Friday, July 31, 2009

More Haitian Sequined and Beaded Art

A few days ago I blogged about the shimmering sequined work of Haitian artist George Valris. Here is another large flag that is completely covered in sequins and beads. It depicts Saint Peter, a representation/substitute of one of the vodoun spirits.

I fell in love with the transparent sea green AB sequins -- you should have seen them in the bright indirect light under the tent!

Once again, here's a link to purchase (or just drool over) Valris's work.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Debrina Pratt's Whimsical World of Fairies

OMG, I just discovered Debrina Pratt's blog -- though I've adored her sugary sweet glitter coated fairy wings adorned baby angels forever. And guess what? She has collage freebies there in addition to photos of her latest pastel pink & baby blue assemblages. She's also -- thank the fairies' moonstruck tea-tinted stars -- selling CD collections of some of her images and compositions. Definitely on my wish list. I think I like her work so much because it brings out my inner girlie side. Which usually ends up being covered in earth and rust on the way out. Go Debrina! Keep it pink...for those of us who cannot. ;-)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Class Aug. 15 -- MAKE & TAKE EARRING WIRES

Yay, woohoo! I get to teach my earring wires class just before the Fall semester starts (when Persephone gets hauled back into the underworld, {sigh}.

I'll be teaching several styles during a two-hour session at OFFCenter in Albuquerque, on Saturday, August 15, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Cost is $20.00. Please call OFFCenter to register soon -- class size is limited to 12 people. 505-247-1172.

Here's more info from the official class description:

Come and learn how to make your own no-solder earring wires!

You'll learn several styles that will help you save money and give your earring designs a spe-cial, handmade finish.

We'll practice with brass and sterling silver wire and learn to make basic French wires with loops, beaded loops, little nooses, cobras, cosmic spirals, long V's, and variations on those techniques.

You'll learn all the hand shaping and finishing techniques you need to make professional looking earring wires, and once you get the hang of that we'll also cover hammering and oxidizing the wire.

The class fee covers all of your materials, but it is highly recommended that you bring these tools with you as there are a limited number of tools to share:

  • Small round nose jewelry pliers
  • Small flat nose jewelry pliers
  • Small jewelry wire cutters
You can also bring, if you have them:

  • Small bench block or anvil
  • Small jeweler's hammer
  • Jeweler's file
  • Assorted beads with holes large enough to accommodate 20 ga. wire


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eyes and Hands and Art

children's art

This week at Summerfest I finally remembered to bring an actual camera instead of just a cell phone. Much better results! I loved photographing our visitors, and they seemed to enjoy being photographed (adults, and kids with parents' permission of course).

As I was editing the photos I especially noticed the eyes and the hands. Most adults hate having their picture taken -- but the kids looked right into the camera and seemed to smile straight from the heart. How joyous and proud artmaking makes them feel!

The hand gestures -- I actually noticed those while I was shooting because it's one way you can tell how engaged a child is in their work. See how these sisters hold their butterflies? Like mudras? I just love the unselfconscious gestures and all the others I witnessed Saturday night. (See OFFCenter's blog for more photos.)

By the way, did you notice how perfectly these girls' butterflies coordinate with their face paint and outfits? OMG, fashionistas in the making!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Haitian Beaded Flags with Sequins

At the 2009 Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, I was given permission to shoot and share pictures of the amazing work of Market veteran George Valris. At the last minute, he was unable to attend this year, but fortunately he was able to ship a huge pile of work from his studio. Let me tell you, it sparkled and shined!

haitian sequined vodou flag
This medium-sized Haitian vodou flag depicts La Sirene, with her comb and mirror. Pardon my angle, this piece was laying on the table in the front of the booth.

La Sirene

Most of this flag was executed in spot stitch, with the cupped sequins facing down, attached with seed beads in the same colors as the sequins. It looked to me as though the seed bead outlines were sewn on after the sequins.

Recently I found this nice blog article about Haitian sequined flags, as well as a link to an exhibition of Vodou-related artwork at the American Museum of Natural History, so check them out to learn more about the flags (drapo). And you can even purchase George Valris' very reasonably priced work at the sister site of the SFIFAM.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

More Recycled Paper Thangs

recycled paper envelopes These are foldover notes made from an old map and some discarded masking sheets. Masking sheets are used to align the film negatives before burning a plate to be hung on a printing press.

envelope tutorial These are not envelopes per se and they don't need glue -- you cut a slit in them to tuck the flap into. I suppose you could put something inside, but you'd probably need to tape the flap shut.

recycled paper art See?

