Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stampaway USA 2015

Summer is in full-swing, although here in Ohio, although we have yet to really experience it.  I think I have seen the sun twice, maybe three times, since May. Thankfully, I believe the weather pattern is changing.

At any rate, I hope you are enjoying it.  I am making the best of it. I am way too busy, though...and wondering why the time flies so quickly.

Next month I will be teaching at Stampaway USA.  Stampaway is a highly regarded paper arts convention near Cincinnati, Ohio.  There are numerous mixed-media classes, along with rubber stamping classes.  There's something for everyone!

My classes will be on Wednesday, August 5th and Friday, August 7th.  The convention itself takes place at the Sharonville Convention Center.

Niches, Drawers, and Doors workshop by Cyndi Duncan. Stampaway USA 2015, Sharonville (Cincinnati), OH
Niches, Drawers, and Doors
Wednesday, August 5th
12 - 5 pm

During this 5-hour altered book workshop, I will teach you my favorite way to create niches - those fun little recesses where you can showcase wonderful little works of art or other treasures.  You will learn how to create unique swinging doors: a student favorite!  I will also show you how to create windows and several types of drawers in your book where you can tuck away hidden masterpieces. We will finish our time together "arting-up" our sample books.

I will provide a prepped book, along with handouts.  Paints, some decorative papers and embellishments will also be on-hand for your use in decorating your creation.  Students should bring: a cork-backed metal ruler (at least 12"), a pencil, a cutting mat, and a utility-knife (I use box cutters that I typically get at the Dollar Store.).  Optional:  You can bring your own inks, stencils, sprays, stamps, etc., for our creative time.

(If you live on the West Coast and can't make it to Ohio for Stampaway, I will also be teaching this class at Art-Xscape in Austin, Texas, on Friday, October 9th.)
Artistic Shadows Steampunk Shadow Box class by Cyndi Duncan. Friday, August 7th, Stampaway USA, Sharonville (Cincinnati), OH.
Artistic Shadows Steampunk Shadow Box
Friday, August 7th
1:30 - 3:30 pm

We will use beautiful Victorian-style Steampunk papers and collage images to create a gorgeous shadow box that you will love and display for years.  We will build our masterpiece inside an exquisite glass-topped display box while exploring different ways to affix items inside the box and create movement through hanging and/or bobbing elements.

You will need to bring a basic tool kit (scissors, glue stick, ruler, favorite stamps, a black dye-based ink pad, black Staz-On ink pad and pencil). Optional: Some students find that a paper trimmer is useful in this class.  Also, the papers in this sample piece are discontinued, so if you have them in your stash and would like to make the box as shown, feel free to bring them along (Graphic 45 Steampunk Debutante).  I will provide decorative papers, steampunk collage images, steampunk rubber stamps, and some embellishments.

Elegant Butterfly Book class by Cyndi Duncan. Stampaway USA, Sharonville (Cincinnati), OH

Elegant Butterfly Book
Friday, August 7th
4:00 - 6:00 pm

In this class, we will explore several book folding techniques.  You will select one and use it to create a beautiful habitat for your elegant butterfly embellishments. As we work to transform our book into a lovely masterpiece, we will learn several background techniques to adorn  your work.

You should bring a basic tool kit (see the description for the Steampunk Shadow Box) along with a paperback book for practice, and a 1.5" - 2" thick hardcover book to alter.  All other supplies are provided, however students are welcome to bring their own stencils and acrylic paints to create to their own vision. Optional:  heat embossing tool (to speed up drying time).

I hope you will plan to attend this fun event, and even better, take one of my classes!

Registration for Stampaway is done by mail. You can access the registration form here.

To view the Stampaway USA pdf brochure, click here.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Artiscape 2015 - The Weekend (Part III)

My Weekend at Artiscape Artist's Gathering.

