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!

When Spider Webs Catch The Light and Friends Make a Fuss

A wonderful package arrived shortly before my birthday, all the way from New Zealand. Pauline of the Contented Crafter says it’s been in the making for a while.

paulines-gift-box

Beautiful package

She decorated the box with her own customized decorative tape which you can read more about here. Isn’t it cool? She created the art for the postcard as well using postage stamps from my dad’s collection. The original hangs on my wall. It’s quite special.

Now look at what she tucked inside:

pauline-king-spider-web

An enchanting spider web light catcher

This isn’t any old spider web. It’s a hand-crafted, bead-encrusted, gem of a birthday/Halloween gift from Pauline. I love it!

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Faceted glass spider

My special spider web arrived with an impressively sized, faceted spider with its own hook (but no fangs). You can move her around the web, then watch it catch the light.

center-of-web

In the center of the web

Guess what else was in the box? A Halloween-themed light catcher. The charms include spiders, witches hats, cats and brooms.  Did I mention the pumpkins? There are several of those too.

The reflective nature of the faceted glass makes it difficult to photograph, so I took some video as well. It will give you an idea of the light and movement.

Mike installed hooks in the nook above the sink so I could hang the web near the light. Interestingly, the web is just as beautiful at night. The lower light mutes some of the colors, while the facets shine.

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Halloween-themed light catcher hanging in the kitchen window (Mouse the Cat looks on) Thank you, Pauline

 

Gathering friends with the years

birthday-and-sympathy-cards

The stunning sunflowers are a gift from Laurie, surrounded by birthday cards and condolences on losing Slinky. The sunflower painting was a gift from Kelly last year.

My mother never liked a fuss on her birthday, so I grew up following suit. A few close friends sent greetings through the mail or by phone which I loved, but I otherwise kept my birthday a secret.

I’ve come to realize that I like a bit of a fuss. Not a loud, brash, in your face fuss, but the warm greetings that arrive by post. I love receiving cards in the mail. Happy birthday wishes via Facebook and blogging are a delight as well. I  smile at the beautifully animated e-cards and the thoughtful friends who send them. My friend Carrielin calls me on my birthday every year and has since we were in college. Each greeting is a reminder of the richness of friends and family, relationships that have grown and deepened with the passing years. I feel loved beyond measure.

Thank you all for making a fuss.

pumpkin-with-paulines-spider

Did I mention the second spider?

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The Making of The Miniature Little Free Library

mac approved mini little free library

Photo shoot in the fairy garden before mailing the LFL

This is a follow on post to It’s the Little Things (Even Libraries) published last week. You can catch up with part one here.

It took me years to realize that everyone creates differently. I admire designers that can sketch an idea, and then make it come to life. I tend to work in reverse. Ideas rattle around in my head where they’re examined and discarded. These ideas simmer in my brain before a usable plan comes together.

My first fairy garden miniature library started with a small box. I thought I would do the same with this one, but none of the boxes in my stash seemed right. I visited a craft store, put a couple of items in my cart, then put them all back. Eventually I left the store with a small container of blue paint and a receipt for seventy-five cents.

Back home, using a photo of Carrie’s library as a guide, I cut pieces from a thin piece of cardboard. I wanted the library to have a working door, so I cut a small rectangle in the body of the library. I cut a cardboard frame for the door, and backed it with clear packaging from a packet of batteries.

Carries library with miniature

Carrie’s full-sized library on the left, the miniature version on the right

mini little free library construction

Constructing the miniature library

It took three coats of paint to cover the glossy white cardboard, but after two days the color looked even.

If I had it to do over again, I would install the door first, and then assemble the library. It would have been handy to have fairy-sized hands that day. I persevered.

After taping the plastic to the door, I glued a tiny hinge in place. On the library itself, I poked two small holes into the opening, then used tiny brads to hold the hinge in place.

mini little free library door hardware

Door hardware

On the opposite side of the door I attached a “doodad” from my stash, holding that in place with another brad. This allows the door to open and close.

mini little free library open door

Miniature LFL with a working door

Since the opening is small, I made a removable roof so adding books is a breeze.

