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Storytelling for all occassions

The Story Spinners

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Purse-ue Your Dreams #4 Strutting Like a Peacock

Posted on June 26, 2017 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)
It is once again time to post another purse.  If this is your first time here reading my post...WELCOME.  If you are wondering what this is about...I would love to introduce you to my project.  I am proud to sit on the Niles Arts and Culture Advisory Council here in Illinois.  I presented an idea to the Council and they agreed to sponsor the project.  My idea was to gather artists who would be generous enough to donate their time and talents to paint purses for charity.  My idea was to repurpose the purses to put up for auction.  The monies raised would go to a charity to help repurpose lives.  The charity chosen was Wings.  I am so pleased to work with Wings in this endeavor.  The purses will go on a traveling display beginning with the Niles Museum, onto the Niles Library, a one day appearance at the Niles Tree Lighting Event called Holly Jolly and then return to the Museum.  This will begin Oct. 5 and will end on Dec. 2nd where they will be auctioned off at the Niles Senior Center.  I hope that you will come out and view them in person and hopefully you will make it a point to join us on the day of the auction.  Niles Auction Company, Lot14 will be our auctioneer.  With that being said, I would like to tell you about this weeks, purse. 
I, Debi Gajewski is the artist.  I have been painting for over 35 years.  I have never had any formal training, but have taken it upon myself to continue educating myself in the art.  I have watched, read and learned as the years have gone by and have practiced, practiced and practiced some more.  I was fortunate in the past few years to have participated in art programs here in Niles.  I have been granted permission in the past from the NHL to do a piece for charity.  I have dreamt my whole life of pursuing my own dream of becoming an artist.  I hope that as you follow this project you will acknowledge that I am putting my all into achieving my dream.  As for this purse called Strutting Like a Peacock, the shape of the purse inspired this particular design.   I love seeing the beauty in feathers.  I felt that this particular designed fit the bill.  I used DecoArt's So-Soft paints as well as their Leather Paints to create this piece of art.  I love using their project.  It goes on beautifully.  This paint allows for the purse to be flexible.  I hope that you enjoy my vision.  With that being said, I present to you this week's purse. 

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Purse-ue Your Dreams-#3 Waters Fall

Posted on June 21, 2017 at 11:02 AM Comments comments (5)
Good morning, I am hoping that you are following this blog and watching as the purses become ready for posting.  I am Debi Gajewski and I sit on the Niles Arts and Culture Advisory Council.  I am so thrilled that they have chosen to sponsor an event that I came up with.  When I first thought about the idea of repurposing purses found at resale stores...I discovered that it was going to be quite a challenge.  I wanted the purses to be in excellent conditions.  I cannot begin to tell you how many purses that required me to inspect.  After a number of months and a plethora of visits to local resale shops, I found some amazing purses to use for a makeover.  I am so grateful to have artists who were willing to donate their time and expertise in creating works of art.  I will be posting a purse a week here on the blog with some info on what may have inspired their amazing and wonderful designs.  The purses will go on a traveling display beginning will the Niles Historical Museum (they will also have a vintage display of purses for you to enjoy as well.) then onto the Niles Library, an appearance at the Holly Jolly Tree Lighting Event, back to the museum and finally auctioned off on Dec. 2nd at the Niles Senior Center.  I am hoping that you will come out and view them and hopefully one will speak to you and you will have the desire to bid on one...maybe two at the auction.  All the monies generated will go to the Wings charity so that it will help repurpose lives.  A great charity and their work is so commendable.  I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with them on this project.    As for today's purse, I am once again the artist.  I was inspired by the shape of the purse as well as its layers in the front.  My love of water and beauty of water falls is what inspired this purse.  I enjoyed including the splash at the bottom of the falls.   
The paint that I used is absolutely wonderful in painting this purse.  I used DecoArt's So-Soft Fabric paint and DecoArt's Leather Paint.  These paints are fabulous to work with.  They allow for movement and does not crack.  The colors are vibrant and easy to blend. 
I hope that you enjoy this particular purse and if this is your first time reading the blog, I implore you to read the others and view the other purses.  I hope you will come back each week and enjoy going on this journey with me.  So here you go....purse #3...WATERS Fall.

