UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes > May 1996 Search

Artists among us: Profiles of some creative staff

At the arts and crafts show sponsored by the Employee Activities Committee last year, we got a chance to see the creative talents of a number of staff and their family members. Why do people take time from their busy lives to create? (And where do they find that time?) Here, in their own words, are the stories of people at NCAR, UCAR, and UOP who like to paint, draw, stitch, and otherwise bring visual beauty into the world. Many of these staff offer their work for sale; please check with them individually for more details.

Louise Carroll, UCAR Communications

I've been dabbling in arts and crafts most of my life, but had no formal training (and felt I had no talent, anyway) until midlife. One day, at the urging of my husband, I signed up for oil painting classes. It was as if someone had switched on a light: I was hooked. Since then, I've taken workshops from prominent artists and classes from Boulder artist Claire Evans. For several years I devoted myself exclusively to painting and at one time was exhibiting in three galleries. Economic reality intervened, though: for me, writing pays better and when I took a job as a writer/editor at UCAR painting became a sidelight. Now I paint when I can fit it in. I continue to study, to try new techniques. But even when I'm not painting, the artist's point of view is with me.

The most permanent thing that art has given me is the ability to really see the world around me: the beauty in small things, the color in shadows, the abstract arrangement of shapes. When someone says to me, "I'd love to try painting but I have no talent," I say, "Don't set limits on yourself, and paint for the sheer joy of creation, not to please others."

Chris Wold, CGD
Toy castle making


I have always been fascinated by castles. During the years that I lived in Germany, I had the good fortune to visit medieval villages, castles, and cathedrals throughout Europe. I have attempted to impart a sense of the sturdy Gothic architecture into a toy castle with arched doorways and massive walls. The knights that I have created for this castle are based on images from tapestries and art from the Middle Ages. The toy dragon is a miniature version of J.R.R. Tolkien's Smog (a character in The Hobbit) and reminds me of early years in college playing Dungeons & Dragons.

All of these images are transformed through my love of wood into toys. It is especially satisfying to work with hardwoods because of their durability, color, and intricate grain.

Jim Ellis, Design and Fabrication Services
Candle making

It all began with a candle, presented to my brother-in-law 25 years ago, of that famous children's character Winnie The Pooh. A woman had made it for him in her kitchen. This sparked my interest in candle making. Later I picked up a book about candle making, but unfortunately it never got past the idea stage. Then about three years ago I saw an advertisement for used candle molds, so I bought some metal molds, candle-making books, and catalogs and learned that candle making is much more than melting and pouring wax. After coming up with a name, Hi-Lite Candles, my dream of early years became a reality.

With my wife Renee, I've poured and decorated many different styles and varieties of candles made from both paraffin and beeswax. Our candles are made in our spare time in the comfort of our own home. Our goal is to make the finest quality product available for an affordable price. To improve our skills and upgrade our selection of merchandise we attend semiannual candle conventions held by the International Guild of Candle Artisans (IGCA), with whom we are members in good standing. Through these experiences, I have learned that it is never too late to try something new, and that satisfaction is the result of your labors.

Kym Kram, UNAVCO
Rubber stamping

I enjoy being creative and I also enjoy saving money. That's how I got started in rubber stamping. I purchase rubber stamps with various images, designs, and alphabets and then use differently colored inks and powders to create personalized cards and gifts. I mix and match various techniques, such as three-dimensional masking, raised image embossing, background sponging, and many others. You can vary the results by using special scissors, background or texturized paper, chalks, markers, glitter, watercolors, and puff paint. I use my stamps to make my daughter's scrapbook more creative and to make invitations and announcements, gift bags, and cards for every occasion.

It has been fun learning and teaching new techniques. The best part is watching how excited people get when they learn a new technique and create their own masterpiece!

Hillary Keyes, Library and Information Services
Clothing and jewelry handcrafting

I'm always coming up with new art and craft projects, but the two that I have done the most with are my earring making and hat painting. It seems that any craft I get into starts as a gift idea for a family member--usually my mother. A quest for a pair of earrings to match a necklace turned into a full-blown earring-making hobby.

As for my hat painting--well, that started out as a joke. My mother, an avid golfer, has a very unusual name. She was joking one day about having to spell it for the other golfers so often that she should just write it across her forehead. I took the idea and ran with it. I ended up sending her a box of hand-painted golf visors with her name on them. Friends who saw them encouraged me to make more and sell them at craft fairs, and the rest is history!

Susan Jesuroga, COMET

I have been interested in art from an early age and started out sketching with pencils and charcoal "borrowed" from an older brother. In college I became enamored of photography and spent many years capturing landscapes throughout the Midwest and West. After years of admiring watercolors and dabbling as a novice, I signed up for a watercolor class in 1989 offered through the Boulder Valley School District. From the first class, I was hooked. My instructor, local watercolorist Janet Gustafson, plunged right into painting, so we created finished pieces early on. She was a great teacher who encouraged me to pursue watercolors seriously.

I try to paint at least once weekly as an escape from my left-brain activities at work (supervising the computer group for the COMET program). I paint solely for my own enjoyment since it brings some welcome balance to my often hectic professional life. But with each new painting, it's easy for me to imagine becoming a full-time watercolorist someday.

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Prepared by Jacque Marshall, jacque@ucar.edu, 303-497-8616