Stamping Christmas Cards (sorry it’s so early)

I’m happy to report that I’m working way ahead of schedule this year in the area of Christmas cards. Year before last I stitched some Christmas card beauties and, frankly, set the bar way too high for myself, as witnessed by last year when I barely wrote replies to those industrious souls who kept us on their list. It’s a tough grind that one wants to keep going right? (Yes we do – it’s worth it – handwritten snail mail rocks!). In some cases it’s our only reachout to some of our favorite people! And once my progeny moved out of the house the ready-made family photo was no longer available as card material, so I had to come up with something (dog photos? Scruffy is pretty Scruffy-licious!)

Draw a Few/Carve Once – Stamp Lots

One of the things I love about rubber stamp carving is that it allows me to easily share a creative idea across multiple media. I’ve just experimented with paper here but I can see some fun to be had in stamping material with these (handmade stamped canvas gift bags?).

I sketched so many trees before I figured this one out! I like the way it comes out after Sharpie embellishments.
So many things to love…

The drawing for the tree stamp is partially showing top right, so that’s fun to see in it’s original state (the candy cane and heart you’ll see in a minute). Then the poinsettia, which I stamped in a darker red to accentuate the spaces, and also in a lighter red so I could marker-outline the edges. Right now I can’t decide which I like more. Let’s make 10 of each!

I think those are the winners in this year’s contest for “Which Rubber Stamp Carvings Will Make This Year’s Christmas Cards” (the acronym isn’t worth it…this contest may never happen again).

Runners Up

Candy canes big and small deserve air time, and I’m here to make sure that happens.

The heart candy canes are my own design (though I doubt I’m the first to think of it so I won’t be seeking a patent) and I think they’ll look great on the sealed back of a Christmas/Valentine’s Day card envelope.

The larger candy cane stands alone as a tribute to lazy rubber stamp carving. It was easy, so I did it, and I can’t imagine where I’ll use it. Such is the way with rubber stamp carving sometimes. (Good news: I used a scrap piece from another stamp to make it, so no full rubber stamp lives were lost in the making of this candy cane stamp.) Phew! Thank you for your concern.

Sending love and thoughts of light. What art are you working on today?



Zentangle: Is It Cheaper Than Therapy?

I’ve seen the word “zentangle” come up in “adult coloring” searches and have been thinking about it for awhile. This weekend I decided to do an image search on “zentangle designs” and I dove right into the vat of kool-aid. Now I’m a zentangle addict with some fine-tip Stabilo colored pens on order (due to arrive any day now, but who’s counting. I am. That’s who’s counting.)

It All Started with Chisel Tip Sharpies and a Kleenex Box

I *think* I bought this set of Sharpies for a banner that never got made (how else does one find oneself in ownership of a full rainbow set of large chisel tip Sharpies?).

Then there was the Kleenex box in my office that has white flower designs. I had a few Sharpies in my office pen holder and lots of time on my hands listening in on business meetings…so doodling began. Along the way I realized that these big Sharpie markers had a calligraphic edge so they got carted out to my office for further doodling (pictures forthcoming, once the masterpieces are complete…of course. Reminder: There are 6 sides to a Kleenex-box-work-of-art. Have patience people. Reminder to Self: This Kleenex box “work of art” is destined for the Recycle Bin. Art Everywhere!)

What Would These Sharpies Look Like in My Art Journal?

My mom is my first official Art Supporter and she enrolled me once in a brief calligraphy class that involved “nibs” and “ink” and some really cool lettering (I was probably 12 yrs old). As soon as I started messing with these chisel tip markers it all started coming back…

First I tried practicing the calligraphic strokes I remembered
First I tried practicing the calligraphic strokes I remembered, plus some general mark-making.

As you can see on the next page I started one of those “zentangle” designs we used to make in kindergarten (Instructions: scribble a big set of connecting loops then color the inside. The beginning of many refrigerator-art-masterpieces…not to mention adding wax paper, crayon shavings and an iron.  We were all artists in kindergarten and we still are!!)