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Purse #2 Dragonfly

Posted on June 10, 2017 at 8:04 AM Comments comments (0)
How time flies...and so does the dragonfly.  That is the theme of purse number two.  Dragonflies have always been an inspiration for me.  When I look at this beautiful little creature I cannot help but admire its many colors. It's ability to move.  Did you know that Dragonflies can move at a 4 miles per hour speed? I am the artist of this purse as well and it's lush color of aqua led me to this artwork.  I wanted to capture the whimsical feeling that a dragonfly gives me whenever it has whizzed past me on so many occasions.  I wanted her eyes to reflect self realization...hence they are bigger and more whimsy.  The background just became second nature to where I felt she would be flying most.  I used DecoArt So-Soft Fabric Paints along with DecoArt's Leather paints.  If you look closely at her wings and eyes, you will notice that they have an extraordinary shine to them.  I really wanted them to look like glass so I used a product from DecoArt called Liquid Glass.   The dragonfly exhibits iridescence both on its wings as well as on its body. Iridescence is the property of an object to show itself in different colors  and I hoped that the glass effect helped to capture that. 
As an artist, I have been fortunate enough to continue to grow with my artwork.  I have been painting for more than 35 years and never had any formal training.  I love learning each day something new that I can apply to my artwork.  There is nothing more thrilling than being able to look at something I am working on and getting a sense of pride. To look at a piece and smile.  Hoping that perhaps that piece will do the same for someone who is viewing my piece.  This dragonfly makes me chuckle.  Her wide eyes make me think of myself....always looking for something new. 
The fact that this purse will be auction off for such a wonderful cause makes it all worth while.  If you haven't read the other posts...these purses will be auctioned off for charity.  I am on the Niles Arts and Culture Advisory Council and they are sponsoring this event.  The purses will go on a traveling display from Oct. till Dec. 2nd when they will be auctioned off.  The proceeds will benefit Wings charity.  These repurposed purses are being painted by various artists.  I hope that you will continue to follow their journey here and perhaps one of them will speak to you.  I will be posting a purse a week and will also post their transformations.  Follow along...I will be posting their upcoming travels along with a page with all of them in the end.  If you are interested in one of them, you can send in a secret me at [email protected]
With that being said....let me introduce you to DRAGONFLY.
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Posted on June 4, 2017 at 10:51 PM Comments comments (5)
Well, as this endeavor for charity moves forward, I would like to take the time to tell you about the Niles Art and Culture Council.  I am one of the members of the Council.  We began our journey 2 years ago and have reached a point now where we can support an artful endeavor.  I was fortunate enough to have the Council agree to support my idea where artists will volunteer to paint purses to go on auction.  Wings charity was our choice since we are repurposing purses from resale stores into beautiful works of art just like the lives that are helped through Wings to repurpose their lives and pursue a dream of a better life. 
With that being said...I have revealed the purses bought in a previous blog.  It is now time to begin the reveal of some of the makeovers. 
Here is todays 1st purse....done by myself using the Deco Art's so-soft fabric paints and their newest Leather paints.  I am so thrilled with the way they came out.  What great went on so smoothly and the finish is fantastic.  Thanks Deco Art for a great product.  I am rest assured that whoever gets this purse will be happy in the durability of the paint. 
The purse is done by using a technique which has become very popular in the art world recently.  It has been painted and then "Zentangled"  I love that you can create such beauty by doodling. It was fun to choose the colors to help co-ordinate with the purse's amazing pink shade.  I hope that you enjoy seeing it.  If you are at all interested in bidding on the purse and are not able to attend the auction on December 2, 2017...please contact me.  We will hold closed bids that will be bid on by a stand in on the night of the auction. 
I will be putting on a new purse each week as well as a composite in the end. 
Enjoy and thank you for looking.  I would love to hear your comments.

