Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Here it is December 31, new years Eve for all of us in this Hemisphere. For all of my wonderful Aussie friends ,I hope that you had a lovely New Year, are safe and happy and snugg in your beds!! I have just seen some lovely pictures of the Fire Works over the Sydney Opera House-quite beautiful!!!

I wish everyone a wonderful, healthy and happy New year and bring on 1-20-09!!!! We are so desperately in need of getting on with things here in the US and with getting the Obama's safely into the White House to begin the CHANGE process that EVERYONE in our country and indeed the WORLD, SO DESPERATLY NEED!!!!

I have finally gotten to the point where I have some Muse Birds to put into my Etsy Shop!!!! I have just listed them and you can see all of the details here.
This is one of the Muse Birds.
And here is the other. As you can see ,I was trying to take photos of the birds out side. It was quite a challenge to get good pictures as the breeze was a lot stronger than it appeared. It occurred to me that these birds would look lovely hanging from branches if one were having an event out of doors. To have several birds winging about, would add such a lovely touch for a Garden Party , luncheon or tea or even a Little Girl's Fairy Birthday party!! Wouldn't that be fanciful and fun????? HMMMMMM, that gets me thinking that I might put together sets to sell at a discounted price just for that purpose. I had best add this idea to my Art Journal while I have a grasp of it, otherwise it will fly away on the breeze as well!!!!
Well ,I am off to deliver some more Muse Birds for sale at Liberty Town in Fredericksburg. Then I plan to come home and make some Swedish Coffee Bread for my guys. I usually make this lucious treat for Christams but I did not get a chance this year. So we will have it in the morning for our New Years brunch!
All of my very Best Wishes to all of you who stop by my blog !! Thank you for all of the wonderful comments that you leave and for all of the wonderful things that you share on all of your blogs. I am continually amazed at how much blogging continues to enrich my life!!!
Let us all try to BE The Change WE Wish To See In The World!!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Felted Critters!!

My daughter, Becca, who you have met in previous posts, has been looking for a hobby. She wants a project that is all her own. She is not too interested in what I am doing, but I have been trying to give her options and ideas that might spark her interest. She absolutely loves animals and can spend hours by herself playing very elaborate imaginative games with her "critters', up in her room, either by herself or with her friend Megan. I love the fact that she has such a vivid and marvelous imagination and that she is not afraid to share it. Her skills are starting to spill over into the writing that she does for her school assignments and she is getting lots of positive feedback from her teachers!
To give her another suggestion for a possible hobby, for Christmas, I gave her a book called Wool Pets. It is a wonderful book about creating little animals with wool using felting needles. She was very intrigued and did not immediately reject the idea- A BIG step!!! Yesterday I got out all of the supplies and the roving and she picked a project from the book. Of course, ithe project she chose was a cat and it was one of the more difficult examples in the book.. On ward!!! I didn't try to talk her out of it- I did not want to poison the project!!!!
I showed her how to safely use the needles to work and shape the wool ,and let her go. We had one minor glitch when she poked herslf with the barbed needle! Once she saw that she was bleeding, she got pretty upset. She managed to calm down and with a bit of prodding she kept on going!! PHEW!!! I thought that we were done!!

The little cat is a bit wonkey for the first try but he has tons of character and she is very proud of him!! She went off on her own and added some colored wool in patches and added some shaping to make the little guy her own!!

She has plans today to create a rabbit!! I'll keep you all posted!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Some Christmas Images

We have had a very nice quiet Christmas this year. No one has been sick, we did not overdue anything, we cut back and simplified alot and we gave much more to those who have real, basic needs and it is all good!!! On Christmas Eve we had dinner with my husband's family and then came back home for the night and Christmas morning here at home. Despite a last dash on my part to finish up one last gift while Tom made the traditional cornmeal pancakes, everything was a big success!!
Here are a few more unusual images from our day.
We were asked to bring dessert to my mothir-in-laws, something simple. I was thinking cookies, Becca was thinking Snowman Cupcakes!!! I had never seen these before never mind made them, but she had discovered them in one of her cookbooks. So, not being one to stomp on creative whims, we made a list and got all of the ingredients. WE took the snowmen, under construction , as they would not have survived the trip intact. They were 4 tiers high when their hats were atop their heads!!

