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January 2010
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March 2010

MakeMemo craft party

Today we had two mother-daughter pairs come in and work at the craft table.  These MakeMemo boards are available for sale at the store, or you can make a reservation to come in and make one at the store (this is the craftivity for March).  Each pair took home one MakeMemo board.  The inside measures 12 x 12 so you get to slip a piece of scrapbook paper over a white magnetic board.  Magnets can be made using our button maker, and the bare wood frame is decorated with strips of various papers.. and the smell of Mod Podge fills the air...

Alice in Wonderland

Alice 001The book, I mean.  Although I am really looking forward to seeing the movie but I'm feeling a little defensive, I can tell - I was working on this series before I knew there was a movie coming out so I'm not so susceptible to movie trailer suggestions.  How did it all begin?  Someone I know has an Alice in Alice 002Wonderland collection so looking for things for her was the beginning of the recent history.  Someone else's art journal swap theme is Alice in Wonderland so that made me think more about imagery.  But that book was late in coming to me and I had more than enough ideas to fill several pages so I made an altered book, with text of my own and excerpts from the book.  I looked at each chapter heading and kind of wrote text from that, not exactly following the story but taking a slightly tangential and autobiographical trip.  I'm sure we all have people in our lives who remind us of the Red Queen.  And then I ended up converting that into a set of 2x2 books for the Bonefolders' Guild.  

Alice 004Alice 003We swap 2"x2" books every holiday party.  When I looked at my collection of 2x2 books, I realized that I was missing several artist friend works so I decided to make 6 editions of the book to swap with other people.  The structure is pretty simple - it's just a lot of pages that are 2x2, bound together with two rings.  I'm not much on structure.  But with all the pages, text and scrapbook, it ends up being really close to 2 x 2 x 2.  Cutting the paper was no problem, but putting the text in order and punching holes (x6) has been a bit of a task.   

DSC00161And now I'm utterly absorbed in the Alice world so naturally my thoughts turned once again to Alice when I was invited to participate in an exhibit in October.  The theme of the exhibit is "Writing on the Wall" and it seemed suitable to put my Alice text into collage on some wall pieces (using MDF board); a set of three panels, each 12" x 12" which will hang vertically at the show, but I kind of like the idea of them hanging horizontally.  I've spent most of the week painting the background: a layer of gesso, a layer of acrylic paint to divide the boards into quarters (one quarter for each chapter), a layer of paint with chapter numbers, a layer of my own hand-written text.  This is the "before" picture.  Mom likes it just as it is, but being me, I can't just stop here. 

Sat 002The next step is adding the collage elements, which I do now all with melted beeswax, per the techniques I learned from Claudine Hellmuth at Valley Ridge Art Studios.  What I love about that approach is that when (and in my case, it's "when," not "if") you take things that one step too far, you can just remelt the wax and take some pieces off.  I started with the panel that holds Chapters 9-12.  Last night I added more to that panel and worked on Chapters 5-8.  I'm pretty happy with Chapters 5-8 but I think I need some more work on 9-12.  Sat 003

more applique fun

Sat 004Sachi just started this sweet little project.  Because of Lily, we've started a collection of various Lily-of-the-Valley fabrics and others goodies.  She found a sweet little hankie and made it into a patch to sew onto a sweater for Lily.  It's a sweet present and a nice way to give new life to the kids' clothes, if they don't grow out of them before you have time to do it.

as promised


Pictures of what I've been up to lately at home.

1. collaging pieces of mostly orange and red magazine pages for the cardboard book in progress.  2. painted background for Alice in Wonderland series of panels.  3. cutting paper for magnet picture frames. 4. cutting paper and finishing up a series of 2x2 Alice in Wonderland books for swapping with fellow Bonefolders' Guild members.  DSC00157

