Archive by Author

Maryland asks 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.

Spoon Rests, Great Hostess Kitchen gift

Spoon rests were requested by a customer and I realized that we needed one in our kitchen too!

peace dove spoon rest

Our spoon rests are fun, functional art work for your kitchen. The round handmade ceramic spoon rest has a notch for the spoon. Its shallow bowl shape catches any gloop from your culinary creation, keeping your stove tidy. A hand-painted raised image on a colorful background decorates the inside of our spoon rest.

Each  spoon rest measures 5 inches in diameter and is glazed front and back. Every spoon rest is food safe. Just wipe clean with soapy dishwater.  A spoon rest is a useful gift for anyone. It will brighten up your kitchen along with keeping it clean.

We have added a hole at the top of our spoon rests. You can hang it on the wall as a decoration when not in use. Several spoon rests hung in a group look great in any kitchen.

Our spoon rests are handmade & painted, food safe and functional.

Each spoon rest is made individually by me in my studio! I roll out clay and press it into reverse relief tiles that I made from a master tile. This process is like making a print, but using clay rather then paper. Next, I press the relief peace dove surrounded by raised waves into a shallow bowl so if the spoon has gloop on it, that will stay in the bowl. I cut a notch for the handle of the spoon. The spoon rest dries and is fired to bisque. Afterward, I paint in the details with underglazes, adding the aqua flow glaze that defines the back ground texture. Finally it is fired once more with clear coat that seals the clay body in a thin layer of glass. This guarantees it is food safe and durable. Below is my honey bee spoon rest: https://danasimson.com/product/honey-bee-spoon-rest/

honey bee spoon rest

 

Check out more neat spoon rests at https://danasimson.com/product-category/ceramics/spoon-rests/

handmade ceramic spoon rests

Police Officers; Empathy for Authority

Police officers deserve our empathy in this current culture of mistrust and quick judgement. True, there have been many horrible mistakes made in haste or misjudgments of character and intent made by police officers in the line of duty. There have been corrupt police that we hear about in news stories. However the majority of people who choose to become police officers willingly put themselves in positions of danger and ill-will daily as they work to keep the peace in our communities.

I was honored when Barbara Duncan, chief of the Salisbury, Maryland police force asked me if I would paint an image to inspire them during these difficult times. Barbara is an amazing person, even handed, competent and calm. She is respected by her police officers, and the greater community. We all feel fortunate to have her at the wheel of our diverse town in the center of the Delmarva Peninsula.

My art is colorful, even whimsical. How could I use it to engage the officers in a positive message they would relate with? I mulled this over for several months.  Researching the web looking at police imagery and badges,  I came upon the oath that police take when they are inducted. I noted the bald eagle and olive leaves of peace used on a police badge. Combining these with Barbara’s appreciation for my “Many Birds One Tree” image and our Eastern Shore landscape I came up with this image:

police painting

An eagle holding a gold star guards a nest of diversely colored birds in a nest. Olive branches cross and frame the image topped by the eagle’s wings. In the distance is a vista of our  Chesapeake Bay. The background contains the Police officer’s oath over gold and deep blue stripes.

Barbara had wanted to include “keepers of the peace”  in the painting. Which I believe sometimes people forget is what police officers work to do. The central gold star was just the place for that.

Police officers uphold our nation’s laws to maintain a level of civility that allows communities to function.

I am happy to say Barbara was very happy with the painting and it is hung where the police officers can see it and hopefully feel uplifted. Being in a position of authority automatically separates you from others. It places a layer of animosity/caution into interactions with people. It is hard laying down the law. Just ask any parent or school principal. Our police officers do this everyday with folks that dislike and appreciate them far less.

 

Custom Wedding Large Platter Happy Nest

large custom happy nest platter

This Custom Wedding Large Platter Happy Nest is a perfect wedding gift to wish your love birds a happy marriage. It may be customized for weddings or an anniversary gift. All our hand painted dinnerware is food safe. With proper care it will last forever.

Use the platter to serve food or use as beautiful wall decor. Plate hangers clip on for easy hanging.

Each platter is hand painted in cobalt blue brushstrokes. The vine floral design surrounds two birds facing one another.  The vines form a heart and a single acorn hangs over the two love birds.  The acorns represent the beginning seed which will grow over the years into a of a long, strong marriage.

