Nominations Needed for Great Non-Profit Organizations!

 

Nominations needed

Know of a Non-Profit organization that you think everyone needs to know on a first-name basis? Do you volunteer for an organization that’s doing good and deserves to be in the spotlight? When you hear the phrase “making a difference” does a special group instantly come to mind?

Then nominate them for a spot in my Non-Profits to Love: 2018 Edition. (You can read about last year’s featured non-profits here.)

I’m looking for Baltimore and Maryland non-profit organizations of all types, focuses, and missions to showcase in February’s special feature. It’s an annual post that gives locals a different way to show love in the season of hearts and cupids. The only qualifications for nominations are as follows:

  • MUST be a Not-for-Profit Organization
  • Be Baltimore or Maryland based

To nominate your non-profit simply answer the following questions:

  1. What is the name of the awesome non-profit you think should be featured?
  2. What do they do that makes them so special?

You can answer in the comments below or or email me at justbmore@gmail.com. Who knows? Maybe they’ll get a little extra love this season!

What could just ‘B’ more thoughtful?

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Fun Things in Mighty Packages: An Interview with ‘mightyPigeon’

Mighty Pigeon - Trio of Monsters

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As the holiday season nears and the year comes to an end, there is no one I would rather feature than the mighty imaginative Danamarie Hosler of mightyPigeon. I mean it — spending time with her will inspire you and make you smile! With creative monsters, an open minded way at looking at unfamiliar creatures and an uplifting spirit, Danamarie’s energy and animals will get you in gear to take on anything 2018 throws at you!

Mighty Pigeon - Girl and Pigeon

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Just B More: So how did you get started in the making of monsters, Under Appreciated Animals cards and other imaginative finds? Have you always been making fantasy products or did you have another artistic outlet before this?

Danamarie Hosler: Professionally, I started out as a Children’s Book Illustrator & Muralist, but I actually started making my dolls back when I was a sophomore in college. I went to MICA and was fascinated by this girl in my Art History class who used to knit socks during the lectures. I’m from Miami, so the whole concept of wool socks was new to me in general, but also that she could come to class with a ball of yarn and leave each day with an entire sock was just… whoa.

So I taught myself to knit and it turned out that socks were kinda boring for me, but I had these silly little paintings I was doing of happy big-nosed creatures with little horns and cats with one big eye and teeny little feet, and one day I just decided I needed to know what one of them would feel like to hug, so I set to work knitting it. I called them Knitimals and the rest is kinda history. I don’t really knit the dolls anymore, but I’ve since expanded my line to include a number of new “species” of creature (all of them have the same sort of design style, which originates from the way I drew faces when I was little) and that keeps me on my toes.

In general, my work is about making childhoods happier, brighter, smarter, more imaginative & more representative. I want kids to look at my stuff and feel inspired by it, excited by it, to see themselves in my characters and see faces that look like theirs. And I want all those same feelings to reach grown-ups too, and tap into their inner child and feel connected to that part of themselves again. So, having all these different outlets and imprints/collections helps me do that.

 

Mighty Pigeon Underappreciated Animals

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JBM: I adore your Under Appreciated Animals line! Where in the world did you come up with that line of merchandise?

DH: The Under Appreciated Animals project actually started as something I was just going to make for my son. When he was two, his favorite animals at the zoo were the Okapi and the Dik-dik and he asked me one day, while going through one of his many ABC books, how come they weren’t in any of them.

I was just going to draw them and stick them over the O & D pages, but then realized that EVERY kid should know what those animals are and there’s no reason to keep giving kids the same animals over and over again. As an educator and with my Children’s Book background, it was something I knew I could (and should!) pursue. Once the cards came out, the rest of the merchandise grew out of customer response and request, believe it or not.

JBM: How long have you been in business?

DH: I officially launched my business in 2000 when I graduated, and used to balance other full-time/part-time work alongside it… and that got old fast. I wasn’t able to fully commit to my work and myself and eventually had to make the choice to just strike out on my own and see what I could do. I’ve been happily working for myself full-time since 2006.

JBM: Why the name mightyPigeon? (It’s adorable!)

DH: I LOVE PIGEONS.

