Wednesday, July 6


My last blog entry I was facing this month. I had already geared up my mind waiting to set off summer with a bang. The month of July when hot dogs and hamburgers begin sprouting from grills across our great nation. With a bang it becomes summer and everyone is geared up for fun. However not always so much for us, the Klein family. Remember me touching on my last entry of my wise sage of a grandfather and his papa stools. Well Papa Rudy left us all here and went to be with his Lord the 5th of July. So for those who knew him July comes not with a hunger pain for the grilled goodies, but rather a pang of the heart.

Feeling out of sorts all week, I have tried to busy my mind. Keeping away from just how gosh darn much I miss him. But when you have a papa like we did, when your blessed enough to have known someone like him, it sure ain’t easy.  Tears seemed to jam up like ice on a river in the spring. I could feel the power behind them yet they just stayed tangled like the yard on the scarf I am still trying to learn to crochet.

I loosened tonight…. my little Hannah and her daddy Ky were cleaning up her bedroom and moving around some furniture. With me being so incredibly laid up I am pretty much useless for packing around old furniture. She was doing her best to help. She is small, tiny like me. She was trying to get a grip on the old dresser and walk awkwardly in tow with her dad. It wasn’t going well. “It’s too heavy”, “I am too little” . She is little- itty bitty in fact. And it is a huge dresser some all wood monstrosity from some era before I was born when they used real wood to make furniture.

That is when I heard myself use a Rudy-ism as we called them. Wonderful little quips, clever nuggets of wisdom and wit from the mouth of my papa. The tears who had been too frustrated to come all week finally let loose and began streaking down my cheek like the kids to on their slip and slide. I was suddenly back with papa. In his den when he was pulling out the old carpet. I cant remember how old I was, probably not much more than little Hannah is now. And I remember his bright blue eyes , his white newsboy cap cocked on his head, his gingerbread cookie skin and the long crooked finger pointed at me when he said these words “It doesn’t matter how small you are, or how big it is, you just pick it up and go”. And I did. The dirty smelly carpet, heavy and wrapped in a roll, scraped my arms and I thought for sure the burning down my arms from the weight would surely leave me limbless above the waist. But down the hall, through the kitchen, pass the living room and out the slider door we went. I just picked it up and went!

WOW! Who knew ? Something that simple could be so profound and I haven’t realize it until this moment just what “Pick it up and go” had meant all these years. So often folks have asked how I used to get done all the things I did back before my health packed up and left. I don’t know, I just picked it up and went. I tore down sheds, I built sheds, I took out radiators and put new ones in,  I hauled boats, I chopped wood. I wrangled cows. I drug massive deer from the woods, I built fences. I installed carpet, I took out carpet. I built shelves I tore down shelves. There never seemed a task I was afraid to tackle. Less than 100 pounds has never stopped me from doing anything. Even my work bounty hunting teenagers. I never once considered my five foot two frame and my 90 something pounds with a heavy woolen sweater dripping wet. I just went!

So often too emotionally…things happened, life? God? Whatever… has thrown some really tough curve balls, things that should have decimated me. I mean really big life changing earth shattering bad bad ugly things. But no. I picked it up and went. It didn’t matter how little I felt, how big the problem I just picked it up and went. I am still doing that. Right now this very moment I am doing just that!  I am picking up this enormous weight of losing my independence and mobility and somehow I am just going to go. I am going to find a way, to pick this up and go, even if it means this stupid wheel chair. At least I will be going.

I miss my papa so much. I may be all grown up, but there is just so much Papa the fix it could do for me if he was still here. Not just mend my broken toys but mend the broken parts of my life. I miss him. I mean really miss him. I know though that in his wisdom he has given us all the tools we will need to fix our own lives and mend all our broken parts and hearts. More than any Rudy-ism he has given us the Lord. And I know with out a doubt whatever advice he would give me right now about this struggle with my body that is betraying me it would end with “Well pray about it and see what the Lord has to say about it”

And so...that is where I will leave this. I will go and pray and see what the lord has to say about it. But my guess is the answer will not be delivered quite as witty or cleverly as a Rudy-ism would be!

Wednesday, April 13

Pull up a stool...

I was the first of a long line of grandchildren. This often made me the automatic “tester”. When my grandparents, aunts, uncles etc had something to try out, I was the first they went to. Sometimes this did not prove to be in my best interest, like the time my Uncle Twins thought perhaps I would make a nice football. To my mothers horror they were lobbing me back and forth across my grandmother’s living room. It was a concrete floor covered with a braided rug. Years later, the rug and concrete were covered with padding and carpet and none of my other cousins probably even remember the braided rug, nor have faded memories of the Uncle Twins tossing them like salad.

All of us cousins do have a common thread, and eventually that will lead to today’s featured artist, but first about my Papa. Our Papa was a carpenter. He could build or fix almost anything. If our toys broke beyond what daddies could repair, it was off to Papa's shop. He would clean corroded battery compartments, rewire things, glue miniscule parts together and like something mystical our toys were suddenly fixed. It could be related to Santa’s workshop in the magic of it all. The best things though to come out of papas shop  were not reconstructed toys, but life lessons. It seemed there was allways a lesson or tale playing from grandpa’s lips, background music for our lives echoing from the shop. He loved raising us up right.

