Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hurry Fall!

There's just a slight feel of Fall in the air here in middle Tennessee, at least for the past couple days. The temperature has dropped and humidity has gone away, with just a slight breeze and crispness in the air. I can't wait for Summer to be over and Fall to be here!

The other day at our local grocery store, we picked up this big clay pumpkin to put on the porch and start my decorating. The back has an opening for a candle or lights. I'm going to put orange and white lights in, but I won't light till the first official night of Fall. I know it's early  to start decorating but I don't care, I live for Fall and Halloween!
I can smell a pumpkin spice latte now! The house filled with scents of cinnamon and cloves...hurry Fall!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Paperclay or Papier Mache? Well That Depends

If you've been following me lately, you know that I've been busy getting ready for my 3 upcoming shows, making as many items as I can so my booth is well stocked. To me, if you don't have a full booth, it doesn't look good and I think buyers are less likely to come in to shop. We can talk booth set up later...

So with that, I want to talk about my sculptures that I create. Unlike many artists out there, I don't mind sharing. There's no "secrets" or hidden techniques on how I do things. There's really nothing new to working with clay or papier mache. All I can add are my own tips that help me.

First, if I want to cover something more quickly, I will use papier mache as my base. It's cheaper and goes on easier than paper clay. You can come back later after it dries and add paper clay details if you want.

When working with papier mache, OMG it's a mess, but a fun mess! I use Fastmache. It comes in a box and you mix it with warm water. Put whatever amount you want to start with into a Ziploc baggie so you can seal it and knead it. Start slow on adding the water. I like to end up with a kneadable dough almost like clay. You don't need to worry about getting all the lumps out, that's what gives it tooth and texture and keeps it from looking pretty-boy perfect. Also, I add a drop of Dawn dishwashing liquid. It's supposed to aid in any mold that might form, though I've never ever seen that happen even years later. Oh well, add it cause it doesn't hurt your mixture either way.

When applying your mixture over your armature, like a styro ball or foil, as you work, wet your fingers to keep the mix from sticking to your hands. I keep a bowl or a cup of water handy to keep dipping. Helps with smoothing also!

Before you start working in details or smoothing it out, let it dry for a bit. Just till it's slightly tacky then go in and smooth over with a wet finger. You can also use a wet paintbrush. I've found that works well also. 
This is the head of my pumpkin man below. The papier mache is covering a Styrofoam ball with a dowel inserted to later put into his base. Because I live in a humid climate, it took a few days to dry. That's ok, other stuff to work on!

This is my finished piece. I'm very happy with him and think he's a real cutie! His expression just makes me smile!  Now, to paint him, you don't need to apply anything special to seal it. Acrylic paints seal. That's all I used, just cream color acrylic paint. Then after he was dry, I washed over a thinned brown paint and wiped off to give an antique look.



Here are a few more heads drying. I'm going to be making some pumpkin wands and also some "make-do's" which to me are just heads on top of something. I'm using painted candlesticks. These took a few days to dry cause of the damp weather.

Onto paper clay. I don't like just any brand of air dry clay, I prefer Creative Paperclay. It's just a better quality I find. You'll pay slightly more but I think it's worth it. I will admit though I do use the lesser known brands occasionally when I'm just doing something small, like an accessory to my larger sculpture. Ok, so let's talk about it.

Unlike papier mache, paper clay is smoother and more of a finished look. I tend to be more of a perfectionist when working with clay than with papier mache. I want it to look very smooth and get out any lumps, bumps or imperfections. I drive myself crazy trying. Or crazier rather!
Here's my witch head out of paper clay. You can see the difference in the texture between the papier mache and clay. The technique is not much different really other than you can really push and pull the clay into areas and you don't get the same sticking issue. I still dampen my fingers to help with any stickiness and also to smooth or blend areas together. Don't use too much water though or you could get cracking when it dries. I use clay tools to help blend in added clay to the piece such as for a nose or cheeks. You can pick those up very inexpensively at local craft stores. The cheapo plastic ones work just as good as the metal I found.

