Eloise

February 12, 2017

Kitten update: On Day 9, she all of a sudden decided to stop being scared. (Still haven’t figured out why!) I opened the door to check her food and litter box, and she was lying about three feet away. Rather than jump up and run away, as usual, she rolled lazily onto her side, stretched, then got up and stood looking at me. Taking a chance, I sat slowly down onto the floor, slowly reached out my hand with fingers curled, and let her sniff. I fully expected her to bolt at that point, but instead, she let me start rubbing her chin! Eventually I was petting her all over, and she was loving it! Then came the most beautiful sound I’d never heard before: she was purring!

eloise-maybe-3

That was three days ago. Since then, she has become one of the most affectionate, sweet little kitties you could ever imagine. She now has the run of the house, very quickly learned where the litter box and food bowls are, and joins the other four (all of whom are twice her size!) in the kitchen when it’s treat time. She’s still a bit skittish, but is getting over it. The other cats are learning to accept her after a few hisses and growls, and she is a champ at standing her ground!

eloise-maybe

These photos are not the greatest because it was dark in the living room, but you know kittens: you have to catch ’em on film while you can!

Dude finally thought of a name for her: Eloise. (He has no idea why; says it just popped into his head.) I wasn’t sure about that at first, but it is growing on me!

Goldie Archer?

February 8, 2017

So I was driving through McDonald’s on my way to work the first week in January, when I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. It turned out to be a kitten, darting between cars in the drive-through, and it ended up near my vehicle, on an island of vegetation between the building and the drive-through lanes. It was staring up at a tree with an expression of excitement (“Hey, I could climb this!”), and I guessed it to be about 10-12 weeks old; basically the time a kitten can leave its mother. Based on its clean, healthy appearance and apparent lack of fear, given all the activity around it, I guessed it had likely been recently abandoned. (Maybe it was an unwanted Christmas gift?)

Unfortunately I couldn’t stop to try and rescue the kitten, as I was working alone that night and needed to be to work on time so the day shift people could leave. But I thought about it all night, anxious for its safety and wishing I had tried to rescue it anyway. In the morning, I went back to McDonald’s and tried to find it – no luck. I guessed (hoped, really) that someone else had picked it up.

About a week and a half later, Dude and I were driving through the same McDonald’s early one morning to get coffee on our way to the flea market, when – zip! – something streaked in front of my car. It was the kitten! We immediately drove to the nearest grocery store for some cat food and little paper plates; when we got back, Dude spotted the kitten walking along a chain-link fence on the edge of the property. It wouldn’t let me get more than a few feet away, but I left it some food. Over the next few days, I left food on a regular basis, which would always disappear, but I never saw the kitten again. It was time to get serious!

I waited for a day off work and rented a trap from the Humane Society. Armed with high hopes and a tempting plate of tuna cat food, the trap did its trick! The kitten was very calm and quiet as we unlocked the trap from the fence and put it in the car. We drove straight to our veterinarian’s, where the receptionist asked for the cat’s name. “I literally just picked it up from a parking lot,” I said. “I don’t have a name for it yet.” She had to put something on the form, so I said, “Okay, we found it at McDonald’s, so how about Archer? For golden arches?” (Also, I love the TV show Archer).

At that time I thought it was a male kitten, so I thought Archer was the perfect name! Minutes later in the exam room, however, the vet discovered the truth – he was actually a she. He guessed her age at about four months and declared her “healthy, robust – and feral.” (I’m guessing he drew that conclusion after she fought being pulled from the trap and gave him a good swipe for having the nerve to try!) But I was not deterred; I was going to save this cat. From the first moment I saw her, she felt like my responsibility. I picked her up the next day after they did many terrible things (vaccinations, spay, flea and ear mite treatment, blood tests); she is understandably wary of we terrible humans!

I told the vet we’d have to eventually change the name “Archer” for something more suitable for a girl kitty, and explained the McDonald’s “golden arches” connection. He said, “Hmmm…what about Goldie?” Clever – but it just didn’t grab me.

She is currently ensconced in our large master bathroom, with plenty of toys, food, litter box and comfy places to rest. She spent the first two days hiding whenever we came into the room, but thanks to my “magic wand” (a Kitty Tease fishing pole!), she has come out of her shell and loves to play so much she forgets to be afraid of us! I’ve been able to touch one of her paws and her tail so far, but she’s still a bit leery. It’s just a matter of time, though, and I think she’s going to be a wonderful addition to our kitty family! In the meantime, I need a name…

mcdonalds-kitty

For the Birds

December 9, 2016

One of my favorite magazines, Somerset Studio, has put out a call for tag art, due in February. As I have approximately 70-zillion blank tags and haven’t submitted anything for publication in quite awhile, I thought I’d do some experimenting.

