Favorite Artful Discoveries of 2013

Happy New Year, everyone! What a year of adventure and discovery. I thought I’d round up a few of my favorite semi-random mostly-artful surprises and discoveries from the past twelve months to share with you – I’m so glad that you were part of my 2013!

model magicArt Material: Model Magic Air-Dry Clay

Yeah, I know – that purple dragon on the package put me off, too – but when I started playing with this stuff, I found that it has amazing possibilities, some of which I’ll share in upcoming workshops on air-dry clay. You can stamp into it, make molds from it, and imbed stuff. Stay tuned . .  . I’ll be teaching an online workshop at Artful Gathering featuring this clay and similar media this summer

floss_edited-1Cheap Art Tool: Dental floss

Another discovery from the Exploring Air-dry Clay workshops – it cuts clay beautifully and can also be used as super-strong, thin cord for stringing beads. I have a bag full of little sample-sized floss at the Studio. Oh yeah, and if you happen to be eating corn-on-the cob during a workshop, it comes in handy there too.

evernote_edited-1Art Tech Tool: Evernote

I’ve had Evernote on my phone forever but never knew how to use it until I downloaded the desktop version, too. Now I can save short memos to myself (my memory is fading fast) and I can clip notes and ideas from the web and save them in folders on my phone and computer. It’s free and seriously easy – you just have to remember that you have it. That it doesn’t do for you.

michelleencsmArt Process: Encaustic on Watercolor paper

It was an “A-ha!’ moment when Michelle Belto showed me these new wax on paper panels she’d been creating on #300 watercolor paper. They are small jewels of layered translucency and mystery. She demonstrated this in our Wax and Wings workshop – my attempts are still pretty pedestrian, but hers soar!

beadsStudio Gadget: My Dymo Labeller

I took a very helpful online organizational course for artists from Alyson B. Stanfield in November, and of all the good suggestions, this one I actually put into practice almost immediately. It really helped me separate stuff and think about how I used it. For example, I realized choose beads mostly by color and not by size or material, so that’s how I separated and labelled them. Plus you can print out goofy labels for your own amusement 🙂

Website: Pinterest

pinterestSo, mabe I happen to be the last person in the world to discover Pinterest. I knew about it, but now I understand its usefulness for artists. It’s not so much about finding products or outfits, but it’s about inspiration. I have a Pin Board on ideas to steal – anything from the designs on a Masai headdress to a giant abstract painting by DeKooning. It’s also fun to see what other “pinners” like.

Art-Idea Book (rediscovery): Griffin and Sabine

griffin_edited-1Nick Bantock is a dang genius. I found my copy of Griffin and Sabine and the sequels just a couple of months ago – there is inspiration on every page, both visually and literally. It may be one of the most beautiful small books I’ve ever encountered. If you’re not familiar with it (because it was published over two decades ago), take a look. Nick Bantok’s website is pretty awesome as well.

Art Process Book: Wax and Paper Workshop

waxpaperAgain, I thank my lucky stars (and Carol Mylar) for introducing me to Michelle Belto. This is her book, and it is a wonderful example of how to teach a complex process in an engaging and approachable way. It’s also a stellar example of organizational model for an art process book. Gorgeous photos, too. I can’t wait for Michelle’s next book – she is a master at her medium.

Natural Material: Cactus skeletons

Cactus-Skeleton-1102352I love these netted plant skeletons! They are lightweight and strong and infinitely varied. They can be painted and used as stamps or just used by themselves. A workshop student from Floresville brought me some recently. Why are they so hard to find around here when the land is loaded with prickly pear cactus?? If you have a source, send it my way! Will trade for shards.

Art Store: 10,000 Villages

10000vThis is not the place you go to buy acrylic paint, but the ideas are rampant. Textile patterns, wood carvings, incised silver – and all made by craftspeople from across the world in a fair trade environment. It opened at the Pearl just a couple of months ago. If you need some fresh ideas and an optimistic look at the state of human creativity, go here!


Please send along your favorites from 2013 – I’ll pin ’em on my Pinterest stealboard, put ’em in my Evernote file, and post them to SHARDS! Happy New Year, dear friends – be safe.


3 thoughts on “Favorite Artful Discoveries of 2013

  1. What a nice list of discoveries…. Discoveries don’t need to be earth shattering to be quite wonderful.
    I will have a look at the few patches of prickly pear we have. Perhaps some pads strive for an art career. 😉 Have you considered loofah “sponges” for use in a project? They are easily grown, too, in San Antonio. If only I could remember where I got the seeds I used years ago!

  2. Life is not perpetual. Of course, this is a not a secret, but do we often remember about it? How can we feel the meaning of life staying at home? They say if you don’t like the place where you are – move, you’re not a tree after all. By the same tenet, I want to say that traveling – is an important component of happy life. Let’s not waste life for nought but explore this wonderful earth glob! It remains to take a step, just click world’s wonders and you will see all the riches of our world which are near to us. Very often various natural anomalies are just round the corner, but we can’t find time for knowing the world. begin reading not fashion magazines but brochures with tourist routes. A famous poem says “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…” Let’s change our life!

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