Life on the EDGE?

There have been many  blog worthy events in my life lately, but my poor time management skills have prohibited me from scheduling any serious writing time.

I guess I’ll start with the most recent happening in my life. Most likely that is also where I’ll end because lets face it, too much of a good thing can get boring. I’ll try to make it quick.

Two months ago I stepped (actually, I was pushed) way out of my comfort zone.  Now, I consider myself a very adaptable person and I’ve had my share of positive life experiences that were often the result of my being pushed out of my comfort zone, but for the most part, I prefer to stay in my comfy little zone and maybe extend an arm or leg into the uncomfortable world of unknowns from time to time. After all, what is life if you don’t live on the edge just a little?

What makes me uncomfortable?
Strangers
Writing
Large groups of strangers
Talking about myself
Talking about myself to a large group of strangers

Oddly enough though, I’ve been known to respond to online invitations to attend groups and meetings with people I’ve never met before and for the most part I have always had good experiences with doing that. I’ve also had to give presentations and even talk about myself just a little to rooms full of strangers. I can do it, I just don’t like to.  But nothing causes me greater discomfort than having to share my “art” and vision with people, strangers or not. That may come as surprise to the  faithful few who follow me  on Facebook, Instagram and here where all I do is write about my explorations in artistic discovery, but trust me, it is not something I feel entirely confident or comfortable doing. Which explains some of my long absences here. I  do it because I feel I have to if I expect to go anywhere with any of this. ANYWAY….

On one of those occasions where I  decided to drift into the unknown by attending a lecture on social media marketing for artists (with a friend who I also forced out of her comfort zone…) there was mention by the facilitator about applications being accepted for EDGE. EDGE is a one week professional development resident program that helps emerging artists develop their goals. It has helped many an artist set goals and launch successful careers.  The deadline to apply was June 31st. I found out about the program on June 29th – I’m a little foggy on the exact dates, but the point is I didn’t think about applying because well, that would have been way too uncomfortable. I would have had to show actual artists my work AND write about myself AND write about my work and I was not / am not  in any way ready to think about applying for anything like that.  I knew though, that my friend was more than ready and I encouraged her to apply, which she said she might consider while also making a million excuses as to why she shouldn’t. Oh, we are so good for each other.

I put EDGE out of my mind and on the morning of the 31st my friend sent me a hilarious text message. She had decided to apply for EDGE and she thought I should too.  I sent her back  an “LOL” she – of all people! – had decided to apply! I was shocked, amazed, impressed – she did it, good for her! But I had to laugh at her thinking for one moment I was at that level. And that is when she pushed me. But for some reason, I was ok with playing along and thought: what is the worst that could happen?

Well, I could have my soul crushed like a walnut under a wheel loader is what could happen! And frankly, I have had enough of that for the past two years. It’s not so much that I can’t handle rejection. Well, yes actually it is that. I suck at rejection, even though I’ve had plenty of practice with it over the years, it never gets easy.

At her urging and pushing I decided to arm myself with some duct tape for the soul and give it a try. After all, I had 9 hours to fill out the application. Plenty of time. I completed the process with about 10 minutes to spare.  Then I waited. I figured there would be no news until after the July Holiday, so it was pretty easy to forget about it, plus I was pretty sure there wasn’t a chance at all I would be accepted. Then still I wondered…

A couple of weeks went by and I received a very happy and nervous text message  from my pushy friend (yes that is how we communicate – rarely do we ever talk to each other, this way we can stay in our comfort zones and still be social) that she had been accepted! I was so super happy for her. And I patiently waited for my rejection letter to come.

It never came. I began to feel a little tremor in my soul. After a couple of weeks, my soul cracked.

Apparently my artist’s statement, statement of work, my “art”, my application was so horrible none of it was even worthy of a rejection letter. I laughed to and at myself. What was I thinking? If It was just a mail in application perhaps the rejection would not have caused me such distress. However, with social media and so many of us on-line everywhere, there was a very deep gut wrenching feeling that not only do I suck, but that I was being passed around on every type of  media device known to man. I could hear the laughter, the jokes and I convinced myself to be happy that I had brought so much joy to so many people for a day. But I seriously became quite embarrassed for a few days too, thinking that everyone from the program might have peaked at one or all of my social media sites in order to assure themselves that they really don’t suck so bad after all.

