Monday, December 22, 2008

From our house to yours...

This is the sight in our backyard today. Wow!

From our house to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 15, 2008

More Mosaics

I participated in my fourth, and final, sale of the holiday season this past Saturday. What a relief to have those behind me. I've not done four before (and all within a month!) and it takes so much energy. My hat is off to those of you that do the summer art fair circuit. Wow, now that's work!

As a result of trying to sell my work this month instead of creating it, I don't have anything brand spanking new to show you, but here are some more of the paper mosaic pieces that I finished last month.

This box is 5 1/2" square. The red wall made the colors of the box go funky.
The box is really many beautiful shades of blue/green.

The words on the bingo chips say "Live with all your heart".
This piece is 11" x 14"

This mirror is 14" x 14" and lots of great shades of purple.

The leaf is set on a frame that is 6 1/2" x 6 1/2".

The green and blue mirrors above are both 11" x 14". If you look close enough,
the blue mirror has blue buttons on it that I made out of paper clay. I liked how they
helped to balance out the mirror that was offset.

Thanks for looking and have a good week!


Sunday, December 7, 2008


Another sale this past weekend. I won't go into the details this time as it was just more of the same. However, I did have a pleasant surprise when I went to go pick up all of my work on Saturday. A 14" x 18"collage called Contentment sold. Apparently a lady stood in front of it for quite a while trying to decide but couldn't think of a place to hang it in her home. Finally, her friend thought of the perfect place and the piece walked out the door with them. Thank goodness for friends! Here it is...

I had a great time working on this piece, probably because I used so many different techniques and supplies. The bird is sitting in a box that is taped onto the canvas from the back. For the background I used molding paste, stencils and acylics. The bird, the roof, the stars and the grass are all cut from pieces of paste papers. The twigs are actually rolled up sheets of handmade paper. The six vintage jewelry findings are placed on pieces of handmade paper. Underneath the roof is some old window screening. And finally, the word "contentment" is glued onto a rusted piece of metal I found near a gas pump (dirty old gas stations are great spots to find rusty junk!).

I didn't set out to create a piece called Contentment but after seeing this bird so happy in its nest, the word just seemed to fit.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Be Gentle...

It is already December (but I'm guessing you already knew that!). I know that many folks start their holiday shopping and festivities prior to now but around here we've only just begun to think about it. So, in the interest of helping to maintain holiday sanity, I post this collage.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Sale II

The second sale of last weekend was the Handmade Paper Guild Show. We are a Guild of about 25 members and one of only two handmade paper guilds in the country (as far as we know). We've been having this holiday sale, in conjunction with four other artist groups, at a local community college for 5 (or 6?) years now. Each member is encouraged to bring in handmade paper items for sale, work the sale for a shift or two, and just enjoy the experience. The Guild takes a small percentage of each sale. This helps to fund workshops that we hold throughout the year.

This is a sale that is open to the public and we usually get quite a bit of traffic. The economic issues that we all face in today's world kept traffic and sales down. This table had a sign on it that said "Great Gifts for Under $20" and may have helped remind people that great handmade values are possible.

This was my corner of the sale. You'll notice some of the items that didn't sell at the Holiday Sale I Thursday night were moved to Holiday Sale II early Friday morning. Phew!

This year a Guild member came up with the idea to sell Craft Packages. Pictured here, the packages contained all kinds of paper-related goodies. The scrapbooking customers went crazy with this item.

More of my stuff along with artwork by a very talented papermaker (former art professor at Western Michigan University). Each artist must tag their art with the price and a code that indicates which artist gets credit for the sale. All purchases go to a central cashier and each artist then gets their money (minus the Guild commission) a couple of weeks later. Do inventory discrepancies occur? Sure. But that's the risk you take with any group sale, so as an artist you must decide if the benefits outweigh the risk.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Sale I

This past weekend was quite the flurry of activity. Two Holiday Sales for me, my son/husband went to Florida for the USL soccer nationals (my son played, my husband watched), my girls were good sports about it all, and my mom helped me out to make it all happen on the home front. Except for the pace of it all, everything was good.

The first sale was at a neighbor's house. Each year she graciously opens her home to allow 5-9 artists to display their work and about 400 people are invited in to view, socialize, and hopefully buy artwork and jewelry. It never ceases to amaze me (and so many others) that she allows us to pound nails in all of her walls to hang so many 2D pieces. Every piece in these pictures has a new nail just for this 3-hour event! We split all the expenses, give 10% to a charity that is chosen each year, and then donate one piece each to the hostess. This year, despite the lower number of guests, we still did well financially. With the economic picture so bleak, we exceeded our expectations.

Notice the house in the brown room in the picture above? It is a handmade paper piece of mine titled Happy House. A dear friend of mine bought it. That bit of news certainly made me happy and I hope she gets lots of enjoyment out of it too.