(Read Part I: here and Part II: here)

Saturday was a pretty relaxing day. I was not teaching any classes that day, and the workshop I was taking did not start until two. I got up at my regular time of 6:30 – 7 am and went down to get another wonderfully made omelet. I then just hung out in the room for most of the rest of the time until lunch. I wrote much of the first part of this post while I lounged around the room. It was a much needed respite!

For lunch I wandered down and had some chicken salad and fruit from their little snack shack in the center of the lovely atrium. I enjoyed eating my lunch with arty friends I've known for years.

Soon enough my class time rolled around and I headed for my Let's Brooch the Subject metalworking class with Jen Crossley. While I had done metal etching before, I had never done cold connections and jewelry sawing. It was a fun class and I learned a lot. When I went to sign in on the class roster, I saw a name that I recognized...the ever-talented Linda Cain! I looked around the room, found her, and called out her name. Linda is an amazing artist who, if you are not already familiar with, you must seek out. Her work is fabulous. I had the privilege of publishing several of Linda's works in AlteredArts magazine. She has since been on Tim Holtz's and Finnabair's design teams, among others. Follow her blog for regular infusions of “amazing-ness.” 

Linda Cain and Cyndi Duncan at Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.
Jen Crossley and Linda Cain in Jen's class Let's Brooch the Subject.

Jen Crossley is a hoot, too. She hails from Australia and has a wonderful sense of humor. Of course she is fun to listen to; she could read a phone book and I would sit enthralled by her accent.

After Jen's class I had about a half hour to go and get ready for the evening's banquet.

While we were waiting for the dinner, we milled about at the evening's happy hour and set about to relieve ourselves of our trades. During this time something happened that has never happened before requiring me to point out some Art Trade Etiquette: If someone asks you if you have trades, and you do, you TRADE with them! You do not say “Yes, what do you have?” then look at the trade and respond: “No, I'm sorry, that's not my style,” or “Thank-you, but I wouldn't be able to use that.” If I had heard what happened to the two women in front of me, I would have never proffered my own trade. I have to imagine that the woman in question just didn't understand how it worked. I wish I wasn't so floored, or I might have asked her if it was her first time trading and kindly explained trade etiquette. I didn't pick my jaw off the floor until much later.

The banquet was a Jules Verne dinner and featured Cirque-de-Soleil-like performers that were fabulous. The food was good, as it always is at these dinners at the Embassy Suites-Dublin. I sat with my roommate, students from my classes and new friends. My roommate retired early and I sought out others who might want to go to the bar for a drink. While we never made it to the bar, I did insert myself into a group of people I did not know, and had a wonderful time learning more about them. It was the perfect ending to an amazing day.

Lisa's attention to detail always makes Artiscape super special.

My friend Mary and I at the Jules Verne Dinner Bash at Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.
Performers at the Jules Verne Dinner Bash at Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.
Stay tuned for the final installment of my series on the 2015 Artiscape Artist's Gathering.  Follow my blog by email and you won't miss it.


5-1-2015:  The name of the performers is The Amazing Giants.  You can read more about them on their website:

1-19-2017:  In linking these pages up to my 2017 Artiscape class offerings, I reread these posts and realized that I never finished the series, lol.  For those of you waiting on pins and needles: I don't remember what I did on Sunday!  Ha, ha, ha. I think I took a class, checked out, attended the Mad Hatter Tea Party and took my exhausted body home. At any rate, I'm sure the series gave you the flavor of the event, even if I didn't get around to finishing it. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Artiscape 2015 - The Weekend (Part II)

My Weekend at Artiscape Artist's Gathering

(Read Part I of this series here.)

I woke up in the morning on Friday, had the amazing free breakfast, and then headed to my encaustic class with Serena Barton. This workshop was titled: Waxing Literary with Charlotte. While the techniques presented were not new to me, this was the class that spoke to me the most from the brochure, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the workshop, and Serena and my table mates were a joy to get to know.

Student work in Serena Barton's Waxing Literary With Charlotte class at Artiscape 2015.
My artwork from Serena Barton's Waxing Literary With Charlotte class at Artiscape 2015.

