Posts Tagged ‘art unraveled’

Creepy Cool!

August 9, 2018

So I got back a couple of days ago from Art Unraveled, a fun and fabulous art retreat held every August in Phoenix, Arizona. I have wanted to go for literally years! Last year, while perusing the classes and wishing and dreaming (fairly uselessly), as I always do, I decided 2018 was the year it was going to actually happen! From that day on, I started putting aside any extra $$ that came my way. Sources included: working overtime on holidays, an annual longevity bonus, selling items in my Etsy shop, completing surveys about medications from pharmaceutical companies, and even a surprise check from a single share of Disney stock I’d purchased 30 years ago and forgotten I owned, which I discovered on the Missing Money website. (Check it out; maybe you have unclaimed funds, too!)

I saved on the airline ticket by applying for a Priceline credit card, saved on the hotel by applying for a Hilton Honors card, and saved the checked baggage fee at the airport by applying for the American Airlines credit card. I decided to forego the cost of a rental car since the hotel is located within walking distance of many shops and restaurants, and chose to check out late the last day so I wouldn’t have to pay for another hotel night.

With all this “planned scrimping” and saving, I was happy to reach my funding goal after only six months!

While the past week at Art Unraveled has been a whirlwind of overwhelming experiences that can’t possibly be covered in a single blog post, I thought I’d share one of my favorite classes, “Dollies de las Muertos,” with Thomas Ashman of Black Sheep Artist Studio. He is a wonderful instructor, with many interesting stories to tell! Our goal was to create amazing Day of the Dead figurines, and I couldn’t wait!

thomas ashman

We started our journey with an unloved porcelain doll from the thrift store. I was happy to find a very large, very lovely specimen in great shape, and paid only four dollars because one of her thumbs had broken off. (Dude made her a new one out of Paperclay!)  Standing 22″ tall, “Gloria” (according to the name on her handbag) wore a magnificent champagne colored satin dress and featured a rosy complexion, sweet expression, darling ringlets and lovely bright blue eyes. (Awwwww!)

creepy before

All this was definitely going to change. (For the better, in my opinion!)

The first thing we did was remove our dolls’ hair and clothes, rip off any pretty, frilly things (like the roses on Gloria’s dress) and shred the sleeves and bottom hemline into tatters, a la the fashion style of Morticia Addams. After immersing the dress into a bath of black fabric dye, the transformation had begun!

The next step was to remove the eyes. (Eeeeeek!) Thomas came around with an effectively deadly spring tool, and – POP! POP! – out came Gloria’s pretty blue peepers! We then painted our dolls’ faces and arms with bone-colored paint, creating the “skeleton” base for traditional Day of the Dead embellishments. Here’s Gloria awaiting her makeup!

gloria in progress

Hours of painstaking painting with tiny brushes later, the face was done and it was time to embellish the dress. I added some metal and rhinestone jewelry components from the bead aisle at Michael’s and glued black feathers onto a plastic toy butterfly to make wing-like extensions for the bodice. Thomas provided marabou clusters from which we made feathery wigs.

not gloria closeup

Ta-daaaaa! Isn’t she awesome?!!

We made doll stands from wood blocks and dowels, painted them black, and then it was time to display our beautiful creations! I arranged Gloria’s right hand to hold up her dress and glued a “cactus skeleton” into her left hand as a kind of magical staff or wand. A very kind local lady at Art Unraveled was handing out these fascinating bits of long-dead, dessicated cacti, and it made the perfect souvenir of my first visit to Arizona.

not gloria

Thank you, Thomas, for this fun and fabulous class! I had an amazing time and I’ll always treasure my Day of the Dead dolly, whose name is now “GORE-IA!” (Right?!!)

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