Some artists apply a coat of Gesso to the piece after it's dried and before painting. I've done it both ways and don't find a lot of difference really. The acrylic paint still sticks and covers just as well.
So for the witch, I applied my acrylics, let them dry and then went back over with a couple washes of various shades of green and then a brown for some antiquing. Finally I sealed with a satin waterbase varnish. You could leave unsealed as well because as I said, acrylic paints do act as sealers as well.



This head, out of papier mache, is going to be something I've not created before really. It doesn't look like much now, maybe you can make out the nose and cheeks. This will be a sweet doll. Hopefully. Her face will be sanded smoother, still keeping some of the "tooth", and then painted in soft, natural colors, much like dolls were in the old days. Not sure yet of the hair or the rest. She'll be a work in progress. I'll post pics as I'm going along.

Do I prefer paper clay over papier mache? No, not really. It just depends on what I'm making and the desired outcome I want.

Friday, August 12, 2016

What's Going On?

Well, wow, so much! I've been so busy creating and planning my display for my 3 upcoming shows. 
This is the banner for one of the shows - Sweet Tea and Shopping, Sept. 16 & 17. I love it. So well done. And they even did a promo banner for By Way of Salem too to show on their event page. Love it!
Isn't it great!?
I've got some more things done and I wanted to give you a few more peeks at what I've been working on. And I'm also working on some FABULOUS jewelry too.


More work to come! Stay tuned. Next time I'll tell you about my other shows; Paisley and Plaid, Fall and Christmas Markets. Two more great shows!



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Tiny Bit of Fall - Works in Progress

I just wanted to share a few of the things I'm working on for my upcoming shows in September and November.

I've got 2 shows in September; 1 is in Murfreesboro, TN at Paisley and Plaid's Fall Market on September 10th, and the other is Sweet Tea and Shopping's Fall Frenzy in Gallatin, TN on September 16th (preview night) and September 17th. Then in November, it's Paisley and Plaid's Christmas Market on November 12th (also in Murfreesboro, TN). They should all be fantastic shows and I'm very excited to be a vendor and be part of these holiday events!
So here are a few quick pics to bring you up to date;
First my helper. This is Lucy, my Staffordshire terrier and helper extraordinaire. Always by my side now that Freckie is gone, and willing to lend a paw. LOL!

Papier mache pumpkin on a wooden candlestick base. I'm excited about this one! I haven't done papier mache in awhile and I think this'll be fun when it's all finished. I'll post a finished picture. Update: Last night I finished the head. I painted it a warm buttermilk color and did the facial features in a deep brown wash instead of the usual black, and then antiqued the whole thing with a nut brown color. I am loving it! Hope you will too.


This is the start of a wooden and paper clay wire witch. I'm going to be sculpting the witch head out of clay, painting it, then stitching up a fun pointy witch hat. She'll have wire arms as well, perhaps holding a bucket of treats or maybe a magic wand, we'll see. Another project that I think will be really cute when it's finished.

And finally, here's one I'm just not sure of. I want to do a set of Dia de los Muertos wine glasses, and I'm not loving the paint. It's hard to cover and streaky. Painting glass may look simple, but in reality, it's not, at least for me. But again, we'll see how it turns out.
Ok, back to work! And feel free to leave a comment, I love to get feedback on my work. Keeps me on my toes!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

She Said Create!

Summer is in full swing here in middle Tennessee and NOW I remember why I want to move! Hot, humid, storms, bugs...need I say more. Oh well, Fall will soon be here and all will be well in my world once more....

But in the meantime, I'm preparing for two upcoming shows for Fall and Christmas that I'm excited about! I love doing shows because I not only get to sell my art to people who appreciate it, but I also get to meet other vendors that are so nice. It's really fun! I may be adding a third show somewhere in between but we'll see because that means you have to have an awful lot of stuff made and right now I've got a little glitch in the process.

A few weeks ago we came upon 4 stray tiny, tiny kittens that were dumped in the bushes down the road from us. Sad I know. They were wet from the rain, shivering, and shaking in the road so we picked them up and are caring for them. In my house. In my craft room. They've since perked up and are tearing around, into everything and well, being kittens. Adorable.

