By the skin of its finny-fin-fin

One of the “Aha!” artsy discoveries I made in Boston was Fish Leather. Now maybe you knew all about it, but I didn’t. And it’s beautiful! It looks like suede on one side and has a glossy.scale-like pattern on the other side. Here’s a piece that I purchased from Bead+Fiber.

fl1_edited-1 There’s a shop called The Fish Leather Co in the UK that’s specializing in this material, and you can find out from their site how it’s made. It’s apparently a long process and different species of fish have different kinds of leathers. Definitely interesting to read about! Fish Leather is eco-friendly and taken from non-endangered fish (unless you’re the fish that gets turned into leather, I guess).fl2

I found a shop on Etsy that has hand-crafted Fish Leather jewelry – it’s called ModernNaturals19 and the artisan does nice work – see the cuff bracelet below. You’d have to sew a bunch of these together to make a garment of any kind, but the material itself is beautiful and I can see it being used for small adornments and decorative objects. Dang. Fish leather. Who woulda thought?




Boston’s SoWa Sunday Market

OK, I confess to playing hooky from Trinity on Thursday to take a quick trip to Boston – and one of the highlights was today’s South End Market, particularly a shop called Bead + Fiber. Today was the last Market of the season (and also the Market of the Living Dead, sorta a Yankee version of Dia de los Muertos.) Besides produce, there is a vintage market and a fleet of food trucks. The place was rife with hot dogs, real dogs in Zombie costumes, Zombies eating burgers, Zombies in drag – sometimes it was hard to tell what was a costume and what was not, and one surely didn’t want to ask. Here are some pictures from the SoWa Market. Home tomorrow to dear ol’ San Antonio where the only good Zombie is a dead Zombie – hmmmm. Wait, aren’t Zombies already dead? So all Zombies are good? Oh, never mind – enjoy the pics.


A free class? Taught by me? Yep!

craftartI just got an email from CraftArtEdu saying my Online Composition Classes are up, including the FREE one that I made about Orientation. Just click here to access my page and scroll down to the bottom to see the free video. It’s a useful class, I think, because it can apply to any medium. Anyway, I’d love feedback – it’s only about 15 minutes long. Email me if you watch it and tell me what you think – all suggestions appreciated. The sound is kind of crummy at the end but I’m working on that.

Sunday was the Friends of the Library Arts and Letters Awards, and I am delighted that my dear friend, fiber artist Susan Oaks, was one the the three honorees. Her work with coiled vessels spans decades, and her vision and artistry never wavers. I shot a quick video interview with her at the ceremony. I am so proud to know her! She’ll never read this because she doesn’t have a computer, but if you see her, tell her hooray!14susan 15susanoaksvessel


Stamps R OK – sometimes

   stamp4I’ve always been slightly rubber-stamp-phobic about using them as a “fine art” tool, and still get a bit twitchy about it. But after seeing some of the beautiful repeat pattern fiber art in the FASA show, I’m coming to realize that stamping can be a great way to explore the kinds of designs found in traditional batik and shibori-like kimono patterns. Therefore, I’ve resurrected those little cat stamps and calligraphy stamps and pattern stamps and am making a little surface design sampler of stamp fragment patterns on paper. It’s simple – just stamp2mask off areas of 5×7″ paper with blue tape (stick it on your jeans first to lint it up for easy removal).

Then stamp portions of a design repeatedly, alternating images. You can do a couple in five minutes and then collect them in a folder with notes on the back about what stamps and inks you used. I’m going to do a series of small paper kimonos soon and will use my favorite pattern for those. Stamping is not rocket science but it’s a lot of fun if you view it as pattern exploration and surface design. Click on the images below to see the detail – it’s pretty interesting and dead-easy.

stamp3 stamp1

Herb’s just a face in the crowd . .

