30 hours/3 days

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mmm.... I'm slowly coming back down to earth. I feel like I was totally absorbed and outside of myself and my usual life. Thanks, yet again, Valley Ridge Art Studio! I left early on Friday morning for the drive out to the west, enjoyed the colors of the changing leaves, and that sense of departure and transition as I left behind the chores and the shopgirl life for a brief moment. I even left behind my usually diligent record-keeping/photographing habits....  So, apologies, but I took NO pictures of the process!

We had three marvelous days with Michelle Ward as our instructor, Katherine was her usually wonderful hostess and we feasted at noon on meals provided by the Cook's Room. My classmates were inspiring on their own - that is one thing that I really love about in-person workshops as opposed to online learning; I get as much from seeing what other people do, seeing how we all start with similar supplies or techniques and then run in completely different directions. This was the last workshop at Valley Ridge in its current incarnation, though I already see workshops on the schedule and tempting art getaways as well so I have no doubt that the art and the inspiration and connection will go on.

Michelle led us through a series of exercises and shared so many techniques. The general idea was to take three pieces of paper and turn them into a book, using punched holes to guide us as the book developed. I really enjoyed making collages and trying to meet the challenge of remembering to consider what would show through the holes.

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In addition to circles, the general theme was moon & sun & stars so I spent quite a lot of time the week before gathering images and song lyrics, even making up little packets for my fellow classmates. Moon & stars might be my most favorite topic. I did decide that I might branch out from just blue and purple. The yellow/gray combination that is so prevalent has finally worn down my resistance to yellow so I also spent the week before mulling over colors, checking my Pinterest boards (on sunshine and grey sky days, nothing but blue skies, lavender and lemons), thinking about gold and silver, navy & plum.

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And even though it is pretty close to my usual, the addition of gold is new for me; I'm quite pleased with myself. Of course, it was fun to use the gold scraps that I brought from the shop (as well as those shared by my tablemate). I've always been more of a silver person, and was quite a stickler when I was younger, but I do love the warmth that it added.

Much of the workshop focused on the painting techniques but of course I had to jump into collaging, even if I only used a small fraction of the pieces that I had brought with me. And the very day that I came back to work, several other pieces arrived (tissue paper used for stuffing had interesting pathway/map markings on it, and constellation paper arrived from Italy. Maybe I'll have to make another book).

Vr 006I sure do love Golden's ultrafine bronze paint. And I used another dark grey that had some little grittiness from glitter mixed in. Michelle mentioned using metallics sparingly but I'm not sure I could comply with that.

Interestingly, someone commented that my collages are really full - that they are deep with lots of layers to look at, and I realized that pretty much describes my merchandising style as well. Regularly people tell me they have to go back over the store a couple times to make sure they see everything. Guess no one will ever accuse me of being too minimalist.

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On Friday I worked for about 12 hours, with a stop for lunch and dinner; and then ditto on Saturday (though, since dinner was a leisurely dining/celebration, the 12 hours took me closer to midnight). On Sunday I worked for another 6 hours. What a treat to be able to work on art and nothing else!
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As usual, I can't sustain a single project for that length of time so I brought other things to work on. I didn't work at all on the brass/enamel necklaces that I need to restock for the holidays, but I did get one step further along on my batik papers. Now I just need to iron the wax off. I'm still in the learning/experimenting phase, but I think I managed to create some pages that will stand on their own in a frame; there are others that will just be "scrap" and will work better as book pages. Every holiday the book arts group that I am a member of exchanges 2" x 2" books so I will be using some of these pages to stitch into small accordion books.

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And then I got home and started to think about moving on from where I'd left off (going to the thrift store to find an iron for the batik paper since mine fell off the ironing board and broked into lots of little pieces), momentarily forgetting all about my bed quilt which I need to finish up by Oct 22. Once I remembered that, it was back down to the basement sewing room. Mom helped me for a little while so I'm out of panic mode but still just on the edge. It's going to be a bit of a push to get this done. Today has been rainy at the shop and I'm glad I brought the squares to trim. Tomorrow I don't have to work late so I'll deal with the final seams, find/wash/iron/cut/sew borders and backing, it might be a late night on Friday and Saturday, too. And, yes, I realize I am not expanding my color palate much at all - but since my bedroom used to just be blue, adding purple and aqua and green IS an expansion.

