Saturday, May 31, 2008

In Under the Wire!!

As you know, I have been participating in Michelle Ward's Street Team Challenges for several months now. The latest challenge was to make our own paper castings using rubber stamps and paper pulp. i decided to use one of my own hand carved stamps and toilet tissue. In an effort to use what I have on hand and to avoid lots of time spent trying to find a used blender at a thrift store, (of course I have had several, the most recent being in our last home in Oklahoma where I did not use it enough to justify giving it precious non existent space in the moving truck!!) I tore up approximately 25 sheets of Scott's two-ply and soaked the bits in water. It is truely amazing how quickly this stuff starts to dissolve! No blending aggitation necessary!!!! I swished it around a few times and squeezed out a small lump to remove excess water. After wetting down the stamp with water and applying one intact sheet to the surface of the stamp, I added on lumps of pulp till the entire stamp surface was covered. Then I pressed down on the whole thing to remove any excess water and left the whole thing to dry overnight. After I was sure that it was completely dry and carefully peeling off the cast, this was the result.

Next I very carefully coated the surface of the casting with matte medium as I was not sure how the TP would deal with watercolor paints. Once the matte medium was dry, I played with some watercolor paints.

(Sorry that the picture is a bit blurry!!)

I am not as pleased as I would have hoped with the painted result but I am sure that this is a technique that I will use in the future! Thanks for the challenge Michelle!!

(Maybe, fingers and toes crossed here, by posting this in the nick of time and on my Birthday to boot, i will get extremely lucky and win the drawing!! A girl can dream , right!?!)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Last One In The Forties!!!

As a good OLDER , friend sang out to a restaurant full of people, whom I did not know, "This Saturday is Elizabeth's last Fortieth Birthday!! " Nice friend , eh??? Actually, she is a very good friend although a bit of a loose canon in an artsy way! Yes it is true! Saturday will be my 49th birthday and so, to take a page out of other blogger friends' books, or blogs, I am hosting a giveaway! I will be gifting FOUR yes 4 of my paper/fabric birds to four dear blogger friends, old friends, new friends, Red friends, Blue friends, friends who will eat with a fox , friends who will eat in a box, friends who will eat Greann Eggs and Ham. !! All that you must do to have your name added to the proverbial hat is to leave me a comment regarding this post!!! Please be sure to include a way that I amy contact you to get your mailing address should you be a lucky winner!! Comments will be taken thru Wednesday June 4 as I am so late in getting my act together with this announcement.

Each bird will be festooned with a lovely handmade tassel and will be able to hang wherever you desire.

I am so greatful for all the wonderful people who I have met through my blog and the blogging world in general. You all really add so much to my life and to my art experience. I am not the best at responding to every comment, so this is one little way that I can attempt to thank you!! Spread the word amoung your various web rings and groups, the more the merrier and I love meeting new folks. No fear, this will NOT be my last gifting!!

Big hugs to you all, Elizabeth.

Get on out there and make some great art!!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer is here!!

Well, it really got hot here in Virginia yesterday!! I guess that summer is really here! I have enjoyed the relatively cool weather that we have been having. It has been wonderful to be able to sit out on our deck and work on some projects and to be out in the garden at mid day without having to escape in side. now I will have to do most of my gardening in the early morning and early evening- that is fine too!

However, thanks to an absolutely fabulous Mother's Day gift from Tom and the kids, I can still work outside on the deck without slathering on the zinc oxide and sweating to death!!

Look at this fabulous huge umbrella! It is set up on a sort of canter lever arm so it can be cranked up and down very easily and the base is off set so there is tons of space under the canopy. It is just unbelievably large and cool- I LOVE it!!!

Now I can sit outside and project away, at least till the Mosquitos arrive and carry me away!! Happy Summer!!!

I will have more art to post soon!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Roses For Memorial Day!

Here it is Memorial day weekend and everyone is worried about summer vacations and the price of gas. Those are very valid worries these days but I can't help but think about all of the families who have been forever changed by this terrible war that we are so stuck in. I live in an area that is very heavily populated by military families who feel this anxiety and uncertainty of whether their Mom, Dad, Brother , Sister may be leaving again or not coming home as expected or not coming home unchnaged, or god forbid, not coming home at all. I find that everytime I go out into my garden , especially now that my roses are blooming, I say a prayer for those families and their loved ones and for our country. I pray for our country because I pray that we will make the right choice in the Fall election to choose a totally New Path for all of us and for the world. A new Path that will take us towards talking with all poeples of the world before delivering ultimatums , a new path that will take us away from politics as it has exsisted for the past 4 administrations , away from separation and vitriol towards understanding and acceptance. My roses are blooming like crazy and I am praying alot!!!

