James Baxter the Horse

I don’t often make fan art but occasionally something will jump up, punch me in the heart, and force me to make it. From the moment James Baxter the Horse rolled on his beach ball into the cartoon series Adventure Time, I knew I was destined to make a tribute.

Just look at him!



He is perfection! The way he folds up his beach ball into a hat and trots off into the sunset is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen.



And as if the majesty of his imagery isn’t enough, his story-line makes for one of the best of all 274 episodes. He first appears in episode 19 of the fifth season.

So one day I found myself needle felting a James Baxter Horse.



Spots and stripes: baby tapir

All tapir calves have spots and stripes. These markings help them blend into their surroundings so predators won’t catch them easily. It also makes them gorgeous!


This bold fashion statement is the biggest challenge when needle felting these little ones. Here I’ll show you what this baby tapir looked like before the patterns were added.


A little strange and naked looking, isn’t it? Let’s get those fancy duds on!



Much better! The time and effort to make those spots and stripes was completely worth while.


These wonderful animals are endangered and vulnerable. For any new orders I receive for needle felting tapirs, I will donate a third to the Tapir Specialist Group who will use the funds to help protect and study tapirs all over the world.

Happy Ayyám-i-Há!

Ayyám-i-Há is a Bahá’í holiday celebrating the intercalary days of the Bahá’í year (days that fall “outside” the calendar year of nineteen months of nineteen days). These four or five days are a special time for savoring God’s generosity by gift giving, helping the poor and sick, and really appreciating life.


I like to celebrate it by making art that brings smiles to people’s faces. And eating good food!

“Joy gives us wings!
In times of joy our strength is more vital,
our intellect keener, and our understanding
less clouded.
We seem better able to cope
with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness.”


This year I made a crayon drawing that I hope tickles you a little.

Looking at Snails, Crayola crayons

Puffer fish are always funny to me, especially when they focus in hard with their big eyes. Here this little guy is thinking about those snails … or maybe you!


Wishing everyone out there, whoever you may be, Bahá’í or not, religious or not, a fan of my work or not, a truly wonderful couple of days! Happy Ayyám-i-Há, world!

Mimic Octopus WIP

Thaumoctopus mimicus, the mimic octopus, is deservedly famous for its ability to make itself appear like other species of marine animals such as a lion fish, a flatfish, a sea snake, a jellyfish, and more. In fact, the limit of its disguises is unknown.

Amazing abilities aside, however, it is also simply a ridiculously attractive cephalopod. The stripes of brown and white on the long undulating arms are mesmerizing. The horns on the tall alert eye stalks are more glamorous than any false eyelashes I’ve ever seen.

See for yourself: Live Footage of Mimic Octopus on YouTube

I’m working on capturing the loveliness of this amazing creature with needle felt over wire armature. Here are a few in progress photos.

Ethiopian Folk Tales

Reading fairy tales and folktales is a passionate hobby of mine. And although I love the Brothers Grimm and the Hans Christian Andersen varieties, nothing gets me more excited than fairy tales from non-Western cultures, especially anything from Africa. Not only are those cultures much more rare (and therefore precious) to encounter in my English-speaking Californian locale, but they are personally dear to me. I was born in Botswana and lived there for the first three years of my life. I have grown up with stories of Africa and music of Africa and friends from Africa. Not only that, my brother-in-law is Ethiopian and I have been granted the great joy of visiting his home country three times already. It is a wonderful place!

I would like to share with you this amazing website I recently discovered that has compiled nearly three hundred folktales from the various regions of Ethiopia: Ethiopian Folktales

The stories have English translations but you can also read them in Amharic (yay!) and the website even has the original sound recordings, collected between 1997 and 2001.


I find the stories fascinating and intensely inspiring. Here is a snippet of an Ethiopian folktale and an illustration I drew a few years ago.

The Donkey and the Hyena

Long ago, the hyena lived in the sky. Every night she opened her mouth and began to sing. She sang very loudly. Everyone on the earth below could hear her.

The donkey heard the hyena too.

Who is singing like that? she thought. What a beautiful voice! I want to meet her. I want to be her friend.

So the donkey prayed to God.

“Please,” she prayed, “please bring the animal with the beautiful voice down to live on earth.”

