All my life I have been an animal lover, luckily my mother happened to be one herself. Because of her, I grew up around all manner of critters. Dogs, cats, reptiles, fishes, birds, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and more made up our menagerie. In the family we were know as the ones who owned the "zoo". Animals have been an intricate part of my life. My greatest animal love affair has been with dogs. I find every aspect about canines so intriguing. I can't even imagine living without a dog(s). For over 30 years now, I have owned pet and show English Springer Spaniels. My life may have had its share of difficulties, but because of my dogs…. life has been good!
The very first dog I bought was a show quality English Springer Spaniel puppy. That breeder got me interested in showing, and after my first show I was hooked. We were so hooked we joined Great Lakes English Springer Spaniel Breeders Association, or G.L.E.S.S.B.A. for short. Years later, I became a board member and then the president.
I had also belonged to the historical, but now sadly defunct, Westside Dog Training Club. There I started out as a student, then shortly after joined as a supporting member. Eventually, I became an assistant instructor.
It wasn't until years later that we joined English Springer Spaniel Rescue
I cannot remember a time I wasn't drawing animals and landscapes. Growing up I would be doodle dogs, horses, dragons, and other mythical beasts in my school notebooks during class. Often counting the hours until it was time to go to art class, my favorite subject. Later I studied at an art collage where I majored in fine arts.
In the 1993, my English Springer Spaniel club allowed me to sell my artwork at our yearly puppy match. It wasn't until early 2000 that I started using the name BarLee Creations and Design. During that time, I was making English Springer Spaniel window clings (a very popular) along with a few other assorted items. Then in 2005, I was looking for a new direction. I wanted to branch out to include other dog breeds beyond just Springers. The question was what to make and in what medium.
At about this time, I had been showing my dogs at some benched shows. If you are unfamiliar with the term "benched show", it refers to a dog show that all entrants' dogs are to remain on display when not in the show ring. At these shows, it is a custom to decorate your area on the bench. Crate tags are a popular item used to dress up a dog's kennel. They are also very handy to help identify which dog is in which kennel, a must especial if you have kennel help. It was like one of those light bulb moments, I knew that this was the item. All I had left to do was to think of a way to put my own special twist on it. Needlepoint on plastic canvas had all the elements I was looking for and no one else was working in that medium. TAG-A-LONG crate tags were born!
Ever since then I have been adding new breeds, new colors, occasionally improving old patterns, and creating new product lines. Over time, the name BarLee Creations & Design has shortened to BarLee Creations (or barleecreations). In 2012, I added the name Canid Divine as a way for customers to identify my name as an artist that sells dog-related items.
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Currently the medium I mainly work in is needlepoint on plastic canvas. But I don't think I work exclusively in it. I still love to draw, paint, and I have really gotten into wire wrapping. From time to time, I list my other pieces that are not needlepoint.
If you are unfamiliar with needlepoint on plastic canvas, it is made of yarn stitched on a lightweight semi-ridged plastic grid. It imitates the weave of fabric much like the canvas used for cross-stitch or embroidery. Working in plastic canvas can be a bit of a challenge at times, mostly for the fact that you are working in squares. Another challenge is finding the right dog color pallet range in yarn. I have to use several brands of yarns to achieve the color pallet I currently have. Choosing the right stitch is also important; it took some experimenting before I found my perfect stitch technique.
The art form of needlepoint on plastic canvas is greatly underappreciated. When most people think of that type of art they think of simple patterns, shapes, and colors that often time look typically cartoonish. I am working to challenge that perception. This is my motto "Changing the underappreciated art form of needlepoint on plastic canvas from cross-stitch’s ugly stepsister into Cinderella, one creation at a time."
You are probably wondering why I chose to work in plastic canvas. I wanted to stand out and work in a medium that relatively few other artisans use. I also need a medium that could hold its shape but didn't require big expensive tools like wood working does. It also needed to be fairly easy to reproduce repeatedly. Plastic canvas fit the bill in everything I wanted and needed.
I start by sketching the outline of a dog breed on a piece of graph paper. Then I pick out the colors of yarns that match as closely as possible to that particular breed. Next, I sketch the color pattern into the outline I made of the dog, cut out the plastic canvas, and hand stitch the dog. After that, I'll add a hanger or other things depending on what I am making the piece into. It takes hours to stitch each piece, and I pour my heart and soul into every one of them. I am very proud of my hand-stitched dogs and I believe it shows in each piece.
The dogs I carry are based on AKC recognized breeds plus a few rare ones. But I am happy to add breeds recognized by other registries that my customers are looking for. My aim is to include as many breeds, colors, and styles of dogs that are out there. My list of breeds/colors I carry are constantly growing. If there is something I don't carry (yet) that you are looking for such as a Schnauzer with a full tail and/or natural ears, a European style German Shepherd, etc please don't hesitate to ask.
My staple product lines: TAG-A-LONG crate tags (single sided) or magnet option, Deluxe crate tags (double sided), Everyday Ornaments, Napkin ring sets, Dog/pet collar charms, and Dog & Owner matching jewelry sets (unisex). NEW - key chains!
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