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Valley Ridge: just back

I just returned from three days out at Valley Ridge Art Studio, learning from Mary Beth Shaw and Julie Snidle, as well as my inspiring classmates.  It is always such a treat to get away to Valley Ridge, of course, it doesn't hurt that a 3-day weekend is such a rarity to start with.  The drive out past Dodgeville helps me transition to an all-art, all-the-time weekend and the poor phone reception means I couldn't even be connected to the "real world" if I tried.

The workshop, Wax On/Wax Off, focused on various techniques using melted wax.  On the morning of the first day, we learned about batik paper.  This is something I've been wanting to try for ages.  The results I've seen are always so amazing.  The color is super intense and they make even simple pieces like shipping tags turn into wonderful pieces of art.

Valleyr 025Well, on their way to being art.  I honestly could have spent at least two of the days doing just batik paper.  Though the technique is simple, there is lots of room for elaborate designs.  I had spent weeks thinking about various shapes and designs and patterns and I barely scratched the surface in terms of exploration.  Clearly I will have to do more. Such papers can, of course, just be cut up and used in book pages and covers, or as parts of journals, but I'm also interested in trying some that are more stand-alone.

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Basically, you apply melted wax down onto the paper surface - everywhere you wax, the original paper will show through - this in itself can be interesting if you use patterned papers.  You can use a little tool that dispenses a line of wax like a pen, or you can use metal objects dipped in wax - things like copper pipe, spatulas, potato mashers.  Gives a whole new level to a trip to the thrift store.  Then you paint on some dyes.  The dyes are basic procion dyes which are used for fabric dyeing - the color is really lovely and intense.  I hardly even explored all the different colors there were to explore.  Then, if you like, more layers of wax, more painting.  By the end of the morning, I was just starting to explore more complex designs.  Since you are painting with dye, you can't get a really precise line, but even working with swathes of color (and bleeding between colors) allows for some interesting results.

Valleyr 022I particularly like the look of batiks using map paper as the base - the underlying lines show through faintly with the suggestion of landforms... Yeah, I could have spent a day just dyeing pieces of maps.  At the end of your dyeing and wax applying, you make sure it is all dry, and then you iron off all the wax.  And even though you think you know what you are doing as you go along, that moment of revealing the finished product always has a little surprise.  I had in mind some sort of design that suggested birch trees... I feel like there is some more work to be done to refine the design but I was happy with the way it turned out:

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The remainder of the workshop was spent learning about encaustic.  This is a process that I have wanted to learn about for a long time.  I do make collages with melted wax and I love the effect of wax, so I was curious to learn more about this process which also uses wax but which was clearly more involved than my simple approach.

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My head hurts.  That's what a friend and I say when we have so many ideas and inspiration whirling around up there.  And boy do I ever have that going on right now!

It was so great to really immerse myself in all the different techniques and to learn more about the process.  I ended up working on a total of five collages.  I think for me, I'm interested in encaustic because of the depth that you can add.  My collages tend to be really dense, but two-dimensional, and I was curious to see if using encaustic would allow me to seperate some layers from each other.  The collage, above, is....well, I guess it is done.  It is not nearly as full as I would like it to be, but I also don't see what/where I would add. 

I have two other collages which are not quite done.  I'm not quite sure what else I'm going to do with them, but I'm not quite satisfied.  The first piece used a bit of a picture that I copied from a friend's Facebook page.  She is in Prague and I LOVE the clock that they have there.  I used that, along with other circular elements.  I don't know if it needs one more color for a little diversity, or what exactly.  But I love all the different layers that you can introduce - painting down some colors in wax, covering them with a layer of wax, adding papers, covering them with more wax, adding transfers... (oh, and by the way, I found that transfers worked much better on wax than they usually work for me in acrylic/paper so that was nice).

Valleyr 016The clock/constellation piece is pretty close to done; I'm really not happy with the fairy piece though.  In my case, that basically means that I need to add MORE, even though other people would say it means that I've added too much...  There was a lovely paint/stencil layer at the bottom of this collage but there's not much left at this point.  You can draw with some waxy color crayons so I might just have to add a little line or something. Valleyr 017

I think this piece might be my favorite.  It has a map buried underneath and I love just the hint of that, as well as the combination of the turquoise with a little flash of red.