So I've had to relocate my work area. And it's not working. Hmmm...not much area to choose from to set up in this small house. Tried the 3rd bedroom, not working. Dining room? Maybe. Better get it figured out really quick cause I've got to get to making things!
What will I be making? Monster dolls, maybe some voodoo dolls too. Lots and lots of painted items. Some clay sculptures. Maybe some stitchings. And jewelry. Yes I know, I have a love/hate relationship with it but I really do like making it! LOL! I get fueled and inspired by other jewelry artisans and it gets my own creativity flowing.

Back to my craft area. Oh how I wish I just had ONE BIG craft studio! I've just GOT to figure this out!
A shed turned into craft room? Like it!

She shed craft room
LOVE!
Wow, that'd be amazing!
This could work....
I may have to settle with just working on my dining room table for awhile. Sigh............



Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Heat is On!

Summer Time Living!
We're weeks away from summer, and here in Tennessee we're set to have our first real "heat wave" this weekend. And you know, I really don't mind at all. I was deprived of sun while living in Washington for about 18 years, and my body is just soaking it up now, and loving it. I feel like I'm really thriving in warmer weather.

The first year I was here, I have to admit I was absolutely miserable. I hated the heat and the humidity. Having horses, I don't have the luxury of just staying inside all day long in the A/C when the weather is hot, I've got things to do! Now, after being here a couple years, I think I've adapted.

Interestingly enough, I was recently offered my old job back in Washington, which I love by the way, and with a very large pay raise! But......I couldn't do it. I can't go back to all the traffic and congestion that we wanted to move away from. Or how the houses are just smashed together with no room, encroaching on all the wildlife and destroying the natural habitat of the area. I was really surprised I turned it down and decided to stay here in TN, at least for awhile.

We've decided though once my project at work is finished, we'll relocate somewhere else. Even though I do love the sun here, the storms can be unpredictable (tornados), and I don't want to have that threat looming every springtime.

For me, life's a beach! We both agree the beach is somewhere we'd love to settle. Not sure where yet, but we're looking at some options including Florida or Hawaii. My love of surfing is definitely something I want to do more of, along with snorkeling and just being closer to the ocean. Life's a journey!



Friday, May 20, 2016

Paint Yourself in Stars Hallow

If you're fans of the Gilmore Girls and wish you too lived in Stars Hallow, you could very well be a fan of folk art and not even know it! I've always envisioned myself living in some quaint and charming New England town with salt box houses and gas lamp streetlights, horses trotting up the road, pumpkins on the porch in Autumn, and sailboats lining the bay in Summer. Can't you picture it?
I've always loved the art of Charles Wysocki, as he depicted that type of life in his paintings, and now I've recently discovered several other artists whose work I equally admire; Cheryl Bartley, Johanne Cassia, to just name a few very talented folk artists.
Charles Wysocki
Cheryl Bartley
Folk art is a more simplistic form of painting than fine art. I can't do fine art. As much as I try, it's just not my style I guess. I love bright colors, a more surreal look than classical art. Perspective and proportion are not a big deal in folk art.

Hiro Yamagata is one of my all time favorite artists. Known more as a contemporary artist, to me, his paintings capture a similiar folk art style with bright colors and less use of perspective/proportion as well. I was lucky enough to see some of his original work on display in San Francisco awhile back and I was absolutely wow'd and just fell in love with his style and use of bright colors.

Hiro Yamagata
Folk art style is something that I would really like to explore further in my own work because I think I fall somewhere in the middle; definitely not fine art and not too cartoon-ish, just fun and naive.
Snowmen with his friend Red bird

I love crows and pumpkins, and Fall of course!
Halloween and holiday art has long been a subject of folk art paintings so often depicted on wooden plates, tinder boxes, or other readily available surfaces, as well as canvas.
Maybe I'll paint myself in my own quaint New England village, with crows and pumpkins of course!


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Snowmen for all Seasons

I never get tired of snowmen, even if it's 100 degrees out I love looking at them. If you're a snowman collector like me, you probably feel the same way. My collection is displayed on the tops of my bookcases in my art studio so they're out all year long. I've got everything from glass blown ornaments to cute gift bags. Everything snowman!

