Monday, December 27, 2010

Guess who's coming for Christmas?

Poor MOTH (man-o-the-house). I had bugged him for two (maybe 3?) weeks to bring down my grandmother's nativity set. Then one morning, his usual day off, he had to go in to work at 6:00 a.m. I got up and saw he'd taken time to crawl up in the cold attic and bring down the box.

christmas vintage I began to set up the familiar characters -- Jesu, Isa, Jesus, his parents, the barnyard animals -- atop our lawyer's cabinet. I decided to leave the Japanese lamp, with the woman who looks like a Persian angel riding an elephant, behind the scene, to add lighting at night.

nativity sceneWell, that's when one thing led to another. I pulled out a couple of whirling dervishes from the case below, then out came the Navajo doll weaving a blanket, to add a bit of local homage to the sweet baby Jesus. Of course, the magical cat and rabbit ornaments that I usually put on the tree seemed the perfect scale, and, well, once I got started I couldn't seem to stop.

vintage nativity set
Having no shortage of global odds and ends laying around within arm's reach, our usual set expanded to include Hopi kachina doll, a coyote storyteller, an angel amputee I can't bear to throw away, a gargoyle, a big witch doll my kid made in elementary school (actually he says his teacher made most of it, which is a big no-no in the art ed world but we love it just the same), a boy doll we call "Joey's Inner Child," and a little red buddha who's hiding somewhere south of the gargoyle.

I thought for sure the MOTH would be horrified, but he loved it. I do think it's fitting, and there's something about this arrangement that frankly reminds me of Christmas Eve at my house...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My blog is't de-ad it's only sleeping

That's a paraphrase of an old mountain song you've probably never heard of and since it's kind of morbid I won't go any further...

So how's about this one instead? Paraphrased from the country classic, Hello Walls:

Hello blog... how things go for you today?
Don't you miss her since she up and walked away?
And I'll bet you dread to spend another lonely night with me
But, lonely blog, I'll keep you company
Hello blog, well I see that you're still here
Aren't you lonely since our author disappeared?
Well look here -- is that a teardrop in the corner of your screen?
Now don't you try to tell me that it's rain...
She went away and left us all alone the way she planned
Yes we'll have to learn to get along without her if we can
Hello blog, I'm gonna stare at you a while
You know I can't sleep so won't you bear with me awhile
We must all stick together or else I'll lose my mind
I've got a feeling she'll be gone a long long time...

Nope! I'm baaaack. School's out for a bit and I got a big chunk o' work done this Fall, so I'm ready to party in blogland. Time to dig out my pictures and notes and book reviews I've been saving since September!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Antique Silver Thread Embroidery

Check out these closeups of a collar from an antique Ottoman garment. The metal thread is exquisitely embroidered onto red velvet. I hope you can see the stitching details enough to be as inspired by the techniques as I am!

antique ottoman clothing
antique fabric embellishment silver thread

antique metal thread embroidery

antique turkish turkoman embroidery

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Porch

New view from the back door. This is the cozier half of the porch. The other side holds some additional seating -- rustic wooden furniture a la New Mexico style, plus junior's punching bag. (I know huh). Oh and a small vintage dryer (North Valley decor, cost $12 about 8 years ago). Last night it rained quite a bit and everything is so cool and cozy out there. Yesterday late afternoon I sat under the roof and sorted joss papers, counted rhinestones, and listened to the crickets. If you look closely in the background you can see the MOTH's birdhouses which he mounted on a board on top of the tall sturdy branches of a deceased Russian olive. And close to the porch is the plum tree, and succulents around and on top of the short stump of a cottonwood whose roots were wreaking havoc on our property values. ;-) The other dark tree in the far background is an almond tree. The two apple trees are hard to distinguish. Don't you love the roof line?

PS You can click the photo for a larger image.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Last night's view from Sandia Peak

Last night we met at the bottom of the tram and rode up well before sunset. By the time we got to the top, we had this amazing view from just below the cloud line. The sun was streaming through the moisture and creating the most amazing white light.

As we ate our dinner at a table by the windows, we watched a huge storm roll in, creating its own cloud over the city and then drawing it back up again.
By the time we jumped onto the tram to go back down, it was full dark and the rain was pounding. (I didn't know they operated that thing in lightning!) So yeah, according to Junior, it was the best birthday dinner ever -- mainly because of the thunderous ending!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear Quiznos

Please do not show me a commercial of furry kittens running around among my sub sandwiches. It will not help me to think of your restaurants as clean or your sandwiches as healthy or delicious. Bluck! Thank you.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Big Bucket of Flowers

I was bragging to my coworker about the MOTH's sudden green thumb and she asked me to take pictures. So, here's my favorite of his summer plantings.

