One print at a time: exploring fairy tales.

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Art by one of my favorites: Trina Schart Hyman

It started with a query – from 2 scholar/witch/fae/creatrix – would there be interest in an online course on Fairy tales? The dynamic duo of Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman are folklore scholars, authors, Phd candidates and all around magical women. the answer from the “tribe” was a resounding YES. And so The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic was born.

We read original tales, we read variations, oral accounts, famous versions, obscure versions. We discussed themes, cultural and historical context, symbolism…. I created a kick ass Pinterest board for myself. I have been a reader of fairy tales my whole life I didn’t stop at an age when so many “grow up”. I had one rare elective block in college/art school and I studied Children’s Literature, for fun. I regularly reference fairy tale themes in my current work. If anything I appreciate them more now for their symbolism, and archetypal references.

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This G. Laite illustration is one I remember vividly from my childhood!

So as the Carterhaugh course drew to a close, we began to think on our ( optional) final project. Optional? Really? This is the whole reason I wanted the course! To discuss, and learn, but to put that all into practice. I decided to do something COMPLETELY different than the artwork I do as my job. I was giving myself permission to play – to take the path less traveled… Enter block printing.

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I decided to do a series of 6 prints based on the tales we read. There were 10 lessons in the course – I WANTED to do 10 prints and I still may over the course of the year. But 6… ok I have three done. I designed the compositions to use and re-use many iconic motifs, a mix and match in a way. I just finished today, on the due date! Ink is still drying… but let me share with you…

Red Riding Hood: 

I have always liked Little Red Riding Hood. I like the versions where she makes choices, where she chooses her path. Literally and metaphorically. There is a great article by Terri Windling here that looks into the symbolism of needles and pins in the RRH tale. Choices, woman’s work, woman’s roles… SO I knew needles and pins would be included in my print.

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RRH print: 4 printed motifs, hand colored, drawn details.

 

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Limited edition prints and cards. Coming to Etsy soon!

 

BlueBeards’s Egg:

From the Perrault “BlueBeard” to Angela Carter – I am drawn to this gruesome tale – again with an active female protagonist who makes choices! Im not really a princess kind of girl… I do find the symbolism of key and egg and blood to be evocative, and not too Freudian but very primal and archetypal. Blood and fertility and sex and death.  This is an icon I have used before in jewelry – it was greatly satisfying to add text. A little spin on the egg, referencing the tales and their tellers.

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Skin tones were a challenge with my limited palette of printing inks. These two are the best.

Aschenputtel ( Cinderella)

We all know the tale of the Fairy Godmother, the pumpkin coach, the singing Disney mice. But I find the older German version ( Grimm Bros naturally) much more haunting. Cinderella/Aschenputtel waters her mothers grave with her tears. A pear tree grows – and through all the magics the tree is the benefactor. Theres a natural Earth/goddess vibe here, IMO, a remnant from pagan folk roots? Ash is put through trials, she perseveres, and is aided by creatures from the natural world. This morphed in my mind with the Tree of Life in cultures around the world, and became a very rich, multi faceted idea. I will revisit this in clay – perhaps a Mythic Nature tile?

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Here are a series of images to show the printing process. Each item is printed individually – and I simply eyed up the placement. No complex registration marks needed. Broom. Tree. Tears. Then Dove 1, Dove 2. Pear, Mouse 1 and Mouse 2. Whew! These are strewn about the studio – ink wet – as I write this.

Next up will be a design from The Glass Castle – a variant of the Sleeping Beauty tale. I simply ran out of time.

One thing about printmaking? There are multiples! I have a limited edition run of each print – 9 or 10 of each. And I printed cards as well. I will be listing these on my Etsy shop this weekend if you care to take a look.

Thanks again to the Carterhaugh School and Sara and Brittany! It was a pleasure and I look forward to future courses!

 

Coming out of hibernation… new tile designs

This has seemed like the longest winter and the shortest winter! But Spring has finally sprung – even with Her last gasp of icy weather. I have not been idle – even thought the posts here have been sporadic. With the new season awakening  I will breathe new life into this blog!

Since this is the time of year when I have no real shows to speak of – I have been designing and sculpting new tiles for my Mythic Nature line. Here is a visual journal of the 4 new designs – and one revision. These designs will be available starting with my show at Spoutwood Farm’s May Day Faerie Festival! 

The triple raven design will be a nice partner to my Triple hares design. I left the bird bodies free of feather/texture as I can customize that by hand. Some will be painted with feather detail – others will be glazed in glazes that “break” over texture.

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Mandrake tile in progress

The Mandragora – or mandrake tile is a new vision of a motif I had before. The previous version was from a Medieval woodcut. This is a more organic version – with leafy swirls and tendrils. The text will be carved into the scrollwork individually.

