Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yes, You Can Buy Charm!

Even though I have a zillion paper projects to do, and even though I am tempted to write a rant on the lost art of spelling and punctuation, I set aside both those needs today, and after a nap and a yummy supper at Panera, I finished these two seaside charm bracelets for my etsy shop at the early hour of 2 a.m. I would have done a third, but I have some beads to pick up Tuesday that will just make a perfect antique brass one to go with these above of silver and bronze-sort of an Olympic trifecta of charm: charm bracelets, that is, chock full of charms like shells and fossils, lampwork, a little key, a lock, hearts, a pail and shovel, fishies and more. The handmade lampwork beads, including an octopus and starfish, are by Star Girls Jewels, also on etsy. Come check out my shop

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, Storms, Sweets, Siblings and Swaps

You might wonder about this hodge podge of photos. You might ask how I will possibly tie them together. Loosely, is the answer. The terrible weather pretty much all weekend did not dampen my creativity. In fact, I was already in the basement working on pages for the ZNE Zaftig fat book for the annual convention, so I didn't even have to stop what I was doing to take shelter, as advised by radio and television. The sky looked quite creepy, as evidenced above, both Saturday and Sunday. But no matter, as I was still smiling from the clear blue skies and fresh air of northern Michigan, having arrived back home Friday night after 600 miles, 18 holes of golf and several hours of meetings, all at the Grand Lodge at Boyne Mountain, near Petosky, MI, at the far end of the lower peninsula.

My very first sight, walking into the house, was Larry (and his twin sibling, Lester), apparently quite happy to see me. I think he is saying, "hi, mom!" Or, he is yawning, which would indicate boredom (surely not) or sleepiness (well, okay, probably).

Art had to wait until Sunday as there was a wedding to attend on Saturday. However, I still managed to get 30 pages done, all originals, using my "sweet treats" kit that had just arrived from The pages are 4" x 4". I'll get a completed book back with 25 different pages when I go to the convention in August.

I also made a few artist trading cards for a swap with a fellow Flickr-ite. 'ATheeC' has the cutest babushka or Russian nesting doll cards on flickr. Here's a link to one that is coming my way Posted here are some that I am sending to her.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Oh, Happy Accident! And I Will Share, Too!

A lot of my art friends talk about “happy accidents,” but the only accidents I’d ever had were quite unhappy: foot in the paint can, spilling the water cup, cat prints on the project. Until now. What started as an accident- letting a wet baby wipe touch a recently-printed transparency- ended up with a cool fabric-like result.

I’m sure we’ve all used baby wipes or wet wipes for something artistic, besides cleaning our hands. In fact, one of my all-time favorite technique books is Bernie Berlin’s Artist Trading Card Workshop. I still pull it out from time-to-time as a reference. And, although she discusses applying liquid water color to wipes and using gel medium to “make” transparencies via transfer, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone transfer a transparency to a baby wipe (by accident or not).

My first “accidental” version, “Friends Forever,” did not pick up a lot of the image, which was a transparency printed from a photo of two porcelain doll heads I own. However, I like the very vague, faded image of the two dolls, which seems so appropriate with the words “remember” and “friends forever.”

I thought this would make a great little wall hanging in a girl’s room or a nice gift for a sister or friend (or both). I also thought I could do even better, if I “tried” the accidental procedure. This produced a nearly perfect image, and after letting the wipe dry completely, made for an almost fabric appearance or flocked feel. The result is my 5” x 5” wall-hanging “Adore,” which also has a definition of “sister” at the bottom. And, although I don’t have a sister, I’m betting I have some “art sisters” who might like to receive one of these. Here's a little how-to I will share.

