Saturday, December 29, 2018

Art Elements WhiteTheme Reveal

It's that time again...Art Elements theme reveal. December's theme challenge was hosted by team member Claire and she chose white. I am a huge fan of a monochromatic palette and have done numerous pieces in shades of white/ecru/beige so I was really excited about this theme.

Per usual, I wrote down about 5 ideas that I thought I would create. Yet again, I did not get a chance to create them all.

First piece was created on natural colored linen and I chose an array of white, ecru, winter white, beige & tan threads to use. I was gifted some lovely natural cheesecloth by my Art Elements' Secret Santa so I just had to incorporate that. I also found the ceramic cabochon in my Secret Santa package. The colors are perfect and it appears to be a goddess. 

Full view of 'Climbing the Tree of Enlightenment'
When I started this I had no idea where I was going with it. I just took the cheesecloth, ripped it, stretched it and started stitching circular motifs. Then I ruched the cheesecloth around the goddess cabochon (with a tad of glue on the back) placed some more stitching around it and said, "what now?" I had no idea what I was making.  Just stitching intuitively and randomly. Then I got the idea to create a tree with the goddess sort of sitting on a limb. This whole thing would've probably worked much better if I had planned in advance. I just tend to fly by the seat of my pants without a lot of forethought. Anyway, the tree started to grow and it is very chaotic and busy on one side with the tranquil tree on the other side. I decided to name it 'Climbing the Tree of Enlightenment'.
Close-up of tree, cheesecloth and the background linen which is a linen/poly blend.
Close-up of cabochon and a better view of the cheesecloth
I love the colors and shades of white & tan that are in this piece. Very calming.

Next up is a small little wintry scene done in some of the same color threads. I really wanted to create a wet felted piece in winter whites/beige and pale gray that I could stitch on, but ran out of time. My Secret Santa gifted me with some gorgeous undyed merino, silk tussah, silk hankies and silk ribbons.
I know that I will have to create a wet/dry felted piece with those beauties! So stay tuned for that.

The linen I used for this piece is a higher quality 100% nautral linen.
Since this is a small oval hoop  I decided to keep the stitching very simple and the design very simple.
Full view of wintry scene  

I had fun with this as always and I know for sure this color palette is one that I will continue to return to.
I am looking forward to seeing eveyone's white creations. Please have a look for yourself.
Here's the list of guests and AE members.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Art Elements Star Theme Reveal

I know I sound like a broken record BUT are we already at the end of another month?!?

Laney is the hostess of this month's theme at the Art Elements blog and she chose stars. What a fun and appropriate theme for this time of year. It prompted me to make a few Christmas ornaments as well as an embroidered piece.
First thing I made was a star/pentagram & moon design. I drew the design I wanted and cut out a pattern. Traced it on muslin and started stitching. I began stitching the moon first, then my original plan was to do the star/pentagram in beads as well as the little squiggly designs in the moon. As usual the more I stitched I changed my mind about doing the star in beads and just went with a stitched pentagram. I was still planning the areas of the moon to have sparkly beads but when I started stitching beads on I really didn't like it. So about a third of the way through, I ripped the beads out and just used french knots that kind of mimic beads. I like this version better than my original plan. I have seen some pentagrams interwoven with the moon but I left mine in front of the moon and just stitched the pentagram as though it's interlocking. The pentagram/pentacle is supposed to represent Mother Earth, prosperity and protection. The crescent moon is representative of intuition and the feminine nature. Supposedly, when pentacle & moon are layered together they represent wisdom and intuition.
Close-up of the collaged embroidery hoop and stitching

I thought the muslin looked a bit too clean & new so I saved some black coffee and let it sit for a few days then 'painted' the background with coffee to lightly stain it and tone it down. Normal people would have stained the fabric BEFORE embroidering! Then I decided to use a technique I had seen on IG from one of my favorite artists, Andreia of Black Cat Creative Studio. She collages and sometimes paints her embroidery hoops which really finishes it off nicely. I used some leopard print tissue paper to collage onto the outside embroidery hoop. Making sure to give it a couple coats of mod podge to seal it.
Full view of hoop

