Saturday, January 28, 2012

Screen Printing. Kinda.

Another day of trying something new and learning from my experience (aka getting super frustrated.) It is just too bad that about 99% of my projects hold their greatest value in the education gained through the process. It would be nice if the end result actually held value as well. Do I hear whining? Am I whining? Ahhh! Poke me with a knitting needle.

Today's experience... tackling the printing project in Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's  CPS article, "Find Your Voice."  I like this project because I get to carve rubber blocks. I could carve rubber blocks all day long. So soothing.

As I later discovered, it pays to think about the design before you start carving. If you are not wild about it, well... it has been carved, friends. So... some sort of jailbird design later, I have four separate layers carved and ready to ink up.

The only ink on hand? Black and hot pink. Not gonna work. A Saturday trip to the craft store is in order. Thankfully I hit a sale, but had to cross my fingers that the colors would work since the packaging was sealed up tighter than lunchmeat.

Once home, the printing went speedy quick. I tried my new inks on lots of different papers. Not thrilled with the chalky colors nor the rather dull design.

But lets talk about the positives.

One day a cool design will come to me. On that day, I will carve new stamps and perhaps treat myself to a new brighter set of inks. On that day, I will be thankful for the education experience of today. Right?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Getting Sketchy

As some of you might have noticed, I have a new box over on the right. I decided to join The Sketchbook Challenge. Have you heard about it? Maybe you've already been on board.
Each month the Sketchbook Challenge artists give us a new theme and I can upload photos of my sketches in the group's Flickr stream. I want to do more sketching, so I decided this might encourage me to get moving in that direction.
I finally started using a handmade paper book I have had in my studio for about ten years now. I bought it with the intention of filling it with beautiful sketches or collages, but like wedding china, I never use it because I don't want to mess it up. Can any of you relate?
I threw caution to the wind and glued stuff to the front of the book. There is no turning back now. The glasses and tea cup are paper creations from my collection of scraps and misfires. I never thought of using them together, but like their association with sketching... glasses, a cup of hot tea, and my sketchbook. Happy times.

The inside cover was solid black. Perfect spot for a little intro collage.

This paper comes from a children's book of poetry I found in the discard pile at the library. The whole book is filled with groovy 70's woodblock print.

This page needed some windows.

I'll keep every scrap of this great paper.

Gotta have a little stitching.

Some stencil dots. (That's my new stencil from the The Crafter's Workshop)

And a dreamy bit of encouragement.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Promptly Get Busy Making Something

"Look at art from a different culture, and then dive into your sketchbook." This was a prompt submitted by Anne Donaghy in the Cloth Paper Scissors article, "A Year of Art Prompts" by Belinda Spiwak & Friends. I never use art prompts because I never feel like I need them. My head is always full of projects and lists of techniques I want to try. But, in the spirit of Rampin' Up My Crafty, I decided to look through the list and pick one.

I enjoyed a few minutes of inspiration from a little coffee table book (impulse buy #999) called Light of India, a Conflagration of Indian Matchbook Art by Warren Dotz. The book is filled with brightly colored monkeys, elephants, religious imagery, and all kinds of scenes from India. I made some doodles and created a picture that combined some of my favorite elements. Then I had to get my markers and fill the sketch with color and the bold black outlines I had seen in my book.

The end result was something unexpected and delightful. I am not sure how I will use this image, or if I ever will. But something tells me I will find ways to put a bit of India into more of my artwork. How can't that be wonderful?

I will be coming back to this list of prompts and sharing new creations with you as I go. If you want to try a prompt and see what happens in your artwork, you can download the CPS list for free. What images and ideas are waiting?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mod Podge Fest 2012

It's another gray, cold, and misty afternoon here in Atlanta. There is plenty of housework, laundry, and cooking that I could be doing. But why? Especially when my 9 year old daughter, Bea, and I have the house to ourselves all afternoon. We've been down in the basement studio (with every light on and girlie music playing) going crazy with paper, paint, and Mod Podge. We were inspired by Ann Ellis' "Word Birds" in the January/February issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Ann glues fun and inspirational words and phrases onto her birds, then puts them on sticks to place in pencil cans, plants, or wherever inspiration is needed.

Bea and I decided we liked our birds wordless and we haven't decided whether or not to put them on sticks. They would be a lot of fun on a canvas too.

We have successfully dreamed and played away hours of a dull afternoon.
We'll be happily peeling Mod Podge off our hands until supper. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Know You Have Days Like This Too

Yesterday, my crafty cap must have been in the dirty laundry bin. Things did not go well in the studio. I tried to re-create some of the magnificent painted scissors like the ones on the cover of this month’s Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. June Pfaff Daley’s scissors were at the top of my “I can’t wait to make these” list. In preparation, I stopped by the craft store the other day and picked up alcohol-based supplies. I tore into the paint package when I got home from work and launched in. Hmmm. Something didn’t seem right. I read June’s article again, this time with glasses. I realized she suggested alcohol-based paints. I purchased alcohol inks - definitely not the same thing. I dug around in my paint stash and realized I already had some alcohol-based paints, just not many color choices.

I am glad I tried this project, but I want my scissors to be more colorful and June Pfaff Daley-like. Another trip to the craft store might be in order.

My next attempt at craftiness … ink jet shrinky dinks. I had the grand idea to make a chunky charm bracelet with photos from our trip to Jamaica. I carefully printed and cut my photos and popped the tray into the oven. 3-5 minutes later, I had a tray filled with what looked like vacation-colored rigatoni pasta tubes. Every piece curled up and could not be unrolled.
I decided it was time to close up shop and cook dinner. Oops. It was almost 7:30 and my kids needed to be showering already. My husband came to the rescue and picked up Wendy’s value menu baked potatoes and chili on his way home.

