Painted Paper Pet Portraits

August 19, 2017

My newest obsession started after a few marathon sessions of making prints on a Gelli plate. Which I may or may not have mentioned is fairly addictive. But what to do with all those yummy painted papers?

I started by making pretty pictures using stained glass patterns. It’s a simple process: trace the pattern onto a canvas, then trace the individual “pieces” onto painted papers. Cut them out, glue them down, outline with a heavy black pen, shade with charcoal and voila!

fairy book

Fun! So much fun I went on to make several more pieces using stained glass patterns. Eventually, though, I wanted to be more creative; to have more personal input into the final product. So why couldn’t I create my own designs?

My cat, Taz, is one of my favorite subjects to immortalize in my art. Awhile back, I decided to try tracing a photo and adding my own embellishments for the Gelli paper method. Using stained glass patterns was fun, but this took it to the next level!

taz in the garden

Recently I took up the obsession again, this time using the papers for the background as well as the main subject, and I think they look much better that way. Of course I had to do another portrait of Taz!

taz portrait

My next subject was Chloe, my dad’s cat. She’s very elegant and beautiful, albeit a little tired of being photographed all the time! I added lots of pretty details and changed her expression to a slightly more amenable one.

chloe portrait

Of course I couldn’t neglect Eloise, the kitten I rescued from a McDonald’s parking lot back in February. She’s so adorable it was easy to make a cute portrait.

eloise portrait

But I needed more subjects! Since you can’t just go swiping images off the internet, I solicited friends for photos and hit the jackpot with Sharlene, who works for the Humane Society. Hooray! She loaned me a photo of her own sweet kitten, Ozcar Wild, who ended up dressed like a clown. (She claims this is an accurate depiction.)

ozcar portrait

Aspen, the adorable puppy of a volunteer at the Humane Society:

aspen portrait

This is the unfortunately-named Cheeto, whose cuteness got her adopted very quickly! (Hopefully her new family has given her a better name.)

cheeto portrait

A friend at work let me use a photo of her chow/lab mix, Trixie. She needed a ball.

trixie portrait

And here’s my favorite doggie of all, Stella, who belongs to my BFF, Terri. (Hi, Terri! Are you surprised?)


Currently I’m working on a bunny – yes, a cute lil’ bunny! – and have several more critters in the pipeline. (Unfortunately, my stash of Gelli printed papers hasn’t been reduced by much; probably because I keep making more!)


Only a Year Early

July 5, 2017

I am an art retreat freak. I love the excitement generated when you’re among like-minded people, learning new techniques straight from the artists, creating and trading artful trinkets, shopping for unique supplies…all that added to the thrill of packing a bag and heading somewhere new. Really gets you out of that daily rut, and you come home refreshed and creatively recharged!

Back when rubber stamping and scrapbooking were reaching their peak of popularity, mixed media conventions and art retreats were seemingly everywhere. I could easily attend two or three a year and not have to drive more than 100 miles. Now it seems there are only a handful left, but those that survived are the best of the best. Art Unraveled, held every summer in Phoenix, has been on my “wish I may, wish I might” list for years. Unfortunately, I could never justify the cost; something else always had priority at the time, and I couldn’t justify spending that much all at once.

They say the definition of crazy is performing the same action over and over again and expecting different results. Hoping and dreaming wasn’t getting me anywhere. Planning and saving are what will make this happen! Starting this month, I’m going to put money into the savings account specifically to be used for attending Art Unraveled in 2018. I added up the cost of travel, accommodations, workshop fees and miscellaneous expenses and have worked out how much I need to save to make this happen. At this time next year, I’ll be ready on Day One to sign up, and it won’t be just wishful thinking!

I’m using a small notebook to keep track of deposits and for travel checklists, resources, ideas for trades, etc. One page is devoted to ideas I jotted down for creating a travel journal. True to form (see my yearly journals that I started in the middle of the year before), I got a bee in my bonnet and made it already! I decided to go with a fabric book so it will travel well. (Easily squished into a suitcase and no sharp corners.)

art unraveled front

Art Unraveled doesn’t seem to have a logo of any kind (not one I could find, anyway), so I made up my own! I combined a beautiful watercolor of the Phoenix skyline with clipart of a large half sun, and typed “Art Unraveled” in the space between them. This was printed onto fabric and sewed onto the cover.

art unraveled back

I sewed a heart on the back because I put hearts on pretty much everything – and because I’m going to love being there! Canson heavy mixed media paper comprises the inside pages, so I’ll be able to paint, draw, etc. I have a small photo printer to bring along so I can journal daily and have it completed by the time my plane lands back in Florida!

art unraveled open

Is This Meta?

June 17, 2017

So I’ve been wanting a sewing machine cover for a very long time. Dude asked me, “Why, is your sewing machine too dusty?” I told him I’d read that dust is fatal to sewing machines, so it was, of course, a purely practical desire. Secretly, though, I wanted to make something for my studio that would be unique, colorful and awesome, and because I already have too many impractical things stuffed in there, a sewing machine cover seemed like the perfect project.

