a great book!
A new and wonderful book has just been released that I think every single creative person who is working for themselves (or wants to!) should have.

I might be a bit biased because I am interviewed in the book. But I can honestly say, this is a wonderful, wonderful book! When I was reading the proof copy I could hardly put it down.

It now has a permanent place on my nightstand so I can pick it up again if I have had a frustrating business day.When you work for yourself, it's so nice to know you are not alone and this book really helps with all the interviews with other creatives who are self employed.


illustration friday: communication
Here's my submission for Illustration Friday's theme of "communication"

(click image to enlarge)
I thought of a woman coming home from a fun day of shoe shopping, calling her friends to fill them in on everything she bought!

My mom is going to get a big kick out of this piece because this is a photo her when she was in her 20's and it's ironic because she hates shopping as much as I do.... especially shoe shopping. LOL!


JDRF Walk for a Cure
This Saturday Paul and I will be walking in the JDRF Walk for A Cure in support of our 6 year old niece Maiya.

My sister in-law, Maria, wrote about Maiya's story and I am posting it here for you to read. If you are able to make a donation, however small, we would really appreciate it! Here's a cute photo of Maiya and Stanley when we first brought Stanely home!

Support Maiya Lester in the 2007 Walk to Cure Diabetes
Maiya was diagnosed with Type 1, juvenile diabetes on November 10, 2004, shortly after her 4 year old birthday.

It is a day we will never forget and clearly remember as if it happened yesterday.
She has come a long way since day one.

She went from 3 to 5 shots a day to 2 shots a day and is currently on the insulin pump. With the insulin pump, we change her site ( the area that is attached to the tubing that goes inside her body via needle) every 2 days. This means she still needs to endure the pain of needles and in addition she now checks her blood sugars about 10 to 11 times a day or more.

The insulin pump has brought back some normalcy into our life, if you can call it that. Now she can sleep in more often on the weekends, eat when she wants to and sometimes doesn't have to eat if she doesn't want to.

We are learning more and more about the pump each and every day and how her body reacts to it.
Being on the pump is not as easy as it seems for a young child. She has to wear the pump 24/7, can only take it off for certain things like showering, or swimming, etc... She can only be disconnected from it for 1 hour at a time.

Yes, she has to sleep with it and it took her a while to get used to. We face daily challenges every day. It's not just physical but emotional as well.

This year we had decided to take a more quiet approach about raising money for the walk. We had fallen into our daily routine and life our new life with the pump.

Yesterday, something happened that made us change our mind about taking the backseat attitude.
When Maiya woke up her blood sugars were a bit high probably due to the pasta we had the night before. We weren't too worried about it since we had seen this before.

After breakfast, we did our usual morning check and for the first time since her diagnosis our meter read HI. In our meter if it reads HI this means the blood sugar is above 500 and our meter cannot read the number that goes beyond 500. Her blood sugar should be between 80 to 150.

I tried not making eye contact with Maiya and showing any emotion so she wouldn't be upset. I did a second test and at that point the meter read 450 only a few points away from when she was diagnosed. My heart started pounding and inside I felt panic and was worried of what could happen if I didn't do all the right things. I had to remove the site, give her a shot immediately and put in a new site.

As you can imagine, having to put a highly sensitive 6 year old through this was emotionally draining. After a few hours her blood sugars were back to normal.

As I was going through the motions and trying to hide my fear, anger and frustration it hit me again. This disease is here to stay until we find a cure. This disease is like a fire, so intense and unpredictable. When it catches onto something it comes on at full speed. If you don't know what to do at that moment and you don't act quickly the consequences can be fatal. Her life is in our hands.

As parent's of a child living with this horrible disease that shortens the lifespan and causes great damage to the body we cannot be silent. We must speak up and be heard for our children.

Please help us raise money to find the cure for Type 1, diabetes. Please make a donation no matter what the amount. Everything counts.
We want to thank you in advance for your support.


The Lester family

Follow this link to make a donation:
working down the to-do list
Today I got up early and tackled my emails that had piled up while I was away teaching. I have almost gotten through all of them, and it feels so much better!

This afternoon I went back to the eye Dr. this time to an Ophthalmologist instead of the Optometrist I saw last time. These floaty things in my eyes are driving me nuts and I was really worried because there are about 15 of them floating around at any given time, which makes it very annoying to say the least, especially when you are trying to draw or something like that. So the Dr. looks in my eyes and tells me about the same thing as the other guy told me, but he did explain it a little better. I guess when you start getting these floaties it means the gel in your eye is turning to liquid and that is normal. But you have about a 5% chance that as it liquefies it will tear your retina in the process. I was like please don't tell me that. Now I have to try to NOT to worry about that happening. Anyway he will see me in 5 weeks to check again. Whew!