Close-up of my French knot 'beads'

While I was working on the above piece I started thinking about making Christmas ornaments.
I made a bunch of felt ornaments with embroidery last year and I also made some wood burned ornaments. I decided to do the same this year. So I'm trying out some new designs and ideas for both the felt and wood ornaments.
Star themed embroidered felt ornaments
I failed to make any sort of pattern when I made these. So they are similar but not exactly the same since I just cut the star motif out freehand.
Next up, some thin balsa wood stars that I bought then drew designs on with a felt tip marker and wood burned. I used a brown stamp pap to 'antique' around the edges of the stars.
Wood burned ornaments with wire hangers
The final ornaments are actually a kit I bought probably 30+ years ago. I made a couple ornaments when I purchased the kit and then tucked it away. The kit has moved with me from PA to KY to CT to GA to IL and now here with me in NC. Luckily I was able to locate the paper strips and instructions since these are PERFECT for the star theme.
Instructions for German Folk Art Stars

I guess these little stars could be considered origami stars as well. But I bought the kit in PA in an area where the Moravians settled back in the 1700's. These are supposed to be Moravian Stars and according to the kit it is considered German Folk Art. My husband's hometown actually had a Moravian church that was so lovely to visit on Christmas Eve for their 'love feast'. Almost everyone in that town puts up Moravian stars on their porch or doorway during the Christmas holiday.
We used to have one we put on our porch also but all those moves took its toll on the star.
Moravian Star ornaments 

When I first pulled the instructions out, I forgot how tedious the process was! At least for the first couple of stars. It took me a while to get the hang of folding, turning and tucking so the first several are a bit wonky. I ended up using all the paper and am happy to report that I think I may have it mastered. I say may because I'm sure if I don't make any more this year, I will forget by next year-haha! Fortunately there are a ton of websites with these instructions as well as YouTube videos.
Close-up of Moravian Stars.
I am so glad I was able to find this little kit. I can now cut paper strips to any width, length & color to create more. I think a small tree with nothing but these little Moravian stars would be so cool!

I am really looking forward to blog hopping to see all the starry creations. I am sure there will be a wonderful variety represented by all our members and guests. Thank you Laney for hosting this theme.
So come along and let's do a blog hop!

Here's the lists of guest participants as well as our members who are joining in the fun:

Guest Artists
Art Elements Team
Cathy You're here

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Art Element’s October Theme Reveal-Petroglyphs

This month over at Art Elements Karen chose the theme. She decided on petroglyphs. And as usual I love the theme. This lends itself to so many art forms. I actually did a mixed media piece last year inspired by the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. You can check it out here.

This time around, I considered doing another mixed media piece similar to the Lascaux one but I was out of town the first 2 weeks of October and when I returned I suffered from jet lag and re-entry to the real world. And then we did a silly thing & got a new puppy---I know, we’re crazy!

My plans for this month’s theme got sidetracked. I knew I wanted to use rust dyed fabric regardless of what direction I went. The first thing I did was grab a Speedball Speedy Carve Block that I had laying around. I drew a design I had seen on Pinterest and started carving. you can see I never finished. Those darn circles got the best of me when I started carving around them. I have to say that the pink carve block is easier than the gray lino blocks for carving but small circles are ridiculously difficult when you have limited time. I intend to finish this one of these days. Then I will use it to stamp images on rust dyed fabric and either machine stitch or hand stitch around the images.
stamp carving in progress

