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.


We’re not getting older, we’re just getting better . . .

I hope y’all are still basking in happy holiday vibes – my quick Christmas trip to Boston was delightful. Of course, observing that the grandsons have become over six feet tall (and whiskery) almost overnight reminds me that life is a zipline ride, flashing by faster and faster as you get to the end – sigh. So I was very cheered by this post on Open Culture this morning. It’s a letter (written in 1988) to Ingmar Bergman on his 70th birthday from his Japanese director/auteur counterpart, Akira Kurosawa, who assures him that his best work will begin at 80 (see below). I like the notion that artists need to age out of all adult baggage and preconceptions and become clear-eyed babies again. After all, Picasso said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” So happy weekend, All – I’m off to find my creative blankie!


Dance first . . . .

dance_edited-1I love that quote – It sums up my first year at the Studio pretty well. I’m just lucky I didn’t dance off a cliff since I had no direction or experience! You guys were the ones who helped me keep my feet on the ground by coming to workshops, giving me hugs, furniture, encouragement, soup, chocolate, arty treasures, inspiration from near and far, and so much more. Thanks very, very much for everything. I wish each of you a new year of dancing and adventure, the inside kind and the outside kind. Just don’t dance off any cliffs.

Save the date for the Lyn Belisle Studio First Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, January 19th from 3-6 p.m. We’ll share food and libation, little gifties, conversation, and fantastic music by the wonderful Classical guitarist, George Gaytan. Please come! Just for fun here’s the old invitation from a year ago – time goes fast when you’re dancing! I’ll send out the new “official” invitation after Christmas. Happy holidays, everyone – I am so grateful for you.



Studio notes – including a remarkable student

shard2Studio note 1: Congrats to Yvonne Baca, lucky subscriber #54, who won the Friday Freebie Scent Shard

Studio note #2: The video from Sunday’s Explorations in Air-Dry Clay is up on YouTube – we had a great time!

Studio note #3: Most of you know that I teach at Trinity University in the Computer Science Department (part time now since I opened the Studio) . My class focuses on basic concepts such as networking and Internet ethics as well as graphic applications and web design. All of my students this semester have been smart and funny and ready to learn, particularly Will Lin from China. Here’s a link to the introduction he wrote at the first of the semester (it’s wonderful), and here’s his final project, a built-from-scratch website – I have his permission to share it with you (click on the graphic) – thanks, Will:


Where has this week gone? . . .and Friday Freebie

Did this week disappear as fast for you as it did for me? Yikes – so little time, so much to do. As promised, a SHARDS subscriber (new or old or ancient) will receive a Scent Shard of his/her/its very own if his/her/its name is drawn on Sunday night by the Magic Randomizer. Here’s the lovely Shard, a classic face with spirals.shard2

Looking ahead, I’ve just posted a new Celtic Spirit Doll workshops for February – I’ve been doing a little research on the subject, and this should be fun – you, too, can Create a Spirit Doll whose roots lie in Tír na nÓg , the Celtic place of eternal youth and beauty. It should be fun – spirit doll workshops are really such a favorite of mine and everyone else’s.

And if you’re a writer (aren’t we all in one way or another), please consider Nancy West’s Creative Writing Seminar and Workshop at the Studio on two Wednesday evenings, January 15th & 22, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. For just $40, this two-part workshop is the literary bargain of the new year – Nancy is funny and creative and a delight to work with. Plus there will be good snacks – yeah! I might even make some of my pal PJ’s Saltine Toffee. It’s sinfully addictive. Happy weekend, All!


Happy Monday . . .quick, think of something you’re looking forward to today! Even if it’s cold and drizzly out there, remember what that great guru, Dr. Seuss, said, “Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.” And speaking of winners, the Friday Freebie Scent Shard goes to Terri Reyna – thanks Terri, for subscribing to SHARDS. Let me know how you’d like to claim your prize. Thanks, everyone, for subscribing, and in the spirit of the season, I’ll be giving away another Scent Shard this coming Friday. Yay!

xmaswrapHere’s another Freebie for everyone – remember the gift tags I posted last year? Go to that link if you’d like to print them out for your packages. I’m wrapping gifts in sheets of newsprint (the plain kind) this year. Plain newsprint is cheap and very biodegradable. I get mine from ULine and use it for all kinds of stuff at the Studio. I found some ivory ribbon at Costco, and with the gift tags and some leaves and feathers and such, the packages look great.. Bye for now, there’s fun to be done!

First Friday Art Show Opens at La Vida

Art lovers in hats and coats braved the chilly night to attend the First Friday opening at La Vida – thanks to all who came! Gallery owners Matt and Carole had tamales and rice and beans to warm us all. I so enjoyed talking with fellow artists Kathy and Lionel Sosa, and especially to Jacobo Mendoza from Oaxaca.

Jacobo’s weavings are astonishing – fine and colorful, made from hand-carded wool from local sheep. All of his colors come from natural dyes, combinations of cochineal and marigold, soap root and plants that he described to me that I had never even heard of. His wife, son and daughter share in the weaving art. Please look at the pictures on his website to learn more about Jacobo and his talented family.

I purchased one of his rugs to use as a wall hanging – it looks as if it should be hanging in a museum! Here’s a short video of the evening – the Russian music in the background is a nod to the chilly temps!

Friday Freebie: Scent shard

Can you say “Specially Selected Scent Shard for SHARDS Subscribers“? And then can you say, “I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit“? That one’s trickier (heh heh). But if you’re a SHARDS blog subscriber (or subscribe by Sunday night), you’ll be in the drawing for this earthenware Scent Shard. It’s pretty, with its little bee and its B Beautiful stamp. I even have a box ready for mailing, so good luck!


Despite the cold weather, it looks like my art opening at La Vida is a go. Hope to see you there, but if it turns icy and scary, stay home! Here’s something interesting to learn codeacademyif it is, in fact, a stay-at-home weekend. It’s a free program I use with my students called Code Academy. If you have a geek gene, you might like to learn how webpages are made. Take a look – you can even earn badges for your progress. craftartAnd if technology isn’t your thing, then browse the free classes at CraftArtEdu. There are a ton of creative videos there, including mine on composition. Have a lovely weekend!

Scent Shards up on Etsy

Just a quick note for those of you who suggested I make the Scent Shards available on Etsy – I did! Here’s the link:


Thanks – they are listed individually. I had to raise the shipping to $4 because of the larger geographic area, but if it costs less to ship to you guys who read SHARDS, I’ll refund the dif. Please share the link – you’re the best!


Monday updates and a make-over

How did I spend my post-Thanksgiving weekend? I did a makeover on my website (practicing for the make-over that I’ll have to do on myself after all that turkey and pie). I have a new header using one of the new Peregrino constructions that was a favorite. It matches the new SHARDS header – look up, see? And it should be somewhat easier to find workshops and calendar info on my site. Let me know if you like it.

Also, please notice the Writing Workshop in January given by Nancy West – it will be a great way to start the year for writers (aspiring or experienced) and journal-ers. Nancy is funny and gifted and I’m so glad she’s coming to the Studio as a guest artist/writer/teacher.

Oh, yeah, and I also I did a firing of 14 new Scent Shards this weekend – just in case you need a super $20 gift for a special someone (like you). They will be at the Studio starting today – if you’d like to order one by mail, email me for pics – shipping is $3.50 and the essential oil, lavender or eucalyptus, is included. Here’s your tantalizing example. This is a face from a 30’s carving and she’s about 6″ tall. Yay for Cyber Monday commercials! The End.

Scent Shard essential oil sculpture and diffuser

Scent Shard essential oil sculpture and diffuser