Thursday, October 31, 2019

October's AE Theme Reveal-Eyes

Another month has flown by and here we are at Halloween already.  Laney was in charge of this month's theme over at Art Elements and she chose 'eyes'. What a fun theme this was to work with.

So many possibilities.  I immediately knew that I was going to embroider this Hamsa hand. I actually drew it on the black linen back in July with the intention of stitching it then. As is always the case, I put it down to work on other projects. So it was a wonderful coincidence that Laney chose eyes and I had it already planned out. Just a matter of thread selection then I could get started!

The Hamsa hand is a palm shaped amulet and has been predominately used in Jewish and Islamic religions for protection & to provide defense against the 'evil eye'.  It has also been called Hand of Fatima, Hand of Mary, Hand of Miriam and Hand of the Goddess.  I just happened to be reading The Power when I drew this in July. It's a dystopian novel where young girls and women have an enormous electrical power. The main character calls herself Mother Eve and each of her hands are tattooed with an eye in the middle of the palm with tendrils extending out.
Close up of Hamsa hand

Here's the full view of my version of the Hamsa hand
Hamsa hand framed in 10x10 frame

While I was working on the above embroidery piece I was thinking about what else I wanted to create. I remembered that I had bought an amazing lampwork dragon eye from Laney a while ago. I knew I had to use it for this month. It was perfect since Laney was hosting and the eye is truly a one of a kind piece. It is a bead but I decided to treat it as a cabochon and glued it to stiff stuff to do the initial beading. I did stitch through the bead hole to further secure it to the stiff stuff.
How about those fish scales? So cool for dragon skin, right?

I happened to have some leftover fish leather from my octopus project from August. The green fish leather came from Lisa Peters Art and was perfect for the green eyed dragon. The fish scales resemble dragon skin/scales.

Sadly, the black matte size 11 beads I had to edge stitch were not Japanese they were Czech and not equal in size so the edging is a bit wonky. But it kind of goes with the asymmetrical shape of the fish leather and the asymetrical beading around the dragon eye. I was a bit stumped about how to create a bail since I had no idea what type of necklace I was planning to create to hand this pendant from. I got the idea of using the fish leather while perusing Pinterest. I figured I could either use leather as a necklace or some hammered metal. For photographing I used 5 strands of 1mm black leather cord and I really like this look, so I will use this for the necklace. I have some end caps that the 5 strands fit in perfectly. So it's almost finished!

While trying to figure out the necklace portion for the dragon eye I was playing with some beads and pendants lying around on my work table. I sometimes have a habit of buying new supplies and not putting them away immediately. I bought this cute polymer clay skull pendant from Tammy Adams of Paisley Lizard Designs and it was staring at me from my work table along with some blue evil eye headpins that I bought from fellow teammate Sue of SueBeads. I decided the skull needed to have one of these evil eye charms dangling from her. She doesn't have a necklace yet to hang from but I think I will do a hand knotted necklace using a combo of white agate beads that have a hint of black in them along with some of the same dark blue & black glass beads like I used to dangle off the pendant with the eye headpin. The 'evil eye' or Nazar is really used as a talisman to protect against the evil eye. It encourages good karma.

In between working on the first embroidered piece and working on the dragon eye, I also wanted to create a couple of small embroidered eyes. So here is my thread sketched version of an eye.
I really like the dramatic effect of the black on the natural linen. I used ONE single thread for most of the stitching so even though it's small it took longer than expected. I think I may be doing more of these 'sketches'.

Thread sketch of an eye

I haven't finished my last embroidered eye. It is going to be a Nazar or evil eye talisman of sorts. A stitched version on black linen like the Hamsa hand. If I finish it tonight I will add it tomorrow before blog hopping.
Finished late last night-the final eye

I can't wait to see what the art team members and all the guests have created. I have seen a few sneak peeks on IG and FB so I know there will be some stunning pieces.

Grab a warm beverage and go have a look for yourself.

Here's the list of participants:

AE Team Members-

Cathy You're here!