The Donkey and the Hyena, pencil on paper

Anniversary Book

I am fascinated by bookbinding. I’ve hand bound my own book once before, to celebrate the first year of friendship with my future husband, Nick, and it was a very fun project. I wanted to do something similar to celebrate our first year of marriage, this time with a coptic stitch binding.

Coptic stitch is great for journals and sketchbooks because it allows for the pages to open completely flat. I used a few tutorials I found on Pinterest to help me and it turned out to be very simple and easy to do.

The contents of the book are messages and little digital drawings my husband and I have exchanged over the year in the Couple app (a cute phone app dedicated to enhancing text communication between couples). The drawing feature is very limited but really fun to play around with.

The cover is made from printouts of the early emails Nick wrote to me and one of the first drawings I made for him. The frame around the image is cut from a colorful envelop from one of our wedding cards.

On our anniversary, we read the book together and added little hand written notes on the pages.

Puffers in the Flowers

I adore dwarf pufferfish, Carinotetraodon travancoricus. They are the only true fresh water puffers and the smallest, at only one and a half inches long at the most.

The look one of these little firecrackers can deliver is stunning like nothing else! They are intensely curious, totally aware of everything around them. Their eyes can move independently from each other, like a chameleon’s, and they hover in the water ever so precisely, like little sci-fi spacecraft.

Or like hummingbirds sipping nectar from flowers.

In this piece, I wanted to convey the dwarf pufferfish as fairy creatures. They are tiny bright sparks of awareness patrolling their environment – and they see you!


I’m using the crayons to make soft shadows and sharp light, keeping the colors very vivid.

Sadly, dwarf puffers are becoming rare in their wild habitat in Kerala, Southwestern India. Breeding these little guys in captivity is a great alternative to wild caught so we can enjoy them in our homes as well as keep their wild population safe.

Crayon Betta

One year for my birthday, which I share with my twin sister, our dear friend gave us a little black and red fish in a bowl. We named him Dragon. He was full of spunk and curiosity, always coming over to peer at us through the glass. I was quickly smitten and began to research all I could about this little life form given into our care.

Dragon was a betta splendens, one of the species of the gourami family of tropical fresh water fish. He deserved a bigger tank, a filter, and a heater, which we gave him. He thrived with us for nearly three years.

That was the start of my obsession with aquarium keeping. Even though my research has taken me from pea puffer fish to African cichlids to panther groupers and beyond, bettas hold a very special place in my heart.

I am very excited to have another one in my life — my twin is gifting me one very soon!

To celebrate these fish, I am trying to capture a little of their beauty and striking personalities in my artwork. I’ve been working with Crayola crayons, which is tremendously fun. It’s challenging to get the crayons to blend smoothly and ever so gratifying when I can manage to get a transparency effect. The colors are so bright and bold!

Red Betta, Crayola crayons.

This is a continuation of my crayon portraits of betta fish. Click Fish to see the other pieces.

Kokeshi doll

I was fortunate enough to go to Japan to celebrate my brother’s wedding this December. It was an unforgettable experience! Japan is beautiful and calming in a special way. Tokyo is a spectacle of human civilization, with such a huge population, imposing tall buildings, gorgeous lights (lots of Christmas lights everywhere), fabulous gardens and plants woven into the urban landscape, and it feels so … peaceful. Wonderful place!


I also was given the great joy of visiting Sendai, a city north of Tokyo. My brother’s new wife’s family lives there and they generously took us to see a few of the treasures of the area, one of which was the Akiu Traditional Crafts Village. There we enjoyed seeing different traditional crafts like weaving, wooden top making (the spinning toys), ornate box making, and kokeshi doll making. Kokeshi are dolls made from wood and traditionally look like this: Kokeshi_20101105

The artisans are there in the shop and we got to see him carving some kokeshi with his lathe, wood chips all over the floor! Even more exciting was that the shop had a little workshop area where we could paint our own kokeshi dolls!

Here is mine and Nick’s, my husband’s:


Can you guess which is mine and which is his? Heehee! He was very creative and made a vampire kokeshi. Mine is just a fish obsessed girl. It was so much fun!


We intend to go back to Japan whenever possible. What a wonderful place!


Happy New Year, everyone!