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And finally, a belated birthday/engagement present for a friend.  I used her save-the-date card - adding it to the collage and also basing the color palate on that.    I tried a lot of different techniques on this one and it has a lot of layers.  I love it.  I used some found text, some of my own photographs, cut outs from magazines and field guides, stencils, various tools to make marks, black and white photocopies for transfers...  So basically what is nice about encaustic is that I can add even MORE to my collages!

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I have this vague idea floating around of making some Madison encaustics for the shop.  First I will have to get some supplies...

I didn't realize

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I'm a little worried that I talk about my quiet & dark little cave retreat too often.  It's the same as my worry that you might misinterpet my shyness and introversion as aloofness and unfriendliness.  It's just that as an introvert working in retail, I do have my moments where I'd like to just lock the door and turn out the lights and be alone in my little space.  I think I'm still working out the tempo of my days, figuring out what work needs to be done, feeling pressure to work to make the business a success.  I'm not quite sure I have scheduled myself for enough quiet time.  Naturally, I am thankful for my customers and like everyone pretty well on an individual basis; collectively, being an introverted control freak and not knowing from minute to minute who will walk into the store does present a bit of a challenge for me.  I'm not complaining in the sense of needing to make changes; these are just the particular challengs that come for me as I pursue this path.  Being in the public setting has brought so much to my life that I wouldn't have had otherwise (had I stayed in my dark little cave).  I'll still pay the price of forced extroversion and a few disinterested time-killers to be able to share so much creative inspiration with so many.

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I return to a quotation I found on Pinterest:

"I'm not telling you it is going to be easy - I'm telling you it's going to be worth it" - Art Williams

That said, I truly did not realize how much I needed my weekend away at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  There were several moments where I got choked-up - something about the intensity of the experience, the depth of the caring that everyone exhibits, the slight exhaustion that comes from focusing on art projects for the whole day (and into the night).  

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I know I always heap praise upon Valley Ridge, but each time I go there, I find nothing to retract.  There were moments when I totally forgot what day it was, what time it was, even that I should have been tending the shop.  And to be able to lose oneself so completely in art-making, to know that someone would come and tell you when lunch was ready, that someone was there to troubleshoot when you got stuck, that someone was there to bounce ideas off of and share inspiration with, all of these things are very precious to the experience.  I've also been keenly aware of the ways that the workshops I've taken over the years have contributed to where I am as an artist - when I sit down to create, it's like all my teachers are standing there behind me (So I hope you'll forgive me for the name-dropping in this post, it's just that I do truly have these instructors in my head).

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And did I mention the setting? We spent some time on our second day, walking around the property and finding shapes to inspire us.  There was plenty to choose from.  The enforced break into nature and away from ordinary routine (strengthened by the fact that I camped there overnight), is yet another way that the experience is so unique.  I'm a city girl, no doubt about that, and as a result tend to forget to give myself time to rest and be in nature.

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For the introvert, Valley Ridge presents its own share of issues.  Ordinarily, I go to my little cave to create - sitting on the floor in my living room, working alone on a project while watching a movie.  There is something a little intimidating about making mistakes in a room full of fellow artists.  And yet, we are all there together, making our own mistakes and attempts, sharing our successes and our questions, as well as our creative inspiration.  This group aspect of a Valley Ridge workshop is a very valuable part of the whole experience - it is not just what you learn from the instructor, but what you learn from your fellow classmates.  And for the same reason I opened a brick & mortar shop, I think there is something you get from Valley Ridge that you can't get from an online workshop.  Online, you definitely don't get to see a dozen other people as they go through the creative process, nor eye, somewhat jealously, their workspaces & supplies & creations.

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This particular weekend, my classmates and I were fortunate to spend the days with Michelle Ward, working on collage and painting. Michelle is a great teacher, very warm and totally willing to share all the various tips and techniques she knows.  It was also great to see some of her work in person, after eyeing things in print and online.  Michelle was one of the artists in the True Colors book, which really got me started on the whole collage/art journal path.

I had some ideas in advance as far as themes for my collage, so that helped keep my focus.  We learned some different ways to get paint on the page, ways to create our own stencils, and many other techniques, but the workshop was also about infusing work with your own meaning, something which really speaks to me.  Even though I like the shortcuts of purchased stamps, stencils, paper and other elements, I am also finding that I am less and less interested in incorporating other people's work into my own artwork.  That is, the only way I can truly express what I want to say, is with my own artistic expression.  Duh, I know. 

