Saturday, June 30, 2018

June Sunflower Theme Reveal

Over at Art Elements Sue had the pleasure of choosing June's theme. She chose sunflowers. How could anyone not want to participate, right? Sunflowers are so cheerful and downright sunny;-)
They have been depicted in paintings and other art forms for eons. I have some growing in my garden right now but they haven't bloomed yet.

I am currently doing the #100dayproject and I actually painted sunflowers back in May before Sue chose this theme. My goal when I started playing with watercolors while doing this project was to try and loosen up my painting style. I tend to get really picky and want to color 'inside the lines'. I try too hard to be realistic when all I want to do is paint loosely. I must be a control freak.

Anyway- here is the first sunflower, Day 42 back in May. Sketched with General's Sketch & Wash pencil then using Daler Rowney watercolors. I was actually looking at real live sunflowers when I did this. So I was definitely striving for realism but trying to keep it loose. Didn't work too well.

So I decided since the theme is sunflowers that I needed to re-visit painting sunflowers again. Here's the second attempt. I studied paintings with a loose style that I tried SO hard to emulate. Well, once again I ended up trying to tidy things up and made it more rigid than I wanted. I even did some washes around the flower and splatters of paint. I did use a better quality of watercolor paints-Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolors.
What I am finally realizing is...I need to develop my own style when I paint. I like the look of loose watery colors but I seem to like having some definitive lines. So here's my third attempt below. Again, I used the Winsor & Newton brand watercolors for the flower but used Daniel Smith's watercolor paint for the muted purple background.  I will keep trying to develop my own style when it comes to painting.
Okay, enough with the experimental painting and on to my comfort zone---stitching. I study and actually drool over some of the fabulous embroiderers on Instagram. I just love the landscape scenes I see. So I decided I needed to try a landscape with mountains in the background and sunflowers in the foreground.
This turned out so much better than I thought it would. I am now planning to do a full series of landscapes using some of my photos & my daughter's photos as reference. She lives in Colorado and has some phenomenal pictures of the mountains. She loves the mountains & sunflowers so this piece is being sent to Colorado once I sew a backing to it.
This final piece below is actually the first thing I started right after Sue announced the theme.
It is a needle case. I am forever losing needles, either down between the sofa cushions, on the floor, in my basket or container where I have various projects. I also have a huge variety of needles and wanted a nice tidy little place to keep them rather than a pin cushion.
I stitched the sunflowers with commercially dyed silk ribbon using felt as the base. I will have more process photos and a mini tutorial later in the month over at Art Elements. I will also share the various types of needles I use as well as my favorites. So watch for my next post over at AE.


Now, it's time to go visit all the guests and AE team members to see what they have created this month.
By the looks of all the sneak peeks on IG, there should be some fabulous sunflowers.
Thanks Sue!

Guests:

Alysen
Anita
Cat
Divya
Jill
Kathy
Linda L.
Linda N.
Mischelle
Norma
Raven
Sarajo
Tammy


Art Elements Team Members:

Sue

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Art Element's May Theme Reveal

This month for the Art Element theme challenge Lesley chose 'tide pools'. SO esciting!! But of course I was excited about last month's also. I am definitely a 'water' person-I love the beach and have collected sea shells my entire life, so this was right up my alley.

The problem...what medium, what design, where to start? The pictures I perused on Pinterest were a great source of inspiration. I have been fortunate to have been to many beaches along the east coast, the caribbean and Hawaii but I have never seen the tide pools of the northwest.  It seems they have a bounty of anemones that are brilliant along with gorgeous bright orange starfish. Those tide pools were my first choice of inspiration. Alas, I abandoned that one for now and went in a different direction.

Tide Pool Inspiration

My original plan for tide pool theme. Layers of fabrics, cheesecloth, sheers, tulle. Eventually I will do some machine & hand stitching, add some brilliant little anemones and fuse down that starfish.
 I went back to photos I have taken of beaches and tide pools and remembered the amazing coral beaches on Grand Cayman Island. There are vast areas along the beach on the northern side of the island where it's just huge chunks of fossilized coral with nooks and crannies everywhere with snails living all among the coral. I thought about doing that but instead chose these photos below for my inspiration.
Photos on the beaches of Grand Cayman. Pieces of coral and shells caught in the sandy tide pools along the coast. Bottom right photo is just a huge chunk of fossilized coral instead of a sandy beach.