Here is Becca with her creations. These were not your last minute throw together quick dessert. They were sticky and messy to make but they turned out great and were the hit of the meal!! Becca did all of the faces and put the pieces together after Mom frosted them and rolled them in coconut.

The frowning snowman on the left is big brother and main target, Matthew!! At the table we had 5 kids, ages 22 to 12, with Becca being the youngest. Then there were three adult fathers who act like teenagers, so you can imagine that the dessert conversation and activity revolved around role playing with dismembered snowmen and then evolved into basketball with half full water glasses and See's Candy Chocolate balls. There was not a dry eye in the house and we all had stomach aches from all of the silliness- you have to admit that laughter and silliness are some of the very best gifts to give and to recieve!!!
Next ,I have a picture of my small grapevine tree that I decorate with special ornaments made by other artists, that I have recieved in swaps. I made this tree 20 years ago on a mountainside in New Hampshire at the home of my wonderful friends, the Joneses. Their daughter Rebecca and I are as close as sisters and she is my Rebecca's godmother and namesake. She and I gathered the grapevine and wrapped it and wove it into and around a chicken wire base. This tree is tough!!! This little tree has survived 18 moves around the country and only this year did I have to staple the tree back onto it's base! I LOVE this little tree!!
Some of the ornaments are a bit big for it but that does not matter. They were each made for me, so this is where they belong. Next year I am going to have to get another tree, perhaps make another one ,as this one cannot bear another decoration. This tree sits in the entry way so all can see it!
Here is a shot of my 'LITTLE GIRL" -not so much, drifting off to sleep during the traditional reading of the Christmas Stories after dinner at Grandma's house. The Stories include: The Grinch, The Night Before Christmas , and from the Bible; Luke.
One would have thought that with all of the sugar from Snowman cupcakes , she would have been bug eyed- not so much!!She will always be this Mom's baby girl!!!
And now for Buddy, the Wonder Dog!! Buddy thinks that he is a German Shepard of the largest size and has the attitude to prove it! He is king of the house yet loves to snuggle and runs for cover if you raise your voice. He is a piece of work and a constant source of enjoyment! For Christmas we recieved a special gift because of Mr. Attitude.
Here he is sitting in the chair gazing out the front window to be sure that no one steps into his yard!!!! Can't you just hear him yelling, "You kids stay off of MY LAWN!!!!" The sign is just a riot!!!
This morning he was following the sun as it moved across the back of the house. He went from sunspot to sunspot dragging his new Bungey Dog toy behind him.

What would we do without our wonderful pet friends?????
I will be back soon with some new art to share. In the meantime, I am working very hard to reorder and reorganize my work space.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bird Assemblages

A While ago I created some more Bird Assemblages to send off to a Christams Gallery Show in Reston Virginia. I have not sharred them yet so I thought that I would now. They seem to be very popular and I am very pleased !! In fact I am planning to make more to sell on my Etsy Site, in the New Year.
I think that this is my favorite from this batch! I used an old pair of costume earrings for the wings. I painted them and sanded thema bit and they were totally transformed!

The feet on this one are made from the recycled glass beads made by the TB patients in Tanzania.

I have also started using decorative tins from Thrift stores or goodwill to make the wings. It took me a while to deconstruct the tins (if you do this be sure that you were thick gloves at all times!!). With a good pair of snips and heavy gloves , it was quite easy and the patterns that one can find are wonderful!

Today is the Winter Solstice! A very important day in the history of mankind. I have several close friends who commemorate this day. It also signifies the shortest day of the year and the first Day of winter- hard to believe for some of you buried in snow. We awoke to an icey display of winter beauty. Fortunately it was not heavy enough to break branches and down trees and the temps are due to rise to the forties by the afternoon.