My business is actually twofold; the plush side is called *might and the Illustration side is mightyPigeon. *might is a play on the double meaning of the word — possibility and strength, which is what I think of when I think of my younger audience. Little kids have so much amazing potential and possibility, and I think if we give them the right tools, they can be fortified and grow up strong & resilient and ready to take on the world!

mightyPigeon is who I am… the grown up version of the *might kid. I’ve still got the possibility in me, but I’ve already been fortified and I AM taking on the world! I relate very strongly to pigeons. They’re actually incredibly smart and skillful birds with rich histories & cultural importance all over the world… but they’re deeply misunderstood and taken at just face value, you assume you know everything you need to know about them (and a lot of it is actually false). People tend to see pigeons as a cluster, as opposed to each individual bird as unique and special. I want to change that! I want my art to make people pause and reflect. And for people to see their own value & strength — the mighty pigeons they are.

Mighty Pigeon - Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse

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JBM: Your creatures are so whimsical and unique. Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? 

DH: I’m inspired by a lot of things. Color is a big one for me; color is so emotive and sometimes I’ll just lay a bunch of fabric out on the desk and see what combinations occur naturally and pull my eye to them, or I’ll just let myself paint and move colors around the paper until something starts to look like something. I love patterns and repetitive shapes and designs. I’m inspired by my kids and the things that get their attentions or seem to be interesting them. I love seeing the world through their eyes — the perfect way they draw, without rules and restriction, the connections they make, the words they use to tell stories.

I’m inspired by current events too — though, most of the time these days, what I’m trying to do is make work that can brighten a dark day, give voice to the voiceless, draw attention to an issue that needs addressing, or simply say, “I see you. I hear you. I value you.” Its hard to stay positive all the time, but if I can find one thing to make me smile each day, that helps and sometimes I need to be the one to make that thing exist for myself.

JBM: So I have to know, do you have a favorite collection? 

DH: A favorite?!?!?! DONT MAKE ME CHOOSE!! I don’t think I can pick favorites. I love them all for different reasons. There, that’s my “mom” answer for you.

Mighty Pigeon - Megacon 2017

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JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

DH: My work has traveled far more than I have. In fact, I have sent work to every continent on Earth, which is a pretty fun claim to fame.

I did MegaCon, a convention in Orlando, FL last year though and it was SUPER fun. I’d never done a con before so I was anxious and had no idea what to expect, and then the doors opened and whoaaaaa! It was SO crowded, SO fast. And EVERYONE was so incredibly kind and patient and passionate, it touched my heart every day since.

I LOVED seeing all the cosplay and how people would stop and pose for pictures with strangers of all ages — and the cosplay was so detailed and intense; people clearly put so much pride into their work and then would stop by the table and buy something from me and tell me that they wished they had my talent. Meanwhile my jaw is in my lap because I’m gawking at this larger-than-life, fully functioning, robo-exoskeleton something-or-other that they’re wearing like it’s nothing. I don’t know… I just loved that experience so much. I love geekery. I love seeing the things people are REALLY into… because, like, I get really into stuff and geek out about it and have to collect the heck out of whatever it is and can talk to people about whatever it is for hours on end, so to have an entire convention center full of people with all these various but often overlapping fandoms, and to see them all connecting over it, it was kinda beautiful.

It was clearly an environment without judgment and there were people of all ages mixing and mingling. It was all a really nice reminder of how lovely the world can actually be.

Mighty Pigeon - Monster

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JBM: You’re such a joyous person and you seem to absolutely love what you do! What do you love most about mightyPigeon? Is this your forever job?

DH: This is absolutely my forever job. I will probably continue to ebb and flow, add products, do less sewing and more drawing and then come up with some great new idea for a new doll design and go back to doing more making than painting, but I will be an artist and will run my own business forever and ever and ever and ever.

I love the freedom it affords me, both in terms of actual physical freedom (hello working in my pajamas!) and mental freedom (I just don’t feel like doing anything today… so I won’t). I love that I can homeschool my kids and still work — that I can prioritize without having either side of my life suffer. I love that if and when I have some nagging idea that has to be acted on, I can just go and do it and I don’t have to wait until I finally get that vacation time I’ve been accruing, like when I was managing another full-time job.