I love these little Sprig Shards! I’ve made 100 of them for the San Antonio Herb Market this Saturday, October 19th. Each one of these kiln-fired earthenware herb pots has its own personality. Designed to hold sprigs of herbs, they hang on the wall in the kitchen or by the door. Did you know that a spring of rosemary by your front door means “Welcome?” And that a sprig of poison ivy means “Go Away?” I made that last one up – it doesn’t really. These Sprig Shards can also hold a key or an emergency chocolate kiss – all kinds of possibilities. And – tadah – they are only $7 each, which in my humble potterly opinion, is a bargain for a one-of-a-kind useful art object handcrafted by moi. So come to the 22nd annual Herb Market at the Pearl and check out my simple but sensational Sprig Shard table as well as all of the wonderful herbal plants and food. The San Antonio Herb Society will be there with its new cookbook, too. Find the thyme to go on Saturday. 🙂


Lyn Belisle Studio: TOP TEN NON-ART Studio Essentials That I Can’t Live Without

Here’s my list – what’s yours? Share these with a friend 🙂 Next week I’ll have a list of the 10 ART PRODUCTS that I can’t live without.

1. Baby powder

babypowderI use this to dust the inside of air-dry clay molds to keep them from sticking, to “de-stick” my hands temporarily when I’ve been using spray adhesive, to dull down a shiny gel acrylic surface, among other things – Johnson’s smells the best to me – makes me all nostalgic

2. Blue Painter’s tape

blueMasks the edges of watercolor paper, makes irregular stencils for stamping and painting, use to tape around unfolder paperclip to make a handle for a quick cutting tool, put strips sticky-side-up on work table to keep cat from stepping on work in progress (sorta works as a distraction when they try to shake it off their feet) – and so much more – available in bulk from Uline

3. Canvas clay cloth

clothI can turn my painting worktable into an earthenware clay workspace in an instant with this – it unrolls and has a great canvas non-stick surface for rolling out clay slabs. It also makes an instant “clean” surface for projects of any kind of you keep the back side un-clay-y – available at ClayWorld

4. Cheap white washcloths

wahclothsI really could not do without these – clean-up, texturing, wiping walnut ink off clay – it goes on and on. I wash them and use them over and over, and they are cheaper than paper towels and more ecologically responsible – $4 buys a bundle of 18 at Walmart

5. Drinking straws

strawsLet me count the ways I use these – hmm, ok, to poke holes in clay face shards and adornments, to cut into 2” sections and use as channels for cord backing on pendants, as cores for paper beads, drinking Diet Dr. Pepper – and so on. Get both sizes, the standard ones for big holes and the little coffee ones for smaller holes. Available at delis and coffee shops everywhere. If you happen to need 900 of them, get ‘em at Uline for less than $4.

6. E6000 adhesive

e600A sculptor in Colorado Springs told me about this, and the stuff can stick metal to glass and glass to rock, paper and scissors – you get the idea. It’s good stuff, kinda looks like silicone gel. Most artists and jewelers know about it, but just in case you didn’t, you can get it many places, including Michaels.

7. Heavy-duty hole punch

holepunchThis is the only semi-specialty item on the list. I use it for punching holes for stringing beads, for book binding thread, for tags – it’s great. It will punch through thin metal and heavy mat board easily. Mine is from EK Tools. Worth the $15 price tag over and over, and you can get it in two different hole sizes. I have both.

8. Lavender Essential Oil

lavYou guys know that I’ve studied aromatherapy since the 80’s – and lavender oil is great for balancing your frantic mood when things aren’t going well in the studio – just a sniff will calm and refocus. But it’s also the best thing for burns, and I keep a bottle right next to my hot-glue gun. It’s saved me from having more than a few blisters. It works for mosquito bites, too, and can take off gummy residue better than goo-gone. You should have lavender essential oil just as a general principle in your life – great stuff! I recommend Aura Cacia, and you can read about it here.

9. Nashua Clear Duct Tape

nashuaThe perfect tape for book-binding, labelling, tape transfer – it tears cleanly and is super strong. I must go through a roll a week at the Studio. I used it to attach the covers for my custom e-reader covers and have been using it and recommending it ever since. It’s made by Nashua and is available at Home Depot.