After studying the above photos I decided to try wet felting a background that I could attach coral & shells to, then embellish further with hand stitching and beads.
'Cayman Tide Pool' -Felted background with coral, shells, hand stitching & beads

 I have written a blog post for the Art Elements site that will go live tomorrow explaining the process for creating the richly textured felt background.
Close-up of sections of the Cayman Tide Pool piece
I had so much fun with this one. My biggest issue was deciding when to stop adding coral and shells and stitching and beads! It just kept growing.
Please check out tomorrow's AE website to see more.

After I was almost finished with the Cayman Tide Pool piece I found myself still wanting to do another tide pool with COLOR. Yes, I will go back to my first piece eventually but I also started pulling elements and playing around with some tyvek to stitch down on fabric and embellish.
Another tide pool project in the works. Inked, distressed tyvek on batik fabric. The green buttons will serve as anemones. Hand stitching and beads will be added. I tucked in a green ceramic turtle bead (top R) and a brass starfish charm near the bottom.
I was also working on a bracelet that wasn't really intended to be a 'tide pool' piece but it does mimic the rocks and swirling water so I am adding this to my tide pool theme challenge.

Tide Pool cuff bracelet

I LOVE freshwater pearls and these are some of my favorite colors of pearls. I simply tacked some pearls down on ultrasuede and used seed beads to encircle the pearls then created some trailing tendrils with seed beads and glass pearls.
Beaded ultrasuede before gluing onto a brass cuff and edging. (sorry for the poor quality photo)
I cannot wait to see all the lovely tide pool projects created by our AE team and guests!
So come along and take a look at what was created this month.

Guests
Deborah  
AE Team Members:

Sunday, April 29, 2018

April Horse Theme Challenge

Is it really the END of April already? This horse theme really spoke to me. I just LOVE horses- they are such beautiful creatures.  There were so many ideas swirling in my head for this challenge, and I had such grandiose plans for this month but got a bit sidetracked with my FIRST EVER one woman exhibit of my fiber art. It had to be hung on Thursday April 26 with the opening night April 27 at the 'Last Friday' event.
So here is what happened with my horse themed designs--
My original idea for this theme was sparked by my fellow AE members-Jen & Claire who have been creating fabulous mono prints/gelli prints. Plus, I saw an article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine about creating a printing plate from a wood panel and using a dremel tool with carving bit to etch the lines. I was determined this would be my BIG horsey project. Lots of different mono prints of a horse using different colors. I even bought some lino sheets & carving tools to create mono prints using different printing plates. There was going to be lots and lots of horse prints!
Well, that didn't happen. I am not even showing you my first print....
But here's the beginning process.
Upper L-wood panel as well as lino sheets &carving tools. Bottom L-Horse sketched on wood panel. R-beginning the carving with the dremel.






 First mistake, didn't refer back to the Cloth, Paper, Scissors article and FORGOT to coat the wood AFTER carving and BEFORE applying paint to the surface for printing. Paint was absorbed into the wood leaving very minimal amount on the wood to transfer to the paper-duh. And of course the article suggested using Speedball ink specifically the block printing ink. I thought I could just wing it with my thick acrylic paint.
After I pulled the first print I had to go back and re-do some of the carved lines, they weren't deep enough. (and by the way, it takes a LOT of practice to do the carving without gouging the wood)
Here's the carved wood panel after attempting printing with the wrong medium.
I did go out and buy the proper ink, but haven't had a chance to play with any more printing.
I WILL revisit it next week. I am so determined to get some good prints out of this!

Since that project took me out of my comfort zone I turned to some smaller/quicker/easier (for me) projects.
I had this cute little horse bracelet charm/connector from Inviciti so I cut a piece of black leather and stitched the pewter horse on with some turquoise nugget beads and seed beads using waxed linen. I glued on some end caps, added a clasp and voila! Sweet little leather horse bracelet.
Leather bracelet with pewter horse charm & turquoise

Next I decided to make a landscape tapestry for a vintage copper horse pin that my mother-in-law had given my daughter when she first started riding horses. I have no idea where she got the copper pin but it appears quite old and it has been sitting on a shelf in my studio for a long time. (yes, I stole it from my daughter!) Maybe, I'll give her this weaving since it really is her horse;-)



I am still a newbie when it comes to weaving and trying to weave the circular sun into the sky was a tad challenging and then I ended the top portion of the sky with yarn that was much smaller weight than I should've used to finish it off. But I do like the colors. And the copper horse fits right in.
(note to self-keep: keep practicing and GET a LARGER loom)

I was itching to do something in embroidery. I have a couple of horse rubber stamps, so I used brown ink and stamped the 'wild horses' on gray linen. Then used a pen to write my text. This Rolling Stones song was stuck in my head for days so I had to stitch it. I want to do another one with the other line of lyrics "wild horses, we'll ride them someday".


