A Tale of Two Artists

Perhaps you’ve already met.

Just in case, allow me to introduce two of my favorite artists, Anne Lawson and Pauline King.

Sometimes you fall in love with an artist’s work, knowing little about the artist themselves. In this case I fell in love with the artists through blogging, then discovered their work.

Earlier this year, Anne shared one of her recent creations on Instagram: the gorgeous pumpkin you see below. It’s painted with watercolors, then over-stitched with a variety of threads. It’s stunning and it’s mine!  I framed the piece using a floating glass frame without a mat, so that I can enjoy the piece front and back.

I connected with Anne’s blog many years ago. She’s a botanical artist living in Australia, a retired teacher and a wonderful soul. I’ve enjoyed watching Anne’s work evolve. She’s always trying new things. As a life-long lover of botanical art, I’ve really enjoyed learning about Anne’s process.

Anne describes herself as “a Melbourne based artist, who is inspired by the natural world. [Her] small art works are available in [her] Etsy shop.”

Anne blogs at Anne Lawson Art. She also publishes a fortnightly newsletter which you can subscribe to here.

Here’s a photo of it framed and hanging on my home office/craft room wall.

Anne Lawson Art: Mixed Media Pumpkin

Pauline King dabbles in a number of mediums. She’s a painter, a crafter and a mixed-media artist. Those who follow Pauline are familiar with her gorgeous light catchers, personalized to the receiver with colored beads, glass and charms. They’re bouncing light in homes across the globe. You can see more of Pauline’s work in The Contented Crafter’s shop.

The beautiful and ethereal piece you see below came from Pauline’s heart.

She created it for my sister whom she’s never met, but of course has been hearing about for years. When Sharon received the piece, she exclaimed “it’s as if she knows me!”  Sharon loves Halloween, witches, cats and purple so you can imagine her delight when she opened it.

Since she was redoing her floors, Sharon asked me to hold this for safe keeping, and of course I happily obliged.  Today I picked it up from the frame shop and will return it to my sister this week.

Pauline King’s gift to my sister Sharon: The Wise Woman

Sharon originally wanted to frame it in black, but when she read Pauline’s blog and saw the piece on a white tray, she decided to frame it in white instead.

Sharon also decided to base this year’s Halloween costume on The Wise Woman. Stay tuned for pics.

Meanwhile, here is a lovely quote from George Sand:

The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.

Agreed!

Scrap Happy August

I’m joining Kate of Tall Tales from Chiconia  for another monthly scrap-happy blog post. The challenge is to use scraps from other projects to make something useful, beautiful or both. Several bloggers post once a month showcasing a project made entirely from scraps.

I’m sharing a couple of scrappy cards this month using a style I learned in a card-making class earlier this year. It’s called a z fold card because of the shape it makes when opened. The cards we made in class were too fussy for my taste, but I really liked the lines. Half the fun of learning something new, is coming home and making it in your own style.

The first card went to Anne who blogs at Anne Lawson Art. Anne is an amazing artist with a special love of feathers. She sells her work in her Etsy shop. If you aren’t already following Anne, go have a look around. Her work will take your breath away.

I started with a general idea, but Anne’s card evolved over time. Out of a pack of assorted paper I found a single page of white feathers on a gray background. Kismet! I had to set that one aside for Anne. Then I found a couple of feather ephemera in a box of scraps. I couldn’t believe my luck. I had a small scrap of paper with “friend” written in a variety of languages, and finally I had all I needed for Anne’s card.

feathered z-card

Feathers and friendships: A z-card for Anne

That said, you crafty types know that it’s not done till it’s done. The open card needed a little extra something. Knowing Anne’s love of nature, I decided to add a cut out of a nature scene from a book I brought home from Germany nearly thirty years ago. They published Holden’s Nature Notes posthumously in a book called The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. I loved the art and had hoped to brush up on my German at the time by reading the beautiful entries. All these years later, one of Holden’s pages made it in to Anne’s card.

feathered z card with holden art

Assorted scraps often make the best cards

A small strip of Washi tape and a bit of sparkle and the card was ready for the post.

opened feathered z card

The opened card forms a box

Thumbing through Edith Holden’s book inspired a second card. Her illustrations are gorgeous. I also love the old, parchment-colored paper. Time to take it off the shelf and give some of the pages a second life.