Painting them for me is such a joy. It's like bringing them to life! I've changed up my backgrounds a little this past winter, adding in teals and tans instead of the usual dark blues. I loved how they turned out. And of course I had to add a Halloween themed scene complete with spooky tree and pumpkin. Snowmen are just universal! And they can be painted on any surface. My favorite are river rocks, but I also do wood and clay. Anyway you paint them, they're just adorable.

I'm thrilled when someone orders one of my special little guys to add to their own collections or give to another collector. Some of my snowmen have found new homes as far as the Middle East!


Here are just a few that are featured in my Etsy store. More on the way!
 
 
 
 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Distracted by Gardening

Have you seen the new HGTV show "He Shed She Shed" yet? I started watching it the other night but I quickly lost interest after a few minutes in because of the budgets that these homeowners were going to spend in order to fix up their sheds. Really $15,000? $10,000? Too rich for this girl. And I don't think many of us have that much extra cash laying around to put into our sheds.

I'm more of a do-it-yourselfer type. Now, it may not come out as professional as someone who does remodeling for a living, but I do ok. I just jump in and try. If I don't know how, I look it up. Find a book. Google. Ask contractors. I'll figure it out. Note: I don't do electrical so make sure you get yourself a licensed contractor if you plan on adding lights, switches, plugs, etc.


There are so many fix-ups you can do to your shed that will really make it your own, and some involve more time than money.


Flooring: Most come with plywood floors. You can cover the existing flooring with carpet, carpet tiles, laminate, ceramic tile, etc., or for a cute cottage feel, you can paint it with a good quality interior paint, add some stencils or other handpainted design, and then top it off with a couple coats of polyurethane to protect it. In my last house I replaced my formal living room flooring with finished plywood and then painted it. I did a harlequin diamond pattern in yellow and white, then roughed up the paint to give a worn look, added a little stencil here and there of a fleur de lis pattern and finally sealed it with polyurethane. Looked amazing! An example of putting in more time than money for a flooring alternative.

Walls: While it might be ideal to insulate, sheetrock, tape and mud the walls, depending on what you want to do with it and how much time you'll be spending in there, like cold winter evenings when you'll appreciate the warmth from having insulation, you could also do it simpler and less expensive by just putting up ready to go paneling. Nowadays it's not the old style from the 60's that was in your parent's den. There are some really great looking products out there that once again can give you that cottage feel. I love the white washed look paneling. It runs about $20 for a 6x8 sheet at most home centers. You can nail it up or use Liquid Nails to glue it up.
Beadboard, available at most home centers


The other thing you can do is put up plywood sheathing and then cover with tongue and groove which also looks great for that cottage feel.

You can take it as far as you want; add trimwork, put in windows, french doors (love those!), built-in shelving, cabinetry. Really the sky's the limit!

Let's move outside now. Paint. Get a good quality exterior paint. There's a new paint out available at Lowe's that is fantastic! I had my house painted with it. We have vinyl siding and yes, you can paint vinyl siding with the right paint. This paint is made for wood, metal, vinyl, concrete - anything. It's tough! The only con to this paint is after you brush it on and it's still damp, don't go back and touch it as it's sticky and your brush will drag, not flow. If you need to go back, wait till it dries. Anyway, it's called, "Duramax" by Valspar. Seriously, it's amazing!!!!


Ok back to paint. Color. There's a zillion options out there and it's your personal preference depending on your style. For me, my style is whimsy happy! A place that makes me smile when I see it. I love warm yellow, teal, and periwinkle. Not all together, well maybe!

Outside Decor. This is the best part! Scour the flea markets, go to garage sales. Collect! If you have a window on your shed, add shutters, a window box. Hang a sign above. Add birdfeeders. Windchimes. Anything goes. Whatever speaks to your soul.

I like a defined space around my shed. Somewhere you can sit. Maybe add a fence to make a 'patio' area. A brick path. And of course lots of flowers.
Here are some pretty pictures I found scattered around for you to glean inspiration from.

Love all the flower gardens around this

Look at this blank canvas!
So pretty, lots of light

Love the teal paint color and the pink flowers

 
Rustically charming
 
Simple and adorable, very cottage
 
Love the lavender color
Fun to collect all that stuff
  
Totally charming and LOVE the white pumpkin
 
Wonderfully organized potting shed
  

Victorian charmer
  
And of course you have to have Fall decor