I made a little book with two tags taped together as the cover last year for one of the Tim Holtz Compendium of Curiosities challenges hosted by the lovely Linda Ledbetter, and it turned out really cute. So I started with that idea, only this time, as I’ve been madly into sewing lately, I decided to sew on some of the elements.

The tags were colored using one of my favorite methods: swipe an inkpad to cover the entire tag, then spritz with water. I then added texture with a crackle stamp in walnut ink and sewed on part of a page from a 1930’s ledger book, a torn scrap of fabric and a pretty bird image. After that, I threw on the kitchen sink: buttons, flowers, a stapled vintage bus ticket, dotted washi tape and a Tim Holtz metal phrase tag. Glueing two more tags onto the back strengthened the cover and hid all the stitches, staple and brad fasteners.

bird-tag-book-1

For the inside pages, I gathered up all manner of different papers in lots of sizes: book pages, ledger sheets, vellum, doilies, envelopes, scrapbook paper, even a vintage Canadian stock certificate. I love that messy look! The final touch was to punch out three tabs from pretty scrapbook paper to add to the top. I. LOVE. TABS. Can’t get enough. Normally tabs are used for indexing or to help you find important pages in a book. These? Placed randomly, with no relevance whatsoever. They’re just pretty.

bird tag book 3.jpg

Well, that was so much fun, I made another! It wasn’t until it was almost finished that I realized the two books are similar. And by similar, I mean, almost identical! So I’m back to the drawing board to make another that doesn’t look like the little sister of the first one.

bird-2-tag-1

bird-2-tag-3

So Many Elephants

September 6, 2016

Elephants seem to be the theme around here lately. I made this Ganesha Fauxdori for a college student last week who said her spirit animal is the elephant.

ganesha 3

Since then, I’ve had two people ask about getting Fauxdoris with elephants on them, and just finished this scrapbook with fabric covers for a lady who’s going to visit Thailand.

thailand front

Ever since reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, I’ve had a new-found appreciation and admiration for elephants, so I totally understand the lure!

2017 Smash Journal

July 25, 2016

So Christmas in July is all over the place (how odd is it to have “Black Friday” sales right now?!) and it got me thinking about how busy I’ll be at the end of the year. Now, during the hazy, lazy days of summer, seems the best time to make my 2017 journal.

I don’t do a lot of what you’d call “art” journaling, per se; mostly I “smash” daily ephemera and photos, write captions and occasionally add rub-ons, stickers or penwork. My 2016 journal was made with colored cardstock, scrapbook paper and recycled book covers. This year I went with a scrappy fabric cover (naturally, as I’m obsessed with those right now!) and plain mixed media paper.

Yes, there is also bling. (Just a little!)

2017 journal front

The pages are sewn in, which isn’t usually difficult to do, but I made this so big (7×9) that I had a hard time fitting it in the sewing machine. So the page stitching got a little…wonky.

2017 journal wonky.jpg

Oh my goodness, that crazy, meandering line! It strongly reminds me of the path taken by an SUV in front of me the other day when I was driving to work. It was going 35 mph under the speed limit and swerving all over the place. When it finally pulled over so the huge line behind it could pass, it wasn’t a surprise to see the driver yakking on the phone. Which isn’t to say I was similarly distracted while sewing the pages into my book. I just had a lot of trouble wrestling the whole thing under the sewing needle, especially after the first four signatures were in! I could pick out those stitches and start over, but I’m actually okay with the wonky line. (If it were too neat, it would run the risk of being boring!)

Here’s the back:

2017 journal back

The inside is all leopard print. Which suddenly reminds me of the very early days of the internet (1982-ish?). I had an account with Q-Link, which eventually became America Online. Screen names were readily available and plentiful back then; you didn’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure out a handle nobody had taken, nor did you have to add a string of numbers to make yours unique. I chose “Leopardess” for my screen name, solely so I could use the tag line: “I’m usually spotted here.”

Yup, that was the height of hilarity back in ’82. (You kids get off my lawn!)

