Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Flowering ATCs

I made a new batch of ATCs for a swap group I'm in. ATCs are Artist Trading Cards, or mini works of art that you trade with other artists. "Trade" is the operative word: no money changes hands. You're just making art so you can then trade and gain the art of another artist.

This group meets once a month. We trade them around the room, then pick a new theme for the next month. This month the theme is "Flowers." I started with flower-printed scrapbook paper. I added a floral rubber stamp, inked in black then embossed with black powder. I colored in the image with Sharpie markers. I always think a few words add to a piece. I wrote in a poem by Emily Dickinson. She's my favorite poet, and many of her poems relate to nature. I finished the back with a smaller square of contrasting paper (I needed to hide the Sharpie pen that went through the back), then signed it, and I was done.

When I make a few cards at once, they always end up slightly different -- different colors, different papers. Stay tuned for next month's ATCs!

P.S. to this post: Obviously, I have no scanner for taking better pictures of my art. Can anyone recommend one?

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Old Blog

I hope you like the changes I've made to my blog. I worked hard on the new banner (Picasa photo collage). I hear Picasa is great, but I had a few stumbles trying to figure it out on my own. It's in pretty good shape now, but I may do a little more tweaking.

I've posted some of my jewelry for sale in an Etsy shop. See the link on the right-hand sidebar. You can buy it through a paypal account. I'll be posting more items for sale periodically.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life in Florida

Here in Florida we always get interesting wildlife sightings. I'm sure everyone does -- just different wildlife! The other day, when three families were loading up into vans in my driveway to go on a bowling outing, one of the moms noticed there was a baby raccoon up on my roof! It was only about 5 inches long, and looked newborn. Instantly, 10 kids jumped out of the vans, and lots of excited yelling ensued. I made a few phone calls to more experienced folk, and the consensus was that the mom was probably close by and would come back for it. They all said we shouldn't get near it or touch it.

We decided we'd get back in the cars, drive around the block, and come back. We thought the mom probably wouldn't come out with 13 people screaming in the front yard, but if she did come back, we wanted to see it. So we did our drive, and came back, idling in the street across from my house. No mom, but the baby was stumbling around, real close to the edge of the roof. Much to our horror, it tumbled off our roof! We all screamed, jumping out of the cars again. We checked on it, and it seemed O.K. on the ground, in the bushes. We left to go bowling.

Three hours later, we came back, and it was still there. Our theory changed: we figured since raccoons were nocturnal, the mom was probably still asleep. We thought the nest must be up in our palm tree, which is right next to the house, and that's why it landed on the roof. We decided we'd check on it occasionally, but the mom would probably come for it at nighttime. Sure enough, the next morning, it was gone. We are choosing to believe that the baby raccoon is now safely back with its mom.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Are You Ready for Halloween?

Sometimes when you work on art projects, you're out of sync with the time of year. Today is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year. But what day am I creating for? Halloween. I'm part of an altered book swap, which is hosted by a local scrapbook store, Everything Scrapbook and Stamps. Each month, we meet and trade books with one another. Everyone's book is different: one woman used an old encyclopedia; another used a blank book; I'm using a cookbook. We pick a theme for our own books, alter a couple of pages, then send it on its way. Over the next year, 12 women will get my book and add a few decorated pages to it. Since I used a cookbook, my theme is "Memorable Meals." I've asked each artist to describe a memorable meal: memorable because of its setting, the food, or your companions. Hopefully I'll get some good stories to go along with it.

Back to Halloween -- one woman has chosen Halloween for the theme of her book, which is a novel by Joseph Kellerman called The Web. I decided to include some ghost stories with my pages, which I found on the internet. I altered the pages with distress ink and used a sharpie for the words. If you're ready to get in the Halloween mood, you can find some ghost stories here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Idea, Prototype, Finished?

