Thursday, February 28, 2013

AlphabeThursday - O is for Michelle Obama

I just finished the most interesting book about Michelle Obama's family for my book club.  It was written last year by Rachel L. Swarns and is called American Tapestry : the Story of Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama.  The author researched back five generations through census records, courthouse papers, archives and family memories to tell this gripping story of a family's  "journey from slavery to the White House."

One thing my group agreed upon was that the "story" did not flow smoothly.  It wasn't written in any sort of chronological fashion.  Swarns might have repeated names and places in abundance throughout the book, but it helped me remember who was who.  I appreciated the Family Tree placed on the book's endpapers.

A lot of pertinent information was lost through illiteracy and unspoken words, but I thought Swarns did a good job keeping the family history alive, from their beginnings in Georgia and South Carolina, all the way through the family's arrival in Chicago.  Both men and women left their homes in search for a better life, many moving north before the "Great Migration," a term I'd never heard before.  It seems that Chicago was one of the big cities thought to be a real promise land to many African Americans, where people were allowed to vote.    

American Tapestry was listed on the NYTimes 100 Notable Books of 2012.  Anyone who is interested in genealogy or reading American women's history will be interested in this story.  I bought the hardbound book for my personal library; the paperback is scheduled to arrive in book stores in April 2013.

Here's a 2-minute video by Rachel Swarns about the book.

What did other bloggers write about for words that start with the Letter O?  Come to Ms. Jenny's blog, on my tangent... and see!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

BBAritsans February Challenge - Red

postcard and red bracelet kit

I've been working in red without even realizing it!  One of my image transfers for a postcard was this lovely woman with red highlights in her hair.  I added the scalloped border on the bottom.  And I wrapped some red and black paper beads from Japanese paper that my sister gave my ages ago.  Surprise!  I have some red for my February Challenge.  OK, the beads were not a surprise - they're for a new bracelet kit...  {:-Deb

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

List It Tuesday - what's working for me?

This might sound strange, but taking online workshops has really worked for me.  I'm not close to a large city, where I can attend art classes.  When I started art journaling, I wasn't sure what supplies or techniques to use.  After taking a few workshops through the Art Journaling Ning, I felt more comfortable experimenting.

This month I decided to get involved in Mail Art, and have been taking a Fantasy Faux Mail class through Joggles. This week we worked with making postcards.  Three ideas were proposed and I tried them all, but was disappointed with my results {:-(.  I had trouble transferring images and messed up cutting my seed packets.  Live and learn.  

I have one more Lesson, and then the class will be over.  What to do next?  I had some online classes saved on my Pinterest page; many are old or I've taken already, like the Weekly Art Date with Moira Richardson.

Here's the two workshops I'm interested in...

Lady Zen with Judy Skeel - this is a mixed media workshop in March at Joggles.  I'd love to learn some mixed media techniques...

Sketchbook Practice Workshop with Jane Davies in April.  She has a few online classes; waiting a few months might be best for my pocketbook.

I also enjoy challenges, so I might just get involved with that again.    

Creative Every Day, 2013.  This is actually up to the individual: daily/weekly/monthly; you can check in weekly on Leah's blog

Anyone have any recommendations?
See what works for other artists at Artsyville's List It Tuesday

Sunday, February 24, 2013

BBArtisans Treasuries, Feb 10 - 23, 2013

It's been a full two weeks of treasuries made up of new items, thoughts of Spring, and daydreaming of oceans and shapes.  My new Jewelry Bracelet Kits were a hit, and one of my doodle books was featured in two treasuries.  Come and visit these Etsy treasuries and help me give thanks to the curators from the BBArtisans team.

Edi (Memories For Life) has a new line of cuff links.  
I think her wooden engraved compasses are my favorites.

Trina's (trinasclaycreations) Dinosaur Birthday Cake Topper would make any young man's day!  I just love her sculptures - they are all a real work of art! 

When I was making my treasury this weekend (Going Wild with Color!) I was thinking of featuring Paige's (OhNostalgiaDesigns) Flower Bobby Pin.  But decided on including it here, with her Pastels treasury.    

Her blue scrunchie might come in handy...

The last treasury I wanted to feature today was made by Linda (lindab142) - it's called Shapes.  
I had a hard time choosing from the large variety of earrings in her shop, 
but  finally decided on some round emerald earrings

Thursday, February 21, 2013

AlphabeThursday - N is for Ning

Ning in Chinese means peace.  But I became familiar with the word as an online social network.  I first joined the art journaling ning that I found on ComfortableShoes website, back in 2010.  She was the artist who welcomed me to the Ning, and I felt at home immediately.