Over the course of 3 days, we worked on three pieces of 11" x 14" watercolor paper.  When I first saw the three pages, I was a little disappointed, but then three pieces of paper turned into 6 sides, which turned into 12 pages, each of which will eventually have their own collage.  So, um, yeah, that was plenty.

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A lot of the focus in the workshop was on painting.  I still need to work a bit more on that end.  It seemed like everything that I did, while enjoyable and not half-bad to look at, didn't really stand on its own as a painting, so I pretty much converted everything to background, upon which I layered my collage pieces.  Still, I was quite pleased with my backgrounds (see above).  Some of them would have been lovely for wrapping paper or wallpaper.  Background, that is.  That said, when I took a workshop with Claudine Hellmuth, she talked a lot about the complexity of backgrounds and they way they add history to a piece.  Even if the viewer doesn't immediately know how much effort went into a background, they register, if only on a subconscious level, the complexity and history, and that adds to the piece in a way a wash of a single color wouldn't have.

Michelle talked a lot about adding layers of meaning to your own work but that is something that I've been going about in a somewhat backwards manner of late.  After my Juliana Coles workshop, I have been working more intuitively, trusting in whatever it was that caused me to pick up one collage element over another.  Maybe the meaning isn't immediately obvious, but I've found that it makes itself known - and usually the art goes together more easily this way, than if I start out with a meaning and try to find things to fit what I wanted.

So, my process.  Deandra up in Minnesota has got me thinking about terrariums.  That's about as far as I've gotten because I'm really not good with plants.  But she has reminded me that I love those little hens and chicks.  I decided that was going to be one of the main images that I'd work with so I searched on Pinterest in the weeks before the workshop, and also went to the library to check out some books.  All right, hens and chicks, it is.

But Michelle also told us that one of the themes we'd work with would be birds so we could bring some bird imagery to work with and share.  Now, just to be clear, I am not a chicken person so, no, I was not going down the chicken route with my hens and chicks theme.  Since I'm trying to incorporate more of my own imagery, and since I think collages are more interesting with people in them, my first collage with the bird theme included a picture of the adorable girl.  So, one page bird & girl.  Another page hens & chicks with kind of a party feeling... hmm, where am I going with this?  But when I woke up on the second morning, it suddenly hit me - it's a hen & chick party for my maternal line - which lets me keep the chandelier and the cake, the bird, the girl.  And add in a page about the guest list (the lineage), a page with a collage of my mom and her mom, a page with myself and one with my sister too!

I'm still working out some text and some imagery but I think I might actually complete this book by the end of the week.

COVER, started like this, playing around with positive/negative space, stencils that I made myself...

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ended up like this:

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First: setting the stage for the party. The cake.  The chandelier.  Layers of paint underneath include sequin waste printing, my carved stamp of a succulent, my cut stencils of succulent shapes.

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Second page: Mom, then & now.  The start of the maternal line.  Still needs work.  I used melted wax to adhere the various elements because I like the translucent effect, but the photo of Mom and Grandma kind of fades into the background too much.

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Third: The current end of the maternal line, little bird.  As an example of meaning coming in later, I used that fragment of paper tape "7  8" to attach the photo of the girl at the beach.  It looked rather lonely and random, until I added the rest of the number series and made a little rhyme: "1 2 what do you do" "3 4 on the shore" "5 6 pick up sticks (and stones and shells)" "7 8 don't make me wait."  The column of moons on the left margin also have text from the Owl and the Pussycat: "hand in hand on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon," calling up the party theme.

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Fourth: The guest list.  My mom actually has a rather complicated family (birth family, foster family, adopted family, half siblings all around).  Unfortunately I already waxed this page so my options for gluing and painting are limited.  In hindsight, I would have made that egg piece a pocket so I could tuck in a little blurb about my mom's story. As it is, I have only hinted at it with all the women's names on the eggs.

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Last: Me, and the colophon.