I came home from work one day and he had planted buckets and pots full of bright summery things. Moss rose can always take the heat -- and usually comes up again the following year. Annuals seem to be a lot more iffy, even when they say "6 hours of full sun" on them (Somehow I don't think they're talking about the New Mexico sun).

I was so amazed with the way he'd arranged this barrel of bright blooms -- and magically, it has stayed this way through the hottest summer days I can remember, even on our baking hot patio. Pardon the construction in the background, we are taming that baking hotness with a nice roof. That is not getting built soon enough for me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Little Birdie Going Away Card

Friday night we threw a small going away party for two dear friends, and as I was tidying up before everyone came over, I happened to pick up this little pile of collaged cards I made this summer. Actually, I wasn't sure if they were finished but this one was on the top and it looked just perfect for them so I decided it was done.

Here's how I made the card:
  1. The paper is brown craft card stock.
  2. For the background, I cut out an image from a 1940's National Geographic, using deckling scissors. The proportions happened to be perfect for the craft card.
  3. Then I burnished on some rub on flourishes.
  4. I was not too pleased with the way the fourishes transferred at the right side, so later on I covered the booboo area with a handmade layered flower. I punched a larger flower from scrap paper, then with a dimensional foam adhesive dot I attached a smaller punched flower. The paper was leftover from my recycled envelope-making.
  5. I also punched out 3 stars from a vintage book page, and glued on some pearl rhinestones. I attached the flowers with foam dots, too.
  6. I cut out the girl and boy from photocopies of my vintage postcards. They had been reduced in size. I attached them with foam dots for a raised look. I used 2 different sizes of dots so I could raise their little arms and legs too!
  7. At some point I stamped around the background image with Staz-on inks, in subtle colors. I was toying with the idea of doing more stamping . . .
This process might seem like a lot of effort and different steps and materials, but because I made several similar cards at the same time, it was a question of cutting and punching several similar items at one time, and then assembling them for each card. Everything except the birds were leftover from other projects.
Nice way to build a theme and get a bunch of work done. I just kept adding each similar component to each card in the same order, with variations (e.g., I had several images of children in various sizes, placing them in different positions on each card), without really knowing where I was going. Or when to stop! LOL.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ashki's Dates with Feta

Ashki used to make these sweet and sumptuous little treats when she lived in Albuquerque, now I think of her when I make them. Just slice the dates across the top and lift out the seeds. Then push in crumbled feta - she used to use goat feta -- and gently squeeze the date around the cheese.

The dates are sweet like candy, and the feta balances it out perfectly!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sleeping Beauties

Returned from the DC area just last night, and shortly after, the MOTH presented me with his latest estate finds, including this little tribe of dollies from the 1950s. Three of them have crochet outfits from patterns that DMC produced back then, and the other is a blushing bride. I woke up this morning and this is how they had arranged themselves on my table, all resting peacefully. The front gal has apparently completed a rigorous round of chemo, while another -- Mary Queen of Scots in fact -- seems to have been beheaded.

Hmmm. I should probably fluff them up a bit before I put them in my Etsy shop.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mudcloth Cabbage Rose

I have been coveting those scrumptiously shabby ribbon and lace roses you see all over Etsy and so last night I googled how to make them. Being somewhat naturally rebellious, do you think I followed the instructions and used fabric that was appropriately pink and refined?

Of course not. Well my choice was something of an accident. I was puttering around the "studio" this morning (that disaster area where I have to be careful not to bump into things lest there be an avalanche), when I ran across some mudcloth scraps Sarah sent me.

So here is my first result. Do you know how difficult it is to tear mudcloth or even cut it with good sewing scissors? This reminds me of something you'd see at the natural history museum (like the petrified hairball of a rhinoceros). I'll keep trying. Next time I'll use fabric that wants to become a rose...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Woman Made Gallery: Call for Artwork "Mothers"

Woman Made Gallery, Chicago:

"Mothers" seeks work by women in all media that addresses the culturally ubiquitous role of motherhood, historically under-represented in visual art. "Mothers" encourages multivalent understandings of this rich topic. Submissions might speak to personal experiences (as a mother or as related to a mother), social constructions of motherhood, the balance of home and work, the politicization of mothers, pregnancy, breastfeeding, childbirth, bodily transformation, miscarriage, loss, fertility/infertility, or other points of entry. Open to all forms of art that investigate the theme of "Mothers."

