Tuesday, September 18, 2012


My husband Rick and I are the "grown" part of the Homegrown String Band, which also includes our daughters Erica and Annalee. When we were first starting out in 1997 we wanted a catchy name. Rick wanted to name the band Rooster Rick and the Cacklin' Hens. As you can guess, he was voted down and we became the Homegrown String Band. Unfortunately, my laugh does sound like a cackle, so the name was probably appropriate. Therefore, I named my food blog The Cacklin' Hen and then kept the name for my (fairly) newly launched enterprise -- Cacklin' Hen Designs -- making shawl pins and decorative (pyrographed and inked) gourds. I worked for years as a graphic designer, and then the last eighteen years as a layout editor. Along with so many other folks these days, my job was combined with another person's into one part time position and I found myself out of work. Since my daughter Erica is a designer (catch her over at Fiddle Knits Designs) and dyes her own line of yarn, she convinced me to start making shawl pins for her shawl designs. At about the same time, Rick's brother flew in from California to show Rick how to work with copper. Mike is a fantastic woodturner, and has been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Rick interested in woodturning also. Mike has a friend who recently turned him on to working with copper and he thought it might finally be something Rick would also enjoy. For a while there the poor mailman and UPS man were carrying boxes up our stairs (there are 30 steps from the road up to the house) that weighed anywhere from 20 pounds to 60 pounds each, containing hammers, anvils, spikes, copper, more hammers, sanders, etc., that Mike was shipping to our house. We'd look out the door and wonder what in the world Mike could possibly be sending this time. Anyway, Rick was determined to learn it his own way, so pretty much ignored Mike's attempts to teach him, leaving Mike to scold, laugh and encourage him from the sidelines. He learned fast, though, and his copper bowls and earrings can be found at Cackle & Crow Metal Works! It looked like so much fun that I jumped on Erica's suggestion and grabbed some copper from Rick and started hammering out shawl pins one day. I was kind of getting in his way, though, so the next thing you know, for Mother's Day, he bought me all my own tools and supplies. Then, on my birthday in June, he bought me an Optima Dual pyrography machine and some gourds. I had been woodburning designs on his Navajo spindles using an old soldering iron type of woodburner. I didn't even know they made machines like this! Wow!!! It is awesome. So now I have even more fully entered the world of the starving artist, but it has been really interesting to get off the computer more (I was on it constantly doing the desktop publishing). As an art major in college, I'm returning to my roots. I used to love doing pen & ink drawings and the pyrography machine is allowing me to explore a similar path. And hammering the copper is great for relieving stress! Not to mention the beauty of working with the copper, brass, and aluminum wires. And, because I haven't mentioned our other daughter yet, if it all gets to be too much I can get a Reiki treatment from Annalee! I thank Rick for all his thoughtfulness; and Rick, Erica, and Annalee for all their moral support and creative suggestions.