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Hey Welcome! I’m Crispina ffrench
Artist, Educator, Empowerer, Plant Eater,
Nature Lover, Cookie Baker, Climate Change Activist
I’m glad you are here, Now let’s make shift happen.

Scrapbox Contestants - Barbara McNinch

My name is Barbara McNinch. I was raised inOshkosh, Wisconsin, and moved to Alaska 45 years ago, when I was 19 years old. At that time, I was looking for a life that didn’t entail “working my life away”at what I perceived as unpleasant and rewardless nine to five jobs. So, for a few years I lived off the grid in a rent-free cabin (many abandoned cabins had been built by WWII vets who had been given free land after the war), hauled water, split wood, cooked and heated with wood, and used an outhouse. I had always been a scrounger and thrift-store shopper, and those skills came in handy as I eeked out a minimal living spinning yarn and occasionally selling a hand-spun hat. I became quite skilled at making my earnings last through improvising and bartering. I would hang out where the halibut charters came in and grab the carcasses after they were thrown into the fish dumpster so I could cut out and enjoy the halibut cheeks. After becoming a single mother with a six-year old, I worked in a record store and later did production and layout (before computers)at a weekly newspaper. Eventually, my Alaska town (Homer) founded a small college so I left full-time newspaper work to get the pre-requisites I needed to apply at universities to become an Occupational Therapist (OT). Since at that time there was nowhere to get an OT degree in Alaska, I had to look “Outside,”(what Alaskans call the Lower ’48) to continue my education. I was fortunate to have part time work during this time, first for an Emmy-award winning wildlife filmmaker and then for a flower essence company. When I was accepted at theUniversity of Washington, my high-school-age daughter and new partner headed toSeattle for three intense years of classes and internships. Living in a big city was definitely a shock and challenging for the three of us. In 2000, afterI received my degree in OT and my daughter graduated from high school, my partner and I returned to Alaska where I took a position as a school-based OT.My daughter has stayed in Seattle.

Fiber and texture are my true loves. I often think of a fabulous silver grey lock of sheep wool or dyed yarn as looking“good enough to eat.” I love to touch things.

I grew up tap dancing, became a belly dancer after my daughter was born, and later was a member of a modern dance troupe. I have been a regular volunteer on-air public radio DJ, and, also as a volunteer, hosted nationally and internationally known Irish musicians to perform in our small town. This was a win-win for me since then I did not have to even think about the 220 mile drive through two mountain ranges to get to Anchorage,Alaska’s largest city, to attend their concerts; and I met fabulous folks.

Traveling is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to visit Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Ecuador,Peru, Chile, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. I like to travel slowly and thoroughly. Culture, whether abroad or within our local community is a particular love of mine.

I am moved by solid jewel tone colors, some stripes, and batiks. Pastels and many prints really turn me off. That silky designer fabric with big gold chains and clocks is my private hell. I like soft and cozy knits. 

Live music and dancing, especially outside, really feed my soul. But, it has to be the right music.

I am currently semi-retired, and have my own business now, flying up to a homeschool program in Fairbanks and to a village school on the Yukon River, to deliver OT services to students.

When I was a teenager in Oshkosh, I would ride my bike down streets on their specific trash days. People left such wonderful treasures out on their curbs. I was also a regular at the local thrift stores.Oh, the good stuff you could find in Wisconsin back in the 60’s and 70’s! I remember taking embroidered and beaded parts off vintage clothing and hand sewing them below the front pockets of my patched-up bell bottom jeans. In the early 80’s I got a four-harness floor loom and began scrounging all the corduroy pants I could find so I could weave corduroy rag rugs. I always was enthralled with what something could be turned into. I recently have taught myself how to make upcycled t-shirt skirts and have become friends with a serger. A January trip to visit my brother and his wife down at the southernTexas border resulted in my being able to bring home a tote full of the most beautiful t-shirts, all gleaned from very thrifty markets near the border which had huge piles of t-shirts for searching through. This is pushing me into the more colorful and print world as I sew together t-shirt pieces for skirts that people other than myself will enjoy.

After leaving my long time OT position in the schools, I took a temporary six-month position in a small town in Washington state. I lived in Olympia and had the wonderful opportunity to meet Shari Trnka. Her work has been a big inspiration to me. Seeing her creations firsthand and also visiting her workspace was a highlight of my time working in Washington.

