Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hand-bound Books, Journals, and Boxes

My sister-in-law is an art teacher and quite an artist as well.  She's responsible for me learning how to make hand-bound books. She also got me hooked on buying books about making books! lol  Here are some that I've made:
I made this journal for my trip to Ireland last year. My friend Susie suggested I keep a journal as we traveled. That was such a great idea Suze!  When it came time to do the scrapbooks of the trip, my journaling was all done:)
I keep notes about my wardrobe in this one - care labels and tags. Yeah, kinda OCD, but I forget. Besides I cut the tags out of my clothes because they itch my neck!!
This one has all my colored pencil notes, articles and color charts in it.  I kind of cheated on this binding, as I used a roll-o-bind machine. 
When giving a box of cards to a friend as a gift, I like to include some greetings.  I used to print them on parchment, cut them apart, and put them in an envelope.  I decided this was a lot of work for the recipient, because they'd have to sort through the greetings and then glue them in.  I recently decided it might be better to make a little book of greetings, and they could write in their own.  In a box of cards, I gave one to a friend for her birthday recently and she loved it!
Tag book.
I wrote Haiku poetry on each tag. Teaching 5th graders made this fun, cause they have to learn how to write poetry and when they see their teacher do it, they are more interested.  Last year, I helped each kid make their own poetry book.  They made Japanese stab-bound books like the rose one above.  Took us a few days, but the kids loved their creations.

These are the tags found inside each envelope page.
 This is old and I love it. I decided to show it to you because you may not know the story behind it. It's a Victorian Needle Box.  They are usually made of cardboard and covered with fabric.  Each portion inside would have pockets and hooks to hold thread, needles etc.  Several years ago, someone inked and stamped on one and it was published in Somerset Studio magazine.  When I saw it, I HAD to have one!  The only place I could find one at that time was from a lady in northern Canada.  She had to wait until the pass cleared in the spring when the mail began running again!  I had to trace the pattern, cut and assemble the thing from scratch. What a chore that was! Now they sell the template for making these all over the place, and they are even already cut out of cardboard for you.
Inside the last pyramid is another box, a square, where the thimble was stored.  Mine had little charms and beads in it that I had forgotten were there!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Colored Pencil Techniques

I love Prismacolor pencils.  I decided I needed to brush up on my technique, so I pulled books from the shelf, notes from files and began re-reading them. Being a former teacher, I of course took notes. This turned out to be a happy accident, as a friend of mine wanted some help with her new Prismacolors. Several years ago I found a color chart in order by numbers. I’ve used it just to keep track of what colors I had. A few days ago I came across a chart done in color families and I thought wow, what a great way to decide what colors to use on a project and what colors you want to put together.  In her book, Colored Pencil for the Serious Beginner, Bet Borgeson talks about how to actually USE the color wheel and has an illustration of the colors and how the progression of hue temperature changes from cool to warm... which is how you show more or less light.  Light bulb went on in my head! I really like this book, it’s written for regular people who are not experienced. 
My tips and techniques notes can be found HERE
My new color chart by color families:
chart page two
Great Article on Prismacolors 
Good Video

Sunday, August 28, 2011


My Grandma's name was Flossie McCray Witt.  She was a totally amazing woman.  I've never known anyone quite like her. While visiting them in their new retirement home in New Mexico, she taught me what a rock hound was, and helped me begin my collection.  We made a container out of an empty bleach bottle, with a picture glued on the front for decoration.  I still have that container full of pretty rocks from that exotic place that seemed so very different to a seven year-old girl from rural Indiana. She also gave me most of her precious post card collection.  I thought those pictures from all those different places were simply magical.  Grandma told me about each and every one, when she and Grandpa had been there and what they did. Many of these postcards were quite old and I treasured them so.  I could not believe that she was giving them to me, after all I was the baby.  I was by far the youngest of her grandchildren. Her oldest was in her late 30's and then me who was only a mere seven.  She told me story after story of her life as a child in Ohio, then marrying Grandpa and moving to Oregon, then Washington, and California.  She told me all about her parents, Grandpa's parents and his Grandma.  I knew which country they each emigrated from. I remember asking her over and over, "tell me another story Grandma." I think of all the grandchildren, I'm the one who knows the most about our family history.