He also loved to make us Papa stools. And me, being the tester got the very first one! They were a right of passage. Once a grandchild became old enough to walk, but was still too short to reach anything from their newly upright position, Papa made them a stool. It had a little handle and could be carried anywhere. They  were useful for more than just stepping on. They became lap tables when we ate dinner at the TV, they were desks for color books and crayons, flipped upside down with a blanket in them they were cradles for our baby dolls, for the boys they could use them as bridges for their trucks. Oh… a Papa stool. Mine was the first. I loved it. It was stolen a few years back from my front step. I had been using it for a seat whie I pulled weeds from the flower beds. It broke my heart, and continues to break my heart every time I try to reach something and its just out of grasp. Almost like papa now, he too is just out of reach, gone, stolen all to early.  I can almost hear his voice when I am working on a project, can almost hear the faint echo of his voice guiding me, the flicker of his blue eyes shining, the warmth of his hug...but ..its right there, just out of reach.

Imagine the joy I felt though when I came across the work of Matt Ricketts. Right there in his Bonanza shop, Rdesigns, he had a papa stool. Well not exactly a papa stool, but pretty darn close- worth grasping for, for sure! Obviously his work caught my eye and as I browsed his listings I became more and more enchanted by him. It wasn’t long and he and I were scheming to get him here on the Bumpkin Blog. His witty comments and sense humor have kept me giggling through this interview process and I have enjoyed greatly working with him.

So in his very own words….

 Matt Ricketts, RDesigns

1. Can you tell us your name and a bit about yourself and where you live?

My name is Matt. I grew up in a small town in northeast Iowa. I currently live in Colorado, a bit north of Denver. Close enough to the mountains to be able to see Rocky Mountain National Park from my back porch. Or at least I could before they finished the houses behind me. So I’m in town enough to essentially be about in the middle of a subdivision. Far enough out of town to hear the coyotes at night.

2. What about your family, can you tell us about them?

Most of my family is back in Iowa. Each generation seems to move a bit farther out from the center hub of where my grandparents lived. And each generation seems to have one member who splits off and moves a couple of states away. Last generation it was my uncle Larry. This generation it is me. At least I didn’t have to dig my own outhouse.

3. When did you first become interested in art?

Hmm… This, I think, is going to be the most difficult question for me. On the one hand, there is the simple answer that one of my grandmothers started me painting when I was around 5 years old. It later became apparent that I can’t paint (or draw for that matter), I moved into other areas. The thing is, nothing I did art-wise then has anything to do with what I am doing now. In fact, there were several years when I did nothing artistic at all.

I guess the most honest answer is that what I am doing now didn’t come from the realm of art. And I kind of have a hard time thinking of myself as an artist. This seems kind of odd since I was just featured as a guest artist at the Madison & Main art gallery in Greeley, CO. Then again, when I went to the reception on opening night with the rest of the artists, it felt kind of strange. Like clothes that don’t quite fit right. I’m more of a craftsman, or at least that’s the level to which I aspire.

4. Who was your biggest influence and why?

My inspiration started with my parents and grandparents. My grandparents grew up during the Great Depression and lived through the Second World War. Growing up during that period taught them some enduring lessons. They did not grow up living in a disposable society. While that trend did begin to rise in the late 40’s & 50’s, it was not something that they followed as much. The still did much of their own canning, had large gardens, and watched carefully what they bought. They bought plenty of things, don’t get me wrong here. What they did though, what they taught their kids to do, is to evaluate carefully what they did buy. They would look for the best quality that they could afford. Then they would see if that item was worth buying at that price or if it would be better to save up some more and make do with what they had until they could afford a better quality item. They were not the disposable sort. As I said, they instilled this into their children. So between my parents and my grandparents (who were always more than happy to give their grandchildren a lesson in personal economics), I never had a chance. I was going to be a non-disposable person in an increasingly disposable society. I know that I’m not the only one. I see it in the surge in popularity of handmade goods. I hear it from other shoppers.

I can understand people’s affinity with old homes. I share it. I acknowledge that the homes we build now often have much better technology, there is nothing romantic or cool about a 50 year old electrical or plumbing system (at least not when you are the one living with it). It’s hard to be nostalgic about what passed for insulation then or the joys of drafty old single pane windows. But that’s not why we love those houses is it? No, we love the old mantels and the old trim work. We love all of those little details that used to get incorporated, like putting the decorative scalloped siding on the upper parts of the outside of a Victorian house. When those old beautiful houses were built, the craftsmen who built it treated their work like building fine furniture. Their work was not only beautiful, but it was solidly built to work well and to last. I approach what I make in the same way. As much as I’m inspired by those old houses, I’m even more inspired by the craftsmen who built them. They weren’t particularly flashy or boastful. We don’t even remember their names anymore. They let their body of work speak for them. It is still speaking for them now and they wouldn’t have accepted anything less from themselves. Those are the men that I try to emulate and that is what I try to live up to with everything I make.

5. What is your favorite medium and why?

At the moment it is probably wood, since that is what most of my work is in at the moment. I’ll probably start doing a bit of metal work in the next year or so and I’m sure I’ll enjoy that (I actually preferred metals to woods in high school. Welding is just fun.). The leather working I’m doing at the moment has been quite enjoyable. Moving from helping my wife design jewelry to actually making some myself has also been enjoyable. I think I’ll be learning to knit and crochet here soon. You know, for my spare time (LOL, I crack myself up). The knitting probably won’t be for sale though, I’m thinking prayer shawls.