As it is the shortest day of the year, I am excited because it means that the days will be getting longer and my favorite season will be approaching. I love being cozy inside working on projects or baking or even doing dreaded chores, while all of the family are safe and around me, but Spring is the season that I glory in!!

So for all of you who are readying for Christams, carry on and enjoy the festivities of the season. Keep those in your heart and mind who are struggling and alone, perhaps lend an extra hand when you can. For those who celebrtae the Solstice, make merry and spread your light and remeber those who do not see any light and lend a hand where you can!

I wish you all peace, good health and great art and inspiration in the New Year. If you must travel, please be safe, take your time and make good choices. I want to send a special thank you to all of you who visit my blog, who leave comments or not. It means more to me than I can adequately express!!

Warm Winter Hugs to you all!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Finished Projects!!!!

WHOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!! I LOVE it when I FINISH projects!!!! But there is no time to sit around and revel in it all, I have to get them wrapped and into the mail!!!
First up is Mali's Padfolio! In a previous post I shared pictures of the glowing fabric paper that I was planning to use for this project. This ws new territory for this substrate for me. I have made my birds with it and covered other items with it, used it in books and made jewelry from it but nothing with such a large expanse of the paper, so Iwas anxious to see if this would actually work. Before I cut out the pieces, I put down three coats of gel medium to protect and seal in the finish on the top layer of the paper. By adding these caots of acrylic medium , the fabric/paper assumes the texture of leather.
Drum roll PLEASE!!!!
Well here it is!! I am quite pleased with how this turned out. It is large enough to carry an 8 1/2 by 11 inch pad of paper with a pocket inside for pens and memos. If you rmemeber I used text form many different languages (all recovered from discarded books) and then I asked my brother to provide several meaningful phrases in Swahili for inclusion. Now for smoe lessons in KISWAHILI for everyone! Madadiliko ya kuaminia= Change to be believed in (especially significant as Mali was so hopeful that Obama would win the election and because I worked so hard for the campaign here in VA); Tunza Mazingira = Protect the environment; Inawezikana = It is possible! ; tumaini = Hope. So now you know what these words mean when you see them used in the piece!!

Inside front cover with pocket for pens and memos.

The pad back slips into a very large pocket to be held in place.

Anf finally, the back.

Below you will see a close up shot of the closure. I made two buttons from the fabric/paper/interfacing sandwich and then topped them off with a pretty green bead. the piece is held closed by a ribbon that is wrappd around the buttons.
I am very excited about sending this off to Mali- I hope that she will be pleased!!
Finally I ahve had a chance to make up some earrings for my Etsy Shop!!!

It took me most of a day to make these pairs and I ws a bit frustrated with that till I thought about it and realized that it takes quite a bit of time to make each individual design decision !!

I call this pair Dancing Gypsy Colors and you can read all about them and see more pictures here! They "dance" because they are suspended from swivels that give them 360 degress of rotation. Such fun to wear!!!!

Here you see Mermaid's Treasures and you can find out all of the details here.
HEre is a pair that I call Sea Foam Sparkle. I have used some vintage handcut crystal beads in this pair. I know that they are hand cut crystals as I have had them looked at by a bead expert who pointed out the irregular shapes of many of the facets!!! You can see more pictures by clicking here.

Last but HARDLY least are Radiant Red earrings! THese would be a perfect gift for Christams or Valentines or far anyone who loves hearts and the color Red!! Who doesn't love RED??????

Anyway you can find out all of the details here!

Now , one more thing after this very long post! I must introduce you to one of my artist friends who does wonderful paintings on vintage roofing slate. Presently she is working on pendants that she is painting and stringing. She has salvaged the slates from an Historic Chruch in Fredericksburg VA. They are redoing the roof and as Elizabeth (great name ,eh??) is a member of that church she has access to the slate pieces. Elizabeth has a studio at Libertytown Arts Workshop in Fredericksburg and you can see her work by visiting her blog here.