 Using rubber stamps is pretty cool for getting your design on the fabric. I will definitely be trying more of my stamps with stitching.
My other horse stamp was the inspiration for the carving on the wood panel above. I grabbed a sheet of journal paper that I did some rust dyeing and eco printing on last fall. The leaves printed very faintly on this one but the rust colors are really nice. I stamped the horse stamp on the page with copper ink and then used some pan pastels and gel pens along with some walnut ink and now I have a finished journal page. I am working on a whole stack of these eco printed/rust dyed pages and plan to create a journal with these one day.
Horse stamped on eco printed/rust dyed journal page
I am so excited to venture out to everyone's blog and see what they created this month. These theme challenges are so much fun! Thanks to everyone who participated.
Go take a look at all our participants & their creations.

 Guests:

Alysen
Anita
Beth
Catherine
Jill
Paulette
Raven
Sarajo
Tammy

AE Team Members:

Caroline
Claire
Jen 
Laney 
Lesley 
Marsha 
Niky
Sue

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Art Elements Nest Theme Challenge

If you follow our AE blog regularly you know that we have switched out the Component of the Month design challenge for a theme based challenge every month. I just happened to be on the schedule for this month's host and I chose a Nest theme. Perfect for springtime!
Before I even posted the original AE post announcing the theme I had a bazillion ideas for projects this month. I really wanted to try and complete as many as possible. Well, I managed three.

Here is my first piece-an assemblage loosely based on work by artist Joseph Cornell. I love creating assemblages but it has been a while since I played with this art form.

It can be a struggle trying to gather components together without looking like you just glued a bunch of stuff in a box.
 I used a cigar box which I painted with matte black chalk paint, then rubbed the edges with Gilder's Paste. Then I painted a wash of payne's gray to create the moon on the back of the box. I sketched a great horned owl on watercolor paper with a wash of burnt sienna. I backed the owl with a second piece of watercolor paper before cutting it out to stiffen it up and attached it to a stick so that the owl could float among the elements and create some dimension inside the box.
Then arranged and glued some seed pods, leaves, bark with lichen, twigs and finally my favorite little sparrow nest that I found in the yard. It had been vacated by the birds and the wind had blown it out of the tree.

Second next project has such a long, lengthy story behind it that I will probably create a blog post for this next week for my regular AE post. It is based on the quote- "You cannot stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can stop them nesting in your hair." by Eva Ibbotson.  The quote has also been attributed to a Chinese Proverb with slightly different wording.
I started with a styrofoam head, and she does have a nest in her hair but as you can see the bird was not allowed to nest there because the nest was filled with little scrolls that have some personal meaning for me. Stay tuned for more on this project over at AE in April.

And the last piece was just to see-what if?

I took some alpaca curls in various shades of brown and gray. Rather than felt them into the fabric I used heavy weight cotton thread to loosely stitch them down and build them up to create a 3-d nest sitting on fabric with a camouflaged print that resembles tree bark. After I coaxed the wool fibers up and around into the nest shape, I needle felted some little eggs to stitch down inside the nest.

although, I didn't complete ALL the projects I had floating around in my head, I am happy I was able to finish these three. I am looking forward to blog hopping and checking out all the creations of our guests and the AE team members.
Go have a look for yourself!

Guest Participants-
Alysen
Anita
Divya

Kym
Mona
Rosantia
Sarajo
Tammy


 AE team members-
Caroline
Claire
Jenny
Laney
Leslie
Lindsay
Marsha
Niky

Thanks to you all for playing along this month!







Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February's Component of the Month-Runes

Over at Art Elements, the February Component of the Month's host was Niky. She made lovely runes in copper metal clay that you can see in the photo below. 

