Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Corner View: Summer

Jane at Spain Daily has a weekly theme upon which we all write from our corner of the world. It is called Corner View and this week's theme is "Summer." Please be sure to check out her entry and the links to all the others!

Summer...for many years meant swimming in a crystal freshwater lake in Maine. Hearing the water lapping along the rocky shore at night, and the loons calling and diving. Hearing the leaves rustle through thrown open wide windows, and the moths beating against the screens. 'Summer's lease hath all too short a date', so saith Shakespeare. And in Maine, this is true.

Summer, as a kid, meant swimming at the pool. Which I did all day until my fngertips turned wrinkly and my lips turned blue.

As a working woman, I took my one of my two weeks of vacation up in Lubec, Maine. Remote, quiet, I rented a cottage by the cove and watched the tides go in and out. It was all I needed.

Summer is simply simple pleasures, ones we are unfortunately too busy to indulge in during the rest of the year. We are so busy with important stuff, I wonder when the time will come when we realize the the important stuff IS the simple pleasures?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What a chicken!

When I moved to Madison County GA a few years ago, I learned how very VERY important chickens are to, well, everything. Madison County is a big chicken producer. Chicken houses and chicken processing plants employ a lot of people. Being rural there are a great may homeowners who have a chicken or two for eggs wandering around the yard. It is de rigeur to have a chicken, see a chicken, and eat chicken. (and eggs). I enjoy taking photographs of moving targets, and animals are especially fun. I enjoyed trying to find the more beautiful and pleasant aspects of the noble chicken. Are there hidden depths to a chicken? There might well be. I have never gotten close enough, long enough, to find out.

A clucky friend brought to a local VBS show and tell a few years ago

Chicken Alley, the place in the car-less days they used to being the chickens and the eggs to sell on Saturday mornings

A wandering chicken scrabbling around the old general store at Gholston Stand

Life inside a chicken house. He looks kinda fierce doesn't he?

Life inside a chicken house. The Chicken Master.

Life inside a chicken house. It's not the exit to the gift shop, that's for sure...

Life inside a chicken house. I liked the red on red.

What mailbox yard art installation would be complete without a couple of plastic roosters?

Monday, June 28, 2010

I am SO not a girl

In  decorating, design and in crafts, my tastes run toward the masculine. My idea of a perfect room is the Victorian Men's Club reading room, with floor-to-ceiling bookcases and a brass ladder on a rail. Leather club chairs with rivets on the edge. Plush Persian carpets muting the sounds, and wood paneling surrounding all. Marble topped tables with isolated lighting. Dark, with lots of heavy materials and cozy in a masculine sort of way.

My art tends to the masculine subjects too. I try once in a while to do a lighthearted ladies piece with fringes and pastels, and sewing and light fabric. No go. It just isn't me. The fru fru is pretty, but I am not fru-fru-ish. Karen has a beautiful blog with lots of curlicues, and her stuff is great. But it's not me. And I wonder why, when most women on the planet love the frills, the cute, the charming, and the feminine. Me, I like this:

A few years ago I splurged and spent $30 on an ebay box of collage "stuff" with over 500 items inside. It is great stuff, but much of it is tailored for ladies, having sepia Victorian greeting cards and lace and butterflies. Now, I like butterflies. This panel was one of the over 500 items included in the ebay score. It is a paper panel of German-produced vintage butterflies

 Here are dried butterfly wings from a real butterfly. They were laying on the ground, no butterfly body to be seen. I picked them up and dried them. I plan to use them. Someday. When I get in touch with my feminine side.

I never know how to deliberately compose a more feminine piece. Left to my own devices, what always comes out is less lady and more testosterone-ish. So for a while I tried to include butterflies in more light-hearted collages and book illustration pages. This one is a clip of a larger piece titled "Sweet soap for ladies." I like handmade soap a lot too. I thought the combo of butterflies and lavender soap would do the trick. But I wasn't satisfied with the finished piece and didn't connect with it.

Below is another deliberate attempt to create something with brighter colors and would represent my feminine side. I thought, well, flowers are pretty. It's called Amaryllis. The butterflies are a smaller excerpt in the lower left corner of the larger piece, about to alight on some leaves.

