"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I almost forgot to share this bit of art with you. It was for a "12 Days of Christmas" ornament swap, and I had "A partridge in a pear tree". My ornament was not opened until Dec 23rd, by which time we were already in New York. So finally, here it is:

It is made from a laminate sample, using molding paste, a rubber stamp, and paint. The bird is made from shrink plastic. I was pleased with how they turned out. Below are all the pieces I did. There were 14 of us in the swap, but we made it work! All the ornaments were just beautiful. I will have to take photos and share them with you.
So here it is, New Year's Eve and tomorrow we have to begin to remember to write "2009". It hardly seems possible. We usually stay up until midnight, but don't do much to celebrate. We talked about heading to downtown Raleigh for the First Night festivities, but as the weather is supposed to drop to the 20s and the winds are gusting quite strong, and I have a raging head cold that not even the best of meds seem to be able to conquer, we are staying home tonight, and I probably won't stay up.
In Raleigh (The City of Oaks) we have a copper acorn sculpture that is hoisted into the air and "dropped" at midnight. You can see a photo of it at our local news channel's website. It is tradition in the southern United States to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck in the New Year. As I grew up in the north, I haven't bought into that one yet. How do you celebrate where you live?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


First of all, Susan Lenz's Cyber Fyber exhibit is coming up in January. Check out all the Postcards (mine is #155) and ATCs (mine is #36) that will be in the exhibit. Be sure to leave a comment if you like what you see! She is having a Peoples Choice award.

We travelled to New York for Christmas. We had a wonderful time, but it is good to be home. We ordered up some snow and got plenty of it! All of it fell before we arrived - about 18" worth. My kids have certainly seen snow, but not much and not in a very long time, and our Guatemalan exchange student had never seen it. We got some serious winter fun in...The snow was up to Rosi's belly in places, but she had a blast. We would throw the tennis ball, which would of course sink under the snow, and she would use her nose to sniff it out. The hardest part for her was that there was no grass on which to do her business, and it took her a while to accept that she had to use the snow!
Later in the week, after a little rain and warmer temps, the snow was great for packing, so of course we had to build a snowman! That's my neice in the blue.

Earlier in the week, the snow was very powdery and made for an incredible day of sledding. Do you know there was only one other family at the hill we went to, and they were also from North Carolina?! Go figure. In the photo below, Joseph jumped on top of Tom for a ride down the hill, and my nephew Max seized the opportunity and hopped on top just as they started heading down the hill. It was pretty funny.
Tom and I have decided that although the snow is fun, we do not miss wading through slush in parking lots and shiverring every time we go outside. I also do not miss all the muck that gets dragged in on boots all day long. We are happy to live a bit further south and visit the snow on occassion. And if you were wondering if it was cold, well, just look at this guy - he was freezing!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My local quilting group had a secret santa exchange last Saturday. The person who drew my name happens to also share my birthday, so of course I loved absolutely everything! But this took my breath away. June is a quilter (it's a quilting group) and has never ventured into the world of altered arts and mixed media. She did this just for me and it is beautiful and I am so touched. Above is the outside of the altered altoid tin. Beautiful, yes, but when I opened it up...
You see, June has been snooping around my blog, unbeknownst to me. She used photos of my art and inspirational sayings to fill this accordian book that was hidden in the tin. Isn't it just amazing? I will cherish it always. Thank you June!!!
I drew Janice's name. Now, I happen to know that Janice reads my blog (thank you Janice!!) so although I was making some things, I couldn't really share them because it would have ruined the surprise. I did give you a peek of one thing, so here is the big reveal...

This is a laminate sample made into an ornament. I made it non-Christmassy so she could hang it year round if she likes. I used molding paste for the dimension.

This actually didn't go to Janice, but I did something similar for her. The tag is made from a paint sample (you can still see the lines that separate the different shades). I will be doing a lot more of these for a swap in the New Year.

And finally, here is the journal - or actually it holds a notepad - that started out as hat icky brown calico. I think it looks much better now. :o)
I have a few other things to share - I finished the quilt and have received a few other gifts - but it may be a few days before I am able to post again. My husband's grandfather passed away and the family is all staying here. The funeral is tomorrow. I'll be back as soon as I can.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Moving Right Along ...