As soon as I saw these beauties I knew I wanted to participate in the challenge. My first idea was a talisman type necklace. Then when I received mine in the mail and saw which one I got I knew for sure that I was going to create a necklace for myself that resembled a collection of talismans or good luck charms. Per usual I failed to photograph mine until the beading was underway (below).
I received the rune above, marked with an M. 
Runes were the first system of writing developed and used by the Germanic people prior to the Latin alphabet.  They functioned as letters but have much more meaning. The word rune means both letter & secret or mystery. You can check this site out if you'd like to learn more about Norse mythology and runes.

I searched the Elder Futhark runic alphabet for the description of mine. The 'M' rune is Ehwaz, pronounced as 'E'. Its symbolic image is the horse because this rune represents movement or transportation. I searched for stones associated with it and came up with Iceland Spar also called Optical Calcite on one website. Agate and opal were listed on another site. Iceland Spar/Calcite stone seemed to work better for the plan I had in mind.

I beaded around the stone with an asymmetrical assortment of beads. I wanted the stone to look as though it was found among some ancient rocks and pebbles. I used some etched seed beads, copper beads and raku ceramic beads.


I had already planned to combine the beaded pendant with some copper wire so I could create a suspended bar to hang my charms/talismans from.
After attaching the copper wire to the beaded rune, I made some charms to dangle from the bottom wire. I found some rough Optical Calcite crystals on Etsy and pulled out my electroforming supplies to create a copper band around the crystal so I could hang it. I also found the cute little pewter horse charm from Inviciti. I think the horse charm fits perfectly with the ancient feel of this piece!
I also drilled some holes in small black & gray pebbles to hang from the bar. There are also some of the same raku beads and copper beads dangling in between the charms.

I debated about how to complete the necklace. A part of me wanted to go with leather deerskin lacing but I didn't have a dark brown and the black looked too harsh and new. I would prefer a distressed looking leather if I can find one.
In the meantime- I added a copper chain.
This challenge was so much fun. I loved doing the research for this as well as trying to find just the right components to compliment the ancient looking rune.
I can't wait to see what all the other participants have created with their runes.

Here's the list of guests and team members. Please go check them out & enjoy!

Friday, December 22, 2017

December's Christmas Ornament Design Challenge

Over at the Art Elements site we are having a Christmas Ornament blog hop this month.
When Lesley first posted about the idea for December's design challenge I had a million ideas...
Well, as usual, life gets in the way of doing artsy things sometimes.
Since I am primarily a jewelry artist and secondarily a fiber artist I was going to do wire and bead ornaments. Didn't happen...
These happened instead-

Embroidered Felt Ornaments

This has been the year of my 1 Year of Stitches journey so I stayed with my stitching for most of my ornaments.  I got tons of ideas for felt ornaments on Pinterest and just ran with it. These felt ornaments are quick little stitchery pieces that can be completed in an hour or less. I just cut some templates from paper, then cut out the felt using the templates and started stitching. They are lightly stuffed with polyfil and then blanket stitched around the edge and tack on a ribbon for hanging. I have only made one snowman so far and I really need to make more. I think he's my favorite.
Woodburned ornaments

Then I happened to pick up some birch bark rounds and balsa wood stars at the craft store. So I decided to pull out my woodburning tool and play with that. Again, there is a ton of inspiration on Pinterest. It took me a while to get the pressure of the tool on the wood right and I also played with the different woodburning tips before I found the one I liked best. The above wooden pieces had to have holes drilled for adding the wire for hanging.
I really got into burning the trees onto the wood. The one on the right is supposed to have a heart in the center but it ended up looking like an almost sinister eye to me when I held it up. But I like it!
 Then I found these birch bark discs (above) that were packaged as 'ornament blanks' and they already had large holes with jute threaded in them for hanging. I may switch the jute out for some ribbon or wire?? Beware- the ones packaged as 'ornament blanks' were pricier than the birch bark rounds without the hole.
I love the wintry tree scenes. I have already given several of these as gifts.
A comparison of the plain birch bark rounds. The one on the left was just sold as birch bark blanks and the one on the right as 'ornament blanks'.  I used some acrylic paint to add the 'snow' on these pieces above.
 The balsa wood stars above were almost too soft. I kept presssing a little too hard with my tool and ended up gouging the wood in areas along with burning it. I used brown ink to sponge around the edges of the stars and added wire for hanging.
More birch bark rounds above with snowflakes and 'Peace' burned into the wood

A nice little colletion to give as hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, or even tie onto presents. Plus I am keeping a few for myself!