On to the next idea-I grabbed a smaller piece of rust dyed fabric that I did back at our Art Elements Art Retreat back in August.  I love the colors and the patterns the rust created. It made it the perfect background for some petroglyphs. Again, I used some images I saw on Pinterest (mostly Native American symbols from Utah rock carvings). I used symbols for the sun, a heron, a rain dancer/rain maker shaman and the. Then some symbols for water or possibly lightening and a labyrinth. I did a quick sketch directly on the fabric with a white gel pen then started stitching. I didn’t like the solid ‘new’ look of the thread so I used some pan pastels in red oxide and burnt sienna to smudge it up in places to age my ‘cave drawings’.
close up of rain dancer shaman petroglyph

Raindancer, water/lightening and labyrinth symbols

Sun and heron symbols

Full view of rust dyed fabric with hadn stitched petroglyph symbols
I think I will still go back and do some random background stitches around the images. Mainly just stitching to highlight ‘cracks & crevices’ in the ‘rocky’ texture of the rust dyed fabric.
I am looking forward to checking out everyone’s creations. Sit back and take a a tour of all the participants.

Art Elements Team:
Lesley Watt:
Jenny Davies-Reazor:
Cathy Spivey Mendola: You are here!
Sue Kennedy:
Caroline Dewison:
Laney Mead:
Marsha Neal Minutella:
Claire Fabian:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Art Elements' September Reveal-Faeries

Caroline chose the Art Elements' theme for this month--Faeries!!  I was so excited until I realized that this was such an enormous category and I didn't know where to start. I mean, do you create a typical fairy, water sprite, wood nymph, dragon, druid, mermaid, troll, toadstools, etc.  Such a fascinating amount of creatures and objects that could fall into this theme. My head was spinning....

So I pulled out my wonderful book by Stephanie Law titled 'Dreamscapes-Myth & Magic'  I adore this book. I love to study how she draws and paints these mythical creatures. I still have not attempted to use this book for painting lessons because I am afraid I will fail miserably. But I did use it as inspiration for some very quick sketches to try and jumpstart some faerie magic!
Quick sketches of dryads and water sprite
As soon as I drew the water sprite I knew what I wanted to create. I found some beautiful mottled black/charcoal gray print fabric in my stash that looked a little like branches against a night sky. That was my inspiration for creating the moonlight over a lagoon surrounded by brambles and branches with the silhouette of the water sprite in front of the moon.
Moon and night sky with hand embroidered water sprite

I painted the fabric with textile paint. The water sprite was scanned, enlarged and printed on cardstock to create a template. Once the paint on the fabric dried I used the template to trace the water sprite onto the fabric. Then I hand embroided the sprite-body was done in black and wings in charcoal gray.
Close up of machine stitching on the water
After hand stitching was done, I backed the fabric with quilt batting and used my sewing machine for some free motion stitching. I stitched a horizon line between sky and water with some stitching on the water. Then I added trees and marshy grasses to frame the lagoon.
Water Sprite in the Moonlight
Once all the stitching was done, I stretched the piece on a stretched canvas and stapled it on the backside. Voila, textile art-ready for hanging. Finished size-16"x20"  I am really happy with how this turned out.

While waiting for the paint to dry I decided to grab a stick and make a magic wand. Faerie wand, or witchy wand? Maybe it depends on how I use this wand. But I have been wanting to make one since we had the Dragon theme at AE a few years ago. I wanted to do one with a dragon claw on the end. I still may have to do one like that but this one has a huge optical calcite crystal with a labradorite stone on the end.
Optical Calcite with Labradorite stone
I used apoxie sculpt clay to create the bezel and hold the crystal on the end. I texturized the clay and created some sort of medallion beneath the labradorite. Once the apoxie sculpt cured I played with SO many different colors and paints, inks, etc. Trying to get the color and ageing just right. I tried alcohol inks, regular inks, Pinata paints and StazOn ink pads. In between all those applications I would sand it down with fine sandpaper and try a little more color using different products. Finally, I had to tell myself to just STOP. Leave it alone!! Then I used the Midnight Blue StazOn ink to dab on the stick. I also used Deco Arts Metallic luster in Rose Gold to rub over the painted areas and then buffed it.
You can see all the different colors that I used-midnight blue, lime green, denim blue, verdigris, dark brown and the metallic rose gold.
My magic wand
It's about 12" in length. That little nubby area I have my finger on above is where I broke off a stem. I used it as a design element (it's like a magic button;-)  I used extra Metallic Luster on that area.

