Hope Untarnished

I thought I’d ease into my new-found interest in paper cutting by creating the piece here. When I say ease in, I mean this isn’t exactly what I would consider a true paper cutting. I simply cut out the flowers from decorative paper with scissors. The small, detailed flowers were cut using a die cut machine, very little skill required. The butterfly is hand cut from a scrap of cereal box, then hand painted.

As usual, I wanted to use salvaged items. The frame is actually purchased from Ikea and was to be used for signage, but I decided to rough it up and use it as a support for the Altoids tin that houses the butterfly.

I titled this piece “Untarnished”. I wanted to call it “Hope”, but I did a painting a few years back with that title, so “Hope” didn’t seem original enough.

Perhaps it was the ghost of Dante whispering to me “Abandon all hope…. ” You know the rest. But this isn’t about a trip through the hell, nor does it attempt to explain a great literary work. It’s more a reference to personal growth or regeneration; “here begins new life”. That Dante. At least, I’m pretty sure it was Dante, the voice was speaking English, so I can’t be too sure. But I suspect that in the after life we’ll be capable of speaking and understanding all languages. 

Now, with my reference to Dante you may expect me to get all philosophical and existential.  Ha – no chance of that happening today. Believe me, I go through an existential crisis regularly. It’s all quite boring, so I will spare you the pain.

I only felt compelled to project an idea that under the rubble of a damned, fallen humanity there is still an unwavering certainty that all hope is not lost. I decided to go with the title of “Untarnished” because lets face it – life is full of little “surprises” that can take a toll on our spirit, mind and body. We may feel like that old rusted out clunker, which long ago lost its usefulness. Yet, if you look closely you’ll see that old abandoned rust bucket has sprouted its own perfect ecosystem. Which is really the point. Difficult situations may lead us to see nothing but the rust and ruin. But deep inside we remain untarnished. Under the tarnished debris, germination of a new world occurs and we find that those difficult situations can also be used as fodder a beautiful metamorphosis. Well, the hope is that it would be beautiful and not a Kafkaesque nightmare. No, wouldn’t want that. 

So what do you think? Should I go with “Hope” or does “Untarnished” work just as well? And does any of this even matter? Oh wait. I’m NOT going to get all existential, remember?

untarnished 1


untarnished back

Elliot’s New Dress


Seems my absences here keep getting longer. Here is the most recent post on Twisted Elliot. Hope you all are off to a great New Year. Cheers!

Originally posted on Twisted Elliot:

Well, Happy New Year. As this was Twisted Elliot’s first holiday season, we were so super busy making preparations we neglected to share with you all the fabulousness happening in the shop. Before we knew it, the New Year had arrived and we were so lost in a whirl of ribbons, wrappings, glitter and glue we just couldn’t make our way through it all to Word Press and then, poor Elliot was looking in need of a much deserved makeover.

As we waded through all the trappings of the season wondering whatever could we do to rejuvenate Elliot, a friend dropped by to show us her latest creation, Edwina – a beautifully designed and meticulously crafted mosaic skull. Well, it was love at first sight! We realized it was exactly what Elliot needed. That and a new party dress – nothing lifts one from the doldrums quite like a party…

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Bates and Switch

Remember this?

paperowlCollage He was to be an addition to an altered Altoids tin paying homage to a classic American film. In keeping with the mood of that film though, I realized he should be in black and white, so it was back to the folding board for me. The second time around you think I would’ve been quite proficient at the folding and cutting. NOPE. Those tinny talons became nothing but a challenge to my patience. After three attempts and several days, I finally had an acceptable specimen.

The Idea

I first saw the movie Psycho when I was a kid. Of course, the most memorable scene in Psycho is the shower scene. While it is the scene many of us think of first, it wasn’t my intent to recapture that particular setting. For me, it was the eerie setting of the parlor, with its shadows, tense ambiance and of course those ominous birds looming in the background; trapped, hinting at not only what was to come, but also of characters seen and unseen. My little feathered friend was to be the perfect prop for that scene.