I got the template from Mirkwood Designs. (It's called the "postage stamp" envelope.) I printed it onto sturdy index stock and cut it out and I've used the template for a few years already!

  • I just draw around the template lightly with a pencil (which can be lightly erased later), then cut with scissors.
  • The papers I used here won't scratch easily because they're coated, so I creased the folds with the help of a plastic hotel room access card.
  • Then I unfolded the orange sheets and stamped them with gray solvent ink (dries fast and works better than most other inks on coated papers).

Friday, July 24, 2009

The OFFBag

offcenter community arts project, recycled art market bag

I took this shot last night outside the OFFCenter studio to help Marcia Sednek (our lovely model) show off a new fundraising item for this hoppin' little community arts project. The bags are made of recycled plastic shopping bags and each one is unique. You can read more about them on the OFFCenter blog.

Also, I probably should mention that Marcie's show, "Frock On," at Mariposa is coming down soon, so get on over there quickly if you haven't seen it. She does fashionable things with recycled metal -- and by that I mean she makes doll sized dresses out of old tins and such. Yes, the dresses in the photo below are made of metal.

marcia sednek recycled metal art


Thursday, July 23, 2009

How Often -- a New Poll!

vintage typewriter Victorian womanIt's been forever since I put up a poll on my blog. I really enjoy them. This one asks . . .

"How Often Do You Create?"

Let's not get too metaphysical or too biological, ok? LOL! I was looking for a concise way to ask how often you sit down to make stuff, write stuff, whatever it is you do.

(Look in the left column. You can check more than one box, by the way.)

As for me, I've been in school and working full-time for way too long, so my creative time is severely limited. Not good. I can only go so long folding paper or stringing a simple necklace, and then I feel at odds with myself and the world. So for the past several months, I've been scheduling time away from work, in the middle of the week, to go to OFFCenter and make stuff, my stuff, get messy, spread out, you know, holla from the inside out. And I've also been signing up for more classes than usual this year -- the all-day or all-weekend kind, even though I do not have time, and I work my tushie off in them, because I know I won't get another chance to bury myself in it for awhile.

So, my answers were -- I create 3 or 4 days a week (for a very short time or longer on weekends if I'm lucky), and it's not enough! 8-)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Still Can't Throw it Away?

Forever and ago, when I was a graphic arts instructor, I LOVED Adobe Magazine, which I received free at my workplace. I pored over the articles and shared the color lessons with my students. When I switched jobs, I moved a stack of the old magazines, now out of print, with me, because I couldn't bear to part with them.

Last spring, I had to clean out 20 years of precious clutter in my lab and storage area, before leaving for a completely new job. I knew I had to part with the magazines, but I couldn't seem to let them go completely, so I tore off the covers, thinking I'd use them in collages.

They sat in a file folder in my bedroom, of all places, until this past weekend when I started the grand Studio Redo. Last night, I sat down to watch Nightmare Before Christmas with Junior, and made a little pile of envelopes out of the rich, beautiful magazine covers. The technology in the original articles has changed many times over, but the gorgeous, bold colors are still current.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Studio Redo

I spent the better part of this (hot!) weekend digging into my studio and organizing things. I got all my papers, paper bits, ATC, envelope templates, etc. thoroughly weeded, organized, and put away. I got my fabric organized too. Whew! I also came out of the studio with a large box of stuff for OFFCenter.

I also organized all my old photos, and vintage labels. Plus I set aside a cardboard box for journals to cover and old books to alter. I think I have about 1,000 vintage cigar bands. I bought them in lots so I could get the dozen or so I love and use all the time, LOL.

Among the other odd little items I gave their own small containers? Little plastic skull buckets, artificial flowers, and broken old dolls. Don't ask. They are neatly labelled so you can look for yourself if you ever come over. ;-)

The sad part is, when you walk into the studio and look around, you can't even tell! I have some serious reorganizing yet to do.

I need another couple of containers for rubber stamps that have somehow mated and spawned offspring in there in the past couple of years...

And then, I know I have several small boxes of weird electrical parts and metal things I picked up off the ground, stuffed under my worktable but I haven't gotten to that layer of excavation yet. (I do feel like an archaeologist, digging through my own past...)

