"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

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.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Soup Bowl - Seriously

The owner of Fusions in Pittsboro asked me to make a bowl for a fundraiser to benefit the Cathmam County Soup Kitchen. I think it might be connected with the "Empty Bowls" project, but I'm not sure. For a set donation, you get a simple soup lunch and you get to choose a bowl made by a local artist to take home.

Since all my art at Fusions is made with recycled materials, I felt I needed to create a bowl that reflected that. I found a pattern for a simple fabric bowl and went about fusing old NC map pieces, dyed paper towels (purple), painted dryer sheets (blues and greens) and candy wrappers (gold) to my base. I finished it by fusing a layer of blue tulle over the top and stitching. It took longer to create the layers than it did to assemble the bowl!
I need to neaten up my satiin stitch along the seams. I put the grommets in, thinking I would "faux lace" the sides, but I didn't like any of the lacing that I tried, so I just left it as is. I am considering adding bead dangles to the four corners for a little more interest. It goes to the shop on Thursday, so we'll see what time allows.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I joined a swap on Art Techniques along with 119 other artists. Each of us chose a mixed media technique and made 120 4x4 samples. The samples were mounted onto sturdy paper (Bristol Board in my case) with instructions on the back. It will be pretty incredible to have access to 120 techniques. Given that I am relatively new to mixed media, this will be a tremendous resource for me.
My pages were shipped to the hostess yesterday. Here's a photo of them all stacked up. I love this photo!
And here is a sampling of the different color combinations that I made. The technique I chose was painted paper bags - yes, they started out as brown paper lunch sacks (or in many cases, wine sacks - go figure!). Below are a few closeups - and I plan to post a tutorial here soon!
Water Reflections?
Aging Copper?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Honor / Remembrance / Peace

Those are the words I needed to keep in mind.

Four weeks ago, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff became a Dad. He gave his name to his son.
Three weeks ago, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff, a Green Beret, left the US for his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Monday, Capt. Richard Gordon Cliff was killed. He was 29.


Yesterday I received an email from a relative of Richie's. She had purchased one of my bottlecap necklaces at Knockabout and wrote to ask me if I could design a necklace for Richie's widow. She said she didn't want red white and blue patriotism, but something that would honor Richie in a more subtle way, and keep his memory close to her heart.

What an honor.

Above is the necklace I designed. My goal was to honor Richie in every detail possible. Below you can see the results. The background is a neutral color (by request). The three stars represent Richie, his wife, and their son. The phrase "Sine Pari" means "Without Equal" and is the motto of the US Special Forces, of which the Green Berets are a part. The motto for the Green Berets is "De Oppresso Liber" - "To Free the Oppressed". I sealed those words onto the back of a heart charm. Most of the background beads are green - for the Green Berets, of course. The extra heart charm is for love, of course, and the hole that will always be in his widow Stacy's heart.

On the flip side, how could I not use a bottlecap from RC Cola - afterall, RC are Richie's initials.

I didn't know Richie, or his family. My heart breaks for them. I know they will spend the next days, weeks, and months wondering how life can go on so normally for all the people around them - all living in oblivion to the tragedy they have suffered. If you follow the link at the top of this post, you can read a little bit about Richie.

So, thank you Richie, for giving your life, the ultimate sacrifice, for my freedom. Thank you Stacy, for letting him go. I am so sorry for your loss. I know it is unbelievably great. And thank you to all our servicemen and women who honor duty to country above all else. You are heroes. I look forward to celebrating the day that you can all return home.

Honor, Remembrance, Peace ...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

How charming is Black and White?

I'm starting to think I live a charmed life inspite of the terrible economy! Remember the pink charms I made for Amber Dawn's Think Pink Charm Swap? Well, here are the enticing packages that arrived in my mailbox last week ... I will show you all my treasures as soon as I can get good photos of them. There are some fantastic charms and I can't wait to put them all together!

Don't forget the purpose of this exchange - two extra charms from each swapper (there were 31 of us!) are being used to make bracelets to be auctioned off to benefit the Komen Foundation. Also, you can buy entries to win the art doll Love Squared, which is truly an amazing and one-of-a-kind never-to-be-duplicated work of art. Your entry equals a donation to the search for a cure for breast cancer. What could be better than that??

So, now Amber is hosting a black and white charm exchange and I seem to have caught the bug. Below are some of the caps that I made while I was coming up with samples to share with Amber. I am thrilled that she liked them and has accepted them into the swap!!! The true black and white color scheme is really quite striking.

While I was playing around with the color scheme, I also created this charm. It is 2" long, which is a bit too large for the swap, and it was very labor intensive, but I just love how it came out! In fact, I have just hung it from the charm that you see in the top center of the photo above and with a little more bling (TBD), I think I will hang it on my Christmas tree!

Beading and jewelry making (other than with caps!) is new to me and I have a lot to learn, but it's a fun adventure.

Slug Fest

First, I just need to say that I cannot believe it's October. My kids birthdays are in October and January, and the ensuing four months always feel like a whirlwind to me - two birthdays and a bunch of holidays thrown in between! I'm not sure I'm ready for this.

We were doing some yard work over the weekend and Tom discovered these two slugs galavanting on the side of the house. I don't know how high they climbed before they realized that DOWN was the way to go. They were each at least 5" long and climbed nose-to-tail like this the whole time we watched them. It reminded me of the old Warner Bros cartoon of the skunk, Pepe' Le Pew and his relentless pursuit of the cat, Penelope. I loved that cartoon!

I hope these slugs are harmless, that's for sure!!!