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-


 AE team members-

Thanks to you all for playing along this month!


  1. The quote seems very intriguing. I would love to read more about it and your interpretation of the same. Thank you for this chance to experiment and play along

  2. I too had a plethora of ideas for nests, I loved the challenge and I love your alpaca curls!

  3. You had some great ideas for this challenge. My favorite is the 3D box that you made. I love it.

  4. I loved all the different media you used for this challenge. I think the assemblage piece is my favorite, but I sort of want to pet the alpaca nest. :) Thanks for a great challenge theme and the opportunity to join in.

  5. I loved your projects, Cathy - and loved the variety of media you've incorporated into them! I've been thinking of a shadow box project recently (and I love owls) so your 3D box resonates with me a tad more than the rest. :)

  6. I love all of your pieces! I can't wait to read your post about your second piece. Thank you for the inspiration for the challenge! It was a nice push out of my comfort zone.

  7. Love your work Cathy, the assemblages are wonderful! I had a million ideas too but not enough time to complete them all. What I did get done was brilliant fun to do though so thank you for a fantastic challenge!

  8. It was a wonderful start in the new theme challenges at Art Elements! I so enjoy seeing what everyone creates and even though your nest theme spoke to me, it pushed me more than I ever had expected!

    I am also so curious to see more about the "head" projects and love your other nests as well! Especially the last piece looks just dreamy! :)

  9. Hmmm, seems like my comments are not showing up on some blogs. I'll try again ...
    Seems like I'm OMG-ing every artist's piece(s)! Love all your ideas, especially the treatment given the styro head (paint?).
    My fave is the last one though, reminds me of when I'd cut my kids' hair and put the cuttings out in the garden for the birds. They'd use it for their nests.
    Thx for the memories and the chance to be among some great artists.

  10. I throughly enjoyed this theme so thank you Cathy, Your owl is amazing, beautifully drawn and I love the whole piece. Lichen, nest and a cigar box, lots of my favourite things all in one piece! I can't wait to hear more about your lady and your needle felted nest is wonderful!

  11. I love the assemblage, and your felt nest turned out how I wanted my original robin egg nest concept to work! I can't wait to see what happens with Miss Nesthair too! I think your 3 projects are just right.

  12. The alpaca nest looks so soft! And the owl assemblage is truly a piece of art. Beautiful designs. :)

  13. I love your alpaca nest- I think you might like the nest felting video I used, too. I look forward to the tale of the muse/mannequin piece. I’m intrigued. Sud has a wonderful theme and such diverse results! Thank you so much!

  14. I love the owl assemblage - it is dimensional and looks like a scene from a fairy tale! It reminded me of small and perfect fallen nests, lichen and intricate branches I've seen but never collected and I regret it now :) This was a meaningful inspiration that took us different paths and I admire the non-jewelry creations as much as the jewelry ones! Thank you for that!

  15. I love all your designs Cathy but the owl assemblage is my favourite - so ethereal and atmospheric. Thank you for giving us such and inspiring theme to work with too - it was great fun.

  16. All of these are awesome but I particularly like that you took the quote and made something from it, and can't wait to read your post!

  17. You went in some super cool directions! I really love your first piece, but I am a sucker for owls. :) Thanks for coming up for such a great theme challenge... and sorry to be finishing up hopping so darn late.


Wishing you peace, love & chocolate!

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