Creative re-use: the Art Elements theme reveal

Welcome! This month Lesley tasked us with something a little different – she challenged us to reuse, recycle, and reinvent. While that wasn’t a new idea for some of us – it was a really fun challenge to try something new, to make new from old. It was perfect timing with Earth Day falling in the month to make use of exiting materials, in an effort to reduce waste and consumerism.

My first piece came to me filled with delicious British chocolates. Jenny Wren to be exact. They arrived perfectly intact from my Secret Santa Caroline – that tiny wren flying thousands of miles with the assistance of the Royal Mail. We ate the chocolates carefully, savoring the treat over a few days, and yes – I did share with my husband.

The box fascinated me. I loved the engineering, and the size. The colors aren’t my personal palette – so for this month’s challenge I decided to give it a make over. ( Sadly no process pix. Oops) I based my palette on paste paper I had made with my Book Arts group a while back. It was my favorite aqua greens, but with gold and burgundy. I covered the hot pink, but let the yellow peek out at the edges. I wrapped each drawer, and lined the inside. I knew I had to use thin paper, and leave certain areas alone – to as not bulk up the form and impede movement.

I am really happy with the box – it may live on my bead table, holding artist beads that are too pretty to put away, or that are in my line of vision as I contemplate what their future holds.

My second re-use project uses old wool sweaters. Unlike many of my team mates here at AE, I cannot sew. Nothing functional that it. I can embellish and embroider, but no patterns or machines for me. Old wool sweaters from the thrift store shrink and felt into lovely fabric – one simply needs to wash and dry on hot! These felted pieces I have used as the basis for tapestries, for pouches… This month I tried a goddess art doll of sorts. There are some issues – but I liked embroidering while watching tv – having something to do with my hands. The goddess shape I drew onto the felt, and did lose some definition of shape when I turned its and stuffed it – due to the thickness of the fabric. I think I will play with this idea more.

Ok – this is the big reveal. This is a thing I actually found in an antique store in Maine last October! When I saw it – I had a plan!

It is an antique mens travel grooming case, in great condition. I clean it up, threw put the brushes… and refilled it!

While it isn’t the most streamlined travel art studio – its unique and makes me happy! The soap and toiletries boxes have all been reimagined:

There are travel scissor, brushes… I need to find a plastic travel bottle that fits in one of the open loops, and I have a watercolor tray that may fit in as well. I went to find a sketchbook to fit inside – but they were all too thick. So I made a folio – to hold loose paper. It will serve as the work surface as well. It is covered in Tyvek painted with alcohol inks – so it won’t be harmed by the occasional splatter.

Before I go – a few process pix. The watercolor pans are all in place with magnets. Magnetic tape not eh bottom of the box, and a round magnet on each pan. Easy to remove, rearrange, refill. And the Tyvek? It was simply a USPS mailer envelope cut open, and painted on the clean white inside. ( Free and durable)

Thanks for stopping in – I am off to dabble with my watercolors for the #100 day project. But please – take a look at what creative re-use solution are going on on the other blogs!

Guests 

Tammy

Alysen

Evie & Beth

Karin

Hope

Divya

Anita

Sarajo

Kathy

Rebecca

Martha

AE Team

Niky

Laney

Cathy

 Caroline

Jen

Jenny  ( you are here)

Sue

Claire

Lesley

Journal 52 – one week at a time

Journal table

I have three work tables in my “clean” studio. This year one of them is designated the journal space. I have tried unsuccessfully many years running to put a consistent daily/weekly art journal practice in place. I have tried loose papers, even vintage Filofax cards. This year I signed up for a FREE challenge – called “Journal 52“. Run by the dynamic duo of Effy WIld and Sarah Trump – I recieve a themed prompt once a week. Two actually – so you have options. There’s a FB group for sharing and building community. I love it. And I am happy to say I am consistent, and consistently loving it.  

journal montage1

The whole art journal thing for me is play and practice. A chance to doobde, to recontitute my dried up, forlorn drawing skills, to try new media and techniques, to get messy and push paint around… all with the caveat that NO ONE HAS TO SEE IT. Or I can share if I desire. The freedom to play and produce work for me, for my soul, from my soul… with no show deadline. Its refreshing and joyous.  

journal montage2

 

True self

I am a little behind as I was away last week – but the weekly prompts are so good I look forward to catching up… 

Stay tuned for more as the year progresses! 

Blissed out. ArtBLISS 2013

 

 Follow your bliss.

I know this J. Campbell wrote may be used overmuch – but it is a mantra for my chosen life and creative career. And it relates to the past weekend where I spent a blissful time with friends, old and new, creating, learning, experimenting, sharing and socializing. 