As my soul crumbled to dust over a couple more weeks, I did finally receive the rejection letter I thought I was so unworthy of. I felt better. I looked at the bright side, the application had forced me to look hard at my goals and think about what I really want to do, should be doing or NOT doing. I also wrote an artist’s statement, a bio and about my process. True, none of it was good enough to convince anyone of my potential, but what I had left was a really polished rough draft that could be tweaked for future use.

HA! Future USE? Like that is ever going to happen.

Yet, I keep at it. Why? I’m not sure. I  will say though, I think I have given up on the art aspect of what I am trying to do and  may just stick with making what sells. Or I may not. I guess I’m still riding that wave.

And Then

And so I continued to go to my studio on a fairly regular basis and just kept making anything that came to mind. Feeling pretty satisfied and generally happy with the process, but like a complete failure with the finished “work”. Yes, these are fun, people like them, but what do they say?

Then, leaving my studio yesterday I had a thought; “#@(K  this *(&T  I’m going to do ART. And it might be weird and strange and SUCK but at this point , I just don’t care.” But then, maybe it wont be weird. Maybe it will be pretty and nice and that is ok, right? And no one even needs to know it exists.

And Then (Again)

I came home yesterday and went through the routine of checking emails and OMG… what should I find in my in box?

These exact words:
Happy Wednesday to you! You were next on our alternate list in case someone from Visual EDGE had to unexpectedly drop, which just happened.

Well, how funny is this? I was pretty quick to want to say “YES!” but before hitting ‘send’ on that, I stopped to think… I was still super excited about my friend getting accepted and the thought of us going together was more exciting than my receiving the offer of acceptance (for a few seconds). I knew she was going, but I also know how she can sometimes talk herself out of things and I wondered if perhaps her anxiety might have gotten the best of her. How funny would it be if I accepted and SHE was the one who dropped out? Clearly this was beyond a text message and a phone call was absolutely in order. Plus, I was not entirely sure I really wanted to go, the thought of being there with all those strangers, talking, showing my “art” to judges and critics… not exactly healing balm for the soul.

After confirming she was, indeed, still attending and convincing me of why it was super important for me to go and what an honor it was to have such a great opportunity, I went ahead and hit ‘send’ on that email reply.

And now, I must go sweep up the dusty crumbles of my crushed soul and return to my comfy place where I will take aim and get ready to toss every little bit haphazardly over the EDGE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens at the Forest’s Edge

After weeks of battling serious artist’s block, I decided it would be best to give up on forcing an idea to develop and not think about doing anything creative. At all. Ever again.

This new outlook was just a little stressful. I was thinking about an upcoming show I’d be doing and I wanted to have new merchandise on display. But I just couldn’t come up with an idea. When there was a flicker of an idea, I lacked ambition to do anything with it.

So I did what all frustrated adult children do in times of stress; I picked up my coloring book and crayons (and my Oreos) and headed to my happy place.

Ahhhhh, there’s nothing like the feel (or smell) of brand new coloring book to transport you to that feel good place of wonder and possibilities. At first it was very intimidating, I was afraid I’d turn those gorgeous, magical illustrations of enchanting forest life into something more of an environmental doomsday disaster. How can a middle-aged adult woman be afraid of a coloring book? I realized how ridiculous I was being and after a few days of admiring and caressing the pages I decided this was MY coloring book and I was going to do with it what I wanted.  I then made the mistake of Googling how others were coloring their books and quickly realized how much I suck… not just at coloring but… MY GOD…. did I actually Google and watch other people coloring?  Well, I embraced my crazy, slammed down a fistful of Oreos, opened the book, grabbed the first crayon within my reach and threw caution to the wind.

After a few days of this madness I started to feel a little happy. After a few more days I had an idea.