Even the fish got their own room... the powder room. People seem to buy the handmade paper fish for either their cottage or their bathroom. So, this placement in the house seemed appropriate!

After looking at all these pictures, isn't is amazing how much stuff we put into this sale? It takes two days to put it all up and we are able to take it down in about an hour and a half. Of course, when we're done the house looks like Cindy Lou Who's house in The Grinch who Stole Christmas!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Finished Mosaics Unveiled!

You're the first to see my new mosaics! They will be available at several upcoming holiday sales and I hope I do well with them. The photos of the pieces small enough to scan have good color and lighting. The pieces that are too large for the scanner have been photographed. Badly, I might add, but you'll get the idea.

I'm a bit in an artistic quandary right now as the painting techniques I prefer are become more free form but the precision required of the mosaics is equally enticing. It's a strange marriage but right now it works. Who knows which direction will predominate? Anybody out there have such disparity in the types of work you're pursuing?

I've got more to show you but this is enough for today...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Crunch Time

It's crunch time. Typically I do only two or three sales a year. This year two of the sales are the same day. Yikes, how am I going to do that?!? One of the sales is the Handmade Paper Guild Holiday sale which starts this Thursday and runs through Saturday. Because it is a group show I don't have to be there every minute of the sale. The other sale is only Thursday night so I must be at that one. But, it's not like it is a chore as it is a really fun evening. My neighbor opens her home to hundreds of ladies. They drink wine and buy art. It is usually a good evening financially for the seven artists, but this year, I fear, the guests may tend to keep their wallets in their purses. Since I'm in Michigan (worst economy in the nation, by many measures), I wouldn't be surprised. As a result, I've been working on more "gifty" stuff with lower prices in order to entice buyers. Plus, since I've been doing some new things (pictures to come) and am eager to show them off to potential buyers, I remain hopeful.

One thing I've been making for years are paste paper card packs. There are eight cards/envelopes in each pack and they sell for $12 each.

Remember those 60 sheets of paste papers I did a couple of weeks ago in the garage? Here's a sample of what they've now become.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember the good

It has been quite a week: hubby sick, daughter sick, me sick, computer died, aunt died. Obviously, this list is not written in order of importance.

My aunt married a painter a long time ago (in the 40s?). In fact, this man, at almost 90 years old, still paints daily. Oh, and he is now legally blind. He has always gotten the attention of the two because he is a well known, rather eccentric, oil painter. However, my aunt was the foundation of their family and was the rock that allowed him to continue his work. She raised five children and taught many, many more in public schools. I'll remember her smile and her quiet way. Aunt Betty was a person of influence in an understated way. She leaves a legacy of goodness behind. In today's world, I'd say that is quite an accomplishment.

Here's a couple of links about my Uncle Armand:, and A couple of years ago a well done, and well deserved, documentary was made about his life and his work. Typically documentaries are not made in honor of good, decent people like Aunt Betty. We must remember them all on our own.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008


A story about the tree in my photograph: That tree is on an island in the middle of Long Lake (near Traverse City, MI), a place that I have visited every year, except for three, since I was six years old. Unfortunately, the name of the lake is so common that it belies the wonder of the place. Anyway, when I was about 16 some girlfriends and I camped on the island. During the night a tremendous northern Michigan storm blew up and we were stranded. The wind tugged at our tents and almost blew them over. The fire, which was out when we went to sleep, started up ferociously due to the wind. As we camped under the trees, the lightning flashed jaggedly for hours. The noise from the thunder shook the ground. The rain pounded on us relentlessly. As I remember, we were terrified, excited, energized, and exhausted. Finally, at the end of it we loaded our sopping wet gear into our metal rowboat and putt-putted home, through large white capping waves, with the six horsepower Evinrude. What a scraggly bunch we were.

The kicker: When my girlfriend, Joanne, saw the green tree with the hot pink background in the post from the other day she wrote to me and said, "as soon as I saw the picture of the tree I knew where it was from." So, even in its altered form, that tree is special and recognizable to more people in the world than just me.

My moral to the story: Open your eyes. Look around you and actually see. You'll have images that trigger great memories for the rest of your life!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Altered Sisters and the Book Art Exhibition

I belong to a fun group of artists that meets every month to share ideas and occasionally work on collaborative pieces. Named the Altered Sisters, we started about five years ago as an altered book group. We've since moved on to other things but still go back to our origins once in a while and work on books.

In December one of our local libraries will be hosting a Book Arts exhibition and we were invited to participate. We decided to take apart a child's board book and then reassemble the book with jump rings or wire to create a wall hanging. The title of our "book" will be Four Letter Words. I finished my page, TREE, today. The photograph I used is a tree on an island in the middle of Long Lake (near Interlochen), MI. It is my most favorite place in the world and I think of this spot often.