The Custom Wedding Large Platter Happy Nest is about 22 inches across by 14 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep. All our dinnerware is Food safe. Choose 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.

I am happy to personalize it for you with the bride and groom’s first names and wedding date. Or submit any other short phrasing you might like on the bottom of the bowl.

Please allow 2-3 weeks for custom orders. However if you need one sooner, we do try to keep some finished un-customized ones in our store that we can ship that out in a few days.

custom wedding large platter happy nest

Collect matching ceramic dinnerware to Custom Wedding Large Platter in Happy Nest pattern.

Collect matching ceramic dinnerware for the wedding platter Happy Nest delft blue birds pattern. Give complimentary pieces such as the “Happy Nest”serving bowl, smaller platter, wedding goblets, or other dinnerware to match the serving bowl. Our collectable custom dinnerware can be given at the wedding shower, wedding or on subsequent anniversaries.

Farmer’s Markets Pride & Produce; Integrity, Sweat & the Labor of Love

Farmer’s markets showcase hard work, integrity and the labor of love. Tuesday’s organic Farmer’s Market here in Salisbury is always such a treat. Smiling people stroll from booth to booth filling baskets and bags with carefully nurtured produce as if they are gathering treasure. The farmers, bakers, CSA’s, and chefs proudly display their goods, ready to add a word of cooking advice. The shared positive energy of appreciation for the efforts of producers and support of buyers is palatable.

Farmer’s market tables full of  culinary inspiration!

I picked up my sister’s Blades Orchard CSA box full of peaches, corn, lettuce, squash and peppers.  As a lovely woman showed me round her “eightball” squash, I imagined row upon row-bursting with interesting vegetables. “You must have a magnificent garden!” I said. “I do,” she grinned back. Next door, I sprung for a loaf of multiseed sourdough bread – as beautifully made as it was tasty.

     Beyond that, Butch, who has maintained a farm in Mardela for many years, had a table full of massive blackberries in little wooden berry boxes. I found myself standing in front of the table eyeing the berries, while he regarded me hopefully. “How much?” I asked. “Five dollars.” It occurred to me that we had a bunch of black berries in the field at home, but I couldn’t just walk off now. So I said; “I always get so torn up by flies when I pick black berries at our house.” “No flies at my farm,” the farmer shrugged pleasantly. Of course I bought the berries. He got a bag and nestled the berries in their wooden box into it. “Don’t you want to keep the nice box?” I asked. He shook his head- “No they look nice in these boxes, even though each one costs me thirty cents. I do use the paper ones for my blueberries because sometimes they get wedged in the slot at the corners.”
Those blackberries were jewels. Each one possessing a different burst of sweet and sour sprinkled with a bit of pride.

        Why not declare your love for locally grown produce!

Car art stickers  go anywhere-on your car’s back window, the gas tank cover, car body… or on anywhere! Define your laptop, or carry case! Decorate a door or window, book bags, bike helmets, school binders, luggage, mailboxes, instrument cases, skateboards, or wherever you want a little burst of art. Each Sticker is made of very DURABLE non-fade vinyl. (what they wrap cars & buses in!) tough stuff.

Support your local organic farmers! https://danasimson.com/product/carart-eat-local-organic/

Parenting with Empathy; Being a Parent being a Kid


This is an article about parenting through empathy. Take time to try and recall how you felt as a child in certain situations. Next, work to apply this mindfulness to your parenting practice. Learning good parenting is a life long journey with room for success as well as failures. It is tough to be a parent. I find myself constantly trying to recall how I felt at certain ages, so I might be helpful but not offend. It is easier sometimes to not speak up, but usually important and loving to do so. “The parenting police will get me if I don’t tell you!” I explain, or “The Mom Book of; teach your children well” means I know it won’t make for a happy moment but I would not be doing my job if I remain silent.
Good parenting notions may be applied on a larger scale these days in the School of Right, Wrong and Slipping down a Slippery Slope. As the outside world grow more negative, it is important to try to be more positive. In summary when parenting, we teach others through our actions. We should always try to be our better selves. One way to stay to attain this goal is to be mindful by putting yourself in the shoes of another.

