Wednesday, April 30, 2008

COOKIE DAY AT STRAW MOUNTAIN

The urge to bake hit early this morning and would not be denied. I have adapted a basic raisin oatmeal recipe to include stuff I really like and some additional ingredients that are good for you. So, if you want to try a new recipe this is a good place to start (because of course there is chocolate involved).
Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Quaker oats
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chocolate chips
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

MORE SHOES THAT MAKE ME LAUGH

These shoes are thrift store finds that were either too plain or just too ugly. So, some paint, some magazine photos, some trim and some Mod Podge glue and they are fun and funky and make me laugh! I call these next ones "A Shoe of Hands" as they are covered with cutouts of hands from a fashion magazine.

THESE shoes were new white canvas shoes that really needed jazzed up! Yes, acrylic paints work just fine on canvas. I also used Tulip Pearl dimensional fabric paint to make the small dots that you see. So dear readers, have you started your fun shoes yet?? Get busy and send me photos to post here on my blog! Remember, matching shoes are NOT cool.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

THE "SISTER" DOLLS

Some time ago I decided to make some "sister" dolls as a gift for my Mother. I am the oldest of five girls. We live all over the country and it seems we never all get together. The birthday party next month will be just such an occasion!
To create these dolls I drew a template for the basic shape of the doll. Then I located five photographs of the sisters and printed them off on fabric sheets. ( my face is not here in the photo as it was already on a doll) If you look closely you will notice that the photos on either end of the row look remarkably similar. Yes, they are twins!
For continuity I manipulated them in my photo program to all be in sepia tones. They are pictures from our grade school days! I cut out fronts and backs for the dolls using the template and some assorted scraps of fabrics I had. These were machine stitched together around the edges using a satin stitch and leaving an opening in the bottom for stuffing with some polyester fiberfill. The bottom was hand stitched closed and then the fun began!
I collected on my work table an assortment of fabrics, trims, laces and old doilies as well as all my many jars of buttons and beads. I hand stitched the pieces on in pleasing designs and added lots of beads. The last step was to remove the paper backing from the photographs and carefully glue them to the dolls with Mod Podge. After the faces dried, I added head shawls made from dyed cheesecloth. This was a good way to disguise the odd head shapes and the backs of the heads.
From left to right we are: Judith Eileen (me), Carol Marie, Christine Margaret, Suzanne Elizabeth and Kathleen Nancy. This was a great project that allowed me some quiet time to reflect on each of my sisters as I created their dolls. We are all good friends and I miss them a lot.

Monday, April 28, 2008

FABRIC/PAPER COLLAGE

Yesterday I was reading one of my favorite blogs belonging to Frieda Oxenham, a wonderful quilt and mixed media artist from Scotland. You can visit her blog by using the link on my sidebar titled "Frieda Quilter". She has done some amazing pieces by adhering paper and ephemera directly to muslin fabric! You know I had to try that! All of my favorite things, fabric, paper and paint! I began by mixing a solution of Mod Podge decoupage glue with water, 1 part glue to 4 parts water. Using a large bristle brush I saturated the fabric and then started laying down interesting papers, pieces of fabric, tissue paper and pages torn from magazines and an old book. I also used torn pieces of paper towels that I had previously used to clean my brushes so they had some wonderful colors on them.

When the paper towel pieces are glued to the fabric, they make wonderful textured ridges! Brush the glue solution over all of these to hold them in place. I also tore some pieces of cheesecloth and glued that down. While the entire piece was still very wet, I took a medicine dropper and dropped Dye-na-Flow fabric paint in any white spaces that were still showing. This fabric paint is very thin and ran beautifully in the creases and spaces. After the entire piece was dry (which took way too long as I am NOT a patient person!) I put a small amount of acrylic paint on a sheet of glass and coated a small brayer. I rolled this paint very lightly over several parts of the piece. When the brayer hit the ridges of the paper towel pieces it coated just the tops of the ridges which made a dramatic effect on the whole piece. Yes, that is my first grade school photo of many years ago! I printed it off on fabric and drew doodles all over my face. I also used some red spray glitter in several places. (you really can't have too much glitter). So, of course I had to do a second one immediately! Here are some photos of both of them. I am not sure how I will use these but there are several possibilities. I can cut them to make ATC's (Artist Trading Cards) or postcards. I can use cut pieces in assemblages or journal covers or in altered books. I could also use parts of them in wall art quilts! The possibilities are endless.

Do you have any old fabric? Some old magazines? Some paper towels? Some tissue paper? Why not give this a try? It is fun to get messy with glue and paper and a real surprise when something beautiful appears right before your eyes!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

SEWING FROM A PATTERN....YIKES!