It’s not so much the medium really. It’s taking something, using your own skill and creativity, and creating something more than the sum of its parts. It’s about creating something of use and beauty that benefits people for years into the future. Something whose overall effect is hopefully far greater than the materials and time that went into it. Something that lives a life greater than its beginning.

6. How long have you been working in this medium?

I’ve been doing woodworking for about 10 years or so. Leatherworking about a year. Jewelry, I don’t know. A couple years off and on?

7. What other arts do you enjoy?

Oh let’s see, I brew beer. I make wine with my wife. We both cook, garden, and can food from our garden. We make candles from time to time. I’ve taken talking my wife into sewing something for me to something of an art form. Does that count? Other than that, give me a couple of months. I get distracted with something else. It’s like art and craft attention deficit…. Ooo look! A squirrel! Shiney objects! What were we talking about again?

8. Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

Oh I could, but frankly it would be a little boring. If I’m making something specifically for somebody, I’ll ask them a couple dozen questions to get an idea of what they want. What do they want it made out of, the function, the size, etc. Then I’ll draw it up, probably ask a few more questions, send them the drawing, and maybe ask a few more questions to refine the plan.

Otherwise, I’ll start with what I want to build (for example, wall clocks). Then I’ll get a rough idea of what materials I want to use (Do I want to add crystals to it? Inlay?). Then I’ll come up with a couple of basic shapes in my head and build it once in my head. Then actually draw one up on paper to make sure that how I built it in my head will actually work. In the process probably forget about the other shapes I had in mind and then remember them at some other inconvenient time (and hopefully remember to sketch them so I can come back to them later). Then it’s just a matter of building one, probably changing something half way through, and hope it works. Or at least make notes as to what to do differently next time around.

9. Where do you find inspiration?

It really depends upon what direction I’m working in. I get a lot of my inspiration from furniture styles that were popular around the time of the Founding Fathers (Federalist, Georgian Revival, etc.). That being said, the ideas going through my head for larger works at the moment blend modern/contemporary designs and rustic/primitive designs.

When you look at my body of work, you will notice that you can’t really pin me down to one style or genre. I see too many inter-related aspects in seemingly unrelated things (such as art and math). Why does my work go off in so many different directions? Because my brain goes off in that many different directions. Actually, it goes off in more directions, I just haven’t built the rest of them yet. Just wait until I add the steampunk stuff I have in mind. Oh, and the mixed media too….

10. Where can we find more of your work?

Probably the best place to go would be: Rdesigns.

You could also check my facebook page: Heck, if you have a gmail account, follow me on Google Buzz.

Tuesday, January 11

Creating a Concept...

A new year and a new list of great artisans to feature. Bringing you guys the artist has to be a highlight of my days. I love seeking out new talent and hearing how they came to be the incredible artist they are. As always there is so much more to art than meets the eye and I hope my interviews can bring some of the unseen to the forefront and we can really get to know the great folks behind this great art.

Great art from around the world. Today’s artist Alex heralds all the way from Milan. Here in Alex’s own words is the interview!

Creative Concepts:

Can you tell me your name and a little about yourself and your studio/creative space?

My name is Alex. I am originally from Milan, Italy, where I studied Arts and Design, and also worked as textile designer before moving to the United States. I’ve lived in California for many years. For the past ten years I have worked in various US cities as interior and graphic designer. However my main passion remains decorative arts, which I’ve been pursuing for the past several years on a part-time basis.

My art is a fusion of ideas I like to experiment with new techniques and mediums. I paint on paper, fabric, canvas, cork and wood with acrylic paint, gouache and/or watercolor. I use images from my original paintings for my greeting cards and prints and I sell them through local stores and also through online shops like (creativeconceptsds). I also make hand made crafts and felt ornaments. Starting January 2011 I’ll be opening another e-store on, that will be featuring my arts and crafts as well as vintage and felt accessories.

I also illustrate children’s books and in collaboration with my husband, we published our first book titled: “The Adventures of Mr. P, the Case of the Missing Cheese” by Let Me Do It Press, a whimsical full-color publication for ages 2-8 years. It’s now featured on Bonanza (mrpadventure), Etsy (mrpadventures) and Amazon (The Adventures of Mr.P). The book is getting very good reviews from all around! We’re now working on two new books that will be published sometime in 2011

Where do you live and what is it like?

I live near Santa Cruz, California but I often travel back and forth to Europe/Italy and Seattle, Washington, where I have also an art studio. My travels tend to influence my art and inspire me to explore new ideas.

Where did you learn your medium?
I started painting when I was only five years old. My aunt was an artist and taught me how to use a brush and tempera (a type of opaque watercolor). I then helped her paint a colorful mural when I was 6-7 years old…it was so much fun! I also went to art school where I learned more techniques and studied art history. Later on I worked as textile, graphic and interior designer, which gave me a solid technical experience in addition to a better understanding of design and arts & crafts. I always loved to work with my hands, create pretty things and make people smile a little.