Carrie’s library sits on a wooden post surrounded by a circle of stones. To replicate the look, I used a cinnamon stick, a small metal lid and a handful of pebbles from my fairy garden stash. I hot-glued the cinnamon stick to the inside of the lid, and then glued rocks into and around it. This gives it weight and stability. I downloaded a copy of Carrie’s library, and photo-copy reduced the two signs to scale. Then I headed to the kitchen, tore off a corner of a box of cat food cans, and used the cardboard to mount the signs.

mini little free library take a book sign

Miniature library stand made from a cinnamon stick, a candle lid, pebbles and hot glue

Then on to the books. Again, lots of ideas tried and discarded before I came up with a plan. I used the binding from a couple of paper sample books passed on to me years ago. I cut through all the layers of the sample booklets, and then cut sections down to size.

mini little free library book making supplies

Sourcing supplies for the miniature books. Upper left, clockwise: sample books used for structure, book covers made from a recycled Humane Society calendar, one of my dad’s vintage stamps, floral Washi tape, Graphic 45 printed paper

Each tiny book has a unique cover with a small story to go with it. (The actual books are blank inside, so you have to use your imagination.)

I wrote a six-word story to go with each book, something meaningful to me or to Carrie. Here they are:

Trust, betrayed. Rescued dog’s love, restored.

Flowers. Achingly beautiful. Harbingers of spring.

Magic. How we see the world.

Wanted child. Your new family awaits.

The Wonderland of Alys in miniature.**

Daddy’s stamps lovingly travel the world.

Dragon Folklore. Escape inside a book.

mini little free library collage

Can you match the books with the six-word stories?

**The Wonderland of Alys is a collage art piece by Pauline King, a friend and fellow blogger. The original hangs in our home. The tiny replica of this piece is a sticker, sent to me at Christmas by Julia of Defeat Despair. I couldn’t resist turning one of those art stickers in to a tiny, make-believe book.

Pauline King art the wonderland of alys

Catching the Light, Sharing the Love

Given the time, I could write an entire book on my extraordinary trip to Virginia and D.C. earlier this year. One of many highlights included the unveiling of the light catchers, intricately hand-crafted and lovingly presented by Pauline King. On our flight home, Pauline offered to make one for my sister Sharon and within weeks it arrived at my door.

Here’s Sharon’s reaction when she opened the gift:

It’s difficult to convey how special these are. Pauline describes her process in a recent post found here. When writing about Sharon’s light catcher, Pauline says:

I have made my light-catchers for a few years now – rather sporadically, as I enjoy making them especially for someone. They are my gift of good wishes, good fortune and a bit of magic woven into beads and charms and crystals for someone special. I like to think of the person I am creating for, then I choose colours and shapes and crystals and charms especially for them. Then it all just weaves itself together.

sharon's light catcher pauline king

Like most artists, Pauline is far too modest. She weaves a special charm into each one using glass, crystal, semi-precious gemstones, beads and the most delightful charms you’ve ever seen.

The enclosed card says “the charms have been especially chosen for you and represent the following”

Teddy Bear: for the child within, may there always be cuddles.

Boot: for fashion and style!

Music Notes: May there always be music in your life.

Jigsaw Puzzle: for when you need the last bit of the puzzle.

Ballerina: to remind you when the body can’t dance, the spirit can!

Cat in the Moon: to remind you of the magic and mystery of both.

Babushka Doll: we all have hidden layers…..

The Witch, the Skeleton and the Spider: for your love of Halloween.

Book: for the places your imagination can go.

Purse: may there always be enough.

Pentagram: may you always be protected.

Fairy: may you always see the magic.

Sharon has tall ceilings in her home, so I’m enlisting Mike’s help so we can hang it in the perfect place.  After one foolish mishap, I count my lucky stars and no longer climb up a ladder alone.