Back to the journal! As the paper is plain white, I plan to create backgrounds with chalks, watercolors, acrylics, etc as the year goes on. I die-cut 12 little tabs for the months on my Hello Kitty Sizzix Sidekick (the tab die is made by Quickcutz) and will add them as I go along. This way I won’t be limited to a certain number of pages per month. I do love tabs in a journal! They make it more casual and fun.

month tabs

It’s exciting to look at these representations of the upcoming year and try to imagine where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing each month! Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta do some Black Friday shopping…

The Humble Composition Book

July 17, 2016

What would we do without them?

b7a05a08830cf0a35a44943395d7d1e5

It’s that time of year again – school supply shopping is upon us! I don’t know about you, but I adore school supplies, especially now that I no longer have to buy them. (But honestly, nothing compared to that fresh box of crayons at the beginning of the year! I always envied the kids whose parents bought them boxes that contained more than eight.)

I use a composition book in order to keep track of my Etsy sales and stats and buy a new one each year. Yes, it’s all there digitally, of course, but I’m a hands-on, book-lovin’ kind of gal, and because I stare at a computer screen for 12 hours at work, I don’t necessarily want to spend all my free time doing the same thing.

Each year I try to find a composition book that is somewhat prettier than the standard black & white or solid color offerings. But there’s not much out there that isn’t geared to kids or teens. Sometimes I decorate the cover, but I don’t always have the motivation or time to do so.

So enter…the composition book cover! I wanted one in the style of the scrappy notebooks I’ve been making, inspired by Carla Sonheim. The problem was in resolving the folded-over edges with a cover that has to have separate, sewn-down flaps. I took a page from my husband’s book (he’s always inventing new gadgets and gizmos!), and made a little paper model first. The process involved a lot of head-scratching and measuring and scribbling and fiddling, but I made it work!

heart comp 1

I made the hearts by ironing scraps onto double-sided fusible interfacing. I sewed rows of zig-zag stitching on the top heart and did some random straight-stitching on the bottom one. Then I used fabrics that coordinated with the hearts to create the cover.

heart comp 2

Creating the flaps was a little fiddly, but I managed to make them work!

heart comp 3

I wish I had thought of adding the button and elastic to hold it closed before I sewed the flaps down. It all worked out in the end, though, and turned out great for what was just supposed to be a prototype. I was inspired to make two mini comp book covers as well.

mini comp bright

“Hello, I’m tiny, but just as complicated to make as the large one!”

mini comp steampunk

“You knew there had to be a Steampunk version eventually!”

I’ll probably add a button/elastic closure to these as well. I’m not sure why I made these, actually, since I don’t yet own any mini comp books. (I’ve got a small notebook standing in for the photos, but it’s not quite the right size.) Clearly it’s time to do some back-to-school shopping!

Inspired by Carla Sonheim

June 14, 2016

About a year ago, it occurred to me I needed – okay, wanted  – to update my library of instructional mixed media art books. It had been quite a long time since I’d bought one and I knew there must be a bunch out there I hadn’t seen. One of those I purchased has lingered in my “to be read” pile since then and I just pulled it out a couple weeks ago.

Art Making, Collections and Obsessions by Lynne Perrella is an excellent book and I wish I’d picked it up earlier! It was fascinating to read about what other artists collect, and at least one example of finished work by each of 35 artists is included. So much inspiration! One photo in particular made me go “oooooh” as soon as I saw it. These little sewn journals by Carla Sonheim are just so precious I couldn’t wait to try making one!

rags2

Because I was fairly obsessed with rag quilting last year, I have a lot of fabric scraps, and this seemed like the perfect project to use some of those up. The little books are entirely sewn together, even the inside pages. Normally this would intimidate me, as I am not a seamstress by any means! But the loose, scrappy nature appeals wonderfully to my haphazard, imprecise style of creating, and once I tried one, I was hooked!

Carla’s journals feature her own artwork printed onto fabric and are quite appealing in their simplicity. I decided to use a vintage photo as the focus for my first foray, but I just couldn’t keep things simple. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw on a bunch of frou-frou! I managed to avoid glitter (for a change), but couldn’t resist some flowers and bling.

sewn journey journal

The photo, background map and “Artful Journey” were printed onto iron-on fabric sheets (these are the best – very sturdy and opaque and the printing comes out beautifully); the rest are fabrics from my scrap pile. I made a few little “errors” along the way, but I won’t point them out if you pretend not to notice them. Anyway, the free-style, scrappy nature of this process means a little flub here and there can easily be chalked up to artistic expression. 🙂

Of course, I could hardly wait to make another! This time I used my own art for the cover; part of a collaged postcard I’d created a few years ago for a swap. It was a blast picking out fabrics to go with the image. I’m afraid I’ve become a little obsessed with the leopard print! It’s great as a “neutral” for resting the eye from bright colors, while being a bit unexpected.

create sewn journal side

This project is SO MUCH FUN and I cannot wait to make a whole pile of these little treasures!