What are your goals with your work?
At the moment I am planning to get some of my designs licensed out to retail companies and/or go wholesale. I’ll be launching a new website in January 2011 through


 How did you come to selling online?
A friend of mine told me about and through the Etsy’s forums I found out about (now known as It became a fun part-time alternative activity

Where all do you sell? (creativeconceptsds and mrpadventures) (mrpadventures) (The Adventures of Mr.P, The Case of the Missing Cheese)
Local stores around Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz (
Local fairs

What is the best piece of advice you can give other artists?

Be curious about life and art, appreciate the good work of others and learn from them. Create a “design mind” by observing what’s out there or around you: shops, people, nature, places, museums, books, local art programs, you name it! I think one should never stop trying to improve and explore new avenues or ideas. But the joy of creating seems to me above anything else.


Why do you think that buying and selling handmade products benefits society?

Handmade is a celebration of both the artisan/artist and their dreams. I believe they profoundly contribute to create a better world for everyone.

Your shop name and link?


Thanks for reading about Alex. I hope you take the time to visit some of the stores and see more work from this great artisan! Remember I love hearing from you all, so please drop me a note. If you know of any great artist that need to be featured, pass them on!


Until next time...

Friday, December 31

Boom boom bloom...

An entire year is coming to an end. Sometimes it seems the year drags by and the hands move slowly and the days barely fall from the calendar. This year though has been as if the days come off two at a time and I have felt against the clock most of the year. Why I don’t know. It isn’t as if I am well enough to be busy. But the goals I would set for myself seemed to be continually barreling down the track of daily living and suddenly I would be derailed again.

Last year a dear friend of mine as you will remember from her interview, told me chooses a word for the new year. I too choose a word and it was bloom. I reflect now down that track and wonder, did I? Did I bloom? In so many ways yes I did. Artistically yes, definitely. I am trying new things and new styles and can say I have a veritable garden of new styles that I can tend to in the months ahead. But personally, did me, the person bloom? Did I grow, did I change? Am still the little seed sitting in the dark waiting to sprout? Or did I spring up, come forward and grow tall. I think it is easy enough to say yes I did. I faced so many challenges this year, incredibly hard challenges, the kind most folks only face every few years, and yet boom boom boom our family was hit with them repeatedly. I often felt like a spent dandelion with parts of me blowing all over in the wind, no direction or foothold. But we landed on our feet and from there we bloomed again!

Not sure what the word of the year should be now? I have mulled over so many in my mind. Words are funny things, they are. I had considered health because of being so incredibly ill, but really? Do I want my focus on me and health? I suppose I could use cooking dinner for my family, planting a healthy garden and ya ya ya that sort of stuff. But I want something more. Something more tangible and less concrete. So then I wandered to “wellness’ Because we could throw in physical wellness, mental wellness, and so many other things could be tossed into that pot and make a nice little salad of words. But it just doesn’t seem to have “ring” to it. Silly that I have been worrying so much about one little word isn’t it? But no, hear me out. A word can carry you all year. a resolution, well we all know those are broke in about a month or less, maybe 2 months if you have great tenacious will power. So a word dang it , give me a word!

Bloom was last years, so why not go that route? My mind dug around in the dark soily depths and has come up with grow. Naturally after something blooms it must grows. It stretches itself skyward, it leans into the warm sun, puts its roots down deep, plants itself. Readied for whatever may come its way. The wind, the rains, doesn’t matter. It grows despite all adversity, in good and bad times it grows. It scatters itself, proliferates and becomes more.

And with that, I choose GROW. I wish to you will grow with me in this new year. My hope for the blog is for it to continue to grow and include everyone we can think of. A place for artist to gather and share. This isn’t my blog, it is our blog. So please join me now in choosing a word for the new year. I would love to hear what you choose!

In the mean time…off I go, to grow!

Sunday, December 19

Yum, the ART of cookie making...

Oh the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Here is a great Snickerdoodle recipe we found....

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

 1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Mix butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl.
3 Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
4 Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.
5 Chill dough, and chill an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes in the fridge.
6 Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons sugar, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
7 Scoop 1 inch globs of dough into the sugar/ cinnamon mixture.
8 Coat by gently rolling balls of dough in the sugar mixture.
9 Place on chilled ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 10 minutes.
10 Remove from pan immediately

Wednesday, December 8

Standing in awe...

I have met a lot of incredible folks while doing this blog. Many have enormous talents and the personality to match. I feel very blessed to be able to get to know these artists and then pass them along to you. I recently came across something so far beyond my usual. The artwork held me, mesmerized. I instantly had to know more! The creations were bits and pieces of fabric, buttons, lace mashed together haphazardly and yet at the same time deliberate, a mishmash of bliss. They formed little Rag Tag Critters. Little bits and pieces all held together with perfect stitches coming together to form the most creative critters one could imagine. I combed through the descriptions and online profiles and still had not satisfied my insatiable thirst for more. The images and words lingered in my mind and I knew I needed to contact this artist. It was as if a thread had begun weaving itself into my soul.