I was able to make my own homepage, and download some of my art journaling pages for others to see.  This is where I took my first art journaling workshops and got to know others that enjoyed the same art that I did.  We also have challenges, which I love!

Since I've gotten interested in Mail Art, I thought I'd look and see if there's a Ning for that.  And there was!  The International Union of Mail Artists, which was founded in 1988, began a IUOMA platform at Ning in 2008.  And I see that the layout is very similar to my Art Journaling Ning, with the same tabs, including the ability to create individual homepages.

There are 2736 members of the IUOMA Ning right now.  Wow!  That's a lot of people involved in mail art.  If I didn't work 40+ hours a week at my day job, I would love to get involved here.  The ArtiStamps Creators looks real interesting.  I'll probably still join so I can learn more about them.   

My advice to everyone: see if there's a Ning out there about something you're interested in, be it photography, food, hiking, literature, kids, travel or a special form of art.  There are loads out there - you might just find one you like!

Come by Ms. Jenny's blog, ... off on my tangent... and see what other words our "students" are writing about when asked, What word do you think of, that begins with the Letter N? 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

List It Tuesday - Stencils around the house

Inks are fun to spray over throwaway items I have in the house.  I've tried:
• doilies and Q-Tips- easy to get at the store
• washers and pennies - great clean circles
• toothpicks - very geometric 
• paper clips - great shape!
• hair - from your hairbrush or shower drain (a little thin...)
• leaves and gravel - I was looking around for leaves and spotted the gravel!
• perforated edges from spiral notebooks - then attach it to your paper again.
• torn tape & paper - reuse that tape; any torn paper will do! 
• old screens - ink pads and brushes work better with screens

There are lots of things in the kitchen that can be used for stencils.  But since I like to use waterproof inks and markers, I'd be ruining my kitchenware.  I really need to go to the hardware store and walk down the aisles, thinking about stenciling.  Fence ties and switch plates come to mind...

What are others using for around-the-house stencils?  Come by Aimee's List It Tuesday and see!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Fantasy Faux Mail - Lesson Two

I've spent the weekend working on Lesson 2, in my Fantasy Faux Mail class (Lesson 1 was using luggage tags).  We were introduced to cancellation marks and personalized postage stamps.  I was wondering what the wine corks on our supply list were for; this was it - cancellation marks.  I had a hard time, being so used to Speedy Cut carving blocks, which are more stable than carving into cork.

I drew a turtle around one of my cork circles here.  
The other marks were made with some carving blocks I had.  
Maybe not exactly cancellation marks, but it was fun to carve some more stamps.

The postage stamps are what I was really excited about.  I was pretty tame at first, with the illustrations matching the borders in some way (Indochine and tea, Senegal and camel).  But then I started using some outrageous images.  

I even put myself on the inside of some stamps.  

This was a most enjoyable exercise!  I plan to cut my projects out with serrated scissors so they look more like postage stamps.   They are just for show and won’t help me save on postage.  But I know you can make postage stamps at places like Zazzle to use.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

AlphabeThursday - M is for Mosaic


I've always loved mosaics, and was so intrigued when we went to Italy.  There was so much of it to see, you could look for hours.   When we toured the Sistine Chapel we saw lots of mosaics on the floors and walls.  This was my favorite piece - it's so beautiful, it looks like a painting.

I've even tried my hand at mosaics here and there.  When we were tearing down some walls at work, there was extra tile from the bathrooms that were being throwing away.  I brought some home and used it to cover a round piece of glass.  Here’s the mosaic table I made!  That was over ten years ago.

If you're interested in doing mosaics yourself, one of the best places to find tile is on Etsy.  I love these colorful pieces with straight edges, sold by Katie at Katiedesigns4u.  They were made from Chinese plates.  What great patterns!   

Chris from Mosaic Renaissance sells both cut mosaic tiles and finished products.  These pieces (above) are from a pattern called Sango Tango by Sue Zipkin.

Here’s my favorite finished mixed media piece by Chris called "Eternal Dance."  It weighs 18 pounds and measures 18" x 29".  Gotta have a strong stud to hang that on!  

Another favorite piece of hers is this mosaic Bird Bath with Sunflowers.  Chris lives in Chicago and teaches at schools with special needs populations.  Visit her Etsy shop and her blog, at  Chris Zonta Mosaic.

And of course, come by the AlphabeThursday schoolroom over at Ms. Jenny’s blog, ... Off On My Tangent...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

List It Tuesday - Unintended Uses

I had a hard time thinking up entries for this list.  The only thing that came to mind was 
that I use my phone as my alarm clock in the mornings.  

But then I started making this page for my art journal.
And noticed I was painting with Diet Coke!  
And using my empty toilet paper roll for making circles.  Wow!  
I use products all the time in my artwork that have unintended uses.  

