Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008 found us at Lisa's house for a delightful collaboration brunch. This year I created puppets for the gals for their presents. Well, they started out to be puppets, but then evolved into dolls that could be sat or hung from a loop on their backs. I personalized each doll by their interests. Here is the gang this year:

More fun at Lisa's - Ellen showing off her puppet and the bracelet that Vicki made. Lisa with her dog, Roxy & her puppet.

I guess before I post about Christmas 2008, I should show Christmas 2007 first. A group of four of my artist friends and myself make gifts each year for each other and get together for a brunch during the holidays to exchange them. We started doing this in 2006, but unfortunately I don't have pictures from our first year, where we got together at Tricia's house.

Last year we met at a restaurant in McKinney for our brunch exchange. I did each of them a Jester-in-a-Box. I sculpted the faces, hats and neck ruffs from polymer clay. The boxes were gift boxed from Michaels that I covered with handmade papers. I added each person's initials using chipboard letters. They were a big hit.

This year I also created more art dolls. While the majority of them were collaboration efforts, this one that I created for my friend Tricia for her birthday was not. Tricia loves Native American style and she doesn't care for necklaces unless they are long pendants, so a freeform necklace was out for her birthday. I decided to sculpt an Indian for her. This art doll is a stump-type doll, using an aluminum foil base covered with nylon hose. The Indian is dressed in ostrich skin and rabbit fur. The headdress is axis deer skin and the feathers are wild turkey. The adornments are sea urchin spines and carved bone beads. Needless to say, Tricia was thrilled with her birthday present this year.
Wow, where has the year gone? it seems like each year flies by faster than the last one. I've had good intentions of keeping my blog more up-to-date, however when given the choice between blogging or being in my studio creating, obviously creating has won out. I've narrowed my focus artistically to two mediums recently - art dolls (sculpting) and beading.

I was able to take several art related trips this year. The first, with Vicki in January to the Texas Beader's Retreat. In July, Lisa & I attended the Enchanted Doll Artist Conference in Albequerque, NM, after which Vicki & I went to the Shreveport Beader's Retreat. October found Lisa, Vicki & I journeying to Houston to the Quilt Show. It has been a fun year, art-wise.

I recently saw an article on bead/jewelry trends that "statement" necklaces are going to be the latest "thing". I guess I'll be all set, as my freeform necklaces definately fit the statement style. Most of these I've created within the last couple of years - the except being this first one - which features raku face beads I bought at a bead convention 3 - 4 years ago.

The frog bracelet & necklace set and the mermaid necklace were both inspired by imported handcarved beads that I found a a bead convention 3 years ago.

Since I also love sculpting (mainly with polymer clay), my next necklace featured a polymer clay dragon that I sculpted and more beads that I found to inspire me. The coordinating bracelet has pewter dragon charms.

Those necklaces evolved into this year's creations using my lampwork stash of beads. The first one had turquoise, green and brown tones and is a very versatile necklace. I wear it with many outfits. This is the necklace that my friend Lisa says is hers when I die (assuming I die first).

The blue jean necklace was created from lampwork and blue coral beads. I had made a simple strung necklace out of them several years ago when I found the coral, but I took apart that necklace to make this one that coordinated perfectly with denium.

It became such a joke between Lisa & I about "her" necklace (the one that would be hers when I died), that I thought I should create her one of her very own to enjoy while I'm still alive, so I made this one for her for her birthday. The lampwork beads have grey, brown, copper and black, so this necklace will coordinate beautifully with many of Lisa's outfits. The surprise and joy on her face when I gave the necklace to her, made the time I spent on it very worthwhile.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What a difference 23 years makes. My husband and I have been in our home 23 years this month. Sometimes it seems like the time has just flown by - other times it seems like forever. The difference became very evident when I ran into a picture of our house taken right after we moved into it. The first picture is summer 1985, the other one is how it looks today in 2008. We dug up the red oak trees (they weren't as big around as my wrist at the time) the first winter we were in the house and planted them. At one time we had 17, but lost one several years ago to severe ice storm damage. The house is still there - just not very visable from the road due to the trees. The yard looks huge in the old picture, but with all the trees, it appears much smaller.