Also, it will keep the dust off.

sewing cover front

(I had to take photos on the front porch because it’s too dark in the studio and my outdoor photo booth isn’t big enough!)

The idea was planted a couple of months ago, when I watched a video about using a Gelli plate to print on muslin. The ultimate project in the video was a book cover, but I got to thinking, why couldn’t I make any fabric item I wanted to with Gelli prints?

sewing cover back

After spending a couple of hours happily Gelli printing a yard of muslin, I used several different rubber stamps to add more detail to the designs. I had measured my sewing machine and added an inch on each side for good measure; this came to 11″ wide, 13″ high and 17″ long. (This allowed space to keep the thread spool on the top, as I didn’t want to keep removing and replacing it.) Using those measurements, I cut five panels from Pellon fusible Flex Foam interfacing; this stuff is great for making sturdy fabric items that will hold their shape.

sewing cover front 1

The printed muslin was torn into smaller “patches” and ironed onto the Flex Foam, then I sewed various decorative stitches along the edges of each patch. Because I love hearts, I also used leftover printed muslin to create layered heart patches to sew on at random spots.

Black and white fabric with a tiny flower design was cut into one-inch strips, wrapped and stitched around the edge of each Flex Foam panel, then the panels were sewn together to form the cover. It fits perfectly, pops right off when I need to use the machine, adds a fun splash of color to my sewing area, and, the best part: it’s unique!

sewing cover back 2

So, is it meta that I used the sewing machine to make a cover for the sewing machine?

Scrappy Tag Books

June 14, 2017

What a thrill it was to open my mailbox today to find an advanced artist’s copy of my favorite magazine, Somerset Studio! They had put out a call for tag art a few months ago, and, because I have approximately 900 tags (this is no exaggeration), I thought it would be fun to make a few tag books to send along. I hadn’t sent anything for publication in a very long time, and I missed the excitement of being published.

som studio jul aug 2017

They did a great job editing my article and the photography is breathtaking (as always). One thing did disappoint me a teeny bit: I had sent three books in, and you can see all three stacked up in one photo, but they did not show the cover of the third book, which happens to be my favorite.


But as Dude very practically pointed out, “They liked the other two best.” And he’s right; I can’t complain. I love how the article turned out. I’ve always said, it’s wonderful – and essential – that everyone is different with their unique likes and dislikes. Thank you, Stampington!

Spring…with an Edge

April 28, 2017

One of my favorite teams on Etsy is having an ATC swap. I love me some ATCs! The theme is “spring…with an edge,” to be interpreted any way we please.

Spring has come extremely early to north central Florida this year; with temps in the upper 90’s today (I think we broke some records!) and the flowers have been blooming for a few weeks. My swap partner lives in Oregon, so I’m hoping to send her some of this summer-like weather and maybe spring will come to her part of the country, too.

I made two fabric ATCs (please note they each have a literal edge) and couldn’t decide which I liked best…so I sent both!

(Yes, there is glitter.)


A Loaf of Bread, a Cat of Wine, and…Wait, What?

March 24, 2017

Every time I’ve been at World Market (not nearly often enough!), I’ve noticed these unique cat-shaped bottles of wine – Moselland Cat Riesling, to be precise.

silver cat bottle

Now I’m not a drinker (unfortunately an autoimmune disease prevents my imbibing), but I’ve always liked these shapely bottles. While planning an unrelated Day of the Dead project, I searched Etsy for suitable fabric and discovered that someone had painted one of the bottles to look like a sugar skull cat! It was very cool and she did a beautiful job. I showed it to a friend at work who loves cats and Day of the Dead images, and she was enthusiastic. We wondered how difficult it would be to make. What kind of paint would stick to the glass? Would it need a special finish? I decided to find out!

The timing was perfect, as my friend’s birthday was coming up soon and we often give each other handmade gifts (she is an amazing jewelry and clay artist). Now I’ve seen this bottle in many colors over the years, including black, but the only choices at the time were gold, silver or lime green. I went with silver, as I thought it would be the easiest to cover. Dude helped me get the cork out by ingenious use of a power drill (we don’t actually own a corkscrew!), at which time I discovered it is covered in cute cat faces!


I decided to try black spray paint to cover the silver base, ’cause that stuff sticks to just about anything. It worked! From there, I used a Sharpie oil paint pen to draw outlines of bones, flowers, hearts, dots and swirls, then filled them all in with white acrylic paint. It took four coats of white to make a nice opaque surface, after which I went back and added bright colors on top.


The bottle on Etsy has an elegant little mouse that is shaped like a catnip toy between the cat’s legs. I liked the idea but didn’t want to straight-up copy hers, so I made my mouse a little more “cartoony.” The back of the skull on hers has a flaming heart, which is awesome, but since I’d already used a lot of hearts on the front, I went with a butterfly.

dotd cat b back

The total painting time was about five hours. Every so often I’d take a break; when I came back, it would tell me what else it needed. The original painted bottle looks shiny, but I decided to use a matte finish spray on mine. It helped boost the colors a little while minimizing a reflective surface.

Happy birthday, Leslie! (I hope she likes it.)



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!


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!


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…


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.


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.



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!