Bucket List

When I visited my blog today I wasn’t surprised that more than a year had passed since I last posted or even checked in for that matter. Life’s highs and lows kept me far from others and creating, but mostly myself.

One of the things attending college later in life revealed to me were the subtleties I had missed in the ordinary because of references to history or literature (mine, yours, the worlds) that I glossed over and the fact that I took little interest in much beyond the boundaries my small world and the town I lived in. I realized all this one morning while reading the Sunday newspaper.

That revelation opened my eyes and my world and decades passed in which I pursued and reveled in the unknown, mining every juicy tidbit from life until suddenly the dream veil dropped. Translation, reality set in. I lost my job, my friends (it’s complicated) and my home. I lived thousands of miles away from the people that mattered to me most. And getting back was a tangled mess with no apparent solution.

Looking out the patio door I see a thirsty desert landscape longing for summer’s end. I recognize the metaphor for my parched life. So I’m surprised when I feel an urgent need to  attend Burning Man Festival. I’ve never concerned myself with a bucket list because, like my dreams, in the grand scheme of things it didn’t seem all that important or achievable.

God’s existence and life’s unanswered questions have plagued me to the point of total disassociation and disfunction for far too long.

Am I waking up or returning to a deep slumber?



Intoxicating Lilac

One of the favorite things I love about creating is finding inspiration. Sometimes I do that by creating Treasury Lists on Etsy. The process can invoke taking a walk down memory lane as I intentionally search for creations that I admire, that I dream of being or owning, or that some aspect of the finished art touches me in a special way.

As I searched the millions of items listed on Etsy to include in my collection, “Intoxicating Lilac,” memories of a neighbor’s corner lot with blocks long hedges overflowing with tall, beautiful, intoxicating lilacs came rushing back. I remembered all the times I skated by or rode my bike past, arm reaching out to touch the delicate purple flocks and watch them fall and cover the ground below.

Please click here to see my collection. Oh, yes, and I’ll take one of each please!


Movie Star Thrifting at local Phoenix resale hotspot!

B725-2Desperate Housewives fans take note. Key players in the nighttime drama have been captured on and off video rummaging, thrifting and purchasing at yard sales and resale shops. Most recently, Teri Hatcher, a Desperate HE711-3ousewife Darling, meandered into The Bees Knees located at 2222 N16th Street in Phoenix on a late Saturday afternoon. She purchased several gently used designer dresses and new jewelry items designed and created by Cyndy Kempken.  I was thrilled to have my designs noticed by her and look forward to seeing photographs of Teri on the internet wearing my creations! E776-1If you send me a photo of her wearing any of my jewelry, I will send you a pair of original design earrings, on the house!
Warm regards,

Green Dagger Earrings – https://www.etsy.com/listing/99995573/green-czech-glass-dangle-earrings-gifts
Yellow Bracelet – https://www.etsy.com/listing/94952818/czech-glass-diamond-lemon-bracelet

Upcycled, Vintage, Destash Yard Art

First Gate Art-3

Strands of Yummy
Spring Color

When I began creating jewelry it was a labor of love but it quickly turned into a part-time job when my creations began filling every nook and cranny in my townhouse. Most importantly, I realized that I needed to sell my art so that I could make more. As addictions go jewelry making is fairly benign and I was thrilled that I had stumbled upon an activity that needed no motivational coaxing. I was in.

First Gate Art-1

Lemon Lime Delight

After I realized that I needed to sell my art it became apparent that selling took more time and energy than creating. It also demanded that I find my niche, online and/or off, which meant many more hours of research and networking. It also meant deciding if my creations would be assembly line productions or one-of-a-kind pieces (fondly referred to as OOAK). Of course it turns out that my buyers determine demand and making several of a popular piece has peacefully found its place along side the OOAK pieces.

First Gate Art-2


Stagnation is the death of an artist and his/her work and luckily I love the challenge of incorporating castaways into my pieces, be it a bead, button, broken earring or brooch. Imagining keeps me on my toes and takes me and my art to unexpected places. I love that.

First Gate Art-4I now introduce my latest endeavor – Upcycled, Vintage, Destash Yard/Gate/Fence Art. I use beads long ago pushed to the back of the drawer (destash), treasures from thrift store, vintage jewelry, beach combing treasures, and colorful and interesting products from craft stores. Anything is fair game.

I jokingly tell my friends that each time I create a piece of jewelry or paint a silk scarf I fall madly in love with it until I make the next piece and fall in love all over again. This truly is the pure satisfaction of the act of creation and not a critique of my artistic skills.