Sunday, September 29, 2019

Art Elements September Theme Reveal-Foliage

Another month has flown by and it's reveal time once again for the September Art Elements' theme challenge. For September Caroline chose foliage. What a perfect theme for this time of year. Foliage just happens to be a favorite of mine and seems to appear in quite a bit of my work. In the spring it makes me giddy to see the first sprouts of leaf buds on the trees. It seems to happen almost overnight that trees which have been bare skeletons for months appear with a full plumage of bright green leaves. Even though the fall is probably my most favorite time of year I am a little sad to see the leaves change colors because I know they will be falling off soon and winter is just around the corner. But the colors of fall are so beautiful it's hard to be too sad about it.

I wanted to do something a little different this month. There were so many options I was overwhelmed so I thought I would go back and see if I could tax my brain with some altered digital photography. I happen to take a LOT of pictures of trees, foliage and just about anything I find in the woods behind my house. I scrolled through 100's of photos that I have taken and chose a few to play with in photoshop.

About 8-9 years ago I took a mini photoshop workshop online with Susan Tuttle and then I took another mini course with Kim Classen. Kim used to have a weekly challenge called 'Texture Tuesday" which I participated in for about a year.  She would offer up free textures to layer with your photos which I had learned how to use in her class. Sadly she no longer teaches photoshop classes but she does teach quite a few other types of classes and she still creates textures for sale and also Lightroom presets for altering photos. Susan still teaches online photo editing but now it's geared to iPhone photography and editing with apps.

So here are some of my photos I altered in photoshop. It was a bit of a learning curve due to the fact that I really haven't done a lot with PS in years. It taxed my brain but after a few sessions I was able to remember all the tools, options and settings.
Taken on my walk along the river. I tried to create an almost painterly look with the trees. Played with hue and saturation and some photo filters to get the colors like I wanted them.

Looking up through the trees. Bumped up saturation and made the leaves around the edges darker with the trees in the background almost 'spring green'. Then I highlighted the large green leaves in the left middle.

Exact same photo as above but changing up the hues and saturation with some photo filters and textures.

Close-up of a fern. Changed hue and saturation, added some textures and filters.

A photo I took when we lived in IL. Leaves on a pond which makes a really cool photo without altering. This has a layer added with text and some more layers with added textures and the hues were changed along with some filters added.
I had so much fun playing with photoshop. I had forgotten how cool it is to alter photos. One day I would like to actually make some prints of some of my favorites. Or maybe note cards??

Okay, on to a few more foliage projects. If you follow the Art Elements blog you may remember when I stitched around some magnolia leaves and also doodled on them with paint pen/sharpie.
I decided to use them in a project that has been on the back burner for a while-an eco printed journal using papers printed with leaves and also some fabric printed with leaves. The fabric will be used as  journal covers.
Top left and top right are magnolia leaves that were stitched around the outer edge with buttonhole stitch. I used the same stitch to attach them to pieces of raw silk that had been previously eco printed & rust dyed. I also added some more stitching to the one on the left. Bottom left is another magnolia leaf that was edge stitched but I attached it to rust dyed paper with a fly stitch. The bottom right photo is a magnolia leaf that I doodled on with white paint Sharpie. I want to attach it to this eco printed page but haven't decided whether to hand stitch, machine stitch or glue it down. This leaf was not edge stitched and I am afraid it may be too brittle to stitch through now that it is thoroughly dry.

Since it is fall and leaves have already started to drop due to the heat and drought around here. I figured I needed to do some more eco printing with leaves before the opportunity has passed me by.
I tried some new techniques this time and some new fabrics I have never used before. Let me just say that the silk/wool blend fabric I bought from Dharma Trading is my absolute FAVORITE now!  I have always loved using raw silk noil because I always get pleasant results, but the silk/wool blend is amazing!1 It is very light but it really accepts the leaf prints so beautifully.
The above is silk/wool blend left side is the side the leaves were placed on and the right side is the shadow print from the fabric being folded over.  I placed an 'iron blanket' around this fabric which really helped create these rich dark brown prints.
This is also silk/wool blend but I did a quick dip in iron water before placing the leaves on. This fabric is so wide that I folded it in half and then in half again and you can see the iron water concentrated on the final fold which is a little upsetting but a learning experience. I do love these soft colors. It's hard to tell on this photo but the right side which is the shadow print from being folded over the leaves has shades of gold and pale green which are really lovely in person.

