Friday, April 27, 2007

OHMYGOSH - look what i got in the mail!

Today I got the most incredible surprise in the mail! For no reason (except that she is generous, loving and talented) my friend Joanne sent me a beautiful polymer clay and fabric painting and one of her smiley pins - in my favorite color, red - that she made for a swap that i am not in. Aren't they just the best!

and there's more!
Joanne is a fabulous felter, and when she was visiting me i took out the felting needles i had bought ages ago and never tried, so she could teach me. But the needles had rusted in their package and the barbs had fallen off!....needless to say, they were useless. Sooo- the ever so thoughtful Joanne sent me a FELTING KIT! It has 4 different needles and a big block of foam to felt into, and then another bag with felting yarns. I am so excited to try it!

The Heliconia's are in bloom.
We have them in red, yellow and multi. Here's a red one

Oh, and this is the side front yard where the trees got cut.....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I GOT MY HAIRCUT -yeah! ...and more...uh...charms

Front Side Back

I didn't want to cut my hair - i haven't had it long for about 10 years and was trying to grow it out- but i just couldn't deal with it anymore - it was at that awkward below the shoulder stage and frizzy from the humidity and it was incorrigible and - well - just a mess. made me look my...age.
Sooooo- i got it all cut off - and it feels MARVELOUS!

Today the tree trimmers came to cut out the overgrown ironwood trees. The trees are about 75 feet tall and a few of them had huge branches - about 30 feet long - that were hanging precariously over the lawn. Because of the rain and the wind they had bent themselves down and one was actually touching the grass! So the tree trimmers came with a huge cherry picker lift and cut the big branches off, cut them up to give away as firewood and chipped the rest - now the yard looks open and the sun is getting in again...... it's very cheery .....and the realtor's won't worry about our liability with their clients! of course i didn't take any pics, and now it's dark.....
I worked a bit in the shop. My gecko still hasn't been fired. But i did play with resin.....
these aren't finished yet, but you get the idea. the bird one gets an egg on the back, and the embellishment crystal charm is meant to hang over the front of the charm. The charms are on the cards they will be packaged with. These are for the
ICE charm group

Sunday, April 22, 2007

...oh well......more on photopolymer plates

ok - really fast. i tried my photopolymer plates with the silver clay. I impressed the clay into the plates and....yuck - really ugly. I reversed the black and white the wrong way and so the clay indents out instead of in. So - I have to make new plates - at least i didn't waste any clay. ....... manana......
I'm going to do my thumbprint as a ppp first. Someone else in my metals group did a thumbprint in silver and then enameled the indents. I want to combine it with some porcelain teeth i acquired - a "positive ID" pendant! The gecko didn't get fired either - i need to have more for the kiln to fire - so he gets to wait until i have more pieces ready.
back to work!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bragging on my babies....a bit of self indulgence...I promise I won't do this often

My boys have been calling a lot - which is the norm for Sky and a rarity for Vincent. This has got me waxing nostalgic........

Vince is my wild, creative, eccentric, moody, sensitive child, part loner, part party animal. He is an A student studying architectural engineering and will be attending Cal Poly in the fall. He took a job at home depot so he could learn more about the construction business and building supplies. Vince is really detail oriented and meticulous with a head for business. He has an incredible understanding of how things and systems and organizations work, and is amazingly capable of saving, investing and acquiring money. He is frugal and yet generous. Callous one moment and writing beautiful, moving poetry the next. He called because one of his investments had gone bankrupt and was regrouping and issuing new stock, making his stock worthless (Delta Airlines). For the first time in eons he mentioned a friend as his "girlfriend". He talks about marine friends of his being recalled back to Iraq, even though they have been out of the military for over a year..... he wonders if he will be recalled too.

Vince as a baby.................................. Vince now
Gorgeous then, gorgeous now.

