I Have Ways to Make You Talk

You never know what twists and turns might happen in the studio.

What started out as two separate pieces, each destined for starring roles in their own story, turned into something completely different.

First, there was a bird, which I stumbled upon (literally, I tripped right over him) in a thrift store and paid too much for, probably because the thrift store was an antique store – and you know how the word antique increases the price of an object by about 200%. This bird is definitely not an antique. But I couldn’t resist, he was taking to me, chattering away about all the grand dreams he had. Until I got him home, then not a peep. For months.

One day, I decided to make him talk, so I painted him, hoping to coax some ideas from him. I would’ve been happy with anything he had to say. I was just tired of him sitting there, mocking me, blank eyed and mute.

The Empire, start

And he stayed in this whitewashed comatose state for many more months.

I decided I would tackle another project until that damn bird decided to start talking again.

The Empire, project beginning

This would be easy, I had a few ideas of what to do with this piece. Some kind of diorama for sure. I began collecting and forming parts to create an underwater scene but ended up going down another path chasing butterflies through a secret garden. ACkkkkk. This clock was not the right shape for that. But the butterflies carried me back to another time; the days when primordial sludge oozed over the earths surface and that one tiny little single-celled organism supposedly brought forth all the diverse, amazing and complex life we see on our planet today. I would create a time line of life on earth.

Then something happened and I lost interest in the idea.  To the unfinished project pile went the clock along with that mute, mocking bird.

When I hit an artistic block, I start reorganizing my work space. This could be to make room for the flow of creative energy or just simply a diversion tactic, I’m not entirely sure. As it happened on this particular day, in a moment of reorganization when I haphazardly placed the bird atop the clock, a new idea sprang forth.

First, a bit of surgery would be required. bird project I needed to repair the gaping hole in my not so feathered friend’s chest. Dry wall compound worked well for this. And while the opening in his chest was too large, the opening in the clock was too small, so that needed to be fixed as well.

After a few minor alterations…

The Empire

I wanted to include a globe in this piece and I was glad to find a papier-mache egg in my stash. I was not so glad though, when I made a few mistakes in painting it and had to find a way to wash the paint off the papier mache. You know what happens to paper when it gets overly wet… as I tried to gently erase my mistakes the paper began to disintegrate. But I was pretty happy to find a black smooth surface underneath.  I free hand cut a tiny map of the world – my deepest apologies for those island countries that may have been relocated or completely omitted – I think Italy is missing its boot heel. But, it doesn’t matter it is the end of the world after all.

The egg sits atop a rumbling wave of black sludge; a polymer clay tsunami.

It was important that the egg rotate, notice it is not on its axis, I struggled with tilting or keeping straight. I thought an earth in complete turmoil would most likely be off its axis, so this works, which was nice because the egg already had centered holes in it.

egg Collage

To make the earth rotate, I used a battery operated clock mechanism. This presented two problems; one, the mechanism sat too low and two, the battery would have to be changed which meant the egg would have to be removable. A small wooden spool made a good support and added the right height for the mechanism. I drilled a small hole in the clock bottom to place a peg which the spool would fit onto (2), giving the egg a little support and also allowing for the unit to be removed so the battery could be replaced (3).

That is about it for this month. I suppose I could go on and on about all the symbology of this piece here, but I think it speaks on its own. Or maybe not. But I do think maybe that bird learned a valuable lesson.

TTFN –

Altoids Tin Pop-UP

For some strange reason I had a strong need to create a chrysalis from polymer clay. I had no idea why or what I would do with it once I made it.

polymer clay chrysalis

How could I tell its story?
Cacoon tin collageI thought it would be fun, and maybe challenging, to create a pop-up.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I just love the way the butterfly unfolds when the tin is opened. Actually, the first photo is the second chrysalis I made, because I like this one so much I decided to make another one and thought I would give you a peek at how they look l before I paint them.

I also became so inspired by the pop-up concept I thought I would attempt it with something other than butterflies.

sparrowCollage

Again, polymer clay was used to make the eggs, which are then hand painted. The nest was made from wire. For both tins I used Steampunk Botanica scrapbook paper by DCWV. The lovely little sparrows were taken from the Graphics Fairy, an amazing resource of vintage images available to all crafters and artists for use in their projects. Thank You Graphics Fairy!