I still have a lot to do, but things are moving along. I simply cannot believe Christmas is in just two weeks. Where does the time go?

I finished quilting the quilt in a swirly pattern which came out pretty nice. I am very much a novice at machine quilting, but I can tell from looking at the back that I improved even just over the course of this one quilt. I still have to attach the binding. You can see that I have a helper who likes to come supervise, at least when the sun is shining in that window!
I made an ATC which I'm quite pleased with. It is going to ... well I can't tell you because it's a secret. The background is a cotton upholstery sample. I intended to do just neutrals with no color but I couldn't quite manage it. It seems each time I set out to work without color, somehow color sneaks in. Anyway, I do like how it came out.
This is the finished project from the piece I showed a couple of posts ago. Well, I can't show you the whole thing yet, but I bet you can guess what it is.
My Christmas Camellia is really blooming this year. This is the first year that the plant is covered in blooms. I am so happy when I see this beautiful plant bursting with color in Decmeber. I think I must plant a few more! Today is warm with a misty rain and the drops on the flowers were so pretty this morning.
And finally, what else? This ice-dyed fabric happened yesterday and it astounded me. I used three colors - orchid, chartruese, and sky blue (all from Dharma) and it just came out this absolute riot of colors. I'm still not sure how it happened. I have another piece melting away right now with the exact same dyes, so we'll see if I get similar results.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tutorial - AT LAST!

At long last, here are the instructions for how I paint up paper lunch sacks to make a really cool background that you can use in collage, or to cover a journal, or to make just about anything. The end result is a very sturdy paper. You can see the samples in my earlier blogpost here.

So first, gather up some paper lunch sacks, or better yet, buy a bottle of wine and save the brown paper sleeve that you carry it home it. Anything much thinner than this will not hold up well through the process. Cut the bag open at the seam, discard the seam and the bottom of the bag.

Now mix up some white glue and warm water until the glue dissolves. I'd say about 4 parts water to 1 part glue, but I'm not sure it's that important. Take your bag and crumple it up into a ball and submerge it in the glue/water. Remove, squeeze, open and crumple again to repeat the proceedure. Twice is fine, do it a third time if you want extra wrinkles AND if your paper is holding up well. Open up the bag and place it on top of a protected surface (I put it on top of a plastic trash bag so it doesn't stick).

Next take acrylic paint (I use craft paint at this stage) and paint your wet paper bag. Paint it however you'd like. You don't need a thick coat of paint, a little goes a long way. Think about the colors you want to end up with.

Once your paper has dried, iron it front and back (between pressing cloths or parchment). This will seal in the wrinkles and make it easy to work with.

Finally, I like to dry brush accent colors on top to highlight the wrinkles. On this piece I started with the yellow (craft paint) and then added silver metallic highlights with Lumiere. If you want to, you can put a glossy acrylic glaze over the whole thing when you're done.
I hope you get a chance to try this. It's a lot of fun!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

What I'm Doing with What I've Got

I've got several projects in the works - nothing new for me given that it is two.something weeks before Christmas. I am working on a few last minute gifts and an ATC for a trade (which I don't have a photo of yet). I have also discovered that I am nearing my 200th post, so I will have to start thinking of a little giveaway to celebrate.

I am planning to post the paper bag tutorial that I promised ages ago, in the next few days, so stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, here are some things I am working on:

I have turned the above, uninspiring brown calico into what you see below ... using molding paste, dynaflow paints and lumiere paints. Messy but fun. No word yet on what this will become, but it's turning into something!

I participated in a project several years ago (need to pull out my journal to find out just how many) with my local quilting group and the quilt top pictured below was the result. Now that I have a nice machine, and have located black batting, and purchased ungodly expensive variegated thread, and pieced a backing from the leftover solid fabrics ... I am finally qulting this piece. My local group meets in one week and my hope is to take it with me and sew the binding on while I'm there. I have another top from the same group that I'd like to quilt as well, just not sure it will be happening this week!

And finally a closeup of my third piece of ice-dyed fabric. This one done in raspberry, orange and yellow. I ordered a few new dye colors and will make more once they arrive. I'm hoping to make some drawstring totes for my nieces for Christmas, so we'll see how that goes.
Well, I am up early for a Saturday. Someone (not me) accidentally set his alarm to go off at 6 am and someone (not him) could not get back to sleep. Ahhh well, I am enjoying the quiet (and a rare second cup of coffee) and Rosi is happy to be out of her crate. Have a wonderful day!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Freeze Dyed Fabric - Southern Style!