But mostly, I love that I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do, ever since I was little. And its not easy… at all. And money is very often tight. And I am very much at the mercy of other people’s tastes and budgets and gift-giving lists (all of which I completely understand). BUT I am also very lucky to have found and cultivated a wonderful following of supportive art lovers, who appreciate what I do and have made room for it in their lives. And I love that about my job too. I’ve met incredible people and knowing that other people are out there loving my work as much as I do is just the coolest thing.

JBM: I’m thinking that people should all own at least one of your creatures to give them some of your positive spirit. It’s hard not to smile when you look at them. How can people get in touch?

DH: Follow me on Instagram for (nearly) daily posts — sneak peeks at works in progress, studio scenes, inspiration and more — @mightypigeon_art.

Shop online at SHOPdanamariehosler.tictail.com and email me knitimal@gmail.com for commissions or custom work, or to be added to my mailing list for coupons and announcements.

JBM: Thank you so much for your time. This was a delight!

DH: THANK YOU!!

Mighty Pigeon -Pigeons

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Breaking Dishes this Holiday: An Interview with ‘The Broken Plate’

Matyland

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Many people have the urge to break things from time to time, maybe even more so during the holiday season. But did you ever think of making a living by breaking dishes?

The unbelievably creative Juliet Ames of The Broken Plate did and she’s been breaking plates since 2006. That’s quite the run for a job that doubles as fun stress relief. Here we discussed with Julia how breaking a plate to make a mosaic turned into a creative small jewelry business.

Teacups  Jewelry

Photo credit Juliet Ames

Just B More: So how in the world did you get the fantastic idea to break plates for a living and then turn it into jewelry? Did you make other jewelry before or was this your first go?

Juliet Ames: I started as a photography major in community college but when my credits didn’t transfer (because of the death of the darkroom) I realized that my quickest path to graduation was by getting an Interdisciplinary Craft Degree from Towson University. I took an odd mix of classes to learn all sorts of different materials such as glass, paper, ceramics and metals. I spent most of my time in the metals studio. Upon graduation, I didn’t make anything for about six months when the creative bug struck and I spent a weekend in the basement, manically making myself a mosaic mailbox out of an old plate that I bought at Goodwill. When the project was complete, I still had so many pretty shards leftover that I decided to make them necklaces. The rest, they say, is history. 

JBM: So how long has this been your small business? Have you always been a small business owner?

JA: This company began in 2006, but I have been making and selling my own jewelry and photography since high school. I even managed to earn the “Most Likely to be a Millionaire” superlative in high school, but unfortunately I don’t think selling jewelry is the path to that. Maybe my next business. 

Before and after The Broken Plate

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? Do you have a favorite collection? (Mine is of course the Pyrex!)

JA: I’m usually inspired by the pattern of the plate, but lately I have been really enjoying just using simple stained glass. Since I make so much jewelry, I am finding most pleasure in making some self-indulgent art with my shards, like the map of the US or animal shapes. 

JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

JA: I was honored to be invited to have a solo show in Hong Kong last year. I initially thought the invite had to be a prank, but I took a chance and traveled across the world to show my work. It was an incredible experience to be treated like a pop star for a few days. They even built me a plate breaking stage and massive broken teacup for photo ops. 

JBM: What do you love most about what you do?

JA: I love the creative process and assembling all of my pieces.

The Broken Plate Jewelry

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Do you think this will be your “forever job” or do you see something else on the horizon?

JA: This is my forever job for now. I will never get rich doing this, but I can work in my pajamas and be there for my boy after school. They only other thing I am half qualified for is maybe being a line cook, but even that would probably kick my ass. 

JBM: Now that you mention it, don’t you have a cookbook?

JA: Yes, I made a cookbook last year.  Will have some at Holiday Heap and in my Etsy shop.

JBM: It’s the holiday season, how can people get their hands on some plate jewelry for gifts (or to treat themselves)?

JA: Email is best for me.juliet@ibreakplates.com 

My Etsy shop is www.thebrokenplate.etsy.com

My only holiday show is Holiday Heap with the Charm City Craft Mafia on December 16th at 2640 St Paul Street. 