Skylar is my younger, laid back, creative, outgoing, performing child. He has been performing all his life, doing voice impersonations since he could talk. He has an uncanny memory that can recite entire movies word for word. He has a beautiful singing voice and dancing agility like Gene Kelly....and he's very, very funny. Sky can also draw fine line realistic illustrations and he writes wonderful short stories. He's also a slob (like me!) and terrible, terrible with money.
On Monday, Sky will be filmed on "brother's and sister's" It's an acting part with lines and everything! He plays a paraplegic. ...In between his acting roles and his military film consulting / stunt work he has taken a job at eastern costume researching and pulling together military and police uniforms for film productions. They let him take time off for auditions and acting gigs. It's working out great for him. Today, he called all excited, because eastern costume is recommended him to work on the set of music videos on weekends.
Sky goes thru money like water, so he can use all the jobs he can get. Besides, most of the shows in LA are on filming hiatus' until July, so I am very thrilled that he took the job with the costume shop to keep some income coming in.
Sky auditioned and was accepted into classes with "the groundlings". He's really good at improv. That starts in May..... (and it's EXPENSIVE!) plus he takes acting classes and singing classes and now guitar...... and of course he has to see every movie that comes out ..... and his truck guzzles gasoline as he zips around the city. He has no steady girlfriend - he can't afford one!

Sky ages ago ............Sky's resume pic
He is soooo adorable!

OK. I just had to share! I am so proud of both of them. You think? They have grown up so fast - my gosh - they are adults!
When did this happen? Where has time flown?
....and where are my grandbabies?

Photopolymer Plates experiments

Yesterday and today I spent experimenting with photo polymer plates to use as custom molds for precious metal and/or silver art clay. Photo polymer plates are metal or plastic backed polymer emulsions that are UV sensitive. This is the project I was supposed to do with Joanne when she came to visit, but I couldn't stop gabbing, so it didn't happen.
Full directions are on Maggie Berman's site, and even more directions are on
First you make a very black and white negative. I had a picture of my nephews eye and a spider drawing which I then converted to black and white in adobe photoshop. This was my first time ever using photoshop. DJ was kind enough to give me a few starting pointers when she was here a while back, and from my metalclay yahoo group I was able to get command by command instructions on how to make the conversion to black and white.

These are the originals....

....and the black and white negatives made in photoshop

PPP sandwich set up - Raw PPP plate with double layered negative transparency all sandwiched between masonite and clear glass and then clamped tight with clips.

The negative artwork was then printed on inkjet transparency sheets. I was fortunate to buy 10 pounds of photopolymer plates off of ebay, for mucho cheap. This is "rigilon" and that I am using in the photos. My DH bought me a 36 watt manicurists UV lamp (that I can use for my nail polish, too!) to use to expose the PPP's. Through trial and error I discovered the exposure time I needed and the proper way and amount of time to do the washout. I was very discouraged yesterday, as I could not get any depth to my plates. Then I used a black paper cutout instead of a transparency black and white drawing - and it worked great! So I put two identical transparencies together and lo and behold, today when i tried that, it made the black drawing lines black enough, and it WORKED....and it's fast and repeatable!
Here are my developed plates:

Now I can use them to roll my silver metal clay over and then fire into custom designed pendants. HMMM. Maybe I'll fill the depressions with colored enamels?
This technique is supposed to be great for making tiny raised lettering on the silver..... or maybe for a signature stamp?
Tomorrow I will be firing my gecko. Let's see - what else? oh, I worked on...oh gads, I swore I wouldn't do anymore- CHARMS. Don't ask.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Raif gets a new home....

isn't he a cutie?
A few days ago i posted about a young dog we had found. I took him to the vets on Monday, and discovered he didn't have a chip, but he was fixed and had been well taken care of. The determined he was probably a purebred jack russell terrier and between 9 months to a year old.
We placed ads on the radio, craig's list, and with the humane society and various pet sitter places around the island. NO CALLS! So, last night a nice family our realtor recommended came over - 2 kids ("Bear", age 10, and "Tiger Lily" age 6) - the dog, "Raif" as we called him, loved them..they had a large fenced yard and no other pets - except a caterpillar.
....and so, much to my DH's new found regret, they took him. As the family left, the 2 kids sat in the back seat of their car, joyfully singing in unison, "we got a dog, we got a dog!". Really sweet.
Today my DH is depressed and in mourning for the loss of "his" dog.
Oh well.