Look at this bit of lusciousness! And with any luck I'll have another piece by the end of the day.
I don't know if you've seen or heard of snow-dyed fabric. It's gorgeous, but you need, um, SNOW to make it. Well, we don't get much of that here in North Carolina and I was getting jealous. So ... I put the fabric in my kitchen sink and used ice instead, and look what happened! I love it. I can't wait to make more. This might actually help me keep my sink clean! I call it Freeze Dyed Fabric - Southern Style!

This is a closeup of a particularly lovely area. There is too much raspberry in this piece, so I've still got some experiementing and learning to do (oh, darn!).
This just in! Here's the blue/green one I made today. I'm likin' it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This Time, Last Year

Here we are at December again. Last year, I vowed to blog everyday for the month of December. You know what they say - another year old, another year wiser! But I will try to make an appearance more often than lately, especially if my computer hangs on.

If you are interested in the Cranberry Apple Bread recipe, it is at the end of this post. If you try it, let me know. I hope you enjoy it!

Marloes asked, via comment, about whether or not I can change out the inchies in my display from a few posts back. The answer is yes. They are attached to lanyard hooks.

I took a look back at my goals for the year - some I did well with, others not so much. One goal was to read a book a month. I think I've accomplished that, although I stopped counting. I seem to have hit a non-fiction spurt, although it is purely coincidental. Here's what's passed through my hands the last couple of months...

My son actually found this book, and the next, at the library and checked them out. He didn't read them, but I did. I found both books, but especially the first one, fascinating. I could not have read the book above, if I did not know going in that the dog survives (hence the opportunity for book 2). A captivating read with incredible insights into the lives of our service members overseas.Isn't he a beautiful dog? The second book was not quite as captivating for me, but I was still glad to read it and thank the author (Jay Kopelman) for his honesty in writing.

I pulled this off the library shelves one day while I was waiting for a computer to free up. Cesar Millan is the "Dog Whisperer" (of National Geographic channel fame). His insights into dog psychology are fascinating. He truly has a gift.
Finally, this is on my nightstand now. I have never read Anne Frank's diary in its entirety, and it wasn't until recently that all of her writings have been published (in this edition, which is the one I am reading). What can one say about Anne Frank that hasn't been said before? But it is heartbreaking to know that of the 8 people that hid in the secret annex in Amsterdam, only 1 (Anne's father) survived. I think that fact is what has me dragging my feet as I read. It's March, 1944 and they were arrested in early August 1944. What a tragedy war is; how unnecessary hate is.
Back to fiction after this.
And finally, here's the recipe. I never really cared for cranberry bread - it is usually made with orange juice and always so dry. One year I switched it up, and this is the result ... an incredibly most sweet/tart bread. Yum!
Cranberry Apple Bread
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsly chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 granny smith apple, chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 cup apple juice
1 egg, well beaten
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one large or two small loaf pan(s). Prepare cranberries, nuts, and apples, combine and set aside. In large bowl mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Stir in apple juice and egg, mixing just to moisten. Fold in cranberries, nuts and apples. Spoon into prepared pan(s). Bake 60 minutes, test with toothpick for done-ness before removing from oven. Cool on rack 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool completely. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I probably won't have much to show this week, with Thanksgiving and all. I baked some bread today ... maybe I'll share my recipe for Cranberry Apple Bread, if you'd like. Let me know and I'll post if there's interest.

I did manage to complete and ATC for Carol in Wales, who is the owner of the Textile Challenges group. She chose the motif of "curlicue". Well, I always thought a curlicue and spiral were the same thing, but that wasn't what she had in mind, so here is my interpretation. The background is layered and fused, and the motif is hand beaded. I hope she likes it.

I thought you would like to see my hanging mechanism for my inchie display. I can't take credit for the idea, because I read about it on Ami Simm's Alzheimers Quilt Initiative site. An excellent place to find art and support alzheimers research, by the way. Since I used foam core, I glued two pop top pieces (from soup, I think) to the back. They make excellent hangers!