Criminal Case Fan Art

May 4, 2016

So I’ve been hooked on this online game, Criminal Case, for about the past year. In case you’re not one of the ten million who play this game, the premise is that you’re a homicide detective in the Grimsborough Police Dept. Work your way up through the ranks solving crimes while choosing how you look, what you wear, and for extra fun, what kind of animal will be your “police dog.” Your pet helps by searching out advantages in the game, such as energy and experience points. (Good doggy!)

In the lower ranks, dogs are the only choices, but as you progress through the game, other, more exotic options become available, like monkey, raccoon, giraffe, even an ostrich! Each animal has its own capabilities and advantages, but to me, none is so awesome (and so darned cute!) as the tiger.

tai gu close

Ever since I got the tiger, I’ve never looked back. Oh, they try to tempt me with mountain goats and robot cats, but nothing is as awesome as my big kitty friend. So in honor of this faithful police pet, I created a little homage made from Gelli-printed papers glued to a book board, enhanced with markers, gel pens, charcoal pencil and lined with washi tape. It measures 6″ wide by 7″ tall.

tai gu

Yep, I’m a total Criminal Case addict, and not ashamed to admit it! (Gotta run now; my current case isn’t gonna solve itself!

Update: This piece has been featured on the “>Criminal Case fan page!

Two Mermaids Are Better Than One

April 24, 2016

I have been seriously neglecting my Etsy shop lately (seriously! Neglecting!), but inspiration struck when I was shopping Michael’s bead sale a couple of weeks ago and found these awesome anchor-shaped turquoise-colored beads.

anchor beads

I was so inspired, in fact, that I made not one book, but two! The first features a mermaid pieced together from Gelli printed papers, using a stained glass pattern. I am still debating whether to list this in my shop; it took many hours to make and turned out so nice I think I might keep it!

mermaid side

I had originally planned to put a piece of “fishing net” along the bottom edge of the cover, but attempts to make my own net from embroidery floss turned out a little clunky. Fortunately I found the swirly rhinestone stickers in my stash; they add such a nice feeling of the moving ocean. I like the way the anchor beads are set off by the “pearls” on either end.

mermaid front

Before I found the rhinestones, I had told Dude about my failure to create an aesthetically-pleasing fish net. Unaware that I had found a substitute, he surprised me the next day by bringing home a plastic net bag full of onions! The bag is bright yellow. I mean, really, really bright yellow. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I likely couldn’t use it, but then I got the idea to try and color it with alcohol ink. It worked! I was attempting to make it a pretty ocean blue, but it turned out green instead. I think I like that better.

sea dreams side

And here is where I must apologize to anyone who has run into me personally in the last week or so (especially my poor dentist!), as Dude and I have been eating many, many onions. (They are so delicious fried up crispy in butter and salted!)

I still have a big piece of the netting bag left, plus a few remaining anchor beads, so maybe a third mermaid book will soon be in the works!

sea dreams front

What Does the Fox Say?

April 2, 2016

Honestly, I don’t know. Do they yip? Bark? Doesn’t matter; I think they’re awesome and cute and combine the best physical traits of cats and dogs. Once, on an early weekend trip to the grocery store, I saw two red foxes frolicking in the grass a couple hundred yards from the side of our rural road. They were fascinating to watch and so pretty.

So my thoughts turned to foxes when I discovered Lenna Andrews is hosting swaps again, after a long hiatus, and I couldn’t wait to join in the opportunity to add to my extensive ATC collection. There isn’t a subject theme, but the ATCs must be either sunset colors or ocean colors. I’m normally drawn to ocean colors (and am in fact working on a mermaid themed project at the moment), but I’ve been a bit obsessed with foxes lately, and their coloring is more conducive to those of a sunset.

fox atc

I started by making a bunch of Gelli prints with sunset colors, then found a photo of a fox, traced it, and added some fun touches, like a big ol’ heart. The design was transferred to the various printed papers, then each piece was cut out and glued into place with matte medium. The pieces were outlined with a black pen, then shaded with charcoal pencil.

What do my foxes say? Well, you’d have to look at the back of each card to find out; they have unique personalities and different thoughts to share!

all fox atcs