Edith Holden book cover

Edith Holden’s beautiful art

I used the same z-fold card format for my friend’s birthday card. Paper scraps formed the bottom of the card, while punched pages from my Holden book decorate the facade and the interior. I kept this design simple, letting the illustrations speak for themselves.

birthday z-card

A birthday card for a friend

opened z-card

Opened z-card

Edith Holden calendar page

One of Edith Holden’s calendar pages

Edith Holden illustrations

Edith Holden illustrations

Are you joining this month’s scrap-happy blog hop? Please post your link or comment below.

Thanks for inspiring us, Kate.

From Kate’s blog:

“ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? You can email Kate at the address on her Contact Me page. New members are welcome. No long-term commitment required. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.”

ScrapHappy March

Today I’m joining Kate at Tall Tales from Chiconia for her monthly scrap-happy blog post. The idea is to make something pretty using leftover scraps. Several bloggers post once a month showcasing a project using scraps of material leftover from quilting or other projects. I’ve been welcomed to post using paper scraps.

I’ve wanted to create cards using scraps for a while now. I think it’s fun and challenging creating with items you have on hand.

This first card incorporates some of my smallest paper scraps from a line by Graphic 45. Each square is approximately one inch (three centimeters), laid out in a three by four grid. I allowed space between the squares so I could score even lines for a bit of texture. I might try using my sewing machine on future cards as well.

My next card combines a variety of scraps from two paper lines. The colors worked well together. I fashioned it after some of the strip quilting I’ve seen in a variety of blogs. Call me crazy, but assembling these strips had great appeal. I’ll definitely do this again.

You may have seen the following card in my Valentine’s Day card post. I’m including it here, since it also uses scraps.

I used the lining from an envelope I received last year. It was too pretty to throw away, so I kept it knowing I could put it to use.

I made this last card using a sheet of scrapbooking paper left over from a project a year or two ago. I used one of my new dies to punch the word “thanks” out of the blue portion of the paper, then used adhesive dots to make it three-dimensional.

Have you made something entirely out of scraps lately? Please share your link in the comments section, below.

From Kate’s blog:

“ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? You can email Kate at the address on her  Contact Me page. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long-term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.”

Scrappy, Happy Valentines

Making and sending Valentines reminds me of my school days. The adult version of Valentine’s Day is a massive industry promoting over-priced roses, chocolates (though I wouldn’t say no) and other consumer goods. It’s more fun looking back fondly on a certain Valentine’s Day in grade 3.

Millbrae Elementary School, 1968

Millbrae Elementary School, Grade 3, 1968 I’m the only redhead in the class

Our teacher walked us into the cafeteria toward the end of the school day where we sat facing each other. She stood at the head of the row and handed out Valentines down the line from our fellow classmates. She called each name, and one by one passed the cards down the line. What fun! In those days, boys and girls gave everyone a Valentine. It was about sharing and caring, not romantic love. I adored that tradition.

I’ve had such a good time making Valentine’s Day cards this year as I reminiscence about that day in school so many years ago. Isn’t it funny what stays with you?

Valentines

Pretty pink paper from The Island

My card making goes something like this. I head to my favorite local paper store (The Island’s Creative Escape) and start crafting in my head. I plan and discard ideas, until inspiration strikes. Then I make my purchases and head home. Once home I start with the plan in my head, but quickly tire of the idea and move off into different directions.

Now that I have a handy-dandy, low-tech, die-cutting gadget called a Big Shot, I wanted to try some heart-shaped dies.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot die cutting machine

Lawn Fawn heart dies

Assorted Lawn Fawn heart dies

I bought two sets of heart dies, straight out of the box. They’re designed by a company called Lawn Fawn. The shipment had just arrived in the store but they let me grab a set before they put them out for display. They’re sold in a packet with three sizes. The ruffled edge is larger and meant to nest with the stitched-styled heart.

DIY Valentine's Day cards

Playing around with techniques including folder embossing, powder embossing, die cuts, and stick-on gems.

I came home with pink paper and the heart-shaped dies and proceeded to make all sorts of mistakes. I used the rubber stamp upside down. I double stamped an image rendering it useless, then I used the rubber stamp upside down (again), which made me utter, as I might have in grade 3: Oh brother! At this rate, no one would get a Valentine.