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Michelle is big on collecting the evidence of your work.  Sharing all those little pieces and scraps that you generate in the process.  You know, all those pieces that you allowed yourself to throw away at the end of the day?  Turns out that piece of newsprint that you paint on ends up with some interesting painting...  Anyway, my last page has tags with the evidence of my work: the sequin waste stencil, fragments of the attempts to carve my own stamp...
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I've been home for two days now.  Staying up late each night to add little finishing touches.  There's always that challenge of knowing when something is done and not going too far past that point.  We'll see how that works out this time.  I'm really close.  And starting to feel a little groggy from the late nights. 

got the blues, and that ain't bad

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My head hurts.  There are so many ideas swirling around in there.  It doesn't help that as I was taking things out of the trunk, the lid of the trunk fell back on top of my head.   But mostly I am totally preoccupied with plans for photographs and prints.  It was very hard to get up and go to work this morning - I opened my eyes to bright sun and my first thought was all the cyanotypes I could make.

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Oh what fun it is to have just returned from two lovely days at Valley Ridge Art Studio, my annual pilgrimage, art/spa retreat to hilly country.  As always, Kathy is a wonderful host, inviting you to share in the wonderful surroundings and pampering you with yummy lunches.

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Our instructor for the two days was Dean Ebben, an artist from New York City, who shared his alternative photo techniques.  We lucked out on Thursday because it was a hot and sunny day and our work with cyanotype went smoothly.  Friday was not so lucky since it was rainy for most of the day.  I didn't have much luck with the process on Friday, but there were other projects to work on.  I think I would have been totally wiped out if I had printed at the same pace two days in a row so it's really just fine that there was rain on the second day.Blues 010

I was pleased to be able to use a photograph that I took in France, people who had walked out when the tide was low for clamming.  Though it was kind of a mundane moment, in black and white, the image looked very mysterious.  I had a feeling it would be interesting to work with as a component in an art project but I wasn't sure exactly how.  I really like the way it looks with the dome of the constellations above it.  I didn't use nearly all the photographs that I had prepared, and I can already think of several more to pilfer from my albums.

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Besides using 3D objects set on top of the coated paper, I had brought along several of my own photographs - well, high-contrast, black & white transparencies of my photographs.  I copied some as positive images and some as negative images since I wasn't necessarily wedded to the idea of a positive final image (since the image gets reversed in printing you have to start out with negatives if you want a final positive image).  Turns out that I generally prefer a positive final image, and there are definitely some images that are much more successful one way than another.  I can tell I will need some practice figuring that all out.  Still, on a sunny day, it is a pretty easy and fast and inexpensive process, so I will have lots of opportunities to practice.

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Oh, and I also got to use the great transparencies that we have at the shop.  This one didn't rinse out so well, but this was made using the black lace transparency.  And I experimented with printing on book pages - still have to work on that a bit, but managed to get an impression of the adorable girl walking down the sidewalk with a branch in her hand.

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Dean had a great project for us - he provided paper so that we could make 11 prints to trade with our classmates!  So fun.  That's something I'm clearly missing out on, not being in the printmaking world.  I spent most of the first day just printing various photographs and textures, trying to figure out the composition of my print to share, exploring positive and negative images, learning what works better and what doesn't.  This is a copy of my final print.  It's not the best because it was printed between rain storms on Friday, but you can get an idea of the layout.  I added my own text by writing with black sharpie on acetate (a thought that kept me awake late into Thursday night.  I should have just gotten up and wrote the words down on a piece of paper).  If I wanted dark words for the final, I would have had to write them and then photocopy them as a reverse image, or scratch them out on a piece of blackened acetate perhaps.Blues 009


And then there was the other excitement, which was that you can print on any number of surfaces.  I'm mostly thinking about these images for pages in books and for art prints, but it can also be printed on FABRIC!  Here are two prints that I made on vintage hankies but I'm also thinking about printing some scarves for the store, and a skirt for myself.

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And the grand finale, snippets of blue skies!  I love how this turned out and will definitely be making more of these.  I like that it is possible to take a photograph one step further to make it into a print, and I like that this goes from a color photograph, to a black and white transparency, and then back to the blues of skies.  I'm definitely going to have to find more sky photographs with clouds... and could just print cloud and sky pictures, if I could manage to focus for a little bit.  Or not.