What has participation in the challenge meant to you, and why.  Be honest.

I was thrilled when I saw that my box not only contained a wealth of brocade fabric, but many felted sweater scraps. I wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity to make “fabric” out of those sweater scraps. I did some troubleshooting on the sewing machine and after some trial and error, created four-inch blocks, embellished them, and sewed them together. Oh, the joy of seeing this project gel and bring all those ideas which had been percolating in my mind to fruition! I have had a burning desire to use the tote of cashmere sweaters I have collected, but have felt sheepish of where to begin. The mystery has been revealed to me as I worked my way through this project. It has also been fantastic to do this as a group, with inspiration from you and others. I am rather isolated and have taught myself many crafts from books, before internet and all, so the input of others is most welcome.

 What are you two biggest struggles?

Overthinking with just the wheels spinning - One of the tenets of being a school-based OT is matching activities of just-right challenges to students so they can be metwhere their current skills are, and build from there. That requires a lot of pre-planning and mulling over all the possible negative glitches and possible outcomes. Due to having students for a limited amount of time, I want to be as best prepared as I can and provide the best tasks. When it comes to my private life and art/craft projects, I tend to revert to this three-track thinking and overthink, visually make things in my head, but never actually using the materials to make my imaginings into reality.

Getting started is a big struggle for me - What do I do first? Make free motioned tote bags as I have been, focus on making t-shirt skirts, felt and start using that cashmere sweater stash, warp up that loom, knit that shawl, embroider/embellish that knit fabric tunic……which one?  Our house is 800 square feet and my materials and ideas have crept into all rooms, except the bedroom. Part of the getting started struggle is spending too much time looking for what I need. I know I put it in a good place, maybe even labeled the box, but which box is it in?Under which boxes? In the garage? But wait, I know I have more thrift store zippers! Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!

 Three things that bring you joy.  Explain

Growing flowers and vegetables – I start my plants from seed in my garage under grow lights. In Alaska just about everything has to be started indoors and later transplanted into a garden. Of course, I love eating the fresh vegetables and herbs; and freezing or drying what I can. But, I also start a lot of annual flower plants, and I LOVE cutting a bouquet of flowers from my garden in the late summer. I think that when I am the happiest and filled with joy - scissors in hand and snipping stems to create a bouquet to bring into the house.

I get immense joy from slow dancing to live sultry blues or slow zydeco. Bodies plastered together and being cued by body movement to follow my dance partner just makes my heart sing. I am on the short side, so I can close my eyes and rest my head on my partner’s chest or shoulder, and I am gone…only to come back to earth when the music ends, my eyes open, and we retreat to our seats.

My husband, Charlie, is an artist. He has had a silver work business and a pottery business. When we are traveling, I love checking out ceramic studios and galleries with him, talking to artists, and sometimes bringing home pieces which speak to us. I am overjoyed when we find out-of-the way art venues, shops, or festivals on our travels. I love the fact that we share this interest, and both enjoy viewing all kinds of art. It feeds us and feels so good, lots of joy for the taking.

Scrapbox Contestants - Barbara McNinch

My name is Barbara McNinch. I was raised inOshkosh, Wisconsin, and moved to Alaska 45 years ago, when I was 19 years old. At that time, I was looking for a life that didn’t entail “working my life away”at what I perceived as unpleasant and rewardless nine to five jobs. So, for a few years I lived off the grid in a rent-free cabin (many abandoned cabins had been built by WWII vets who had been given free land after the war), hauled water, split wood, cooked and heated with wood, and used an outhouse. I had always been a scrounger and thrift-store shopper, and those skills came in handy as I eeked out a minimal living spinning yarn and occasionally selling a hand-spun hat. I became quite skilled at making my earnings last through improvising and bartering. I would hang out where the halibut charters came in and grab the carcasses after they were thrown into the fish dumpster so I could cut out and enjoy the halibut cheeks. After becoming a single mother with a six-year old, I worked in a record store and later did production and layout (before computers)at a weekly newspaper. Eventually, my Alaska town (Homer) founded a small college so I left full-time newspaper work to get the pre-requisites I needed to apply at universities to become an Occupational Therapist (OT). Since at that time there was nowhere to get an OT degree in Alaska, I had to look “Outside,”(what Alaskans call the Lower ’48) to continue my education. I was fortunate to have part time work during this time, first for an Emmy-award winning wildlife filmmaker and then for a flower essence company. When I was accepted at theUniversity of Washington, my high-school-age daughter and new partner headed toSeattle for three intense years of classes and internships. Living in a big city was definitely a shock and challenging for the three of us. In 2000, afterI received my degree in OT and my daughter graduated from high school, my partner and I returned to Alaska where I took a position as a school-based OT.My daughter has stayed in Seattle.

