Wednesday, November 30, 2011

29 Ways to be Creative


The hardest one for me : Clean your workspace. Things just pile up from other projects, to the point where I can't start anything new. This is an important one to keep up with. Maybe I need to schedule time for the clean-up. Not the same time as my make-stuff time.

Fabulous Surfaces by Lynda Monk

I just got this book in the mail from the UK. Lynda Monk's new Fabulous Surfaces book!
It was about $18 plus shipping US ($24 total?).

She'll be offering free online lessons in January 2012 to those who have the book. Goodie! Goodie!
In the meantime, I can collect the materials, and dream about what I want to make! Lots of tissue paper this time ...

Check out her blog for some of her other fabulous surfaces : Purple Missus.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More New Journals : Leather

"First, Catch Your Springbok"
Leather Journal, 1/4-size; 4 signatures
This is my favorite journal of the season!

Golden Trout Leather Journal; 1/4-size

Black Leather Journal with Fluer-de-Lis Button Closure

More New Journals : Composed Fabric

Detail of the closure.
This button is one of the treasures I found at Bigsby's a few weeks ago.

All three of these journals are made of "composed fabric" using scraps, thread tails, yarns and other junk that would otherwise be thrown away.

New Journals

Here are some of the new journals I'll have for sale next Saturday at the Holiday Craft Sale in Appleton. Stop by if you are in the area.

on Saturday December 3, 2011
9 am - 2:00 pm
at The Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
2600 East Phillip Ln.
Appleton, WI.

Lunch and sweets will also be available.
It's a great bunch of local artisans. Join us!

This one has an old leather button for a closure. It looked so much like a pine cone, that I couldn't resist pairing it with this particular journal.

This one was difficult to photograph. I used a piece of heavy black paper used to stuff a package. I added some gold paint and other embellishments. The blue brand mark doesn't appear so visible in real life.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks to Doug Johnson, Art Professor at UW-River Falls

Professor Emeritus, Doug Johnson. Photo from here in 2008.

I have to give this guy credit. I took two classes with him while I was in my early college years at UW-River Falls around 1990. His Art 100 was not just the usual art appreciation class where you look at lots of slides of great art and discuss. He actually had us all purchase Craypas and good paper so we could MAKE some art of our own in all the styles we were studying. I had no idea how liberating that would be! In high school, I had creative and talented friends who were in all the Art classes, but I was on the college prep track, so no time for art classes. Sigh! Thank goodness Art 100 was REQUIRED in college. And thank goodness, I took Doug Johnson's class that pushed us beyond merely appreciating art.

Dog in the style of Nabi (circa 1990).

Doug Johnson encouraged us to really press in the color with our pieces. None of that wishy-washy pastel stuff. We had to be "committed" to the piece. He didn't want to see any of the white paper showing through. ;-)

My last spring semester in River Falls, I took a sculpture class (I had learned the year before that it was impossible to take heavy and serious classes in spring--Try writing a paper on nuclear war while the apple trees are blooming, and you're in love! The two are not compatible!) Anyway, the creative classes took an investment of time, but not memorization--it was a different kind of learning where we really got INSIDE of the lessons-- for which I am grateful.

I don't know that he ever made it big with his art. He was the kind of guy who--if he dropped a pottery sculpture on the way in to the gallery, and if he liked the way it broke apart on the floor, he'd fence it off and make it a display. Now that's rolling with the punches!

Doug Johnson made me promise I would take more art classes, even if it wasn't my major. He saw some potential in me. Now, it's 20 years later. I doubt he'd even remember me. I would like to say "Thank you for the encouragement in those early years." I have taken more classes and made more art since then. "Making stuff" has become an important part of my life.

You made a difference in my creative life, Professor Johnson. Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!

I forgot to mention that this is in honor of Story Corps National Day of Listening where you Thank a Teacher.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sewing Cradle - Or "What the Heck IS a Sewing Cradle?"

Sweetie made me a sewing cradle for book binding. ;-)
I can't believe I have NOT had one up until now.

Instructions for making one of your own are available here from TJ Book Arts.

I was facing a pile of paper signatures, all needing to be punched with holes so they could be bound into my hand-made journals. Lots of stress on my body to this by hand, and I was not looking forward to it.