Eventually I hit my stride and started having fun. After initially using the supplies from The Island, I pulled out my red, pink and white scraps and punched a bunch of hearts. My friend Mary Ann gave me several paper sample booklets years ago, and I continue to put them to use. I tore out the samples in my preferred colors and die cut even more hearts.

I saved this beautiful, floral lining from a Papyrus greeting card last year. It was just the right size for the flip-it card. I’m not sure why I get such pleasure out of using scraps but I do.

envelope lining reused in card

Envelope lining reused in card

Here’s one more. I cut small strips from some of my tiniest scraps, then arranged them like a strip quilt. I’ve since used this technique on a few other cards. I’ll share them in a future post.

In addition to making cards for friends, I put together simple card-making kits for my Little Free Library.

Valentine's Day Card kit

I made the sign using scraps and a vintage playing card

A couple of weeks earlier, my sister Sharon gave me a packet of cellophane envelopes that she no longer wanted. They’re the perfect size for the card kits and they seal. Serendipity!

Card making kits for Valentine's Day

A dozen card kits, offered in our Little Free Library

I used the left-over paper and stickers to make a dozen card kits. It was fun watching them disappear one by one.  Someone else is enjoying card-making, too. A week or so later when I had a bit of spare time I put together another dozen kits. It was a terrific way to use my scraps, and fun to think of someone crafting their own Valentine from one of the kits. I’ll definitely offer them again next year.

Wishing you and your inner child a Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Halloween Cards: Chlorophyll Prints From My Garden (Part 2)

This is part 2 of my recent post about crafting from my garden.

I’m crafting Halloween cards from my garden this year using chlorophyll prints. Before harvesting the last of the pumpkin vines,  I made chlorophyll prints from the pumpkin’s leaves.

Pumpkin leaves have a rich, green, texture and that color and texture transferred beautifully on white card stock. I used my recently acquired Big Shot tool to make the impressions/prints. You can see the other card style in my recent post: Halloween Cards: Crafting from my Garden.  I blogged about my first attempts with chlorophyll prints in a post: Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints.

I found inspiration on Dawn’s blog late last year. You can have a look at her beautiful card creations at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes.

For this set of cards, I used the pumpkin leaf impression on the cover. I added a stamped pumpkin image and a few green leaves along with the stem.  Inside the card I used the chlorophyll print from the Nepeta once again, along with a pine-needle imprint for the small pumpkin.

I used craft envelopes for the smaller cards, adding a spider web detail to the flap. A few years ago, Tim Holtz came out with a stencil called Shatter. It makes the perfect spiderweb, don’t you think?

Blue ink worked well on the black envelopes, whereas silver ink showed better on the craft paper. Our post office is selling Disney Villain postage stamps this time of year. They’re the perfect finishing touch. Disneyland may call itself the “happiest place on earth”, but many of the movies I watched as a child scared me to my core.

But hey, it’s Halloween. Hopefully my cards don’t send a chill down anyone’s spine.

Note: I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but waited to share it in October. Since writing this light-hearted post, if feels like the wheels have come off the proverbial bus. I’m trying to regain some perspective. November is just around the corner. I hope it brings cooler weather and cleansing rains.

Northern California Fire Update:

Sonoma was the hardest hit county in this month’s wildfires with some 6,800 homes lost. Another 569 homes in Napa County were destroyed. The two wine country counties each lost at least 5 percent of their housing stock, according to estimates.

Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’s largest city, lost entire neighborhoods, including the suburb of Coffey Park and mobile home parks. The fires also left a path of destruction in Fountaingrove, a neighborhood known for its expensive homes.

Overall, the Northern California wildfires burned more than 245,000 acres, destroyed an estimated 8,700 structures and killed at least 42 people, according to Cal Fire. As of Wednesday, at least 16 people were still listed as missing in Santa Rosa. – Source CNBC

 

 

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Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

Transferring the image of a leaf to paper has been around for years. It’s only recently though, that I learned of a technique using a Big Shot, one of those crafting tools I’ve put off buying for years.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot

Dawn, who blogs at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes created these beautiful cards using the technique. Dawn’s post and her stunning cards were the impetus I needed. I bought a Big Shot so I could give the technique a try. I’m sharing the Big Shot tool with my sister, Sharon, who makes all of her own cards. We bought some fun dies for her to use for her holiday cards this year.