Well, it has been a rather productive week so far – wait, it is only Wednesday, I actually started these projects a couple of weeks ago, but I was able to get them finished up yesterday – just in time for a show I will be doing this weekend too. 🙂

Well, cheers to you all – have a fantastic day.

And Now for Something Completely Different

I am definitely not a foodie and if you know me personally, you might be surprised to find me writing a post about food.  On any given day I would rather scrub every floor in my house with a toothbrush than think about the answer to that dreaded question “What’s for dinner?”

I haven’t always been like this. There was a time when I’d put more effort into meal planning and prepping. Having small children who demand to be fed forces you to prepare decent and nutritious meals at least once a day. But over the last several years, my aversion to cooking has reached an all time high, if it gets much worse, I think we’ll be left to forage for crumbs in the sofa cushions soon.

I wish I enjoyed cooking, but I just don’t. I can’t even fake it. I envy friends who not only serve up delightful meals, but find great joy and excitement in doing so. Dishes so inspiring and delicious! The look on my husbands face as he bites into a flavorful morsel… I see him glance at me from across the table, he sheepishly says “Wow, that’s good.” I know he wants to spare me any embarrassment, but I feel ashamed. To hide my guilt, I usually turn the dinner party conversation to the tragic, sometimes funny, stories of my kitchen fiascos. I leave the party vowing to never again serve a haphazardly thrown together last-minute meal. He deserves better.

But my enthusiasm and aspirations quickly diminish as my friend goes on to tell me how easy the dish was to prepare…”OH, it’s so easy! You just sauté some garlic, set that aside, chop up some lemon grass, set that aside, then you…” I don’t remember exactly, after the third step I sort of lost interest. I not only lose interest… I want to run away kicking and screaming, “NO YOU CAN’T MAKE ME DO THIS!!!” I mean really? More than 3 steps??? The only thing that should come after “you just” is “add water”. So, there goes my best intentions for preparing anything close to fabulous meals. What is wrong with me?

Dinner time frustration finally came to an all time high a few weeks ago as I hunted around for something to boil and serve when my husband suggested we try having meals delivered.  OH JOY! REALLY??? I was so excited, I had thought of the idea myself, almost nightly, but it just seemed a little ….extravagant? Lazy? I immediately tossed the can opener aside and headed to the computer. If I hurried, perhaps I could get a meal delivered TONIGHT? No such luck… but I did a little research on meal delivery services, if you can call reading one review research, and since we knew people who used and were happy with Blue Apron, we decided to go with that.

Sadly, we’d have to wait a week for the service to start. What were we supposed to do until then? Starve?

Finally, after a week of anticipation the day finally arrived. There wasn’t a more glorious sight than seeing that little box waiting for me as I pulled up in the driveway.

I opened the box.

I have to admit, I was more excited about the actual box than its contents. The thought of having at least three meals right there in front of me, along with instruction cards, was reassuring. Even if I was a slightly doubtful this was three whole meals for two adult people. But hey, what do I know? The folks at Blue Apron are the professionals.

I tried to be positive. It was a Wednesday, a busy day for me, so I started cooking at about 6pm. It was also a very hot day, too hot to cook. The heat always zaps my appetite and I would have been happy to have eaten a few crackers and some cheese for dinner, but I couldn’t bag out on the first day. Where was my gratitude? My sense of adventure? I tried to convince myself this would be fun. Having all the ingredients right there along with the recipes would reduce some of the guess-work and make this more enjoyable. More joy, less stress. I might even learn something about spices and seasonings.

Day 1-Chicago Style Italian Beef Sandwiches
I decided to go for what looked the easiest. I’d like to say it was good, I’m sure it was delicious, but the hot weather and my less than upbeat mood made it hard to enjoy the meal. Plus, I am not a big meat-eater, and I found the meal too heavy for such a hot day. I should have opted for the seared salmon.