Fiber and texture are my true loves. I often think of a fabulous silver grey lock of sheep wool or dyed yarn as looking“good enough to eat.” I love to touch things.

I grew up tap dancing, became a belly dancer after my daughter was born, and later was a member of a modern dance troupe. I have been a regular volunteer on-air public radio DJ, and, also as a volunteer, hosted nationally and internationally known Irish musicians to perform in our small town. This was a win-win for me since then I did not have to even think about the 220 mile drive through two mountain ranges to get to Anchorage,Alaska’s largest city, to attend their concerts; and I met fabulous folks.

Traveling is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to visit Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Ecuador,Peru, Chile, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. I like to travel slowly and thoroughly. Culture, whether abroad or within our local community is a particular love of mine.

I am moved by solid jewel tone colors, some stripes, and batiks. Pastels and many prints really turn me off. That silky designer fabric with big gold chains and clocks is my private hell. I like soft and cozy knits. 

Live music and dancing, especially outside, really feed my soul. But, it has to be the right music.

I am currently semi-retired, and have my own business now, flying up to a homeschool program in Fairbanks and to a village school on the Yukon River, to deliver OT services to students.

When I was a teenager in Oshkosh, I would ride my bike down streets on their specific trash days. People left such wonderful treasures out on their curbs. I was also a regular at the local thrift stores.Oh, the good stuff you could find in Wisconsin back in the 60’s and 70’s! I remember taking embroidered and beaded parts off vintage clothing and hand sewing them below the front pockets of my patched-up bell bottom jeans. In the early 80’s I got a four-harness floor loom and began scrounging all the corduroy pants I could find so I could weave corduroy rag rugs. I always was enthralled with what something could be turned into. I recently have taught myself how to make upcycled t-shirt skirts and have become friends with a serger. A January trip to visit my brother and his wife down at the southernTexas border resulted in my being able to bring home a tote full of the most beautiful t-shirts, all gleaned from very thrifty markets near the border which had huge piles of t-shirts for searching through. This is pushing me into the more colorful and print world as I sew together t-shirt pieces for skirts that people other than myself will enjoy.

After leaving my long time OT position in the schools, I took a temporary six-month position in a small town in Washington state. I lived in Olympia and had the wonderful opportunity to meet Shari Trnka. Her work has been a big inspiration to me. Seeing her creations firsthand and also visiting her workspace was a highlight of my time working in Washington.

What has participation in the challenge meant to you, and why.  Be honest.

I was thrilled when I saw that my box not only contained a wealth of brocade fabric, but many felted sweater scraps. I wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity to make “fabric” out of those sweater scraps. I did some troubleshooting on the sewing machine and after some trial and error, created four-inch blocks, embellished them, and sewed them together. Oh, the joy of seeing this project gel and bring all those ideas which had been percolating in my mind to fruition! I have had a burning desire to use the tote of cashmere sweaters I have collected, but have felt sheepish of where to begin. The mystery has been revealed to me as I worked my way through this project. It has also been fantastic to do this as a group, with inspiration from you and others. I am rather isolated and have taught myself many crafts from books, before internet and all, so the input of others is most welcome.

 What are you two biggest struggles?

Overthinking with just the wheels spinning - One of the tenets of being a school-based OT is matching activities of just-right challenges to students so they can be metwhere their current skills are, and build from there. That requires a lot of pre-planning and mulling over all the possible negative glitches and possible outcomes. Due to having students for a limited amount of time, I want to be as best prepared as I can and provide the best tasks. When it comes to my private life and art/craft projects, I tend to revert to this three-track thinking and overthink, visually make things in my head, but never actually using the materials to make my imaginings into reality.

