"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Taiwan in an Altoid Tin

My good friend, Alice, moved here from Taiwan when she was just a little girl. She even picked her American name from the only story she knew at that age, "Alice in Wonderland."

After speaking to her recently, I got the urge to create something Asian-inspired for her and thought it would be fun to do a miniature Altoid scene.

My biggest challenge was trying to create something from a completely different culture without it being cheesy or cliche.

I found some of the cutest little girl images and used them as my focal point. After applying the background scene, I sprinkled it with glitter and added the girls. The sparkly bead above is supposed to represent a Chinese lantern. The flowers and pearls were used as color accents.

The bottom portion of the Altoid shows a little girl petting a panda (very popular in this area) while two other girls look on. For the background, I was really excited to use images taken from a vintage postcard from Taiwan. I used black Chinese trim for the border and antique flower appliques. I also found an old butterfly earring to add more color and texture.

Next, I made an Asian-inspired bookmark.

This cute little Chinese girl was taken from a vintage Valentine image. For sturdiness, I used heavy weight cardstock sandwiched between two floral pieces of scrap paper. It's embellished with trim and buttons. "Ni Hao" means "Hello" in Chinese.

Every time I try something new, my comfort zone expands just a little more!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Headless Horseman Rides Again!

This morning, I thought I'd share one of my most sentimental pieces. "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is one of my favorite classics and last summer I decided I wanted....NO...I needed to make my own Headless Horseman. This was my first real wood carving that I dared to combine with different mediums. Since then, working with mixed media is all I want to do!

The Headless Horseman's horse is hand-carved and placed on a wood dowel to give a sense of movement. He's painted and distressed in several layers of crackling gel. His ears are real leather. I used rusted wire as his mane and tail. My husband, Ted helped me drill the holes just so, which turned out to be a two-hour project! It wound up being a lot of fun working with Ted and spending time together - just him and me. That's why I could never sell this piece! It's too sentimental. We also attached his reins with ever-so-tiny nails, holding our breath that the horse's head wouldn't split!

The dowel is connected to an old wood children's block. Not being satisfied with a plain brown block, I painted a picture of Ichabod Crane being chased through the woods by the Horseman.

The quote on the back of the block is taken from Bing Crosby in the Disney version of Sleepy Hollow, "For Once You Cross that Bridge My Friend, the Ghost is Through, His Power Ends."

The Horseman is completely needle-felted using various shades of wool roving. His boots are sculpted from paperclay and I made his cape from red and black felted wool. He holds his pumpkin head up in the air, like he's just about to throw it at Ichabod. Of course, he rides bare-back!

The next morning, Ichabod's hat was found abandoned, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin. Now rumors persisted Icahbod was still alive, but the Dutch settlers refused to believe such nonsense. For everyone knew that the schoolmaster was spirited away by the Headless Horseman.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary.......

while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when with many a flirt and flutter
In there stepped a stately Raven of the unsaintly days of yore.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the coutnenance it wore.
"Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite-respite and nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! Prophet still, if bird or devil!-
On this home by Horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm of Gilead? - tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!-quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take they form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is stitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

She Called Me a "Junkie"!

Ya know, I've been called a lot of things in my life, but this was the first time I was ever accused of being a "junkie." No, we're not talking drugs here, we're talking a "junk-junkie." Now WAIT! In my defense, I was very particular about what I picked out. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the story:

Last Friday, I helped set up for our local Senior Citizen's Center "Christmas in July" sale. The workers were allowed to buy some things early. When it was time to leave, we all showed the leader what we were buying so she could price them. She took one look inside my bag and with a disgusted look said, "This is ALL JUNK!" My jaw dropped as this very hefty woman in her 70s, with her raspy voice continued, "Junk! It's all plastic GARBAGE!" "But, wait!" I stammered, knowing full well despite her age, Arlene could easily knock me into next week, "See...I'm an artist. I like to use vintage Christmas with my...." "Junk! Junk!" She interrupted. "You're a JUNKIE! A JUNK-JUNKIE! Give me a dollar for the bag. What else do you have?" I showed her an old tree topper and some very pretty antique rose glass balls. "$2.50 for everything" as she heaved a heavy sigh in disgust. I promised her I'd return the next morning for more loot!

The next morning, bright and early, I went back with my friend Shannon and bought a few more goodies. Arlene was there. She smiled, shook her head, and told the ladies pricing my bag, "I know her. She spent hours here helping set up yesterday." For her, 75 cents."

So, besides the pastries I bought from the bake sale, how do you think I did for under $4.00?!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Halloween Folk Art & Carvings

While everyone else seems to be enjoying long days on the beach, sitting by the pool, and sipping ice cold drinks, I'm busy inside whipping up some Fall folk art!

Would you believe I actually had to look up the difference between a crow and a raven? Now class, attention forward. One way to tell the difference between a raven and crow is a raven's tail comes to a triangular point, while a crow's tail is more rounded.

The raven, we'll just call him, "Sebastian", sits on top of a hand-carved jack o'lantern. It doesn't appear the JOL is too pleased about it either! Sebastian's all dressed for the Halloween party - complete with a party hat and his trick or treat bag. A vintage orange chenille "bump" and silver garland help decorate his costume. I thought it still needed something so I mounted the JOL on top of an old toy block and then painted and sprinkled it with purple glitter. A decorative trim finished off the piece.

Standing about 10 inches tall are three stacked hand-carved and painted jack o'lanterns.

Somebody stop me! Here's another raven I'll call, "Betsy." Before her night on the town, Betsy dons her witch's hat and wool cape. An old cloth orange button completes her Halloween look. She perches herself on top of a hand-carved pumpkin with vintage velvet leaves.

This mini Headless Horseman is one of my very first attempts at needle-felting last year. He's rough around the edges, but you'd be too if you were missing a head.

Another one of my first needle-felting projects. The boy stands about 5 inches tall and is sculpted from wool. I then used 100% wool to make clothes. His little sheep is also needle-felted and has a tiny rusty bell around his neck. What I most like about the sheep is that his legs are made from antique rusted square-tip nails.

Toil and Trouble!

A needle-felted witch holding a cauldron of turtle-egg stew! Kaleena is made from 100% wool and is soft as a pillow!

Looks like Gertrude is paying her sister a visit! Gertrude is hand-carved and painted. She wears an apron detailed with a Halloween motif and carries a very frightened jack o'lantern on her back.

I got the idea to do this carving from an old Halloween postcard, but instead of a witch, it was a black cat walking with the JOL.

It seems I'm constantly looking for new things to create! Here's a bottle brush tree I bleached and dyed black. Using pieces from old jewelry, black flowers, tiny charms, and other assorted pieces, I came up with this silver and black creation.

You never know when your Muse will redirect you! Originally. this Halloween witch was supposed to be Mrs. Santa Claus!

Not so much for Halloween, but more of a Fall carving of a big cat resting on sheep.

A hand-carved frightened pumpkin man!

Believe it or not, these two little trick-or-treaters (about 3 inches tall) were probably the hardest pieces you've seen. Working with such a small amount of wood and a knife can be pretty tricky! I thought they turned out really sweet.

I made this big chunky piece about two years ago for my friend, Shannon, who was hosting a big Halloween party for a bunch of kids.

I thought it would be boring to just paint them orange!

This Fall, I'm hoping to open an Etsy shop and maybe join a new website that features art from the Bucks County area. I hope to be just like Grandma Moses, creating until the day God decides to bring me home!