Immediately following Serena's class, I was to teach my five-hour Tons of Techniques II workshop, so I had to leave a few minutes early to get my supplies together and to try and grab something to eat. My friend, Stacey, graciously agreed to help with this class, and she was indispensable! Having taught Tons of Techniques I a few years ago, I knew that I would fall over dead if I didn't have a helper. (Maybe not literally, but it would have felt that way!) This time around we learned about 15 different techniques or technique variations, and I demonstrated two more. We did all of that in FOUR hours! That means each technique took about 10 – 15 minutes before we were on to the next. After four hours, we stopped the fast-paced craziness and set about turning our technique samples into the sampler book that students could use for reference after the class.
Tons of Techniques II by Cyndi Duncan at Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015
Tons of Techniques II workshop by Cyndi Duncan at Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.

By the time the end of the class rolled around, I was so exhausted and drained that I could barely think or move. After Stacey helped me clean up and pack the supplies back into my van, I had such a splitting headache, too, that I was soooo grateful for the evening happy hour. I'm sure I am not the only one for whom wine is a miracle cure. Seriously. My headache was so bad my eyes were crossing and I could barely drag myself to the bar, but moments after sitting down with my wine and sipping at it, I glanced up at my arty friends and said, “It's a miracle!” I felt almost back to normal. I think this is because my bad headaches are tension triggered and the wine acts as a muscle relaxer. I don't know...but it sounds good. All I know is that it works. Wine is medicinal for me. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

That evening I sat with my arty friends, some former and some brand-new, until shortly before the event's Kick-Off Party began.

The Kick-Off Party is a marketplace preview accompanied by sweets, and snacks, and beverages. There were several demonstrations going on during the evening, as well. I had a wonderful time and spent WAY too much. I actually thought to take a picture of the haul for you, but then decided I didn't want proof. 

Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015 Kick-Off Party

Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015 Kick-Off Party

Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015 Kick-Off Party

I bought so much good stuff that I had to force myself to stay out of the marketplace the next day! Of course I hadn't yet seen the wonderful goodies at the outsider art pocketbook would have been much happier if I had skipped that, too. If I had skipped it, though,  I would have missed out on all the wonderful artist-created goodies I got. It's all good...right?

I hope you're enjoying my series on Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.  Stay tuned to learn about the rest of the weekend.  If you follow my blog by email, you won't miss it!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Artiscape 2015 - the Weekend (Part I)

My Weekend at Artiscape Artist's Gathering

During the fun and entertaining opening Kick-Off-Party, Lisa Ohmer, the organizer of Artiscape Artist's Gathering, and I mused about how long we had actually known each other. Lisa reminded me that we had met about twelve years ago at an altered art event sponsored by Stamp Art Jubilee in Atlanta, Georgia. It's funny how that event seemed a lifetime ago. I was there promoting the then-named Altered Book Club (now The Mailbox Muse, under new ownership) that I had just begun. I don't even think that the magazine had been born yet! As a matter-of-fact, I believe that the club had not even sent out its first kit yet. Anyway, that invitation by Lisa has led to many years of participation in the amazing event that she sponsors.

During the twelve-or-so years that I have known of Artiscape, I think I failed to participate on just a couple of occasions. Most of the years I attended I simply had a booth in the marketplace. During the first few years, the event was held in a very quaint Ohio canal town called Roscoe Village. At one of those first events I was able to squeeze out some time to take a workshop by the original altered book Diva, Beth Cote. It was a wonderful workshop on color theory and collage.

Fast forward a few years, and I finally decided that, being a teacher by trade and passion, I wanted to submit classes. That was about four years ago. My first classes were very well-received, and so I was invited back for more. This year I taught two workshops: A three-hour class on book folding and a five-hour techniques class. I'm thrilled to say that both of them sold out.

