Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Charms and Challenge

I thought I would record the progress of my contribution to the Black and White Charm Swap. In case you missed it, Amber Dawn chose the two-sided elephant design (to my absolute delight, by the way). I have a few weeks to get the 25 charms done, so I've decided to take my time and (try) to do them right. :) The first step is getting all 25 (plus a few extra, cuz that's the kind of girl I am ... just in case, dontcha know) cut down to size and sanding ... sanding ... sanding ... I wanted to round the corners and want the edges to be smooth, so a sanding I've been a-doin (four are completely sanded and another 14 have the corners rounded, so I'm doin alright). I'm using 220 grit sandpaper - a little does NOT go a long way ... the pieces measure just about 3/4 inch square:

Once I have all 25+ pieces sanded to my liking, the next step will be painting one side ...
OK, so the other challenge was from my honey. Originally he had a due date of this past Sunday, but when he noticed that I was actually working on the beaded doll or the charms, he decided to give me an extension to this Sunday ... the "assignment" - hanging piece with one section painted, one section beaded and one section found object. I saw this:

on the lanai and asked if it could be the found object ... he said yep. :) I've got two ideas on how to use it ... guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Here's my paint shelf:

Sometimes just staring at the tubes can get the juices flowing. I'm leaning towards using a 6x6 canvas board (or two), but this could change ... can you tell that I don't have the whole thing mapped out, yet? I'm often a by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of human, but I have been trying to make an affort at planning projects ... at least a little.

Here's a bead shelf:

I know, not much, but don't let the space fool you ... there really are some fun little beadies stored in there. :)
and since I'm sharing ... here's the shelf above the beads:

It's got random items on it 4X4 and 6X6 canvas boards, tapes, small origami papers, sculpy, modeling clay, etc. and my favorite bear Zotti.

This is the whole bookcase:

I may not have a studio, but this bookcase houses the most often used art supplies and is in a common area. :)

OK ... time to get back to work.

Be well, ~M~

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy 100 List

A while back my meanderings led me to e.beck.artist. I find her groovy-ness to be most extraordinary. Her lighthearted happy self is infectious - if ever my mood is marginal and I just crave a little somethin-smiley, all I have to do is swing on by and I most assuredly will be treated to a grin, a giggle and one of her most joyful creations. I dare you to take a look at her art and try to maintain a sourpuss mood ... bet you can't do it ... (and honestly, isn't that actually a really good thing?!?).

Anyway, she posted Happy 100 back in March and I thought, haven't we all made this list at least once in our lives? ... which made me wonder where my list was ... and did I only have one list or are there dozens in random journals ... or are most of my lists wish lists and lists of things to accomplish / try / do in my lifetime ... and on and on ...

... when I read her list it made me grin and decide that I really ought make a new Happy 100, so here goes (and remember, this is a free-form-as-it-comes kind of thing and just because something may be listed at 83 doesn't neccessarily mean that it ranks that on the scale - if there is one - of happiness):

