Extraordinary South African photographer shares his work freely

Being a visual kind of person, I’m always on the lookout for photos that inspire like those that my friend Ramesh takes. I’ve shared with you one of my favorite online sources – it used to be called Stock Exchange, but I think Getty bought it and now it’s called Free Images. And the photos are (blessedly) still free! And searchable! If you join (yep, free) you can access the high-res images from photographers from all over the world.

I was searching on Free Images this morning and just discovered a South African photographer whose pictures I had seen and used before, but had never really looked at his complete online gallery. Wow! His name is Sias van Schalkwyk and he goes by “doc.”

I encourage you to check out his work and his website  – particularly his shots of African people and birds. What a remarkable conservationist and photographer. Thanks, doc!

Mysterious FiberShards

Two things collided: one, the deadline for the Fiber Artists of San Antonio fall exhibition is fast approaching, and, two, I discovered MeinkeToy Fiber Art Supplies and its owner, Eleanor Love. Result: Mysterious FiberShards. You’ll hear more from Eleanor in October – I’ve asked her to be a guest blogger – yay!  So I wanted to show you what I’m discovering about fibers while experimenting for the FASA show.

Shards and fragments of artifacts have always fascinated me, and I’m building little re-imagined ones from various fibers (paper counts – and a few of these are papier-mâché). Some of the other materials include felt, cheesecloth, and silk – take a look.


One of the mysterious objects is part of a silk cocoon – guess what you get when you cut open a silk cocoon? Yep – a big ol’ fat dead silkworm. He’s not in there. . .he, er, went away.

Working with fibers is a lot more than knitting, y’all – it’s almost unlimited in its possibilities. Check out Eleanor’s MeinkeToy website and see what I mean.I have a feeling that I’ll be doing a lot more FiberShards in the near future. Thoughts?

My (right-this-minute) Etsy Favorite 5

You know Etsy, right? If not, I’m gonna get you in a lot of trouble, cause it’s an amazing online global marketplace of creative delights. Look at some of the things you can find today on Etsy. These are my current favorite shops (but it may change with every new discovery :)):

etsy1Tomyres Boutique – Ugur Daskan’s art-to-wear collection. Ugur is from Turkey and has a wonderfully creative way with paper and fiber. This is her Wire Statement Necklace w/ Blooming Flowers. The lovely white cocoon necklace that I showed in my last post came from Ugur. She featured the post on her FB page. 





etsy2Casa de Charms Shop from McAllen, Texas is where I order milagros for my own artwork. Amador, the owner, is easy to work with and has fair prices and quick shipping. He also has larger milagros and really funny Day-of-the-Dead shopping bags.






etsy3House of Ceramics – despite its generic name, this studio site has some beautifully designed work like these fired and glazed apples. Una, the artist/owner, is from Fresno, California.




etsy4Buster Bean Knows – this Etsy shop is pretty unique. Here you can find natural stuff, rusty stuff, kitschy stuff – here’s what the owner says about herself – “I live near Sedona about midway between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix with my 3 dogs, Buster (the namesake of my shop), Duncan & Paloma. Buster knows the meaning of life… be creative and enjoy every moment you can.”  Pretty cool.




etsy5Hoooked Soap, form Peralta, NM. I think I like this shop as much for the names and the colors and textures as I do for the soaps themselves. This one is called Dragon’s Blood Exfoliating Soap with Poppy Seeds. Talk about power to the shower – but I think there is something so appealing about artisan-made personal goods, and this shop has that kind of appeal.

It’s easy to get mesmerized while looking around on Etsy – when I was putting this post together, I went down a lot of rabbit holes checking out other stuff and got lots of ideas an inspiration! But now I need to get to work finishing some faces for my own Etsy shop, EarthShards (sneaky segue). Have a great weekend, everyone!

Personal adornment – shards and cocoons

How do I adorn me? Let me count the ways . . .well, the participants at Sunday’s workshop created some fabulous art-to-wear magnetic pins. Their challenge was to use small earthenware faces which they custom-finished and combined with papers and ephemera to create a mini-collage on a 2.5″ base that could be framed or worn. Each one was beautiful, each was different – take a look.

For myself, my new favorite adornment is this art-to-wear neck piece by Turkish artist Ugur Daskan. It came in yesterday’s mail – and I loved it the minute I unwrapped it. Light as a feather, it’s made from silkworm cocoons, paper ribbon, and woven cotton/silk. I photographed it against a lamp so you could see the translucency. You can see more of Ugur’s unique work which combines leather, knitted paper, crochet and fiber at her Etsy shop.


I am so grateful for the many wonderful artists in this world . . . oh, and one of them is Carol Mylar, who won the Friday Freebie book, Warrior Goddess Training! It’s a little late for your birthday, Carol, but it’s on its way.






