"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!