1) uber-spouse
2) critter (aka S.Butterfly)
3) Fern - (ex-circus puggle)
4) Sally - (silky cat)
5) the smell of lemons
6) or vanilla
7) painting
8) doodling
9) crocheting
10) finishing a blanket
11) stringing beads
12) coffee
13) chai latte's
14) Lizard (friend, not critter - though many a lizard has made me grin)
15) baking lemon poppy seed bread
16) giving away said lemon poppy seed bread
17) the pleasant surprise when peeps realize they really like that lemon poppy seed bread ...
18) mango's
19) smoked gouda, brie and baby swiss
20) paint brushes
21) plyers
22) my ruler (it's really cool - it's metal with a plastic raised ergonomic grip, a magnifyer and a cutter tool)
23) searching for sharks teeth and small pretty rocks out at Englewood beach
24) sushi
25) fondue (I prefer fundue, actually)
26) paper (all kinds)
27) Almost Famous
28) Love Actually
29) Pride and Prejudice (the newest version)
30) Sense and Sensability
31) Angel (the spin off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
32) softie fabrics
33) bamboo yarn
34) embroidery thread
35) Swarovski crystal beads
36) home-made gifts
37) the entire month of May
38) books that suck me in
39) knotting (aka macreme)
40) New Zealand
41) singing along with Natalie Merchant, Lisa Loeb, Annie Lennox, Sarah McLoughlin, Dido or a half dozen or so other female artists
42) S's sleep breathing
43) taking photographs
44) of animals, plants/flowers, buildings, people
45) orchids
46) sunflowers
47) plants with heart shaped leaves
48) beautiful gardens
49) my dragonfly coffee cup
50) the old glass "tea tray" (for beading)
51) the dark blue ceramic coffee cup with all the paintbrushes in it
52) refrigerator magnets
53) people that love their craft / create from that place of love
54) the night sky
55) sunsets
56) Tonto Natural Bridge
57) Sedona
58) my pillows
59) meteor showers
60) wishing on falling stars
61) Johnny Depp
62) Drew Barrymore
63) Prisma Color pencils
64) black and white photographs
65) suncatchers and windchimes
66) Hug-O-War (by Shel Silverstein)
67) The Princess Bride
68) Zotti (a stuffed bear I received from my Omi when I was nearly 12 I think - it's my traveling bear)
69) songs sung from the soul
70) The Beatles
71) two sided tape
72) meeting someone and speaking the same language
73) my pink sunglasses (currently missing, but I am hopeful they'll just turn up one day)
74) the sound of laughter
75) the sound of baby/small children laughter
76) a cool breeze and the warm sun
77) ginger
78) asparagus soup in a sourdough bread bowl
79) dark chocolate
80) the "I-love-you-more" fight(s)
81) receiving letters
82) sending letters
83) unexpected packages
84) good conversation
85) raspberry sorbet
86) Amimoto (local sushi restaraunt)
87) card and board games
88) the smell of garlic when it's promising a meal is soon to follow
89) shopping (online) at Dick Blick, Etsy and Aunties Beads.
90) arts & crafts - all aspects ... seeing, discovering, learning about it and new techniques, watching someone's creation progress from idea to completion,
91) art books - both picture books and how-to's
92) Audrey Hepburn
93) Da Vinci, Monet, Sulumith Wolfing, Van Gogh, Henry Moore, Mattisse & 100's more artists that range from the masters to beginners and everything in between
94) coffee shops with outdoor seating and good people watching
95) fairies (and other magical beings)
96) folding paper cranes
97) softly scented candles burning
98) doors / doorways / garden gates
99) overflowing window boxes
100) other happy people

ok, so that was super easy to come up with 100 ... I bet I could think of 100 more without much effort and my smile would grow even bigger.

Your turn!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Fill-Ins #69

1. When I fell in love the air around me became electric and the whole world changed ... for the better!

2. My imagination goes into overdrive when the flowers bloom and it heats up outside!

3. Oh no! The internet connection is down, I just may have to slit my wrist! ... uh, no - that's not right ... I think I'll bake some bread and play games with the fam.

4. Soap was the craziest tv show ever.

5. Cheese and crackers (what else did you expect?!?) make a great meal!

6. Once upon a time I thought that when I grew up more than anything else I'd like to be a fairy that tended a beautiful garden.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sweet dreams, tomorrow my plans include escaping from work on the early side and having friends over for a play date and Sunday, I want to get started on my 25 black and white charms for the swap!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Charm Entries

4/24 - Woohooo! Looks like the elephant charm won out. Time to get-a-making. :)

I just emailed Amber Dawn with my two attempts for her Black and White Charm Swap - the entries are juried, so there's a definite possibility that my attempts will not be accepted. I am so totally OK with that and no matter the outcome, I am really happy that I worked on these. The first is a beaded doll. The head is a black Swarovski crystal and the rest are glass beads:

This second option took two of the ideas I originally had and morphed it into this:

As you can see, it's a reversable charm. This (being the first attempt) isn't as refined as future versions will be - I plan on much smoother coats of paint, a little finer sanding of the wooden pieces and a little more border of the silver painted edge. If you click on the pictures to see a larger view, don't be surprised by the grainy looking elephant - the photo's are much larger than actual size as this charm measures 3/4 inch x 3/4 inch. I will keep everyone posted on if either of my submissions are accepted. Wish me luck!

