Sunday, May 31, 2009

Welcome Home!

My father-in-law is celebrating his 86th birthday today. His best birthday present was that, after over a month in various hospitals, he went home earlier this week. He had a valve replacement and a double bypass. He's doing fine now but a long recovery is in front of him.

I'm guessing that he wouldn't particularly care for this color combination, but this piece has a home and a heart in it so it fits the topic! Welcome home, John.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunset Junque

For the first time in years all five of us had Memorial Day free: no soccer tournaments! On Saturday we walked in the Curesearch Walk (which is a fundraiser for childhood cancer) in memory of our little buddy Austin Melgar. Austin lost his battle with Neuroblastoma just last year. Then, with the wonderful weather urging us on, we headed over to South Haven and Lake Michigan for the weekend.

South Haven is a tourist town that sleeps during the winter and comes to life in the summer. The beach is beautiful, they have some good, fun restaurants, and boat watching on the pier is a happy way to spend some time. Once we're done with all that we always head to Sunset Junque to see what the owner has come upon for the season.

This place is a site to behold. There are a few buildings, in which he puts things that can't get wet, but most of the stuff he has is outdoors exposed to all the elements, all the time. This is not one of those giant yard sales that pops up on a major highway twice a year. Needless to say, it all has a weathered look.
I've bought a few cool things there over the years but nothing huge. I wish I could figure out a place to put one of the big, incredible doors or gates at my house. Maybe one day...

He also owns an antique store in Sarasota, Florida that is probably worth checking out if you're ever that area.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mosaic picture frames

I've been finishing up some mosaics lately. I'm very good at starting projects, but not always great at finishing them, so it feels super to have these done and looking good. Like most artists, I suppose, my stack of unfinished stuff never seems to get any smaller because as soon as I finish something, there is always new unfinished stuff to take its place! I guess it's just like laundry but more fun.

Anyway, the photos here show some picture frames that are now in a nice jewelry store in Three Rivers, MI called UniQ. These are all 8" x 10" frames (for a 4" x 6" photo) that are either on a hanger or an easel and are $30 each. They have such a high gloss varnish on them that they look almost like glass!

Actually, this blue one has already sold to artsy friend Christine. What would we do without friends?!?

I have more to show you but don't have scans yet. Stay tuned...


For subscribers: It seems that many of you did not get a Feedblitz email about my last post. If not, please visit to read about my neice, Taylor Grainger. Thanks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Taylor Grainger

Taylor Grainger, a vibrant, lovely 14-year-old young woman, died two years ago today. We loved her well, my kids looked up to her, and she was well liked by all who saw her huge smile. Taylor happens to be my niece; my brother's daughter.

Since her death, many good things have happened in her honor:

* My brother and a cycling group called Team Taylor have raised over $100,000 for Make-a-Wish. This not only gives other sick kids great memories but it gives my brother and sister-in-law and their kids something important, something lasting and something tangible to hold onto even though their world fell apart. They ride again this July on a 300 mile route from Traverse City to Chelsea, MI. In my sidebar is an icon you can click on to find out more.

* Friends, family and art supporters donated thousands of dollars to the Children's Hearts Fund as a result of an Art Show that I am involved with each year. Through various other efforts, over $50,000 was raised for CHF in Taylor's name. This group, in Buffalo, NY, is the only organization working toward a cure for Protein-Losing Enteropathy. PLE is a result of a specific heart surgery that Taylor had when she was two.

* Hundreds of people around town wore, and continue to wear, pink bracelets that remind us all to "Walk Tall" and be proud of who we are. Her favorite color was pink, so most things done now in her honor prominently feature pink.

* After taking more than a year off from my art (just didn't have it in me any more), I began experimenting with a series of mosaics to sell for the Children's Hearts Fund fundraiser. At the time all the mosaics had a heart theme. I continue this venture into paper mosaics, with various themes, now and get more excited about the possibilities each time I complete a mosaic project. She is with me on these!

* My kids continue to remember her in special ways and grow as caring people in their remembering. For instance, this poem was written by my daughter, Claire, earlier this Spring, about Taylor.