I began to gather my pieces.

small bits

I approached this project with the same attitude I did the coloring; I just went for it. The idea was just like the illustrations in the book; there for me to fill in and expand on, but not to be feared. It was ok to color outside the lines. And it was more than ok if things got messy. And it would even be ok if it never got finished.

getting there

I rolled paper (for the scrolls and mini books – not what you’re thinking), picked up and smashed up twigs, broke mirrors, cut up twine, went through my stash and pulled out little pieces I’ve stored away for this very day, then smeared it all with black paint. I worked away and became one with that crazy old cat woman, alone in a ramshackle cabin at the edge of that enchanted forest, collecting and hoarding all the dead and dying things it spat out. All while not having a care or concern in the world.

I created my true happy place. Which is a complete opposite of my zen garden happy place, but there is room for more than one happy place.

LAB Collage

apothecary tins

After dabbling with these pieces,  I was able to easily move on to other projects that required a little more focus and neatness.  I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the lesson is in all this. I think it’s that sometimes we just need to get over ourselves and do something completely different, no matter how silly it may seem. And sometimes we don’t have to DO anything. In doing nothing we allow new ideas to form…. you know, “listen to the universe”…

If you haven’t already caught on to this new coloring craze – I would highly recommend it. I find it to be quite relaxing and meditative. You can find these “adult” coloring books in craft stores, book stores and even in the book section of some retail grocery stores – I suggest picking up a supersize snack pack of Oreo cookies as well – to achieve the full effect of the experience.

coloring book collage

I’d love to hear how you combat and overcome your artist’s block. You can also find out more about the artist and creator of these stunning coloring books, Johanna Basford, by visiting her website johannabasford.com.

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!

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 by a friend, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta. Maryanne asked me to make a raven themed tin for her good friend Darlene Foster, a very talented artist who specializes in digital photography and image enhancement.

First, just a short side note… Maryanne has an interesting blog, All Maryanne, All The Time, where she writes about what moves her; music (she is a HUGE music fan), movies, general observations and especially her writing career (Maryanne has a book due out soon titled “On The Guest List”, all about her adventures as a music journalist in the hot spots of NYC). We actually met through blogging and have had the chance to chat over the phone and also become Facebook friends. It’s been a pleasure getting to know her and I was very honored she asked me to make this tin.

I wanted to unveil this in October, but was waiting for Maryanne to present it to Darlene first…

I was very nervous about this task because after looking at Darlene’s work, I felt grossly inadequate as an artist. 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 that Darlene is 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.

I heard Darlene was happy with it. I really enjoyed making it and thoroughly enjoyed browsing Darlene’s website and learning more about her as an artist. I also learned a lot about ravens as I did my research.

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…)

And as the mighty Tigger says…

TTFN,

Cheers!
(well, ok – I don’t think Tigger actually says THAT)

The Hidden Path Revealed

I intended to write a witty, whimsical post involving mysterious sea creatures and how one evening as I took a moonlit stroll along the beach, I was visited by a wise old octopus. As he levitated above the ocean shore he stretched out far-reaching tentacles. Each tentacle pointed to a different path and each path was right and looked as promising as the other. Indeed, each path is worthy of travel and exploration:

RIght View
Right Intentions
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Livelihood
Right Effort
Right Concentration
Right Mindfulness

But I’m no philosopher and so I will only leave you with these few photos of what I managed to work on this month.

octopus before

Before smoothing, baking and sanding

After:

octopus Collage

Oh, and a song too 🙂

A Bunch of Stuff and a New Tin…


What can I say? I’m completely uncreative when it comes to writing titles.

I should be posting about the Craft Fair I did earlier in the month.  Truth is, it was a little uneventful. And I mean that in the most positive way.

Everything went smoothly from set up to tear down. Aside from our group of 10, we had a lot of help from a few husbands which made set up all the easier. A few ladies in our group are veterans at this craft fair business, so they walked  us rookies through it. We also had a great project manager who  wrote up a plan of action for each of us, so we all knew what our roles were from the get go.  I was a little nervous about the whole thing because well, you know how it can be to work with a group of highly creative women, each with fabulous ideas —- things can get a little tense. As a newbie to the group, this was a chance for me to get to know everyone on a more personal level. What a fantastic group of talented, intelligent, fun and funny women! We laughed, We cried! It was great. My personal sales were better than I expected and the overall experience was a positive one. I did learn I wouldn’t do that particular venue again, but I would do another event  in a minute with this group. And I am. Next moth. But that is another post…..

WHEW – now that was a wordy paragraph.