For the latest Art Doll update, check out the newest photo's here.

A Challenge or Two

I have been working on my submissions to the Black and White Charm Swap. I just put the first coat of gloss on one attempt - it's a small two sided wooden piece. One side is painted white and the other is black. I reduced the elephant pic and did a negative of the same image - one for each side. I painted the edge in silver (airplane paint) ... I still need to add another coat of the gloss prior to photographing it, but I am close. The other little piece is a little beaded doll that makes me grin. I should be able to take pics of both day after tomorrow and will post them after I email pics to Amber Dawn. I honestly can't say if she'll accept them and if she does which she'll pick, but I do have to admit that I am glad that I made an attempt. :)

I have another challenge facing me, too. The spouse just challenged me to complete a piece by this Sunday at 6:00 pm. He said part has to be painted, part beaded and part found object and that it should be designed to be suspended ... I am at a complete loss. The more I think about it, the more my brain hurts. lol.

I did a little more beading on the artsy doll. I'll likely take a snap of it tomorrow after work. On that note, I'm wiped out and still have dishes to finish, so Ciao Bella's! ~M~

Monday, April 21, 2008

One Marvelous Little Treasure

Doesn't everyone get a little thrilled when they grab the mail and there's an envelope that is obviously from a friend? I was lucky enough to have one of those moments earlier today ... and just look at what was inside:

My lovely friend over at Mice and Moonbeams recently made a decision about not selling her art. To celebrate she decided to give away some pins that she made ... I was lucky enough to be the recipient of this absolutely wonderful, exquisitely detailed fun little fish pin and I love, love, love it! ... and I feel inspired ... her creative nature, generous heart and kindness have deeply touched me; I feel blessed to know her.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


In case you're curious, here's a close up view of my profile pic:

I have a girlfriend in Phoenix that was redecorating her bedroom (this was actually about two years ago). She mentioned that she was looking for a print of a Mandala and I thought ... hmmm ... I can paint one! So, I did. This was the first one that I had ever attempted and I was really happy with the results ... she was too as it is still hanging on her bedroom wall.

This was one of those paintings that I really enjoyed working on. I broke out my ruler and a sharpened pencil to lay down the design - it started with the eight point star in the center and radiated out from there. I used acrylics on an 18"X18" canvas. Shortly after I finished this one, I painted another that's 12"X 12". I'm not as fond of the second as I am of the first (go figure, I still have the second hanging in the house). It's got a simpler design and the colors don't appeal to me as much ... but, I have been thinking about painting another one. I would like to revisit the first design again - or something similar to it. I just need to figure out the colors that I want to use ...

In the meantime, I have to set the art doll aside (I have done a little more beading since the last update, but it's dark and I prefer to photograph it in natural light). The more I look at it, the more it reminds me that I really don't know what I am doing. :) That's not really the reason that I am setting it aside ... I recently visited Monica's blog and saw mention of a Black and White charm swap ... I've never made a charm, so I am not sure what possessed me to add my name to the list, but I did. Now I actually have to create something - EEK! I contacted the host and let her know that I would work on something this weekend and would email pics so she can decide if they are acceptable for the swap. Since then, I have been racking my brain trying to figure out what I am going to do ... I have a few ideas:

1) I can "macrame" black and white embroidery thread (love that 100% cotton feel over rough hemp any day of the week - no offense, hemp) over wire, embelish with black and white beads and bend into a heart shape.

2) Make the charms from wood and paint - I'm thinking geometric. I kind of see a half inch square base with a quarter inch square attached (in the center and at an angle) on either side of the base ... i think just paint and no additional embellishment

3) making little frames from sculpy and printing off pictures of the elephant that I did last fall to set (and somehow seal) in the frame ... here's the elephant that I mentioned:

Considering it's Sunday night, I don't really have that much weekend left. I've got to get started. Wish me luck - I could definitely use it right about now. :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Red Checkerboard - redone

I wasn't happy with the results of the first attempt of the red/heart checkerboard ... here's the updated version:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Art Doll - In Progress ... Ever so slowly