In the years that I have been associated with this wonderful event, the class with Beth Cote had been the only class I was ever able to take myself. I was either too busy with the magazine/club or vending in the marketplace. That changed this year! Because the magazine is on hiatus, I did not have a vendor booth this year which allowed me free time...time I could use for MYSELF!  As soon as the classes were announced, I eagerly signed up for three amazing workshops.

To help you get a better feel for how the weekend feels and progresses, let me lay it out for you chronologically. I will skip the time I used for class prep and present it to you as an attendee.

I signed up for three workshops, as I mentioned before. One was an encaustic class by Serena Barton, another was a metal jewelry class by Jen Crossley, and the final was a metal soldering class by Shari Replogle. While I am an artist that dabbles in a multitude of mediums, I tend to work mainly in paper arts...and more recently, beading. The jewelry and soldering classes were definitely outside my normal sphere, so I knew I needed to pay particular attention to the supply lists there. Jen Crossley's class required several tools and materials that I did not already have. A friend of mine, also attending Artiscape, offered to let me borrow a couple on the list, but I had to go and purchase the remaining items. This process was kind of fun, in that it got me more excited about my upcoming classes, as I perused the supplies on the internet. I started this process about three weeks before the event.

At about the same time that I began shopping for supplies, my wonderful packet from Artiscape arrived. It contained this lovely name tag and pass for the weekend, along with other important information.

Having attended so many of these wonderful events, I knew that a good portion of the enjoyment was to be found in participating in the artist trades and collaborative auction. So, I set about creating my trades about two weeks before the event. On Sunday of the event there is a Mad Hatter Tea at which the ladies wear hats...many of which they have hand-made. Wanting to add even more fun to the weekend, I also created my own fun little fascinator-type hat, as well. 

Bead Embroidered charms.  Art trades for Artiscape 2015 made by Cyndi Duncan.

Fascinator hat by Cyndi Duncan for the 2015 Artiscape Artist's Retreat.

This was the first year that I stayed in the host hotel, the Embassy Suites-Dublin. I shared a room with a woman from my art group. I have to say, staying at the host hotel is another added bonus to the weekend. As a hotel guest, we were treated to daily happy hours with snacks such as chips with several dips, hard cheeses, and other snack foods. This wine lover absolutely adores that fact that the happy hour included one free beverage - wine, and cocktails included! Additionally, each morning the hotel guests enjoyed an amazing hot breakfast bar which also included an omelet station. Of course, being right in the thick of things also had its obvious advantage. It was nice being able to go back to the room to rest, change, or grab a supply that I forgot or someone else needed.

Attendees who stayed in the host hotel received this lovely gift upon check-in.

Thursday night were the preconference workshops. I arrived a couple of hours before they began, and as I was actually teaching one, spent part of that time setting up and settling in to my room. My class went wonderfully. I am always treated to wonderful students; this class was no exception.

The wonderful students in my Folded Book Sculptures Class at Artiscape 2015.
Tired, but energized for the weekend ahead, I drug myself to bed.

I hope you enjoyed Part I of my series on Artiscape Artist's Gathering 2015.  Stay tuned for Part II.  (Pssst.....If you subscribe to my blog by email, you won't miss it!)


Monday, April 6, 2015

Artiscape - An Artist's Gathering

I'm so thrilled to be teaching at a variety of wonderful events this year.  My workshop schedule starts out with Artiscape - An Artist's Gathering this weekend.  I will teach a book sculpture class on Thursday night, and the second installment of my popular Tons of Techniques class on Friday afternoon.