This is my go-to fabric:natural silk noil. I dribbled iron water down the center and spread it around with my hands and that's how I got splotches of dark gray around the fabric. Left side is the full piece it was folded in half lengthwise and it shows the dark print with shadow print on the left. Top right photo is a close-up of the right side and bottom left is close-up of the left side shadow print. I love the outline of the leaves. Also note that the bottom is very rusted looking. I rolled the fabric onto a piece of metal re-bar which adds more iron/rust to the fabric.

This was a previously dyed piece of dupioni silk. It was dyed with pale blue and tan dye, then I let it sit in a rusty bath for a few days. This piece was folded in half lengthwise and the right has the darker print from the backside of the leaves and the shadow print is from the top of the leaves where the fabric folded over.

While I was working with fresh leaves I created some more pages for my eco print journal. I used sheets from an oversized sketch pad, tearing the sheets into quarters. I tried a method I have never tried before. I normally steam the stack of papers with a weight on top to press the stack firmly down. This time I wanted to try boiling in water that had some rust particles in it, some acorns, a few onion skins, and avocado skins. I sprayed the papers with straight vinegar, then placed leaves that had soaked in vinegar water between the pages. I used ceramic tiles to place the pages between but the tiles were smaller than the paper so trying to get them firmly pressed & tied with twine was difficult. I decided to wrap the whole bundle of pages & ceramic tiles in fabric that had soaked in iron water. Then I tied it all up and dropped it in the pot with all the onion skins etc. I boiled it for about 3 hours. Some weird results along with some cool results. The pages look smokey and also have an underwater type pattern on a lot of the pages. Some leaf prints are very subtle, some are very abstract and some like the sweet gum leaf in the upper left is 2 toned. I got a lot of green to greenish-gray prints from the leaves along with some dark gray/black prints. These will all be going into my journal. So be on the look out for a blog post over at Art Elements for my eco printed journal.

Papers printed with leaves.

Once I am done writing up this blog post I am headed outside to gather more leaves. I have a few more pieces of fabric begging to be printed on.

I am looking forward to seeing all the guests and AE member participant's foliage creations. 

Here's the list:



AE Team

Cathy  You're here!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Art Elements August Octopus Theme Reveal

The end of August already? Where does the time go?
I have had a super busy summer with physical therapy, a backyard living area project that seems like it will last forever, kitchen cabinets painted AND trying to play wedding planner for my daughter.
So its not surprising that I didn't finish ALL the things I wanted to create, but I did manage to at least get a couple of octopuses finished.
It was Claire's turn to host this month's theme at Art Elements and she chose the octopus. Claire has quite a love for this sometimes gruesome looking cephalopod. They are quite amazing with their long arms with all those suckers and their ability to move so swiftly to capture their prey. I think they're pretty cool especially their ability to camouflage themselves in order to ward off predators. Some of the colors are amazing.
close up of my green goddess octopus

As usual I had a bazillion ideas for what I wanted to do. But then reality set in and I decided I could only tackle small projects right now that I could mostly work on at night while bingeing on Netflix. The other projects that I did start are in the ever growing pile of UFO's (unfinished objects). Waiting for that day when I am at a loss of what to do. hahaha
I promise I cut this square but by the time I did the blanket stitch around the edges it distorted somewhat-ugh.

Above is the first octopus I created. the base is an old wool blend sweater that I washed in hot water and dried in the dryer to felt. It wasn't tightly felted since it was a wool blend but it still gave me a good sturdy base to needle felt into. I used bright red merino wool roving along with some peachy color for some contrast in areas and then for the bottom portion of the arms that are flipped to see the suckers I used some tan merino. After needle felting I stitched around the entire body/legs with the sewing machine which made the octopus really stand out from the base. Then I used some cotton embroidery floss to hand stitch along the arms but the roving was so puffy and not fully needled into the base that I lost my stitches among the wool. So back to the cushion and more needle felting. Second time around for hand stitching I chose perle cotton rather than regular DMC 6 strand which was sturdier and you can see a bit more of the hand stitching.
Close up showing the O bead and seed bead suckers.
Then came time for suckers. These O beads that I used are a picasso finish in tan and I thought they'd be perfect. Well, I couldn't find them so I initially beaded the suckers with copper O beads and it was just way too flashy. Then while I was looking for beads to do my second octopus I found the picasso tan beads. Sooooo, I cut off all the copper beads and re-beaded. I am much happier with these colors. Forgot to mention that I backed the green sweater base with a piece of solid black felt before machine stitching, so I used a blanket stitch around the perimeter to capture the felt backing to the front base. This bright red guy is eventually going to be placed on a mixed media background which I didn't have time to work on. I envision using a canvas to paint & collage then attach the felted piece. So stay tuned to see what transpires.

