Thoughts on a studio anniversary.

A year ago – almost to the day – I said goodbye to my studio in Carousel Court. It was a hard goodbye. The space had been a gathering place for workshops, art shows, Show-and-Tell Saturdays, poetry readings – many things to remember and cherish. I truly miss that place, but it had become a huge responsibility, too big (and expensive) for one person to keep up forever.

Here’s a look at one of the early workshops there with beloved guest artist Sherrill Kahn. It was so much fun!

A month after I closed the doors forever, I found a smaller place just down the street from my new house. It has four rooms, lots of storage space, and reasonable rent.

Some of you have been there – thanks! Because of downsizing, and new responsibilities at the Art League, my workshop schedule had to be adjusted downward. Arg!

But ironically, on this anniversary weekend, I had two workshops at the new little studio, both of which were delightful (and neither of which was on my website calendar).

The first one on Friday the 13th was organized by six friends who wanted to learn some encaustic basics. They contacted me, and we scheduled it at their convenience.  We did a variation of the “Behind the Veil” vintage photocollage workshop. We worked with layered beeswax, oil paint, book foil, walnut ink – all the fun media that gets good results. Here’s a video of that “workshop-by-request” gathering:

Lyn Belisle Workshop: Encaustic Collage by request from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

The second workshop on Sunday was my old favorite, Creating Spirit Dolls. I have a group of friends who went with me three years ago to Whidbey Island when I taught with Joanna Powell Colbert. They had been wanting to learn to make spirit dolls, and so we did it! Here’s that video – it’s so interesting to see how different everyone’s turned out.

Making Spirit Dolls at Lyn Belisle’s studio in San Antonio from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

I love teaching workshops! And as I look back on this year, I’m feeling the loss of those gatherings at the old studio. In the new place, we are limited to six people in a workshop, but that’s actually a good number. If you have a group of four to six people who’d like to learn mixed-media together, let’s talk. Workshop-by-request is a great concept.

I’m also going to expand online workshop offerings through some new ebooks with videos, starting with the popular “Postcards to Myself”. I got the nicest letter from an Etsy buyer yesterday, which gave me some encouragement:

“Dear Lyn,
Please continue making the e-books for people like me who live in another state and want to learn and experiment…am so excited…youre such an inspiration…thanks for sharing…and with your open heart all that you share and give will come back 10 fold to fill your heart and spirit as you have done for myself and others.”
  Jacque in Washington State.
Finally, I have high hopes for the studio space at the Art League on King William Street. With good luck and some anticipated financial support, that studio may become the kind of gathering place that the old Carousel Court studio was. We’re having a workshop there on the 29th, and there are still two spaces left. Join us and give us your ideas and feedback

Workshop at the Art League Studio on King William Street

Looking back, it’s been a crazy, exciting, challenging year and one that has confirmed how much I love teaching and learning with all of you, no matter when, where or what! I hope to see you soon. Thanks for your support and friendship 🙂

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not fighting the old, but on building the new.”

― Socrates

Save

Save

Save

Critters for Marta

Marta Stafford

One of the nicest surprises of the summer came from the amazing Marta Stafford, who invited me to be a part of her hugely popular gallery, Marta Stafford Fine Art, in Marble Falls.

This is a dream come true – I loved Marta’s gallery from the first moment I saw it six or seven years ago.She has the absolute best in mixed media, sculpture, contemporary and traditional painting, and more. Marta will represent me and my work (woohoo), and I’ll be featured in the exhibit that opens Friday, October 6th.

I need to create some nifty new work for this show, especially imaginative assemblages, so I started digging around for earthenware body parts! Heh, heh.

It’s so much fun putting my clay shards together with found objects and watching new critters emerge. Here’s the progress so far – some are not finished, as you can see – perhaps you can see where they are going? One never knows, do one?

This is a details of a piece I really like

There is actually another face underneath the one you see. Her arm moves in a sweet, spooky way – she’s about 12″ tall.

Save

Save

Save

The one below is just started, but I like the simple elegance so far.

When finished, this piece will be about 18-20″ tall

Shades of spirit dolls! This construction, below, has some hand-dyed and rusted mulberry paper.

And while I was looking for clay body parts, I found this cat head! It’s now a new Cat Shaman.

Finally, here’s one I started a couple of weeks ago and it’s finally starting to come together. It looks like some sort of ancient goddess staff.

So far, every piece is different from every other one interesting.

I plan to have a number of these assemblages as well as some paintings and collages for Marta’s opening on Friday, October 6th at the Marta Stafford Fine Arts in Marble Falls.

