it does both perfectly. The metal french clips are very well made. Feel free to give your barrette a work out. I make them to last.

Each barrette will vary a bit in size colors and patterning as I make them each individually. They average about 1.2 to 2″ long by 1.5 wide(clips) or barrettes; 2.5-3″ x 1.25″. Each comes with a nice tag and is signed by me:).

rosebud clips inserted into braid

There are plenty of french barrettes to choose from here at Chesapeake East! Hope to see you one day soon.


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Folk Art Toys cheerful ceramic

Folk art toys Danasimson.com Hand built folk art toy black and white striped cat with bird on head on wooden wheels.

Here is the inspiration for my folk art toys. I love a sculpture or painting that brings you in mid-story…. causing you to imagine the rest. Art of this kind works a magic causing the viewer to linger lost in the weave of their interpretation of the creation before them. For a moment they are relieved of the normal and cast into the easy fantasy of mental play.

Danasimson.com Cat in canoe on wheels sculpture.
Rolling ceramic “seeing eye” canoe with a cat in it.

Where is this cat off to?

Only you know. I hand-build the boat from clay slabs and sculpted the cat in “seeing eye”canoe- carving back into the color to add texture and design.

It does roll if you wish- but the folk art toys are mainly just for visual amusement. The cat in canoe measures 10″ x 9″ x 4”.

Danasimson.com Owl on wheels sculpture
side view of Owl on wheels sculpture

This folk art owl has sold to a wonderful friend and collector. However I am happy to make other owls- each with their special personality. The wings are intricately decorated and attached to the body with brass screws. The feathers are individually textured and applied. The owl  measures 10″x 8″x 4″. He does roll if you wish- but the art toys are mainly just for visual amusement. I will be making a crow next:)

Danasimson.com Owl on wheels sculpture front
Shows the front view of the folk art owl toy.

Folk Art Owl has a playful spirit

I create my folk art toys like the owl in the spirit of old fashion rolling toys. While they are created for adult collectors, my hope is to appeal to the child within. The role of my art is to brighten the everyday with a sprinkle of cheer.

To order one of my folk art toys

If you wish you had a cheerful folk art toy just contact me thru a call or email and I’ll make you one. Please specify any colors or special features you wish to have included. All of the folk art toys shown have been adopted to good homes- but I am happy to make similar ones or other commissions.

Feel free to call if that is easier: 410.603.0531


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Wishing you Happy Nest

Danasimson.com Delft Blue birds "Happy.nest" bowl has hand painted love birds in a garden with acorns signifying long love.

It brings me such joy to wish you happy nest through my hand painted wedding ceramic serving bowls and platters. 

Danasimson.com Delft Blue birds "Happy.nest" Platter with two matching goblets. Customizable.

Dana Simson Design - custom wedding large platter happy nest

My latest design is “Happy Nest”. On the inside the floral design surrounds two birds facing one another. This signifies a happy marriage and love that grows. The vines form a heart and a single acorn hangs over the two love birds.  The acorns stand for the beginning seed of a long, strong marriage. I brush each freehand using cobalt blue underglaze. This creates a traditional look reminiscent of delftware, but fresh.

First comes love…

I made the first custom ceramic Long Love Wedding bowl for our lovely neighbors across street as they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. Both are avid gardeners as they tackle their lush yard together. A relationship is a journey through all kinds of weather so it’s best to travel with a friend that nurtures you through every season. You do need to tend that garden or spouse with care and empathy. Karl and Bettie’s garden is now 75 years of love.

Danasimson.com Custom Ceramic Long Love Wedding Bowl long love serving bowl

Inside the bowl I inscribe “long love is a well tended garden.”  Next, I paint the bride and groom’s names and wedding dates on the base of the bowl. There is a fish pond surrounded by a flower garden and stately oak trees. The quote rings the pond on the inside of the ceramic bowl. The outside has alternating bachelor buttons & roses. All handpainted in bright underglazes by me. This is one of my most popular pieces. Always one of the most favorite gifts at weddings or anniversaries.

Then comes marriage…

Our custom ceramic bowls are about 13 inches across by 6 inches deep- excellent for salad, pastas or a pile of fruit. All our dinnerware is food safe. I always tuck in a complimentary Gift Card from my designs. There is a Happy Nest card, along with a “bloom together” heart card and other wedding or anniversary appropriate cards.

Collect matching ceramic dinnerware in your custom wedding bowl Happy Nest or Long Love pattern.

Collect matching ceramic dinnerware for any of our wedding bowl patterns. Complimentary pieces such as the “Happy Nest” platter, wedding goblets, or other dinnerware may be ordered to match the serving bowl. Our collectable custom dinnerware can be given at the wedding shower, wedding or on subsequent anniversaries.

Each time it is used, love is served.


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Beautiful Books

We have a collection of beautiful books stuffed into the wall of shelves in the small room we cozy into in wintertime. We crank the gas logs and sit across from each other at the paint spattered projects table and plot out the day as we drink our morning coffee. The books wait patiently watching over us, ready to provide us with any information we might desire. Their many pages are thick with inspiration and imagery. 

danasimson.com inside pages Night Monkeys

Creating beautiful books

If I could do only what I wanted to, I would lose myself in creating books. In writing a story, it rises, folding around me, curling forward with joyful abandon. Illustrating the text is equally fantastic- pulling creatures from a tangle of sketches to become solid characters, ready for action. The book itself is like a tiny stage- with its cover a curtain to be pulled back as the story begins. The design of the cover should intrigue, tickling any audience to wonder, wishing to wander within.

Legend Books

Books are beautiful because of the magic they promise. Sharing a picture book with a young child, even an adult can feel a soft blurring into imagination. I remain grateful to have created and published 14 books over the years; picture books, gift books and even a pop-up book: “Dreamland” with a company based in Australia.

danasimson.com interior pages black Crow & thunderhat, crow

My Legend Book series are myths I created, mainly based in nature. Myths coat science with a little shimmer that makes the day playful. I wrote the first Legend Book: “Moon Goes Fishing” when I was pregnant with our daughter Ruby. All the animals hear the moon is going fishing- and they try to stay awake to witness this strange event. It is written very simply with lots of space for your imagination to wander. It is interesting that this book is the one chosen for new babies. Life just can’t stay out of art. Art makes life beautiful.

I am always happy to sign my books to whomever wishes to put one upon their own library shelf.


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Fix a leaky birdhouse so it lasts

 This leaky birdhouse badly needed fixing after being battered by many winters on the bay. I hate to toss out stuff that just needs a tweak to save it from the landfill. First slap some paint on it- color is nicer- but it and unequally derelict sister were to go up along the white trim of the newly painted barn. The roof was clearly a problem and would make for a pile of soggy birds wishing they lived at another address.

fix a wooden birdhouse

 

Continue reading Fix a leaky birdhouse so it lasts


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