The rest of my to-do list is getting very long. I have some exciting things on the horizon that I'll tell you about once everything is set in stone. But it means I also have a lot to do. I am trying not to panic. It will all get done, it will all get done. Breathe, breathe......


i'm on DIY tomorrow!
I just discovered they are replaying the Canvas Wall Book episode of Craft Lab that I filmed in 2005.

It will be on tomorrow at 12noon EST. Set your Tivos!

There are still two more episodes of Craft Lab that I filmed that haven't aired yet, so it's odd they are airing this one again instead of a new one. hmmmm.

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home and art show
I made it home last night after a wonderful last day at the workshop. It took us 5 hours to drive home because we got stuck in traffic. ugh! But we did stop to eat at Sushi Thai one last time before leaving so I could have those Thai Donuts again! Yay!

Today Paul and I drove down to Tampa to see my work that was in an invite only show by Katherine Gibson who is a private art dealer. Every once in awhile she converts her house into a gallery show for her clients, so they can see the art in a home setting. It was so much fun to see my work
grouped in with other artists and displayed in such a lovely setting. It was a breath of fresh air and I am so glad I took the time to go.

In the morni
ng I had worked myself into a quite a state: Toby had an eye infection and needed running to the vet, I have a huge stack of emails that piled up while I was away teaching, and some reproductions I had made of of my work did not turn out good (I'm blaming the mercury retrograde). So I was feeling flustered, overwhelmed and out of sorts. I am so glad that I took the time to go to the show because I feel so much better, more centered and ready to face the world again.

Here are some photos from the show!

one of my 3-d cigar box artworks on a nightstand

metal sitting Poppets® on a window ledge....

more metal sitting Poppets® on a window ledge....

An assortment of 3-d cigar box collages, a sitting lady and a Poppet® doll....

And on our way there we were driving behind this ... we thought it was hilarious the Mini on top of that giant Hummer.

Paul and I got Love Me If You Dare, in from Netflix, so I am going to snuggle down and watch it. I can get back to catching up and dealing with the real world tomorrow, for now I am going to relax and try not to feel stressed out or overwhelmed.

nighty night!

EDITED 10pm: Only two stars for Love Me if You Dare. It wasn't at all the Amelie style movie I thought it would be. It was odd and disturbing. Oh well!

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workshop day two
Day two of the workshop flew by today! I can't believe tomorrow is the last day already!
I am exhausted so I'm off to bed.
nighty night!

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workshop day one
The first day of the workshop here in Bonita Springs went really well! I did manage to take pictures but then I realized I forgot my camera cable so they are trapped in the camera for now.

Mom and I went to dinner at another Thai restaurant tonight. Last night we ate at Thai Star (very good!) Tonight we went to Sushi Thai in Naples, also super yummy! Can you tell I like Thai food!? At Sushi Thai we had these "Thai doughnuts" for dessert. So incredible!

I haven't been able to find a good Thai restaurant in Orlando, so whenever I am out of town I go on a Thai binge.

Tomorrow we'll go to Italian or something, a group of us from the workshop will all meet up for dinner, so I'll try to break my Thai marathon and eat somewhere else. Sigh. I would like to have those Thai doughnuts again. But I'll have to wait until next year!

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we made it!
Mom and I made it to Bonita Springs late this afternoon, then we stopped by the Art Center to drop off all my stuff for the class, what a beautiful facility!! Amazing! I will take photos tomorrow. I also hear Rauschenberg drops in now and then. I wish I could be so lucky as to meet him in person. Fingers crossed!

Ok I'm off to bed, class starts early tomorrow.

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travel time!
I'm off tomorrow to teach a 3 day workshop in Bonita Springs at the Art League of Bonita Springs. If you missed this one, I'll be back next year so watch my calendar for a 2008 date!

Today was the usual rush around and get everything together day that I always have before leaving to teach. The nice thing about this workshop is that I can drive to it! Woo hoo! No weighing of suitcases and worrying if they are overweight, I can throw in as much as I like. My mom is coming with me on this trip so it should be lots of fun!

I did also manage to get two more commissions to the draft/review stage so now I can leave with peace of mind.

I'll be bringing my lap top and hopefully the hotel will have free wireless, so I'll see you from the road!

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i'm on scrap scene
Scrap Scene did a spot light interview with me... Check it out here!

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put on your hat and scarf
It's been really cold here! Nothing like what you guys up north have, but very cold for Florida. I've had our plants all covered up, because the last 3 nights it's been in the 30's! gasp!!

I spent the weekend pretty busy working on commission orders and getting things ready for my workshop this week in Bonita Springs. I leave on Tuesday and teach Wednesday-Friday. I made the dreaded trip to Kinko's on Saturday to copy all the workbooks for my workshops for the next few times that I teach. I hate going to Kinko's so much and am always glad to have it done! Now it's time to staple all the books!