You have probably seen the book sculptures before...they are all the rage!  I saw them about a year ago and was totally intrigued by them.  I bought one, and went crazy trying to find tutorials on the internet on how to make them.  What I found was a little discouraging.  One woman was selling (and giving away) patterns for awesome designs.  Unfortunately, however, the patterns required a database grid, measuring and mathematics.  Way too complicated for me!  Since I couldn't figure out how to do them by deconstructing the book I bought (and I think the crafter used the same measuring method since there were pencil lines on the pages), I kept searching.  I did find another easier tutorial, but that one required a computer and a graphics program to use.  While I could figure out how to make that method work, I was convinced that there had to be an easier way for all the many people out there that were not computer or graphics-program savvy like me.  Being the persistent woman that I am, I worked out a new way to create these great folded sculpture patterns that is so easy anyone can do it. Being the teacher that I am, I decided I just HAD to teach others the method. 

These folded book sculptures are so much fun to make, and really make wonderful gifts.  After I figured out how to make them last fall, I made LOTS for Christmas presents.
Folded Book Sculptures by Cyndi Duncan. Thursday, April 9th, 2015 6-9 pm. Artiscape, Columbus, Ohio.

Last I checked, there are still a couple of spots available in this workshop if you want to learn my easy, no math, no computer method to create these amazing book sculptures.

Also when I checked, the Tons of Techniques Class had a few spaces available, too.  Both workshops had just two or three spots, though, so I do expect them to sell out.  In the TOT II class we will be learning 16 great techniques (time permitting). There are several acrylic and watercolor techniques, along with a couple of transfers and miscellaneous techniques.  They can be used in mixed media works as well as art journals, scrapbooks and greeting cards.  We will take those techniques and use them to create a sampler book that can be used as a great reference tool.

Tons of Techniques II by Cyndi Duncan.  Friday, April 10th, 2015, 12:30 - 5:30 pm. Artiscape, Columbus, OH.

This is probably the 11th year I've participated in Artiscape.  Most of those years I've attended as a vendor for Altered Arts magazine.  This is the fourth year that I have actually taught at the retreat.  The first year I participated, I took a workshop from THE altered book diva, Beth Cote.  I have not had a chance to take classes myself since then.  This year, however, I am taking THREE workshops!  I am so incredibly excited.

With the magazine on hiatus, I will not have a booth at the marketplace this year (a FIRST in all the years I have participated).  This will be the first year that I get to attend the preview party as a guest.  I am also sharing a room on-site with a friend, so I will be right in the thick of things. I can't wait.  I am literally giddy with excitement.

To truly immerse myself in the total experience, I made sure that I made art trades to exchange, and also created a hat for the Mad Hatter Tea Party.  I did not have time to create a theme specific piece for the collaborative work auction, though, which is unfortunate.  I will say that, having done these "extra" things in the past, participating in the swaps and other side events truly pushes the event experience into an even more enjoyable realm...if you can believe it.  After the weekend is over, I will post about the event and share my trades and my fun little hat with you all.

If you plan to attend, be sure to say "hi."  Maybe you will take one of my workshops, or sit next to me in a class we take together.  Maybe we will just cross paths as we come and go.  If you are not already planning to attend, there is still time!  There are always a few workshops with space remaining.  If you live in the area, at the very least you can stop by the vendor marketplace on Saturday and/or the Outsider Art Fair on Sunday.  You will be really happy you did.  If you miss it this year, be SURE to stop by at; make sure you are added to the email list....and make plans to attend in 2016.

Check out my Workshop page for information on my other classes around the country. 


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cardboard Shamrock Journal Tutorial

Hello everyone!  Here where I live, the snow is FINALLY starting to melt.  It is beginning to feel like spring.  Hallelujah!

I hope you've enjoyed my St. Patrick's Day bead embroidery projects.  If you haven't seen them, you can see them here and here.  When I posted the first project, I mentioned that I had started a project last year that simply did not inspire me to complete.  I think the bones of the project are great, but I just haven't been able to get into decorating it.  It is still worthwhile, and someone might be inspired to try their own book, so I'll share it with you today.  Just a note:  I was inspired by Michelle Ward's Debris Journal.

