Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Make do, Mend and Brag

One of the weirdly enjoyable pursuits I do in my, probably fortunately, spare time, is making things over into other things.

Such as ancient jeans, too big now since the drama of the last two years has rendered me a smaller version of Old Self, converted into a handy shoulder bag.

The pockets still work as pockets, the waistband keeps it shut enough not to lose items out of it, and the legs made a handy shoulder strap.

Or the donated sweaters, originally my intent being to unravel and reknit this lovely Irish yarn into other items, but they were so lovely as they were, though way too large, that I converted one into a sleeveless tunic

and the other into a coat with sleeves, wonderfully warm for this time of year

And the cotton turtleneck, garage sale find, converted into a jacket

Other yarns, scrounged, donated, thrifted, made into interesting knitted items

And there's old tablecloths, which have no use in a household with a person who has no feeling in his hands and can not tell if he's grasped the tablecloth in mistake for his fork, which can lead to an amateur disastrous version of that magic trick where the magician whips off the cloth leaving all the glasses and dishes unmoved.

But said tablecloths make very good napkins, of which we need a constant supply. The red checked ones are particularly good, since they were part of a wedding gift we received in, um, 1963...

And there's yarn, donated and thrifted and unraveled, made up into afghans, cheerful and warm. This is still in the component parts, being arranged into what will be its final shape. Sometimes it's good to see something that's not quite finished yet. At that time, at least -- it's been in use for months now.

And miniature animals, various sources, arranged in a tablescape. The bread dough kitten drinking milk was created by a seven year old. The son of this writer, in fact. Many years ago. The clay turtle was a little sample from hand dug clay for a workshop I taught kids on local native American crafts and materials.

Then there's some sort of blade, which I found in the street, beautifully rusted, which instantly suggested a sunflower for a wall sculpture

And you can always play with your food!


Spare interesting paper, harvested, found, repurposed, great word that, into artist books

I tell you, around here, nothing's safe.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowmania giveaway

Little giveaway for the New Year, to thank you, faithful readers and blogistas, for following both Art, the Beautiful Metaphor and Field and Fen, so I'm offering it in both places. A dozen wood handpainted pinbacks, some in black and gold, some in colors, all finished to withstand wear and abrasion.

They can be worn on lapels or hatbands, a couple of have a hole or two drilled in them, design feature in fact, but I wouldn't object to the new owner's using that to adapt to a pendant or other clever idea.

Here's a closer view

Anyway, if I don't already know your snailmail address, please email me with it at and let me know you'd like one. A pin, that is. Please let me choose which one, in case the one you chose was gone already and all the recriminations that entails. Oh, no, I'm thinking of Dollivers now..

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Artist-made jewelry, part two!

More paper beads! I made an incredible number of these a while back, just addictive activity. From my own handmade paper, from various pages of catalogs, or other interesting paper, some finished with wax, some finished with coats of varnish -- nail polish, to be exact, since it's safe on the body.

Depending on the paper, these beads can look like ceramic, in fact I was at a show on time and a lady bought a necklace from me, which was black and white, and she said, oh, I love this ceramic piece! I explained that I had created it from paper, in fact, and she said, oh no, dear, this is ceramic! well, she was buying it so I didn't argue, but I wondered how she thought I didn't actually know what I'd made...

I also used to make individual beads and sell them to artist to include in their artworks, and that was really fun to do.

I've taught this skill to a lot of people, ranging in age from eighteen months to early eighties, in various classes and workshops. The eighteen month old was at a summer program with her two older sisters, the mom having to bring everyone, and she joined in, and actually managed to roll and glue three beads! I was amazed that she could do it, but she was in the habit of insisting on doing whatever her older sisters were doing, and they were a pretty talented family.

At the other end of the age spectrum were people who remembered making these beads as kids, and delighted to renew acquaintance with what was originally a Victorian craft. You can make giant beads to use as curtains and room dividers, and I made a couple a foot long to hang around a giant puppet in our local library.

So here are some necklaces, a lot of paper beads in them, and then there are shells, vegetable beads I made, amber beads, antique glass beads, and various other little dealies that seemed to be called for. Any of these is available for $25 US, and they're all available.

Artist-made jewelry

This is a series of pieces I made, and sold a lot of, a few years ago, but still have a few lying around! jewelry is great fun, because not only does it ask that you work in small scale, but it needs you to understand how the piece will lie on a human body, how the pinback will hang without drooping, how to work within new constraints.

The circular pins are painted on a wooden base, about a little over an inch in diameter, and they kept on turning into landscapes, which is fine by me!

The more irregular shape rounded pins are in fact on bases of eyeglass lenses I found in the street, with my handmade paper molded over it, and painted with scenes. They're about two and a half inches at the widest point.

And the pins that look like little buildings are all about two inches across, and are my handmade beads, which I organized onto backings.

Paper jewelry is close to indestructible if it's finished right, and they have the advantage of being light so you can easily wear them without feeling weighted down by a big piece like the eyeglass lens ones. I put several coats of nail polish on all these pieces, to seal them and protect the surface. Also so that they would be safe to wear, nail polish already being designed for use on the body.

These pieces are all under $20 US, and are still available.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Drawings and journal pages

Some of these look like paintings, and people wonder how do you know when it's a drawing and when it's a painting? one way to think about this is that if the line is all important, regardless of whether there's color or a wash, it's a drawing. If the color and mass carry the meaning, it's a painting. Very rough and ready explanation, but good enough for government work, as they say.

Most of these works have been juried into shows or have been in my solo shows, and some have won recognition. Just so you know I didn't chuck a ton of random stuff on here! but there are literally hundreds and hundreds of other drawings set aside and just done for practice and the sheer pleasure of doing it.

Oh, how many drawings you do before you start getting the hang of it, even a bit! but once you start to explore you start to see how very much there is yet to learn and know and the adventure is on. The game's afoot! and I've added some people to the email listing, in case you wondered how you got here. I'm a longtime Plainsboro Library art supporter, so even if you haven't met me, I'm at your meetings in spirit!

This drawing is done with wire, with an amber bead added, on artistmade paper

And you can draw with wire and make wall sculptures like this school of fish

Three pears, ink and wash, journal page

Evergreen cone in sepia pencil

Pencil drawing from a photograph of Virginia Woolf, journal page

Pencil drawing, reclining figure

Drawing done under stress in hospital, emergency visit for once I was the patient, and there was only the back of a menu and a stub of pencil available..

Journal page pencil drawing

Line drawing of client cat in kitchen, from petcare business days

Beloved departed Dalmatian KC in typical evening pose, ink and wash

Ink and wash, still life of bowl of fruit. My family is trained to check before they eat whether or not it's my model

Ink drawing, self portrait in glum mood

Ink drawing, many cats, in fact one cat's activity over a few minutes' time

Ink, charcoal, pencil drawing of adult woman, with herself as child inset

Ink drawing, contour style, of one side of studio

Ink line drawing, cats and calla lilies

Ink, head of long departed dear cat of my heart, Annabelle, feral beauty who would let only me of all the human race, touch her

Ink, Annabelle once more

HP sleeping, ink drawing

Ink and wash, two cats and sofa

Gardening journal page, ink

Contour drawing, crown of thorns plant

Charcoal on brown paper, this looks like a group of people but in fact is a group of burlapped evergreens in the nursery in winter

Pen, backview nude