ArtBLISS 2013. 

Many heartfelt thanks to Cindy Wimmer and Jeanette Blix for the community they have created. Yes, its an art retreat; classrooms and a small sales venue. But its much more. Lifelong friendships are started, and nurtured. Support and encouragement offered freely. Inspiration and creativity are the daily norms.  

AB13

ArtBLISS faces

The only complaint – there arent enough hours in the day. Or night for that matter! So refreshing to meet faces that priviously had been a computer avatar. Equally satisfying – spending time with like minded people… 

AB 13 charm swap

The annual charm swap – gorgeous, diverse charms created and swapped amongst particpating students. Amazing packaging! Great work, a priceless momento. 

AB 13 polymer

Saturday I had the pleasure to work with Christine Damm for a second year. The pastels and crayons dazzled the eyes! Class mates Terri, and AJE teammates Karen and Diana working, each piece stirring new ideas… 

3 ring circus

Friday and Sunday I was taking class with Richard Salley and Jessica Papke. Two rings of their “Three Ring Circus” class series. It was so phenomenal… I am going to go a little more in depth into that experience in another post. Really. 

My Ab 13

My weekend’s treasures. A polymer work in progress – a palette, and a process to work with going forwards. The rings – as I said – the class was so rich, and so fantastic… and it carried extra weigth with me. I am giddy with pride at the results of my labors and so excited moving forwards. And yes – I am wearing them now – a talisman to keep in touch with the energy of the weekend. 

I will save my philosophical musings for another time – I have supplies to order, and artwork to create. Thank you one and all for making the weekend so magical!

 

Art Bliss.Pure and simply – art bliss! DC 2011.

Art Bliss 2011

The second annual ArtBLISS retreat was held in Dulles VA on September 23-25th. Our hosts Jeannette Blix and Cindy Wimmer created another magical weekend of creativity and camaraderie. In some ways its hard to write about… I find as an artist that I need times away from all of the life/human/house/pet responsibilities when everything is attended too and I can simple create. And be inspired, experiment, share ideas, and recharge. I work alone in the studio most days, with dogs at my feet. Although I do talk to them, they are not so well versed in critique and composition…

So this retreat weekend is very valuable to me. I made some good friends last year, and it has been a pleasure to see them on Facebook and the like. I anticipated more of that relationship building and networking. Add to that that my best friend Jen was coming! Hurrah! We met in college, in drawing class… but I will save that for a follow up ArtBliss post… 

Jen and I took “Rings and Things” a class with Robert Dancik to work with his material Faux Bone. I had worked with it on my own, and liked it, but wanted to go straight to the source as it were. Here is my workspace early into class – and a ring in progress. 

FB begins 

The material is a plastic, and it is incredibly durable and versatile. Saw it, file it, sand it. It sculpts on a belt sander like soft clay! Its non toxic, and takes color…The ring below was sculpted out of 1/2″ thick material and designed to showcase that antique button. 

FB rings

But I decided it needed to have another focal, and so this button is interchangeable! So sweet. Never would have imagined. But I had never used the myriad forms of microbolts before either…. Each button has a microbolt epoxied to the back where the shank was – and that is what connects to the ring shank itself. Ingenious!

Fb ring 2

Glad I finally got to work with Robert – it was a great class. 

Davies and Dancik

Saturday night – a trunk show of my ceramic beads and charms. Thats Jen there sketching in the room. It was such a party! Thanks to everyone who came and made it a success! I hope to see your creations here on the Interwebs in the future! I got to meet so many beaders/designers/artists whose blogs I read, whose work I follow. A pleasure! 

JKM and trunk show

On the second day… there were watches. “Watch this” with Richard Salley to be exact. I have know Richard for a few years, having met and worked with him at the Shepherdess in San Deigo. I have a huge stash of watches, and was seeking inspiration. Here is the day’s breakdown: 

Salley class1

Setting up: coffee, clean table, sketchbook. (Isnt the pen bandolier the best? Cleverhands on Etsy) 

Salley class2

In progress/sketching: I wanted to use the antique cigarette card of Athena – so I wanted to take the time to plan and thing things through. How to create tabs? Where to rivet? What embellishments? To do her justice and not mess up the only one I have…

Salley class 3

Working: tools strewn around, notes, seltzer…

watches WIP

This was the end of the day. The Strongbow cider lid/watch needs Faux bone for the backing. The Athena watch awaits resin. I will post pix when they are done!