I've shared different pictures of it and some other ideas over on the Altered Arts magazine blog

Here is a tutorial you can use to recreate my shamrock book:

Supplies Needed:

Cardboard (mine was recycled from boxes on-hand)
Paper and writing template to create a template
Pre-gummed Kraft Packing Tape
Water (a paint brush to brush on the water is helpful)
Utility knife or box cutter
Cutting Mat
Cork-backed metal ruler

To start, I drew a large shamrock pattern and cut it in half.  I then used that to cut pages for the inside of the book.  I used corrugated cardboard from recycled boxes.

After getting the number of pages that I wanted for the book (You will need sets of two.), I measured the thickness of the stack. I put the stack aside.  I then traced my shamrock (facing left) onto a larger sheet of cardboard, measured over the amount I calculated for my thickness, and then flipped the pattern over (facing right) and traced it again. I cut out the large shape, leaving a mark for where the "thickness" part started and ended.  I then scored the cardboard along the "thickness" marks, using a metal ruler and utility knife.

The scored cover with pages inside. The spine is the thickness of the stacked pages.

After your cover and inside pages are cut, begin adhering the pages together using the gummed packing tape. Push the two sides of the shamrock together, as shown, and adhere down the middle.  I found it easiest to do all my sets of two and THEN start joining each set together. So, after all your sets are joined, fold over the first set so that the tape is on the inside; fold a second set the same way.  Now, with one set folded to the left, and the other to the right, push them together to form your shamrock.  The center will be unjoined; you will now join it with the packing tape.  This will form two sets of two pages that can be easily turned.

Adhere all of your inside pages as I described above.  After you do, your stack will look like this when folded:

I did not adhere my inside pages to my cover.  I decided to use it more as a storage sleeve.  However, you could add the page stack to the back cover (and front cover, if desired).  When I was working with the book, I decided that adhering it to the front cover, too, would make it so the pages would not open flat, just fyi. You can fiddle around with it and see what you like best.

I hope you enjoyed my shamrock journal.  Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Earrings to Match

In my last post, I told you about the process I used to create my St. Patrick's Day bead embroidery cuff bracelet...about its therapeutic effects, and how it became a sort of memorial and tribute to my mom.

As I mentioned in that post, and in others, the process itself of making bead embroidered items is so incredibly soothing; I think it is my new favorite medium.

I love my shamrock bracelet, but I felt it needed earrings to match. So, this past Sunday I set out to create a pair of bead embroidered earrings. I stopped tracking the time it took to make them when I hit the three hour mark. It was a day well spent. 

I will have to say, though, that it is a good thing I created them for myself, as they were intended to be post earrings when I started.  After they were completely finished, I decided I did not like the way they sat on my ears.  So, I snipped off the posts and added fish hook wires.

At first my ears were kind of sore from all the messing around I did with the posts, and I was afraid that the earrings would be too heavy.  After giving my ears a few days rest, when I wore them again I realized they were not too heavy at all.  I really like them.

I hope you enjoy my St. Patrick's Day bead embroidered earrings.  Keep an eye out for an upcoming post about my cardboard shamrock book.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

An Artful Memorial

My mom was born on St. Patrick's Day.  She always considered herself "honorary Irish." We always celebrated St. Patty's Day, because of her birthday, and so it has a lot of fond memories.  Shamrocks, in many ways are symbols of love and affection to me.

Mom always accessorized for the holidays.  St. Patrick's Day was no exception.  Since we almost always went out, she would dress in green and add her various green bracelets, shamrock pins and earrings.  She had a beautiful gold claddagh ring she would wear and I made her a pin that said something about how lucky she was because she was born on St. Patrick's day - she usually wore that, too. My mom was big into bracelets.  I don't remember any specific St. Patty's bracelets, but she probably had one of those, too.

Mom died a couple of years ago, but even before she passed away I had begun planning a memorial St.  Patrick's Day art project.  Of course if it were completed while she was alive, it would have been more of a tribute project. While I thought of creating this project EVERY year, it never materialized.  I couldn't decide on just what form it would take.  Somehow, even while she was alive, I knew I would never finish it while she was living.