Need to rethink the glue storage. And absolutely rework the polymer clay (dis)organization. And did you know that those little plastic bottles of acrylic paint dry out in a couple of years??? What a rip off, my fabric paints from 20 years ago are mostly still good. They are in glass jars.

Among my most organized things are my beads. Years ago, when I got tired of spending twenty minutes looking for the beads I wanted and I only had 30 minutes to bead in the first place, I got compulsive and organized everything into labelled drawers and compartment trays. To this day, I can still walk into the studio and find the beads I need. So that is my motivation to KEEP GOING! I can do this! . . . kerthunk.

P.S. To keep myself totally honest, I took "before" photos of my studio. But there is no way I'm posting them here! Maybe alongside the "after" photos. Maybe. Until then, the MOTH can always blackmail me with them, LOL!

Monday, July 20, 2009

When Old Sequins Smell Funny...

vintage sequins
Someone asked about this awhile back. If I wasn't old and lazy I'd remember who or look it up...

Sometimes vintage sequins smell kind of vinegar-ish. This is not a good thing. It means the celluloid is breaking down. I do have some sequins that smell funny, like plastic, but that's not the same as the dreaded "vinegar syndrome."

I would recommend isolating those sequins from your other sequins, thread and cloth. I would also recommend not using them in heirloom-intended handwork. In other words, have fun with them while they last. But don't let them play with their friends. They're apparently contagious.

I couldn't find much on the net specifically on sequins and vinegar syndrome, but other collectors of celluloid stuff, such as old film, had some information that may be useful to us hand-stitchers who like to use vintage materials, especially sequins:


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Featured in Margie's Muse, July 2009

Margie Deeb sent me an email to let me know that my Shepherdess Angel necklace had been featured in her July color theory newsletter, Margie's Muse. Cool! And thanks, Margie.

Margie's free newsletter can be downloaded here:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Anasazi Corn

beaded earrings, recycled art

Here's a new style of earring in my Etsy shop. The "cones" at the top are actually recycled shell casings, modified by the MOTH and moi. These amazing seed beads are so tiny, and they remind me of the ancient corn or maize varieties grown by the Anasazi and others in the Southwest and Mesoamerica.

Take a look at these images from Seeds of Change if you don't know what I'm talking about:

ancient corn from Seeds of Change

ancient corn from Seeds of Change

ancient corn from Seeds of Change

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Claudia Vargas at SFIFAM

Another photo from the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market (this could go on for days you know . . .). This is Claudia Vargas and she was SO funny. She makes art, such as retablos, from recycled materials. She is a veteran of the market, and she brought a basket full of "cameras" made of beer cans, wire, etc. When you move a wire, the camera pops open -- and out -- to reveal a silly face.

She was standing at the edge of her booth "shooting" people's pictures as they walked by and she was really cracking herself up! There was, of course, no shortage of new victims for her prank as the place was packed. We shared a good laugh and then we walked on but then I saw she was entertaining herself so much -- she could probably go on for hours! (tears were nearly rolling down her face) I finally went back and took her picture. I said, "uno, dos . . ." and she popped the camera, LOL!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saraguro Beadwork in Santa Fe

This is Zoila Alexandrina Chalán Lozano, a Saraguro woman from a beadwork cooperative in Educador. Although it was her first time at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the Saraguros have attended before, thanks to the help of Ann Severine, a bead artist in Santa Fe who has sponsored them each year, helping with their applications and other intricacies of bringing the women here and hosting them once they get here.

This is the awesome booth of designs from the cooperative of , I think Ann said, about a dozen women. I noticed that both young women and older women were trying on the collars, each one finding just the perfect design for their wardrobe and personality.

Ann (above) is one of two beaders that I know of (there may be more, if so let me know and I'll link to them here) who do not just reverse engineer the Saraguro designs and techniques for their own benefit, but who contribute significantly to the Saraguro cooperatives. Ann teaches some of the Saraguro designs and patterns, and sends a portion of her income from that back to the Saraguro cooperatives.

Chris Prussing from Juneau, Alaska, sells her tutorials (last I checked there were about 15 of them!) of Saraguro designs on and donates half the money from sales directly back to the four Saraguro beading cooperatives.

(FYI, there are now patterns and designs available that mention "Saraguro" but they are only "inspired by" the designs and they don't use the traditional stitching. Not being fussy, I just mention this because the above designers have been to Ecuador and taken classes from the women, use their very unique stitching techniques, and donate directly back to the coops.)