So I was able to make a list:

Coffee/Tea/Diet Coke to paint with
Empty toilet paper/paper towel rolls as stamps
Erasers as stamps
Manila folders as postcards
Strips of paper for rolling beads
Window glass as a cutting board

This post is in response to Aimee's question, What are things you use, but not for their intended purpose.  See other lists are List it Tuesday   

Monday, February 11, 2013

Creative uses for luggage tags

In Lesson One of my Joggles class (Fantasy Faux Mail with Sandra Holtzman), we worked on transferring images onto luggage tags.  I bought some large tags from the Joggles store, measuring about 3½" x 7½.  One of our assignments was to take one image and split it between a number of tags.

I found a vintage illustration of the world.  On one tag I glued down an image of a balloon flying overhead; the other has a person carrying a sign.  These tags are available in my Etsy shop.  The insert (above) is a view of the back, and says "Luggage Tag" on top.

Another idea I had was to make message tags to hang on a door.  I always use the "Do Not Disturb" signs at hotels where I stay.  I thought, why not leave a tag on your bedroom door at home, telling the world where you are?  I'm sure kids would get a kick out of these.

Here's how three of them looked at first, after the images was transferred.  Then I glued some illustrations onto the tags, painted the background of one and used my alphabet stamps.    

I loved how the deer in the woods came out on this tag.  I wasn't going to add anything else to it.  But when I saw my butterfly tape in its basket, it reminded me of a book I just finished (Flight Behavior) and I decided to add the tape along the top, with some green ribbon.   

Here's the backside of the tag.  I'll be putting these tags in my Etsy shop as well.  There are other assignments to do, including using photographs and coffee on watercolor paper!  I've been wanting to decorate shipping tags for some time now, but just didn't make the time.  Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have this as an assignment.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BBArtisans Treasuries - Jan. 27th - Feb. 9th, 2013

I'm celebrating four Etsy's treasuries today which include items from my shop.  All the treasuries were curated by BBArtisans team members.  Help me bestow thanks to these ladies by visiting their treasuries along with the items I have chosen to feature.

Two weeks ago, Judy (JNOriginals) ended the month with a treasury named A Sweep of Blue.  She included one of my flowered art journals, or what is fondly called a junk journal.  I thought her crochet scarflette  match perfectly the colors she chose in her treasury.    

To start off February, Trina (Trina's Clay Creations) began the month with a treasury called Soft Spring.  She included some of my Florentine paper beads, from paper I bought while in Italy last spring.  Trina is new to the BBArtisans, and we are so lucky to have someone this talented!  Her clay figurines are so cute to look through - you need to go by her shop if you haven't already.  What great custom work for newlyweds!

Mr. Random Dude is a little different from Linda's (tapestry316) equestrian watercolors, but I think it's an adorable view of her chicken house!  Her treasury is called Write it down, pack it up, and send it off!  She included another one of my Art Journal here, this one with a maroon cover.

Natasha (Natasha - Stalking the Wild Snark) shows use how many wonderful hues of greens there are on Etsy in her treasury, Shades of Shamrock.  I love using the color green in my work; the Green and Yellow Watercolor Doodle Book she chose to feature is a perfect example.  I love her dark green earrings, made with nylon thread.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

AlphabeThursday - L is for Library

I suppose LIBRARY is going to be a popular Letter L for this group of AlphabeThursday bloggers.  I grew up going to the PUBLIC LIBRARY every week with my mom.  We would get books out to read at night.  When I went off to college, I majored in LIBRARY TECHNOLOGY, then earned my Masters degree some years later in LIBRARY SCIENCE.

I have my PRIVATE LIBRARY at home, spread out on shelves in my house.  There's gardening books and favorite historical fiction that I used to collect.  I've got books that I've purchased for my book club, cookbooks (even though I don't cook), travel guide books (including atlases and countries I've visited), and of course a nice selection of art books and magazines.

I still use the PUBLIC LIBRARY to check out various titles that people recommend.  I don't read as much as I used to, but still have a library card.  One of my friends who works at the circulation desk showed me the new library card I'll get when mine expires next year; they're much prettier than the one I have now.

There's a RESEARCH LIBRARY that's part of the Museum's Special Collections, where I work.  Just last weekend I checked out three books to help me in my upcoming Fantasy Faux Mail class; we needed small B&W images for transferring into our projects. The two books on the left are full of copyright free material (WooHoo) and the other book is about Native American animal tales, a favorite genre of mine.  

As you can see, my life is surrounded by books and libraries.  I love my work and enjoy my free time writing and reading, art journaling and postal art.  I'm curious to see how many other people will chose Library for their Letter L!  Come find out with me at Ms. Jenny's blog, on my tangent...

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