Now I have to get to wrapping and packing to get the presents in the mail en route to Tanzania. The package will not make it in time for Christams but hopefully my neices will think it worth the wait!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another Class with Quilt Artist Laura Cater-Woods!

I have been looking forward to this class for several months and I was able to fully immerse myself in Surface Design techniques with Laura , last Friday!! What a wonderful class from an amazingly gifted, sharing and gracious woman!!! if ever you get an opportunity to take a class with Laura, JUST DO IT!!!!! All of the techniques that she taught us are applicable to both fabrics and paper. Her philosophy is If you have a question and you can't find the answer, Just try it! (with the big caveat being that you are not mixing chemicals of any kind!)
The class was held at Artistic Artifacts Annex in Alexandria, VA. You have read my thoughts on Judy's wonderful Store/studio/learning space before and I continue to love the place. I am so lucky to have such an exciting venue so close to home!
Laura demonstarted Gelatin Printing, (making monoprints on fabric with acrylic paints using a slab of firm gelatin as the printing surface) Silk Paper Making, Rubbing with Oil Pastels and Oil paint sticks, Stamping with paint and inks and working Foils and Angelina fibers. It was quite the whirlwind of messyness and a total blast!!!!

Here is Laura talking about painting on a quilted piece that is under construction and how to use acrylic media to alter the surface. At the back of the photo you can see the large cookie sheets full of gelation setting up .

We watched ass Laura took us through the placement of silk and wool fibers in preparation for creating "Silk Paper". (This process is best described as a felting method of interlocking the silk fibers using water and soap).
Here is the first sheet of fibers after it was painted with soapy water and before the textile medium was added.
Once the sheets of gelatin were nice a firm, we used a brayer to roll on acrylic paint and then we took off some paint with various textured items. We used various sizes of bubble wrap, mesh bags stencils and combs of all sorts. then we laid down a piece of fabric and picked up the remaining paint. After the first print or "pull" there was enough paint left to get really interesting second prints, called ghost prints. I found these ghost prints to be the most interesting. This is the station where I spent most of my time. I have been wanting to try this technique for a very long time!! In this shot you cna see Kim lifting her fabric print off of the gelatin slab. Below are several shots of some of the prints that I did using this method.

The print that looks like lace was done with a plastic doily- the darker print done when the doily was used as a mask and then the lighter print (above the first ) was done as a second pull once the doily had been remved from the gelatin- this would be the ghost Print. the print that shows the round shapes was done after large bubble wrap removed a layer of paint from the gelatin surface. as the surface of teh gelatin picks up craks and nicks, the teture of each print becomes more and more interesting. If stored in the refrigerator between uses the slabs of gelatin can be kept for 3-4 days or till you start to notice mold growing. The wonderful artist Rayna Gillman has a fabulous book out called Create Your Own Hand Printed Cloth, which you can look at here.
I plan to go bakc to these initial prints and add more layers to each. I am not sure exactly what I will do to each one but I know that I will be adding more layers of gelatin printing to some of them, using a whole variety of colors.
Here is a picture of our wonderful Hostess Judy Gula as she pulls her first print off of her gelatin plate. Can you see the expression of amazement and glee on her face!!!
Here she is with her finished print. We had so much fun and we were all full of talk of getting Laura back to the east coast for a whole week of classes where we would create a whole piece form print to stitch to embellish. She said that if we planned it, she would be here!!!!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

All A-glow!

I am working on a special project for my 16 year old neice Mali, who lives in Tanzania! I am making her a Padfolio as a Christmas gift. In March she is off to The Hague in the Netherlands, as she has been chosen to be the Environmental Chair for the International Young People's Government Project for this year. I am so proud of her and excited for her! She is a very thoughtful and smart young lady and she is on a glide path to really become a chnage agent for her generation. I had this idea to make a padfolio for the notes or papers that she might collect from all of her various organizational meetings, whether she takes it with her to The Hague, is up to her.