photos coming soon, I promise

I got up early this morning and took pictures of some of my latest distractions: the Alice in Wonderland MDF series for an October exhibit, magnet picture frames (cutting paper at least), Alice 2x2s (yes, I'm obsessed, and this was BEFORE all the previews for the movie), the cardboard book from a Valley Ridge Workshop.  Then, I got a message from my camera that the memory card was full.  Eek!  Never had that happen before.  I probably should have removed all the California pictures when I first got back.  So, off to run an errand (getting paint for the back office... cross your fingers for me; it's some shade of red and I hope it's right) and then to my parents' house where the computer is.  I got the camera-computer transfer started but then it was time to go to work.  So, I'm sorry but you will have to wait for those pictures.  But the Alice in Wonderland paint/collage set is really coming along.  It's so satisfying when the reality goes somewhat according to plan.  Each night I put one layer down so it's kind of a process.  I have 3 MDF boards that are divided into quarters - one quarter for each chapter in the book for a total of 12.  One night I put down the gesso; the next night, I painted each quadrant a different color - shades of green and aqua and coral.  The night after that, I painted an oversize number for each chapter.  Last night, I wrote text in each of the numbers - this is all text that is my own, and also painted used Golden fine bronze.  I love that paint.  If you get it rather watery, it will start to separate into gold and green and you can get some really interesting mottled patterns.  So now the base coat is pretty much done and I think I'm ready to go on to the melted wax.  Wax and paint don't really mix so I have to make sure I'm done painting.  But I think I'm ready to add some collage elements, including excerpts from the book, and I can always add more color with crayons.  And, I know, it's not due 'til October, but it has been a fun project to work on.  I also poured a batch of resin last night.  I babied it and think it is ok for bubbles but the drops I touched this morning were still a little tacky.  That's only 12 hours and not enough time to set but it makes me a little nervous.  Wish me luck!  It's been so long since we've had a bad batch of resin that I was kind of blocking out this anxious feeling.  

Tonight I am getting together with a friend to work on art projects.  She is going to teach me about etching on metal (I'm hoping that works on Vintaj brass so I can add more options to the repertoire) and we are also going to work on the cardboard book.  I am mostly done with "planetarium aquarium," now to work on it's companion, "aquarium planetarium."  The first is colors of the ocean (aqua) with pictures of the planetarium and the second is colors of the night sky (purple) with pictures of the aquarium -- seeing the sky reflected in the sea, and vice versa.  And don't ask me which is which.  All the photos were taken during last year's trip to California - so it's only taking me about 2 years to finish up the plan.  The one which is mostly done will be on exhibit at the Overture Center later this year, just as soon as I figure out how to hang it.

Yesterday was a kind of pokey day.  We had lots of people "just looking," including people who were bemoaning the loss of other crafty stores, but not purchasing anything from us, and other people who were "just getting ideas."  I know, I know, that's what I want people to do, but when everyone is doing it, one of the Komai girls (we take turns) gets a little crabby and stressed out about the bank balance.  Yesterday was Sachi's turn. 

It didn't help that she had a project in mind but couldn't find all the pieces.  You know the deal, you put something somewhere "safe" and then you have no idea where it  could be.  I am starting to find in these situations that you have to look hard and everywhere, to the point that you get annoyed, and then you have to give up.  Usually, within a few hours of giving up, the solution just pops into your head.  Sure enough, after she went home, I started thinking that maybe part of my Valentine package was the part she was looking for.  Mystery solved.  So now Sachi has all the ingredients today to work on her project.  It's so nice to have new projects, isn't it?  She's making button picture frames using old bird book images.  They are going to look very cool.  Good for my Mother's Day bird window.  And yes, I will share pictures with you soon.

bursting at the seams, part 2


 Friday 002

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In other good news, many of our artists have been hard at work!  We've been restocked with items like the "dude seriously" onesie, always a popular present, and are also getting new items in.  We're loving Deandra's yo-yos.  She made them into pins and also embellished some shirts.  In fact, we're ALL about the embellished shirt nowadays.  Besides Deandra and Sachi sewing yo-yos on pretty much everything that sits still long enough, a recent trip to the thrift stores brought lots of shirts for embellishing with Heat n' Bond and various floral fabrics.  Navy & white stripes with red flowers are about my favorite.Friday3 001

Here in Wisconsin, we are getting to the long part of winter.  There is the occasional day that feels kind of springy (even the birds were singing this morning) but the reality is that you aren't supposed to take your flowering plants outside until after Mother's Day... and May still seems a long ways away.  So perhaps I'm getting a little desperate to see flowers; whatever the reason, I am loving all the different variations on a flowery theme. 