Here’s another angle of the tangle (ok that was fun):

Crayons graduated to Sharpies...and more ideas are generated...
Crayons graduated to Sharpies…and more ideas are generated. I barely got done with the Sharpies before I was off and running in my sketch book with some fine-tip markers.


Taking It to the Image Search

Once I realized the similarity between our childhood scribble homework from kindergarten and the “official art form known as zentangle” I was off and running.

My favorite image search engine provided helpful filters (in lovely rainbow colors) to show me what everyone is up to in the zentangle world (it’s a whole world y’all). I saw “hand” and “step by step” and started making some marks.

Hand Patterns in Zentangle

When I saw what the world is doing with handprints and zentangle I had to get me some of that. So I made the old turkey beginning handprint with a pencil and started doodling.

Here' the first one I did of my hand using a couple of super fine black sharpies.
Here’ the first one I did of my hand using a couple of super fine black sharpies.


Here's my mom's hand with some different designs.
Here’s my mom’s hand with some different designs. I love the 3D designs and keep trying to emulate them.


The railroad tracks were the first design on this handprint (hard act to follow).
The railroad tracks were the first design on this hand print (hard act to follow, but easy to learn from the free online tutorial graphic). The “tendon design” on the thumb turned out pretty cool. The middle finger is a 3D pattern gone wrong (and saved at the last minute :).


And then I got hold of my daughter's Stabilo point 88 color markers...
And then I got hold of my daughter’s Stabilo point 88 color markers…Oh Happy Day!


Another "selfie" with colors
Another “selfie-hand” with colors

Shortly afterwards my daughter packed up her supplies/belongings for college and I was left to my own devices. I promptly ordered another set of markers similar to hers and am awaiting arrival…

I tried to use my “in-house” fine-tips to create more color tangles but they dried up after a few marks. I couldn’t wait for my ordered markers to arrive (Impatience IS  my middle name) so I went to my local craft store and dropped $5 on a sale set of fine-tip markers that bled more than expected in my sketchbook but still turned out some fun results.

Bigger markers - same fun
Bigger markers – same fun

Check out zentangle designs online y’all! It’s relaxing, fun and quick to spur new original designs. (I think these could make cool cards too! And rubber carving options – oh my!).

Needle Lace: Waves

I’ve been working on a needle lace pattern I created to represent a set of waves and I really like how it turned out. I enjoy in-process pics so I’m posting a few.

How It Started

I stitched a few free-drawn leaf patterns first that I liked and didn’t like (yes on silk thread outline, no on structural veins that don’t connect because lace loses its shape).

So then I tried this wave pattern sketch of mine…

my base pattern
my base pattern


a few waves stitched: 2 threads per wave
a few waves stitched: 2 threads per wave


Silk and metallic thread combinations


Finished product



left side
left side


right side
right side


next to the pattern
next to the pattern

I’m really loving how this wave pattern came out matching my expectations for movement in thread. And now an artist friend has suggested that I abstract this pattern and go bigger…I’m hooked and thinking….how can one abstract a needlelace pattern…I have ideas….



Carving Rubber Stamps (and I bought some amazing gourds!)

Today I went to Oceanside Museum of Art and took a class from Jane LaFazio to learn how to carve my own rubber stamp. It was a great class…but before we get to that…I got there an hour early…

And there was an art show in the streets!

So I got to browse around and found one of my favorite artists, Grace Swanson ( I bought a beautiful gourd from her last year that incorporated a dyed pine needle trim and woven antique silk kimono material. Today I found two new pieces I just HAD to have (I went back to her booth after class for a beaded gourd I had seen earlier, but got stars in my eyes over these two beauties and there was no going back).

She "chip carved" the outside of this gourd (involves a special tool that makes a notch or chip, then you scoop toward the notch). Then she dyed the notches.
She “chip carved” the outside of this gourd (involves a special tool that makes a notch or chip, then you scoop toward the notch). Then she dyed the notches.

She often scoops out her gourds (and sometimes appliques cool textures inside) but this one is left whole so the seeds inside shake around a little (I like that :).