We are dog-sitting for a friend this week. It took about 24 hours, but Rosi and Angel seem to have finally wore each other out. They are both sound asleep at the moment. I'm sure I'll have some pictures for you before long!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Long, Long Time Ago ...

Back when inchies (little one inch pieces of fiber art for my non-fiber art friends) were all the rage, I participated in a swap. Shortly thereafter I began to make this display for 25 of them. Today, I finally finished it. It took me about 15 minutes to finish ... don't ask me why I waited so long. It's hanging on the wall now.
It was very hard to photograph. I'll try to get a better picture when it's daylight. I started out by covering a piece of foam core with copper leaf. I cut a piece of peltex to size and cut windows into it. I used eyelets and hung hooks and put an inchie on each hook. I used balsa wood around the edges to give some depth, so the inchies would hang free, and then I used decorative upholstery tacks around the outside. I like how it turned out and the little bits of art are unique and fun.

So last Saturday it was 76. There were a bunch of tornadoes about an hour east of here. We just had some wild clouds. Yesterday we had flurries! Craziness. Well, the only one home besides me, was Rosi, so we popped out onto the deck and I took this photo. Not a lot of snow by any stretch of the imagination, but any snow in November is pretty rare here.

And since you're still with me, even after another photo of Rosi ... here she is all tucked in. We had the sleeping bag out and Rosi thought it was wonderfully cozy. She sacked out on it and Joseph covered her up. She slept there for a loooong time!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Well, then.

So I haven't posted in a month. Well. First, when the computer's not working, I can't load pics, so I can't share. Computer's been out for most of the month. Finally is working - who knows how long. I'm sure you are as sick of hearing my computer woes and I am experiencing them, but that's how it goes ...

Anyway, now that I can post, what do I have to share? Well, I made some ornaments, but I can't show you because they're a surprise to the recipients. I also worked on some complex cloth for a trade, but I can't show you that either. I made tons of bottlecap stuff for a fair at a local preschool, but you've seen that already. So, lucky you - here are pics of life over the past month, more or less. They're mostly pics of the dog. lol.Meet "Fitty Biskitz" - she's such a patient animal. The kids had fun with her costume. This was just a test though. She wore a witch's hat and helped me pass out candy on Halloween.

This is my favorite Hickory tree in my front yard. It was a really pretty yellow this year. The fall color came and went quickly this year. Most of the leaves came down this weekend in the wind and rain.

Our Rescue (Palisades Animal Rescue) had a "reunion". Here's a pic of Rosi with her mama. I was shocked that Rosi is taller than her mom. I knew she wasn't nearly as fluffy! Actually, mom was starved and she looks so different now I never would have recognized her. Rosi got to reunite with one of her sisters and two of her brothers as well. We also got to see Cassie, the dog that we fostered briefly last April. She is doing great. It was wonderful to see all the dogs happy and doing well.

Last weekend we drove to Charlotte for a soccer tournament. Jenny's (DD) team played and Tom (DH) coached. Well, never in a million years would we have predicted it, but the girls won the championship! It was amazing and we were all so thrilled. The girls worked really hard to overcome some challenges this season and it was so nice to see their efforts pay off.

And finally, Rosi turned one year old on November 7th. Here's she's enjoying her Frosty Paws doggie ice cream. She loved it. You can sort of see the jute necklace Jenny made for her, and PawPaw bought her a bully stick. Birthdays are a good thing!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beauty and the Beast

Well, they're both beauties, really, and neither is too beastly. I bought some Honey Crisp apples the other day. They were grown in Washington State. Having grown up in New York State, I do miss apple picking. It's too warm here in North Carolina to have much in the way of an apple crop. I think there might be some places in the mountains, but it's just not the same.

These apples were simply gorgeous, and I took of photo of this one, right before it was gobbled up. They lived up to their name as well - sweet as honey - delicious!

Rosi likes to sit on the couch in the bay window in front of our house (the only piece of furniture she's allowed on) and keep watch. See that wadded up blanket? Yeah, well that is supposed to be tossed over the couch to give a little protection to the upholstery. You can see how far that gets me. Anyway, Rosi is a pretty mellow and quiet dog. She's rarely barks and is pretty submissive, in general.

But...if she feels the need to protect us from some threat, she turns into this...