Income from the Folk Art Market and donations from Chris and Ann (among others I'm sure) have had a significant impact on the Saraguro women's lives. They have literally built housing for their cooperative, maintain a healthy bank account which is used for micro-loans to themselves, so that they can get bulk pricing on beads and supplies, and of course derive an income for their families.

I might never get to Ecuador, but I was happy to meet Zoila and see how she and her coop partners are taking control of their craft, on an international scale.

P.S. If I got any info wrong in this post, it's all my fault, LOL! Ann shared a lot of info with me but I wasn't exactly taking notes. ;-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

International Folk Art Market photos

Wow! So much classier than the decor at the Econolodge! The Santa Fe International Folk Art Market was a feast for the eyes. And for humble handworkers like us, it was such a treat to meet friendly, talented crafters from all over the world. However . . . my feet are really mad at me right now, and I don't think we made it through more than 2/3 of the booths before the crowds did me in and Sarah and I parted ways hasta next time.

So, can you spot the volunteer in these photos? ;-) Just kidding -- she was such a sweetheart, and so willing, I couldn't resist taking her picture too. The two women artisans are from different places in Bolivia. The woman sitting on the ground is an Ayoreo Indian. She is making clothing and purses by needle weaving pounded bromeliad fibers.

The volunteer, I was told when I paid for a little plate from Uzbekistan, was one of a whopping 1,400 who help at the event, handling everything from parking to payments to assisting artists in their booths, an especially gracious touch that helps to bridge cultural and language barriers.


Saturday, July 11, 2009


Sarah and I met up in Santa Fe to go to the International Folk Art market tomorrow. Here we are at the Econolodge. Sarah says the curtains look like William Morris on bad acid. It might be hard to tell in the photo (and if so I'll be embarassed for saying this) but it looks like there is something in the valance that's giving the finger to something up above it.

The guitar is, yes, petite. My DH found it at Goodwill for Sarah because she had a vision of covering a guitar with beads. Better to start with a small one eh? (The guy coming into the hotel at the same time as me said, "Is that a camp guitar?" and I just said, "Yeah, I think so." Whatever a camp guitar is...)

Sarah's friend in the northwest sent her a huge box of beads. That is what's on the table. We are pawing through them to see who gets what. The arm wrestling commences tomorrow . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My Commodious Cage

Finally, a couple of photos of my cubicle at work. Funny, for years I've often felt like someone just let me out of a cage -- now, every day, sometimes several times a day, I literally leave one.

But it is a commodious cage, and thanks to my friend Buffy, aka Bethany Nelson, it's like a little altar to beautiful things. She built it on vashtu and feng shui, and I'm slowly injecting it with that Himalayan altitude. ;-)

Ya know, it's tricky to get a picture of your own cubicle. Somehow I feel like an aerial view would be nice. Or at least a view from the door. Stay tuned, I guess . . .

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's Official -- I like my camera

Now that I can focus on whatever I want, it's official. I love my $2.00 Goodwill camera.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Focusing the Camera

The little new/used camera I took to Pecos with me has really nice potential, I realized, for taking jewelry shots. But I couldn't understand what the heck all those symbols were, including the blinking red hand (did it know about my dream???) so after a day of less than stellar shots I finally looked up the manual online.

Ha! I was disappointed at first there was no manual focus, but then the manual explained. Whatever is in the center of the shot is what's in focus. So, put what you want in focus in the center of the shot, press the "take a picture" button halfway until the camera locks in the focus and exposure, then move the camera to compose your shot, and click down the rest of the way.

I suppose my old/used camera was like that too, but it had a manual focus and a "steady shot" option for long shutter speeds. This new one doesn't do well under low light conditions (the pictures are blurry), but the color balance is really good, hardly any color correction needed so far.

So here's a "before I knew" and an "after I knew". The top photo, irritatingly, has the hinge of the locket in focus. The bottom photo has the part I want in focus -- the rhinestone and rose.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stephanie Anderson, spirit in flight

Stephanie Anderson, a local artist, was murdered during an armed robbery at a local Denny's where she worked as a cook. She was open and ever youthful, a bright, sweet spirit, who always had a smile, even as she concentrated on her mandala artwork at OFFCenter. My deepest condolences to her family.

There is a short video about her HERE.