Thanks, Marta, for the invitation – prepare for a critter invasion! ♥

Save

Save

Save

September Spirit Dolls

Lyn's workshop demo spirit doll

Lyn’s workshop demo spirit doll, “Leafwing”

There’s something about a Spirit Doll workshop that gives me goosebumps. I think it’s because in just three hours, a group of willing people trust their creative instincts to combine some sticks and clay and cloth and build the most amazing mysterious little beings. It’s really magical!

21

You’ve seen my Spirit Doll workshop videos before, and every group is special – this one was particularly memorable. It may have been because of the mix of people, several of whom had come from far away and had never been to the Studio before. There was a lot of welcoming and bonding before the three hours was over.

So this time, I have two videos to share with you. The first one shows the magic of the group pulling together their Spirit Dolls one by one.

And the second one is for YOU. It shows you step-by-step photos of how I made the prototype for yesterday’s workshop just in case you get inspired and want to try this for yourself. I hope you enjoy them both.

Ready to make your own? Here are the basics (especially if you’re a visual learner)!

Finally, if you want all of the Spirit Doll tips and techniques and variations that I have ever tried, I have a DVD called The Magic of Spirit Dolls from my two-hour Artful Gathering class. Just sayin’ – if you missed the workshop, you can capture the “spirit” of it on video! Just click on the image for the link. End of commercial break – have a happy Labor Day!

 

Save

Save

EARTHWORKS: September 9-10

She Cat – created by Linda Rael, owned and cherished by Lyn Belisle

I know of no other artist whose works resonate in my heart as much as those of dear friend Linda Rael. Everything she creates makes me think, “Dang, I wish I had done that.” She incorporates animal bones and porcupine quills and rust and earth and tattered linen and other stuff that myths and magic are made of. I purely love her art!

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael – Fiber, Rust, Found Objects –  2016

It’s been a dream of mine for several years to collaborate with Linda on a show, and recently, over a long lunch, we decided to go for it! We are calling this show “Earthworks” – it reflects a direction that we’ve both been exploring, going to ground, leaving behind bright color and adding elements one might find along a stream bed or sacred path.

earthworks copy

The works will be on exhibit at my Studio for just two days during the second weekend of September. 

Many of Linda’s new pieces are fiber-based and hand-rusted with the natural patterns adorned and enhanced with hand stitching. My own pieces will be mostly sculptural, much like my neo-santo series, but less refined, more weathered.

Want to see a few sneak preview photos? Please take a look, then mark your calendar now because the availability of these works is limited to September 9-10 only.  You won’t want to miss this event – it’s always fun to visit the Studio, and I am thrilled that Linda is joining me in this amazing two-day exhibit called Earthworks.

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Linda Rael 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Lyn Belisle 2016

Save

Save

Save

Save

Face it – this clay don’t need no kiln

faces

One thing is for sure – the number of faces that came into the workshops on Sunday and Monday were a lot fewer than the number of faces that went out. The energetic and enthusiastic workshoppers must have created hundreds of little air-dry clay people – and not just human faces – there were 3-D molds, insects, cats, and one persona that looked like creepy Chucky (that one became our mascot).

chuckie

The object was to explore ways to use no-fire clay – to make original and iconic clay face shards and other dimensional components without the need of firing in a kiln.

We concentrated on four areas:

  1. How to make reverse press molds with both two-part silicone and with air dry clay
  2. How to use the molds with various kinds of air-dry clay to make a dimensional object
  3. How to finish the surface of the dried clay faces with walnut ink and metallics
  4. How to use those finished components in mixed media projects

The key to success is to embrace the imperfections inherent in the air-dry clay – those cracks and irregularities give the pieces the illusion of heritage and a wabi-sabi touch of imperfect beauty. You can see what I mean from our video – every picture tells a story, every little face has a secret history – hopefully not Chucky’s:

 

Save

Save

Save

Cat Shamans, a serendipitous surprise kitten and a Friday Freebie

catshaman

Meow —  and Happy Friday. Yesterday was all about cats.

I’m teaching a class called The Mystical Cat Shaman at Artful Gathering this summer, and a group of local friends wanted to try it out. So we scheduled a custom weekday workshop held yesterday (you can do this too, by the way) and created a litter of Mystical Cat Shamans at the Studio!

The “serendipitous surprise” came as we were just starting. Roxanne was late, and she called in with a voice message, “Can you hear in the background why I’m not there yet?”  We all heard kitten mews on the speaker – adorable!

She brought the newly-rescued three-week-old kitten to the workshop and we took turns holding it while we worked. Roxanne is a consummate animal rescuer – she even had some kitten milk replacement formula with her. The little guy was pretty hungry.

Of course, the kitten found a home before the workshop was over. Whether it was the kitten surprise or the group energy, the Cat Shaman creations were amazing – each one different, each one magically personal. Take a look.