Calling all Warrior Goddesses – your training manual is ready

Warrior Goddess Training, HeatherAsh Amara’s new (and wildly-popular) book, will be available when she visits the Studio Saturday Show and Tell tomorrow from 3-5. I am so proud of this talented and wise friend and teacher! Written for women of all ages, this book is a manual for self-discovered strength through curiosity and creativity – here’s a short excerpt:

“I’ve found that when I am in a tough situation, such as
under a deadline or in a hard emotional place, if I can focus on
being creative and curious about how I am being tempered or
strengthened, I thrive. Artists often say that scarcity, tension,
and time constraints can improve their work. Explore shifting
your attitude so all your challenging experiences can foster
your power and flexibility, and allow you to spread your wings

You’ll be fascinated by her right-on description of the four roles women rely on to cope with their life circumstances: Controllers, Distractors, Isolators and Pleasers. Wow – amazing insights.This is a seriously good book, Y’all.


I’m happy to offer a signed copy of Warrior Goddess Training as a special Friday Freebie for a SHARDS subscriber, random drawing on Sunday night. But if you can possibly be at the Studio tomorrow from 3-5, you’ll get to see HeatherAsh in person. You’ll also get to hear other stories and see demos and tips from the ever-insipring Studio Saturday group. On Sunday, HeatherAsh will also be at Celebration Circle and at Mana House for an evening lecture.

I hope *your* weekend includes lots of curiosity, creativity – and cooler temperatures! Thanks for reading 🙂

Weekend update – good things abound

moonGood morning – and a cooler one it is, with a full moon as well – nice! I’m sharing two short weekend videos with you guys – Saturday, I visited Dan Pfeiffer at his new gallery in Fredericksburg which was featured in last weekend’s San Antonio Express-News. What an amazing space, and the art is even more impressive. Dan has a wonderful eye for unique surfaces and structures as evidenced by the sculptures by Phil Evett and ceramic figures by Deborah Fritts. The work he shows is very atypical of the usual Hill Country galleries, but it fits in beautifully because it’s all very organic in concept, much like his own fine woodworking. Plus, if you go, you’ll get to see some of Dan’s Fan Planes in operation – very cool indeed.

And on Sunday, the first of my fall Studio workshops kicked off with Composition and Collage on Canvas. We discussed the AB3s of composition and did some work with fabric transfers and acrylic paint. Each piece was well-thought out and beautifully constructed – take a look:

I’ve added a second session of this workshop on Sunday, September 28th from 3-5 by popular demand (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase – LOL). Have a wonderful week, and happy birthday tomorrow to my dear friend Carol Mylar, fiber artist and former studio partner. Hooray for good friends and birthdays and cooler temps and full moons! And art! And kitties and puppies! and you guys . . . . . .♥♥♥

Celebrating altars and kitschy cats

deborahCelebration Circle’s Monday preview opening of its annual Altar Show was great. I’m always amazed at the way artists’ minds work, and this is the place to see that in action. You can access a digital catalog all of the altars here on Celebration Circle’s website. Among my personal favorites – Deborah Keller-Rhin’s altered (no pun intended) photograph which was presented on the back side of the wooden structure. It’s delicate and strong and totally engaging. Deborah consistently brings a spiritual component to her photography – you can learn more about her in this video.

janeI also loved Jane Dunnewold’s for its simplicity and elegance. Jane is a consummate  fiber artist, teacher, and author and her work has hidden depths. When you visit her website, you can catch a glimpse of the many influences that inspire her body of work. The title is “Fragile Illusion of Containment” and it’s such a strong visual metaphor for our illusion of safety and separateness – artists like Jane have such a way of expressing complexity with ordinary objects and materials.

One of the cleverest constructions was Mark catsKohnitz’s Bad Cats. I had a entertaining  conversation with Mark at the opening – his altar celebrates all of the kitschy cat figurines that are found in collections (“Oh, let’s get that little white china cat for Grandmother”) and end up at garage sales. BTW, the wine glass belongs to some wandering artist and is not part of the altar 🙂 Mark said he had a fine time collecting these little felines and actually has some left over from his cat quest that he will offer in an “adoption basket” during the silent auction gala. If you can’t make it that evening, I’ll pick up one and offer it as a Friday Freebie. Meow.

Here is the Celebration Circle Altar Show information – go visit the Bad Cats and the other altars (including mine) in person and bid on YOUR favorite.

September 1st through 30th
One People, Many Paths: The Sacred Art of Altars
Celebration Circle’s 11th Annual Exhibit and Silent Auction of Handmade Altars

On display for viewing and bidding in a month-long, silent auction that is open to the public during normal business hours in the Art Gallery at the Bijou Cinema and Bistro, located at Wonderland of the Americas.Closing Reception and Movie: Tuesday, September 30, 6:00 – 9:30pm, $15 in advance (sign up now)




Know when to fold ’em –

tagPresenting, for your Labor Day holiday folding pleasure, a simple but impressive little origami project. You can make a stack of these pocket-note-tags to use on gifts or even as place cards. You can even drink out of them, as you will see. This Emmy winning (not) short video was produced in my dining room. Awards go to Max the Cat for Best Immovable Object and Chico the Cat for Best Wardrobe Malfunction.