Another crop. The overall piece used purple acrylic paste paper as the backdrop and pasted on top were figures of women representing some favorite women I admire. In between the dividing line a flight of butterflies takes off in formation. Like the Blue Angels do. Uh-oh. A bit of testosterone creeping in there.

This was the last page of a booklet I wrote and illustrated. The butterfly is separating from the evil cord that bound it to hell, and it is flying high, and away to a brighter future. Well, that's sorta happy but the heavy-duty tinge is creeping in for sure...

This aggravated angel with butterfly wings for wings is sitting atop a scorched tree, sad that the demons are still fighting each other, amid the sulfurous scents swirling up from their hellish abode. Aw, nuts. I give up. Butterflies are pretty but I guess I'll leave the fru-fru charm to other women who are so much better at it. I'll pull up my club chair and switch on the brass banker's lamp and settle in for a bit of reading in my wood-paneled apartment. Cheerio!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yay, Pictobrowser works again!

When I switched to a new template before, the downside was that the free and easy slide show builder, Pictobrowser, didn't work with the template. I switched a few weeks ago to a different template, and thank goodness, Pictobrowser works with this one! I can do slide shows again!

I selected some of my favorite photos. Just goofin' around on a hot Saturday, but I like what I like and it's always good to see my old photo friends.

Get the flash player here:

Paste paper

Paste paper is a fun activity that does not take too much time or too many materials. And what materials the recipe and activity do use, are normally found at home. No worries about having to find or buy exotic items for this project! Paste paper is actually decorating existing blank paper, using flour and dishwashing liquid etc. It is the glycerin in the dishwashing liquid that allows the paint to look like it is suspended, giving it that distinctive 3D effect.

I like to use the finished product for book binding, bookmarks, hand made cards, journals, collage, picture frames, you name it.

Here is a recipe I use, copied from a class I took at the Portland (ME) Museum of Art in the 1990s. It works well and once your paste has cooled, have at it!

Paste paper recipe

Boil 6 cups water in large pot
Meanwhile, mix 1 ½ cups four and 1 ¾ cups cold water with whisk
Take flour/water mixture and slowly drop into boiling water. Mix together. Take off heat immediately.
Mix 2 Tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid into flour paste.
Let cool. If too many lumps, can strain with cheesecloth/ Mixture should be smooth, and have the consistency of pudding.

--Can use the paint from the craft center art Wal-Mart, the small bottles cost less than $1.
--Soft As Silk cake flour gives a nice consistency to the paste that is thinner. Although you can try many kinds of flour as well as corn starch to see how results vary.
--This recipe makes a good amount for a class but a lot for personal, home use. Since it makes a LOT for personal use, you can cut it in half.
--The paste stays good if placed in the fridge, for up to a week.

Select your paper, whether it be Xerox printing paper, cardstock, special paper, etc. Wet it by holding it under a running faucet for a moment or using a wet sponge. Smooth it on a flat surface with paper towel or newspaper underneath, flattening it and also getting out all the air or water bubbles. As mentioned, mix some paste in a small bowl with paint. Use a sponge or good brush to smoothly wipe the paint over the paper you have selected. Use a found implement to draw or drag through the paint on the paper, making designs. When satisfied, use a second color. The two colors do not mix, but stay suspended and separate. You can really have fun with making designs either precise or abstract. Lay paste papered paper on newsprint to dry or hang on a line inside with clothespins. Keep the cats away!

When the papers are dry, stack them and either press them with a heavy book on top or you can actually iron them (color side down) with an iron on low. Now you have a pretty stack to use as a quick greeting card or project-in-waiting. And have a wonderful afternoon paste papering!

I use simple acrylic paints from Wal-Mart. The small bottles are about $1 or you can experiment with any kind of paints: gouache, oil, watercolor...the entire fun of paste paper is that there is no harm in experimenting. It's only one sheet of paper if you don't like the result, and you can use a sponge to erase the design and use that same piece of paper all over again. And I like to take a few teaspoons of paste and put it in a smaller bowl, then add paint to my liking. If you don't like how the paint is mixing with the paste, well, then you have only used a few teaspoons.