I am making the piece from fabric paper, as a foundation. I started with lots of different text pages in as many different languages as I could get my hands on. I wrote to my brother to get some phrases in Swahili that would be particularly meaningful to her. The text pieces were put down int he first layer. Then I added the color layer. I used napkin tops, painted paper towel and more text. After the whole thing dried, I have coated it with 3 coats of Matte Medium to protect it. I was walking by the kitchen window and the sun was shining and the whole piece just lit up!! HAD to take a picture!!!! Because the sun was coming thru from the back, you see the outline of the text pages that were applied first. When not backlit, you see more of the text thru the color with no page outlines.

Now I have to decide how I am going to cut this piece up to create the padfolio. This is always the hardest part!!

I suppose that one could cover windows with this medium! But I am sure that fading would be an issue. I think that I will stick with my real stained glass!

Here is a picture of teh sheet of fabric /paper as it appears withoutt he sunshine. I will be sure to post pictures of the finished project. I need to get a move on to get this in the mail so she gets it along with her other gifts, before she leaves for her trip in March!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wonderful Fiber!

I have just joined the Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers (and Fiber arts) Guild in Fredericksburg VA. This is a wonderful group of very generous and talented artists- ladies and gentlemen who love fiber!!

We all gathered at a members home this past Saturday for the Annual Christmas meeting, pot luck and gift exchange. I was in a tizzy about what to bring as a gift. I know how to spin, I know how to weave but I would never title myself as a spinner or weaver. I am a pretty accomplished knitter but I have not been "into" knitting for quite awhile. I don't know any of these wonderful folks very well, but I DO Know fiber arts and I DO know that they like my work since they let me into the Guild ! So I made a nice big fat pincushion as I know that most everyone would need pins and needles at some point in the process of their work. It was kind of last minute- so what else is new- so a picture was not taken !!!! EGAD!!! I made it from some felted sweater fabric that was a lovely periwinkle color and I tufted it and embellished it with fiber and beads! (REALLY - I know, SUCH A SURPRISE!!!) Well the wonderful gal, Florence, who chose my gift , just happens to include periwinkle purple as one of her favorite colors!! WHOOO HOOOOO!! as it happens, I picked the package that she had placed under the tree- Oh lucky me!!
It is a huge hank of the most wonderfully lustrous Hand Painted Tussah Silk! Just yummy!! It also happens to be in my (and Florences) favorite colors!! There was also a wonderful little notebook bound with beautiful handwoven Guatemalen fabric ( a fair trade item) in Blues and Purples!!!~ JACKPOT!!!! (Florence and I have really hit it off- we have so much in common and she really reminds me of my Grandmother!)

So here is a picture of the Tussah silk!
Isn't this jsut glorious????? you should feel how soft and warm it is!! i am planning on using this in some needle felting an embellisher work that I hav eplanned for the new year. Right now I am just hapy to look at it and run my fingers through it!!
Have a happy Monday all and stay warm! ( 22 degrees F here in VA!!! BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Results of my latest Watercolor Class

I have just finished up my third watercolor class and I am going to share the results with you! This time we did leaf prints. After creating a wash of color on our paper, we painted real leaves and pressed them carefully down onto the paper, with the vein side down. Then we had to walk away!!! Don't Touch! Do Not Disturb!! FOGET ABOUT IT!!!!!! That was hard! In order to attain the most texture and detail, it is imperative to allow the paint to dry fully before the leaves are removed!!
At that point we added more color and worked on hard and soft edges . Then we added negative space painting to create layers within the painting!! This was a very rewarding and enjoyable class for me- I fell like I "got IT" in this class most of all. Maybe that is because I am getting more comfortable with the medium, not sure.
The piece itself measures 8 x10.
Here is a tighter shot, so you can catch some of the detail.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Beads and Birds