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Purse-ue Your Dreams

Posted on May 23, 2017 at 8:59 AM Comments comments (7)
I have been involved in a few auctions for charity and want to share the newest one.  In Niles, Illinois, I sit on the Arts and Culture Advisory Council
whose mission is to
(assist the Village in fostering arts and culture in the community by supporting the people and organizations that create artistic and cultural experiences that are open to all residents and visitors)
and have recently proposed an event.  Recycling in today's world is an important issue for so many of us and I thought that this was a great endeavor.  When I contemplated what would be a good source of something desirable as well as something always used...well, purses came to mind.  Women love purses...of every shape, color and size.  Throughout history, a woman from young to old has been seen carrying her purse. So, being an artist, I thought why not create a piece of art on it.  Thus, my idea came into fruition. 
When I think of a purse, naturally, my next thought went into who uses a purse...of course my answer was easy...a the charity chosen should benefit woman.  The choice was simple...Wings.  Wings is a charity that believes that everyone has the potential and strength to overcome difficult life circumstances and to accomplish goals that will lead to an enhanced quality of life. WINGS is committed to treating each woman and child in a respectful and compassionate manner while valuing the unique qualities and needs of each family. Perfect.  This charity repurposes lives. My idea of repurposing  purses into beautiful pieces of art lines up with Wings purpose.  A charity was chosen.
Next, came my search for the purses.  I started my hunt in the resale stores for just the right purses for this endeavor.  Some days the finds were amazing, while other days I would leave the stores empty handed.  As I browsed through the selection of purses. I soon discovered I needed to become a quality control inspector.  I inspected the purses from top to bottom looking for wears and tears.  I was one tough inspector. It needed to be clean and mar free from inside and out.  The shapes had to be considered due to the idea of them finally being on exhibit.  But after a couple of months, my quest was completed. 
I am finally ready for the next steps.  After arranging for their display, I was able to put a Call out for Artists.  If you are interested in being part of this artful endeavor..please contact me...there are a few blank canvas' left.  Debi at [email protected]
So here is the information on what will transpire after all the purses have been artfully transformed. 
They will go on a traveling display beginning October 5th-24th at the Niles Historical and Cultural Museum (8970 Milwaukee Ave, Niles) then next they will travel to the Niles-Maine Library (6960 W. Oakton, Niles) October 25-November 20.  They will then go on display at the Niles Holly Jolly Event on November 25th. (7877 N. Milwaukee Ave).  They will return to the Niles Museum on November 26th until December 1st.  Finally, they will make their way to the Niles Senior Center for the Auction Day on December 2nd.   
I am excited that so many amazing artists have chosen to participate in this challenge. I will continue to keep you abreast of the artist's and their bio's.    I will  also continue to post as the days move forward and hope that you will go on this journey with me and these works of art.  I am posting pictures today of the purse that have been rescued from the resale stores and will post their transformations as they become available.  I truly hope that if you are in this area that you will come out to see them in their truest forms.  
Should a particular purse call out your name...please feel free to send in a secret bid.  More details pertaining to this shall follow. 
And so, onto the show of purses. 
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Mother's Day Story

Posted on May 3, 2016 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)
Last year I won 1st place with a story that I wrote for Good Will's Amazing Mom contest when I wrote about a dear friend.  This year I decided to write about my mom and won honorable mention.  I am so pleased.  How fortunate am I to have had such amazing women in my life.  Here is this years story.  Last years story follows.
Honorable Mention - Debi G.
I was born in 1954, a time when woman stayed home and raised their families. Unfortunately, my mother had to assume the bread winner position in my life. Divorced from a nightmare, she sought for a better life for me and her. Not a time in history where taking on a man's world was all that easy. My mom built a career for herself working as a manager at Woolworths in the food department. I remember her taking me to work and going downstairs where the food was prepared. She lightened up days for me when she brought home a Nancy Drew book, a Barbie outfit or a box of Fannie Mae Candy (white almond bark). It hadn't dawned on me at the time how she must have sacrificed things for herself so that I didn't have to go without. There were trips to the lakes, Santa's Village and far away places like Disneyland in California and NYC. It's strange to look back in time and realize that everything she did, she did to make my life better. Now, as I look back, I realize that she was a young girl with hopes and dreams for herself, who unfortunately met with hard circumstances like an abusive alcoholic husband,which made her redirect HER hopes into hopes for ME. She made sure to give me an education and a life that was filled with hopes and dreams for a future. She also cared for her aging parents that we lived with. She never missed a beat when it came to sharing all that she had. My mom Joan... just my mom growing up, but today, she is a hero in my eyes.
Winning Entry - Debi G.  
When you get to my age (60), it is sad to say that my mother has passed away. It would have been wonderful to have written about what a wonderful mom she was, but instead, I choose to write about someone who has stepped in for my mom.