 After playing with woodburning tools and birch bark rounds I went back to stitching. This time I found some small 3" embroidery hoops to serve as the ornament. Just did some stitching, backed it with a piece of felt and now I will tie some ribbon around the top screw to serve as a hanger.
Felt stitched to back of embroidery hoop ornament, complete with cat hair!
Disclaimer--Don't look too closely at the photos of the felt ornaments. I have a cat who insists on sleeping in my lap while I stitch at night. The felt is basically velcro when it comes to latching onto cat hair. I thought I had lint-rolled all the hair off until I loaded the photos here-hahaha.  I plan to do a better job of removing the hair before I give them as gifts!

I can't wait to blog hop and see all the Christmas ornaments that everyone else has created. Happy blog hopping.

Here are all the participants:

Guest Designers

Art Elements Team

Enjoy the creations by everyone!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Component of the Month

This month over at Art Elements it was Niky's turn to host the design challenge. She created these
lovely coin clasps with a hare on them. Fortunately, I remembered to photograph it first but these little beauties are difficult to capture. My lighting was off in every photo and then this photo which I decided was the best is a bit out of focus. Ugh....
So here is Niky's photo of the clasps. Much better than the one above.
I knew when I received mine that I wanted to make it the centerpiece of the jewelry design rather than relegated to the back of your neck or the underside of your wrist. I am a beader but my experience lies mainly in bead embroidery and NOT bead weaving. I figured it was time to try and create a beadwoven necklace with this clasp at the front center. I mean how much harder can it be to do tubular peyote rather than a peyote bezel....haha
Well, I found out it is a tad more challenging. And of course you should never do something for the first time when you actually have to show it to people.  I searched my beading books to determine how many beads and what size beads I needed. I found a tubular peyote necklace that used 10gm of size 11 seed beads. I had the perfect beads for it. I had 10 gm exactly....Guess what, 10 gm got me about 2/3 the way around my neck.

At this point the tubular peyote looks pretty good, especially with the backdrop of my cat's fur. He was in my lap the entire time I beaded this.
So I decided to do a color blocked necklace with  coordinating solid color beads at each end. Okay, not too bad until I had to go back to the end I started beading and add the additional color at that end. It got very wonky, very quickly!?! What the heck did I do? First problem-when I wove in the ends adding the new thread I pulled WAY too tight which caused it to twist and become mishapen. But I persevered and was determined to finish.
So here is the necklace....
The original beads, which I ran out of are a really pretty silver lined matte amber AB. So they had tones of silver/gray, gold, and plum which I thought were perfect for the silver clasp with the copper hook/jump ring. The beads at each end are a dark matte plum. I used 14 gauge aluminum wire to insert into the tubular peyote and used silver bead caps to cover the ends of the tube. Then added copper jump rings to coordinate with the copper on the clasp. Initially I added a couple of extra beads between the ends of the aluminum wire and the clasp but it made the neckl too long for the clasp to sit properly at my neck. It kept flipping over and you couldn't see the hare. So this length is a choker but itis so light and flexible with the aluminum wire it's quite comfortable. BUT I hate the beading!
I am so unhappy with my attempt at this tubular peyote that I plan to rip it apart, order more beads and do it properly because this clasp is just too cool to not have a proper necklace attached! 




At the last minute before this post was scheduled to go live I decided to see if I could use this clasp to create something else until I have time to make a new tubular peyote necklace.
I came up with this bracelet... Using a piece of copper I had previously etched, paired with some copper jump rings, turquoise nuggets, copper bead and silver wire. The etched copper has a little verdigris patina on it.

I like it more than I like the wonky beaded necklace but I still WANT to bead a new necklace for this clasp.

Thanks to Niky for the lovely clasp! I enjoyed this 'test'.  It was definitely a learning experience for me. I intend to master the whole bead weaving thing;-)

Come join along in the blog hop and see what all the other team members and guests have created.
Linda Landig
Kathy Lindemer
Divya N

Art Element Team
Claire Fabian
Jenny Davies-Reazor
Susan Kennedy
Caroline Dewison
Lesley Watt
Diana Ptaszynski
Lindsay Starr
Laney Mead
Niky Sayers



June Sunflower Theme Reveal

Over at Art Elements Sue had the pleasure of choosing June's theme . She chose sunflowers. How could anyone not want to participate, ri...