But with the new sewing cradle, I was able to punch all these holes in less than 20 minutes. AND I was not in pain afterwards! I was to amazed with this simple little tool!

Here's how it works :

Lay the paper signature to be punched in the cradle. Be sure everything is lined up properly.

Add the template where the holes are pre-measured and already punched. This acts as a guide so you don't have to measure and mark every single signature set. Another handy innovation!

Line everything up, and use the awl to punch the holes through the template, and through the paper signature (10 pages of paper). The cradle holds everything steady, and prevents you from poking holes that are too big. The wood has a different feel from the paper when you punch it, so you know when to stop.

It works just as well for punching the holes through the covers as well :

Holes punched, and ready to bind the paper signatures.

I just like the way the paper lined up from the side. Kind of reminds me of the vaulted ceilings in churches ...

Stay tuned ... I'll be posting the new journals shortly.

If you're in the area, I'll be selling my hand-made journals at a Holiday Craft Sale
on Saturday December 3, 2011
9 am - 2:00 pm
at The Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
2600 East Phillip Ln.
Appleton, WI.

Lunch and sweets will also be available. It's a great bunch of local artisans. Join us!

Beauty by Mail

I love getting things in the mail--especially when it's a pretty as this! Northern Lights!

On Friday, I received this beautiful fabric post card in the mail. It's made by Monika Kinner-Whalen of My Sweet Prairie in Canada. Back in September, Monika offered a tutorial on thread sketching for 3 Creative Studios' Technique of the Month.

As a reward for participating in the challenge, my name was thrown into the hat for this lovely prize. ;-) I'm very happy with this little gem!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

November Dyeing Day

Inspired by the moody gray November skies (which I love!), I dyed a set of gradations with black as the base. This is the darkest one. Yeah, I know--It's hard to get a true black, but then gray is what I was actually after! I was after a more watercolor-snow dye look. On Sunday when I dyed these, we didn't have snow. We do now! Hurray!

Here's the whole set of gray gradations. That black on the bottom is the black flannel on my design board. I didn't dye it that dark. Some of these were thrown into a parfait dye, but at this point, I can't really tell which ones were the gradations, and which were the parfait sets. They were all variants of black and gray. Melissa's Recipe for Gray Gradations. These will make some wonderful backgrounds ...

This set of browns were made entirely from mixing concentrates of Scarlet - Yellow - Cerulean Blue from Melissa's color recipes for Browns and Neutrals. The ones she shows are much deeper in saturation. I'm perfectly happy with how mine came out, and I might do some more experimenting ... My dyes are a few years old now, so they may have lost some of their umph in the meantime.


Artist Trading Cards made from "Composed Fabric."
Sorry--I like these two too much to trade just yet.

But I'll send the red ones below anywhere in the world, as long as you have some to trade in return. Just leave a comment saying you want to exchange ATCs, and we'll make the connection. I don't get enough snail mail anymore. ;-)

Left to Right : 24 - 25 - 26

Left to Right : 27 - 28

Buttons at Bigsby's

Look, Ma! This is how I spent my Birthday money. Ooooh! Ahhhhh! Purty!

$43 worth of buttons that fit in the palm of my hand. I feel a little like Jack and the Beanstalk ... Was it really worth it? or just a bunch of worthless beans? To me, it was worth it! Aren't they gorgeous? These buttons are destined to become closures on some of my hand-made journals. Thankfully, I only need 1 per journal--not a dozen for a sweater. Next time, I'll have to bring in the journal covers, and more perfectly match the button to the cover. I just picked out the ones I liked on this day.

On Friday, my husband and I went to Milwaukee I had a Library meeting in town for work. My local Art Quilt group has been talking about Bigsby's Sewing Center in Milwaukee ... I missed the field trip a while back, so Bigsby's was one of my destinations in Milwaukee.

Bigsby's, has a whole WALL of those fantastic and expensive ('highly prized") buttons sold individually and displayed in tubes. After letting things "mash-up" in my brain for a few hours, it got me thinking of Diana Trout's Grid exercise from the Sketchbook Challenge. The buttons displayed this way are all laid out on a grid ...

These will be a nice library of designs and patterns for future projects.

But now ... Back to more buttons. ;-) Enjoy!