At this point, I felt rather low.

Luckily, I picked up a new book to read in bed and inside the cover I read a quote by Pablo Picasso. 

The important thing is to do, and nothing else; be what it may.

I picked up my sketchbook and “do”odled for a little while. Not every day will be stellar.

Check out June Pfaff Daley's etsy shop for even more colorful fun!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Straight Out of My Treasure Stash

Over the weekend, I started my "Rampin Up My Crafty" efforts by taking inspiration from Heather Chevreau's CPS article called "Sweet Vignette Jewelry." Heather creates romantic felt necklaces (and sells them in her etsy shop!) that combine felt and bits of old lace with vintage chains and costume jewelry.

As I've mentioned before, I am the lucky recipient of many jars, boxes, and bags of old sewing notions and craft room glory from special ladies in my family. After I read Heather's article, my fingers could not stay still and my mind started moving into the netherworld of craftiness. I just had to dig through my collection of vintage trims, buttons, and random doodads. I ended up being drawn to one piece of lace, some old bra parts, a buckle, and a few swanky buttons. I put them all together with some inexpensive jump rings and a chain from the craft store.

 I wore the necklace to work today and thought of the unique ladies who kept everything and shared some of that everything with me. I am so glad they did.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Here We Go!

After much thought, I have decided on a creative theme for 2012. I am announcing it in a little video. Now... before you view this, please know that I already have a list of things I need to correct. But, I want to get things rolling and I know you all are a patient, forgiving, and very encouraging crew, so here goes.


Here's a closer look at my new logo.

I am in the process of purchasing Adobe Illustrator (another Rampin' Up goal) and am excited to make my logo look more professional. I am pretty nervous about trying to learn a new program, but my lack of digital art knowledge is keeping me from exploring so many creative interests.

As I announced, I am going to be delving into the details of the January / February issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. I have already purchased some of my supplies and am excited to share the results with you. Please feel free to comment and link back to projects on your own blogs! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Bra

Today I am singing praises to my bra. As a small-chested person, this contraption has boosted both my bust line and my self-esteem for most of my life. Bras have been creeping into my artwork for many years. I once wrote a farewell to padded bras, convinced that I should give them up and just be my ironing board-chested self. That didn't last long. I missed the fancy ones.

A few years ago, I dreamed up a whole quilt of bra-shaped geometrical shapes. My mom belongs to a quilting group that meets in the basement of a tiny white church in Red Oak, Missouri. I've met the ladies and would love to hear their take on a bra quilt. I actually think they would get a kick out of it.

Last summer, I created a wire and paper sculpture called "We All Need a Little Support." (Some of you might have seen it in the November / December issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.)

And here I go again. 
I didn't start this collage thinking of a bra. In fact, I thought it would be complete as a simple patchwork quilt on the math paper. But it needed something and that something was another bra.

I created this little collage to send in for the latest CPS challenge. The challenge is to create a mostly fabric postcard and mail it in. I am a little nervous to mail this, but that is part of the adventure. Maybe I will make a postman (or woman) smile.

If your 2012 goal was to ramp up your crafty, I encourage you to visit the CPS website for the challenge details and enter your own postcard creation. Taking the time to enter a reader challenge has always been worth the effort for me. Every challenge pushes me to think in a new direction. I also enjoy the challenge of creating something within a deadline. Kinda brings a little excitement into my studio.

Postcards aren't due until January 20th!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Throw the Whiner From the Car

Being in Jamaica for the holidays set me back a few weeks in my normal new year thinking. I thought I would spend lots of hours in deep thought. Instead I spent lots of hours reading delicious novels, working on my tan, and looking for hermit crabs.

It didn't take more than a few hours in the hustle bustle world of the good old US for all my thoughts to return and for my artsy brain to start humming again. It didn't help that I was greeted with a huge stack of mail that included the January / February issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, chock full of eye candy and inspiration.

So, while my son practiced football last night, I stayed in the car and doodled some thoughts for 2012. No big revelations this year. I still want to do everything and lack focus. I still feel frustration over all that I cannot do because of other commitments in my life. I still see so many negatives... And here is where the Jamaican brain break paid off. As I was feverishly writing and doodling and kvetching, I heard myself loud and clear and couldn't stand the whining. Who was this grumpy ungrateful complainer? She had to get out of the car.

After I mercilessly kicked her of the driver's seat, I wrote "What would happen if... I stopped complaining about what I can't do and focused on the possibilities within the life I already have? Get ready for the possibilities to become realities."

Ok. Reflection done. Time to make art. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Next Time I Will Just Pack a Bikini and My Toothbrush

We got back last night. 10 days in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. What a vacation. Over a week of beautiful sights and sounds, delicious food, and nothing I really had to do but relax. I brought a pouch of art supplies and didn't unzip it once. I decided to turn my brain off and just drink in my surroundings.

We went on fantastic outings. We hiked up a waterfall at Dunns River Falls, zip-lined through a tropical forest at Mystic Mountain, snorkeled at James Bond Beach, and kissed dolphins at Dolphin Cove.

I enjoyed the adventures, but my favorite times were those spent reclining in a chair, listening to the sea, feeling the cool breezes, and talking with my family. Day after day of no expectations, no deadlines, no real responsibility, and no laundry made me realize how crowded my brain had become. I know some of those things will have to creep back in. We do need clean underwear. But how much of that clutter can stay gone?

As I think about the new year ahead, I hope I can keep a little bit of Jamaica in my mind every day. Peace and Love.