Last year I started to create a project, but couldn't get into it.  I don't know why, but the project itself didn't inspire me.  I may post it was a corrugated cardboard shamrock book.  I got that part completed, but it was the actual decoration of the inside pages that lost me.  I set it aside and never looked back.

So once again this year, at the beginning of January, I began thinking of my tribute project again.  As you may have seen in my last post, I've really taken off with bead embroidery.  I totally love it.  After I finished my second beaded project, one that I created for a class proposal, I decided that I would make myself a St. Patrick's Day bead embroidered bracelet. 

As I embarked on this project, I kept telling myself that I was making the bracelet for ME...not for a class, not as a gift.  I also told myself that it did not have to be THE tribute project. It was for ME.  Therefore it didn't matter if it was perfect.  It was my piece, but as I created it, it became my tribute to my mom.

As I may have mentioned before, the beading process itself is VERY therapeutic and cathartic.  As I beaded I would think of my mom, of things she used to say and do.  A lot of love went into my bracelet.  If mom were alive, I would have given it to her, and I know she would have loved it and worn it EVERY year.  I love my bracelet, and every time I look at it I think of my mom.  Good and happy thoughts.

I hope you enjoy it, too. 

This picture was taken before I added the edge trim.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

There Are No Mistakes in Art

After teaching myself how to anchor a cabochon using bead embroidery, I decided to try my hand at a larger, more free-form piece.

I started this piece with no pattern and no preconceived notion of how I wanted the piece to look. I took out my bead box and started with the first bead that "spoke to me."  That was the round metal bead.  I decided to anchor it with brightly colored orange beads.  At this point I wasn't sure where I was going to go with the piece...the circle could have been a sun, too.  Oh, the possibilities!

One of the things I like most about bead embroidery is the amazing fringe.  I LOVE texture!  So, I decided to add some fringe to the round circle.  After adding the fringe, it was obvious to me that it had to be a head with hair.  From there the piece took on it's own life.  I kept adding just by pulling out a bead that I liked.

After two hours of work. The piece decided it wanted to be a person.

This piece took about 23 hours to complete.  It wasn't laborious.  The stitching was actually kind of therapeutic.  I spent about 2 hours a day on it until the final day when I was snowed in and just had to get it finished.  I truly enjoyed the process.  I enjoyed it so much that I'm working on another piece.  I see a lot of possibilities in this art form.

This was after about six hours of work.

The finished piece.
I titled this piece: "There Are No Mistakes in Art."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Big Changes!

If this is your first time at my blog, I hope you'll spend some time here looking around.  I post on a variety of things including food, books, shoes, art and lifestyle.  Take a minute to subscribe by email. Leave me a comment. Thanks!

Big, Radical Changes!

I've always wanted to do it.  So I finally did.  My youngest says I'm having a mid-life crisis.  Maybe...but since I plan to live to 120, I won't reach middle age for a while yet.  Besides, I just finally got the courage to do it. 

The picture actually makes it look really good, the color that is.  The actual color is a little more pink than I'd like, and it didn't take too well to the blonde areas.

This is what it is supposed to look like:

The picture makes it look like it is closer to the box than it really is.

I picked up this box, too.  My oldest said I should start with the one above and move to this one, if I liked it.  (I was deciding between the two.)  I think she was right.  This one would probably been too radical a change at first.  I returned it to the store.
Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don't.  I've been blonde for soooo long that I don't feel like me.  Plus, one of my favorite colors is red, and my red clothes look differently on me now than they used to.

What do you think?


Monday, January 26, 2015

Bead Embroidery: My First Time

Every so often I feel a need, I mean a NEED, to learn a particular art technique.  I'm not sure what compels me, but it can become intense.  When this need arises, I will often look to friends to teach me, or will try to find a class to take.  More often than not, the need overpowers my ability to wait, and I wind up teaching myself.  One of those compulsions was my need to learn wet felting.  I finally couldn't wait anymore, so I taught myself...on a basic and very small scale.  I was fortunate that a friend invited me to wet felt with her not long after, and I learned a lot of tricks and wisdom from her as we felted together.