Today I have been out in the garden for most of the day. We will be having a big batch of fresh garden greens in our salad tonight!! I have been out everyday, twice a day handpicking slugs to rescue the lettuce and I think that it is really starting to pay off. i simply refuse to put down insecticide or slug bait as it is so toxic to other animals. All of my gardens are totally organic so if I have to hand pick the slugs to get fresh lettuce, then hand pick I must!!!

I hope that everyone has a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fabulous Mail Day!!!

Yesterday had to have been one of my very best mail days ever!!! Many of you who read my blog regularly, (what fabulous friends I have!!!) know that I adore the art and jewelry of Ro Bruhn. Ro and I have become friends through our blogs and various challenges and mutual blog friends. I always turn to Ro's fabulous blog when ever I am in need of some inspiration and eye candy!! You too can visit her blog and her Etsy site here.

Recently, I visited Ro's blog and was treated to pictures of some of her latest jewelry creations that she was selling at her Etsy site. I have been covetting Ro's earrings for a very long time and decided that I needed to buy myself a birthday present. Sometimes one just has to buy ones own presents If the moment is right and if you want to get what you REALLY want!!! So I purchased these marvelous earrings!!
They are mostly pale pink and Austrain crystal with two fabulous coppery pearls and flower beads. The little crystal parts are bits from some vintage jewelry and you should see them sparkle in the sun!! as I was on my way out to garden in the tiny window of clear weather, I had to put them on!! i had Matthew take a picture of them so you could see them in situ!!!

I just love these earrings!! Thank you so much Ro!!
My shopping adventure was not over however! Ro has also been an amazing teacher and source of inspiration for my work with paint and layers and altered books. On her bog, she has a fabulous post that steps out her process for creating her fabulous books and journals. Recently ,she had started to sell packs of her papers and I have been drooling over these packs as well as her jewelry. As I was going to pay for postage from Oz for the earrings I saw every economical reason one could imagine for buying the paper pack as well. This was a very fiscally sound decision on my part!!!!!
Well, the papers are beyond imagining and a great bargin!!! This pack is STUFFED with all sorts of hand colored papers that are layered with marvelous colors and stampings. They are so beautiful that I don't want to cover any part of them and may just have to use them for wallpapering the powder room so I can see them all of the time!!!

These tow pictures give you a very small idea of all that was included in thsi pack of paper! this is an amazing bargin and I would encourage all of you who love the kind of art that I do, to check out Ro's work!!!

And more!

NOw my next Challenge is to figure out how we can get Ro to come to the states so we can have her teach some classes!!! Rest Assured, I'm working on it!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Of Spider Webs and Altered Books

As promised I have some more art to share with you!! Last Saturday, Becca and I went into Fredericksburg for teh 5 year Anniversary openhouse for Liberty Town Arts Center and Gallery. This fabulous place is a collection of about 25 artists studios where the artists sell their work, create and teach. Currently I am taking a Watercolor Class with Ariel Freeman at Liberty town and I can tell you from experience that it is a wonderful place. Ariel had told us of this even t, so off we went!
The Fredericksburg Spinners and Weavers Guild also has a spot at Liberty Town and the folks there had created a wonderful string Spider Web Construction for anyone to add to. They provided baskets of wonderful fibers and asked any passersby to add their own spidery touches. They saw Becca coming and were excited to see that she would be quite capable on working on some high spots for them! She had a grand time!

We had to leave at about noon so we did not see the finished web but we had a promise that pictures would be taken so we could see the finished product. This was a wonderful activity for all ages! There were also stations were kids could felt a bar of soap and Kool Aid Dying of Wool was also being played with. Everyone was having a grand time. Who knew that Kool Ade would turn out to be such a wonderful source of chemical dye???!!!????

Now for some art. My Mom celebrated a birthday recently and now that she has recieved her gift I can begin to share it with you. I began this project in August of 07, thinking that it would be her Christmas present. Well, you all know how things go! Her birthdday was May 16 and I was a bit pressed to get it to a point were I was happy enough with it to send it to her. I found a book at a Used Book Sale titled The Common THread. As my Mom is a spinner and weaver and comes from a long heritage of needle women, and has shared so many of her talents with me and my daughter, I knew that this book would be the perfect canvas for an Altered Book. So it began!! i had long been collecting "stuff" for a "someday " project so I could get started pretty quickly. I decided to try to follow the techniques of one of my favorite artists Ro Bruhn. Ro is a phenomenal Book and Jewelry Artist from Australia who has inspired me to use lots of color and many layers in my work. You can take a magical journey to see so of her fabulous work here.