Friday, April 13, 2007

... a warning on salt technique and hawaii....and my bird pages

I finally got my fat bird pages finished and in the mail. I had made the backgrounds on watercolor paper which i sprayed with water, painted on color and then sprinkled with sea salt. the salt made really cool concentrations of color. I put them aside to dry.
The next morning they were covered in huge puddles of water. uh oh - must have rained too much last night. So i blotted them dry, brushed off the salt, and then ironed them even dryer.
So I add my embellishments - fabric, birds, words, etc - and while the gel is drying - the cards go limp again. I guess the salt residue was still attracting the moisture from the air on the fold of the card that wasn't covered in gel. I ironed them dry again and did my best to TOTALLY seal the pages. WHAT A PAIN! ... you think i'd learn to test techniques first! HAH!
Here's how they finally turned out - these are fast photos, not scans -

water color salt background, fabric, print of bird painting with texture added.

bird tesselation for the back. I was going to sew around them, but i needed to get them mailed, so i just called them done.

Today my DH found the most adorable puppy. We are calling him "Raif". He looks to be about 12 weeks old - very clean (must have been kept indoors - otherwise he'd be filthy!) He's already partially trained - "points" when he sees a chicken - we think he's an expensive hawaiian hunting dog - just beautiful, sweet and smart.
he wandered into our yard when lance left the gate open for me to return thru when i finished my bike ride. He didn't have a collar on him. I posted a sign on the front gate that says "PUPPY FOUND". I will post a pic tomorrow - as it is night now, and i don't want to wake him.
Our dog, Chalupa, hates him --she's very jealous!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

LETTING GO.....some thoughts

Learning to paint with DJ opened up new vistas of exploration and experimentation for me.

I love to use lots of color and my art is somewhat cartoony, and yet, I still try to make it my version of realistic. DJ encouraged me (OK, MADE ME!) load my brush up with color and randomly squiggle it and put it on my canvas - results be damned. I was so afraid of ruining what I was doing.... She had us use whatever we found available to pick up paint (a skewer, credit, card, pen cap, etc) and do various random strokes to make backgrounds. This was SCARRY for me. I will normally do and redo, start all over if it isn't working, etc. and I would NEVER use something as "permanent" as paint on a drawing that already had so much work in it.
I always thought my art was "outside" the box - but, although what I do tends to be odd, my techniques - I realize now - were definitely mainstream and proven. DJ showed me how to just paint a tulip using 3 or 4 random strokes, and when it was dry to outline it with a fine paint brush - precision of the perfect line be damned! Me? Use a brush with my unsteady hand to outline? - and let the outline be rough and not on the edges of my paint? AAACKKK!
...and I liked it - actually I LOVED it- the freedom to just LET IT BE whatever it is GOING TO BE. To quit the constant criticism of MYSELF.
I came home from the retreat and painted a bird and hawaiian flower - I tried to let it be free and imprecise. Alas - it was more of my "outliney style" . and the background, although experimental, was definitely not the freeform DJ emphasized. So I decided - GO FOR IT!
I then gessoed, painted, stamped found objects ( with paint), scratched at it, covered up parts of the original design - all over my precious painstakingly painted art .... print.
Yes, I cheated. I copied the fabric painting on good epson paper and painted all over THAT.

OK. not a dramatic difference, but it's a start............

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kauai art retreat

Here's a pic of Kate, Joanne, Me and DJ
If this retreat is offered again- YOU MUST GO! It was OUTSTANDING!

