Decayed Daguerreotypes and The Public Domain Review


Portrait of Emma Gillingham Bostwick [between 1851 and 1860], by Mathew Brady’s studio

Part of having some leisure time over the holidays is discovering new Good Stuff, which, of course, I’m passing along to you guys. Look at that wonderful portrait, above – it’s an old daguerreotype that has been naturally distressed over time by scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of its glass cover. Isn’t it beautiful?? Artists strive to achieve those distressed effects in wax and paint – age and natural process has done it for us here.

It’s part of a collection from a site called The Public Domain Review: a project of the Open Knowledge Foundation. You can read more about these daguerreotypes and see many more fantastic examples here.

Reading the Public Domain Review’s mission statement makes me smile:

images“In particular, as our name suggests, the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to promote and celebrate the public domain in all its abundance and variety, and help our readers explore its rich terrain – like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond.”


The Public Domain Review has unbelievable treasures, and my personal favorites are in the images collections. Here are a few of the non-copyright images I came across in my first visit – it won’t be my last. I hope you have fun with this great resource. I plan to donate to their site (just as soon as I climb out of this rabbit-hole of digital discovery)!



A holiday wish for you

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Happy holidays, everyone! In the spirit of the Season, I’m giving you a couple of links to fun things

First, if you want to make origami crane ornaments to symbolize the hope for peace in the new year, here’s a link to a video I did a couple of years ago – you’ll just need some square paper and a tiny bit of patience. (I just checked the video and realized that I made it in 2012,  right before I opened the Studio! I was still working from home in the little studio lab – seems so long ago!)

Next, here’s a link to five collage sheets with some of my favorite images from my earlier work – print ’em out, tear ’em up, and play. I’m happy to share these with you guys.

Finally, here’s a recipe that I’ve posted before for a yummy fresh cranberry relish. It’s beautiful to look at, easy to make, and delicious with ham or turkey or just about anything else – even vanilla ice cream!

Thank you for all you do to make the world a kinder and more beautiful place!


Easy all-purpose gift tags for you


Like a lot of families, mine is quite – er, eclectic when it comes to ritual and celebration. We are a motley crew of every spiritual persuasion (or none), so I try to design gift tags and cards for us that reflect that diversity through symbolic neutrality. These little milagro heart tags fit the bill – folk arty but not specifically religious. If you want to use them, too, here’s a link to a sheet of eight tags that you can print out on card stock, fold, cut apart, trim the corners, and punch.

I used some parchment-colored card stock, but you could use any tag-weight paper that will go through your inkjet printer. The punched out gold circle adds a glitzy, industrial touch. Email me if you have any questions, but these tags are sooooo easy to put together. Quick, too!

iPad Pro and the Procreate app – digital discoveries!


I returned home from Boston with more than just happy memories – I also got an early Christmas present of an iPad Pro! So what makes the iPad Pro special? It’s simple: This is a tablet for artists and creators.This device is a digital designer’s dream – it has a 12.9″ touchscreen with incredible resolution. Lucky me . . . so many artists like my friends Sherrill Kahn and Susie Monday are huge iPad enthusiasts and digital design experts. I’m still a beginner, but ya gotta start somewhere. The image at the top is my first attempt at making a photo collage design on the iPad Pro. I used an app called Procreate

 When I first downloaded Procreate (it costs $6), I was a little disappointed because it just seemed like a drawing pad app, but then I watched some You Tube tutorials and began to see why artists like it so much. You can insert photos, use layers, draw with a zillion different brushes in a zillion different colors.

One of the most fun things Procreate does is to record your actions and export them to a video. Here is a eight-second video showing the steps that went into the finished image. As you can tell, I’m not very experienced with this program yet, but the learning curve is kind of addictive!

First Experiment with IPad Pro and Procreate app using layers and photo imports from Lyn Belisle on Vimeo.

This process won’t replace the kinds of hands-on art I do in the Studio every day, but it’s a great tool for ideas and digital design development. You don’t need an iPad Pro to download Procreate – you can install it on a regular iPad and have a great time playing with it.

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If you really want to get into it with a passion, I highly recommend Susie Monday’s Art on the iPad workshops – the next one starts on January 12th – here’s a link. I love tools that expand our repertoire as artists and creators, and my iPad Pro is definitely a gift of inspiration! Thanks, Boston guys 🙂


Fun with faces

A package of Face Shards from my Estsy show ready to ship to California

A package of Face Shards from my Etsy shop ready to ship to California

I was getting an Etsy order out this morning for five Rune and Relic Face Shards, and thought about how much fun these little faces are to make. You can use them for so many things – Spirit Dolls, ornaments, pins and pendants – anyway, I thought I’d re-post a SHARDS link to a very simple tutorial on mold-making and faces that I did for a workshop a couple of years ago. This tutorial recommends a two-part product called MegaMold that you can order online from Cool Tools (this site also has a bunch of very nifty pre-made molds). Michael’s has something similar called Amazing Mold Putty for about $20 – use your 40% coupon!

moldstuffThis mold-making project would be great fun to do over the holidays with kids – and you can get air-dry clay at Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s – it’s very inexpensive, doesn’t need a kiln, and isn’t discouragingly messy. I like the one called Model Magic. It comes in tubs and also in small packages, in different colors. So plan some time to make some faces!