Juror: Rachel Epp Buller, Scholar and Artist
Rachel Epp Buller, Ph.D., is a feminist-art historian-printmaker-mama of three whose art and scholarship investigate this balancing act. Her prints have been exhibited in solo and group and shows in Kansas City, Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere and she lectures and publishes widely on issues of motherhood and the maternal body in contemporary art.

Exhibition Dates: November 5 - December 23, 2010
Entry Deadline August 11, 2010
Notifications: September 8, 2010

Find the entry guidelines here:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bottles of Beads

Just a few itsy bottles of old beads. The bottles came from the glass graveyard, and the glass pearls came from vintage jewelry projects. The other beads are vintage cuts in plum and purple. Behind, some sugared millinery pips I acquired yesterday at the thrift store. After I fill up all my little bottles, I'll tie some ribbons around them or something...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jewelry Inspirations by Sherri Haab Review

First off, I have to admit, I'm the hardest person to impress with a jewelry book, partly because I'm not a beginner any more, and partly because I prefer to sell stuff that is based on my own ideas. So I like a book that shows me new ways of doing things that I can use as a starter idea for my own work. And this book delivers on that count.

Coincidentally, I had a big bag of silver filigree bezel findings that I was getting ready to donate -- but I kept them after reading this book, so I could play with Sherri's polymer clay and beaded solstice charm idea. Putting a charm w/loop under the clay is a great idea for turning the bezel into a pendant.

She covered a lot of bases, and a lot of materials, which is why this book is 150+ pages. I like that she did not devote too many of them to how to use the materials -- some books overdo that part in my opinion, but Jewelry Inspirations covered that subject just right I think. I like that she devoted a few pages to finding inspiration, and being in your studio. After seeing all her little bottles of beads, I found myself pulling out all my antique and vintage bottles and fitting them with corks, then filling them up with vintage leftovers such as little glass pearls.

I had never seen her method for making a 3D (2-sided) silicon mold. I've seen other ways of doing them, but Sherri's makes a lot more sense to me.

This is also the first book where I've seen epoxy resin clay used. Hopefully it will be available locally at some point, but for now you can order it from the Internet. You can tint the clay, form it, or press it into molds and it cures (dries) overnight. Sherri tints it and embeds objects in it in her projects.

Sherri uses simple knotting in several projects -- I liked that the projects are simple but tasteful and her intro instructions are very clear. My favorite knotted jewelry project was her Sea Glass Image Pendants, because the cord was a bit thick and looks nice with or without beads woven in.

Silhouette projects seem to be very retro trendy these days, and, again, I appreciated that she used jewelry stampings in her Silhouette charm bracelet (since I seem to have pounds of stampings around here).

She also plays with papier clay to make pins -- her theme is Halloween, but I tried the project with crows, our perennial neighbors here on the Rio Grande. This project would be fairly easy for kids too, I think.

Her bead and wire jewelry designs were not what inspired me most but only because I know those techniques; however, her colorways and use of chunky gemstones were lovely, and caused me to paw through my semi-precious drawers for pretty colors like hers.

There was a fun cracker jack charm bracelet -- you can, of course, substitute your own collectibles, but I just wanted to mention that you can buy Cracker Jack charms on eBay. Sherri pairs hers with a substantial silver chain that really elevates the look of the charms.

By far my favorite projects were the resin ideas. I've seen other books on this subject but could never see myself wearing candy-mold jewelry in a million years. It never occurred to me to make my own molds, as Sherri does.

And finally, being a funky found object and recycled art kind of gal, I really like the braided torn handkerchief bracelet. It seemed sturdy and adaptable to many variations, and I plan to try it down at OFFCenter, where we tear strips of fabric into "pitchy patchy" every summer in preparation for the Folk Art Festival. Sherri's technique would come in handy for ornaments and other hanging things too, not just jewelry.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More Antique Purse Photos

Here's the bottom half of the purse. It's huge! Reds and greens in the center, blues and oranges on the sides. The yellow and "brown" flowers near the bottom right are actually purple -- the tan thread changes the look of the amethyst beads.

And finally, the whole thing, minus the chain.

More photos are HERE!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Got Micro Beads?

I'm just getting ready to list this in my Etsy supply shop. In addition to the five photos for that listing, I took these closeups of the bead crochet patterns for all you fanatics fans of antique beadwork.

First off -- check out the color palette. This beauty contains dozens of colors because each motif uses 5-6 colors. Love these old fashioned micro-bead colors, especially the metal lined crystal beads used for the background. They were crocheted with tan thread, so there's still plenty of contrast, but not a stark white background.