Then, a funny thing happened. While rummaging through the bins of one of my favorite “junk” stores,  I came across a small glass tile. The feel of it was smooth, the view through it was tinted, but just enough so as not to distort an image placed behind it. Its slick surface and tint led me to think of a window, a voyeur and finally, the slickness of shower tiles. It was also the perfect size for the inside of an Altoids tin.

Looked like it would be the shower scene after all…

I decided to recreate the shower scene using the glass tile, but I also felt the need to capture a hint of that creepy parlor idea. However, I thought an owl perched in the shower would be a little odd. I had to find another element to use as the backdrop for the setting, which meant I’d have to switch out my owl for something more fitting for the scene.

You may remember Norman spying on Marion Crane through a peephole hidden behind a painting which hung in his parlor, or perhaps “study” is a better word. According to my research that painting was Susanna and the Elders and is based on a biblical story from the book of Daniel about a woman bathing in her garden. Susanna is spied on by two elders who threaten to turn her over to the authorities for the crime of adultery if she does not have sex with them. Throughout history this scene  has been studied and painted by many artists, but I chose to use Artemisia Gentileschi’s interpretation.  Artemisia went through her own trials and tribulations at the hands of a man and a biased judicial system as well, in fact it is believed she painted her version of Susanna and the Elders (at the age of 17!) as an expression of the turmoil she experienced.

Aside from the history of this particular painting, I liked it because I felt it perfectly referenced both the parlor scene and the shower scene. I wanted to use it as a collage that would bring the two scenes together.  I made a black and white copy of the painting, cut it up and began playing around with the pieces.  I was happy with how the billowing robes became an extension of the shower curtain and how Susanna’s torso and right hand fit nicely with Marion’s head and left hand.

I debated whether to use the red paint. We all know how gory the scene was, I didn’t think it was necessary to recapture that element, but I did end up choosing to use a bit of red, for no other reason than to give a little color.


psycho altoids tin

 A Little Background

I had this Psycho themed idea in my head for a while, I spent months collecting bits and pieces; keys, tapestry, curtain hooks, even an actual fly. I also spent a lot of time researching the movie Psycho as well as the story and painting of Susana and the Elders. Over a period of 4 months I spent several hours arranging and rearranging the pieces only to toss it all aside then return to at a later time, usually with something new to add. Weeks would go by with no progress, but it was always in the back of my mind.

I tend to get stuck on an idea and develop tunnel vision, ignoring anything that might be a  another alternative to my original idea. I’m also a little impatient and want to complete a project in a day. However, after being taken in a new direction with this, even after having to switch out the main focus of the idea, I’ve learned to be patient and I’m beginning to feel ok with the fact that I have many unfinished projects, which I will finish someday.

I share this part of the process not to pass myself off as a tortured artistic genius and I realize this piece lacks any artistic qualities at all; it doesn’t serve to educate, raise awareness or challenge an ideology and in all, it is simply put together using basic skills. But, in the process of making it, I learned patience, to pay attention to my surroundings as I’d hunt for that one thing that would bring all the pieces together. Though my owl didn’t make the final cut, the process of putting him together (more than once) also taught me patience and perseverance –  and that I really do enjoy working with paper.  I’m learning to not let frustration defeat me. The final product looks nothing like my original idea, but that is part of the process as well I guess.  I believe all this has a purpose and someday I may figure out what exactly that purpose is.

I’d really like to hear about your creative process. Do you have a special formula for bringing an idea to fruition? What have you learned about yourself through the creative process or on the path of creative / artistic self-expression?




We’ve Gone Batty!


Hi everyone, thought I would share with you what I have been up to these days. I really have been doing stuff :) Here is a post from a new blog I manage for our store Twisted Elliot.
Thanks for reading!

Originally posted on Twisted Elliot:

This is Twisted Elliot’s first Halloween! Hillary and I are excited because, well, Halloween is kind of our thing.