4/28 - it's been a few days, so here's the latest:

4/23 - slowly but surely more and more beads are finding their way onto the little critter:

4/21 - I kept hoping that at some point this little creature will lose its goofyness and will suddenly feel like a piece of art. I give up ... maybe she's supposed to be a bit goofy and I should just let her be whatever she ends up being (hmm ... sounds like a good lesson in regards to the human critter known as Sadie). I need to get back to work on the Black/White Charm, but in the meantime, here's the latest:

4/19 update:

added 4/18 - I have been working more on the small doll, so not a lot of progress:

Just in case anyone has been curious as to the size of this lil critter, I've set it next to my ruler (if you ask really nicely, I might even take a snap of just the ruler ... hmmm ... think Mercedez next to a Yugo - both functional and serve their purpose, but you have to admit the Mercedez is off the charts in design and form ...). I don't think I realized just how much time was going to go into this little project. Today (at work) I cut oout two smaller forms - one for me and one for Sadie. I might put this one to the side and work on the tiny one (all of 2 inches), but I'm not sure. OK, I feel myself rambling ... instead, here's my progress photo:

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Much love, ~M~

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Art Doll - In Progress

I love it when people share a work in progress or provide a tutorial on how they've accomplished things ... since this is a first, I don't feel a tutorial would be appropriate, but I can share an occasional progress report ...

I did say it was likely she'd be beaded from head to toe ... right now I am a little afraid of her (not "EEEK run!" kind of afraid ... more of the "ut-oh, I really am clueless" variety). Hopefully as I add more beads she'll look less like Casper's dopey sister and more artsy ... guess we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Art Doll - First Attempt ... sort of

If you saw my "Doll Party ... worse than fashionable late" post, then you will know that about eight years ago I made my first doll, Bubby - she was made from one of Sadie's Winnie the Pooh sleepers and is, well, perhaps not the prettiest doll ever ... but I did make her specifically for my daughter and tons of love (and fiberfill) went into her.
More recently, I became involved in the Pink Artist Community Doll Project for Susan G Komen and was exposed to brilliant artists and creators of exquisite, beautiful and wonderous dolls. I found myself with the itch to try one myself. It's been a number of weeks and I have been busy with other things (family, breathing, work, painting, etc.) so doll making went on the back burner ... this weekend I was a woman possessed! I had to find just the right pattern to start with - finally I came across a handful of free patters from 2002 by Ronda Kivett. I decided to pick what appeared to be the smallest, simplest pattern and a remnant of an old sweater (nylon/spandex mix - weird, but uber-softie) ... drumroll, please ....

The above pictures are front and back of my very first form and as of right now I love, love, love her. :) Next step will be the embellishing ... I'm pretty sure that I'll be beading her from head to toe ... wish me luck!

Tomatoes and Buds - More Macro Shots

I think that I mentioned that it's the green-thumb-spouse that gets the credit for the beauty and the bounty in out yard. The other day when I was out taking yard snap, the tomato plant was a super easy target. The next three shots bear green tomatoes - ready for frying? I have to admit that I have never had a fried green tomato, but I do hear they are pretty tasty. The last tomatoes that came from this plany were super yummy, and these already look prettier than the last bunch, so I imagine we are in for some good salads and salsa (did I mention that wonder-chef-spouse makes the worlds greatest salsa? no? ... my bad - if you're ever in the neighborhood, let me know and I'll be sure to have him make a fresh batch).

I really like the above shot - there's something about the light on the tomato and the blue sky peaking through that makes me smile.

The wire is part of the support that's around the plant ... kind of looks like the tomato is coming out of it, don't you think. weird.

The one above may not have the best lighting, but I seriously think I need to photoshop a pair of eyes in there and call it the tomato queen. :)

The next few shots are of the blooms. Just by tilting the camera from the inside of the plant, I was able to capture better shots of the blooms with the bright blue sky in the background ...