Here's the palette -- mainly reds and greens, with some blue and amethyst.
A tiny bluebell motif? These old purse patterns translate easily to loomwork or square stitch.

Here's a rose for you. :-)

And some other flowers -- orange to balance out the blue. Notice the aqua/jade green color in the bottom right of the photo. Several metallic beads are tossed in too, but there surfaces have worn off over the years.

And finally, the fringe. Notice how white the crystal beads look with white thread, compared to in the background where colored thread was used.
I'll post some overall pictures a little later. For now -- Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nifty New Photo Table

Speaking of yesterday's pretty silver things, the MOTH brought home a gorgeous adjustable hospital table, with a faux dark walnut top. At first I thought "Ugh...where will we put this?" but then he said, "No more backaches from your microphotography," (That's not actually what he said but it hardly would have been proper to type type "No more bending over for your photos...")

However he said it, he was right! It pulls up high enough for me to shoot straight down or across the objects. And the surface -- my goodness, it's darned rich and lovely. I prefer to use decorative papers under my schtuff, I went ahead and christened my new table to shooting this vintage steel mesh purse straight on the surface.
Previously I used a folding wooden tray table up against our patio door. I found that using the higher table isn't just easier on my achin' back, being up higher means I also avoid getting reflections and shadows and color casts from various things on the patio. Still get the blue sky cast, as you can see from the photo above. But the price (only $10 bucks) and the pretty, pretty surface is totally worth a wee bit of color correcting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Etsy Treasury of Pretty Silver Things

A pretty little vintage mesh bag I just listed in my shop yesterday found its way into this Etsy treasury by OdetoJune, a seller of lovely vintage things. Thanks!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Too Much Frappucino?

I suppose this is what I get for sending them to Starbucks...

Now you know why on Friday nights I head into my room and shut the door. :-) Oh and it also helps to crank up the volume on the TV. Quiet time for mommy begins early Sat. morning. :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Eggs in Progress

Brown eggs this year. So far I've put on stickers, pink glitter letters, sparkly rhinestones on the butterfly wings. Now I'm getting ready to hit them with the embossing pen and powders. We shall see what the hot air gun does to these puppies.
By the way, I don't recommend presstype unless your cooked eggs are at room temperature. Every time I tried to burnish on the presstype, the egg would start perspiring. LOLOL!

The MOTH's contribution was this old fashioned looking lined wooden basket from Walgreen's. Good choice! Tea for Tia, bubbles for Nino, and tweetie bird for the inner child in both of them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Betcey in the Firelight

Oops. Did I forget to blog about Boulder? Uh-oh, and here Beadfest has come and gone since then... saw so many friends, and so many beads. Here's Betcey after dinner at La Fonda:

Some of my favorite new things were the permanent galvanized finishes, especially in charlottes, and of course in several sizes of Japanese beads. And the little peanut beads -- what fun! They are shaped like little dog bones -- fatter on the ends and skinnier in the middle -- so when you string them, they alternate the way they're stacked. There are big African beads like this. Forget what they're called. But these are very miniature. People were scooping up tubes and tubes of them.

I got a bunch of hot fix Swarovski rhinestones from Betcey and the heat gun to attached them with! So now I can be Ms. Ed Hardy and make my OWN $200 purses, yeah!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Venae Dancing

This is Venae dancing tonight for the first time since she broke her hip. Sorry 'bout the blurriness, I kept forgetting to stand still!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Speaking of Studios, Here's Sherri Haab

Oh! Oh! I'm editing this to include the link I meant to include when I first posted it...DUH!

A Room of One's Own (which lots of photos inside Sherri's Studio) at CrafterNews (by Crown Publishing).

There is this feeling of skepticism I get when I see pretty little pictures of pretty little studios and my inner cynic says "Yeah, right, how long did it take you to clean up for photo shoot?" (In my case, there may never BE a photoshoot.)

And were it not for her true confessions I might not have believed Sherri Haab either, with her clean white walls and simple trappings. But, I was convinced her studio is not a figment of my hopeful imagination or new set for a cable craft show when she talked about "studio creep" -- that thing that happens when your projects take over the rest of the house -- and being fueled by chocolate late at night.

In fact, I like it. I have learned to keep my workspace organized for over a year now, by decluttering daily and actually using my file cabinet. And having a good filing system. Maybe someday I too can have long blonde hair and a white walled studio? Surely, it's not too much to hope... sigh. Thank you, Sherri. :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Handy Mail Art Fonts

Dingbat fonts -- those wonderful typefaces made up of various themed symbols -- make my world go 'round. I love them as potent little terrariums of creativity. They take up so little space on the computer, but then WOW! you unlock them in Word or PowerPoint or your favorite image editing program, and out roll unlimited possibilities. They are scalable of course, either as you resize them in your type program, or subject them to whatever your image program can do, and colorable in so many ways.