Kim in Manitowoc makes lovely floral pins with millinery flowers and other goodies.  Check out the fun use of an old measuring tape!  Michelle here in Madison is making some lovely resined flowers for rings and pins.  And Jenny here in Madison is making these great ceramic earrings inspired by Japanese floral patterns.  We are loving these bright flowers - they look great as rings and barrettes.  Meanwhile, Sachi continues to be busy making jewelry using a combination of Vintaj brass, sweet leaf and flower beads, some sea glass, some vintage buttons.  I sure do love to see what everyone makes!

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The Mother's Day window will have a bird theme of some sort, but I'm also looking forward to presenting a variety of such floral lovelies for your Mother's Day giving needs.

And don't worry, we're not forgetting the Dads.  Our hands-down favorites are these awesome ties from Jes in New York.  The octopus is still my favorite and I'm still hoping to see one of these in the wild.  I hear rumors of a hot pink octopus tie walking around in downtown Madison....

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kind of bursting at the seams

  Friday 004In a good way, of course.  If you haven't been in recently, there's a lot awaiting you.  Several customers have commented recently that it's pretty full, but there's so much that we love that it's hard to limit ourselves. 

First of all, things are starting to arrive from our buying trip to California.  These new arrivals will probably be spread out over the next month or so, but it is a nice treat in the cold of winter to be getting new goodies.  And lots of new ideas too!  There were many new book titles for us to bring home.  I'm into the idea of felting at the moment so I am especially excited about the book feltique

Sachi rightly accuses me of picking up a new vendor just so I can get a new fixture for the store.  But isn't this fun?  It's a photo/ephemera/artist trading card holder.  You can clip all sorts of goodies onto it.  This is from 7 Gypsies, who always has an amazing display; they filled these clips with various tags and envelopes and other goodies.  I think it would be a fun way to hold ephemera from a trip, especially a trip to PARIS!  What a lovely thought!  Or you could fill it with childhood mementos.

Other goodies include paper tape with fun designs, mini clothespins (finally!), scrap paper packs, journals,

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Secondly, we're getting a few goodies inspired by a late summer trip to Chicago last year.  I love this artists' photography and was excited to be able to get her Barbie dress prints and postcards for the shop.  She has some fun photographs of miniature furniture and those little ballerinas you put on top of cupcakes.  It has inspired me to think about some photographs of Sachi's collection of miniature desserts.  When we go away on shopping or buying trips, we often come up with a bunch of "possibles," which go at the back of the file cabinet, to be brought out when we are in need of something new.  Another one of these was a series of bird prints and magnets.  I'm gathering items for my Mother's Day window, but I also couldn't resist these magnets.  They are so hilarious!  I think my favorite is the owl who says, "Whom."

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that darn list

You'd think I could just put it out of my mind.  And, actually, I sort of did.  But last night, I returned from Chicago and was still well-caffeinated from the night drive home.  It's true sometimes that writing things down in a list gets them out of my head and enables me to fall asleep so that list isn't without value.  And I thought, well, never mind that other list of all the things there are to do that has been carried over since the beginning of this blog, I'll just focus on the list of things to do right now.  Hmm.  That wasn't so successful. The condensed version is: books for various Bonefolders' Guild exhibits, making merchandise for the store, organizing craftivities for the store, updating the blog, Blurb books. 

Well, put that way, it's really not so bad.  Too bad I didn't think about making a condensed version until just now.  Never mind that each item has about 10 subsections....  There are lots of fun things in there so it's not really like I can complain.  We are starting to get more merchandise in the store so I need to do some rearranging.  and dusting.  And people are starting to emerge from hiberation - the calendar is filling in with a variety of craft party reservations: photo snippets this weekend, the MakeMemo board next weekend, button bracelets the weekend after that.  And I also have lots of ideas for new projects floating around in my head, some for myself, some for the store (to sell and for the craft table). Meanwhile I've gotten distracted making collaged sleeves for some CD mixes that I made.  Play play play.  And what I really need to do is make magnet picture frames.  I need to clear off my coffee table for that project.  Oh, and a wedding present quilt for Kelly and Jon.

The birds are starting to sing a little bit so there's some glimmer of hope that winter is releasing its hold.  I'm still not going to wash my winter coat yet, even though it is getting grungy around the cuff and zipper.  Just FYI, what your Mother told you about buying a light-colored coat? She was right.  Don't do it.  I had Monday off and went to Chicago on Tuesday so that was a nice getaway.  Besides the exhibit that I went to, I managed to get to Greer (lovely store!) and Paper Source (my all-time favorite) which left me with even more ideas of projects to work on.  I'd really like to get photos of the possible craftivities and update our online menu so that is a work in progress, ditty the craft calendar for the rest of the year.  So many things to choose from!