The more I learned about this artisan the more I felt as if I knew her. As if the fabrics of our lives had somehow been stitched together a hodgepodge of serendipity. Something almost Devine weaving the fabric of our lives together. We shared so many scraps of our lives, our own personal struggles and triumphs were like complimenting pieces of fabric. She the calico and me the plaid, her the silk, me the satin.
So today I so humbly give you Rag Tag Critters

Created by Peggy Elliot in Door County Wisconsin, the work and words you see here will leave you feeling different. You will see the personality of both the writer and the characters emerge as you too get to know this incredible woman. I have started and deleted this post uncountable times. I am not sure just how to capture something so magnificent. There are times in life when you just know something is so much bigger than you, more profound. How would you paint with rays of sunlight, how would you fill a jar with stars? This is how I felt beginning this blog.

Dog walking his person!
So In her own words I will let Miss Peggy Elliot tell you about herself. No amount of magic marker scrawling across the screen, could add to her words, no cyber scissors could take away from them. I want for you to meet her in her completeness and feel this vibrant celebratory spirit come to you unfiltered by little ole me!

1. Can you tell us your name and a bit about yourself and where you live?

To introduce myself, I am Peggy Elliott and I reside in Door County, Wisconsin. Though held housebound by a body that has betrayed me, I roam the world through this instrument that has become a lifeline for so many of us - the computer.

Being “stuck” in Door County is not such a bad deal, either, for this is a glorious haven for all creative types, with a very large and, surprisingly, well appreciated artist community.


2. What about your family, can you tell us about them?

My family means the world to me, though I don’t get to see them too often. My daughter, her husband and 2-½ grandchildren live 7 hours away, a busy family of teachers and nurturers, with little free time to spare. I do miss them.

My parents are closer, and I’m so fortunate to still have them both, though they, too, have had to surrender to a life of far greater limitations.


3. When did you first become interested in art?

I have always been involved in creative pursuits. Too many, in fact. In my younger days the joy of my life was found in singing, but I have always been messing around with pencils, pastels and paints.

My mother taught me to embroider; high school taught me how to use the seam ripper - I was the champion, in fact. If you’d told me back then I would one day be creating these dolls it would have struck true terror in my heart! Never!


Goat in a moat!
4. Who was your biggest influence and why?

I guess you’d have to say the creation of the Rag Tag Critters came from my desire to do something fun and different for my granddaughter and grandson. I’d made a couple of “normal” dolls, one was finishing up a lovely lady my grandmother had begun and never finished. So I had an idea of how to sew them, had lots of material around, goodness knows, I had the time!


5. What is your favorite medium and why?

Rag Tag Critters are aptly named, for they are created from the recycled fabrics, clothing no longer wearable (amazing the amount of “shrinkage” my friends, family and I seem to have run into) and other cast-offs and cast-outs everyone seems to have cluttering up rooms and closets. One person’s “rag” is another one’s “Rag Tag Critter!”

I’ve been very lucky, as there have been so many people who have gone out of their way to provide materials. Without their support I would not have been able to create the Critters. Sometimes I can’t believe the supplies I go through - I had a supply of buttons I thought would last a lifetime. Wrong!


6. How long have you been working in this medium?
The first Rag Tag Critters were made for the kids’ Easter gifts in 2008. People who saw those two wanted to know if I would make some for them. The teenage granddaughter of a friend wanted one and then so did her friends. Sewing like a fiend, I managed to supply them with 25 for a fund raiser.

And on it goes…. When people actually see and hold the Critters they tend to come back for more.


8. Can you tell us a little bit about your process?

I begin a Critter by first drawing a rough sketch. This provides a simple guide, so I have an idea of the materials I’m going to need, and how I want to put them together.

The workroom has piles of fabric, shelves of yarns, ribbons, “stuff,” all neatly arranged and categorized (Yeah, right!). From the sketch, I have an idea of the colors I want to put together, what all is needed to create the character that is just right, if not more than a bit “weird.”

Everything is cut out by hand, everything is sewn by hand - this isn‘t because I have an aversion to sewing machines so much as I never learned how to control one (see earlier reference to “seam rippers“). I’ve even been known to occasionally make tatted lace for collars, edgings or head pieces. These are definitely labor-intensive one-of-a-kind items.

The most fun comes from watching these bits and pieces come together to form a Critter, with their attitudes and unique individual characteristics. They take on a life of their own as they grow in my hands and by the time they are done, they have a name and a life’s story to tell.


Sr. Citizen Tooth Fairy
9. Where do you find inspiration?

I’ve always had an over-active imagination. I just finally found an outlet that’s appropriate.

Despite how they appear, these Rag Tag Critters are grounded in the world around me. Even the “Sr. Citizen Tooth Fairy” arose from an incident in which my Scottie knocked out one of my bottom teeth. “Where’s the Tooth Fairy when you need her?” says I to myself.

Well, she’s here now - her wand held together with Duct Tape, once beautiful locks of hair now frazzled, tattered wings and carrying a bag of denture adhesive instead of the quarters we used to get as kids.

Like I said, an over-active imagination!


10. Where can we find more of your work?

The Rag Tag Critters are found online on Bonanza, Etsy and eBay. I am also honored to have them featured for sale at the Miller Art Museum, located in downtown Sturgeon Bay, WI.

So there is Peggy in her own words. I know huh! Incredibly interesting. I think some back story will add to this wonderful person you have just met. So please bear with me as I continue.....