I kept those postcards and began adding to my collection that same year. Grandma helped me choose some from New Mexico before we left.  Every time we went somewhere, I had to buy a postcard. You must understand this was quite often as our family traveled a great deal. My father trained and raced harness horses which kept us on the move.  I've continued this practice my entire life.  You would not believe how many postcards I have now.  I have a huge box, and in it they are all categorized by state and country. Naturally, for my first trip to Europe last year, I thought of postcards. I knew I would buy many of them to chronicle my trip to Ireland, the home of  my great great grandparents, the Kellys, the Beatties, the Floras, and the Trants. Of course I had to create something special to hold my treasures. So I made the book below.

Oriental Scroll

I made this today.  I was thinking of a scroll, something Oriental and ancient.  The art stamps are from Stone House and I used Prismacolors.  I used a tissue to buff and smooth the finished piece.

I made this stained glass mosaic table by using grout instead of soldering the pieces. I prefer making mosaics to soldering. I also made several stepping stones with cement as grout.

Demo work

In the past I did some demo work for stores and art stamp companies. I enjoyed that, but graduate school and changing jobs stole all the time available to pursue artwork.  Early retirement means that's not a problem any more:)  I'd like to get back into that, and maybe publish again as well.  I'm working on a large collage right now that may turn out to be something I could submit to Somerset Studio. We'll see. I remember how excited I was when they first published something of mine.  It was in the Return to Asia special edition. I was screaming and running around the house like a crazy person!! I called all my friends and my brother. My friends on the Oriental Stamp Art forum were excited with me and we all posted like crazy for days searching through the magazine for each others' work.  I still have the hand-bound book of Japanese paper dolls and the scroll with its box on a table in my work room. The Chinese take-out box now holds prismacolors. The cards have long since been given to friends for birthdays or get well wishes.  I still get tons of inspiration from all the beautiful artwork in that issue.

Must get back to work.  I'm pressing leaves: ginko, Japanese maple and bamboo.

Oriental Art

These two were done with Prismacolor pencils and the art stamps are from Stone House.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Polished Stone

Polished stone technique with Tria alcohol inks, daisy done with Prismacolor pencils.
Prismacolor pencils on the one pane.

Experimenting with color, supposed to be split complimentary, but I don't like that yellow border. It kind of hurts...too jaring. I might like a calmer more subdued yellow better.

Bookmark Tutorial

Found the coolest template and tutorial for the braided paper technique.  Of course this is AFTER I tried to do it by hand... measuring and cutting and cussing!  lol

This is my pitiful attempt.  I even had to tape the back where I cut where the exacto knife went where it wasn't supposed to go.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I love photography

I love my Canon camera and new photo printer as well. I've been learning more about how to use the manual setting. I took a digital photography class a few years ago at the University, but my son is light years ahead of me.  He's taught me more than I learned in the class.  Using Photoshop is so much fun, but continues to be a great challenge. I just felt like I was making some real progress with Photoshop, and now we have Photomatix!  That's a whole other program to learn! 
It's really cool though:)

These pictures were taken in Walterboro, South Carolina.  - The Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. Yes, I was really that close to the gators. But the car was right behind me as well.

Right near the old rice fields. 
Great Blue Heron
This was an old rice plantation, this is the trunk gate used to control the water level on the fields.  I love the sign, it reads, "Gators may be present."  May be present.... yeah ah  - we saw over twenty in one spot in one pond, you literally had to watch where you stepped!

Recent Photos

Old Sheldon Church built in 1745 Beaufort, South Carolina. During the Revolutionary War it was burned by the British. Rebuilt in 1826, then burned again by General Sherman during the Civil War.  Weddings are held here today, although the venue comes with plenty of native inhabitants...mosquitoes!

Watercolor experiments


This early retirement is actually pretty good.  I was disappointed at first that I couldn't find another full time job, but I do have a part time consulting position that is supposed to begin winter semester. I love being able to explore my creativity and not have to deal with children who can not behave and parents who don't help.  I do miss the good kids though... but not the administration. Their sole task in life is to shove all the work and blame onto the teachers. Hey, as a friend of mine says, "we didn't give birth to them."

I've been teaching myself how to paint (watercolor) and it's fun.  The operative word here is FUN, I'm that good yet.  Notice how I said yet? I plan to improve I can't get worse right?  I've read books and books and studied watercolor art online and at galleries.  I really need to take a class, so that's first on my Christmas list.

I've also been working on photography as usual along with rubber stamping and mixed media stuff. Oh and reading to my heart's content of course!