Getting started is a big struggle for me - What do I do first? Make free motioned tote bags as I have been, focus on making t-shirt skirts, felt and start using that cashmere sweater stash, warp up that loom, knit that shawl, embroider/embellish that knit fabric tunic……which one?  Our house is 800 square feet and my materials and ideas have crept into all rooms, except the bedroom. Part of the getting started struggle is spending too much time looking for what I need. I know I put it in a good place, maybe even labeled the box, but which box is it in?Under which boxes? In the garage? But wait, I know I have more thrift store zippers! Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!

 Three things that bring you joy.  Explain

Growing flowers and vegetables – I start my plants from seed in my garage under grow lights. In Alaska just about everything has to be started indoors and later transplanted into a garden. Of course, I love eating the fresh vegetables and herbs; and freezing or drying what I can. But, I also start a lot of annual flower plants, and I LOVE cutting a bouquet of flowers from my garden in the late summer. I think that when I am the happiest and filled with joy - scissors in hand and snipping stems to create a bouquet to bring into the house.

I get immense joy from slow dancing to live sultry blues or slow zydeco. Bodies plastered together and being cued by body movement to follow my dance partner just makes my heart sing. I am on the short side, so I can close my eyes and rest my head on my partner’s chest or shoulder, and I am gone…only to come back to earth when the music ends, my eyes open, and we retreat to our seats.

My husband, Charlie, is an artist. He has had a silver work business and a pottery business. When we are traveling, I love checking out ceramic studios and galleries with him, talking to artists, and sometimes bringing home pieces which speak to us. I am overjoyed when we find out-of-the way art venues, shops, or festivals on our travels. I love the fact that we share this interest, and both enjoy viewing all kinds of art. It feeds us and feels so good, lots of joy for the taking.

Scrapbox Contestants - Barbara McNinch

My name is Barbara McNinch. I was raised inOshkosh, Wisconsin, and moved to Alaska 45 years ago, when I was 19 years old. At that time, I was looking for a life that didn’t entail “working my life away”at what I perceived as unpleasant and rewardless nine to five jobs. So, for a few years I lived off the grid in a rent-free cabin (many abandoned cabins had been built by WWII vets who had been given free land after the war), hauled water, split wood, cooked and heated with wood, and used an outhouse. I had always been a scrounger and thrift-store shopper, and those skills came in handy as I eeked out a minimal living spinning yarn and occasionally selling a hand-spun hat. I became quite skilled at making my earnings last through improvising and bartering. I would hang out where the halibut charters came in and grab the carcasses after they were thrown into the fish dumpster so I could cut out and enjoy the halibut cheeks. After becoming a single mother with a six-year old, I worked in a record store and later did production and layout (before computers)at a weekly newspaper. Eventually, my Alaska town (Homer) founded a small college so I left full-time newspaper work to get the pre-requisites I needed to apply at universities to become an Occupational Therapist (OT). Since at that time there was nowhere to get an OT degree in Alaska, I had to look “Outside,”(what Alaskans call the Lower ’48) to continue my education. I was fortunate to have part time work during this time, first for an Emmy-award winning wildlife filmmaker and then for a flower essence company. When I was accepted at theUniversity of Washington, my high-school-age daughter and new partner headed toSeattle for three intense years of classes and internships. Living in a big city was definitely a shock and challenging for the three of us. In 2000, afterI received my degree in OT and my daughter graduated from high school, my partner and I returned to Alaska where I took a position as a school-based OT.My daughter has stayed in Seattle.

Fiber and texture are my true loves. I often think of a fabulous silver grey lock of sheep wool or dyed yarn as looking“good enough to eat.” I love to touch things.

I grew up tap dancing, became a belly dancer after my daughter was born, and later was a member of a modern dance troupe. I have been a regular volunteer on-air public radio DJ, and, also as a volunteer, hosted nationally and internationally known Irish musicians to perform in our small town. This was a win-win for me since then I did not have to even think about the 220 mile drive through two mountain ranges to get to Anchorage,Alaska’s largest city, to attend their concerts; and I met fabulous folks.

Traveling is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to visit Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Ecuador,Peru, Chile, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. I like to travel slowly and thoroughly. Culture, whether abroad or within our local community is a particular love of mine.

I am moved by solid jewel tone colors, some stripes, and batiks. Pastels and many prints really turn me off. That silky designer fabric with big gold chains and clocks is my private hell. I like soft and cozy knits. 

Live music and dancing, especially outside, really feed my soul. But, it has to be the right music.

I am currently semi-retired, and have my own business now, flying up to a homeschool program in Fairbanks and to a village school on the Yukon River, to deliver OT services to students.