I hope you enjoyed seeing the photo's as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pink Hybiscus - Macro Shots

Living in southwest Florida allows for extremely long blooming seasons. There are a wide variety of tropical plants and trees (plus veggies, herbs, etc.) to choose from. Our yard always seems to be a work in progress with the green-thumb-spouse doing 95% of the labor - I know, I suck. The latest addition is a hybiscus (the third) - this one is a bush (hasn't been trained into a decorative tree) and the blooms are pink. Yesterday I was out in the yard taking snaps of different things. Below are some of the more artsy versions of the hybiscus - I would have included a shot of the whole bloom, but I wasn't paying attention and got a bit of shadow crossing the bloom and I didn't feel like going out again for another shot. Besides, this was pretty much an "exercise" in macros.

The above focus zoomed in on the stamem (as it should have), but I really like the vibrant colors coming from the center of the bloom out into their feathery little fans.

In this one (above) I was trying to get a clear shot of the stamen - I am amazed by the brightness of the stamen ... and then I saw the shadow ...

Here's the close-up of the shadow (above). It might just be me, but something about it reminds me of something one might see in a Dr. Seuss story book. hehe.

Here we have a fairly nice shot of the stamin and the brght, feathery center. Even with the bit of stem shadow, I like the composition of this one. I do think that it's a little odd that the focus is on the little yellow pieces and that the orange parts are still slightly out of focus, but I did make one more attempt at a clear shot of the orange bulbus thingies:

Feel free to click on any of the photo's for a larger version. There really is some pretty cool detail on most of the photos.

In case anyone is wondering, I've been using a Canon PowerShot A95. It has up to 5.0 mega pixels and uses compact flash memory cards. The camera has served me well, but lately it has been suffering from some sort of internal confusion - it sometimes shuts off on its own (and I am sure it's not the batteries) and once in a while it makes some pretty creepy grindy sounds. To fix it would cost more than to replace it, so I am asking for a new one for my birthday. Keep your fingers crossed.

One last note - the mango tree and avacado tree have tiny little fruits on them - this is the first year since planted that we just might get some fruit. Pretty exciting.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sadie's Hand - age 2

I love this little piece. When Sadie was two -2001 - I made this hand for her papa (aka: uber-spouse) as a Christmas gift. I traced her hand on a piece of sculpy and then trimmed it out and decorated it with dots, a heart and Runes (an ancient Germanic alphabet, used for writing, divination and magick). Then I baked the piece, gave it a sort of tea bath and finished it off with some black paint. I've always loved letters and symbols, so it's natural for me to be drawn to Runes ... it's an added bonus that each letter (symbol) actually represents something. If your curious what's inscribed all over the little hand, start at the top left (thumb), move right through each finger and end at the palm (above, inside, below the heart):

Fehu (F: Domestic cattle, wealth.) Possessions won or earned, earned income, luck. Abundance, financial strength in the present or near future. Sign of hope and plenty, success and happiness.

Wunjo: (W or V: Joy.) Joy, comfort, pleasure. Fellowship, harmony, prosperity. Ecstasy, glory, spiritual reward, but also the possibility of going "over the top".

Uruz: (U: Auroch, a wild ox.) Physical strength and speed, untamed potential. A time of great energy and health. Freedom, energy, action, courage, strength, tenacity, understanding, wisdom.

Ansuz: (A: The As, ancestral god, i.e. Odin.) A revealing message or insight, communication.

Gebo: (G: Gift.) Gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance.

Raidho: (R: Wagon or chariot.) Travel, both in physical terms and those of lifestyle direction.

Kenaz: (K: Beacon or torch.) Vision, revelation, knowledge, creativity, inspiration, technical ability.

Eihwaz: (EI: Yew tree.) Strength, reliability, dependability, trustworthiness. Enlightenment, endurance. Defense, protection.

Tiwaz: (T: Tyr, the sky god.) Honor, justice, leadership and authority. Analysis, rationality. Knowing where one's true strengths lie.

Othala: (O: Ancestral property.) Inherited property or possessions, a house, a home. What is truly important to one.

Sowilo: (S: The sun.) Success, goals achieved, honor. The life-force, health.