My dear friend Lorraine, who is 82 years old, landed on my doorstep as a perspective red hat lady (Red Hat Society) for my group. She joined and as the years went on, she became the dearest friend and a mom to me as well. There are things that friends will do ... but she has done things that a mom would do ... and things that I never had the opportunity to have with my own mother. Countless acts of kindness, always an open ear for listening. On my birthday, she invited me over because she had made me a birthday dinner, something I had done many times for my own children.

At a time in my life when I felt that everything around me was caving in ... she was there ... wrapping me in a prayer shawl and holding me as I cried. She has sage advice, a sincere heart and most of all ... love for the taking. I am so grateful to have her in my life as my substitute mom. How amazing it is to have been given such a gift ... a mom to cherish. It may be true that blood is thicker than water... but such a kinship and special soul is a miracle ... and Lorraine is mine
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Bone Appetit

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (1)
It is always such a rewarding moment when you hear a story of someone young who is a mover and a shaker.  It is just this type of story that I heard this past weekend.  I was at the Grove show personalizing when a woman came up to me with one of my "Bone Appetit" dog ornaments.  Awaiting to hear the dogs name...the lady revealed a very human I had never heard given to a dog...but of course...anything is possible.  The woman then proceeded to inform me that the ornament was for her granddaughter.  Taken a bit back that someone would purchase and personalize a dog ornament...she then proceed to tell me that her granddaughter owned a business where she baked dog biscuits...and the name of her business is "Bone Appetit" as much as that is a little became a big WOW when she informed me that her granddaughter was only 10 years old.  Now if that wasn't enough...the woman then proceeded to tell me that the town her granddaughter lives in nominated her for kid of the year....and to top that...she WON. 
Now doesn't that say something!  We hear so many negative things about kids these days...and very little bragging about the amazing ones.  I was quite impressed by then with all that my customer revealed to me...but there was MORE!  When the girl won...she was given $5,000.00 in dog food...and she turned around and donated it to a local shelter.  How amazing is that??  I must totally renewed by belief for our future knowing that there is this amazing young girl out there who has the gumption to go out and do it.  Nothing stops her.  AND  to top that she has a heart full of love, compassion and generosity.  I wish I would have gotten her name, city etc...but just knowing the story alone made my day....I hope it makes yours.
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Halloween and Ghost Stories Are Not Just for Children

Posted on October 31, 2015 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (1)
It seems that adults take their children out for some entertainment...but in essence, I think they get even more out of it than sometimes the child.  Yesterday, I had back to back programs at 2 different locations.  The first being a school...and I must say...what a well behaved group of children.  As I proceeded to tell the ghost stories...all eyes were on me.  I love looking into the eyes of my audiences...with each word spoken, I can see how they are being touched.  The innocence of the children make storytelling so special...but it is truly when I look into the eyes of the adults among them that I really receive an extra reward.  The adults assume that I am there to entertain the kids...and without really knowing those moments...they, themselves are transported back to childhood.  They never go about their business, but instead, they are transfixed on the words that are spoken.  It is usually the adults hands that being their appreciative clapping. 
I moved on to the next location. I was a bit early, so I sat in my car and watched as families piled into the building.  I chuckled to myself as I watched the costumed donned children...but what caught my eye even more was seeing their parents dressed as well.  One in particular touched me greatly.  There was a young boy...dressed as a ninja turtle...and holding his small little hand was his father...who looked to be about 6 feet tall....dressed to match his tiny son.  My heart just melted.  I hope that some day that young boy looks back and realizes the love that father has for him.  I saw parents dressed as Minnie and Mickey, witches, cowpokes and fairies...and as they all entered the room where I was telling ghost stories...I could tell that they were just as transfixed on the stories as the fact, perhaps even more.  In those few moments....they are allowed to be there to listen to the stories with the pretense that they are there for their kids.  I am often approached after a performance with comments about the stories told.  How much they loved they enjoyed them.  Last night, after one of the stories, one mom commented on how shocked she was on the ending of the story told.  She said she had wondered how I was going to end the story.  Those types of comments make me feel good about what I do.  I know that my words touch each and every person.  Perhaps they will go home and retell the story.  Those are their gifts to gift to them was pure and simple...the chance to be a child again...if only for a few moments. 
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A story that touches the heart