Then there’s this piece of magic…

Grace carved the outside of this one then painted it (it's a flat little gourd - belly button on the back :).
Grace carved the outside of this one then painted it (it’s a flat little gourd – belly button on the back :).


I love this oblong cut in the top (jagged on the painted edge and smooth on the back edge).
I love this oblong cut in the top (jagged on the carved/painted edge and smooth on the back edge).


Trying to capture some of the glitter of the paint
Trying to capture some of the glitter of the paint

I was so glad to get the chance to see her work again and chat with her about her materials and process (she also does spectacular pine coiling and she uses Montezuma pine needles from Texas – we talked about the differences between those and the Torrey Pine needles in my neighborhood). Getting to add to my “Gourds by Grace” collection was icing on today’s cake.

And Now, Some Rubber Stamps

The class with Jane LaFazio was everything I hoped for and more. I spoke with someone who is taking one of her online courses as well and they come highly recommended. I got to see this gal’s art journal from the class (water colors and sketching) – so elegant and exactly the kind of skill I’d like to learn. I’m sure I’ll be signing up for the next one of those.

So we started with something called a “gum eraser” to get some practice and create something small.

I went with a wavy pattern. I call this my "water phase." :P
I went with a wavy pattern. I’m in what I call my “water phase.” 😛

I borrowed the carving tools from the museum but I’m definitely going to invest in my own set because this is a fun and easy way to make amazing reusable patterns. In the class we talked about making Christmas cards, printing tote bags, combining these patterns with watercolor painting – the possibilities are endless. Some people made a printed envelope in class with some brown paper, and the teacher showed an example that she stamped, scanned and printed on vellum. So many options!!

My next design was a seahorse. I’m proud of the detail I was able to achieve in his body and fin (I worked thru the lunch break :). I’m planning to cut away more background so he isn’t framed with a rectangle.

So the bottom right design is my first print test after cutting out the seahorse (I kind of like the black background). Then I went through a series of trimming and printing to get at the effect I was after.

My stamp, next to some trial prints and a first drawing rev
My stamp, next to some trial prints and a first drawing rev (the yellow-green paint represents where I’ll shave next to get rid of some of that “chatter”)


The teacher likes to work with black ink so she can watercolor the insides, but colored ink yields some cool results too...
The teacher likes to work with black ink so she can watercolor the insides, but colored ink yields some cool results too…

What a fun day and an interesting class. The materials for this are not too expensive (cutting tool, some rubber pads and ink) and the results are really fun to play with (I haven’t even started to play with coloring in my designs with pencils and water colors). I saw some really artistic renderings today from folks who have some experiences with these stamps. We also learned ways to repeat patterns and create mosaic type designs. This might play a role in this year’s Christmas cards…

Making Patterns

Mission accomplished: I joined hitrecord today and added one record so far: This is me!

I accepted one challenge and shared a nature picture (“Morning Dew”) and I spent the rest of the day thinking about the Patterns Book. I plan to submit a writing sample for the book – it’s in draft at the moment.

But first I imagined patterns and started sketching

Making patterns 1
Making patterns 1
Making patterns 2
Making patterns 2






Patterns 3
Patterns 3
Patterns 4
Patterns 4






Patterns 5
Patterns 5
Patterns 6
Patterns 6









Here’s the thing…patterns are a paradox.
They suggest regularity and repetition but the more they repeat
the more they express things outside “the norm.” 

A “pattern” suggests something repeatable, and yet behavioral patterns can be so unpredictable. when a human hand is applied to a pattern, you never know what might happen.

Repetition is as common as deviation.

Fire Sticks in the Yard

Lots of meetings today indoors so I made a mad dash for the front yard to catch some great light at the end of the day. I’m not super pleased with my drawing rendition, but I got to play with quick sketching “in the moment” and creating light with colors (this doesn’t really show in the picture – I really need to get a lightbox). I would like to try to create these lines and colors in needlepoint so maybe this is a first study.

I like that the common name of this plant is “Sticks on Fire.” So appropriate – especially when it catches the light.