I considered day one to be only somewhat successful. I managed to get a meal on the table. I can’t say I felt very enthusiastic about it.

DSC_0713 2

Day 2 – Curry Spiced Chicken Thighs
 I managed to suffer through it and made a really tasty meal that could have fed a mouse.

Day 3 – Seared Salmon
Well, by now, I was just a little over all the chopping of onions, zesting of lemons and  peeling of garlic… but I could do this, even though it was still too hot to cook and I got a late start on the meal again. 

Day two and day three were about as successful as day one. I still lacked enthusiasm. I managed to fumble through the first week of meals and tried not to complain too much.

I was less excited about our second delivery. I was thrilled to see the box there waiting for me, but I was also filled with just a little dread about what I’d find inside. Oh Well…

Day 4 – pan Seared Cod with Basmati Rice
This day seriously made me rethink the idea of ordering food I have to cook. It was stressful. I was trying to juggle getting the basmati rice cooked, but not overcooked while I chopped veggies, deseeded lemons and sautéed snow peas to a nice bright green.The heat only added to my stress level – that and trying to include a 16 month old in on the cooking session, I forgot 16 months is still just a little young to actually be considered helpful, especially at chopping vegetables. How in the world did I ever manage as a mother? Really – I used to cook, clean take care of kids – – and did it all quite well. Where is that woman?

Day 5 didn’t happen. It looked complicated. And it was too hot to cook.

And the rest of the days are somewhat of a blur.

I have to say, after 3 weeks, it was time to cut the Blue Apron strings.

Over all lessons and Critique

Here is a sampling of the meals we had delivered over the course of the month….ALL very tasty. I have no complaints about the quality or flavor of the food.

blue apron

At first glance it appears the meals can be prepared in just six steps, which is really four too many.  However, I quickly found each set of steps involved two or more steps. This is where I learned my very first lesson: recipes are deceiving. Aside from that little fact, I also learned a few other things:

2- Follow the recipe and don’t alter it in any way – like omitting key ingredients that seem insignificant. I always figured if a recipe calls for a minuscule amount of something, how important can it be? Maybe pretty important.

3- Ghee isn’t just a uniform you wear in Karate class. That would be a gi.

4- There is a difference between a shallot and a green onion. Not only that, some people think the difference is so wide, an average onion should never be used as a substitute for a shallot. Whatever… (should I refer back to lesson 2?)

5- Sorrel is not just the color of a horse.

6- We may be extreme over eaters – I am always blown away (and a little disgusted) by the portion sizes I see served in restaurants. I find it easy to share a meal with a friend or two. But the meals from Blue Apron had me questioning my eating habits and ideas about portion size. Perhaps one cup of barley and two asparagus spears IS a full meal.

7- Lemon zest is a staple ingredient for just about any recipe, though only a small amount is used, don’t omit it.

Overall, we were satisfied with the quality of the food and variety of the menu. My main complaint, other than having to cook every meal, would be that the portion sizes were very small.  I think for a single person who enjoys cooking, but has little time to plan and shop, this is a very good service at an affordable price.

About the price:  I’m certain the meals would have cost more had I gone out and bought all the ingredients. True, some of those ingredients wouldn’t be purchased every week and would just be added to my spice cabinet, which currently consist of cinnamon, Old Bay and cream of tartar. The cinnamon and cream of tartar were purchased for a craft project (go figure). But the meats and vegetables alone may have added up to more than $60.00 a week, especially if I had purchased enough to make a filling meal for each of us. However, when feeding more than two people, the price of the service goes up and I am not sure this would be a cost-effective way to feed a family, or anyone with a hearty appetite. Not recommended for lumberjacks.

So there you have it, my adventure into the world of the culinary arts.  It lasted about all of a month. I’ve come to accept the fact that I do not enjoy cooking and never will. I remind myself  my husband didn’t marry me for my cooking skills – he could have taken the high road after the first meal I made him (steak and kidney pie) – don’t ask… basically he grew up in Scotland and always went on about missing steak and kidney pie, so I surprised him with my home-made version. Yep- he should have known right then and there.

And now, I am off to hunt for tonight’s meal – unfortunately, the dog may have beaten me to the sofa.

