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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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Skyland, the magic that inspires

I created this video; Skyland last summer. It captures the magic I feel living on the Chesapeake Bay, sharing sky and water with my fellow creatures. It is a goal to include more videos on my blog, as I am fortunate to have lots of beauty to inspire me. 

Hurrah it worked!

Continue reading Skyland, the magic that inspires


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The Babies Cometh! spade foot toad invasion

      It is frightening to dig in the garden in early spring before the Spade foot Toads have gotten out of bed. I roused one with my trowel. Mortified, I inspected her for any damage. She hung in my fingers, regarding me with her calm bottomless eyes. Who could not fall in love? Her tiny hands were too lovely. I had to paint her and place something wonderful in her arms. I have this print in my home and love it. The painting sold immediately much to my surprise, and this is one of my most popular images.

The massive rains of the last couple of weeks have made the low area to the south of our house into a wide, low  lake. Lake DeCay- as the lawn turns to muck. There was a patch of  water erupting. Curious, I pulled on my boots and wadded in.

There were a gajillion pollywogs bubbling away. I thought yikes- what happens when they get out of the pool.!

Continue reading The Babies Cometh! spade foot toad invasion


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Earth day everyday

Danasimson.com Handmade ceramic bird bowls in bright jewel tone colors.

Earth day should be everyday. My handmade ceramic bird bowl is inspired by our beautiful living earth. My latest projects are children’s books based in nature and the need to protect and nurture it. When I work in clay it is like using mother earths herself sculpted into vessels, fired and preserved as a tool to use daily.

A set of four different colored Bird Bowls looking down to see the daisy and vine design painted on each interior.

Continue reading Earth day everyday


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The earth is our ark

danasimson.com art print of Noah's ark in the shape of earth full of animals

My thoughts are in Paris at the climate change summit. Thanks to Jerry Brown, Al Gore, Paul Hawken and those that are working proactively independent of the irresponsible Trump administration deniers.

Purchase any Earth Ark product on Danasimson.com and I will donate 25% to The Chesapeake Bay Foundation or the Climate Reality Project.

art print of Noah's ark in the shape of earth full of animals

Art Print: Earth Ark. I believe the earth is our ark.
We are all in this together and our ship is precious. The archival art print; Earth Ark is a 10×13.5 image area centered on 13×19 cover stock paper. Backed with foam core & shipped in a plastic sleeve. Hand signed by Dana Simson.

The earth is our ark carrying all creatures as her precious cargo. The original oil painting for this image is 4.5’x5′ and hangs in an eye surgery clinic. Patients that have had surgery tell me how pleased they are post surgery to see this painting with its delicate detail.

All my images are available in archival prints. While I have specified a size, you may speak with me if you need a larger or smaller version. It is also possible to have the image you want printed on canvas. I can give you a price based on size. This popular ark image is available as a clock– all types, ornament, gift card and more.

Visit our Gallery/ gift store on the Wicomico River in Salisbury, MD full of original paintings, prints, handmade jewelry and gifts by Dana. There is also always something new to discover in unique finds, “green products” or fair trade items. It is a renovated hotel – now with 4 artfully decorated lofts upstairs available to rent. (Loft Links: Grande Luxe / Chic Sunny / Retro Loft  / Spacious& Gracious)Downstairs is yummy Riverwalk Cafe and the Ugly Pie Bakery. Well worth a road trip!


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Maryland asks Please drive gently

maryland highway sign to please drive gently

There is a Maryland highway sign that welcomes you and asks you to please drive gently. When we moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland 30 plus years ago- we were greatly and derisively amused by the “Welcome to Maryland . please drive gently” sign. Coming from the drive aggressively or be flattened mean streets of NYC, the sign struck us as quaint at the least. After living out in Frenchtown, Maryland or 6 months or so and waving to our few neighbors as we passed on the road, (If you didn’t they would think you were upset with them)we returned to NYC to see some friends. Our driving habits had mellowed and my hand flew up by habit to wave at another car. The driver looked astounded, then mistrustful cursing us, then perplexed careening into our lane. Needless to say I slowed down let him swerve ahead. Driving gently- on the road and in life, a nice way to roll.

SEED; spread empathy each day.

I am working on a book with my imagery and stories on empathy. How to grow it within yourself and spread this feeling to those around you. In this manner maybe the current culture of mistrust and aggressive behavior can begin to be modified.

dragonfly serving bowl

I find that by finding empathy for the smallest creatures around us- my heart opens for all. Dragonflies are a special delight as they whirl around our garden and yard here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Not only do they eat mosquitoes – they are lovely and gentle. One will land on your shoulder like a reassuring hand. I spend quite a bit of time fishing them out of the pool and placing them on a leaf to dry out.

I guess this notion of “driving gently” has become the way I operate in general. It brings peace within to treat the world gently. If many more of us would “drive gently” just think of the world peace it might inspire.


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