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?).
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).
Candy canes big and small deserve air time, and I’m here to make sure that happens.
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?
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…
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):
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.
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.
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!).
Hello All! I feel like I’ve been away forever, even though I’ve been sewing and crafting the whole time.
This week I took another class with Jane LaFazio, learning how to use a gelli art printing plate to create some fun monoprint “masterpieces.” In these classes I tend to forge ahead toward a finished product, then I love to step back and use the skills I’ve learned to create new things at home.
Print Once, Use in Multiple Projects
This is a layered technique, not only in the making but in the using. Collage and layering are fun challenges for me (it’s hard to cover up stuff I love and let the “next thing” emerge). First I used acrylic paint and a variety of resist material to create some fun patterns on rice paper. I gathered them in color palettes below.
Color Palette #2
I was in too much of a hurry toward a finished product in class, so I wasn’t able until today to leisurely stroll through my prints and find my various color palettes. It was really fun to discover the color families I ended up making and I can’t wait to make some more (and work these into new projects).
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 (GourdsByGrace.com). 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 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…
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 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!!
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.
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…
Hello World! I’m back from a week long art retreat in Portland, Oregon called Art and Soul Retreat. SO.VERY.ENGERGIZING.AND.INSPIRING. If you find yourself near any of their upcoming locations I encourage you to check it out: authentic artists, inspiring teachers, sharing participants. I could go on and on…and I shall… 🙂
Art and Soul Retreat-ing
Pics to follow and teacher info below for “enquiring minds” like myself who like to read ahead. They were all AH-MAY-ZING teachers who shared a plethora of information and technique (and supplies!) and I highly recommend checking them out (in person if you are nearby – they’re from all over).
Needle felting with a sewing machine – made 3 bases I’m in love with! (broke some needles – I’m not proud – “it’s part of the process” – more on that later)
(Rebeckah Meier Designs)
Gold leaf and copper strung African beads on a half ostrich egg bowl – featured below! (Debbie Rijns, who specializes in Precious Metal Clay work in South Africa – I couldn’t find just one link that summarizes her artistic work – best to internet-search her)
Hand stitching and embellishing the Alabama Chanin Way – after all these years of hand-sewing I learned a new way to thread, knot and sew. Amazing. (WIP! I bought a shirt pattern…there’s A LOT OF HAND stitching to do…hopefully I can finish it while I’m still this size. 🙂 (Natalie Chanin designed the pattern and technique – Patti Calande taught the class)
Basket weaving with sea grass – another WIP (boy did I dig this one! Weaving is so meditative for me.) (Donna Sakamoto Crispin – the amazing artist/teacher blend we’re all looking for! Donna was great!)
A Finished Product: “Home Base”
I enjoyed figuring out this artistic vision as I went. Layer work is still a challenge for me, though I learned so much about the value of strategic layering throughout the week.
This one is named “Home Base” because it incorporates elements of all my home bases (virtual, physical and metaphysical).
These photos are staged on the lobby floor of the hotel in a brief moment of Oregon sun (yes, I was laying on the ground taking pictures when my significant other arrived…he wasn’t surprised and offered to help…bless our lovies!)
It was good layer work for me – I started with the green wash paint inside and dots in the middle, and they ended up guiding the bead design.
I really enjoyed this class, learning about gold leaf and incorporating South African Sand People images into my work (there’s also: giraffe and the “thread of knowing,” which represents our collective conscious dreams).
Get out there and try something new!
I read a post last week about mandalas by a blogger friend that got me thinking (check out this Hooked! post for an amazing mandala by Amy Le Pelley…she made a clock out of a mandala y’all – genius!!). She also talks about doing a mandala in off-white colors for a baby gift – which also strikes me as genius (patent pending for Amy!!).
She encouraged me to post some pictures of mandalas I have sewn, so I staged a photo shoot today (after several evenings of: “Damn, it’s too dark to take good pictures now. Maybe tomorrow morning…” followed by wash/rinse/repeat until today – breaking the cycle and following the light!).
These are all sewn following this pattern by ZootyOwl (Thank you ZootyOwl!) and using Finca Perle No. 8.
Poor things aren’t blocked yet – they’re stuck in WIP mode and I stretched them across a stepping stone for a photo shoot.
It’s a goofy title, but very apropos if you’ve done any needle felting. I went to a meet-up and used a felting kit to create this little bit of cuteness:
So this took about 2.5 hours, and he’s more “woolly-looking” and less “puffy-looking” than I might have liked for a finished felted product. But that takes a lot o’ stabbing y’all. I only poked my finger (about) 5 times in the making of this bit of cuteness. And I’m not sure his feet are attached well enough to stand much articulation. But that’s not what felted creatures are for, is it (what are they for again…? Oh cuteness, right!) So he needs a scarf that I’ll be crocheting for him at another time between projects. I was supposed to felt it, but it was such a skinny piece of wool I (tried but) couldn’t imagine felting it in the end – crocheting seemed like the best approach.
[First of all: Look at me trying new site templates and stuff! For those of you following me: how ya’ diggin’ it? Suggestions for improvement? I LERV that top photo. I found several logs fallen that had been drilled by woodpeckers in another life. Alongside a bunch of fun acorns with stems. I couldn’t stop until every hole was filled!]
ON TO TODAY…
This morning was kind of weird because my power went out right after I made my ceremonial morning latte (Krups has started my days for the last 19 years, which is – not coincidentally – the age of my child. Making a good latte before venturing out into the world became important early on…and early in the day…).