Speaking of workshops, I only have 3 more North American locations this year - Vancouver, Virginia and Portland and then that's it! There is still room in all my classes too! And of course Italy in April too!

Paul and I managed to watch a few movies this week too. Thanks to Netflix we saw:
  1. Flags of Our Fathers (very good)
  2. The Science of Sleep (I liked it but I thought the guy was creepy and not sweet & endearing like I thought he would be from the trailer, but great visuals in the movie makes up for the weird guy)
  3. This Film is Not Yet Rated (good documentary).
  4. Enduring Love (good thriller about a stalker)

I have a migraine coming so it's off to bed for me! See you tomorrow!

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i'm in another book
There's a new book out and it has some of my work in it! Yay!

I'm on pages 72-74!

(click image to enlarge)

Here's one of the pieces that I created. My pages were made by altering an old pop up book so it has real moving parts, which I love. In this piece you pull the tabs and the heads move. In another one, my doggies' tongue sticks in and out! hee hee! I definitely want to experiment more with the pop-up book idea.

(click image to enlarge)
One thing that was a surprise when I opened up the book, was that all my artwork in it is backwards, except for the cover artwork I did on page 72. Grrrrr.

For example, you can see the above artwork on this page, see how it's flipped? Oh well I guess most people won't notice but it drives me crazy to look at it!

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in their new homes!
Hopefully all of the Valentine custom artworks have made it to their new owners and they were happy! I am always worried about sending the artwork and track it every step of the way!

(click to enlarge)
Here's an 18x24 canvas commission that arrived in NYC today, not for Valentine's day but for a birthday. This super cute family lives in Brooklyn and they wanted to be depicted in front of the brownstones in their neighborhood. I wrestled with this piece a little bit, but I really like how it came out!


i'm a candy girl
I was asked by Eye Candy Kits to create 3 works of art using their lovely and amazing March kit papers! Two of the artworks I made for Illustration Friday entries (gotta multitask!) here and here. And the third is on the Eye Candy Kits web site, see all three entries together here. It was so much fun to have a whole batch of super cool papers arrive at my door ready for me to use. You know how much I hate shopping, so having a kit delivered is divine!


is it just me?
Is it just me or is Top Design not as interesting as Project Runway or Top Chef? I can't figure out what about the show is different. I just can't get into it and I don't know why. hmmm.
happy heart day!
Happy Valentine's day from the Hellmuth/Lester household! Hope everyone has a great day!


i drive myself crazy
Today was one of those days that just slips away. It started off with lots of promise to get things done, but then before I know it, it's over!

I wound up going to the eye Dr today because my eyes were driving me crazy. For the past week I have been seeing floaters, which I know are normal, but they were a lot of them. Of course I am paranoid and after a quick browse on, I was sure I was going to go blind any minute! So I went to the eye Dr just to get peace of mind. Sure enough he told me they were normal, but that they wouldn't go away that I would get used to them. hmmm. I guess maybe I will.

Then after all that I came home fully expecting to get a lot of work done, but then forgot how hard it is to see when your eyes have been dilated! So that nixed that. No work, but I could do packing and shipping. So at least got that done.

I did manage to get a little computer work done now that my eyes are back to normal and I think I'll get an early night and try not to feel horribly guilty about my wasted day. Tomorrow is another day!

Speaking of tomorrow! It's Valentine's day!

If you forgot to send a card to that special someone, I have an animated Valentine e-card on my web site, starring Maggie and Toby! I miss you Maggie!!


illustration friday: crash
Here's my submission for Illustration Friday's theme of "crash"

(click image to enlarge)

When I first read the theme, I thought right away of our new kitten Stanley and how he keeps knocking things off shelves in the middle of the night and it wakes us up with a big crash! Even while I was working on this piece Stanely was wrecking havoc in my studio! He's a naughty kitten, but I love him so much it just makes me smile when he makes a mess!

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busy weekend!
I had a really busy weekend finishing up Valentine commissions. Whew! All of the last minute ones are done and ready to go tomorrow. Luckily to local clients so I know they will get there in time! I'm not going to post any Valentine commissions until after the big day because I don't want to ruin any surprises for anyone!

Paul and I went to downtown Sanford on Saturday which is a cute little town and they have really fixed up the downtown area and all the old buildings. There was a show there at a gallery that I wanted to see with Lynn and John Whipple,and also another artist, Chris Roberts-Antieau. I had never seen Chris' work in person before and I fell in love. She works in layers of fabric and stitches everything on. Yet another reminder that I want to play around with more fabric collage!


new book
My good friend Lesley Riley's new book is out! Yay! And I have a little piece of art in it too.
Here's the cover of her new book:

(click the cover to go to

And the piece of art I made that is on page 45! I had so much fun working on this piece for her. That's a photo of my mom, combined with fabric, paper and rudimentary embroidery. Yet another reminder that I want to play with fabric and sewing more. Now where to find the time!