In the morning I will see all the Sisters, and each of their pages, at our monthly gathering. We'll then assemble the entire piece. I'm anxious to see everyone elses work as it is always a blast to see the ideas everyone came up with.

My page uses photograph altering techniques found in a great book by Karen Michel. The book is called The Complete Guide to Altered Imagery: Mixed Media Techniques for Collage, Altered Books, Artist Journals and More. I've had the book for years, looked through it frequently, but never put the techniques to use. Now that I have, I'm sure I'll be doing more of it.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Girl Scout Project Update

You may remember from a post on September 20th that another paper artist, Barb Stewart, and I recieved a grant for an installation at the beautiful new Girl Scout building in town. After working with approximately 60 girls to get this project accomplished, it is finally hung for all to see. We made 24 handmade paper quilt blocks, each with sheets of paper that the girls made themselves. The handmade paper quilt is entitled “Celebrating Similarities/Embracing Differences”.

These 12" x 12" blocks could have been hung in different configurations: 4 x 6, 3 x 8 or 2 x 12. Barb and I expected to get an entire wall to hang the quilt but, as you can see in this picture of me trying to get each block just right, we were instead asked to fill a well traveled corner of the building that was bland and boring. The best solution became a 2 x 12 hanging arrangement.

While not what we planned, it turned out quite nicely. And, the corner is definitely not boring any longer! In case you're wondering why they are hung so close to the ceiling, it is because we didn't want the girls/visitors touching the artwork each time they walked past.

This was a fun project for all involved and I hope to do more of this type of thing. It was empowering for the girls and the artists.


PS. Last week I made 60 sheets of paste paper before running out of energy and paint. That stash should keep me for awhile!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Paste Painting - How to do it

The last post showed you some paste papers. Maybe it whet your appetite and would like to know how to do it? It's simple.

1. Set up your workstation with the following: paper (any paper that will withstand some abuse will work), tools (repurpose household items and toys), 2" brushes, paste paint (see previous post for what I like to use). This picture shows my table in the garage on this beautiful fall day.

2. Brush the paste onto the paper, not too thick so that it doesn't hold your marks and not too thin so that it dries quickly. To begin use only one to three colors or you may find that you wind up with mud. Use your tools, working from the elbow not the wrist, to make marks in the paste. The idea is to loosen up your artwork not to overthink it. Part of the fun is seeing what the various tools will do. If you don't like the result, just paint over it. This picture shows green and yellow paste mixed together with a brush.

This picture shows the same sheet with marks made. The squiggles were made with oil pastels in the wet paste.

3. Let it dry. As long as I've set up my work station, I will probably be making paste papers for several days. I made about 20 sheets today. I will cut each sheet down into 8 note cards and sell the packet. I never have enough of these to sell so it makes good sense for me to make a bunch of sheets at once.

Have fun.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paste Painting - what is it?

I've often had people ask about paste painting. My work often is made with paste painted paper, I teach workshops about paste painting and there are many mentions of paste painting on this blog. The easy answer to the question of "what is paste painting?" is this: paste painting is finger painting for grown ups. I find that paste painting is a great way to loosen up my artwork. When I get stuck or too uptight about my art, a day spent with paste paint is a great way to play. I can then take this more relaxed approach to whatever else I'm working on.

There are many "recipes" out there for the paste and everyone that does this has their favorite. Rather than cooking my own paste I buy Elmer's Art Paste from Dick Blick. It is cheap, makes a lot, it keeps forever and it is handy to have around in it's little box just waiting to be mixed with water. After the paste of choice is made I add acrylic paint. You don't have to use the good stuff to get great color. The mix is approximately 40% paint and 60% paste. There is no need to measure, just add paint until the paste has the opacity that you'd like.

The mosaics in the previous post were made with paste paper scraps. (I always have lots of those around!) These pictures are bigger sheets. Can you guess what tool was used to achieve the effects on the orange one?


PS. It's a sponge mop!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Paste Paper Mosaics

This past week I started working on some pieces with mosaics. Mosaics can be made with just about any paper you've got around. In my case all of my tiles are my own paste paper designs. Each sheet of mosaic tiles that I'm showing you in this post are one inch to quarter inch pieces of paper put onto a clear sheet of laminate. I think they are quite lovely just as they are but each of these sheets of mosaics has a future as something else in a more finished form.

This pink and orange sheet of inch by 1/2 inch tiles has black "grout".

This is the same sheet of tiles but with white "grout".

The tiles on this sheet vary from one inch to a quarter inch.

Another one with a little bit of everything. All the tiles on this one are blue paste paper scraps.

This sheet is made up of quarter inch square pieces.

More on paper mosaics after some additional progress is made...

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