So, without further chatter, here is the cover of The Common Thread as Altered for Jean.

and the spine.

I have a difficult time creating art these days without including danglies!!

The little spoon is from a very old chidren's play set and the little sheep is a small plastic toy that I drilled a hole thru and made into a bead, of sorts.

Here is the opening spread.

The majority of the sheep images that I used came form a brochure for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show. It was full of wonderful sheep art created by many different artists and I simply could not resist including all of the images in this book! I edged a pocket with beaded blanket stitch and would later create tags to include in the pockets.

As you can see I used lots of color, various papers, some of the bird heads that I create for my found object bird sculptures, stamping, candy wrappers, sheet music and book text.

Here is a double pocket spread including some of the tags.

This next spread is one of my favorites as it includes some of my favorite pictures of some of my favorite people, my kids!! That is my Mom holding Becca (aged 9 months) and huggind Matthew (aged 6 years). Below that shot, you see Matthew (aged11) and Becca (aged 6)- matthew's expression hasn't changed!!! Shh- don't tell him that I said that!! On the right hand page is a Vintage photo of me 'dancing" on our patio at about age 5!

This next layout was such fun to creat and I used scraps of papers and a photo of young moi with my wonderful Grandmother.

Along the bottom, I added some wonderful deep red velvet trim to finish off the spread.

Now, if I haven't bored you all to tears, I will share some more of my work in this book in a later post.!

Becca is looking forward to French Toast for breakfast as mandatory testing begins in school today. I had beter get cracking! I'll be back soon!

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Day In Fredericksburg

Yesterday I was in Old Towne Fredericksburg for a day with my friends Karen and Jean and Dixie. As we parked in a lot near the Rappahanock River we made a wonderful new little friend! The parking lot is adjacent to the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts. the Center is housed in a wonderful Historic Building the survived the Battle Of Fredericksburg. A wonderful rock garden is being lovingly constructed by a wonderful gal who brings along her two little friends.

this little darling is named Copper Penny and she is as bright and bouncey and delightful as she looks!! She happily accompanies her mistress along with her older doggie friend Tootsie Roll (a n older black and brown long haired Chiuahua.) Copper is a 4 month old Pappillon Pup. We stopped to chat for about 20 minutes before we began our exploration of a wonderful Antiques Mall . It takes quite an event to keep us from our hunt for treasures, but Copper had us wrapped around her little paw instantly!!!!

Here is a shot that I took of the rock garden work that Copper was overseeing!

We had a wonderful time shopping for treasures and a great lunch. Then I headed home to be back by the time the kids got home from school. On the way, I simply had to stop to take some quick pictures of tsome of the front yard gardens in many of the homes that line the historic streets of Fredericksburg.

Several of the homes were made with local stone and serve as glorious backdrops for plantings.

All of these historic homes survived the civil war battle - the Basttle Of Fredericksburg and most were used as cover for the Union forces. i love the roses growing along this clapboard siding painted this fabulous blue color.

I spotted a beautiful home with a wonderful paint scheme- a mushroomy taupe color with deep purple shutters and a glorious floral wreath on the door. Once I got out of my car and started to set up to tke my picture , I was startled by a robin flying away from the top of the wreath! upon closer examination I discovered that she had been trying to distract me from her nest that was full of hungry babies!!

This is waht I had noticed from the street. But the nest is what Momma Robin made me aware of!

I waited around for quitre awhile and was very still but Momma bird was not willing to return to the nest while I was there!! It certainly pays to slow down and take some time to really look and enjoy our surroundings!! What a gift this little detour presented to me!!!

I have been busily working on new art projects but they are all for publications so I am not able to share them with you yet! I will have some new pieces for you in my next post!! See you then!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tornados, Floods and A New Purse.

It has been quite the week for weather here in Virginia!! During the past two weeks there have been serious tornados down near Norfolk Va, and some near Richmond. Then last Thursday we had a twister come thru our county, about 8 miles to the South and we spent about an hour and a half in the basement. By the time the system was over us the twister had dissipated. We had really thought that we had left this sort of weather behind us, in Oklahoma!!! We really did miss the weather reporting that we became so dependant on when we lived there. We did get 4 inches of rain that night. Then on Mother's Day we got about 5 more inches of rain and schools were closed because the county roads were flooded!! But all in all we have fared quite well, considering what the poor people in Burma and China are suffering with.!!!!!!That kind of suffering is unimaginable!