Art on display at Silver Queen Cafe until January.

Studio visits by appointment.

JBM: Thanks so much for speaking with us!
JA: Thanks for the opportunity!

cookbook

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Baltimore Small Business: Three Local Women to Support this Season

Presnt

What’s in here?!?

It’s the holiday season and here at just B more blog I believe in keeping it local. That’s why each Wednesday for the next three weeks I’ll be featuring a local artist whose wares are sure to be a hit on any holiday shopping list.

Whether you need something for a hostess gift, a special present for the child in your life or would like to treat yourself, these ladies will have something for you to gift wrap.

That’s right—ladies. I’m featuring three local women because their talent is fantastic and they represent what local business in Baltimore is all about: heart, creativity and quirk.

So check back here on Wednesday, December 6, to meet the first of three seriously creative small business women from right here in Charm City!

What could just ‘B’ more festive?

 

Hey Baltimore, what ever happened to those New Year’s Resolutions?

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Recently I was home, frustrated that I wasn’t able to complete the goals I wanted to accomplish for this blog over the summer. This was because of unforeseen surgery complications and major life events that were beyond my control. The fact that these hurdles popped up and were indeed more important than my self-imposed deadlines was something I recognized, but it still hurt that my plans had been derailed yet again.

Dealing with an injury that won’t go away has been a real challenge for me the past two years and I was feeling like I had achieved nothing, both professionally and personally. After all, how do you write a blog about the goings-on in your hometown when you often can’t participate in the goings-on?

So I got to thinking about my January post on goals for the new year and whether I had actually accomplished anything.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I had! Since 2017 is now over half-way through, I thought I’d share my progress. Plus, the  new school year is (unfortunately) upon us and is a perfect time to remember and restart those goals you made at the beginning of the year that may need a little push to the finish.

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Travel (around town) and Support Local Businesses

Being unable to get to places has been a struggle for me. I had plans to have some fun day trips and extended weekends – I’m looking at you Ocean City. Clearly, that didn’t happen, and sadly, my Thrashers fries appear to be more of a 2018 goal at this point. (Funniest part? I was able to get to Mongolia. Life just makes no sense sometimes.)

BUT I was able to check out local businesses and organizations, which happened to take me all over Baltimore and parts of Maryland. So far I have racked up: visiting the awesomeness that is The Foundery, seeing art among flowers at the Rawlings Conservatory, treating myself to local art at Charm City Craft Mafia events, getting my science on at Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS), attending the opening of Hysteria Brewing Co, and chilling with Baltimore’s newest Zine Queens over at Nasty Press. And that’s not including the local restaurants and beers I purchased. I feel that’s a respectable showing from January to August.

art

Add a Skill

When my best friend suggested I get my Katniss on with her and take an archery class, I had only one answer, “Hell yeah!” And so, with mandatory braid in place, I went with her to *forgotten the name so must look up and tried to find my inner tribute. I was not a natural, but by the end of the lesson I could hit the target 9 times out of 10. Not bad for one hour’s worth of work. Since that March outing I’ve been back and intend to continue – I have a bullseye that needs to be hit.

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Hit the Books

Last year I read a total of 2 books. It hurts just to type that. So my final 2017 goal suggestion was to try to up my book reading this year to one book a month for a grand total of 12 entire books. In the end I just made it a point to make time to read (sorry Netflix binge weekends!) and didn’t count the books as I went. I did keep a list though, and when I went back to count I found I’ve already read 14 books! I smashed my goal and there’s plenty of time to add more.

All in all, I’d say it’s not too bad of a goal run for a person who had stretches of time where she couldn’t leave the house or drive. How did you do on your goals? Did you reach any? Have a way to go still? Like I said, it’s not too late to pick them up again or even make new ones. You just have to try.

What could just ‘B’ more encouraging?

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I also made it to Light City.

Farmers Market Season Starts with BUGS

 

With the opening of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar two weeks ago, you can safely say that the city’s farmers market season has officially started. While I love the tried and true markets, I wanted to give a shout out to a smaller, less-known one that’s big on heart, as well as food.