It was weird at first because my kitchen electronics started beeping at me while I was making my coffee. My stove beeped and flashed a cryptic “PF”* message in the digital display. Huh. Moving my purse strap from the surface of that, in case it decides to turn itself on later. Steaming milk on my Krups. Microwave beeps and flashes. OK, need to reset the clock – must be a power surge. Then, as soon as my milk is steamed and my latte machine is cleaned and put away – all power in the kitchen goes off. What timing! Thank you Coffee Gods! (* “PF” = Power Failure; I thought I would have to consult the manual but I figured it out all on my own!)
A quick trip outside (in my house shoes and star socks, because I work from home and have no shame) tells me that one of those transformer electrical thingies attached to a nearby telephone pole has stopped working and they have to “call in a crew.” Bummer. Huh. What now?
I’ll remind you in this moment that I work in IT from home, so I’m pretty much reliant on every electronic device in my house – including that stupid WiFi router whose plug now means nothing. If I’d had a bunch of meetings scheduled I would have hoofed it to the nearest Starbucks, but today was a magical no-meeting day, so I informed everyone of my electronic tragedy (via text – my only way out!) and hunkered down.
Then I actually wandered around the house in a strange fog thinking: what shall I do next? How will I communicate with anyone? Who might have started following my blog while I was asleep and how can I thank them?!?!
Oh dear – dire straits. So I drank my coffee, read a little (Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie is the book du jour – I recommend it if you can handle his brand of zany. I think it’s entertaining, especially in smallish bits.) Then I went really crazy and walked the Scruff-Man over to Marge’s to pick up some new wooden spools she recently found in a drawer. (Apparently “morning sun” smells different in the neighborhood than “evening breeze.” I was equally entranced and sad that “morning smells” seemed like distant memories. Maybe I should be getting up earlier again – instead of hitting snooze – and hitting the streets with the dogie. It was quite lovely and not too hot at all.)
The wooden spools are great, but here’s what really caught my eye.
Like the hero and mentor that she is, Marge asked if I brought any of my current art with me to show her. Like the artistic coward that I am, I admitted that I didn’t think any of it was “good enough” or “done enough” to “show anyone.” Silly rabbit. I promised I would get over that and bring her something soon. I’m Girl Scout Promising and Pinky Swearing on this y’all.
Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.
A circle’s round and has no end,
That’s how long I will be your friend.
[I had to stop my Pandora Lauryn Hill radio station to remember that song enough to web search it. Audio-multi-tasking-challenged]
So here’s one of the things I could have/should have taken to show Marge.
The previous versions of this were here and here. I’m having a lot of fun with these pre-printed quilt squares my mom sent me as a package. It’s puckering a bit because I don’t have it in a hoop – not sure how to solve that problem (believe you me, I have imagined several self-made “square hoops” that are exactly this size – some made of twigs and pine needles. Is there a market for this?! I doubt it. Is it even possible?! Probably, but why?)
After the basic French knots I looked to my favorite embroidery pattern book for some outline stitches (another amazing Christmas gift…that I requested):
I used yellow thread for the base stitches and I’m using the dark orange for the overcast stitches.
I’m planning to add beads at some point, but I may put more outlining in place before I do that.
I made this several years ago from some mermaid netsuke I purchased in Hanalei, Kauai. It hangs in a window of my office and today I happened to look up when it was catching some cool sunlight.
I made it one day on a whim when I was cleaning up. I had these netsuke that didn’t want to stand up on my desk (they aren’t really made to work as statues), and a set of chakra gemstones that didn’t want to stay strung together. I have seashells in, well, every room of my house now that I think about it. And out in the garden strewn about in flower beds. Huh. I live at least 20 minutes from the beach but it turns out I’ve surrounded myself with ocean artifacts right here “in the inland!” (I have a couple of bottles of sand too.) This is as good a time as any to mention that I think I might have been a mermaid in another life.
I love a lot of things about this piece:
I made it in 20 minutes
with pieces of things that:
were cluttering my world (including a big paper clip to hang it from the curtain rod – so much cleaning happened)
but that also mean a lot to me (I remember where I got each piece, minus the paper clip)
and it’s functional.
It came together so simply, with a short series of fun logistical puzzles (what materials have holes in them that I can use? what cord will make it through these tiny natsuke holes? where do the knots go and which beads can slide?).
You can see the chakra gemstones in this shot (slightly out of focus) and I forgot until I saw this close-up…there’s a Hamsa at the bottom!! This symbol has particular significance to me after a trip to Spain several years ago when I was lucky enough to visit a museum in Cordoba that focuses on the story of Sephardic Jews in Spain. It’s called Casa de Sefarad and I highly recommend it if you find yourself in southern Spain. I felt a deep connection with the people in the stories I learned there and began to appreciate the history and symbolism of the Hamsa.
I had to get my scrapbook out to remember the name of the museum, and now I have to share a couple of pages. (Apologies for the lighting – it was hard to capture on a whim.)
The picture in the bottom left is of the museum owner/creator, his translator, and the back of my head listening to them. It was an honor to hear his story.
OK – I’m officially out of control with the reminiscing and memorabilia. But just this one last thing.
I took approximately 1.6 zillion photos of the mosaic and tile work that decorated just about every surface in every historic building in Spain. Some of these were ceiling tiles and the zoom on my camera was pretty amazing, so I was able to print and cut these out as if they sat inches from my face.
For those that actually were in reach, I had to touch them from time to time. All placed by hand, by artisans, so many years ago. I’m certain their energy and dreams still hum within each tile.