I did loose quite a few of my Iris but I do have a wonderful picture of the profuse pink blooms that opend before the storms hit.

The fragrence of these iris was truely amazing! I have never had so many blossoms at once and the perfume was lovely.

The rain really kept us inside over the weekend and I finished up a project that I had started a while back. At a class at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria VA, I learned to create fabric collage using Steam-A-Seam 2. This fusible has two tacky sides which allow the creator to lay down pieces of fabric and then move the entire work to the sewing machine without having to worry about bits falling off or shifting. Once we had the fabric pieced we practices Free Motion Stitching on our own sewing machines. I also added beads and sequins and couched some yarns down in various places. Once that was finished, I had no idea what I was going to do with the piece. I ended up making a purse, adding more beads, yarns fibers and beads for a strap and a vintage Austrian Glass button and tassel for a closure.

I used a wonerful Lonni Rossi fabric for the lining and allowed the lining to show at the top edge. The large beads at the bottom are some that I made myself.

Here is a closer look at the closure.

A detail shot of the strap, made from various yarns and cords beaded together.

This is a closeup shot of the back where you can see some of the tiny purple flower sequins that I beaded onto the surface.

I had great fun with all aspects of this project and I am planning on making several more to have on hand for my Etsy shop and for upcoming art shows.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Medieval books and Spring Blossoms

My friend Karen asked me to create book covers for fabric Gothic Arch pages that were created for an art group swap. She commissioned me to create front and back covers and the binding for the book. I am finding that I am having great fun with personal projects like this one as they are all unique, I am given creative license and I know that my work will be appreciated.
Here are the front (left) and back(right) covers of Karen's book.

The background of these covers is fabric/paper covering Timtex interfacing. The central medallions are pieces fo tortured felt that has been stamped and embossed in gold and then sewn with beads to the fabric/paper covers. On the fron the lower section is silk (from a men's tie purchased at Goodwil) and then gold trim and more beads and tyvek pieces sewn on with brass flowers were added to embellish the silk. The covers were edged with bias red crushed velvet and attached with beading thread and tiny seed pearls. The center medallion on the back is highlighted with a rhinestone and pearl vintage earring.

The inside covers are much more subdued!!

Now for the binding of the book!!

Each page had a leather hinge attached that I glued on to both sides of the page. Once the glue was dry I stitched thru the leather and the page and added some decorative gold seed beads to be sure that the hinge was secure. Thru each leather piece I added an eyelet that was used to string leather cord.thru. The pages were thus held together by the leather cord traveling thru the eyelets that were in each leather hinge. For the covers I added an extra eyelet and strung the two covers together using some wonderful silk ribbons from my stash. I am very happy with how this turned out and I think that I was able to give it a very medieval styling. I must also say that this whole project wias inspired by Beryl Taylor's wonderful work. If you do not know of her fabulous book Mixed Media Explorations, you can check it out here!

Here is a side view of the binding.

The silk ribbons attaching the covers serve as a nice covering for all of the hinges that connect the individual pages.

I must tell you that Karen was thrilled with her book! I had to be careful about where I presented it to her as she has a habit of getting extremely excited and vocal in her enthusiasm, which is great if you know what is going on!!!

More of my favorite flowers are opening up to their true glories in my garden. The air is perfumed with Lily-of-the-Valley, one of my most favorite flowers. It was such a treat to discover that it had been planted by the previous owners. I am in the process of moving it all over the property! All of the iris that I moved with us from Oklahma are really getting settled in very well. They say taht after three years perennial plants really are comfy in their surroundings and take off. Well ,the iris are spectacular this year and they are just starting to bloom.

Here you can also see the old fashinedcolumbine that are blooming in every shade ot white pink and purple imaginable! I sprinked seeds collected from my friend Rebecca's garden, two years ago. It takes awhile for the plants to grow to a size when they will bloom. This is the year!!! the yard looks like it is full of hovering pink butterflys, as from a distance one cannot see the delicate stems that hold the flower heads up high above the foliage.

Today I noticed that the pink iris will probably begin their display tomorrow morning! I hope that you will not grow tired of seeing these blooms as I never tire of watching the garden unfurl!!

Happy Spring everyone!!


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