I still continually marvel at the brightly colored citrus slices of oranges, lemons and limes that are the backbone of many of the gate art pieces. They make me smile and feel happy whenever I look at them. I hope you experience the kind of joy that puts a smile on your face every day in your life. There is nothing like it.First Gate Art-5

Visit my online store to purchase and check back regularly for the latest addictions, oops, additions!


Link to Celestial Sun Assemblage

Link to Butterfly and Citrus Assemblage

Colour My World

I was born on the tail end of the boomer generation. I lived in a historic farmhouse, built at the turn of the 20th century, on the skirts of a small town with 8 sisters and brothers. We shared one bathroom and most of us slept on the second floor in two bedrooms. The only heat was two small registers cut into the floor that allowed warmth from the living room below to seep upwards. Then, Wisconsin still had snowy, subzero temperature winters. It was cold and we were poor. We made do with preserved vegetables grown in our garden, meat from my grandmother’s farm, fresh milk from a neighbor, and survivor benefits from the government. Hand-me-downs and clothes made by my mother were all I knew until I turned 15, got my first job, and had money to buy clothing at a store.

There were few places to buy clothes, styles were ghoulish from a teenagers perspective and I battled with my mother over the few things I did buy. I clearly remember her saying, “you’re not leaving the house with that on,” or “you look like a tramp” because I wanted to wear frayed bell bottom pants that dragged on the ground. My experience during my young adult years set up the stage for a lifelong struggle with my wardrobe. I rarely felt comfortable in the clothing I purchased and even more seldom felt that my clothing reflected my personal style.

While cleaning out files a few days ago I ran across a college research paper, titled “Colour My World,” that I wrote in 1997 on teen fashion magazines for which I won a prestigious award.The long and short of it is that editors and advertisers spew out massive amounts of material aimed at convincing teenagers that the only way to fit in, find the right guy or to be beautiful is to buy products and services that ultimately change teen girls relationships in a mostly negative way with themselves and their bodies. And buy they do. Girls spend billions of dollars each year on everything from clothes to tech in order to fit unrealistic images and lifestyles touted in the articles.

When I began designing and creating jewelry and scarves I finally began to realize how amazing it was to wear something that felt good on my body and that reflected who I am. I even am visualizing a time in the future in which I design and make my clothes and that feels good on so many levels. It has helped negate decades old programming about fashion and beauty and I feel more comfortable being in my body wearing things that are “me.”

I had never written a mission statement for my business but I now know that it has everything to do with helping girls and women find the confidence to discover their style and the freedom to express it.


Mother’s Silk Scarves

A lot has changed since my last blog. I sold my townhouse, purchased a single family home, am in the process of remodeling said home and I am beginning anew after visiting family back east during the holidays. I smile as I think of my grandchildren, Kadin, Jacob and Lennox. They live their magnificence so beautifully and naturally. They are loved in ways I only could imagine for myself at that age. I feel so very thankful for them and the love that surrounds them.

My mother passed away several years ago, before I began painting silk scarves. I remember as a teenager feeling annoyed with her obsession with scarves and her incessant need for help in choosing the right one to wear with her outfit. I hated the clothes I wore, many were hand-me-downs and out of style. I never could understand why she would bother me with fashion questions when I obviously had none and it bugged me to have to mete out fashion advice.

My relationship with my mother was not the best when she died. Things that happened when I was growing up sputtered to the surface and gradually wore down tenuous ties between family members. During unexpected moments I regret that my mother and I never were able share my new found passion with silk scarves but it doesn’t stop me from imagining what it would have felt like to share a common interest and perhaps even to have established one small positive connection to her.

The transformation of relationships happens across time and distance. I’ve seen it in those with my children who live thousands of miles away and I feel it in my heart with my mother. It’s not about her, forgiveness or regret but about me finding resolution and peace within myself. I feel so very thankful for that.

Juicy, Succulent Watermelon

The other day I stopped by The Bees Knees to say hi to Julia, one of the owners, and to check on sales of my creations. While there three young Mexican girls stopped by the store pushing a baby stroller filled with fresh ripe watermelons. They were selling them for $1 each. I’m a Wisconsin girl and my taste buds know what good watermelon tastes like and its not like the genetically altered seedless imitations sold at almost every supermarket around the country.

My instincts to buy were right on. The first cut revealed a ripe, juicy, colorful, seeded watermelon. The first taste took me back to my childhood during the late summer months when there was an abundance of fresh everything sold at stands or trailers by the side of the road, including peaches, blueberries, melons, and sweet corn. They were tasty enough to bring the entire Roman army to its knees and a bargain for the pure pleasure and joy I experienced with each bite.

It’s a good thing some memories never die!