All Doweled Up

I found some dowels and bun style armoire feet in the garage the other day. I decided to make kokeshi dolls out of them. Or, scroll dolls in this case.

spring kokeshi  doll Collage

That was so much fun, I decided to buy a few more dowels and feet and make more.

creepy kokeshi Collage

raven kokeshi doll

And then I had a crazy idea of what to do with my itty bitty paper scraps.

kokeshi peg people

Incase you are wondering, scroll dolls are referred to as Sayonara dolls. They are scrolls – and are generally presented to a person as a goodbye gift – the doll gets passed around to friends/coworkers who sign it and offer sentimental phrases about how sorry they are to see you go… but they are also presented at special occasions such as weddings, graduations… you get the point. I think they are a more interesting alternative to a boring old American style card. Don’t you?

As for the peg dolls, I decided not to make scrolls out of them – for right now.

Now I am off to find my sense of humor, which seems to be hiding from me these days.

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

untarnished back

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?

 

 

 

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.

[IMG]http://i317.photobucket.com/albums/mm374/mauther/animals%202/barnowlpapermodel00011_zps1c7f6eb9.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

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:

paperowlCollage

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.

Cheers!

 

 

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:

DSC_0403_2

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…)

DSC_0410

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!

Cheers!

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?

TTFN,
M.

Oh, So Raven

As usual, once October approaches, November and December come full speed at me. Here it is the end of November and not a post has been posted…

I have very exciting news to share. Well, two bits of exciting news, but I’m waiting to share until most the details have been worked out.

In the mean time, I thought I’d share with you a tin I was “commissioned” to do. I was asked to make a raven themed tin for an artist who specializes in digital photography and image enhancement.

I was nervous about this task because after looking at the work created by this artist, I felt grossly inadequate. How could I, a “self-teaching” unknown, create anything worthy enough to present to a talented, accomplished artist? I love her work, the haunting images, the eeriness of it all, and I wanted to capture the ideas expressed in her work without feeling as though I was copying.

But, I’m always up for a challenge. Being this was for a photographer, I thought it would be fun to create a small frame inside the tin. The problem would be placing a photo inside the frame. The frame would have to be removable.

I decided on a square frame rather than circular. The clay was formed around the assembled frame before baking.
I settled on a square frame rather than circular. The clay was formed around the existing frame of 2 joined tags before baking.

I decided to make a small frame out of polymer clay (I am really loving this stuff). I used the metal frames from vellum tags then used three toothpicks between, along the metal part of the tag, to create a space for a photo. A small opening was made by omitting a fourth toothpick along the top of the joined frames so a photo could easily be slid in. For the frame to be removed from the tin, I attached a small, strong magnet to the back of the frame.  I kept velum intact for the back part of the frame, which I adhered the magnet to with E6000 glue.  I must have snapped this photo before I molded the clay frame to the metal part of the tags.  I also used clay to seal up the portions where the toothpicks might have been exposed – that would have ruined the look I was going for :).

raven drawing

I was happy with the raven drawing (right), but once placed on the tin, it lacked dimension. I could have used pop dots to raise the image, however, I was concerned the small drawing on its own would not be sturdy enough to withstand handling. The other option was a polymer raven, I was not happy with the results of that. I decided to place the drawing over the polymer piece which would give both dimension and support. I used Mod Podge to join the pieces together.

So here it is, the finished product.

rav2Collage

Typically, the raven is associated with dark magic, death and often seen perched on tombstones or atop skulls. I love all those images and the dark mystery that surrounds the raven, but for this project I wanted to focus on the positive side of the raven; keeper of secrets, bringer of light (according to Native American creation legends), preserver of ancestral memories. As the raven mates for life, I also see it as a symbol of love, faithfulness and security. These were the characteristics I attempted to capture here.

Being “commissioned” to do a piece of art work IS indeed exciting. I felt privileged and honored that anyone would consider asking me to do this. And as exciting as this was for me, I am super excited to share my next bit of news with you too! But as stated in the beginning – you will just have to wait. (only the raven knows…)

Until next time.

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