Transparency/Wet Wipe Transfer Technique
5” x 5” Wall Hanging


5” x 5” cardboard or canvas – I used the backing of a watercolor paper pad, cut to size.
Background paper(s) or paints- I used Shabby Cottage background papers
Vintage sheet music scraps
Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Vintage Photo
Rub-Ons (words and swirls)- I used Classic K McKenna Decorative Rub-Ons, We R Memory Keepers Precious Metals Coppered-Out Swirls Rub-Ons and 7 Gypsies Ink Memories Texture Rub-Ons-black velvet

3/16” white eyelets and eyelet setters
15” length of coordinating ribbon
Gold- or silver-leaf pen
Burnisher/bone folder
Baby or travel wipes, wet in package
Freshly-printed transparency- I used Computer Graffix for ink jet printer
Krylon Workable Fixativ


Prepare surface by covering board or canvas with background papers or paints as desired. I covered both sides.
Meanwhile, print a desired photo onto transparency. Be careful not to touch or smear. Let dry flat a bit, about 30 min. If you do the transfer too soon, your colors will run into an unrecognizable mess. I also found if I did not let the transparency dry flat, the ink would run.
To make your transfer, take a wet wipe straight from package unfold and place flat over ink side of transparency. Try to place flat in one fluid motion, as any movement will smear your image. After a minute or two, press your wipe smooth over the image with a burnisher or bone folder. There is no need to scrape violently.
Gently lift up your wipe to see your transfer. Let dry completely, ink side up. You can place under a lamp or in a warm, dry spot to speed things along. This should take 2-3 hours.
When you are ready to apply your art, spray both sides of wipe lightly with fixative. I don’t know if this is necessary, but after getting a great transfer, I did not want any more Unhappy accidents!
Cut around image as desired and apply to background with a light coat of gel medium. Smooth into place. After edging torn sheet music with distress ink, apply in a pleasing pattern, also with gel medium or glue stick.
When surface is dry again, apply rub-ons as desired and edge artwork with leafing pen. When leafing ink is dry, set eyelets in top corners; string ribbon through, and knot in back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Art, Dolls and Fat Books

With just a little midnight oil Saturday night, I finished my 24 all original 5" x 5" doll house book pages for The Faerie Zine's fat book page swap, hosted by Lisa Kettell, I had fun using collage sheets from a fellow Altered Art Diva Joanne Thieme Huffman, Lisa's Altered Art, and German scrap from Moline Etsy. I got to throw on my girliest papers, laces, buttons, bows and trims as well as some vintage sheet music. Off they go in the mail Monday!

Some Saturday Vintage Goodness = Score!

As hard as it may be to believe, I don't often drag strange stuff home, without a plan. Oh sure, I will grab a vintage doll head here and there. But, this adventure to a tiny northern Indiana town to stores called "Petunia's" and "Serendipity" resulted in some unusual items and no plan-yet.
The green nightstand/end table was so cheap, it was needful. I am not sure it is all that old, but it looks like a fine place to store art supplies and books.
I also got a couple different batches of vintage greeting cards, some new and some used. Some were dated 1939. These will be fun for either altered art or re-sale on etsy
I also got a little wicker/rattan footstool/shelf/nesting table thingy. I thought it might help me organize my art and craft books. Other treasures include a nifty hat pin, another (yes) doll head and the little German? green table and four chairs, which are barely two inches. See. No plan. The table and chairs are too little for Blythe. Might go to etsy. Might go into altered art. Might be a gift for one of my dolly friends with little people.
Finally, the ivory box, which needs a good cleaning with a tooth brush, is some kind of overlay onto a wooden box. It feels like celluloid or Bakelite. I have no idea; I just liked it. I foresee a Marie Antoinette treasure box being made, or maybe just more trinket storage for me.
With the exception of the nightstand, everything in this post was had in single digit dollars each. Made my day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Charming, charming, charming