So if all of this inspires you, be sure that you are subscribed to SHARDS by midnight on Sunday. One name will be drawn to win the Friday Freebie – a Shaman Cat Starter Kit complete with Heart Box body and kiln-fired earthenware head, ready to finish. Even “dog people” are eligible, so feel free to share this post. Hmmm – are Dog Shamans in my future?

kitphoto

 

 

Circles of connection

Saturday’s Show & Tell was the best kind of connected circle – it seemed as if everyone had a story or an idea that made the collective group smile and even applaud. When you begin with Vicki Siptak’s beautiful necklaces made from socks (1) and end with thoughts from a poet about imagery, words, and art, what’s not to love? Join us for the next one if you can on Saturday, August 29th (2-4 pm), and connect with this creative circle at my Studio. Here’s a video from Saturday.

kimAnother connected circle is getting really huge, as in International – that’s the Spirit Doll connection. It started for me with Joanna Powell Colbert in 2012 and her order for faces from my Etsy site. She and I both started teaching Spirit Doll classes, and the word spread. I’ve sent shard faces to many countries and  just got these photos from Jo Rockendorfer, who recently taught a Spirit Doll class in Sydney, Australia – here’s here description: “The red doll is Hummingbird Medicine, the green/blue was for a friend after she did a healing ritual and the last and most recent is Sophia Goddess of Wisdom”

I love the fact that Texas clay enhances Jo’s beautiful work from Australia – and if you’re reading this, you’re connected, too, in our circle – lucky me! Circles unify, art connects –  life is good. Have a great week.

 

Spirit Box showcase and a fresh breath bonus

spboxWaaa-aaay back in October of 2013, I wrote an article for Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine about Spirit Boxes. This is from the intro:  “Spirit Boxes take their roots from art dolls, kachinas, and other meaningful handcrafted figures. They make beautiful gifts, especially if a personal note or small object is tucked inside the box. To make your own Spirit Box, you will need just a few simple materials, and most or all of those can be recyclables.”

Six participants got together at the Studio yesterday to give it at try at our Spirit Box workshop. The results (below) are beautiful, personal, and heartfelt.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So what’s the “box” part of this construction? It’s a recycled Altoids tin (how ubiquitous – they are used from everything from mini-shrines to sewing kits). But by gluing this on to the back of a flat wall piece, you can both lift it out from the wall to “float” it, and also have a secret compartment for life’s little pleasures like Hershey’s kisses, silver dollars, and secret messages! See?

Punch holes and fashion a "handle" out of wire, then glue on with E6000

Punch holes and fashion a “handle” out of wire, then glue on with E6000

Voila! A secret compartment!

Voila! A secret compartment!

FUN LINKS for ALTOIDS TINS:

22 Manly Ways to use an Altoids tin

Top 50 Ways to Recycle Altoids tins

Ten Things You Can Build Inside of an Altoids Tin (including a lie detector)

Altered Altoids and Other Tins

My personal favorite – an Altoids tin grill that can cook two hotdogs and one marshmallow – seriously?

You light up my life?

When I returned from my short trip to Colorado, Michael presented me with an early Christmas gift that he found at El Mercado, San Antonio’s Mexican Market. He said there was only one like it, and It’s definitely unique! It’s a mini-shrine to the Virgin Mary (I’m assuming) that is a concave image – but when the Christmas light bulb underneath the face is turned on, it appears three-dimensional. Check it out:vir2

When you look at the lighted image from the side, the eyes kind of follow you – it really does look rather eerie, but cool.vir1

But the *very* coolest part is that I can use it as a Face Shard mold. Strangely enough, the face that results from pressing into the shrine (below) doesn’t look a lot like the lighted image!vir4 Spooky.

Too bad, though, if you wanted a similar gift – I seem to have gotten the only Light-Up 3-D Illusion Virgin in the whole Mexican Market. You can, however, have a face made from this amazing object if you play your cards right.

 

Esperanza inspirations

Like many San Antonians, one of my favorite events of the year is Esperanza Peace and Justice Center’s art and craft market.

esperArtists from Mexico and the Southwest show an amazing array of cool stuff, and I always come away with a zillion ideas. I especially love seeing my friend, talented Linda Rael, there because she has the best ideas to steal. I purchased one of her wonderful fabric sculptures to examine more closely! Here are some photos from the Market, and under those is a video of some assemblages I finished on Sunday after being totally inspired and excited by all of the things I saw.

When I came home from the market, I worked most of the weekend completing a series of Heart Shard assemblages – objects of devotion. These figures represent small iconic blessings, much like my earlier Guardian series. There may be more of these to come, and they will be available at the Saturday Studio Sale with Lesta, Jan and Alison.