OK - here's the scoop (now that I am recuperated)...... Last week I was incredibly fortunate to be a participant in an art retreat hosted by Lorri Scott, fiber artist and DJ Pettitt, mixed media artist, both from the mainland. The retreat was on my home island of Kauai in Hawaii and was 3 1/2 days of dyeing fabrics, painting faces and backgrounds and whatever else you wanted, on fabric, and 3rd, putting our dyed fabrics and paintings together into a fabric journal that also had clear pockets for memorabilia and photos. Earlier, Lorri sent all of the participants the most scrumptious paper booklet (all SEWN together by Jan, put together by and embellished by Lorri, with Hawaiian painting prints done by DJ) It contained the info on supplies needed, directions, etc.
On Monday I picked up Kate and Joanne from the Marriott in Lihue and we drove to Poipu and met up with Lorri, DJ, Jan and Kelsey. Joanne and I immediately hit it off together - she is down to earth, funny, and relaxing to be around. Kate, Joanne's best friend was a total delight - her reality observations sure kept me laughing! I had met DJ in Arizona last August and Lorri I had met the month before when she was on island setting up the logistics of the retreat. Jan I knew only from online conversations and art swaps - so it was a joy to finally meet her in person. Kelsey is DJ's 17 yr old unbelievably mature and talented "fit in like she was one of us" - niece.
The retreat house was a beautiful bi level home with a huge partially covered deck that looked out to the ocean in Poipu. Gorgeous. We all went out to lunch together and to a new bead store that had just opened in Koloa "Bead-a-licious" and then to Pizzetta's for dinner. Joanne is going to/has? posted tons of pics on her blog and picturetrail if you'd like to see more!
Next day at 9:30 am the art began! Jennifer, a mixed media artist and online altered art diva pal, as well as Sharon, a quilt artist , and Joyce, a former student of DJ's.
DJ gave all of us the most gorgeous folder/book you've ever seen. It was handmade from fabric and embellished with stitching and DJ sewn vinyl covered photos. It was meant was to hold all of our notes as well as instructions and tips from Lorri on dying and loads of color and black and white DJ art drawings/prints for us to trace and/or use in the books we were there to make - or just for inspiration! - but I think it is a work of art all by itself.

Lorri then demonstrated three different dyeing techniques including shibori. In our kits she provided us with 7 silk handkerchiefs to experiment the techniques on. And then we had large pieces of silk to dye - raw silk, silk velvet, sheersilk, and about 5 other kinds. And we dyed ribbons! Thin ribbons, fat ribbons, etc. It was so much fun and so exciting to see the results. Different types of silks take the dyes in different ways. Lorri also gave us cut velvet and showed us finished examples of how you could dye it with 2 different types of dyes and get distinct color layers. She also had fabric etching supplies available to us and did some examples using silk screens, stencils and etchant. We ran out of time to try this, but Lorri generously gave me her "palm trees" sample to include in my book so I wouldn't forget. We were supposed to stop at 4:30, but some of us were gluttons and stayed until it was too dark outside to see what we were dyeing! Lorri and DJ provided lunch, too! Then Lorri invited me to stay in the retreat house overnight so I wouldn't have to drive all the way home.. Jennifer was staying there too. I was ssoooo tired and grateful to just go to bed.

Here are some examples of the dyeing I did. I dyed A LOT! Lorri gave us each 5 YARDS of 2 different ribbons, and of course I cut mine up to have even more to dye!

The next day DJ demonstrated her infamous face painting technique. Now, I haven't picked up a paintbrush to paint a whole picture since I was 11 - no way I could paint a face! But DJ insisted that everyone could do it - and she was right! Every single participant did a marvelous job - each one put their own spin on the technique - but everyone saw that YES THEY TOO COULD PAINT A FACE! She also taught us 3 different styles of backgrounds, with tons of techniques.

Here are two of the pics I did. I need to fix her wonky neck and I haven't finished the flowers yet - it will get another layer of background. DJ teaches you to paint in multiple layers to create depth on depth. She also emphasizes taking chances and JUST DO IT!