Often when I'm making a piece of jewelry or some other piece of art, I think about it for awhile before I do anything. I get an idea, and I expand on it in my head, often before I go to sleep at night. Finally, I'll get out my jewelry tools, my sheets of metal, and I'll start playing around. I may make a few designs before I finally come up with my prototype.

I had an idea to make a little book charm and this is what I eventually made. I tried quite a few things that didn't work, too. I used mica for the front cover, and learned not too peel it too thin. I tried putting eyelets on the mica, but I squeeze too hard and trashed the mica. I had to go with a thicker watercolor paper on the inside so the pages would hold their own against the copper back. And I tried a few different rubber stamp images and ink colors for the first page. I wanted it to show through the mica.

This little charm might look simple, but it wasn't. I used a thick wire and had trouble bending it in half. I hammered flat the ends and curled them up. But sometimes I hammered too much and the wire got too thin. The cross piece had to be worked right to the edge of the other wire. That got discouraging, and I wanted to quit. This may look like a small project to you, but I really had to encourage myself to keep working on it. I had to pull out my standard "pep talk" list for getting something done (so I didn't end up with a 90% finished project).

1. Take a break, then get back to it.
2. Work in small chunks.
3. Get input from others (emailing photos to a friend always works).
4. Pat yourself on the back for what you've done so far.
5. List all the steps needed to finish, and check them off as you do each one.
6. Finish -- then finalize the list of steps so you can make one again.

This seems to help me when I get stuck or discouraged on a project. I hate having 90% finished projects lying around.

(The P.S. to the silver dangle: It was a lot of work to just make one, but I learned some shortcuts and new techniques I've used on other jewelry pieces.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A New Perspective

Don't you love artists' photos of beautiful doorways? Often the door is painted a bright color, maybe it's an interesting shape. Flower boxes surround it. An old bike might be propped up against the wall. It's all too pretty . . . and too overdone. Yes, they're beautiful, but sometimes you get a been there, done that feeling. I bet if you visited ten art shows, there would be at least one artist in every show who has photos of doorways. That's why I was so suprised, and thrilled at the art I saw recently at Artigras in Jupiter, Florida.

I entered one artist's booth and was immediately taken by his photographs. What caught my eye were two photos of doors -- taken from inside the house. The doors were open, and you could see what is just beyond the door. In one case, a tree. The other shows just a peek at the yard. What a fabulous idea for a photo.

I love how it makes me think: what other things in your life would be so much more beautiful if you just looked at them from a new perspective?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Your Art, My Art

In Florida in the winter and spring, you can attend a different outdoor art show every weekend. Some artists come down from up north, often in an RV, and spend a couple months traveling all over the state doing these shows. I've hit quite a few of them, and often find a couple pieces to bring home with me. I'd much rather spend a few bucks supporting an artist than buying something at Pier One or Z Gallerie that was probably made overseas for pennies.

I saw this jewelry artist at a couple of shows. She makes jewelry using tagua nuts from South America. The nuts are sometimes called vegetable ivory. They can be cut into slices, then dyed many colors. Here's my little collection.

I was turned on to raku pottery a year or so ago. This is my second purchase, a shield imbedded with crystals.

This angel jumped out at me, and I bought it at a time when I needed to know there were angels out there.

I now have four pieces of pottery from this artist. This is a little dish that combines broken glass with the clay before it is fired, giving a it a sparkly look.

I liked this door. It reminded me of the big, heavy, wooden doors I saw in Scotland.

And finally, this is me, showing my jewelry at a show. Kind of a blurry picture, but what are you going to do, when you're not the photographer?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kelly Rae Roberts Rocks!

Kelly Rae is a painter/artist/great soul, and is currently running an e-course titled "Flying Lessons: Tips and Tricks to Help Your Creative Business Soar." I'm taking it and we are just one week into it, and I'm loving it. You may know Kelly Rae from her book "Taking Flight," or you may have taken a class with her at Art & Soul.