watch crew

The crew – thanks for a great class, and being a part of a great weekend. I wish I had taken more pictures! The Meet and Greet, the charm swap… The whole experience is so rich – I will come back another day. Stay tuned. But for now – back to the studio, and a heartfelt thanks to the teachers, the organizers, my fellow attendees…It really is aptly named “art bliss” 

 

 

 

A to Z: E is for Eclectic

 

1: selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles
     2
: composed of elements drawn from various sources;
Greek eklektikos, from eklegein to select, from ex- out +legein to gatherFirst Known Use: 1683

Its a word I like. Eclectic. There is an artistic air there, a little bit left of center, not the norm. And I really like the synonyms: Magpie, motley… When I was in college, studying art and education, I was already taking a more diverse path than many of my fellow art students. While they were concentrating on mastery in one medium… ( not to get philosophical, but do we ever achieve mastery? Then what else would there be to do, if not grow, learn and evolve…) I was developing proficiency in many mediums. (My words, not the college’s.) I was headed to the classroom – what better breadth of knowledge than a plethora of skills and experiences? Yet being such a Jack-of-all-trades was frowned upon. It was implied that I lacked the requisite focus or skills needed to make it “out there”. The jester, in his bells and motley tunic often juggling many balls – the artist, working in different materials, tending to many projects at once. I like the Jack of all trades metaphor, and while I continue to strive to be  a master… I think I am making progress.
Artsfest booth
( My booth set-up for Artsfest 2010)

This entry was going to be “D is for dilemna” but it is resolved now, and “Eclectic” is a better fit. I recently applied to one of my regular festivals, in the fall, in a city where we used to live. The entry categories, always a dilemma at festival time…Am I a ceramics artist? No. That brings to mind functional wares when seen in the event program. And I am definitely NOT a potter. (No offense meant. I just am not into function.) So I write in “Mixed Media” if it isnt already a listed category. I have tiles to bring, shrines, maybe clay, maybe in tins or boxes. Could bring collages… Then there are the pendants. Clay really is the unifying element in my work. When you see my booth all set up, decaorated, ready for business – clay is 90% of my offeriengs. Many pieces are not purely clay, but incorporate found objects, mini books, collages – hence the Mixed Media moniker. My pendants are clay. They are partnered in motif with my tiles. I work in symbolic images and icons – would you like to wear that raven? Or hang it in your house? 
ravens in kiln
pendants
This show tightened up their guidelines. Unless you are juried into the jewelry category, you may NOT bring any jewelry. I emailed for clarification. And sat with the dilemma for a while. Do I take only tiles and shrines? Or do I apply for jewelry? If I apply for jewelry, the competition is stiff, but I could possible have an opportunity to take earrings, stamped metal, resin, some of my new work. Here is the deal-maker: If accepted for jewelry I CAN bring tiles and shrines as well. (But not the other way around) SO I went for it. And as I write this I haven’t heard back yet if I am accepted. Please think good thoughts for me, lets put the idea out there in the universe  – the first show I ever did will also be the show at which I debut my jewelry officially. There is a karmic balance to that, don’t you think? 
wishing well
I have made a wish. Here’s wishing you well, also!

 

Spinning into gold…

Golden Book dress

In the fairy tales, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother arrives to magically create a dress. Sometimes it is the spirit of her deceased mother watching over her, and magically gifting the girl with exquisite attire. Other retellings have the creatures of the woodland, to whom Cinderella was kind, working magic and serving as her tailors and stylists. 

This is no fairy tale. It is a dress made from Golden books. Yes, those Golden books you read when you were young. With the gold floral spine. The Pokey Little Puppy. The Little Red Hen. Anything Richard Scary…

This dress is the work of Ryan Novelline, a Boston designer. I find it all amazing….

golden book dress 1

golden book dress 2

Golden bodice

And yes – the bodice is made of little strips of gold – from the spines of the books. Spinning straw into gold, Rumplestiltskin? No, spinning tales into cloth…

 

 

Shadows and Light

February 2. 

Groundhog’s Day. Candlemas. Imbolc. 

Its all over the news. Respectable looking, white bearded men, dressed in coats and top hats, perform a ritual involving a groundhog – named Phil – and weather divination. We have seen it all before… But did you ever stop to wonder? 

Wikipedia offers us this: The holiday, which began as a Pennsylvania German custom in southeastern and central Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries, has its origins in ancient European weather lore, wherein a badger or sacred bear is the prognosticator as opposed to a groundhog. It also bears similarities to the Pagan festival of Imbolc, the seasonal turning point of the Celtic calendar, which is celebrated on February 1 and also involves weather prognostication.