The month slipped away as it always does and I didn't get to make anything else, but I am happy with the pieces I did create. The wand was super fun to make. I really want to make a whole bunch of them. And I always enjoy creating with fabrics and threads!

I can't wait to see what all the AE members and our guests have created for this month.

Here's the list of participants, so go take a look at everyone's creations.

Guest Artists


Art Elements Team

Cathy That's me!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

August Swirl Theme Reveal

Our AE team member Marsha chose swirls for this month's theme challenge. What a fantastic theme as it opens it up to so many ideas. Only problem as usual...not enough time to do it all.

My go to components for swirls/spirals are shells and ammonites. I have collected tons of moon snail shells from the shores of east coast beaches and I have bought quite a few ammonites over the last few years. They both look so lovely when you combine them with bead embroidery.

So naturally, I grabbed a snail shell and an ammonite to create pendants.

Here's my moon snail shell paired with a lovely flashy blue labradorite and seed beads. I didn't complete the necklace yet but will more than likely create a bail that will attach to a small deer antler and leather straps.

Moon Snail Shell with Labradorite
 Here is the second pendant-using an ammonite fossil paired with a chrysocolla cabochon that has some beautiful coppery accents in the stone that goes well with the ammonite.
Ammonite fossil paired with green copper Chrysocolla stone
In between beading these I took a break to draw and relax the brain! Here is my swirly zentangle
I created.
Swirling spiral zentangle

 I feel extremely slack for not finishing my pendants so I am sharing previously created pendants, wall art & a purse using moon snail shells, the swirly spiral tops of whelk shells and an ammonite with bead embroidery.
Ammonite with fossilized shark tooth

L-Moon snail shell with moss agate cabochon; R- Moon snail shell with coppyer in rhyolite cabochon
L-Moon snail shell with Sonoran dendritic rhyolite cabochon; R- Top of conch/whelk shell with fosillized coral.
L-Brooch using polymer goddess with small moon snail shell; R-Pendant using polymer goddess with top of whelk on L and snail shell on R.
L-Wall art with polymer goddess with moon snail shell; R- polymer goddess with black moon snail shell on a leather purse.
All the lovely polymer goddesses above were created by AE team member Jenny.

I am looking forward to seeing all the swirly creations from the AE team as well as our guest participants.
Here's the list with links, so go check everyone's blog and see what lovely things they came up with this month.

Guest Artists:
Art Elements Team: 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Seed Pod Theme Reveal

I think I say this every month but it's so true..."I can't believe time flies so quickly and we're already at the end of another month!" So here we go again with Art Elements' reveal of another fun month of creating-- Jen's theme for the month-seed pods.

I also always start with grandiose plans and life inevitably gets in the way.  The creative juices start churning and the biggest problem is that I have so many ideas brewing that I can't get to them all. I find myself starting numerous pieces and then realizing I can't finish them all, so I console myself with concentrating on one or two pieces.

First off, I ordered some natural silk cocoons. I have used some in the past for previous projects that were already dyed., but I wanted to dye my own and then use them in some way to depict seed pods.
Natural silk cocoons on left. Fiber reactive dyes & dyed cocoons top right, lower right cocoons still in dye bath.
Once they were dyed, I decided to create some seed pods with bits of a nuno felted scarf I made but never really liked.
First nuno felted scarf I made and didn't really know what I was doing. Perfect color for seed pods!

I wanted the pods to look a bit like lotus seed pods,  so I cut the scarf up and used it to gather around some silk cocoons. I stitched it all together, gathering fabric where needed and stitching through seed pods as well. Once I did that, I needed to figure out what the heck I was going to do with the pods.
Seed pods made from nuno felted fabric and silk cocoons.