I guess I was feeling charming at 3 in the morning, because I woke up early yesterday/Friday, to storms, licking cats and a noisy water softener (again) and decided it was high time I assemble my charms from the ZNE Castle in the Meadow charm swap last Sunday in Detroit. The bracelet in the bottom pic is the result. All but three were made by ZNE members in quantities of 25 each for the swap. The green glass rings, ruler bit cut for me by Kris of Retro Cafe Art Gallery in Indy and baby moon by Melanie of Earthenwood Studio I added later. The soldered charm in the very middle, the Scrabble 'G' is by Donna of Bonnie Blue Denim who was nice to enough to make everyone a charm with personalized initials, so mine has an 'S' on the back.
Immediately above my ZNE bracelet is the nautical charm bracelet I also made Friday morning, this one for my sister-in-law. It has procrastination all over it, since she had given me four charms from Michael's in late March and asked me to make her a bracelet like the one I got from Kat of Altered Kat or Great Musings on etsy and here That one is the turquoise bracelet in the second photo from top. It has over 50 charms on it, so trying to make her four charms into something like that took me awhile to pull together. In the end, I used little glass fish from Debbie/Oh Kitten at Chubbyville, glass beads from Laurie of Loud Life on etsy and Living Out Loud and also the mother-of-pearl charms from my Altered Kat bracelet. Who says I can't make nice and share?
And finally, in reverse order, the top photo is a review of my Art & Soul Hampton charm swap. Yes, there is a charm bracelet in there somewhere, along with 32 unique, hand-made charms.

Give Me More Marie! I'm on French Overload.

I just finished the biography of Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser, wife of Harold Pinter. Fraser is well-known for her amazingly in-depth research, and the book did not disappoint. If only there could have been more to the story! But with a life cut short at 37 by the French Revolution, the biography could only go on for so long. Nonetheless, I was inspired to create another 'Marie' figure based on the incredible couture from the period.

As Queen of France, Marie was a patron of all of the arts, including music, ballet, theatre and of course, fashion. She was not as interested in the great painters, but instead constructed a little theatre, the Petit Trianon, where she put on plays with family and friends. Often her own dress or hair were theatres themselves, with elaborate scenes constructed within.

My glass-bottom 'bird cage' skirt features a scene with vintage millinery and jewelry bits. The skirt hoop and train are constructed from the wire form from an old hat as well as brocade, tulle and velvet leaves and ribbon. This 'bird cage couture,' as coined by the lovely and talented Sandra Evertson was made even more perfect for me by the markings on the jar I found just today in an antiques shop.

The bodice or corset is a 7" wire mesh corset form from Stampington and Co. I cut the bottom off and used it to form the wire skirt on another Marie I made here It is shown in the middle pictures above also. For the glass-bottom Marie, I placed a vintage doily in the corset top and trimmed the edges with sequins.

After I realized I could get two, two, two Maries in one, I decided to get even more thrifty and used the Stampington two-piece small mannequin with hoop form for four different projects: 1) the Last Beautiful Dress Castle in the Meadow project I blogged about below here, using the top of the dress form, 2) a yet-to-be-done-hopefully-tomorrow papier mache bust into which I stuck the feet from the Stampington form, and 3) two Marie 8 x 8 book pages for The Faerie Zine,, which I made by cutting the skirt piece in half at the sides. Those pages are here and here

Oh, and just in case you think I might be sick of all things Marie, I also made the 18" figure shown at the very top as a gift. It is a papier mache form covered with French text, handmade papers, feathers, beads and many vintage trims. I think I might have been good at passenmenterie, the French art of adornment, such as with tassels, brocade trims and such that we might think of as upholstery trims. C'est la vie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Last Beautiful Dress at the Castle in the Meadow ZNE Midwest Gathering

Neither wind nor rain nor tornadoes, power outages, 100% humidity, bad hair days, lack of A/C, a tyrannical tour guide, or even lack of food and water will apparently keep an artist wannabe from his or her pursuit. Such were the conditions at the ZNE Castle in the Meadow event Sunday, June 8 at Meadow Brook hall on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

None of the conditions were the fault of ZNE Queen Chel, who hosted the event while on a cross-country family reunion from her usual Pleasanton, CA. In fact, we were all so happily crafting (and having wine and hors d'ouevres) in the rock-solid, 80,000 square-foot mansion that we did not know what was brewing outside.