Today must be catch-up time on my blog. I'm finally taking the time to post some of the items I've been meaning to do for so long. March gave me the opportunity to take another class from my favorite teacher (and friend), Lisa Renner. This time Lisa taught a lovely journal book. The moring was spent creating our papers for the journals and in the afternoon we constructed the books. Her technique for making the papers was so much fun that several of us got together again and made more paper to use in our art.

In February of this year, our guild had Kathleen Davis come to teach another workshop (and I had the pleasure of hosting her at my home). I had previously taken her 2-day Fairy/Gnome workshop and thoroughly enjoyed it and her teaching style, so when another workshop was offered, I jumped at the chance. This time the workshop was Dragons, Frogs & Friends. Kathy is a great instructor and we turned out some amazing pieces.
Here are the pieces I did in the workshop.

I did a couple of dragons, a couple of frogs, a couple of snails and a "creature from the blue lagoon".

Monday, May 26, 2008

My friend and fellow artist, Lisa Renner and I are attending the Enchanted Doll Artist Conference in Albuquerque this July. While this is the first time either of us have attended, there are several ways to participate in the festivities. One way is to create a doll to be used as a centerpiece for the banquet tables. The theme of this year's conference is the Other Side of the Mirror. The banquet table dolls are supposed to follow the theme and be no taller than 15 inches, so attendees can still visit across the table during the banquet. I have several of these lidded glass domes on pedestals. I knew I wanted to use one of those for my doll. I thought of doing a fairy, pressed up against the glass (the other side) or a doll inside gazing at herself in a mirror. Then it came to me - why not do the dome as a crystal ball, seeing into the other side of the mirror? I could do a fortune teller's head in the ball - voila! The perfect idea. I created the doll's head out of a mixture of Super Sculpey, Prosculpt and Cernit. Her details are painted with Genesis heat set paints. She has jump ring earrings, feather boa hair and a scarf with celestial images. Seed bead necklaces and some tarot card complete her ensemble. Hand-dyed fabrics represent the "smoke" at the bottom of the crystal ball. The pedestal and lid are painted and enhanced with Primary Elements.

I tried to get an image of the completed piece without the glare, but I couldn't eliminate it - just the nature of taking images through glass.

I did a little doll for myself to hang on my purse. The base of this doll is courtesy of my friend Candance. She bought a bunch of them years ago (apparently they had fruit bodies) and has been redoing them as fairies to sell. She gave me a couple and they have sat in my studio, naked and uncomplete for over a year. Going to the conference finally inspired me to work on the doll. She had a head & face, hair and the wrapped wire body with ball hands and feet. I tore off the hair and created a polymer clay jester's hat, collar and shoes with turned up cuffs. I added pieces of a feather for "hair" and hand-dyed ribbon with Primary Elements to fashion a costume for her. With her wire body, she is posable and will sit on the purse with her arm and leg wrapped around the handle.
I did similar dolls with the jester theme (only I had to make the whole doll as I didn't have any more premade bases) for the pin doll swap for the conference.

The Thing That Goes Bump in the Night
On one of my online doll groups, we did a swap with the theme a fantasy wall-doll. The doll should have a flat back and be able to be hung on the wall. We could do any fantasy or imaginary doll. I choose to do "The Thing That Goes Bump in the Night". The face and hands are air-dry clay, the body aluminum foil wrapped with Rigid Wrap. It is clothed in gauze. I used a feather boa for the hair. When I used spray sealer to seal the body, one of those happy accidents occurred - the spray caused the feather boa to fly upwards and away from the face, looking appropriate for the "Thing". I added a chain with various items to rattle and go bump. I hope the recipient enjoys the doll.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Several years ago in our neighborhood there was an estate sale that was touted as an artist's home, full of touches of the artist. I was very interested to see the artist's home and what they had done. Imagine my surprise when there were only plain neutral walls, floors and carpet. There was no evidence of an artist is that dwelling. In fact, there wasn't anything in the offerings of the estate sale that gave any indication of it being the home of an artist or collector.