Seed pods created with nuno felted fabric and silk cocoons.
Once the seed pods were stitched I used some 28g wire to wire them directly onto a twig. The thin gauge will easily thread directly through the felt to attach it firmly. Then I used some wooly wire to create some tendrils along the branch around the pods. It didn't turn out exactly like I envisioned but it's definitely something I would like to explore more in the future. I really like created in 3-d with felt and the silk cocoons really a fun element.

The beautiful red pods in the first photo actually dried to such a deep red that they almost look black. I left them in the dye bath a tad too long. I had intended to make a necklace with those red 'pods' and will probably get to it sometime later. But they got put on the back burner while I played with my lino and carving tools.

Lino carved poppy pods left upper, left lower-inked with brown fabric ink. Right side a mono print onto eco dyed fabric.
This was the first time I have made a lino print since high school. I realize my tools are not that great, I should invest in some higher quality but I was still pretty pleased with how it turned out. My initial plan was to print onto fabric and then do some stitching and possibly beading. Then I got the idea to use a piece of fabric that I had eco printed on last fall. It was the perfect background for the poppy pods.
Lino printing onto previously eco printed fabrics.
The top fabric above was my first 'test' print on muslin fabric with speckled leaf prints. The second printing onto heavy cotton that had very subtle ghost prints left by leaves was the one I chose to start stitching on. After the lino prints were done I also used a thermofax screen to print the Queen Anne's Lace seed heads on with Jacquard's Lumiere paint in bronze and silver. Then I used a carved wood block to add some more elements beneath the plants/pods along the 'ground' level.
Close-up of left side of printed fabric. This was the first poppy pod printing with ink.
Close-up of right side of fabric. These poppy pods were printed with the leftover ink from the first printing.

This is as far as I've gotten with stitching.

I initially planned to just cut the fabric beneath the ground level above but I really like the bottom half of the eco printed fabric so this is probably one of those pieces that will continue to 'grow'. I think I need to stitch some deep roots on the pods and a whole underground network. So stay tuned to see how this gets finished.
You can see the whole piece here with the shadows underneath the plants/pods just begging for lots more stitching!

Lino prints on paper.
I also had to try my lino cut with some paper and my gelli plate. Above photos are: top left black ink directly on lino and printed on paper. Above right I put way too much blue ink on my gelli plate then re-inked my lino with black ink and stamped it onto the gelli plate over the blue ink, then pressed my paper over the gelli plate. Lower left, is the second pull off the gelli plate which I really like! Then the bottom right is the third print I pulled from the gelli plate. It may be my favorite!
Now I understand why everyone is so gaga over monoprinting and gelli plate printing!!! Who knew it was so much fun? 
I was determined to keep playing with this little lino cut, soooo I found an old paper that I had printed using transfer paints to transfer to fabric. I had painted this in a workshop using stamps (leaf & spiral)I made years ago with plumber's rubber sheeting and mounted on wood.
Poppypods printed onto previously painted surface

And last but not least, I had some lovely little pod like ceramic pieces from foxpaw beads.
I have been wanting to use them somehow/someway, so this was the perfect time to play with making a necklace using one of the pods.
Lovely textured pod hanging from a hand knotted necklace.

I used some thin nylon cord to string on some seed beads to hang from inside the pod. The mala type necklace was created using a combination of matte African turquoise beads and black lava beads strung onto the same nylon cord, then hand knotting between the beads.

I still have lots of seed pod ideas swirling in my head. Maybe I will get to them one day along with all the other stuff I want to create.

I can't wait to see the seed pod creations from the AE members and all our guests that are playing along this month.

Grab a cuppa and settle in for some inspiring artwork.
Here's the list:
Guest Artists:
Art Elements Team: 

Art Elements WhiteTheme Reveal

It's that time again...Art Elements theme reveal. December's theme challenge was hosted by team member Claire and she chose white. I...