The following bloggers enjoy catching the light:

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

Sleeping Fairy Baby

Sleeping Fairy Baby

There’s nothing extraordinary about gathering around the table on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you’re eating a slice of toast or reheating your tea. It’s a cool, early spring day.

But this isn’t just any old Sunday. Gathered around the table is a group of women who’ve met through blogging. We’ve formed enduring friendships across the miles that allow us to sit comfortably in our pajamas, talking and laughing and sharing gifts. It feels as though we’ve known each other for a lifetime.

Aristotle said that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s how I felt the entire trip. Our shared energy and enthusiasm for each others lives was palpable. The ordinary seemed extraordinary.

On that same Sunday afternoon, Pauline who blogs at the Contented Crafter presented each of us with a hand-crafted, personalized glass and bead dangler. We were all ‘in the moment’ and didn’t stop of course to capture her words, but now I wish we had. Pauline gathered crystals, beads and charms then infused them with one-of-a-kind reflections of each of us. It was moving hearing her thoughts as she shared each one.

Once home, it was tricky photographing the full length of this charmer without sacrificing the detail. Instead, I’ve photographed it in sections, so you can see the charms up close. I took pictures of the dangler in my garden to maximize light, but when not on a photo shoot, it hangs in my living room window. It’s 22 inches (55cm) long.

Pauline captured my love of fairy gardening at the top. There is also a fairy baby since I enjoy nurturing the small children next door. The teapot represents sustenance (and also happens to be my beverage of choice). There’s a small clock in honor of my passion for organizing and a tiny book, celebrating our Little Free Library. There’s a cat of course, sitting on the moon. Isn’t it just like a cat to make itself at home anywhere?

There are two separate hearts, entwined to show our friendship and a third heart that says ‘Made With Love.’

I’ll say!!!

Pauline enriched the rest of the dangler with gorgeous stone, glass and crystal beads.

Here it is:

section one

Garden fairy, clock book

section two

Crystal beads in warm browns and purple hues, tea-pot and butterfly, cat on the moon

section three

Two hearts = friendship

section four

Beads, hearts and crystals

section five

Bottom half of fairy baby, butterfly and beads

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Part of a long strand of gorgeous beads and silver fixings

section six

Crystal globe

We’re all back home now continuing with our lives, but changed profoundly by the experience. When I see the dangler reflecting the light, I’m reminded that what makes ordinary, extraordinary is friends.

Re-framing: Thoughts and Pictures

You can re-frame your thoughts and you can re-frame a picture. I’ve done a little of both.

Thoughts, Re-Framed

Last August, on the anniversary of my father’s death, I was finally able to re-frame my feelings about his stamp collection. I once viewed his stamp albums as a life interrupted. They reminded me of my loss instead of the joyful hours he spent pursuing this hobby. The stamp albums sat in a cupboard, revered. Now I see them as a gift to be shared, and as a way to celebrate my father’s kind and curious nature. I hosted a blog giveaway, and sent many of Dad’s stamps to friends and acquaintances around the world. It was an extraordinary exercise in letting go. If you would like to read the post in its entirety, you’ll find it here: Vintage Postage: A Daughter’s Love Letter and a Blogging Giveaway.

You’ll never guess what happened next? A handful of those stamps flew all the way back from New Zealand, but not for insufficient postage. This time they we’re intricately woven into a multi-layered, lovingly detailed mixed-media original by Pauline King. She named it The Wonderland of Alys. I wish you could see it in person.

Pauline King mixed media stamps

Can you spot all the stamps? Take a close look. (Copyright Pauline King)

Pauline King's Wonderland of Alys-004

The Wonderland of Alys floats in her frame (Copyright Pauline King)

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The Wonderland of Alys (original mixed media) Butterfly Sprite (art print) (Copyright Pauline King)

Pauline King's Wonderland of Alys

The Long View: Both pieces hang together in the dining area. (Copyright Pauline King)

Re-Framing Art

Early last year Pauline hosted her own giveaway and guess who won? Can you believe my luck? I chose this beautiful art print of the Butterfly Sprite.  I headed straight to the framers, picked out a standard frame and ordered custom mats to go with it. I loved looking at her smiling from the wall, but the white frame was never quite right. Once I had the second piece framed I knew what I had to do. Both pieces are now framed on a silk background with a dark frame. The Wonderland piece ‘floats’ on a piece of whisper-thin acrylic so that you can see right up to the edges.