It has been many years since I have sewn from a pattern. And, by the way, when did those patterns get SO expensive! But, I wanted to sew a new outfit to wear to the gala 90th birthday party for my Mother in May. I bought a pattern (seen here), some fabric and a pair of really cool strappy sandals to match.
I managed to complete the skirt and top with only a little drama caused by having to remember the rules of sewing and actually following them. The past few years I have been creating clothing from thrift store finds and actually telling myself that shredded seams and loose threads really are cool. Which they are.
The most fun I had creating this party outfit was customizing a handbag to match! I picked up (for fifty cents) one of those really "tacky black vinyl" handbags that they shove onto a shelf on the back wall of the thrift store. I added some acrylic paints and now have the perfect bag to match the outfit! I must confess that "matching" is not what I am all about but decided the whole mainstream approach to the event was to honor my Mother.
Why not pick up one of those "tacky black vinyl" bags the next time you are crusing the thrift store aisles? A little paint and you will have a smashing new bag, a one of a kind original piece that will be the envy of your friends! Make it happen!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

TRY IT! IT REALLY IS FUN!

In preparation for our trip this summer, when we will be driving from New Mexico to Pennsylvania and then on to Florida, I have collected a large stack of books to "release" along the way. (of course, I probably should save a few to possibly barter for gasoline). If you are a member of Book Crossing then you understand what I am talking about. If you are not, there is a link to the web site right over there -------------> on the blog sidebar where you can read all about it.
As a Book Crossing member, you delight in taking books from your shelves, where they are doing NO good, and releasing them into the world so that others can enjoy them. It is a very easy process to record a book on the site where you then get a registration number to record on a label and stick to the inside first page of the book. Additional labels can be created to encourage people to pick up the book you have secretly left in a restaurant, on a park bench, on a store shelf, in a restroom, or any place where the public will find it. I have created labels that say "FREE" and "TAKE ME!".
Also, I put each book in a zip top bag so that it can be left outside. It is hoped that the person "catching" the book will access the Book Crossing site and journal where the book was found and where that person has released it again.
So dear readers, I challenge you to become a Book Crossing member. When your "released" book is "caught" and then released again, you will receive an e-mail when the book's new location is journaled. Go ahead. Play. Clean out your shelves to make way for new books. It just makes sense!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

DO YOUR SHOES MAKE YOU LAUGH?

If you are wearing brown, black or white shoes you aren't having any fun! Why not spice them up with some paint? All you need are a pair of shoes, a paint brush, a small piece of sea sponge, a Krylon gold leaf pen, and some artist's acrylic paint. I like to use Lumiere" by Jacquard but any kind will get the job done. I embellished these by simply brushing off the dust and sponging them with a pearl turquoise paint. Then, I drew random designs with the gold leaf pen and added dots along the edges with the other end of that paint brush. To have shoes that make you want to dance, be sure they do NOT match. Matching is just too uptight. And, while you are at it, make sure your socks don't match either!
Go grab a pair of shoes and have some fun! Don't let me down! If you send me a photo of your shoes, I will post them right here!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TENT CITY

On our way into town this morning we could smell the fire and we saw the fire fighter "tent city" situated on the Mountainair Activity Center grounds. We also saw a huge assortment of cardboard boxes full of supplies to support the fire fighting effort. The good news today is that the winds have become weaker. At last report, however, we have lost 4000 acres, 9 homes, 9 out buildings and 2 motor homes. How sad for these people. The fire continues to burn and is only 28% contained. We hope for continued calmer winds and maybe some rain to help out these brave fire fighters.

CALL FOR MAIL ART

This is a photo of the mail art I created in 2007 in response to the Call for Artwork from the Prison Library Project in Claremont, CA. They are again this year putting out the invitation to participate. All mail art is put on display at the Claremont Forum and funds are raised from the sale of these pieces through a silent auction. All sale proceeds go to the Prison Library Project which sends books to thousands of prisoners across the country. If you would like to participate in this call for artworks, you can read more about the project at www.claremontforum.org. All entries must be received by May 25, 2008. Postmarked 2008 Prison Library Project 112 Harvard #303 Clarement, CA 91711

Monday, April 21, 2008

FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN

Our Manzano Mountains have been burning since last Tuesday. We have lost over 3000 acres to this fire. Yesterday we saw giant plumes of smoke from our kitchen window brought on by single digit humidity and fierce winds sometimes gusting to 50 miles per hour. Our home is not in danger but the small villages of Manzano and Toreon have evacuated. Fire is the most feared of events here in New Mexico. It is the price we pay for warm dry temperatures and low humidity. Today we wish for rain and no wind.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

WELCOME TO MY STUDIO!

Maybe the best way to meet an artist is to see where she creates. Here are some photos of my studio...a wonderfully messy place full of color, fabrics, paints and brushes, books and art dolls, journals and yarn. Also you will see a loom that my Mother gave me. The best part of my studio is the wall of very tall south facing windows that welcomes the beautiful sunshine that is such a constant here in New Mexico. Every day I play here.....sometimes with a plan, often without. It is a place that gives me joy and serenity and peace.