I already sold two of the altered shirts that I made so I would like to head out to the thrift stores soon.  I'm obsessed with striped shirts.  I really like the cherry skirt that I made so I'd like to find some skirts at the thrift store to make up for the shop.  And we have a great new selection of origami paper. Sachi will be installing a window featuring the various Japanese goodies so I need to make some paper cranes for her.  And my head is filled with thoughts of paper flowers - it gets that way after every visit to Paper Source.  And what else?  The bookmaking guild that I belong to has several exhibits coming up this year so I need to get to work on an assortment of projects.  Oh, and I had an idea for a new series of photographs so I'd like to take some time and see if the reality can live up to the idea.  And before you know it, it will be May and Mother's Day and I have a variety of plans for a window.  And now I had better stop typing and start working or I will get nowhere on this darn list.

art and healing

Chicago 005Yesterday I drove to Chicago with Dad to see an exhibit at the International Museum of Surgical Sciences.  Now, you might not know this, but I am really squeamish.  I can only listen to conversations about dental work or medical procedures for a very short time.  So it wasn't exactly the best location for me to visit.  But an artist that I know, Carol Chase Bjerke, had an exhibit there which I was really wanting to see.   The exhibit ends on February 19th and already the weather had interfered with a scheduled visit and time was running out.  Thankfully the weather cooperated yesterday and we had a lovely, sunny drive.  After meandering around the city we found FREE parking on the street and walked to Lakeshore Drive.  They aren't lying when they call it the Windy City.  It seemed like no matter what direction we were walking, the wind was blowing into our faces.  Brr! 

The museum is in this grand old historic house, fabulous decor.  After Carol's art work, this is what I focused most of my attention upon:

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But that's just the window-dressing.  What is there to say, really?  As usual, Carol Chase Bjerke delivers a thoughtful and thought-provoking art which has beauty as well.  I think her website says it well: "Hidden Agenda is a large-scale multi-faceted art project about living with an ostomy. It openly addresses quality-of-life issues ranging from identity and privacy to the gritty specifics of management and self-care. This work is intense and poignant, yet tastefully, thoughtfully, and beautifully done. It conveys vast amounts of information and feelings, and provides a long-overdue vehicle for discussions about this crude and outdated medical procedure still used as state-of-art treatment for a variety of gastrointestinal diseases."

Hidden Agenda is encouraging because it gives a voice to so many people and it shows the power of art.  Being able to create is such a critical part of my own sanity that it is especially moving to see that even in such difficult circumstances, there is still voice and power and creation.  I continue to be in awe of Carol's ability to express a scary/sad/difficult aspect of life in art.  Thank you Carol!

is there anything better than shopping for fabric?

Chicago 001 It's been a little while since I had time (or permission) for such an outing, but on Monday I went by myself to Stitcher's Crossing.  Lately I've been going there with the adorable girl.  It's not so conducive to shopping that way, even though they have a nice little toy section set up.  It's good for saving money though.  But Monday I got to splurge.  I can tell I'm in the winter blahs kind of mood; I was desperate for florals.  

So I gathered this wonderful collection.  We'll have an altered shirt craftivity later on in the spring so you can bring in your own shirt and use heat n' bond and some of these lovelies to decorate your own shirts.  It's a great way to give a little new life to an old shirt or skirt (or revamp something from the thrift store).  Plus, I have to make more since two of the ones that were hanging out at the store have already been spoken for.  I really like the navy/white striped shirts combined with red/pink florals so I need to go back to the thrift stores and find more.  Not to mention that it is getting to be headband season.  Chicago 002And I am really happy with my cherry skirt and think I need to make some of those for the shop as well.  Wouldn't that be a nice skirt to have some of these pretty blooms?  I think Stitcher's Crossing is one of my all-time favorite fabric stores.  They have such a great collection - batiks, Kaffe Fasset, Amy Butler.  AND if it is knitting yarn you need, they can help you out too.  Now I just have to do another load of laundry and then iron these and they'll be ready for all your embellishing needs.