Posted in Mixed Media

Where I create

Like many mixed media artists, my art room has a series of stations, each for a different purpose. This work bench is where I do my drawing, sketching, and frequently work on my altered book projects. This table is a slanted oak library table, which I found at an antique store that had obtained it from the University of Madison surplus store. The hanging system on the wall is great for getting “stuff” off of my work bench. They are the Bygel system from Ikea. The wooden box I use for storing my pens is actually a drawer from an antique sewing machine cabinet laid on it’s side. Marc & I love to go to antique stores and estate sales and I find so many sources for storage at these places. The office cabinet drawers are a great example of this. The cabinet on which they rest we got from a Habitat Restore. The painting on the wall was done by my Dad when I was a kid. It’s one of those oil on velvet paint by numbers paintings. I remember he was so proud when he did it. I often think of him when I create at my work bench. The dragon mobile I purchased on a trip to Spain a number of years ago near Barcelona. It always makes me smile.

Posted in Mixed Media

Experimenting with stencils

This weekend I was playing with some new stencils. First up are stencils from DecoArt by artist Andy Skinner. This one is called Alphabet Spaghetti and it is lovely. Here I’ve stenciled gesso on the page of a watercolor journal page and when dried, painted a lightly diluted wash of turquoise DecoArt Media acrylic paint using almost a dry brush technique.


Next I used a Stencil Girl stencil by Michelle Ward called Segments, again applying gesso over the stencil, then using DecoArt Media acrylic paint in Paynes Gray.


I really like the effect, and got the idea to try this after reading a blog post by Jessica Sporn. I’ve got a good start on these two journal pages now, having laid down an interesting base. I can’t wait to see how this evolves.

I started following the Mandala Workbook, as I had been watching the 100 Mandala Challenge. I say watching, because if counted, my mandalas number so far about seven, which is more like one a month rather than one a day! I am fascinated with mandalas and want to learn more about them. Although I’m a bit late to the online workshop, I’m jumping in now with the workbook.


I tried a new app today and I really like it. It’s called Storehouse and it’s really easy to use. It enables you to create a beautiful little story board in very little time. It’s a nice way to capture adventures, favorite things, techniques, pretty much anything. You can use short videos, photos, captions and quotes. It’s simple, but if you are creative, there are so many possibilities.

Here’s a link to my posting on Storehouse. Mind you, I’m not by any means a great photographer. I use my iPhone 5 almost exclusively. I stick to the basics. I like to capture something that’s going to inspire me later. Patterns, niches, a special moment that fades in an instant.

Posted in Disney, Sewing

New Year, New & Old Projects – Plus Disney Update

First, the Disney update.
We had a wonderful time in Walt Disney World in December. Our annual adventure is something we look forward to all year. Holiday time is our favorite time of year to visit as we enjoy the decorations around the parks and resorts.

The Swan & Dolphin Resort at dusk


The Polynesian Resort has a tropical holiday theme, including orchids!


The Grand Floridan has one of the most gorgeous trees, also one of biggest. They also have the gingerbread house.


EPCOT: The England Pavillon shows off a lot of happy poinsettias, not like the one at my house.


One of my goals this year is to finish some of the projects I started, but haven’t completed. Not all unfinished projects are worthy of the time to finish them, but that’s part of my process – evaluate the project for satisfaction once the project is completed.

The first project I’m tackling is a bag from Yoko Saito’s Bags for Everyday Use. I am a huge fan of Yoko’s work. I love to sew and have a small collection of Japanese taupe fabrics, some of which were designed by Yoko Saito. The most difficult part of making one of the bags in her books is selecting and then actually cutting the fabrics! The fabrics are so luscious, and the textures are fabulous. The thought of cutting them can be painful, but once I did, it felt better to move onto actually assembling the pieces. Last year I selected the materials and started planning out the bag. Well, it’s sat there on my sewing table ever since. In the past couple of weeks, I cut out the pattern pieces, ordered the hardware and found some vintage (unused) seat belt material that will work great as a strap. Both the hardware and seat belt material were purchased on Etsy. Etsy is my go-to place to locate material or supplies I can’t readily locate locally.


The stippling on the back of the bag is pretty simple. I wanted to keep the over all feel of the fabric.


I made a couple of changes to the bag pattern, adding a zipper to the main compartment of the bag, and a cell phone sized pocket in the outer front pocket. I think that this bag will be perfect when I’m on the go, and want to bring my iPad Air, my art notebook and some Micron pens along.



Another goal this year is to post a few videos in my blog posts. I often find myself searching for simple techniques online and when I can’t find what I’m looking for I find it most frustrating. I like to see how to do it before I try it. I’m a visual person. I find it difficult to read directions and make it happen. I hope by posting these videos you’ll learn something too. If you do, let me know if it helped you.

