Saturday, February 1, 2020

Art Element's January Berry Theme Reveal

It's the end of January which means it's reveal time! Karen chose 'berries' as the theme this month over at Art Elements.   Is it January really over? Blew right past me.
I was a slacker at the beginning of January, I didn't do any beading or stitching until well into the second week. I needed to recharge my batteries, clean my studio (which I haven't finished yet) and decide what I would like to focus on for this year as far as creativity goes.

Part of my plan this year is to NOT get too carried away with ideas so that I end up with a huge list of items that I start and never finish. I also wanted to learn more about thread painting and took a quick online course before deciding to start my first berry piece. The course was in Spanish but had subtitles and I figured it would be fine- more visual than verbal instruction. Haha, my mistake. I was so frustrated by the 3rd video I almost quit watching. The translation is horrible but I did learn a few new things so I guess it was almost worth the aggravation.
Itty bitty bird in a wreath of pine and holly berries.

I made a quick sketch of a little bird in a wreath early in January b/c I was still in a Christmas-y frame of mind. It was inspired by a Christmas card.  I did learn a new way to transfer patterns onto the fabric and learned a bit more about breaking down a pattern into color sections and 'blending' colors as though you are painting.
Anyway, here is my little baby cardinal sitting in a wreath of pine and a few sprigs of holly with berries.
my husband asked why the birds wings were unequal-I said I was basing it on the bird on the Christmas card & also maybe he was ruffling one wing while the other was caught up in the pine needles;-)

I struggled with the size of the above piece. In my mind I thought I could stitch it much quicker if I did a small piece- this is a 6" hoop. The little bird is only about an inch tall not including his tail feathers. In hindsight, smaller does not mean quicker, it means much more difficult when you're trying to thread paint with 3 different colors of red thread and 2 colors of gold. I spent an inordinate amount of time removing stitches and redoing stitches and colors. And I won't even tell you how many times I re-stitched his little feet. So it was a learning curve. Using only 1 tiny strand of floss for the stitching was also a first for me and it tried my patience as well as strained my eyes! When it came time to stitch the pine wreath I did use 2 strands of floss, but reverted back to one strand for the holly berries & leaves.
I also tried something that I learned in the online course-wrapping the outer hoop with long strips of fabric to add a little interest and soften the wooden hoop frame. I like the ragged edges. I think I will try this in the future using either tea dyed or rust dyed fabrics.

close up of berries made from wooden beads wrapped in thread.

I wasn't planning on creating another berry piece until I came across some 3-d berries on Pinterest. (Reminder:stay off Pinterest when you already have a long list of stuff you want/need to do. I slipped down the rabbit hole of berry projects and berry inspiration.)
I decided to try making some 3-d berries using wooden beads. Another frustrating thing- b/c I used 6 strands of floss thinking it would cover the bead quicker-nope. All it did was fill the hole in the bead quicker which made it impossible to get the needle through the hole. So I resorted to weaving the threads through the floss that was already wrapped around the bead. It worked but took MUCH longer. Then I found some smaller wooden beads with larger holes so I created a few the correct way or rather a smoother finish for the berries. (although seeing them together-I do like the woven ones)
Currant berries.

These are intended to be currant berries although the woven ones have so much texture they look like they should be strawberries. This was a simple but fun little piece.

So that's my berry projects for the month! I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else has created this month.

Grab a beverage and take a hop through the blogs of all the participants.

Art Elements Team
  • Our Guest Contributors

Saturday, December 28, 2019

December Theme Challenge-Handmade Christmas

I am finding it hard to believe that we are near the end of 2019. It feels as though I blinked and the year disappeared. Christmas has come and gone once again and we are plowing toward the New Year whether we're ready or not!
I have been soooo busy the last few months with preparing for an art exhibit, finalizing projects & custom orders that were promised. I couldn't manage to participate in last month's theme challenge but when Lesley chose 'Handmade Christmas' for this month it was perfect as I was already planning to make quite a few items for family & friends.
I spent quite a few days in the kitchen baking goodies and then nights were spent stitching felt ornaments. I managed to make it to my studio and fire up the wood burning tool for a couple hours last week to do a couple of pyrography ornaments as well. I really want to spend more time perfecting that skill. It's certainly much different than painting on wood!
So here are the ornaments I made this year.

I love how the hearts turned out.These 2 round ones are actually the exact same color felt and threads-poort lighting on one of them.

I love this heart too! The 2 round ones are the same color felt and the same color threads but using different stitching and on the one upper left I used just a simple green circle of felt rather than the starburst pattern like the other 2. Amazing the difference it makes when using the different thread color around the edging. Top left has the burgundy thread for the buttonhole stitch, top right I used dark green thread for the outer stitching and the bottom left I used the gold thread.

The top 2 are a dark grayish green felt. The upper left was stitched with 3 strands of floss and the top right was stitched with 6 strands of floss. I really like the chunkier snowflake with 6 strands better! The bottom 2 are done in traditional Christmas colors.

I had grandiose ideas when I first started making these felt ornaments this year. I wanted to make some birds (partridges) and pears. I also had a idea to make a little fox curled up in a circle. Plus I had a pattern from a few years ago where I made snowmen felt ornaments. Well, once I started stitching these circular ones & challenging myself to use the same color threads but mix it up with the stitches I got a little carried away. So the partridges and pears, the foxes and snowmen will have to wait until next year.

Every year at Christmas I always make chocolate covered peanut butter balls and chocolate mint squares. This year I got in the mood to bake and spent almost a week baking treats. So there's chocolate covered peanut butter balls, chocolate mint squares, pralines, Scottish shortbread, 7 layer cookie bars, pecan crescents (they have numerous names like Italian wedding cookies, Mexican wedding cookies) and then I made something called Christmas Crack-haha. It's like toffee but you use saltine crackers as the base to pour the caramel goodness over.

The pecan crescent(wedding cookies) are my favorite!! Although the chocolate mint squares are super  yummy as are the chocolate peanut butter balls. Actually the shortbread is a close tie as my favorite. It just melts in your mouth!

I have actually made 2 batches of the Scottish shortbread and I may be making another batch of the chocolate peanut butter balls. I sent a care package to our daughter who couldn't make it home for the holidays plus I took my sister-in-law a batch of shortbread and a tray of cookies. I also plan to give my neighbors an assortment. And we have family coming in tomorrow for a few days.

My husband has a birthday on Monday so I get to bake a cake on top of all these sugary sweet treats!
He has requested a German chocolate cake. I will be glad when January gets here and I can get back on track with eating healthy. 

The 2 wood burned ornaments I managed to make but still haven't put ribbon or wire in the holes for hanging.

This is me in my Falalala llama pajamas after Christmas was over.  I had already warned my husband that I was going to flop down on the sofa with books, magazines a beverage and of course a cat. I said I wasn't getting up all day after the amount of work I had done over the past couple of months and I stayed true to my word. Thursday December 27 was my day of complete and total relaxation. I honestly didn't move for the entire day. The white blanket on the other side of me was where the dog had been sleeping beside me but she jumped up when she saw Pete stand up to take my photo.

Looking forward to doing the blog hop to see what everyone has created for this month.
Here's the list of AE team members and our guest participants.

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

Art Element's January Berry Theme Reveal

It's the end of January which means it's reveal time! Karen chose 'berries' as the theme this month over at Art Elements.  ...