Next up is my green goddess octopus That you see in the close up in the first photo. She took some time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. I had bought this lovely green fish leather from Lisa Peters Art last month. Lisa is the one who actually suggested I use fish leather for the octopus project so Thanks Lisa!

I drew a pattern for the octopus then transferred it to black stiff stuff beading base. Determined what sections I wanted to bead and got those beaded before I added the fish leather. After doing the beading I cut as close as possible around the entire drawn octopus before I adding the fish leather. I cut my original pattern up to use as a template for cutting the fish leather but added extra so I could stuff some of the legs to make them more dimensional. I used leftovers from the green felted sweater from the first octopus to place on the stiff stuff base before I applied the fish leather. Then I added a few more beads along one side of the legs to suggest some suckers and voila!
Green goddess with fish leather & beaded arms.

Again this green octopus is going to be placed onto a background that is started but not finished.
The back is multi layered and still has beading and possibly hand stitching left to do. The creation of this background may be a future blog post on AE since it's a major project! But here's a glimpse.

This was such a fun project even if I didn't finish or get to do all the things I wanted to do. I hope I can get the background for my green octopus finished in the next few weeks.

I am looking forward to seeing all the octopus creations from the AE team members and guest participants. Grab a beverage, sit back and do a blog hop to see what everyone made this month.

Guest artists:
Evie and Beth

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

July Art Elements Theme Reveal-Flowers

Hard to believe it is the end of another month-which is a milestone for me as I am now 4 weeks post-op! Yay-I'm getting there.
Marsha chose this month's theme and she chose flowers. Such a perfect theme for mid summer. I am a huge lover of flowers and grow a variety of perennials as well as annuals. They are always an inspiration.

I was a bit late in even thinking about what to create this month. Early in July I was still under the influence of pain medication and was only able to do some watercolor washes and doodling for the Art Elements post. I created several flower doodle drawings that you can see here if you missed it.

Finally when the fog of medication wore off I realized I needed and wanted to create something that had been on my mind for a while. I created some cyanotype prints on fabric a couple years ago that I wrote a blog post about here.  This particular piece has been sitting near my sewing machine begging for my attention. I knew I wanted to either use it as a centerpiece for a larger quilted wall hanging or alter it and do some hand stitching.

I opted for hand stitching-the only thing is I didn't think any of it through before I starting stitching.
Perhaps there was still some brain fog going on. I picked my thread colors and started sketching some flowers across the top of the skull. About half-way through with embroidering the flowers I realized I had no idea what the end results were going to be. The fabric piece was approximately 9.5x11". So did I want to just frame it? Nope. How about just cutting out the skull and flowers and fusing it to another piece of fabric to mount on a canvas or frame? Maybe BUT I was almost half finished with the flowers and knew that if I cut around the stitched flowers I might end up cutting the stitching or I would end up with some ragged edges. What to do???

Before going any further  I decided to see if I could use just a little watercolor to cover the white lacy looking pattern at the top of the fabric. It was actually a plastic placemat that I used for the cyanotype print. It looked cool until I started stitching and the stark contrast of white was too busy with the flowers. So I tried watercolors and of course I got it a little too wet and the watercolors started to bleed into the stitched flowers. YIKES!! So lots of flushing with water to try and remove the color before it set.  Lots of blotting and lots of cursing. This was definitely a lesson in 'what not to do"!  When I finally removed all the color from the stitched areas I was able to tone down the bright white with just a small amount of watercolor. I let the fabric dry thoroughly and decided it was time to make a decision on cutting and fusing to another piece of fabric before I did anymore hand stitching.
As you can see from the previous photo to this one, I kept adding flowers and leaves as needed. My initial sketches just didn't quite seem to be enough.