Anyway, if you have specific questions about how to pull off a craft fair – ask away and I will be happy to share. (My first tip though, is to do it with a large group of awesome, motivated, experienced friends.)

I’ve been a little lazy since the fair and took some time to focus on non creative tasks. My brain needed a rest. But I’m ready to get back to work! I’ve been asked to create a couple of custom tins which I am really excited about.

My first job was to design a business card holder for a friend.  She had mentioned she liked mine and asked if I would make her one. I was happy to do it, but she didn’t give me much of a hint about what style she wanted. When I asked her, she said “Oh anything.” Perhaps she was only being nice, but she’s gonna get one now, like it or not.  After cyber stalking her for a couple of days, poking around Facebook and her Etsy Store, My Jealous Heart, I didn’t come up with much, so I just went way out on a limb and did my own thing.

The Reveal

Remember how cool it was for rock stars to start their sets with their backs turned to the audience? The crowd would wait in anticipation as the lead singer tapped his foot, or snapped his fingers through the song intro then, on cue, he’d turn around to belt out the first line of lyrics, the crowd would go wild?  That is sort of what I am going for here:

buscardback

Back of Altered Altoids Tin;
Cue  music…

I’ve been a little obsessed with old school American tattoos lately. Not getting one, but the images and how I’ve been seeing them used on everything from pot holders to diaper bags.  As I kicked around a few ideas in my head about this card holder, I though, why not design one in the spirit of an old school tattoo?

I had so much fun with this because I had no idea how I would do it, so there was a lot of experimental play happening. I wanted a banner, I knew that, but it had to be durable and it had to have the name of my friends shop on it, which meant I’d have to custom make one.

I remembered a package of Polyshrink I had purchased about 20 years ago ( I did mention before that I am a hoarder right?) I had used a corner of only one sheet to make a charm once and never used it again. I retrieved it from my stash and began experimenting. Mostly I was concerned the banner would not shrink down to the desired size.  My lettering skills are terrible, so I had to use stamps and stamp each letter on the Polyshrink (before baking). I was worried the lettering would be too small once the banner shrunk, but it turned out pretty good.

banner bef

hand colored and hand stamped Polyshrink, before baking.

banner aft

After baking at 300° for about 9 minutes.

Stays On ink pads were perfect for stamping the letters and I used Sharpies to color and add detail to the design – all before baking.

But of course, I needed something to hold the banner up. I drew a swallow, traced two of them onto the Polyshrink with carbon paper, colored the swallows with a Sharpie, cut them out,  PUNCHED THE HOLES (don’t forget to do that step) and baked it. The little birds took only about 3 minutes to shrink down to size.

bef aft bird

The original sketch and the little baked bird 🙂

Above you can see the original size of the sketch for the bird.  I had forgotten how fun this was!!

I wont get into details about the trials and errors, it really wasn’t too bad, the main thing is to have patience and know, the bigger the piece, the longer it may take to shrink and it will go through some startling stages as it shrinks. Eventually it will flatten out and look normal. There are a lot of instructions online, which are far better than I can offer, but I would be happy to answer you specific questions; that is much easier than me trying to anticipate all the questions anyone MIGHT have.

The paper used in this project is all hand painted then details were added with art pens and acrylic paint, as with the heart. I also added acrylic rhinestones to give a little bling bling. I was tempted to use glitter, but thought the rhinestones were enough. (I’m trying to wean myself off glitter – ohhh the pain of glitter withdrawals….)

Here is the shot of the front along with a few detail shots: (HUGE cheers from the crowd)

jealous heart collage

In my experimenting, I found acrylic paints worked well on the Polyshrink. I attempted to use water based inks, but they smeared, even after baking. This was also true of my printer ink. Initially, I  was going to create the design in a photo editing program and print it onto the Polyshrink, but my ink was not compatible with the Polyshink and it smeared after baking as well. There are other types of shrink film available made for use with inkjet printers but I wanted to use what I already had.

Well, that’s it for this week. I must get back to my room redo’s, landscaping, painting and panicking (more on that in a future post) and I still have two other tins to get to, plus a few more for the fair – SOOOOoooooo I’m outta here for now.

Hope you have a fab week,

Cheers!

buscard2