The Art of Parenting

My life inspires the art I create. The above Mama Spadefoot Toad and Tad; is a prime example. It is frightening to dig in the garden in early spring before the Spadefoot Toads have gotten out of bed. I roused one up with my trowel. Mortified, I lifted her gently to inspect 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. Most all nature’s critters become parents at some point. Each family does their best to survive and thrive. As parents, we fall in love with our children and live to protect them through our actions and words. If only they could hear us through the same life experience with which we speak to them.

 

acknowledgement feeds love

Acknowledgement of others is a powerful way to strengthen relationships and increase fulfillment in life. The power of acknowledgement is vast and easy to set in motion. We all work hard toward what it is we need or want to achieve. Some days it is easy to get wrapped up in the general annoyance of feeling under-appreciated and over put upon. Take a mental step back and look at those around you- family members, coworkers, friends or complete strangers; each with their individual mountain to climb. An unsolicited word of acknowledgement may lighten the weight of their steps forward. Oddly you also may feel lifted as well.

The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. –William James

Here are the top ten ways you can acknowledge someone that deserves praise and will benefit from hearing it:

  1. Tuck a note of acknowledgement into their lunch or leave it on their desk.
  2. Stop what you are doing and totally focus on the person you wish to acknowledge.
  3. Send a hand written note or select a lovely card and include a message.
  4. Send a quick heartfelt email of appreciation.
  5. Praise someone for a job well done, especially nice for those you don’t know.
  6. A friendly wave and greeting to a stranger sends a burst of warmth their way.
  7. Look for the positive things people do so you can acknowledge and encourage them.
  8. Send a random text- to let someone know how much you appreciate them.
  9. Take a minute to let a manager know when an employee does a good job.
  10. Acknowledge people who are doing a good job – like a teacher or policemen.

    The written word is still treasured and carries greater personal wishes then an email. Each of my gift cards comes with a beautiful translucent vellum envelope. The US mail is old-school but the excitement of a hand written card from a friend is a true gift these days. One you can tuck away and pull out later to revisit.

SEED . spread empathy each day

This is my effort to combat a culture of anger and mistrust, short sited actions based in greed and power to benefit a few rather then all. I have created a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Seed-spread-empathy-each-day-699845996892329/
Please share your ideas and stories of good people doing good things.
here’s one from me:
A few weeks ago at the Food Lion, I was standing in line behind a man with two cartons of Lime Sherbet which I found amusing. We were joking around when it occurred to both of us that we had been standing there a very long time without the line moving forward. We noted an elderly thin woman, casting about in her purse while the cashier looked frustrated. It was clear the woman didn’t have enough money for what she wished to buy. The sherbet man was a quick draw and beat me to whipping out his credit card-quietly suggesting,”just put it on this.” No big fanfare just stepping up.
Changed my day too.
Seed change Friends…

The Journey is the Thing

I created this image- of the tortoise and the hare hanging together on their journey to illustrate-  that no matter our differences-whether we race thru life or wander-if we can seek a common pace and work toward a greater good for all-joy is found in walking and talking together.

“The Journey is the thing.”-This quote is from Homer, born sometime between the 12th and 8th centuries BC, possibly somewhere on the coast of Asia Minor.  This is still an important notion to recall in these divisive days- so …Lets take the long way home and consider the possibilities.

Find this and more lookinglass ornaments- handmade double sided-beveled glass- with two of my images-or an image and notion side- with a glass bead detail- ready to hang anywhere-great gift.  $25.

https://danasimson.com/product-category/gifts/ornaments/

Also available as pendents.

 

https://danasimson.com/product-category/gifts/jewelry/

keep your pets near to your heart forever

A nice fellow asked me to create a cremation urn for his dog Gilligan. His and an earlier dog’s remains would be kept in urns on the family’s mantlepiece. We worked together to design the look and colors of the urn which needed to blend with the other dog’s urn. He was very pleased to have something as uplifting and happy as the memories of his nice old pooch for the urn. In looking at what is available out there I thought- yes, pretty depressing options- so I have added burial urns to what I will make for you. Over the years I have made them from time to time for people as well as pets. To honor your beautiful remembrances in a joyful way.

keep your dear pets close to your heart forever

Find it under the new category of Urns; https://danasimson.com/product/burial-urn-to-honor-your-friend/