He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. ~St. Francis of Assisi

May we each strive to do ALL that we do as an artist working as unto the Lord for His glory! Thanks for stopping in to visit! ~Cara Louise

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Story of Lovey-Dove, the rescued ring-necked dove

Writing the post 'Birds on the Brain' reminded me about this story...

The summer of 2008, I discovered a ring-necked dove in the "wilds" of the city neighborhood where the office I worked in was. She (he?) was definitely an escapee from someone’s house- we had seen her (him?) for a couple weeks outside looking scruffier and more miserable as time passed. We all got concerned for her. She had actually started walking right into the office of the president of the company when he would leave the sliding door open. The beginning of July 2008 (with company money!), I bought a large cage. When I set it down on the floor near her next time she came in to visit she practically jumped inside! We all saw her immediately grow calmer as she hopped over to the food dish. Mr. Boss-man named her “Lovey-Dove”.

She settled in quite easily, flying to the perches I installed around my office, pecking at the buttons on my calculator and phone, throwing the faxes on the floor, investigating any drawer left open. She was quite vocal at first, then went through a very quiet period, while she was re-growing a bunch of feathers that had gone missing during her ordeal outdoors, then went back to coo-cooing very often. More and more it was confirmed that she was really a HE! And all this noise was to try to impress me somehow. Well, I certainly was impressed, but not so much when trying to carry on a phone conversation and all the party at the other end could hear from my office was “Coo-COO, Coo-COO!”

Every once in a while, he would fly through my doorway and into my other boss’s office. While he seemed content to visit there a while, sooner or later it was clear he wanted to come back. I would have to help him find his way back home though; lots of things seemed to end up “lost” in my boss’s office! In order to restore a bit more sanity to the office, I hung screen doors over the doorways to my office. Lovey-Dove quickly learned that he couldn't fly through the doorway anymore- but if the screen was left open even a little bit, he discovered he could WALK through the crack. So there were still occassions where I would have to track him down and return him to his official place. Once birdie was back in my office, he would settle down and take a nap in my "IN BOX".

At first he seemed to not like hands too much- understandable for a tiny bird. So to help him see the hand as a good thing, instead of just letting him out of his cage in the morning, I actually picked him up and carried him out of his cage. Then later in the afternoon, when he went back in for food and water I quietly closed the cage door. If I needed to get Lovey-Dove in the cage fairly quickly, I put a few black oil sunflower seeds in the food dish inside the cage. I discovered right away that those were his very favorite seeds and so I kept a stash on hand as treats (or bribes- however you want to say it!) Previously I was doing it the other way around- just letting him come out in the morning on his own, and then spending quite a bit of time trying to catch him at the end of the day. That way didn’t seem to work well for anybody concerned! I was convinced that my little friend learned what "time to go home" means. In fact, on a few occasions when I had to leave work earlier than usual I told Lovey-Dove “I need you back in your cage at Noon”, and there he went. A few treats were all it took! Birdie went after those seeds right away. Who trained whom here exactly?

On weekends I made sure he had plenty of food and water, and set his cage in the window right by the pine tree that he was hanging around in when we first found him. As soon as I put him in that window on Friday afternoons, he turned around and faced the outside- looking for the wild birds that come to the bird feeder just a few feet away. He always seemed very content to be “visiting” his less fortunate cousins and blatantly ignored me.

But then Monday morning he was very happy to peck on my telephone and my bracelet and stand on my stack of papers that I was trying to work on! I had originally planned to bring him home after a period of time, but I thought my two resident parakeets would object to that- the female one especially. And with a little apartment I didn't really have the option of "separate bedrooms!" So Lovey-Dove stayed at work. It was actually quite a neat thing to have a bird in one's office! Who would have ever thought that one could look forward to going in to work Monday morning, all because you know you’ll be greeted by your beautiful little bird co-worker.

After two and a half years of living at the office, in January 2011, due to circumstances beyond our control, both Lovey-Dove and I found ourselves unemployed from that office job. So now He lives at home with us. The parakeets were quite accepting of him, much to my relief. Sadly, the parakeets both passed away over the next year, but our household was joined by two cockatiels in July 2011. Lovey enjoys a continuous view outside the window now. And has an enormously grand time investigating all the things there are to be found in the apartment, like my breakfast! He isn't locked in his cage except if he is harassing the cockatiels too much and they need a break from him!




He loves to come land on the arm of my chair and cuddle up and be petted.








And he absolutely loves hogging up my entire netbook keyboard when he thinks I am spending far too much time paying attention to IT instead of HIM!








Here is Lovey-Dove with one of our dearly departed parakeets, Sonny, and with newest residents Sprite and Pixie the cockatiels.

All are rescued birds- Sonny started it all. He was also found outside, on the 4th of July of 2003, his mate Cher (sorry, not in this picture) was adopted a year and a half later in January 2005. Then Lovey-Dove found me, and the cockatiels were adopted from a shelter July 2011. Hmmm....July is coming up again soon- wonder if there's another bird who will come find me this year?!

Fly high~ Cara Louise

Please visit the NEW HOME of my blog and website! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Difficulty of Pricing Hand Crafted Items

With some forced time off from actually crocheting lately, I decided to take a bit of a closer look at my prices for my items. It is always a challenge to come up with a reasonable price for handcrafted items. As the artist who worked on the piece, I do become a bit attached to it! These aren't mass-produced 'things', like those poor-excuses-for-doilies I see being sold in the local craft supply stores for a dollar or two. If one were to compare my work with those 'doilies', several immediate differences in quality and care would be evident. Yet a lot of people who aren't familiar with my craft have no idea of the time involved and can't seem to justify the cost difference between my work and what they can find at the dollar store. So what is an artist to do?

I have made mistakes in pricing things, and ended up barely covering the cost of materials. Or I did make some money, but averaging it out over the length of the project brought my 'hourly wage' to about $1 an hour. The standard contracting price is cost of materials times three. But in the case of thread crochet work, my material cost can really be only a few dollars, but the time factor can be enormous. So I have come up with my own little bit of a formula by keeping careful records of how long pieces take to finish and multiplying that by what I think is a reasonable hourly rate.

What is that reasonable hourly rate? Well, that is for each craft-artist to decide for herself what she feels comfortable with. Are you going to feel taken advantage of if a project ends up only earning you $1 an hour after taking out the cost of supplies? Is the non-crafting public going to agree your time is worth $10 an hour? Or maybe is the answer for you somewhere in between those 2 points

Crocheting and crafting is just a part of who I am. I crochet because I can't imagine NOT crocheting. It is energizing to me- I get a real charge out of watching lifeless bits of string turn into something amazing. It is challenging- learning new things every time I look through Pinterest or Facebook. And it is comforting- there is a soothing peacefulness to the repetition which literally has made my eyelids heavy with sleep on occasion! If you craft because you just can't help yourself, then charging for the supplies, the postage, a bit extra to buy MORE craft stuff, and maybe enough to treat yourself to a cup of coffee and a muffin (well, and maybe a sandwich for lunch too, with ice cream for dessert) might just be enough to make your day! If you are trying to earn a living at your art, well, that's a different animal altogether, which I am not able to address because I honestly have no clue!

Your comments and thoughts are always appreciated- thanks for dropping in to visit. Next time I'll try to have some molasses cake on hand. 

Peace, love, and crochet! ~Cara Louise 

Please visit the NEW HOME of my blog and website!