Posted in Sewing

My love of fabric

I admit it, I’m obsessed with fabric. It’s always been there, some of my earliest memories revolve around the texture and color of fabric. Blankets and bedding at my grandmother’s house when visiting her every year. The most scratchy lining of a dress I was dressed in around the age of three. After graduating from college, I had a bucket list of things I wanted to learn and experience, one of which was to learn how to quilt.

It wasn’t the first time I had sewn. Way back in home ec class in high school I got to experience sewing for the first time. I made a quilt (sorry, no picture exists), but it was very basic and because it was in 1976, the fabric was red, white, and blue with Stars and Stripes! I like to think now that I was channeling my inner-DAR. I used it on my bed for a couple of years. Lord knows what happened to it after that. But I also made a skirt. Yes, just like now, maxi skirts were the bomb and this one was my first maxi skirt. I didn’t have access to a sewing machine at home growing up so the only way I got my fix was to sew on one of the sewing machines in the home ec classroom. The teacher would let me come in there when there wasn’t a class so I could sew. Bless her heart.

The funny thing is that I haven’t made another skirt since then. I may love to sew, but I am not a semstress. I have no patience for patterns and following instructions. For me, its all about creating my own designs. Because the time I have available to create is limited, I must keep my projects short and sweet. I have made jackets, purses, and even a draped sleeve top modeled after one worn by Queen guitarist, Brian May (again, back in high school). That was for an art project in high school. It was not embroidered, but painted instead. Not sure whatever happened to that top, but it was fun to wear to concerts.

The first thing I had to do after college was to get a sewing machine. I started with a ’37 Singer that I got at an estate sale.

I was very excited to get, the family that sold it to me gave me a great deal

as they were happy to see it go to a new owner so pleased to receive it and it still sews beautifully. But only does a straight stitch, so I was yearning for a modern machine. Along came my first Bernina, a base model, but the itch to sew was getting stronger. About a year later I traded it in for my current Bernina, an Artista 170. Not top of the line for its day, but the next best thing and it has served me well all of these years. Since then I got a Pfaff serger, but did not like it at all. Try as I might I couldn’t get the tension right. Luckily I found a new home for it at the same price I purchased it. Along the way I’ve rescued a few antique and vintage sewing machines from estate sales as well. The charm of the antique machines is their beauty. They were works of art in many aspects – capturing the obsession of the era they represent.


My newest acquisition in the realm of sewing machines is this Emdeko, made in Japan most likely late 50’s, early 60’s. This vintage machine is the real thing retro! It came with the instructions and all of the original parts, neatly tucked away in the case. The best thing is that operates so similarly to my Bernina. And it sews like a dream.

My husband gave it a tune up and oiled it, so it will sew for years to come. It is built like a tank and as heavy as a mini one. This is not a machine you’d want to haul to a retreat, but it makes a great primary machine on a limited budget or the perfect back up machine. I keep mine set up on the dining table for those last minute projects. It is portable enough to tuck away in the closet when company comes over.

My sites are now turned onto Japanese Taupes. I’ve dabbled in them before. Sure, I experienced the Zakko! phenomenon within the past couple of years. I’ve squirreled away my fair share of linen whenever and wherever I found it. I was fortunate enough to find some descent sized remenant pieces on clearance at JoAnne fabrics and even found some yardage (in black) at a local church thrift store. Then there’s the Japanese Taupes. What is it about them that appeal to me so? I think it is the subtlety of them that makes them adorable. Its just a tease of color that makes them so lovely.

My latest obsession has been the books by Yoko Saito.

I so love Yoko’s work and the books are such an inspiration.

Posted in Altered books

Exciting times

A little bit of trivia about me: I am a member of DAR. For those of you not familiar with DAR, you can learn more on their web site at: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that many of my ancestors were Rebels back in the Revolutionary War times, although I must admit to having found one Loyalist in the bunch so far. 

Sometime ago I posted about a Victorian photo album that I was deconstructing – well I am pleased to be able to show you the end result below. I also posted about the process here, and here. I entered this altered book into the NSDAR’s American Heritage Contest and I won 1st place in the Paper Crafts category. This week I will be traveling to Washington DC to go to Continental Congress to receive a certificate from the President General. 




The altered book itself is made from many recycled materials, including Tyvek envelopes, cardboard, fabric, and bits & pieces from various sources. Most materials have been painted and stitched, and some were melted or burned. I always include shells in my projects. I just love shells! Being that this was a photo album, photo transfers are including inside. Some on fabric, others on medium gel skin. This piece also includes beading, metalwork, and other embellishments.

I am working on some smaller altered book projects and hope to offer some for sale in my Etsy shop soon. 


Posted in Altered books, Treasure finds

Another album

I came across another antique Victorian photo album today. The cover is so gorgeous. I can only imagine how beautiful it was 100 years ago…


The inside is rough, but it has good bones. Its such a shame that the photos were ripped from the safety of this album. The paper is usually so brittle that the act of trying to remove the photos shreds the pages, like you see here.