We were off to a good start at building an inventory of hand-made Halloween items, then something happened. We began to freak out a little about the upcoming holidays, so now that Halloween is just around the corner – so, pretty much over with – we’ve started to focus our attention on end of the year projects and events (which we will be sharing with you soon, I hope). But for now, we thought we’d offer a peek into what we have been up to for Halloween.

I started a few weeks ago by making these polymer clay bat pendants. Each one is formed by hand, so they are all unique. In other words NOT perfect.  I rarely use molds for any of my polymer clay items. There is something about…

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No Excuses (well, maybe just a few)

Ummmm – excuse me while I sneak in here and pretend I haven’t been missing for the past six months(!). But I do have several good excuses;

1. I opened a brick and mortar shop, which keeps me pretty busy.

2. I’ve had no internet access from that shop, which keeps me off-line most the day.

3. I am now a grandmother, which doesn’t necessarily keep me super busy, but is as good an excuse as any I think.

4. I was trying to avoid a stalker.

Needless to say, my life has not been lacking in blog material, just time. I’m hoping this post will get me back on track to becoming the great internet sensation I was building up to all those months ago. And by the way, if you’ve been following along, you’ll remember I was leading up to a big reveal of a couple of huge surprises: Refer to numbers 1 and 3 above. Hey – it’s been six months – I’m a little over it all already.

Anyway, in running my own shop, Twist n Pout, a small collective of local artists and Etsy sellers, I’ve faced a few challenges in finding the focus to create my own “art”. Just when I have a creative break through, I face another distraction that takes me off course. Yet today, I’m sitting here with a great sense of accomplishment. Not that I have completed an actual project, but I did get one thing done.

I’ve had an idea to create a tin based on a classic American film. (Maybe you can guess which film, based on this little piece I just made.)  I’ve been thinking about it for a few months. I’ve collected bits and pieces for it, started it, restarted it and finally tossed it aside in my growing graveyard of unfinished projects. Last night however, I found the perfect element for this tin idea.


I wanted a sculpture, but I knew clay would present a challenge, so I decided to try my hand at creating a paper owl sculpture. I began to sketch the idea, thinking of how I would need to cut and fold the paper. Then it occurred to me – someone, somewhere in the Googleverse, must have had the same idea once, so I Googled “create a mini paper owl”.

Clearly, there are some highly creative and talented people out there and I have no idea why none of these people aren’t wildly famous for their skills. What really makes these talented folks so special though, is their willingness to share their how to’s with us. For FREE :)

The barn owl model I decided to make was by Japanese designer, Zardos. To the best of my ability, I have tried to give the most accurate credit I could find about this designer. I have found little information on Zardos, but there is a large selection of models at papermau.blogspot.com. Free printouts for personal use are available, as are assembly instructions. The directions for this owl were in Japanese, but the pictures were fairly easy to follow.

I wanted my owl to be small, so I printed the images at 50%. This made the talons a whole lotta fun to cut and assemble.

owl modelThe rest was just more cutting, folding and gluing.  After a full day of cutting, folding and gluing I ended up with this little guy:


He is not exactly finished, he could use a little trim and a touch up with some paint, but he is assembled and ready for his new home in my next tin  – yayyyy

And now, can you guess what classic American film I have in mind?

Have a most wonderful day, afternoon or evening, depending on the side of the world you are reading this from.




Introducing My Etsy Shop (finally)

Whew, I thought things would slow down after the holidays, but I have been as busy as ever. For now I will post the newest item added to my Etsy shop. I opened my Etsy shop in April of last year and never really officially launched it. I’ve been waiting for the perfect time and well, what’s the saying, “there is no time like the present”?

(My New Year Resolution is to fight the perfectionist in me, so look at this as a small step on my road to success.)

I found a way to combine my interest in creating altered Altoids tins with my new-found obsession of creating these little mini books.

frames book front 2

You can find a few more of my items at my Etsy store, TwistnPout.