Peggy like me, deals with Chronic health issues. As I mentioned the serendipitous twist of the divine, we both have Crohn's disease; we both deal with mobility issues, and the other obstacles that go with it. To deal daily with an illness turns you into a different person. No longer viewing the world as others. Minimal tasks become mountains and as Peggy said “we are rock climbers” It strengthens a person, it toughens us and gives tenacity like no other. It is in the creating the artistry that we forget this difference that art, truly becomes something more than a creation.

She pours her heart and entire soul into each Rag Tag Critter. One stitch at a time brings her hands to agony and yet her mind to unabated bliss. I know this. I know that feeling. A viewer can see this in her work. You can look and stare and then something happens. Those critters walk ever so real into your heart. They stitch themselves on your psyche and don’t let you go. Isn’t that what true art is supposed to do? Weave its way into your life to hold the viewer and not let them go? Of all the features of the entire artist I have seen, no one, not one has captured me the way Peggy has.

Happy New Year
I hope you see this. I hope you are profoundly affected by the haunting look in the eyes of these amazing works of art. I see the “Skool Dazed” doll and then suddenly stitched across the dolls face and mine are the jumble of emotions of those first back to school days. When I saw “Happy New Year” I saw a woman struggling with where she has been and where she is going. The doll a woman ageing trying to recapture her youth, not ready to give up the youthful flashy clothes and make up. Dolling herself up for one more chance to grasp the magic of New Year celebration. Questioning herself and yet setting her jaw, dolling up and stepping out- determined to make this the best year yet.

Skool Dazed
Tiny details fill each Critter. Hand tatted lace, little beads, a tuft of hair, a perfectly chosen button for an eye. Every small detail builds upon itself and suddenly the medley tells a huge story. Peggy explain in and email “There's been such a transition, not "growth," as so many like to tag it, but more development, more assured and engaged in the creation of the Critters. Guess I've given myself permission to experiment with them, allowing them the freedom to become what they want to be, instead of my forcing them to fit an idea I have for them. “ I am left in awe of each and every one of her Rag Tag Critters and though I have purchased two I know instinctively –the same instinct by which I knew I had to find out more about Peggy- that the two critters will not be enough. I will buy more. I won’t be able to help myself. With amazing talent, incredible personality, and an artistry above no other. Rag Tag Critters have sewn themselves tightly to my side, woven into my heart and buttoned to my brain!

PLEASE PLEASE check out her stores and see more of this wonderful work!

Monday, December 6

Timeless Rarity

We all know the holidays are approaching. The television commercials fairly shout out the countdown and the number of shopping days we have left. Aside from the obvious of the material race to get the packages under the tree our minds begin to race as well. Memories of Holidays past begin to fill the space in our minds like the packages fill the spaces under the tree.

The memories and the call to our past has inspired my next guest here on the bumpkin blog. She is a very talented gal who is calling up her past to begin a bright future.

I give you Rayven’s Rarities.

Katherine, her given name is not the name we know her by. She goes by another, her native, Rayven. This is just one way she is getting back to her roots. Nestled in the high dessert of Oregon, she turns out beautiful pieces of Native American jewelry and has a Bonanza store Rayvens Rarities, absoluely loaded with incredible beadwork. Please hop on board as we discover more about this sparkling gem.

Beautiful Native cuff earring set
 Created by Rayven
Her work is incredible. Itty bitty tiny beads stack upon themselves one at a time to form elegant chokers, earrings and other fine jewelry. It is a craft that goes back eons, and yet is rather new to Rayven. Rayven is just now coming to think of herself as an artist, and while not truly a late bloomer she is just late at the realization. Her first connection to her creativity was a cake decorating class. She tells us “I took a cake decorating class to make extra money for school. I got pretty darn good at decorating cakes. Don't know why cause I can't even draw a good stick man, but hand me a tube of frosting and a cake and I become Michelangelo. So, due to that, I eventually got interested, later in life, with other types of craft work.”

Watermill created by the talented duo
Again that creative streak reared when her and her father would work in the woodshop together. The duo would piece together incredible birdhouses, yard decorations and so much more. I have included a photo of a lovely water mill they worked together on. Incredible in its detail it features working components and actually turns water. It is remembering these times with her father that inspires much of what she is doing today.

One of the many Native American  items in her store.
Inspiration is a funny thing. It can come from anywhere. I love to ask artist what inspires them. When I asked Rayven I was told it can come from anywhere “Oh that's easy. Just take a look around outside at nature, at a favorite store, or even just talking to a friend. It's amazing the ideas I've had pop into my head at the oddest of times.” Her store is filled with lovley items, some made by Rayven herself and other treasures she has mined from her vast supply of incredible artists.

 The more I learned about Rayven the more I realize she is deeply connected to her roots and yet used them to draw upon for future endeavors. She spends much of her time sewing and will soon be filling up her Artfire shelves with wonderful and unique items , so we will have to be sure and look for them. Speaking of looking have a peek at the adorable Lillee hanging out in one of Rayvens latest creations. Lilee is an honorary niece and was blessed to have this wonderfully made, cosy, shopping cart snugglie. The photo of her sewing room was perhaps my favorite and I had to share. You can see there, her right hand man, Jax helping her to create yet another wonderful piece.