When I was a teenager in Oshkosh, I would ride my bike down streets on their specific trash days. People left such wonderful treasures out on their curbs. I was also a regular at the local thrift stores.Oh, the good stuff you could find in Wisconsin back in the 60’s and 70’s! I remember taking embroidered and beaded parts off vintage clothing and hand sewing them below the front pockets of my patched-up bell bottom jeans. In the early 80’s I got a four-harness floor loom and began scrounging all the corduroy pants I could find so I could weave corduroy rag rugs. I always was enthralled with what something could be turned into. I recently have taught myself how to make upcycled t-shirt skirts and have become friends with a serger. A January trip to visit my brother and his wife down at the southernTexas border resulted in my being able to bring home a tote full of the most beautiful t-shirts, all gleaned from very thrifty markets near the border which had huge piles of t-shirts for searching through. This is pushing me into the more colorful and print world as I sew together t-shirt pieces for skirts that people other than myself will enjoy.

After leaving my long time OT position in the schools, I took a temporary six-month position in a small town in Washington state. I lived in Olympia and had the wonderful opportunity to meet Shari Trnka. Her work has been a big inspiration to me. Seeing her creations firsthand and also visiting her workspace was a highlight of my time working in Washington.

What has participation in the challenge meant to you, and why.  Be honest.

I was thrilled when I saw that my box not only contained a wealth of brocade fabric, but many felted sweater scraps. I wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity to make “fabric” out of those sweater scraps. I did some troubleshooting on the sewing machine and after some trial and error, created four-inch blocks, embellished them, and sewed them together. Oh, the joy of seeing this project gel and bring all those ideas which had been percolating in my mind to fruition! I have had a burning desire to use the tote of cashmere sweaters I have collected, but have felt sheepish of where to begin. The mystery has been revealed to me as I worked my way through this project. It has also been fantastic to do this as a group, with inspiration from you and others. I am rather isolated and have taught myself many crafts from books, before internet and all, so the input of others is most welcome.

 What are you two biggest struggles?

Overthinking with just the wheels spinning - One of the tenets of being a school-based OT is matching activities of just-right challenges to students so they can be metwhere their current skills are, and build from there. That requires a lot of pre-planning and mulling over all the possible negative glitches and possible outcomes. Due to having students for a limited amount of time, I want to be as best prepared as I can and provide the best tasks. When it comes to my private life and art/craft projects, I tend to revert to this three-track thinking and overthink, visually make things in my head, but never actually using the materials to make my imaginings into reality.

Getting started is a big struggle for me - What do I do first? Make free motioned tote bags as I have been, focus on making t-shirt skirts, felt and start using that cashmere sweater stash, warp up that loom, knit that shawl, embroider/embellish that knit fabric tunic……which one?  Our house is 800 square feet and my materials and ideas have crept into all rooms, except the bedroom. Part of the getting started struggle is spending too much time looking for what I need. I know I put it in a good place, maybe even labeled the box, but which box is it in?Under which boxes? In the garage? But wait, I know I have more thrift store zippers! Aaaaarrrggghhh!!!

 Three things that bring you joy.  Explain

Growing flowers and vegetables – I start my plants from seed in my garage under grow lights. In Alaska just about everything has to be started indoors and later transplanted into a garden. Of course, I love eating the fresh vegetables and herbs; and freezing or drying what I can. But, I also start a lot of annual flower plants, and I LOVE cutting a bouquet of flowers from my garden in the late summer. I think that when I am the happiest and filled with joy - scissors in hand and snipping stems to create a bouquet to bring into the house.

I get immense joy from slow dancing to live sultry blues or slow zydeco. Bodies plastered together and being cued by body movement to follow my dance partner just makes my heart sing. I am on the short side, so I can close my eyes and rest my head on my partner’s chest or shoulder, and I am gone…only to come back to earth when the music ends, my eyes open, and we retreat to our seats.

My husband, Charlie, is an artist. He has had a silver work business and a pottery business. When we are traveling, I love checking out ceramic studios and galleries with him, talking to artists, and sometimes bringing home pieces which speak to us. I am overjoyed when we find out-of-the way art venues, shops, or festivals on our travels. I love the fact that we share this interest, and both enjoy viewing all kinds of art. It feeds us and feels so good, lots of joy for the taking.

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