Therapy Bettye

Queen of Recycled Arts

Queen of Recycled Arts

Meet Casey…Clever Girl creator, Therapy Bettye. I met Casey two years ago at the annual Recycled Arts Festival in Vancouver, Washington.  I was attending the show for the first time and her work was like a magnet – drawing me in. Everything about Casey drew me in. She was decked out in a bold outfit, standing in front of her vintage camper, surrounded by all her amazing recycled creations.  We chatted a little bit about her work and I picked out an awesome little horned owl she created and went on my merry way.

But I couldn’t get her out of my head and I wished I had gotten her contact information. So the next morning when I woke up, I was determined to go back to the festival to hunt her down. And I did. I gathered all my courage, approached her, and asked her if she ever has coffee with strangers. Here’s what made me fall in love with Casey……she said “No.” Just like that. She was upfront that she pretty much just kept to herself and her dogs. But then something happened. She paused, gave some thought to the matter, and decided because I had come all the way back to the festival to meet her she would consider a coffee date! She gave me her phone number, making it clear she is horrible about calling people so she wasn’t taking my number because she wouldn’t call despite all her good intentions. Little did Casey know that I am a super stalker of awesome people I want to know… I did call her, we did have coffee, and the rest is now our funny history.

Last year she let me throw in some items for the recycled festival and we had a grand time with her family at her vintage camper stall. Here is a photo of us with her sweet granddaughter, Finley.

The Girls

The Girls

We are starting to gear up for the 2015 festival with the theme of Alice in Wonderland (or should I say Recyledland?). Hence….the creation of the Mad Hatter Chair. Here is the finished chair.


Casey and I have fun with our junking adventures and bouncing creative ideas off each other. Our crazy brains seem to be quite in sync with each other. I could not have created the Hatter chair without Casey’s creative spirit to help me along….and her extra set of hands at the final stage (which I burned often with the glue gun….sorry about that, Casey). I’m so glad she was willing to give out her number to a total stranger:) She has become my creative soul sister.



Up-Cycled Mad Hatter Chair

Before Photo

Before Photo

Here is the beginning of madness…..sitting in what looks like my hoarder garage. This is a photo of my haul after a day of junking with the best junker ever, Casey (more on her in a different post). A day out in Portland produced a large sheet of metal, springs, bike chains, scrap wood, cabinet door….and THE CHAIR.

We were lost in a neighborhood trying to get to our next junk destination when we saw a garage sale with this awesome chair sitting on the lawn. skidded to a stop, we jumped out and made a bee line for the chair. Here’s where it gets really cool….the people hosting the sale said it was FREE and begged us to take it. I looked at Casey, she looked at me, and I said “It’s a Mad Hatter chair – we have to take it.”  We loaded that baby in the back of my trusty steed – pushing all the other junk out of the way to make room. The people told us there was another one in the basement we could have….we turned the offer down as we felt pretty loaded down already. And now I want to go back in time and smack myself. Sigh…..let it go.

Casey participates annually in a recycled arts festival in Vancouver and next year she has invited me to join her. This chair has spurred a theme and vision – it will be a recycled and up-cycled wonderland….all things Alice and all kinds of Hatter madness. I got right to work on revamping this baby. Casey and I hunted for recycled material to use. Here is a photo of the color vision we started with.


The quilt on the back was found at a thrift store….bed-sized quilt top….all HAND- STITCHED….crazy beautiful. It was super hard to cut it…but I said a blessing for whoever took the time to make such a work of art and got to work. The other fabrics come from a duvet cover, a sweater, a velour shirt and discarded material found a Goodwill.  I’ve never upholstered any thing of this scale before…..I love that Casey took me at my word that I could do it. Lots of stapling and glue gunning and stitching and securing and it is pretty much done. The legs still need re-attaching, but should hammer that out this week. Here are the progress shots.



I actually surprised myself that I could recover this sized chair…despite the multiple glue gun burns – what’s a little missing flesh in the name of creativity?? So here is the almost finished piece – keep in mind the feet need to be put on.

Mad Hatter Goodness

Mad Hatter Goodness

Of course it’s completely over the top….it’s a chair for a Mad Hatter….HELLO! Will post 100% finished piece later – honest I will:) I can’t help but to wonder if I’ll be able to let it go when the time comes….may be a list of care instructions that go with it….like no sitting in it. Is that fair?

