"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

Friday, February 29, 2008

One Giant Leap

Happy Leap Year!

I'm very thankful for an extra 24 hours this year. I have a lot on my plate right now, but I am slowly chipping away at it. I've been working on my piece for the "Take It Further" challenge. February's challenge consisited of two parts ~ a color scheme, and the challenge to create an art piece based on "what you are old enough to remember". Here is my piece. It's not finished, but I'm getting there.

"Space Junk"
Below is the color scheme. When I first saw it, it didn't really speak to me. I've spent a bit of time this month thinking about the other part of the challenge ... what do I remember? Well, I remember milk being delivered in bottles in a little metal box outside our door. I remember when the barn near my grandparents' place burned down. I remember banana seats and wearing plaid pants with argyle socks (mom! what were you thinking!!).

Then, in one of my art groups, some folks started talking about man landing on the moon. I was only about 18 months old. Surely I don't remember that. But I have these vague images ... of being at my grandparents' house and the TV being by the wall at the front of the house ... of being told this was important ... of asking if that was "the man in the moon" because I really didn't understand who the man in the moon was ... So do I remember it? Or was it relived for several years after the event, and is that what I remember?

Recently, I saw some breathtaking photos of earth from space. As I was looking at them, I realized that I was viewing the challenge color scheme! So, my decision was made. I went to NASA's website where there are hundreds of copyright free images, and found one of earth. I've been wanting to do some image printing, and this was a good opportunity to practice. I fused my image to the black background and the thought of space junk orbiting the earth came to me. So I got out my bags of found objects and whatnots and started to pull things out ... a broken piece of chain, a cap from a paintbrush, a rusty smashed bottlecap, a button that had been run over, some springs, and a broken rivet.

As I started working on my layout, the rivet caught my attention. At first I couldn't believe what I saw ... I couldn't believe what was embedded into the rivet ...

1969! That was the year we walked on the moon. That was where this whole piece started, even if I didn't know it. Coincidence? Serendipity? Karma? Cool! I still plan to stitch some "stars" (either tiny pearls or crystals, I haven't decided yet) onto the piece, and it needs a backing and binding. I will finish it soon. And then I'm going to frame it. The piece is 7x7 inches. I have the perfect frame.
Above is another detail shot. If you look closely, you can see one of the springs towards the top of the photo. I'm glad I made time to meet the challenge this month. We'll see what March brings!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Step Aside, Ruby Slippers!

What a burst of sunshine, eh? My 10 year old DD is in a choral performance group. They are performaning a routine from "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown". She is Woodstock. She needed yellow sneakers. Yeah right. So I bought her some $5 white canvas shoes and broke out my yellow Jacquard Textile Paint - and 30 fun minutes later, she's got the brightest shoes on the block! I just love them. So does she! We were thinking of all sorts of fun things to do with the sneakers - like beach scenes and polka dots. Maybe we'll even make a matching set! The nice thing about the textile paint is that it does not change the feel of the canvas, and it won't flake off. That's some yellow, isn't it?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Timing Is Everything

Timing IS everything, even for a sewing machine, and my machine's timing seems to have bit the dust. I had this problem a month or two ago, took it in to be serviced (which it needed anyway) and it was working quite well until today when it went "thunk" and reverted to doing what it was doing back then (mainly skipping stitches and not picking up the bobbin thread in any consistent matter). Well ... this machine is about 15 years old, and has been a workhorse. It is a basic machine which I bought when all I really wanted to do was straight stitch and zigzag. I have coaxed it into doing far more than that. I think it is time to say goodbye. So I am searching for a new machine.

Of course, this means I can't sew anything - so much for my grand plans to get some things done this week! But I should be able to catch up on the two online classes I am taking through Quilt University - Quilter's Palette (dyeing) and Fabric Painting, both with Marjie McWilliams (who is an amazing teacher and artist, I might add).

Quilter's Palette is geared towards making fabrics to be used in landscapes and portraits. I've completed about half the lessons and the above photo are the fabrics I now have. Aren't they amazing? Obviously I've been working on the landscape fabric portion - I've yet to do hair and skin tones. I'm looking forward to doing them! The painting photos will have to wait, since that class is more recent and I haven't started the lessons yet.

Wish me luck on my hunt for the perfect (perfectly affordable??!!) machine!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

This One's For You!

Here's a little something for my friends and family "up north" who lamented our signs of spring:
We woke up to a "crusting" of snow this morning. It rained all day yesterday (we only need about 2 more feet of rain to replenish the lake that supplies our water!!), and the temp plummetted. About 11:30 last night, the last of the precipitation switched over to snow. It's all melted away now, but it was a fun surprise. Made it easy to get the kids out of bed this morning - told them if they didn't get up they would miss all the snow and wow, did they move fast!
So ... tell me, just how much IS that doggie in the window? Rosi doesn't like it when I head out to the back yard without her. After I took the photo of our palm tree with snow, I came back to the house to this sight:
She's growing so fast! She's around 25 lbs now, and still sweet as can be. She is crate trained at last, and makes it through most nights without needing a potty break. It is so great to sleep all night long again!
And, finally, Happy Valentine's Day! The below postcard was made by my 10 year old daughter (with a little guidance, but not much!) for her new art penpal in California. They decided to exchange valentines. Didn't she do a great job???