10. Quart Mason jars

masonI hear my ancestors might have drunk whiskey out of these – now *that* would be an instant tranquilizer and work-stopper – but I use these for water jars, bead storage, feather storage (the cats paw at the sides trying to get to the feathers), brush storage, clay slip, glazes, spools of thread – chances are I don’t have to tell you how useful these big jars are – and they are recyclable and reusable and work as a nice vase for just-picked bunches of herbs and flowers for the Studio table. I have a friend who uses a meditation jar – she cuts strips of paper with favorite quotes and thoughts on them and keeps them in a clear Mason jar to pull out when she needs inspiration.  Better even than whiskey? I imagine so.


Guest artsts show their faces

One of the most enjoyable aspects of offering workshops, particularly on how to make face shards, is to see how they are used by the artists who attend. I’ve already posted photos of Spirit Dolls and jewelry – now here are some new ideas.

These are by Sheri Lenora from Austin, who took a class at the Studio recently on building earthenware faces – she’s used them in her beautiful mixed-media hangings – spectacular rich color and texture:

The nebookxt example (left) is the cover of a small book created by Zinnia Galliher, founder of Roses On My Table and a student in my online Making Faces class! I have a already warned her that I’m stealing her idea – it’s wonderful, and the air-dry clay is easier and lighter to work with than earthenware would be for adding to artisan paper constructions.

Don’t forget that there’s a workshop this Sunday at the Studio on making faces with air-dry clay with all kinds of beautiful finishes. Here’s the info, and here’s where to sign up.






A crazy-quilt week(end) of good things

makingfacesAll sorts of things have been going on in the Studio and around town – and in the virtual creative cyber-village. My first online art class opened on Monday at Roses and is going great – 26 students so far, and lively forum discussions on making shard faces with air-dry clay. It will be open until December with ongoing tips and examples if you can’t make the October 13th workshop at the “real” Studio.

ww8Tomorrow’s Wax and Wings workshop is full – how great is that? Very. My friend Victoria is here from DC and will be one of the participants – yay! Michelle Belto, my partner in collaboration, just got back from teaching a sold-out encaustic seminar in Canada – can’t wait to hear about her adventures during the workshop tomorrow. We’re already thinking about planning our next collaboration – stay tuned.

paulbookSpeaking of friends, my new email pal, Paul Wank from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, emailed me a photo of himself with one of his marvelous Book Dolls. The doll’s body is a blank book. How metaphoric! Paul is a craftsman and handmade book specialist. He’s also involved in the thriving Eureka Springs art and gallery scene. I’m luck enough to have one of his amazing miniature book necklaces. Paul is a great source of info about the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I hope to go there this coming spring or summer. Have any of you guys seen it yet?

raichlainAnd speaking of galleries . . .tonight there’s a book signing at La Vida Gallery – owner Matt Weissler has snagged Steven Raichlain is the TV host of Primal Grill and a multi award winning author of the cookbook series Barbecue Bible.  He is touted as the man who reinvented barbecue. He is also an Iron Chef winner, having defeated Rokusaburo Michiba in a “Battle of the Barbecue Gods” on Japanese television  AND He has a degree in French literature and trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris. Not your average barbecue bubba. I’ll be there, hope to see you at the coolest gallery in Southtown.

hadesOn a family note, my son Rick starts his House of Hades book tour next week – now that he’s living in Boston, I don’t get immediate feedback from those events, but I know it will be great. And, yes, I still worry about him being safe and eating right, and no, the title of the book doesn’t refer to his growing up at our house (I hope!). You can see him reading from the book at this link – unless I have worn it out from watching.

riverHave a wonderful weekend, everyone – don’t forget that the last section of the San Antonio River Reach opens tomorrow – it should be a great day for a stroll or walk or paddle along the beautiful riverbanks.