Posted on October 29, 2015 at 9:43 AM Comments comments (0)
Good morning....I have just finished reading a story that touched my heart.  I find it amazing how some memories can touch another persons soul.  The story was about a gift exchange during grammar school years.  Reading that story instantly brought back memories of my own school day parties and gift exchanges....something I personally had not thought about in decades.  The writing out the names on pieces of paper and then drawing a name of who you would give a gift to.  This particular story was about a gift given that couldn't have been any farther away than any gift a young girl would have wanted and yet taught a lesson of a lifetime.  The lesson of course had not been learned for many, many years later.  Funny how that works.  It seems that lessons we often learn come so many years down the road! 
The message of the story was to appreciate the small gifts through the years are set aside and often forgotten...except for the certain ones.  Mine was a stuffed animal that came on Christmas Eve by a postman.  I can still remember sitting in the kitchen and the television that was on the kitchen counter was playing The Christmas Carol.  The door bell rang and my grandmother went to answer it.  She returned carrying this brown paper bag wrapped box  which donned my name on it,  contained a white stuffed dog.   I named the dog FIFI.  I took that dog every where with me.  He went to parties, on vacations and even on my honeymoon.  He narrowly escaped being thrown off a train when the conductor thought it was garbage. Thank you Uncle Ted for saving my FIFI. 
Fifi is still with me...some 59 years later.  My children had a riot teasing me aobut my little dog.  He no longer looks the same as he did upon his arrival.  He has lost all his hair...his eyes have been replaced with black buttons and neither of them match.  He is stuffed full of nylon not pantyhose...they weren't around back then.  He has many battle scars in every direction.  My grandmother sewed him back together many times over!  He really looks as though he should be in some heap somewhere...but that little dog is my childhood treasure.  I can't really explain why...maybe because of the special deliver that brought know, the first real mail delivery.  Perhaps because he came on Christmas Eve. I thought that perhaps it was a special gift from Santa.  It wasn't until much later that my grandfather announced that it was HE who sent it....that made it even more special!  
Well, this morning, as I read this quaint little story...I was immediately transported back in time.  I thought about school parties and exchanges...special gifts, special times and what gifts I could remember.  The very first was my dog Fifi.  the next gift was some underwear that came from my husband on my first Christmas that we were married. wasn't any fancy fact...I called them "Old Lady" underwear upon opening the box.  I couldn't believe that my husband would actually have the nerve to give my such a gift when I was only 20 years old and this was our first Christmas together.  (pretty much happened because he left shopping to the very last minute).  Needless to say...that was a gift I have never forgotten either!  So, sometimes it is not how much a present costs that leaves the lasting memories. 
I am grateful for the story that I read today that caused all those flashbacks for me.  I hope that when I tell or write a story...that it does exactly that for my readers and listeners.   
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Ninety Minutes in Heaven and My story