I knew that black fabric would really set off the colors well so I delicately fused some wonder under to the back of the cyanotype being careful to not put too much pressure on the embroidery so it wouldn't flatten it out. Then I decided on a somewhat oval shape so I could almost cut out all the areas that I didn't like on the cyanotype print. Once it was fused down to the black fabric I stitched around the perimeter with fly-stitches and then went back to finishing the flower wreath on the skull. I decided to have the flowers spill over the edges of the cyanotype onto the black background to ensure that the cyanotype was fully incorporated onto the black. When I was happy with the flowers I decided it needed just a few beads. So I used some size 8° beads with an 11° as an anchor bead to scatter around the feather stitching along the edge of the cyanotype.

I have ironed the black background but have not yet stretched it over a canvas and stapled it to the back. I typically put some quilt batting or a couple of layers of felt between the fabric and canvas before folding over and stapling.  So that is on my agenda for later this week. In the meantime I plan to blog hop and see what everyone else created for this challenge.
Ready to be layered over quilt batting & stapled to a canvas for framing
Thanks to Marsha for pulling me out of my post-op doldrums to get my creative juices flowing again. This was fun and I have a whole series of embroideries planned after this one!

Here's a list of the guest participants and the Art Elements team members. Please enjoy the blog hop.

Guests Participants:
Evie and Beth

Art Elements Blog Contributors:
Cathy You're here!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Art Elements June Theme-Selkies

When Jenny chose 'selkies' as the theme for this month's challenge over at Art Elements I was thrilled.  I happened to remember that I had gotten a ceramic seal from Jenny a while back so this was the perfect time to create something with this cabochon!

Now, for those who aren't familiar with selkies...selkies/silkies/sylkies/selchies are born from Scottish mythology. There are also a few folk tales from Ireland regarding these creatures, but the 'selkie folk' seems to have originated in the northern Scottish isles of Orkney & Shetland. They are creatures capable of changing from seal to human form by shedding their seal skins.  The human form may be female or male. I found this website quite interesting: Orkneyjar-The Heritage of the Orkney Islands. It gives the origins of the selkie folk.
Seal cabochon by Jenny Davies-Reazor

As soon as I pulled Jenny's seal cabochon out from it's hiding place I remembered I still had a small scrap of fish leather in the perfect gray color. (Sorry I failed to take a pic of the cabochon prior to glueing down to the leather.) The leather scrap was an odd shape so I had to figure out what/how to proceed. Eventually I glued the cabochon to the fish leather to create an asymmetrical pendant for a necklace. I chose freshwater pearls to serve as the rocky shore and some shimmery white and pale blue/gray beads for splashes of water around the seal who has not shed her skin just yet. She has just begun her journey to land by flopping amongst the rocky shores of Scotland. She will begin to peel her skin away once she's through the rocks.
Selkie splashing up across the rocky shore before shedding her skin.

I chose a small stick/driftwood to hand the pendant on. The bottom fringe was created to mimic the foamy waves rolling up against shore.  I haven't created the necklace portion to hang it from just yet. Still contemplating the direction I want to tackle for that part. It will definitely be a statement piece!
Rough draft of selkie sketch per Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's book. I had to go back and fix her jutting chin and her ridiculour right hand!

Next selkie piece is a result of wanting to learn more about watercolor. I have taken a few online workshops and watched some YouTube videos. I also just happened to have Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's book Dreamscapes:Myth & Magic. It's a wonderful how-to book for painting mythical creatures with watercolor. She even has a selkie painting in the book with specific instructions on painting this marvelous creature. I opted for a slightly different sketch to paint than her painting, albeit it was still a sketch from her book on how-to sketch selkies. I loosely followed her guidelines for painting. Her color suggestions were mostly colors I did not have in my collection of watercolor paints so I improvised.  I learned quite a bit about moving paint around and about layering watercolors to get these effects. All in all, I am pleased with my Stephanie Pui-Mun Law selkie. I highly recommend this book. I really want to purchase more of her books. She does fabulous work!
After first layers of watercolor washes on the background.
I finally had to stop myself from adding more layers. I was having so much fun building up color.