This is going to be very brief!! (Don't Laugh!!)
I just want to keep you up to date on some new work that is off toan opening tomorrow. I have an opportunity to take part in a Crafts Emporium at Liberty Town Galleries in Fredericksburg. The Opening event- called First Friday is this Friday!
Here is a flock of Fabric/Paper Birds that is ready to fly off. I make the birds in two sizes and some are in Christmas colors while the other's are just bright colors of all sorts and patterns.
These birds are alot of fun to make as each one is totally unique- takes more time for me to get bored with the whole thing!!!
Yesterday I amde up several pairs of earrings with my Fabric/Paper Beads and some fishing tackle. I am pleased with how they turned out but I had forgotten how long it takes to come up with the patterning scheme for the first earring in each pair!! It took me most of a day to create 5 pairs of earrings!
Sea Glass Blue
(I took pictures before I added the earwires so I would not forget to take the pictures!!)



And Purple and Green- these aren't going anywhere but in my own little ears!!

I actually made two sets of Red earrings as I plan to send one of those pairs off to Tanzania to my 16 year old niece Mali- she Loves danglie earrings!

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Art and Some New Hope

I hope that everyone was able to enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I know that for many here in the states and for more abroad it has been a very difficult and stressful couple of days. The horrible events in Mumbai just shake us to our core!! That city is living thru it's own 9/11 and it is not their first!!
The world is becoming a very uncertain and scary place and at times, for me anyway, I wonder if there is much hope for our children. I know in my heart that there is great hope, especially after this Presidential election, but at times my head and the news of the hour or minute seems to try to convince me otherwise. Well, if you feel the same way, I have discovered a remedy and a sure fire way to rekindle your hope for the future and your bleif in the inherent goodness present in all humans or huwomens! This rememdy is to catch a rerun of the program CNN HEROES. It aired on CNN on Thanksgiving night- for those not in the US that Would have been November 27. Ten finalists for Hero of year were intoduced and presented and then one winner after voting by the public was presented with THE hero of the Year Award- $100,000 to continue their work. THese are all wonderful people who saw a NEED and did whatever they could to Fill that need. We CAN ALL DO THIS. We don't all have to be BIG IDEA PEOPLE, they need plenty of Worker Bee types also. to find out more and to be totally inspired and uplifted,(what more could you want) go to and find the button for CNN HEROS- there will be all sorts of info for you there! TRY IT ! YOU'LL LIKE IT!!!!!!!

And now, for a bit of art!
You may recall some of my sunprint pictures from previous posts(you can see them here)
I have finished an art quilt using one of the floral sunprints that I created using flowers and grasse form my garden. In this particular print I also used foliage from Dill and a seed head from the same Dill plant. I will show you the finished piece and then I will explain what I did and show some detail shots.

This piece started as a sunprint with all of the floral and grass components appearing bleached. In the sunprinting process any colored area that is covered during exposure to the sun, bleaches out. Once the green dye was dry, I brushed off the floral bits and machine stitched around each bleached area. I did not stitch around the images left by the Dill plant stuctures- as you can see in the following picture. Once the stitching was done, I handpainted the bleached areas using Twinkling H2O's- these are watercolor paints that have a very high mica flake content. The inspiration for this method came from the wonderful book THE PAINTED QUILT by Laura and Linda Kemshall.
In this picture you can see the ghost- like feathery images above the tips of the grass. This is the result of using the Dill foliage to mask the sun.
The dill seed head image was extremely faint so I decided to use silver seed beads on each point left by each seed in the seed head. For each daisy center I used several colors and finishes of gold and copper beads.

Then to complement the feathery aspect of the Dill weed I edged the piece with ribbon made from sari silk and sewed the fron to the backing with seed beads with a bronze matte finish.
I have several more sunprints to work on and I am going to continue to refine my methods and try different techniques to enhance each piece.


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