Also, I’m re-posting this link to the Angel Face Gift Tags I designed several years ago just in case you need some last-minute gift-wrapping help. You can print these out and stick them on a packing wrapped in brown paper and tied with raffia, and it will look all Martha-Stewarty – honest!






I’m headed to Boston for just a few days for a quick visit  – back soon! Keep out of trouble and go make something creative!

A Gift from Joanna

joannamadonnaDear friend Joanna Powell Colbert sent me a beautiful gift, a limited edition print of her newest artwork, Dark Madonna and Daughter. I found the perfect home for this lovely work in an old tin retablo frame from the early 1900’s. It’s hanging in my study on the wall above my computer. I love the serenity of this piece – it reminds me to slow down and take a breath when I get too rushed. You can order this print for yourself from her site, Gaian Soul.

I would encourage you to read Joanna’s blog post on how this piece came about. It speaks to the creative process in all of us. She also has a wonderful online series which has just started called 30 Days of Yuletide: A Daily Sacred Pause to Welcome the Return of the Sun. Just reading it each day helps keep me grounded to the season and the earth. And, boy, don’t we all need some grounding this time of year! Thank you, Joanna!

A quick reminder to San Antonio folks, Linda Lucretia Shuler will be signing her novel, Hidden Shadows, at my Studio this evening from 5-7. Her book (which I am thoroughly enjoying) explores how we ground ourselves to a homeplace – in this case, the beautiful Texas Hill Country. I hope you can join us for some informal literary conversation with Linda and share some refreshments.

Seek serenity, y’all – and celebrate the season!


Snacks and wax!

Two great workshops raised the bar on creativity this weekend at the Studio – Saturday, Lesta and I did a four-hour marathon of “Art Snacks” – small protects that were quick and fun to create and give:

1 2 3Sunday, the Wax and Fiber Talisman workshop exceeded all expectation – what a great project! Everyone put together remarkable combinations of fabric, clay, wax and cord to make a rich assortment of mixed-media masterpieces! This is one we will definitely do again – thanks, all, for helping me test-drive it!

1 2 3Last, but not least, the winner of the Friday Freebie Free Bee dish is . . . tah dah . . . the lucky subscriber whose email is – send me your info and I’ll send you the bee!

Happy Monday, everyone!! And I hope to see you San Antonio pals at Thursday’s booksigning for Linda Shuler 🙂


Faces of Art – and a Friday Free-bee


Ramin Samandari is an extraordinary artist and  photographer whose work is in the permanent collections at the San Antonio Museum of Art and the University of Texas at San Antonio, along with numerous private collections. He has embarked on a remarkable project to photograph San Antonio artists. Here’s what he writes:

“I started this project about a year ago with two objectives in mind: To make photographs that show a glimpse into the artist’s emotions and psyche, and to make an important archive of the San Antonio’s visual art community, which did not exist.

I decided not to photograph the artists in the usual way, with their work in their studios. Instead I wanted to make portraits where the viewer has to encounter the artist’s face with no other distraction.”

I visited Ramin on Tuesday, and he just sent me this photograph from my session at his studio – I love itmany thanks, Ramin, for your talent and vision (and your mastery of Photoshop!). Plus, now I have a head shot that doesn’t involve cats or a messy studio in the background! Yay!

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Lyn Belisle, photographed by Ramin Samandari

You can see an Interview with Ramin as he photographs my good friend, Anne Alexander. And you can get more information on funding the project here at Ramin’s website.


Ready for the Friday Free-bee? Yep, it’s a B Beautiful bee dish! One lucky SHARDS subscriber will win one of these little guys to keep or give. A portion of the sales of these hand-built pieces goes to support the Honeybee Conservancy. Drawing will be held Sunday night – good luck! And thanks for bee-ing a subscriber!

PS – I sold all of these at the last studio event, but I have several dozen more back in stock – they are coming out of the kiln today (just in case you don’t win the Friday Free-bee and still want one :))


Encaustic inspiration – free!

eaicoverHooray! The new FREE issue of ENCAUSTIC ARTS MAGAZINE is online and ready to drool over. If you’ve ever wondered why “encaustic” (incorporating and exploring wax as an art form) is so fascinating, this will give you the answer, big time. You are strongly encourage to subscribe for free if you haven’t already.

Some of the ideas that I stole – er, I mean, was inspired by – in this issue were these intriguing orbs by Jamie Lee Hoffer. The artists says, “The encaustic medium has all the elements that inspire my creativity and push my boundaries.” eaiorbs

Another artist’s works that I found thought-provoking were the books constructed by Erin Keane from Asheville, NC. She writes, “I’m very deliberate in my image making;It’s an odd combination of precision and frenzy. I will construct and contemplate, arrange and re-arrange, until finally pieces fall into place and I am overwhelmed with a visceral response.” Wow.

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There are many pages and photographs of beautiful art in this free online publication. Even if you have no intention of ever melting a block of beeswax, check this out. Read the artists’ statements for a valuable lesson in how to write about your art. ENCAUSTIC ARTS MAGAZINE is published by the Encaustic Art Institute, a national organization headquartered in Santa Fe.

Finally, I would be remiss without once again thanking dear friend Michelle Belto who introduced me to this wonderful world of wax. Here is her national teaching schedule for next year (found on p.130 in the EA magazine) – if you are lucky enough to be able to sign up for one of her classes, do it! Happy reading, happy inspirations!