I used to visit in search of pretty black and white dingbat fonts whose characters I could transfer onto polymer clay, and then color with pencils before baking. Lately I've been using Mail Art and postage themed fonts, which I play with, and then print onto vellum paper and transparencies for use in collage.

The little graphic above represents only a smidgeon of what's available in MailArt Graphics by K-Type, which contains an unusually abundant number of characters.

He also produced this just-right alphanumeric font for mail art lovers called Mailart Rubberstamp:

There are other rubber stamp fonts around but I like this one because it's not obviously doctored to be grungy but still has a hint of poor spacing. Plus I love small caps.
I doctored the two characters below with PaintShop Pro filters, but you could also print them onto faux parchment stock or copy them on a laser printer and then do tape transfers layered onto a collage surface. These are from (you guessed it) Postage Stamps by Dixie's Delight:

Hmmmm. Not sure whether barcode fonts would confuse the postmaster, but hey, it's worth a try! This one is called CIA Code 39 and the designer is not identified at dafont:


Monday, February 15, 2010

Howard McConeghey, Artful Master

On Satuday I interviewed artist and art therapist Howard McConeghey for a paper I'm writing. What a pleasure! I realized later it was almost 30 years ago that I took an Intro. to Art Therapy class with him. Oy! Howard will turn 90 years old in a couple of months, and he invited me to his birthday party!

Here's a photo from our interview spot, in a little window berth at Flying Star on Central Ave.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Studio Jealous All Over Again

Carol Strand-Siebers, the Sassy Art Goddess, has photos of her studio -- a converted bedroom looks like -- on her website, and on the one hand she gives me hope and on the other I want to swap bodies, or at least studios with her.

Sometimes I see people's studios in photos and I think to myself "Yeah, but you don't have the STUFF I've got." I can see that Carol's got the stuff and even probably a smaller room than me, and she's done it!

I like that one end of the table is against a mid-wall. I also like the wire baskets although here in dusty New Mexico that wouldn't work for long...

Check out her studio photos here:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic WT*&?@#???

Am I the only person who thought that techno show after the athletes walked in was the strangest thing they'd ever seen? Technologically adept, certainly, but odd, disjointed, and considering the amount of white people wore (yes, we know it was about snow), not very internationally appropriate (white is the color of death in many other places).

The people carrying the Olympic flag at the end reminded me of back-from-the-dead elders and Donald Sutherland's hair was just creepy -- they looked like pallbearers. And whose idea was it for KD Lang (awesome voice) to sing that particular Leonard Cohen song -- did anybody actually review the lyrics? (all I ever learned from love / was how to shoot at someone who outdrew me)

Sarah had to work last night so she Tivo'd the show -- she just texted me "Huh? Ice Totems?" Yeah. Which brings me to the other part. I loved watching (and hearing, when I could) the pow-wow dancers but some of that other indigenous stuff struck me as more than a tad exploitive. Maybe it's just me.

I guess if I want to see a tour de force of Western entertainment technology, I'll go see Avatar. The Olympics comes once in awhile and I thought the opening ceremonies were supposed to honor the possibility of coming together in the world. Watching the athletes come in was the best part. The rest of the show was just a very, very expensive mess.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Coming Soon: New Sequin Combos

I spent the past two weekends whippin' my inventory of vintage sequins into shape. (I found out I have over 50 different colors!) And that's not counting my secret stash or my newly-manufactured sequins. I take great pleasure in creating new sampler packs but it's been awhile since I took the time to make up some new batches. This time I'm including color coordinated seed beads and appropriately colored drawstring pouches. Coming soon to my Etsy supply shop. :-) As in, hopefully this weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cool Software Packaging

This software was packaged in its own lunchbox! Almost as cool
as my folding spork. :-)

Inside the lunchbox was come blue cushioning with a slot
for a nifty USB drive, and a folder containing the installation CDs.
(The jump drive contains tutorials.)

And the user license code was printed on this little credit-card.

Monday, January 4, 2010

South of the Border Etsy Treasury

red chile charms
Aww, Maria from sincerelybeaded included the little red chiles from my shop in her Mexican-inspired Etsy Treasury (which I cannot really include a photo of here cause I haven't installed my photo editing software on my computer yet...sorry!