Recently, the need overpowered me to learn bead embroidery.

I went to a craft show this past fall and there was a woman there selling her amazing bead embroidered work. I had seen similar work before, but didn't even know what it was called.  It was very arty and gorgeous.  I had done my own version of bead embroidery on a scarf I made for a class proposal a while back, but it was very simple and not arty.  I heard this woman talk about her classes and, very excitedly, asked her where she taught. Florida.  Ugggh!  I scanned the internet for local and regional bead embroidery classes and no one offered any. I like in-person classes. I need that interaction. I got very anxious.

Armed with my frustration, I began searching the internet again and found some tutorials.  Moving forward with this information, I began to create my first piece.  The piece I created is a cabochon with peyote stitching to anchor it.  I was fascinated to find during my research that the bead embroidery I had done totally on my own, without ever seeing a tutorial or anything, was spot-on.  Another source I found tells us to just sew things on...period.  What you get is what you get. I suppose I had actually stumbled on something back then.  Since I do NOT SEW, I was concerned that there was some sort of trick to it.  There really is not; but there are stitch variations...just as in regular sewing.

Things I learned during my first time doing bead embroidery:

  • I will need a new and stronger pair of reading glasses.
  • None of my scissors want to cut through fire line.
  • I will need more beads!
  • Not all beads are created equal. (My stitching on this first piece is uneven mostly due to unequally sized seed beads.)
  • I will need more money. (To buy beads, of course!)

Because of my inability to find local outlets to learn the tricks of this new art form, the teacher inside of me is already planning several classes to teach the basics to others who just have to learn. Because of course I will continue experimenting and teaching myself until the need to bead is sated. 

I'm not done with this new art form.  My next piece will be a free-form piece.  I am totally psyched to get started on it. I will, of course, share with you when it is finished...and maybe while it is underway.

Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Year (part two)

New Year's Resolutions

I don't make them. I'm not sure why I am opposed to them.  Maybe it has to do with the guilt that comes when they are not met? I don't know.  I am, however, a goal-setter.  The new year is always a good time to set, or reinforce, goals.

My goals for the year:

Eat healthy and stay on plan. (I am a lifetime Weight Watcher.)
Exercise three times a week.
Avoid aspartame and added sugar.
Find a way to augment the family income.
Spend more time with my family.
Reduce debt.

My goals often change throughout the year, but these are the kind that will probably be constant.

After all my unhealthy eating during the holidays, it is extra important to work on the first one.

Knock You Naked!

Speaking of unhealthy, I do have to share with you one of my favorite desserts. Knock-you-naked brownies!  They are unbelievably good.  The funny thing is, I took pictures of them in process, but neglected to take a picture of the finished product.  I think when they came out of the oven I must have only been thinking about eating them!

They are pretty easy to make.  The hardest part is unwrapping the caramels.  I bought two different kinds for the load batches I made for the party: bulk wrapped caramels and Kraft caramels.  I'm not sure why, but the Kraft caramels are MUCH easier to unwrap.  The original recipe I used called for 30 caramels, which is what I used here.  The recipe I found this time said to use 60.  I couldn't imagine all that unwrapping!

You can find the recipe pinned to my Recipes I've Tried board on Pinterest.  If over time the recipe link moves, just contact me...I have the recipe saved.

The bottom layer and caramel layer.  You could probably add toffee chips to this layer, too...doesn't that sound yummy?

The top layer.  When I've made this before, I've just dropped the batter on the top.  The recipe I've linked to suggested rolling it out and then laying it on top.  I did that here.  It looks better in the "before" picture, but I don't think it changes the end product.

What about you?  Do you make resolutions or set goals?  How do you feel if you do not keep or reach them?