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book works

In addition to the crafty goings-on related to Anthology, I am a member of the Bonefolders' Guild here in Madison.  We are a group of people interested in the art and craft of bookmaking and I have found great inspiration from my fellow members.  This year is busy with several different exhibits.  We usually have something at the Wisconsin Book Festival and we have been invited to participate in another exhibit during the fall Gallery Night.  Additionally, we are preparing for an exhibit at the Overture Center.  The title of the exhibit is "Contained." 

I'm finishing up a book that I started last year at Valley Ridge Art Studio.  It's my annual treat and retreat and I was particularly inspired by Katie Kendrick who led workshop participants on a fun trip in the world of painting, collaging, sewing and bookmaking.  Katie is teaching once again at Valley Ridge this year and I highly recommend her workshops.  She is a great teacher who is eager and willing to share so much of her technique and artistry, and the book form itself is quite fun.  I'm not much for book structure so my book is a little saggy (because I didn't sew the binding very well), but the process of painting the pages was so much fun - Katie's approach is really quite freeing.

Here's how the book started out:Contained 003

Yep, that's right.  Cardboard.  Corrugated cardboard is what each page is made up of (the covers are two pieces glued together).  We cut, tore, painted, layered, and also put cheesecloth along the edges of the pages. 

I haven't really taken pictures along the way for this particular book (I started two books during the workshop: this one, planetarium aquarium, and a companion, aquarium planetarium.  Or is that the other way around?  One book is colors of the ocean (aqua/blue) and images of the sky, the other book is colors of the sky (purple/blue) and images of the ocean.  I know, these are fine lines that I'm drawing, but it was all about using the series of photos that I took on our California trip in 2009: pictures of the Long Beach aquarium and the seashore, and pictures of the Griffith Observatory).  Anyway, I don't really have pictures of the works in progress, but here are some pictures from the workshop.

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Since the workshop last year, I've been finishing up the pages of this book (planetarium aquarium - see the sky reflected in the seas, or, going to the aquarium to look at the stars).  The other book still has a ways to go.  I want to do some sewing on the pages as well as more collaging, and then there's the whole matter of the sewn binding, which I can fairly call my nemesis.  Anyway, these are some of the pages from the book.  I cut into the corrugated cardboard in shapes, mostly of the moon, and enjoyed painting the inner corrugation that was revealed.  That image of the house made with branches is from an earlier Valley Ridge workshop with Nina Bagley, who is coming back again this year to teach a similar workshop.  I highly recommend that one as well.  Anyway, during Katie's workshop, we painted both cardboard pages and watercolor paper pages in the workshop, and did some sewing.  Especially since I was working on two books at once, I ran out of time for a lot of the collaging - most of the collage and text (found from magazines) has been added since the workshop.

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And then, the final challenge, how to get this not-quite-structurally-sound book to hang on the wall at Overture?  Hmm.  After much deliberation, I found a wooden box from IKEA.  I'm doing some painting and collaging to get it to work with the book itself. This morning, I applied strips of papers to the outside, then tinted them with sparkling watercolors so the appearance is a little more cohesive (a trick learned in yet another Valley Ridge class - this one with Anne Bagby).  And, yes, I couldn't resist putting mica flakes for a little sparkle on the inside of the box.  I think there is still some painting, drilling, sewing left to do, but all in all, it seems like I'm well on my way to wrapping this particular project up. 

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changing seasons, catching up

Thursday 001Time is flying, or swinging?  But it's still October, right?  I think I've finally managed to catch my breath!  This summer was so crazy; I was so tired I was near tears for most of August, and it took me well into October to finally feel like I could face the holidays.   But now I'm ready.  I've been slacking a bit but Sachi declared that it's time for both of us to get ready for Christmas.  To that end, I have been very productive this last week: made butterfly button bracelets, scrabble tile necklaces, scrap paper packs, mini fabric button bracelets, glass square pendants, epoxy necklaces, Madison photo snippets. 

CupcakeI even made a cupcake costume for the adorable girl for Halloween.  I was inspired by the Pottery Barn catalog, but we found wide wale corduroy at the fabric store so I rigged up a litle cupcake bottom from that.  The top is a multi-layer felt cape of pink and red, with ric rac for trim.  There's a headband too with a cherry on top. 

We'll see if she actually wears that.

The leaves have been inspiring to look at; I do love the changing seasons here in Wisconsin, though it seems like autumn got real cold rather fast.  But at least that's an excuse to wear my striped hoodie from Charlie & Sarah with the camera silk screened on it. 