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” A book is a dream…” sketch

Neil Gaiman said: ” A book is a dream that you hold in your hands.”  This dreamy tile was inspired by things I love: pets, coffee, books… While I do not currently have a cat, it embodies cosiness to me. All the creatures, sharing space on a lazy relaxed day filled with fabulous reads. And coffee. Always coffee. This tile  – Im really excited – to do patterns in the armchair! Textures! Sgraffito! Glazed patterns!  SO many ideas.

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Sculpting the forms.

A fairy door – just testing the mold here. Matte finishes, speckles of moss and lichen on the rocks. Metallic glazes on hinges….

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And this is new for me. Last year I created a commemorative design, an Art Nouveau faerie, for the 25th anniversary of Spoutwood’s Faerie Festival. ( If interested – email me – there are still a few available.) I loved the figure – and decided to adapt the design for continued use. I see her with starry sky behind, holding the moon. I see her as an Earth spirit with a globe. I see her with florals, or leaves, or an orb of fire. Stay tuned!

I’m really excited and invigorated with this new body of work. I have fallen in love with clay again. Please sign up for my newsletter if you are interested in new work-in-progress pix and news of upcoming shows! (Sign up on the top left. ) 

It’s all in my hands. 

Last year I challenged myself to create a beaded tapestry each month. I decided that I do enjoyed the process, the exploration, the structure of the challenge – that I would do it again. 

This year I have created 12 hands in polymer, holding various symbols that related to myth or the seasons/wheel of the year. Join me on this journey! I will be posting the inspirations and meaning each month as I design and create the mixed media piece. 

A year of Goddesses: part 2

For the first half of the year – go to this original post.

It started out as challenge to myself. Inspired by artist/beader and  now fellow Art Elements contributor Cathy Mendola. It turned out to be educational, inspiring, and very, very fulfilling. Here is the remainder of the 2016 beaded goddess tapestries: 2016-part-2

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December may be my favorite. Mandala and snowflake inspired shapes crown her head. 

November – with a nod to Thanksgiving – rooted, holding wheat, recalling the harvest. 

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October brings Dia de Los Muertos. The color palette  and designs inspired by sugar skulls and talavera tiles. 

September/Virgo is my sign. I wanted her to reference the Zodiac a bit with the plenty/harvest that adorns the frame. 

 

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August – the ocean. Cresting waves, sandy neutrals. 

July – the summer sky and a hint of swirling fireworks. 

I am beginning work on a series for this year. While I had intended to take a smaller seasonal challenge this year – I had a great idea…. Stay tuned! Pictures coming!

Celestial Moon – the Art Elements Component of the Month reveal

I can’t believe we have turned the calendar page to December… Before we deck the halls, and fatten the goose – lets take a minute or two for the November COM over at Art Elements!

This month we had a guest artist! Kristie Roeder of Artisan Clay donated a few of her signature glass/glaze circular pendants. They are rich in color – pools you can dive in to! As you would expect – I forgot to take a picture of mine when I received it… I got the one pictured here on the top right!

The donated pendants from Artisan Clay

The colors were evocative of the night sky to me – and we had a Super Moon on November 14th. Wheels are turning… the Muse taps me on the shoulder. And I knew I would wire the “moon” into the center of the piece. Then stars, then crystals… and it all came together quickly.

Jasper “moon” wired into the celestial sky

Umm –  love it all and its too big for me to wear – even better! I’ll hang it in my studio!

Finished pendant

I decided to add to the piece with a top section: nickle silver and faux bone. The Latin translates ti: “From darkness, light” and is a favorite quote of mine. I love the engraver – for those freehand swirls! I need to experiment more! I’m not sure how I want to hang the piece, but this ribbon is one option. What are your thoughts? Overall I am really happy with how it turned out  – and I have been beading so much lately, it was GREAT to saw again…

Thanks for stopping in and please don’t miss the other designs this month from guests and team mates alike.

Guest Designers:

Sarajo Wentling

Lola Surwillo

Beti Horvath

Kate Kemp

ArtE Team

Susan Kennedy

Lesley Watt

Claire Fabian

Jen Cameron

 

 

Anticipation…. and revelation

Unloading a kiln is like opening presents. Its eager and tentative. Excitement and trepidation. Anticipation, sprinkled with hope, resulting in happiness.

I do this on average once a week. My work, my student’s work, other student work… Here is one window into one kiln.

My triple hare, my students mural tiles and other student work.

All looks good! 

 

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My custom giraffe, mural/mosaic border tiles and my adult students relief tiles!

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My triple hare, my students mural tiles and other student work.