After a tour of the 28-bedroom former home of Mathilda Dodge Wilson, heir to the Dodge auto fortune, and a reception, we set about making our miniature castle vignettes with the wonderful supplies provided by sponsoring vendors, such as Shabby Cottage Studios, for which I am on the design team.

However, when it came time to leave (after five hours of crafting without air conditioning in a somewhat dank basement ballroom), we were sent back to the basement by police order due to a tornado touchdown in Oakland County.

It wasn't quite as bad as being sent to the Bastille, but with a four-plus-hour drive looming, no substantial meal (and the wine long-gone), we were getting rather antsy. When the all clear was finally given, it took us nearly an hour and a half to go about 10 miles due to downed limbs and power outages affecting stoplights. It seems Michigan drivers, with their unusual round-abouts and left-on-red-rules still have not mastered four-way stop etiquette. As well, there was not a bottle of water or fast food (or even gasoline) to be had for miles and miles due to the power being out. I never thought I'd view Indiana as civilization, but it was sure good to get home-16 hours after I left that morning.

My castle, "La Derniere Belle Robe" (The Last Beautiful Dress) is in the top two photos. The inside of the diorama has a 3-D castle scene, with birds in the sky on a sheet music background. The wire dress form by Stampington I spray painted gold and added some verdigris embossing powder. The form also includes some glass-beaded flowers, a ribbon sash and a fabric swatch pinned on. All of this is, of course, hard to see in the picture.

My project also includes vintage ribbon, millinery leaves and flowers, crepe paper, German scrap and German glass glitter as well as a metal fleur de lis. Without being too morbid, I felt the headless dress form represented the fashionable reign of Marie Antoinette, tragically cut short. The modern dotty ribbon represents the juxtaposition of her fashion trendiness at the time.

This is followed by my travel partner's castle in the third picture. Angela of Gemini Angel Art is a swell Blythe friend, fellow artist and excellent travel companion and navigator. In the next photo, Bernice Wagnitz (L) and Cathy Minerva of ZNE Artists and Poets show off Bernice's Castle. And another sweet unidentified ZNE creator shares her castle in the bottom picture.

All in all, storms notwithstanding, we were queens for a day- or perhaps simply court royalty of Queen Chel. Thanks for a great event!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Home Sweet Home or By The Sea?

Home Sweet Home or By The Sea? I'll take them both! Maybe someday my home sweet home will be by the sea. I'm a bit fond of Myrtle Beach. The sweet houses, top, are the 11 luscious receipts from Jeri Aaron's House Row Swap I made my artist's dozen to send while in Myrtle Beach, in fact, on vacation in April and blogged about them here
I had almost forgotten about them when my package arrived from Jeri. I received great houses, from (top row, L-R) Virginia Madison, Jan Love, Sue Day, Kim Newberg (a fellow shabby sister), Susie Cazier and Anita Edmonds. In the bottom row (L-R) are Gloria H?, Gwynn Thoma, Susan Tidwell, Liane Ceglar and Gerdie Fisher. Many recipients are talking about adding hinges to make a folding screen-type display or mantle piece. Sounds like a great idea to me. I can't bear to put these away and not display them. For more eye candy and more houses, Jeri's blog is really a treat. Visit her older posts, too!
The 'By the Sea' page is a 4 x 4 I made tonight for the Chubbyville group all original page swap, hosted by Debbie Metti. I will mail this one off and get a different one in return. I am keeping all my monthly original receipts and other random 4 x 4's, and I will bind them into a book at the end of the year. My "Song of the Sea" page has a removable tag that can be used as a book mark. I attached the copper starfish charm and seashell with silk cord, after drilling a hole in the shell (and burning up a drill bit). Who knew seashells were so hard? I guess that explains how they survive for thousands of years. See you by the sea........