Children love this activity, PSSSST, because it is really finger-painting with implements! Implements you can use to drag around the paint on the paper are plastic or metal combs, knives, fork, wadded up saran wrap blots, bottoms of candlestick holders, no item is safe from being uses as a paste paper 'brush'!

This one is a book cover of a soft-cover art journal I'd made.

 This one is the cover of a small, hard cover journal made to look like a Medieval ladies' prayer book

This one is the cover to an accordion book I'd made

This is the cover of a larger soft-cover art journal I had made a few years ago.

These two were ends I'd saved from cutting the larger piece for a project. They can become bookmarks (they laminate just fine) or as scraps to use in collages or decorative pieces on book covers or greeting cards.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Accordion books

Accordion books are easy to make and relaxing because they are so quick and involve no sewing. You select a cover piece, in this case, a piece of cardstock paste paper, fold it. Select similarly sized interior paper and fold that in accordion style. Paste one panel of the folded paper inside the back cover of the cover piece, and voila, an accordion book. Here is a blank accordion book with paste paper cover I'd made and below that, an art book in accordion style.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hunting, Finding, Creating, Enjoying!

You can make a book out of anything! The Lubec Historical Society annual 4th of July Yard Sale was always great for an eclectic find or two. They always have great stuff at that yard sale, and the arrangement of the items adds to its charm. The workers put out boxes of stuff on the lawn. No attractive display designs, not too many tables, though there are a few. Just boxes put out right on the grass. Yay! You hunt, you browse, you never know what you will find. That year among other items, I found these 60s placemats. What struck me about them is that the fabric was thick. Towels, blankets, placemats these days are not plush. They are thin. These, though were thick as anything and felt pretty good to the touch.

The other thing that struck me was the daisy. When I was 8, in 1968, I begged my mother to allow me to pick out my own wallpaper for my bedroom. We lived in a small, 100-year-old Cape Cod style home and my bedroom was upstairs, under the eaves. The roofline came down to within 3 feet of the floor. Being a kid that is exactly where I put my bed. It felt like a fort. The wallpaper my mother reluctantly allowed me to choose was garish yellow 60's daisies. Flower power, you know? The wallpaper color also included orange. Lots of it. It was bright. The daisies were huge, their petals extending out inches and inches from the nucleus. As I drifted off to sleep. I'd reach up my hand and trace their outlines. The ceiling being so close, and the daisies so bright and cheery, I fell asleep a happy girl. This daisy on the placemat is very similar, if not as blindingly bright.

Here, the front cover is partially turned so you can see the inside cover page.

The binding was a simple one-signature pamphlet stitch.

Here is a closeup of the pamphlet stitch

I had wonderful 8 1/2 by 11 legal sized paper, which worked perfectly for a one-signature book.
A pamphlet stitch is a simple, single thread so you cannot make too heavy of a signature (bundle or set of pages) or the thread will not hold the whole book together! It is also wise to match the amount of paper and each pages's weight to the cover material. Once, I made a handmade book using cardstock pages and tissue paper cover. Duh.

And, as I was exposing the center spine inside page with the tied signature thread (which I deliberately left long) and readying the camera for the photo, my cat who has THREAD RADAR at 4000 paces clued in. STRIIIINNNNGGGG! AAARGH! ATTACK! sigh
Happy book making! You can make a book out of anything. Even a placemat!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I snapped these beauties, reaching for the limited sun on Water Street in Lubec, Maine

So naturally I painted some on an index card with watercolor

And then of course I goofed around with Photoshop and the Poppies of Water Street

and then did the same with the watercolor

Corner View: Noticing

Jane at Spain Daily has a weekly theme upon which we all write from our corner of the world. It is called Corner View and this week's theme is "Noticing." Please be sure to check out her entry and the links to all the others!

Monday, June 21, 2010

I like signs and I like fonts

In Comer, my hometown, this business has been there forever!

Lubec, Maine, the far reaches of our country. A port town with a narrow channel, across from Canada.
Madison County Red Raiders football!!!!!!!! High School football is huge around here. So is this sign, with its red background and 60's font.
Once a going concern, this old general store is as faded as its once bright sign.

I have a bunch more but that's it for today!