BWS tips button

I'm taking this class because I'm hoping to increase my internet presence, with the goal to sell my jewelry and art online. You may have noticed that I have an etsy shop with nothing in it. That will change soon! It's not that I don't have a strong inventory of jewelry I wish to sell. It's just that I'm a lousy photographer of my art! And jewelry's the worse: you can get such a shine on it, whether you use a flash or not.

This class will go through the middle of July. Be sure and come back to my blog then and see how I'm doing.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gardenia Envy . . . and Inspiration

Growing up, my mom had a gardenia bush in our yard, and I absolutely loved the scent of them when I walked out the back door of the house. When we bought our house 18 years ago, the first plant I added to our yard was my very own gardenia bush.

Around my neighborhood, gardenia bushes bloom in the middle of May, and last about a month. I don't know why, but our bush doesn't bloom until 3-4 weeks after all the others. All month, I go around town suffering from gardenia envy. Everyone's bushes are filled with flowers, and their heady scents, and mine doesn't have a one. I go through this every year. I don't know why my bush is such a late-bloomer. Finally, our bush has bloomed. And now, since all my neighbors' bushes are spent, they are suffering gardenia envy when they see my beautiful blooms.

All these bright gardenias got me thinking about the color white, and the inspiration you can draw from it. One of my best inspirations is the blank white page of a new journal. I love that!

Here are some white ribbons I've collected for my art projects.

I made this necklace recently from some pieces I found at a bead show

And finally, I leave you with another flower from my garden. I don't know the name, but it surprisingly comes back, every April.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hello Japan

What's up with the Japanese spam comments I'm getting on my blog posts? Someone has attached themselves (or someone and their many friends) to one of my blog posts, and they keep posting comments to me, all in Japanese. I've gotten about 20 comments so far. How do I know it's Japanese? Because I ran it through google translator, trying a couple languages until I got a sentence that sort of made sense. But that's the thing -- the comments don't completely make sense. They are nothing offensive, just pointless . . . and annoying. Every time I get one, I delete it from my post. Soon I may have to just delete that blog post from my history, so they can't comment on it anymore. So for all you Japanese spammers out there, this is what I say to you:


And, please. Stop.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Color My World -- Orange

When you live in South Florida, you realize that we have a completely different growing season and so many different types of tropical plants and trees that you don't see anywhere else. For example, we grow backyard vegetable gardens from October through May. It's just too hot to grow many vegetables in the summer. We do have summer fruit, like mangoes, which is very exciting. I make a mean mango sorbet. I'll show you some mangoes when they come out in July.

But for the spring, we have these amazing blooming trees. A spectacular tree that is found all over South Florida is the Royal Poinciana. It blooms around Memorial Day every year, and gets absolutely covered with bright orange flowers. They can get 30 feet around, so you can see them dotting neighborhoods from a great distance. My neighbor planted one just 3 years ago, and it's already 20 feet high. It bloomed very little this year, but give it another year or so and it will be covered. I took a drive around my neighborhood and caught a couple in bloom.

This tree is in full bloom.

This tree is even bigger, and some of it is done blooming. The orange flowers drop off after a week or so and are replaced with lush, green leaves.

Here's a closeup of the flowers.

The bursts of orange all over town inspired me to see what I have that's orange around my house. I admit, I'm a blue girl, so I don't decorate with orange a lot. I did come up with a few things.

A nice variegated candle.

A beautiful sari/tablecloth that came from Hawaii.

A painting I bought from an artist who was displaying his work at the Juno Beach art show, Art By the Sea. He's originally from Hawaii, and we had a nice conversation about mutual artists we know.

Here's a necklace I made specifically to match this dress. I was wearing black shoes and wanted to pull some black into the necklace.

I searched through my beads and found a few more orange beads in my stash.

And finally, here's a blouse I like to wear. It encompasses so many bright colors, and is a good example of how I like to dress. Unfortunately, I have to iron it, which means I only wear it about once every 4 months. I hate to iron.