Inside this girl…

Inside this girl
Her name is Taylor Grainger
Inside her, lives the strongest army a girl could ever have.
They are a hot pink, and are called “pinks”
The pinks fought to keep Taylor safe for years
And the all to soon only one pink was left,
This pink fought and fought,
But then when this last pink was defeated, Taylor was too.

Yes, this is all good stuff, but we'd much rather have her with us.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Special Mother's Day Gift - Papermaking

Kids love to get their hands into the pulp and mom's love to get handmade gifts from their kids. So, in a well meaning marriage of the two ideas, each of the students in my daughter's 4th grade class made a handmade paper book for Mother's Day.

Each year I go into my kids' classrooms and make paper with the students. Therefore, some have been lucky enough to have the experience several times but for others it was a first. It doesn't seem to matter: first time or xth time, they always have fun. These pictures were taken before and after the whole group (22, I think) came in to work so they certainly don't show the excitement and BIG energy that was in the room but it gives you an idea of how I set up each of the four stations. You also get to see my daughter and her buddies, Sarah and Julia, at work.

Each station is a large black vat with a smaller dishpan size vat inside. The smaller vat holds the pulp while the larger vat catches spills and holds the mould and deckle (when not in use) and a sponge. This set up significantly cuts down on mess. I had four stations for this group.

The girls are pulling a sheet of blue paper with confetti paper/glitter inclusions. You can't seem to have an elementary school art project without glitter!

As you can see, we used boards as our drying method. While the boards are a bit awkward to carry to/from school, I most definitely prefer this route. The kids can also press objects into the wet pulp and add interesting textures to the sheet.

After the paper was dry, I went back into the classroom to help the kids bind their books. The title page of each book is "I love you because..." Some books had only a couple of pages and some have as many as eight. From what I saw, all the books were great and the moms will be pleased.

I'm finding that the main challenge for me, now that I don't have a dedicated papermaking space, is the preparation. My papermaking equipment is disorganized and buried in the basement. Having to look for what I need, borrow what I'm missing and lug it upstairs for transport is becoming a bigger job than I like. Since my youngest will be in her last year of elementary school next year, my hope is to get a small grant (rather than this freebie, cool-papermaking-mom thing!) and really go out with a bang completing a bigger papermaking installation project. That should be a great culmination of almost 10 years of paper projects at the school.

And to all Moms out there: Happy Mother's Day. I hope you enjoyed a great day with your family!


Friday, May 8, 2009

Fire and Ice - Up close and personal

Fire and Ice: Just as with the first two spreads that were done in this Altered Sister's Round Robin, I thought I'd show you the before and after of the photo that was used to achieve the final look for Fire and Ice. So, here is before...

Up close: Here is the photo, cropped tight, in its altered form. The bottom of the photo is torn off. Bleach was used to remove some of the darker ink on the bottom of the picture. This turns the area first to red, then yellow, then white. It looks quite fiery. And, I'd love to say that this was the intended look but, in fact, it was a happy accident. The icicles were scratched with a needle tool then painted blue. After the photo looked like I had done what I could with it, it was glued onto the "fire" background. In order to incorporate the photo into the collage rather than have it looked like it was just "plopped" on the background, I used oil pastels to blend it all together. I need to get better at this but I'm working on it.

Personal: We had a long, long winter and these icicles were hanging on my house sometime in December. I'm very glad that the front of my house now features some tulips rather than sculptural ice forms!


Monday, May 4, 2009

Altered Sister's Round Robin - book three

It's hard to believe, but another month has gone by and it is time to pass on the next book in the Altered Sister's Round Robin. For May, I have Joanne Huffman's book entitled Fire and Ice. It is a small board book: compact but impactful.

In keeping with my vow to alter a photograph for each of the ten books in the swap, I used a photo of icicles and painted in the "fire" myself. The photograph and the matches on the bottom right page worked out pretty well but then I was faced with how to balance all that on the left hand page. This was tough and I'm not sure I successfully solved the design problem but the yellow graphic hand, while a bit large, seemed to fit. And, hey, it's well past midnight, it's due at 10 this morning, and that's all I've got in me at this point!

Have a great week!

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