For the complete definitions, I do recommend doing a search on Runes. These are based on the Elder Futhark. My first stop when searching info on Runes is Runes, Alphabet of Mystery - there are tons of links and no crazy pop-ups.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doll Party ... worse than fashionably late

Not too many days ago I stopped by Monica's blog (it's a Dolly doll Art World) and saw that Faerie Window was having a doll party. I thought it was such a fun idea and had every intention of taking snaps of my favorite dollies (most a little off the beaten path) to share, but the days just kept on slipping by. Tonight I finally took the time to take some photo's. Even though I missed the festivities, I thought I would share ... bear with me as I take a stroll down memory lane ...

This is Mai and she is my most favorite doll. My husband bought her for me for my 33rd birthday. He and Sadie had been visiting Mama W. here in Punta Gorda and came across a local artist that had a shop at Fisherman's Village. The shop was called something Pepperberry and the artist is Joanne Brook. Ms. Brook passed a while ago, so I am pleased to share one of her magnificent creations.

I tried doing a search on her to provide you with a link to check out her other stuff - she was a prolific folk artist that made signs, paintings, and other things, too. Unfortunately, my search came up with nada. Bummer. Most of her dolls had animal heads - sheep and cows ... maybe ducks if I remember correctly ... and not so many people faces. I think her faces are fabulous:

My husband and I married on November 22, 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona. On December 9th of that same year we packed our meager belongings and headed east. We set up house in Baltimore, Maryland (walking distance from University Hospital and the Johns Hopkins campus). Uber-spouse worked at New Arts Foundry while we were there, so we were lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of local artists. Baltimore actually has a pretty fabulous art community. There was a street in Hamden that boasted a number of "galleries" ... my favorite was called Mud and Metal. Mud and Metal carried Julie Buchness's amazing and unusual dolls (she's been married since those days, so it's possible that her name has changed ... when I tried to search Julie, once again I came up empty handed). One cool side note ... Julie's sister worked with the spouse at New Arts Foundry ... we bought our first Julie doll without knowing of the connection, so once we found out, we were extra pleased. This one was the first we purchased - her "crown" is made from porqupine quills. Julie uses twigs, seed pods, beads - actually any found object or little treasure she deems fit to use on her creations.

The strand of garnet didn't come with the doll, but until I find use for the beads, they seem to be at home with the doll.

This is a little out of order (the one above was the first Julie purchase and the one below this one the second) - this one was actually a gift from the artist herself. It's really simple and yet still so expressive.

Here's a close up of her face and "head-dress" - love it!

OK, so this one was the second of Julie's dolls that we purchased. She has such an earth goddess / native sort of feel to her. I adore her to pieces.

I really love her face. I should admit that my daughter isn't as fond of my dolls as I am ... she would tell you that they are all pretty creepy.

The next two dolls are much more recent purchases. They both come from Gothic/Surreal/Folk artist Michelle Steele (check out the FABULOUS flamingo on her banner) ... once again the Uber-spouse purchased them as gifts for me for my birthday ... if I ever forget, you MUST remind me that I am one lucky girl for being smart enough to say, "yes" that night over that game of backgammon. Life is WAY better with him in it.

I guess that I can see there might be a little bit of creep factor, but you have to admit they are pretty amazing ... seriously, just check out their eyes ... and their noses ... and the texture ... yep, I'm so drawn to them.

Finally, below is the first (and only) doll that I ever made. When Sadie was just a bitty critter she had all these adorable little one-piece outfits. One day I thought I would be clever and turn one of the outfits into a doll that she could love, love, love. OK, I admit it - I knew absolutely nothing about making a doll. I stitched the outfit closed and stuffed, stuffed, stuffed it full of that fiberfill stuff before adding a lopsided (hairless) head that I had embroidered eyeballs, nostrils and tiny lips onto and dubbed her (yes, it's a she) Bubby ... once upon a time Sadie did actually snuggle with Bubby, but at some point she became a bit frightened of her ... honestly, I think the fear has everything to do with not-so-uber-spouse giving Bubby a bit of a creepy voice ... I could be wrong, but I think not. Anyway, I know that she's a bit poochy, misshappen and has no eyelids, lashes or hair on her head, but I can't seem put her out to pasture ...

OK, I admit it ... I'm a little attached to Bubby at this point.

If you have actually made it this far, tada! This is the end. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my lovelies.