Oh, and as for those big surprises I had in store for a later date? They are still in the works, but hopefully will be revealed next month. Well, one of them will for sure – because it will happen whether I am ready or not. :)

Happy Friday!

One Man’s Trash…

It is true, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In this case though, it took a bit of work to turn actual trash into a little treasure.

I hosted a baby shower last month and the very last hour before guests arrived, I had a brilliant idea to quickly make a guest book. Needless to say, such a last-minute project was a little unrealistic. Firstly, I had never made a book before and secondly, well, there are always those last-minute details to attend to before guests arrive and creating a book from scratch doesn’t fit into the plan. I had to scrap the idea, but only temporarily. You can bet this was a project placed at the very top of my to-do list.

A few days after the hubbub of Thanksgiving and baby showers I came down with a cold that was bad enough to keep me homebound for a few days. What better way to spend a sick day than browsing the internet, and especially Pinterest? I hadn’t completely given up on my book making dreams, but the cold was causing me to lose my motivation. However, I had to make something for a silent art auction, so being obsessed with altered books lately, and still contemplating how to make a proper book,  I decided to spend my sick day doing a little research on the topic.

There are, of course, tons of tutorials on how to make books of various sizes, shapes and styles to be found on the internet.  I spent several hours “oohing and aahing” over gorgeous hand-made books and then I came across this very easy to follow mini soap box book tutorial by Avital from her blog “Creativity Prompt”.  I love the tag line “seduce your creativity and it will soar…” I couldn’t agree more and this soap box book idea did indeed seduce my creativity.

I started with this:


The idea of this project was to use those small scraps of paper left over from past projects that are too good to throw away, yet somehow never the right size to use in other projects. I was happy get started on my mini book and use some of the scraps I’ve stashed a way over the years (yes, YEARS).

Because I have a thing for boxes, I also wanted to make a box to hold the book. A business card box was  an almost perfect fit, but I wanted a lid that would lift off rather than this flap style. A little altering and it would be even more perfect:

box project

1. and 2.  I cut the box in half* to make a top and bottom.

3. I then cut the bottom part of the box in half, (and also the top) so the halves could be slid together for a better fit around the soap box.

4. Completed box, trimmed to size and the top flap taped closed to create a lift-off lid.

(* as you can see in the photos, when I say “half” I don’t actually mean an exact half – I just eyeball and envision how parts  will fit together, the two pieces, regardless of what they measure are “halves”. Sorry, it’s just how my brain works…)

Below, You can see how the little book will fit perfectly into the altered box. ( a word on that later…)


I then began to work on the box, below you can see the first layer of paint.

painted box

I continued to embellish the box top and bottom. I was excited to start on the book, but after completely assembling the box, I discovered all those layers of paint and paper (A few millimeters maybe?) caused the bottom to fit too tightly to the top. So tightly in fact, I had to make a completely new box! Uggggghhhhhh. So, what you see here is not the original box, but the prototype. It was back to the drawing board, but essentially, the same steps were followed with a different box. Just keep in mind, even a thin layer of paper will need to be accounted for when trying to create a perfect fit.

After making a whole new box, I started on the book. For details on how to make the book, head over to Avital’s awesome tutorial. Don’t forget, you can make any size book, any style using the same principles in Avital’s tutorial.

Anyway, here is my mini book and box. Of course, it would never work as a guest book, but with a little imagination and a bigger box, the possibilities are endless.

completed boxbook

I can’t wait to make more, more, MORE! of these tiny trashy treasures. :) The trick is going to be controlling my urge to save every empty box that comes my way. I can see how this may turn into a problem…

And before I forget, HAP-HAP-HAPPY Holidays to you all! And may the New Year bring you adventure, excitement, good health and prosperity!


Wow, that is a lot of exclamation points….. but what do you expect from someone who not only starts a sentence with “and” but an entire paragraph?