The passion and connection she has to those in her life, and her roots is a definite vein running through the goldmine of her creativity. When talking with Rayven you can feel this goldmine unearthing. “You know, I can't really say I have a favorite. All the craft work I've done, I've done with a passion and whole heartedly. To narrow it down to just one choice for me, would be next to impossible.”

Another fabulous piece found in Rayvens store.
Handcrafted by one of her local favorites.
I am looking very forward to seeing what is next from this lass Please join me in adding her to your favorites and checking back to see where this creative streak leads. I know you like me will be striking it rich as we come to know her, and her fantastic talents.

Please visit Rayven at Rayvens Rarities

Friday, December 3

Hopping for joy to bring you LaRusc Studio

As promised I have gathered up some great talent, intervies and pictures. I always love bringing yo the best of the best. I scoure sites and boards to find only highly talented and unique individuals to bring to the Bumpkin Blog. As always if you know of someone who should be features here please drop me a line.

Today I give you, Laura from LaRusc Studio

Laura Rusciolelli, is an artist from the beautiful Pennsylvania who is especially drawn to creating animal artwork. Laura has a home studio, LaRusc Studio, where she teaches children's art classes and spends her time creating these adorable and yet graceful works of art.

Laura refers to her husband as her personal cheerleader and tells us it was him who let her build the studio to her exact specifications. When asked about her greatest work of art Laura told us “My greatest artwork may be the three children I've created, a son and two daughters, all of whom are happily gifted with art and music talent. I also have a fluffy doggie, Buddy, and four (yes 4!!) cats.”

Her interest in arts goes back as far as she can remember and credits much of her inspiration to her grandmother. She tells us she feels incredibly blessed to be following her bliss down the path of art. In the true spirit of an artist she is giving back her gifts by teaching and inspiring other creative minds.

When asked her biggest influences Laura related to us, “ My biggest influence in my art life was a local artist, Storma French, who taught me privately for several years. Strangely, in the wider art world, I have always been drawn to Impressionist works, especially Renoir, yet I am almost exclusively a realist painter, and most of my works are miniature art cards, called ACEOS, that are the size of a baseball card.” ACEOs don’t we just love those. You guys should really check out some of her cute, whimsical designs. Priced affordably you can gather up several and have yourself a wonderful collection from this very talented gal!

Laura goes on to tell us “My favorite medium, watercolor, was one I was actually dragged in to kicking and screaming from painting mostly in oil. I was afraid of the lack of control with watercolor as opposed to oil painting, but soon was cured of that! Watercolor was the last painting technique I explored, only about 5 or so years ago. I enjoy oil painting, and acrylics. Altered art/collage is another favorite, and playing with papier mache.”

It is hard for me to relate her process and technique so again we will hear from Laura in her own words. “My process, hmmm. I am a very visual drawer/painter, especially with the animal portraits, so I usually need to have reference photos for that type of work. I envy artists who can "see" all in their head and put it right down on paper. As I settle in to whatever project I am working on, I will have music or even the television playing, a cup of coffee handy, and a cat or 2 lying around somewhere close by. My inspiration can come from something as simply as the way a bird alit on a branch, or the way the cat turned and looked at me, or a comment one of my art students might make. I'm always walking around inside and outside with my camera. I'm sure some of my neighbors think I'm a nut.”

No, Laura you are not a nut. The readers and myself would be the nuts if we couldn’t find the beauty in every piece we have seen on display. The form and colors seem to come alive and the viewer can almost see the nose of a bunny twitch or a bird about to take flight. The movement and tranquility of the piece, while sound in contrast make Laura’s work unique and a definite must have.

You can find the website at . She also sells miniatures and other artwork on eBay, where she can be found by typing LaRusc into the search bar. Etsy to is graced her wonderful paintings and you can get there by following this link. .

Be sure to hit those links and see more of this adorable, stunning work!

Check back soon guys for more wonderful artisans!

Monday, November 8

The bumpkin is back!

This summer was very hectic at the Bumpkin’s. It started with taking in 5 extra kids, added to our own two. While it was a wonderful experience and we wouldn’t trade it for the world it left use ragged. Shortly after the dust settled from that we found ourselves in the mist of a move. Unable to find a suitable place, we spent awhile “homeless” while in transition. I say homeless the reality however is we stayed with my mother.

While there I had the chance to donate some artwork to the PCBA for their Habitat for Humanity fund raiser, and of course, it was incredible to be part of the collective giving spirit. I have donated many pieces to causes but this was perhaps one of my most joyous because of the fact had we not been at my mothers, we would have found ourselves truly homeless. It was very self identifying. (please see the photo for the donated piece)

During all of the moving and settling, I managed to injure some ribs, dislocate a jaw, have a little oral surgery, obtain a broken jaw and a few other maladies. Of course me and my potential for injury are nothing new. It certainly wasn’t fun, but was not nearly as horrible as it may sound. It did lead to a lot of down time and not much getting done. Now that those issues are out of the way I hope to get back on track with the art, the blog and basically just life in general.

The most exciting news in Bumpkin land is the unveiling of the website. You can now find all things Bumpkin at I would love feedback on the new site and any helpful advice. Of course if you are a follower of the blog you know my affliction with typo-nitis. So please, go ahead and point those out too!