As Dawn says, this is a wonderful opportunity to combine two loves: gardening and paper crafts.

According to Wiki:

Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is any of several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants.[1] Its name is derived from the Greek words chloros (“green”) and  phyllon, (“leaf”).[2] Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light. – Wikipedia

The technique is simple. You sandwich a leaf or petal between a folded piece of paper, run it through the Big Shot, and the green pigment created by the chlorophyll transfers to the paper.  As Pauline King would say, I’m at the messy stage of this process. I’ve yet to make a single card, but not from lack of trying.

I gathered several scraps of paper from my stash to get started, including an old file folder, card stock, old-fashioned typewriter paper and vellum.

File folder leaf print

Paper: File Folder * Verdict: so-so

chlorophyll prints watercolor paper

Paper: Watercolor * Verdict: Nice most of the time but not for all plant material

velum paper chorophyll print

Paper: Velum * Verdict: It looks like a Rorschach Test

I quickly learned that all paper is not created equal. In the end it was a scrap of watercolor paper that worked the best. It absorbed some of the natural moisture and showed off the texture of the plant material to good effect.

My collection of leaves were a mixed bag as well. Some were so wet and juicy, that they produced images that were half leaf imprint, half splat. My prints are definitely not ready for prime time, but I am having fun.

I’m still trying to get a good imprint from my coleus leaves. They’re a beautiful mix of red and green and sometimes purple. They’re also heart-shaped. If I can manage to get the impressions just right without the extra moisture they’ll look terrific on a card.

My favorite imprints so far are the fern and the Nepeta.

This imprint is from my lacy fern, a plant I’ve carted around with me for nearly thirty years. It went from a small, seventy-nine cent plant on my nightstand, to owning a corner of our garden. I love it.

Chlorophyll transfer fern and sweet pea

Chlorophyll transfer of fern and sweet pea petal to watercolor paper

The Nepeta or cat nip also transferred well, and comically, retained some of its potency. Mouse the Cat hopped up on the desk and enjoyed the scent.

Nepeta catmint transfer print

Mouse Approved

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

I’ll keep experimenting and hope to eventually have some bona fide cards to share. I tossed the small samples, but gathered the rest of them into a sample booklet, held together with baker’s twine and a few strips of Washi tape.

Chlorophyll Samples

Chlorophyll Sample Booklet

Have you been working away at a technique for a while with mixed results? Let us know in the comments below.

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Lonely Crochet Hooks and a Gorgeous Tool Roll

I started teaching myself how to crochet earlier in the year as a way to relax. I follow quite a few crafty bloggers, and several of them excel at crochet. Was I missing out on all that fun? These clever crocheters seem to pick it up and put it down as casually as a grocery list. I’ll even venture to guess that a few of  you have a hook dancing in your lap as you read this.

I learned to sew at the age of six and our mom taught us the basics of knitting a few years later, but crocheting wasn’t part of her repertoire. I learned how to make a chain, and my skill set ended there.

It’s been slow going, but crocheting is as relaxing as I knew it would be, after I mastered a few knots.  The book-learning bores me to tears, but once I get the hang of a stitch, my shoulders drop and the soothing rhythm I craved takes over.

During a comment conversation on Tall Tales From Chiconia, I offered to send Kate a couple of large crochet hooks in a size she couldn’t find at home. Kate graciously offered to make me something in return.  I know she’s pleased to have a pair of plastic crochet hooks in sizes N and Q, but I’m over the moon at what she offered in return: this gorgeous, handcrafted tool roll in all my favorite colors!

 

 

As I cast my eyes on this lovely thing, I keep reminding myself that it’s a tool roll, not a museum for lonely crochet hooks.  The heat will pass, our busy kitten will mellow and I will sign up for a class to further my skills so that I can continue with this relaxing craft, turning out something I don’t mind bringing out into the light of day.

That said, and in the spirit of Jan’s garden post, here are the meager beginnings of what I hope to call craft one day.

 

 

Thank you once again, Kate, for this beautiful, thoughtful gift.

cat with yarn and crochet

Lindy likes my new hobby

cat in lap with crochet

Mouse is fine with the hobby, as long as he still fits in my lap.

Tessa in hands

Tessa insists that she’s my new hobby

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