I had originally thought I might do an embroidery piece as well & I even wanted to do a faux scrimshaw piece using a broken seashell to sketch a selkie with black ink. Well, none of those things happened. We had a family beach vacation earlier in the month and I have been in the midst of mentally & physically preparing for surgery this week. By the time this blog post goes live my surgery will be over and hopefully I will be able to blog hop to see everyone's creations.
Definitely a learning experience. I see some areas where I could've done a better job of extending color. Funny how you don't see that until you zoom in. But I had to stop myself before I totally screwed it up.

Please go check out all the wondrous selkie creations by team members & guests!


AE team: 
Cathy You're here!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Art Elements Forest Theme Reveal

Wow! I blinked and May has disappeared. This month's theme over at Art Elements was chosen by Sue. I absolutely LOVE this theme. I have so many reference photos from my walks in the woods. I had grandiose ideas for this theme but only managed a few. If you follow the Art Elements blog you can see what consumed most of my time for the past month and a half on yesterday's post.

I did a #30daychallenge last month so I figured that this month I would have tons of extra time to create forest themed projects as well as finish some watercolor workshops I enrolled in. Well....guess what? I made it through one workshop, halfway through 2 more workshops and have very little to show for it. I also made the decision to halt my goddess/spirit doll this month. I had planned at the beginning of the year that would be an ongoing project with one doll per month. I even sketched a greenwoman doll for this month to coincide with the forest theme. But there are only so many hours in a day and I realized I am putting too much pressure on myself right now.  So I am trying to relax and only work on things that really inspire me and get my juices flowing. I plan to not force myself to create if I'm not 'feeling it'. New me-we'll see how far I get with this new process.

Okay, with that said, here are my forest projects.
Looks like I should name them day & night. 
I started the lighter one first. Using a small piece of driftwood as a fallen tree with moss covering it. I then created the stumpwork tree fungi (actually the proper terminology is 'Stereum Ostrea' fungi) that you see on the other darker piece to have growing on the tree. Well that didn't work like I planned. Mainly because I didn't want to glue them and also because I didn't match up my colors very well. I used a reference photo for the fungi and went with those colors rather than something to blend with my lighter piece. So naturally I had to create something just for the fungi. Plus the fungi looked so much better on a darker background.
The first piece above got a different kind of fungi in the form of button mushrooms scattered about an another stumpwork piece at the top-a single leaf with the stitched leaves below. This one was created on eco-printed cotton. The print was very faint in areas, but the leaves were fairly distinct. I just outlined the leaves and did minimal stitching. The stumpwork leaf was created on a piece of felt and cut out to stand out from the flat surface.
Side angle view. The dark tan mushrooms were stitching directly on the fabric using a couple of circles of felt under the stitching to keep the stitches elevated. The small white mushrooms were done on felt and then cut out to add to the flat fabric. The curly, feathery lichen is painted cheesecloth. Painting makes it stiffer than dyeing so it stands up.
A little better view of the stumpwork leaf. And the millions of french knots!
This is eco-printed silk and it's so dark that you can barely see my decaying log that the tree fungi are attached to.
The fungi were intended to e the stars of this piece so I didn't do a lot of stitching on the background fabric. Plus I love the colors of the eco-printed fabric. The silk was pre-dyed with a teal blue dye then printed using rust soaked leaves so the dark gray/black areas are from the rust water.
Hopefully you can see my little needle felted log under the crest fungi. I rolled some wool in a piece of felt, then needle felted it all together to form the log. I stitched the fungi on at intervals tacking it down with tiny stitches to make it curve around the log.
And these were going to be mushrooms only. Never got there but I plan to. I want to really do an up close look at some mushrooms and highlight just one or two on each of these hoops.
So that's it for my 'Found on the Forest Floor' series for now. I enjoyed these and it really makes me want to focus in on smaller items to embroider. Maybe get a lot more detailed with my stitching.

I am really excited to see what everyone has created with this theme. It's such a broad subject that it could encompass so many things. So grab a beverage and read along.
Here's all the participants;

October's AE Theme Reveal-Eyes

Another month has flown by and here we are at Halloween already.  Laney was in charge of this month's theme over at Art Elements and she...