Hackles raised, ears pinned, growling, barking ... we call her our BTP (Big Tough Puppy). Because she doesn't bark often, I enjoy listening to her when she does, it's almost comical. And what dire threat is she usually warning of?

Yeah. Oooh I'm so scared. This guy roams the neighborhood - mostly across the street. I have no idea who he belongs to, but he's nicely fed so I don't think he's stray. Now, we have our own cat who lords over Rosi every chance she gets, and Rosi readily submits ... but there must be something about plate glass that gives her a confidence boost. I wonder what she'd do if we ran into him on one of our walks?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Here's a little ATC I made for the Textile Challenges October Lottery. The theme this month was Halloween and we were each assigned a Halloween theme, based on a draw. I lucked out and got "cat". Since I have a fondness for black cats, and here they symbolize Halloween, deciding what to do was a no-brainer.

Fortunately I remembered that I have some velvet tucked away. I found a crushed black velvet that was purrfect (sorry couldn't resist). I made a small sheet of Citronella Angelina for the eyes. I have a tendancy to over-heat angelina. I'm not sure why. So the eyes aren't quite as sparkly as I'd hoped, but it works anyway. I used glue and embossing powder for the black pupils - of course when I ironed the eyes onto the velvet, the EPs melted and some came off. I was going to fix it, but decided it looked like reflections and that I liked it that way.

So fusing two glowing eyes onto black velvet hardly seemed to be enough. I used some holographic thread and stitched the nose and whiskers. As I went to trim the thread tails around the nose, I realized that they rather added to the effect - so there they shall stay.

My little spooky kitty will be off to England today. But I love him and I might have to make one for myself.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lots of stuff

I wanted to post yesterday but the day got away from me - so here I am playing catchup! The drawing for Love Squared has happened and the winners will be announced tonight! Head over to Monica's Blog to see how much was raised for the Komen Foundation.
I say "winners" because many, many artists donated prizes for the drawing. There will be many happy winners this evening! Head over to Amber Dawn's blog to check out the charm bracelet made from all the pink charms we swapped. The gorgeous jewelry is in the October 8th post and you can see my bottlecap charm peeking out at the top. It is amazing to me that you can tell a group of artists to "make a pink charm" - and you can get so many unique and varied results.

I got a few things in the mail yesterday (finally!). Below is a postcard that I made for a Cyber friend who lost her father recently. The heart is made from the paper bag technique, that yes, I promise I will post a tutorial for!!

The word "Love" in the lower right corner was done by twisting silver wire into the shape of the word and then pounding it flat. I'm rather amused that my handwriting is apparently neater when twisting wire then it is with pen and paper. Go figure!

Below is a piece that I started a while ago, but it got stalled out. I finally pushed through my stumbling point and, as always, it came together quite nicely. It is a thank you piece, 6" square, for Arlee. Arlee organized the Exquisite Corpse Round Robin that I participated in. She did an amazing job and the group is now in round two (which I did not participate in). The group makes a lot of comments about the "corpse" aspect of this - so I thought I'd send her a corpsalicious little piece of art to add to her collection. You can see the results of our trade at the Corpse Blog.

The bottlecap can be removed if she wants to use it for a piece of jewelry. This is a surprise for her, so I'm hoping she doesn't stop by my blog in the next few days - but Arlee, if you are reading this - surprise! and thank you!!

Below is a detail shot. It was interesting to me how the various sheers all melted in a different manner when blasted with the heat gun. The skull is an iron on patch that I received from Andrea during the Sweet and Sinister swap last year. She also sent me many of the ribbons, including the white leaves, which ended up being the final touch that the piece really needed.

And finally, I am doing a complex cloth round robin with three other ladies from the Surface Design group. We are sending one yard of fabric through each member, and we get to alter the fabric with the surfaced design method of our choice. We get our piece back in the end, although we might swap small pieces of it.
This is the yard of hand-dyed failure that I am sending. It is actually much duller in real life than it looks in this photo - and that's saying something! It is a piece I dyed last year, that obviously didn't work out. I can't wait to see what the other ladies do to it. Anything will be an improvement! I'm looking forward to playing with what comes my way, too.

I've got a few more projects to complete. This week has broughty myriad days off and early releases with the three kids, so I am trying to get things done here and there.