Dryad portraits: our Tree themed reveal at AJE

Welcome Autumn! Welcome to the reveal of the Tree themed challenge at Art Jewelry Elements. Caroline gave us a simply amazing inspiration post to start us off, and this image haunted me… baumbuddhatreebuddahfacehiddenimage-5adf4072c250d06096d141de8ccfceb3_h

This face in the trees made me think of many visual references,  Green Men among them. But what to do? First there is my piece from a year or so ago – when Rebekah gave us wood grain hearts for COM:

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Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

Then there was a haunting memory of a poster I had as a teen. A poster showing carved stone heads of all the River Gods of Ireland. Personifications in stone of the rivers deities… A little Googling and I found some images. (Carved by E. Smyth, they are on the Customs House in Dublin)

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River Gods of Ireland by E. Smyth. They adorn the Customs House in Dublin.

So I knew I wanted to reprise the dryad face… and move forward with that idea. Perhaps different faces for different tree species? I started with stoneware face cabochons I had in my inventory.

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Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

 

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Heart of the Forest piece from April 2015

I love the matte stoneware with the softer satin look of the polymer. I did use some cabs that were glazed, but kept to my autumnal palette. I am thrilled with how this idea is evolving!

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My 4 mixed media dryads await accents.

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Feeling Fall. Waiting for beads and gems…

These dryads pendants are not going to set down roots in my studio! They will be paired with gems and as necklaces the will head to FaerieCon in November. I need to add a few dryad sisters to the grove…

Until then:

please take  a peek at what our guests and my teammates have created this month!

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Magic in mosaics

So – earlier this week I mentioned “art camp” as Lesley and I had taken to calling it. And how we went to the AVAM. ( My first time!). So the week of our vacation held another local/art/field trip first for me. Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden in Philly.

I knew Zagar was a tile/mosaic master and eccentric visionary type artist. ( He even taught a work show earlier this year at Hacienda Mosaico in Mexico) I knew he had many public works around the South St. section of the city. I was prepared to be delighted. I was in actuality inspired and blown away.

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Full scale wall mural installation on the same block as the Gardens. Note: dogs! 

There is a sense of freedom and chaos in the murals – yet they are all designed to have composition and flow. There are commercial tiles integrated amidst fragmented industrial tiles and artists OOAK tiles. There are mirrors in abundance to play with light and reflection; incorporating the viewer into the piece… and a chance for random mosaic selfies, I will admit.

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I was completely enchanted with other ceramic pieces incorporated into mosaics in such a non traditional way. 

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The inner courtyard at the PMG is simply… epic. 

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Art is the center of the real world. 

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This sanctuary to be inhabited by my ides and my fantasies. 

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The garden is excavated down and interlocking pathways are built of concrete, flotsam & jetsam, found objects… 

The gardens were a personal piece that Zagar worked on  – the space was his studio – for app. 8 years. When the land owner wanted to sell/demolish the installation, a grassroots community organization saved the PMG, and it now functions as a non profit organization. I would recommend it to anyone, tourist or not, artist or not. Its a momentous undertaking that is impressive, inspirational, fun yet gritty, filled with joie d’ vivre.

I’ll just sit and watch the clouds roll by and ponder the meaning of life… and how mosaics may feature in new work this fall…

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Inner visions, Inner Harbor

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The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. 

Why had I never been here before? 

Last week my friend and blog colleague Lesley Watt was visiting. We had planned our vacation art camp with a mix of field trips and artwork projects. The weather was so insanely cooperative – very unlike late August/early September usually is… So our first adventure was the AVAM in Baltimore, on a glorious temperate, blue-skied day…

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Mosaic bluebird of happiness. 

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A museum is covered in installations.

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Bunny! On the “Magic Bus”

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This mosaic Cosmic Galaxy  egg was breath taking. It even incorporated images from the Hubble telescope. ( Artist: Andrew Logan)

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The Museum grounds are outstanding. Sculpture, installations, fountains, gardens. I felt completely enchanted before we even entered the museum.

 

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A sense of fun, a tranquil enclosure… 

There are many instances where words or a quote stop you in your tracks. I did manage to capture a few heartfelt phrases.

There is no photography allowed in the museum, so you are seeing pieces from the grounds, and in the mirror below a stealth pix of Lesley in a mirrored mosaic. The blue sculpture above? Entirely beaded, representing John Waters and Divine as a folk art weather house – you know – where figures emerge and disappear depending on the weather readings?

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No pictures allowed IN the museum, but the bathrooms were fair game! 

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In the gardens between the buildings. A true oasis in the city. 

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Need I say more? 

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Amazing views from the AVAM Bird’s nest balcony

After the museum we headed to the Inner Harbor for a tourist browse and then dinner. Crab cakes, naturally.

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The Inner Harbor – then off for crab cakes! 

Lesley has posted regarding the adventures over at Art Jewelry Elements. Take a look at her pix! And stay tuned for more here, later this week!

I love airports. 

At the international arrivals gate in Philadelphia- yet I hear Hugh Grant in my head from “love actually”. Well I may not be IN Heathrow but I’m awaiting Lesley arriving from Heathrow. 


And experimenting with WordPress on my phone. How did it work? We shall see.