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Finished - Or is it?

The gold and gray piece is finished - I think. There are still some threads that might need something to hang from them and well, it might need some beads or something. At any rate, it's done for now, and done enough that I can stop and move on. I do like how it turned out, even though it is not even close to what I envisioned when I started.

Here's a closeup ~ I toned down the purple cheesecloth with some gray yarn and black paint, but it still peeks through here and there.

It is probably time to move on anyway. The golds and grays of autumn inspired this piece, but they have faded away. A recent jaunt through my gardens revealed the first signs of spring. It is coming! Enjoy the journey ...

Daffodils ready to explode

Hellebores (Lenten Rose) in full bloom

Sedum peeking up through the last year's branches

Winter Daphne - wish I could send some fragrance through the screen. The entire cluster of blooms is only about 1" in diameter, but it has an incredible fragrance that stops people in their tracks. I just love this plant.

Irises awakening

Bradford Pear trees ready to burst into a cloud of white blooms in March

And finally, Verbena.

Hmmm ... maybe my next piece should be pale pink, cream and green?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Think Pink

Monica over at Girl Gone Thread Wild is doing a community art project to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She is collecting 2"x2" art squares which she will stitch into an art doll to be auctioned off through Ebay later this year.
I'm excited to be participating. These two squares are on their way to Monica today. Appropriate since a friend of mine (the mom of one of my son's best friends) starts chemo today for breast cancer.
The backgrounds of these squares are pieces of my hand dyed paper towels. The first one sports a photo of yours truly - in my younger days! The second one is my great (great??) grandmother - she's the lady on the right. Wish I knew who the
other lady was - probably a friend. I love these old pictures and it was a lot of fun to use them (or copies of them!) in my art. I may venture down this path again. If you're interested in Monica's project, please check out her blog (link above).

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Cover Up

On January 17th I posted some pics of my process of converting an icky failed attempt at a journal cover, into something a little more palatable. The inspiration for this was a swap I joined on Surface Design called "Remake a Mistake". I needed to make 4 postcards to send away. I cut two from that original piece and two from another. The pieces are finally finished!

What I learned is that if I'm not liking the look of something ... cover it up! Some things just work better in the background and don't look half bad when they're not staring you in the face!

So here are the two pieces that started out as blue and tan upholstery fabric samples...

I painted some Tyvek and stitched it on top, then melted it (of course!) and added the flowers. All in all a pretty successful experiment and a good bit better than where it started!!! I still have some of the painted piece left to do something a little bigger for myself.
The other piece that I remade started as a journal quilt (8.5x11"). I forgot to take a photo of it before I attacked it, but my thought was an abstract nature scene. I took a beautiful hand dyed fabric to use for the background, stitched some wide green blades on it and the added some chopped up bits of colorful fabrics. It wasn't doing anything for me, so I got out my paints and painted some flowers on that baby. Let me tell you, it was U*G*L*Y. It has been sitting in the "look at this mess you made!" pile for a loooooooong time. So ... I covered it first with green dyed cheesecloth. Good. Not enough. Then I found a black and gray striped sheer that I bought at Walmart for $1/yd. I stitched that on top as well. Then I took my heat gun to it and found that the lighter sheer areas melted away easily, while the darker areas took a little more effort. Thus, the stripe remained but I could see the colors and whatnot inbetween. I added some paper towel pieces (actually made by my daughter) and some hammered metal swirls (something I just learned to make - aren't they great?) and I just love these pieces. I made two, but here's just one as they are both pretty much the same.

So the moral here is: don't ever give up on a piece, and when it doubt, cover it up!

Friday, February 1, 2008


That's how many bottle caps I have turned into "something" in the past two days. Well, that's if I counted right - who knows! It was a lot though. Magnets, jewelry, and my latest creation... book marks!
I added a charm after this photo was taken, but you get the idea. They actually work quite well and I'm sure I will make many more.

I have some great news! A friend and I went into the City to propose to a gallery there that they might like to carry our stuff - and we both were accepted! I brought some map frames (using maps of the City) and bottlecap jewelry there today. I hope it does well. It is in a really great location. I love the store. Very ecclectic. It's called Knockabout and it really is a nifty place. Here's some of the jewelry that I took there today:

I think I have finally decided how to finish the gold and gray piece. The good news is, it's a fairly simple finish, so hopefully I will have that to show you next week. And, not to keep you in suspense any longer, here is the project that I gave you a glimpse of in my last post:

It is a pin, which is now in the possession of the lovely lady in the photo, who happens to live in Holland. The wings were made using the paper towel technique that was published in CPS. The diamond in the center is a piece of my dyed paper towel coated with glitter embossing powder. The bead is made from tyvek - and of course the bottlecap. Truly a recycled piece.

That's all for now - hopefully I won't be away so long next time!