Posted on September 26, 2015 at 9:37 AM Comments comments (3) you went to the movies and saw "Ninety Minutes in Heaven" and wondered..."Is this for real?".  Well, I am about to tell you a story about how real the description of the light it.  No, I have never died and saw the light...never traveled down a tunnel...never met others on the other side.  Then how is it that I can say it is real?  Well, because I saw it. 
It was a horrible New Years Day.  I sat in a hospital room holding my Grandmother's hand as she lay in the hospital bed on a respirator.  She was not conscious...and all I could do was pray that she could her me speak the last words to her.  I sat on one side while my mother and husband sat on the other. My chair faced the hospital window while they faced the wall behind me.  As I sat there stroking her hand and telling her how much I loved her, I noticed the most peculiar thing on the outside of the hospital window. 
Now...I know...what did I see??  Well, first I must tell you the events that led up to this moment.  It was Christmas morning when my grandmother called me and told me that her pain (arthritis) was way too bad and she couldn't make it to my house for Christmas.  I immediately told her not to worry and assured her it was fine.  I called up the others that were coming and informed them that we would just go to Gram's instead.  I intended to just pack up the food and take it there.  After all....Christmas was about family...not the location of where we gathered.  All the rearrangements were made when the phone rang again.  Gram decided she was coming to me after all.  So back on the phone I went and informed all the guests.  When Gram arrived, my heart broke into a million pieces.  She had to just about crawl up my back steps to get in the house.  She told me that she took some meds to help her get there and then informed me that she needed to come because this would be the last Christmas that she would be able to come.  I just poo pawed such a thought and went on the festivities of the day.  Gram just kept telling everyone of us that she was going to give us a great New Year!  We had no idea what in the world she meant by that...we thought she must have some plans that we would hear about once Christmas was over.  The day was wonderful...we went about our gift giving and dinner.  Laughing and talking like all our other Christmas'...only this would be the Christmas that I would recall the rest of my life.  Later in the day, Gram came into the kitchen with a beautifully wrapped gift and handed it to me.  I was quite surprised since we already exchanged gift...Gram informed me that this gift was special.  With trembling hands, I unwrapped the present only to find Gram's cast iron popcorn pot.  What you need to understand is that my Grandmother made the best popcorn anyone had ever had.  It always tasted just like movie popcorn...(I we have all those microwavable popcorns...but this was way before those times),  She informed me that she was handing over the pot to me and that the pot was part of her popcorn making secret.  I would have to take over making it from that day on.  I was touched over this gesture and we hugged and cried a bit at the same time.
The next day, my mother told me that Gram didn't feel well and she was taking her to the doctor.  The next thing that happened was Gram was put in the hospital with pneumonia.  All systems failed from there.  and I was sitting in the hospital room holding her hand praying for a miracle.  Only the miracle that happened wasn't the one I expected.  As, I sat there in the eyes occasionally wandered to the window and beyond.  You see...the strangest thing happened.  It appeared to me that outside...the sun had dropped down from up in the sky and was slowly approaching the window.  You have to imagine how stunned I was in seeing this type of phenomenon.  It all happened very quickly.  I sat there in total awe and confusion as this ball of light approached the window as though it would crash into the building.  In that instant...a nurse stepped in and diverted our attention as she requested that we step out into the hall for a few moments.  We all stood up and left as we were asked to do.  The nurse had closed the door to the room behind us.  We stood right outside the door of Gram's room when suddenly the overhead lights blinked on and off, and then the nurse opened the door and informed us that she was sorry....Gram was gone. 
You see....the light was coming for her.  I saw it the time it was happening, I had no idea what that phenominum was....but in that final moment...I knew...without a shadow of a doubt.  No doctors can dispute it with saying that electric inputs in the brain caused that...I wasn't the one dying or dead!!  But I was the one who witnessed the miracle.  The way that the light was shown in the movie when the pastor dies is the same thing that I witness as my Gram was dying.  There was no fear...just a moment of splendor.  I grieved for the loss of my Grandmother...but in the same breath in in every breath I have taken from that day on...I have peace in knowing what is to come.
On a side note...weeks after Gram died....which by the way...was NEW YEARS day....Gram said she was going to give us a good New Year...I think she thought that she may have been a burden to us...and nothing could have been farther from the truth.  Well...weeks after her death, I developed our Christmas photos.  Oddly enough....every photo that Gram was in had an odd light around her.  None of the other pictures of anyone else contained the light...just the ones of Gram.    
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