My Clever Girl

Madeleine & cheer buddy

Madeleine & cheer buddy

Here is my beautiful daughter, Madeleine – the blonde on the right. She poses proudly with her cheer friend after last nights banquet dinner. Her first cheer season as a freshman has come to an official end with last nights banquet awards dinner.

I’m not going to lie….I was not exactly looking forward to the event for a few reasons. 1) I’m not a fan of potlucks, 2) there are 47, as in FORTY-SEVEN, cheer leaders so it was bound to be a long evening and 3) as I’m not the PTA type of mom, you can imagine I’m not exactly the cheer-booster kind of mom either. But, this is my daughter and of course I was going to go. I did have a bit of an ‘out’ as I was going to “have” to leave early to get to a business meeting of a group I belong to for which I serve as treasurer. Perfect.

So there my husband and I sat at a table in the school commons surrounded by 47 excited young women and their parents. Madeleine did not sit with us as that would be way too uncool – duh. But I had a perfect view of her sitting at a table with friends. I just sat and watched her. I watched her smile and laugh and talk. I could see her excitement and nervousness. And it hit me how incredibly blessed I am to be her mother. How lucky I was to be present at that banquet and to witness her success.It wasn’t long ago that my life was headed down a different path and I could have so easily missed out on all of this. I sent a text message to let my group know that I would not be able to attend the business meeting – that I needed to be at my daughter’s banquet dinner.

In all honesty, it has not be easy lately to be a mother to Madeleine. The past couple years have been extremely challenging as she is pushing for independence but at times not making great choices. And just last week was a particularly challenging week with her. I’ve had to be the strong mom – the mom of discipline and consequences. But last night all  of that faded away – as least for the moment – and I just got to be present and enjoy her accomplishment. She had her 15 seconds of spot light as she was presented her JV and Varsity letters, but it was worth every minute of the 3 hours I sat there (yes…..3 hours!).

I was asked just yesterday by a friend regarding how I parent through the tough times with Madeleine. I didn’t really have an answer. I do this parenting thing one day at a time – sometimes one minute at a time. Sometimes I do it well. Sometimes I fail miserably. Sometimes I want to run away from it all. But ultimately, I’m so glad I don’t. I’m so glad I’m present.

I have an amazing daughter. She is smart and talented. She is beautiful. She is doing her best to grow up and maneuver through this ever-changing world. She is a clever girl,indeed.


A First!

Etsy Sale ready to mail

Etsy Sale ready to mail

Happy New Year! Do you want to know how I start mine? No, not really? Well, too bad because I’m just too darn excited not to share the news! I literally started my year with my very first Etsy sale – the message was waiting for me on my phone as I sleepily poured my morning coffee. (O.K. technically it is my second sale, but this is the first completely random buyer from across the country sale!!) So WHOO HOO!



Here is who sold…..Sid. He is at this very moment making his way out to Florida to his new home. It is so weird to think of something I made going all the way over to Florida to be put in someone’s home (or office, or wherever). It was kind of hard wrapping him up and shipping him out. I went perhaps just a wee bit overboard with the hand-stamped paper wrapping and flower. It felt a bit girly to wrap such a rocker owl in that manner, but I was just so flipping excited to be mailing him to a new home – I had to do it right.

So people, 2014 has started out on a very positive note. Which is good because I have made the life changing decision to start stepping out of bookkeeping. I am starting with my largest client. It will mean a drop of half my income, but I am trusting that new and exciting business opportunities are coming my way. By the end of the year I hope to be down to only one client. So any good mojo you want to send my way would be most welcome! Blessings to you all for a jaw-dropping 2014!

Bella the Elephant is born

I have no idea what possessed me today, but today was the day I decided to do a bit of video shooting. Please forgive the amateurish manner of the videos (and the nutty chihuahua in the background of one), but I have never filmed myself working and I wanted to give it a go. So I did! I felt completely silly talking to myself in the first  – weird accents and voice inflections reflect my nervousness. Evidently I go into a fake British accent when nervous?? Why has no one told me this before??? The second video my hubster, Matt, took for me. I made him promise not to get my face in the video….but he did manage to get my pajamas. What can I say – I do most of my creating in my jammies – just how I roll.