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etsy question
On Etsy stores can you sell reproductions or does everything have to be handmade? I think I read somewhere on the site that it all has to be handmade but I see people selling repros. So maybe it's OK? Anyone know? Thanks for your help!

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yard of the month
As promised, here are some photos of our yard! Maybe this will warm up those of you who are in snowy weather! Think of sunny Florida!


where did the day go?
Wow today flew by! I spent most of it finishing up commission orders so they could be sent out tomorrow to make it to their new owners in time for Valentine's Day. Then I spent 2 1/2 hours packing everything up! Yipes! The thing that took the longest were these metal sitting figures that I have made for a show in Tampa. Here's a photo!

Aren't they cute!? Well it took me a full hour to pack them. I could not find a box the right size so they wouldn't get squished. I would open a new box thinking it was the right size then place them in and find out it was too small.

You'd think being an artist I would have a good concept of spatial relationships. Well I don't. I can never tell what size box I will need until I get the
box all set up and then place the item in there.

Meanwhile I must have gone through 10 boxes finding the right one. It was a nightmare. I could have driven to Tampa in the time it took to get them all packed. Oh well they are ready to go now.

Now I am worn out.

But good news! We got yard of the Month this month for our neighborhood. Boy are we proud!!

And sweet Leigh painted a lovely portrait of Toby and posted it on her blog. Thanks sweetie!!

EDITED: Thanks for all the nice comments on the sitting ladies! They are featured in my new beeswax DVD which will be coming out SOON! Directions on how to make them will be in there. I'll keep you posted when the DVD comes out :) I'm also considering selling them from my web site or maybe opening an Etsy store. hmmm!

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do not disturb
Caught this quick photo of Mabel sleeping in our dining room. She loves to sleep on her back and I think it's the funniest thing!

And then here's another of her later in her favorite chair.


greetings etc.
Lookie! My new card line with Amber Lotus got a mention in the Greetings Etc newsletter!

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promo mailer
Tonight I have been sticking mailing labels and postage stamps on a mailer that I am sending out for my custom artworks. I was so proud of myself that I was able to print the labels. This was my first time and I did it! I thought the labels would get all jammed in the printer but they didn't, it was amazing. The last time I tried to print labels was about 15 years ago and it was a horrible experience! LOL!

My goal is to send out these mailers once a quarter in an effort to keep the commission orders coming in at a steady pace.

The front of the postcard has a recent completed commission.. this image is a particular fav of mine....

the back has
deadline due dates for upcoming holidays and also web site info of course!

Ok back to work for me :)

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new stuff!
Here's a sneak peek of some of new Poppet® Scrapbooking papers that debuted at CHA. I just love these! We have scenes for beauty parlor, golfing, living room, crafting room, coffee shop, and party! They are not up on the LazarStudioWERX web site yet but will be soon. Interested in wholesale info? Click here!

Today my friend Martha and I went to the Orlando Gift Show. I had never been to a gift show before and since I have been toying with the idea of selling at one I thought I would check it out.

Well was I ever disappointed!! I have never seen so many tacky and cheap nasty items together in one place. Everything from shell wind chimes to plastic figurines. Maybe I got the wrong idea but I thought these gift shows were more for handmade items and not manufactured things that would sell in tacky tourist traps. Am I getting the wrong impression? Is the New York gift show totally different or the Atlanta one? Or are they all the same? I know this was a small show, so maybe that's the difference? If anyone has info I would appreciate it!

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illustration friday: sprout
Here's my submission for Illustration Friday's theme of "sprout"

(click image to enlarge)

When I first read the theme I thought immediately of Brussels Sprouts and how much I HATE them. So I decided to reverse that and do an illo of me as a little girl (I used an actual photo of me at age 2 or 3) enjoying Brussels Sprouts! My mom should get a big kick out of this one. I still do not like to eat my veggies and I am a Vegetarian! Go figure!

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we're OK
thank you to everyone who has emailed checking up on us. We were very lucky, the tornadoes did not hit us they were about 45 minutes north of us. very scary stuff! My heart goes out to everyone who wasn't was lucky as we were.


contest winners!
I printed all 120+ posts for the contest, then cut them all up and Paul helped me draw out of a hat. Here are the winners!

Jayna won a copy of my 2nd book!
Lana R won a set of Poppet® Kitty stamps from Lazar StudioWerx!

I will email you both and send out your prizes right away-- Jayna I don't have your email, can you please send it to me?

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who played, what you wrote meant so much to me. Next time I am feeling out of sorts or that my artwork is crappy, I will be reading all your comments. Really, I will be! I appreciate it!

It was also a lot of fun to do a contest! I think I'll do another one soon :)


i'm on style hive
Style Hive came up in my google alerts! yay! I see they mentioned my custom artwork in their Valentine gift listing. Lookie!


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