I have several artists in mind for upcoming features and hopefully will be able to bring them to you. As always it is a struggle to get good artists here on the Bumpkin Blog. I find many talented folks but it seems they lose steam and have trouble completing the interview. Hopefully I hear back soon from some of these talented artisans and can get them straight to you! Please again I beg you if you have ideas for the blog- send them in!

Until next time ..

That’s all she wrote folks!


Sunday, July 11

See the Bumpkin Video!

The SMart Festival by the River is next weekend. The show, in her home down, leads her right back to her roots! In light of this, Bumpkin Studio did a short video advertisment. Be sure to check it out!

HOME! Click the link below to see the 30second ad!

Huckleberry Bumpkin

Friday, July 2

Crackling Endorphines

I mentioned in my other post how I like to grow a bit along the art trail. I never set out to try something new. Ya know, I just get an idea and suddenly there I am in the studio doing something I haven’t done before. Something new. It always brings its own sort of excitement. Even if the attempt is a failure, it still brings on that heady tingle , I think some call it the artist high. I once heard it has to do with our endorphins jumping back and forth from left brain to right brain. But me being not so brainy, I really don’t know.

The whole point here though is last night I tried something different. My friend Julie Behm has been taking pet portrait classes. And you guys knowing me as the animal lover, and if you don’t for the record we have some 30 or so pets around here, I thought a pet portrait interesting. Further spurring this idea is Ky the Amazing (my husband) lost his families dog of many many years recently. I thought “what a better tribute and memorial” . So I grabbed my chalks and went to work. I am not sure it is a master piece or even closely resembles a masterpiece. But it was fun none the less and did flex my artistic brain a bit.

Julie also inspired me to have a word instead of a new years resolution and this too is in keeping with trying new things. As my word for the year was bloom. Bloom, I did. I have really tried to branch out and work on new ideas and projects whenever possible and not just in my art but all areas of my life. I think as I grow personally my art will grow along with me. Maybe, I don’t know. Like I said I have never really been the brainy one. At any rate I hope you enjoy the photo of my pet portrait.

His name was Guss but was commonly referred to as Gussy-Man.

Have a n explosively good week end, a real bang up of a time, get to crackin’ on that celebrating- okay sorry, really bad puns there.,…but seriously Have a safe and happy 4th!

Wednesday, June 30

Rambling Bumpkin

WOW has it really been all these months since I have blogged? Couldn’t be? But yes it has. The Blogger thing decided I was a threat for awhile and wouldn’t let me post. Not entirely sure what that was about. It has seemingly resolved and I am no longer sending harmful or threatening content to vast users of the web- can you detect any sarcasm here, because it should be loaded with it.

The latest Bumpkin news I guess would be the Smart Festival, located in St. Maries Idaho. It is a great crowd of talented artists. Years ago My mother was involved and was what one could call the ring leader. After she left some of my students did some great painting on the trash cans that graced the grounds. It was cute to see art from the 5-8 set on the cans. Not sure if they are still in use as that has been….well…just way too many years ago.

The very first work of art I ever sold was at the festival when I was probably about 12 years old. It was a pen and ink of a parrot. Funny I remember it perfectly and still cherish the man that bought it. He was one of my good buddies though he was about 5 decades older than myself, he referred to me as “his little piece of sunshine”. Mercy, he was a special guy!

So headed back to the river. I used to try to get selected and even with my mother on the board was never allowed. They have very strict guidelines as far as exhibitors so this is really a big deal for me in so many ways. I am jumping out of my skin and “eeeeking” all the while! I have been painting like a mad woman. I think because of the anxiety. Why is it that our own work never seems good enough. No matter what is said somehow I can eek out something negative from any comment???Insecurities. I have grown so much artistically and really found a place I like.

I do believe art grows and changes along with ones self. But for now I like right where I am creatively. My work is just expressions of though. I hark back to simple times, a craving for things of old. A time I missed and yet think would have been perfectly at home in. Sentimental stuff, scripture, things I have seen, things that have inspired. Funny a word, a thought will transform down in the studio. Not that they are some magnificent pieces…usually just words with flowers and such…sometimes barns, churches, silos, things that fascinate me. Bi-planes lately and I am not even sure why. I hate flying and find no use for it. But I have a Dr. I dearly cherish and he likes planes…so in honor of that I paint planes. I am hoping to do a steam donkey, before the show. Steam Donkey if you don’t know is an old time logging thing. Again a hark back to roots. Rambling I think I am now. So out of this blogging habit.

I would love to bring you ore artists. And feature the great work of those I find. Trouble is, I cant find any. Well no, I can find lots of great work. I just cant get them to contact me back, fill out the interviews or do any of “their part” of it. So I cant bring it to you if they don’t bring it to me. Also a few , okay more than a few that I did do stories on, and spent considerable time working on, didn’t even say thanks. And no I don’t do it for the gushing thank yous…but you know a polite “thanks” would have been alright. Sorta left a sour taste in my mouth, ya know?

So as to where this blog goes, or who might read it…I don’t know. I make no promises of yet. I will try to get a bit more active. However it is going to take you my readers to let me know if it is worth my time. I am not going to stroke keys endlessly if no one is there to read it…so just leave a comment…send an email, whatever to let me know you are out there reading what this bumpkin prattles on!

I have included tons of new work at if you want to see some of the latest !