Would love your feed back on what you think. Is it enjoyable to see how a piece of work comes together? Or does that only excite other creatives? Is elephant making a bit of a drag to watch? And what do you think of Bella? I have never attempted an elephant before – you know me, prone to owls. Poor Bella is so off balance that she’ll have to have a screw driven through her beautiful belly just to stay up. I never said engineering was a forte – I just like to make stuff – don’t ask me about mechanics. I’m a big fan of glue, nails, any other means of making stuff stay put.

I do hope you enjoy and I’ll be posting more on Bella – she is currently tanning in the oven because I’m way too impatient to wait for her to dry naturally!

Meet Horatio



Meet Horatio – the rare and stately hornet owl. Rare because he is actually made from hornet nest material. I am sorry to report to you nature lovers that hornets were harmed in the making of Horatio – a whole hive taken out. But if you’ve ever encountered a hornet you may not be shedding too many tears. Gee, Jen, how did you come across a hornets nest? Well that is an interesting story…..grab a cup of joe and let me share.

It all started last summer with some rather odd happenings at our sliding glass door to the back yard. One morning I went to let our hound dog out and I noticed there were about 5 or 6 (what I then thought) wasps. Some alive, some dead. Hmm, I thought – that’s odd and creepy. Next morning, go to let out hound, same darn thing! O.k., we’ve got an issue. There is a vent right by our back door and I was convinced the wasps must be coming up from there. And the odd thing was, these wasps were white and black. So I did some googling and was convinced what we had were hornets, not wasps. But I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. Dead hornets by my back door became common place for a while. And then, the clever girl – and evidently very observant girl – that I am, finally looked out the back door to see this:


And from a different angle…..

Exhibit B

Can you see the lawn chairs below the nest in this photo? Yes, we had just had a BBQ days ago with some friends – evidently inches away from disaster! How this nest went unnoticed I can not say. It was so beautiful and magnificent, but I really was not fond of the hornets that were dive bombing our back door. So in comes the terminator – this is the part where the hornets all die. I did ask the guy if he might be able to keep the nest intact. He looked at me like I was delusional (which I can be at times, but this was not one of them). “No, ma’am. I can not keep it in take. In fact I will be doing a bit of damage to the tree as well.” he said to me prior to spraying, whacking, and stomping on the nest.

I now know where the expression “mad as a hornet” comes from. I did feel a teeny bit sad for them, but I was more sad about the beautiful nest. So once the mayhem died down – or just died – I ventured out to scavenge as much of the nest as possible. Because, you know, I was going to make something wonderful from it.   And so the nest pieces sat on my art room floor for nine months. The typical gestation time for human birth – or a hornet owl. Basically, I finally got tired of stepping over and around the pieces and decided to get busy creating. And lovely Horatio came into being.







I love my Horatio and I do have a bit more material to perhaps make a Horatio, Jr. And I do mean Jr. – and perhaps a 2D Jr. rather than a 3D. But Horatio is here and he will be flying to Alisa’s store, Most Everything, for First Friday on June 7th. He’ll be living there for the month of June unless some owl lover decides to adopt him and take him home. I do believe I may need to personally interview the person that would like to do that – much love went into this fella and I may find it too hard to part with him. I’ll be at Most Everything on June 7th so be sure to drop by and say hello to me and Horatio!

Big Owl Blues

I can not even tell you how pleased I am with this stencilled owl. I happened to be poking around the Habitat Restore (LOVE that place for cheap weirdness) when I came across a burlap covered board. Hello, I said. You will be mine. So for a whopping $1, I walked out with my burlap board. Did I mention my wallet also likes that store?

I was determined not to let this sucker sit for too long. Big empty boards/canvases/fill-in-the-blank, intimidate me. So I forced myself to get busy. I first coated the burlap in a yellowish paint. My cruddy photo up top does not reflect that color well. And then I decided to keep it simple and try my hand at a stencil. Only considering this board is 3 feet by 2 feet, this was no simple task. Here is the progression of my work.


cutout_stencilstencil_startblue_stencilI can only hope the photos tell the story because I am too darn tired to go into details. I will say that I was really pleased with how clean the lines turned. Considering the amount of work I put into the stencil (exacto knife cutting and all that jazz) I figure I should do a couple more in different colors.

Side note – update on Victoria. She is currently Queen Bee in her home town, i.e. the president of the Beekeepers Association. She is also working to get hives on the top of buildings in the downtown area, but not a lot of fans of that idea (yet!). She is also selling her delicious honey in a local store and gearing up for another busy (and sticky) season of honey production. Hopefully we’ll score some photos soon!