This Saturday, May 6, 2017, be sure to check out the  BUGS Farmers’ Market on Living Classrooms’ campus. This one day market is run by the BUGS students who worked all school year to grow the food, make the crafts and wares, and plan the entertainment. It’s kid planned, kid grown, and kid powered! Not only can you fill your bags with delicious locally grown produce, but you can feel great knowing that all the proceeds go right back into the BUGS program. Trust me, this is one program you want to support.

Finishing up its 22nd year, the BUGS program is one of Living Classrooms Foundation’s outreach programs that works to give under-served Baltimore City elementary students academic, social and dietary help. Currently, the program works with 60 students from Commodore John Rodgers Elementary School and offers a unique support system that includes help with homework, a healthy dinner, and the opportunity to learn skills not often found in the traditional education setting. With five areas of study: gardening, cooking, art, dance and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), students in grades 2 through 5 are able to learn a variety of things, like healthy eating, chicken raising, dance routine creation and ice cream making. Working after school all year, students create or grow the wares and food that will be on sale at this year’s market.

BUGS Farmers Artists 2016

The BUGS Farmers’ Market itself is in its 21st year and is a staple of the community that surrounds Living Classrooms’ campus. It’s the must-attend event of the spring with seasoned patrons arriving early to snag a sought after tomato plant, bowl of freshly made ice cream or, the crowd favorite, money soap. (Seriously, this soap has $1, $5 or $10 hidden inside!) Along with other traditional favorites like scented soaps, herbs, and perennial flowers, this year’s market will also sell kid-made pillows, recycled handbags, slime and the very on-trend succulents.

Want to get a little more hands on? BUGS wouldn’t say no to some adult volunteers —  simply contact Erin Myers at emyers@livingclassroomfoundation.org.

After you peruse the stands, fill your bags (and empty your wallets) swing by the face painting, say hello to the chickens and watch the dance performance. It’s a morning at the market like no other.

The BUGS market is open on May 6, 2017, from 10 am until 2 pm at 802 S. Caroline Street and will be well worth the visit. Then, put it on your calendar for next year. Program Director, Algernon Campbell, gave me the scoop about 2018:

“Next year: Ponies.”

What could ‘B’ more fantastic?

BUGS Farmers Table

 

Flower Power: Best Thing to Do this Earth Day

octopus garden

It’s April! It’s Earth Day! It’s my Birthday!

If you can’t tell, April is my favorite month of the entire year. The weather warms, the O’s are back at The Yard, I happily become a year older and the flowers come out in force. It’s the season of renewal and restarts and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore. And there is no better time to stop and smell their flowers than this weekend, for the following two reasons:

  1. It’s Earth Day on April 22, 2017.
  2. It’s the last weekend of their Annual Spring Flower Display.

tree jelly

If you’re a loyal follower of just B more blog, then you’ll remember my past visit to the Spring Show which took you to outer space. This year, they’re keeping it closer to home and traveling under the sea to discover An Octopus’s Garden, with help from the National Aquarium and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Trust me when I say that this is where you want to take family and friends on your Earth Day adventures.

eel and tulips

That’s because there’s more than just flowers to gaze upon at this show. Follow the paths and you’ll find an eel peeking between some petals, jellyfish hanging from trees and an octopus chilling with the succulents. Just be sure to take a close look at the animals – you’ll find that most of them are made of trash – reminding you to think green this Earth Day and every day. There’s a scavenger hunt for children of all ages, or if you’re less actively inclined you can curl up under the tentacles of a jelly and read a good book. Either way, you’ll get happily lost for an hour or two checking out this amazing show.

Reading

Love it so much you can’t bear to part ways?  Take some greenery with you – there are lots of plants and succulents for purchase that would love a new home. (I couldn’t help but bring this little guy with me!)

 

Succulent

Can’t wait until Saturday for your dose of flower power? The Conservatory is open late tomorrow, April 20, allowing you to tip-toe through the tulips until 7 p.m. If the weekends are more your style, then stop by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for your last chance to see this special display. The Octopus will be leaving on April 23, 2017.

What could ‘B’ more green?

Rawlings Conservatory