The same cannot be said when someone enters my home. Not only does art that I have created exist in every room of the house, but also of my fellow friend artists. My walls also reflect art and not just with pictures and painting hung on them. I've actually painted the majority of the walls/rooms.

My bedroom grape vines were the direct result of a commission I had to paint grapevine on the walls of a guest room in a home in North Dallas years ago. I loved the look so much, I decided to recreate it for my walls. In my version, I sponged the walls to look like stone, stenciled a cinder block design and then free-handed the grapevines on the walls. My bedroom was featured in several magazines right after I painted it (which was approximately 15 years ago - my how time flies!).

Shortly after I did the bedroom, I also redid the kitchen/breakfast room area (which actually is used as a computer room). I painted this room to look like it was created from stone. There are two doors, side-by-side, one leading to the utility room & one to our den. I decided to paint a trompe l'oeil mouse in his mouse hole. I had to lay flat on my stomach to paint the mouse.

When it was completed, the original doors looked out of place, so those were painted to look like heavy castle doors. My son thought we had the "coolest kitchen in town.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

This is our guest bedroom after the make-over. This room was originally Josh's room. When he was about 14 or so, he had me paint the walls dark teal with metallic silver trim and ceiling. I got berber carpet in a turquoise/gray/off white tweed. Needless to say, the wear & tear a teenager (and when he came back home to live a couple of times), had this room looking bad. It looked more like a cave than a room. We finally got around to redoing this room after talking about it for several years. We had painters come in and remove the popcorn ceiling (it was the rage when we had this house built in the middle 80s) and paint the walls and texture the ceilings. We removed the nasty carpet and Bennie laid tile. New roman wooden blinds, bedspread and throw rug complete the makeover. I even covered all the switchplates and outlets to match.

The new bedspread has cafe au lait and aqua stripes. I added a throw rug in beige beside the bed. The huge stereo speakers Josh left behind are great for bedside tables.

Notice the floor - Bennie laid the tile. Sofa table with TV. Pyramid box from Tricia for my birthday. It opens and holds an art doll.

The dresser holds the turquoise art doll Lisa made for my birthday and the dolls with a secret art doll and book from our second art doll round robin.

I covered the old lightswitch plates with polymer clay. I learned the technique at clay carnival from Kim Cavender.

Outlet plate covered with polymer clay.

Now the room looks inviting, fresh, updated and ready for company.

I saw the idea for doing a floor with paper bags on one of the do-it-yourself email newsletters that I receive. My husband has never been happy with the floor that I redid years ago in our hall bathroom so I decided to recycle all the paper grocery bags that I had onto my floor.

I tore lots of bags and used them with the printed side down. I diluted plain white glue with water to apply the pieces directly to the cleaned floor, making sure to cover the whole floor, overlapping the pieces as I lay them on the floor. Once the floor was completely dried, I antiqued it with antique glaze, wood stain, diluted acrylic paints and dry brushed metallic colors randomly. So far, so good - it looked great and everyone who saw it was impressed and had no clue that it was paper bags.

When I applied the polyurethane I thought disaster had struck! The paper bubbled. I was horrified. After applying a couple more coats, I used a razerblade to slit the worst of the bubbles and applied more glue. More polyurethane was applied. I needed to patch a couple of places and while speed drying the area with a heat gun, I made a discovery - the area where I heated laid down flat. I tried it on some of the other raised areas and they laid down as well. I used the heat gun and did more of the bubbles. The painters were coming to paint the back bedroom so I had to let the floor cure before they came (the polyurethane takes 3 days to cure to walk on it with shoes & I didn't think it would be right to ask them to remove their shoes). After the painters completed the job, I went back to finish the bathroom. I cleaned the floor and decided I would add some embossing powders for more interest (using the heat gun had given me the idea) I used some wet polyurethane to get the powders to stick into place and then melted them with the heat gun. Three more coats of polyurethane and my floor was finished. The only expense I had was the $29.99 gallon of polyurethane. You'd never guess the floor began as Tom Thumb grocery sacks!