Apparently Groundhog lodges abound in southeastern PA; who knew. We have Harold Ramis and Bill Murray to thank for making Punxsatawney so famous…And sadly, badgers arent living in the hedgerow over here. (Do badgers live in the hedgerow?) So the groundhog seems a better selection than a bear (!); easier to keep, and handle…

Seriously – back to the lore – 

From Scotland: 

As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop

And going more into myth – we get closer to the origins – in my opinion…

“Imbolc is the day the Cailleach — the hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people are generally relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over”… That sound familiar, doesnt it… (Thanks again, Wikipedia.)

Putting aside the weather lore for a moment – Imbolc/Candlemas is halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. We ( and my Celtic far distant ancestors) have to this point gone through a cold harsh winter. It is wonderful to mark time, that winter is half complete, that spring is near. Whether we have snowdrops blooming through a thin crust of snow, or piles left behind by the plow – the light is increasing; Spring is near. 

 snowdrops

 

Imbolc is associated with the Celtic Goddess and Saint Brigid. (I find it very interesting how the ancient goddess of the creative fire evolved into a saint and abbess tending a perpetual flame at her monastery…) And I think I will have to save her for another post. She is deeply inspirational to me, and I would like to give her her due. 

So from the shadows – to the light…

Wishing you a bright Imbolc. 

Articles of interest: 

Article: “St Brigid; no better woman for the times we live in”. The Irish Times. 

Blog: “Beyond the fields we know.” Gorgeous photography, and a thoughtful in depth article in Brigid from the artist C. Kerr

 

 





A Cluttered desk…

“If a cluttered desk  signs  a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk the sign of?  Albert Einstein

I have a new desk. I love it. 

desk

My old desk was a vintage? antique? drafting table. I loved it too. It had paint stains on the ledge, and was beautiful dark wood. But I had a laptop then, for years and years actually – and the drafting table and laptop got along famously. Then my laptop died. 

When the laptop died… I decided for many reasons to go with an iMac. The iMac and the slanted drafting table never met. They were from two different worlds, destined to clash. I had to sacrifice form to function… my desk became <shudder> a folding table. 

But now I have a new desk – new to me. It was my Grandfather’s. And then my Dad’s. Dad purchased a new desk recently; Grandad’s desk wasn’t really used anymore. Was this Grandad’s desk from work or from home? I can’t quite recall, right this second. Yet I can remember his “office” at home so vividly. It was the space by the back door, traditionally used as a mud room. But for Grandad – it was a buffer zone, a place between the worlds. After a day of work, when he came home – he would hang up his hat, leave the bits and bobs of work in the office, and then head to the kitchen and pour himself a drink.  The desk there was always covered with notepads, notes, pens and pencils advertising motor oil, tires, Kendall, Napa…(He and Dad owned and operated a chain of local auto parts stores.) Grandmom would have dinner ready, always starting with homemade soup and a salad.  At least thats how I remember it as a kid… The office area was also a place of business. Grandad  – a savvy businessman – would bring parts home, especially on a Friday.  Customers could stop by on the weekend, saving a trip to the brick and mortar store. So even if this isnt his desk from home – it still brings back many welcome memories…

my view

Its “antiqued” an olive sage green. (peeking out in left of picture.) I have a Wonder Woman tray, and a glass box covered in Hindu goddesses. Soon the wall area will be re-done. Move the bulletin board, hang a few small pieces, maybe a wall shelf from IKEA…But my first desk purchase was the blank paper blotter, and I plan to Zentangle here each day. 

Zentangle? Oh – its meditative doodling. I have always doodled, in fact there were some  ‘elements of art’ assignments I used to teach in High School – that were essentially Zentangles in nature. But I received the kit from a dear friend this holiday, and have been devoting a few minutes to it most days. I like the large format blotter better than the tiny paper squares in the kit. I like seeing the design evolve and change over time. A page a month? I think so…

Jan. tangle

Here’s January so far… And I plan to spend more time here. This year the plan is to blog M/W/F. I know, I know… but I am doing the A to Z entries on Fridays; I like planning ahead, and having a routine. And Etsy. Going to give the shop some TLC on T/TH, list new items, keep it updated. It is a great resource that I havent fully tapped into as of yet.  So stay tuned, reader!

And I will leave you with a few inspirational desks: Terri Windling’s blog about “What’s on your desk?”. Desks from Charles Vess, Jane Yolen, Alan Lee, Ari Berk, Rima Staines, Kris Waldherr, Shane Odom… a stellar list of artists and authors. Enjoy!