Table Top Mosaic

Can you guess what I did with the rest of the stamps? Please pop on over tomorrow for the ‘reveal’. Here’s a little teaser until then:

postage stamp table project-007

Blogging 101: Colors and Headers

Today’s Blogging 101 assignment has us exploring new headers, backgrounds and colors. I’m pleased with my current choices, so plan to keep the current greenery in place.

Getting My Groove Back

I had my groove a few weeks ago but it seems to have gone on a walkabout. Have you seen it?

With the holidays over, it felt good putting our decorations away and tidying up. My husband feels a bit melancholy when they’re over, whereas I’m ready to move on. We strike a balance. I’m trying to find my post-holiday groove. A couple of things remain: a beautiful Christmas bunting and my holiday card selfie.

Christmas bunting

Beautiful Christmas bunting, hand-crocheted and mailed all the way from Australia Thank you, Dani!

My selfie of cards

My cards are still hanging out with my Selfie

Once the boys were back in school and Mike back to work, I embarked on a full-house overhaul. Though I organize for a living, things manage to creep in when I turn my back. I’ve decided to keep a tally this year of everything that comes through the front door unless it’s perishable (plants and flowers) or edible. Even though Mouse-the-Cat thinks that rats are edible, they didn’t make it to my list.

I emptied the book shelf in our living room, put back the essentials and took the rest of the books to a nearby Little Free Library. Our LFL is currently full and enjoying a robust ‘business’ on a daily basis. Once I cleared the shelves, I stacked my favorite gardening books, part practical, part sentimental, on one of the shelves. Now I had room for a  new piece of art. I’ll write more about that in another post.

cherished garden books

Cherished garden books

I emptied the drawer near my laundry room of random bits and bobs*, then gathered the loose buttons into a jam jar. No sense hiding beautiful buttons in a drawer, when I can enjoy them on display while folding laundry.

Throughout the week I avoided my computer and spent my energy cleaning, sorting, dusting, recycling, donating and throwing away.  The process is therapeutic as well as practical. There really is value in a place for everything, and everything in its place.

living room

Living room cleaned and sorted. Wall mural by Donna Pierre

kitchen counter

Clutter-free counters, lemons from the garden, succulents from Laura

lindy

Lindy wants to know if I’m *ever* going to sit down

Having said that, all this sorting and cleaning felt a bit obsessive. Was I avoiding something instead? I’m still trying to sort that out. Does this happen to you?

My blog got the cold shoulder last week. It wasn’t planned. I slipped my groove and filled the time with other things. Am I in a rut? Is a rut the same as a groove?

Saturday morning I awoke with vertigo. My heart pounded in my chest and I convinced myself that it would pass. After a long, restless hour I went back to sleep, but awoke hours later too dizzy to remain sitting upright. This turn of events was not helping me get my groove back. Instead it played on an old and deep-seated fear: that I would die before raising my boys. I’m not dying of course, but who said fears are rational? I was just a girl when my dad died, and these fears flare up from time to time.

I saw a doctor today who diagnosed a viral infection of the inner ear. There’s nothing to be done for it but wait for it to gradually improve. Groovy.

What do you do when you slip a groove? How do you get it back?

*bits and bobs. I love that expression, and borrow it liberally from Pauline.

 

Pictured above:

Beautiful bunting and knee blanket courtesy of Teddy and Tottie

On the book shelf: The Good Life by Sarah O’Neil. Sarah blogs at Sarah the Gardener.

Thank you flowers from Boomdee