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Besides working on my list of projects, thinking about new projects (thanks to Valley Ridge Art Studio for the resin inspiration), placing Christmas orders with vendors and artists... Oh yeah, the Craftacular! 

Now, don't get me wrong, I am excited about the Craftacular.  I feel like it is a really important event to have and am committed to be a co-host, even if it leads to my being committed...  Let's just say it's like a full-time job all on its own, except that I'm not being paid and that's on top of the other full-time job that I'm doing.  On the whole, most artists are appreciative but of course everyone wants to make sure that they have a successful event so there are lots of questions to answer and some hands to hold.

Yesterday I was feeling very cranky and then suddenly I realized that aside from anything else, between the Craftacular, a 2x2 blurb book that I am editing and a collaborative art journal swap that I'm coordinating, I am working with over 100 people - trying to get them to reply to my emails, making sure information is correct and complete, trying to motivate without scolding or nagging...  That's a lot!  As I was stomping crabbily around yesterday I realized that I felt a lot like those New Zealand sheep dogs, trying to run like crazy to get the entire herd to move as directed.... all the more so when Ann pointed out to me that it is to be done without barking or biting.  Hmm.  What exactly is an introvert like me doing in this situation?  What was I thinking?!

And THEN, as if there wasn't enough already, we are entering into the countdown of the final days of my childhood home.  My parents will be moving next week so my apartment is a jumble of boxes that I had to take from my studio which was at their house, not to mention other odds n' ends from childhood... a box of old art projects, a box of school papers... There has to be some good art project for those.   There are emotions as well to pack up and move around but after one week of feeling overly emotional, I've been able to look forward to what lies ahead.  Having my sewing machine at my place has already been very handy, and my parents are clearly ready for a new location and a smaller house.  It's still very close compared to other people so the change is rather minimal.  I'm sure I will accidentally take the bus to their old house a few times (it's just two stops past my own bus stop).  I went with the adorable girl to see thier new house and she was already excited about the park that's around the corner. She informed me that Elmo lived in the yellow house across the park.  AND there was a dresser on the curb in front of the new house.  6 narrow drawers.. .. why, just last week I was commenting that I needed another dresser for the store!  Sweet!  I had to ride facing backwards in my brother-in-law's car, holding onto the dresser while we drove downtown, but I've already fit it into the store and filled up the drawers.  My sister says I am like water, able to expand to fill any space...  It is nice to have a little more storage space going into the holidays.  The store is really filling up!

I've been taking pictures around the old house.  Eventually they will be part of an altered book.  I have a book that is cut in the shape of a house so I'm planning to put in pictures and text. In all my spare time... So much had been packed up and really, so much about the house has changed since we moved in 20 years ago, it was tricky to find views that were quintessential to the house.  I think I need one or two more times around the house to get pictures; I think I've forgotten to take a picture of the bathroom floor, which is the same green tile as when we moved in.  Despite all the changes and the chaos of packing, I managed to get some really interesting/good photos so I think this is going to be a really lovely book.  Here's a picture from yesterday's rainy morning.

Thursday 003

Sachi's new resin works

Thursday 004Oooohh.....  Sachi just got back from a workshop with Susan Lenart Kazmer at Valley Ridge Art Studios...  SO much inspiration!  AND, Susan has this totally wonderful resin - not toxic, less bubbly... a big improvement over the resin we've been using for various projects.  And yes, it is more expensive, but if you knew how many pendants we had to throw away because of resin failures, you'd agree that the price is worth it to pay.  Sachi just finished up a new batch of her little necklaces using the resin; she's got some new designs and she's been busy adding beads and making them into necklaces today.  Thursday 005

We are anxiously awaiting a shipment to Anthology so you can buy some for yourself, and our minds are spinning with craftivity possibilities.  Sachi brushed the resin on pages from books and then cut them into circles to make into a pendant/ring/something or other.  It's really cool with book text, but I'm also thinking it could be nice with the floral papers that are arriving soon from Italy.  Hmm.  Ah, it's always so fun to have new projects to think about even though the list of other projects that I should be working on is long.  These are pictures of pieces that Sachi worked on in the workshop; she had lots of fun adding text and working with shells. I love them all together - could be interesting as a print... hmm.... Thursday 006