What was shown, what was told

Silvia shows Otomi paper

Silvia shows Otomi paper

The first Saturday Studio Show and Tell was great – filled with inspiration and ideas. Among the showees were Lesta Frank, who demo’d  a great paper peel and transfer technique, Rosemary Uchniat, whose embossing demo turned metal into unbelievably intricate collage textures, and Bonnie Davis, whose tar paper painting had everyone brainstorming. She learned this method from KenT Youngstrom from North Carolina. His website is fascinating – lucky Bonnie!

Take a look at our video (and pay no attention to the date in the title – it’s not really 2915 – is it? ..arg)

We’ll have another Show and Tell in February, date coming soon.

facesnuevaWinners of the Friday Freebie face shards, one for each, are Susan Calkins, Rosie Rojas, and stitchingalways@gmail.com (familiar email, but darned if I can remember who it belongs to). If you’d like to come to the Studio and pick one out, great! If you need it mailed, send the info and it will be on its way to you!

Note to self – quit while you’re ahead

Having all of these fantastic new art materials to try is great, but I keep making the same old mistake  – trying to fix a painting or collage by adding more stuff. Arg. It’s really tempting when there are a zillion colors to choose from, especially when you’re working small like I am on a dining table in my temporary Boston “studio.” . Here’s an example of a really awful painting that I tried to save by piling on more layers of color, scratching into the layers, adding gold leaf, spraying with walnut ink – all the usual tricks. I even cut a hole in it! Ewww. What a mess.

abstract4Here’s the next one – it might not be finished, but it isn’t overworked.  I simplified the composition and the palette, and then stopped. Sometimes less is more. (Except maybe for gold leaf, walnut ink, chocolate sorbet and Diet Dr. Pepper. :))


Pieces of clay

I unloaded the kiln yesterday and took out lots of little puzzle pieces. The new Guardian series of mixed media constructions is getting assembled for a show at Cathedral House in mid-May, and I need to get these little guys completed. I hope they are not too pagan-esque for the venue! The fun part is matching the right face with the right bodies. Somehow, they know who goes with what. Here’s a picture of the just-unloaded earthenware tiles and shards:

pieces of the puzzle

pieces of the puzzle

And here’s the first yet-unnamed Guardian piece assembled:

Untitled (so far) Guardianassemblage

Untitled (so far) Guardian construction



Sunday’s getting closer . . .

So the big Fiesta Show and Sale is day after tomorrow – I’m sorta ready, but this morning I really wanted to work on something new for the show. I started with some square black frames that I had ordered just because they were on sale. Then I printed some digital photos of gravestone angels (but of course!) and started working on two small collages that remind me of the Guardian series. I call the new series El Ala y la Oración (the Wing and the Prayer) because they feature bird feathers and monument faces. They are turning out so well – it’s great to feel them come together. Here are the first two – with any luck I’ll finish four more by Sunday. These are behind glass so there is a bit of reflection in the photo, but it adds to the overall effect, perhaps. The hardest part was figuring out how to create the shadow box. I did it with thin strips of black foamcore mounted against the inside edges of the frames – come by the Studio on Sunday and I’ll show you the trick!







Mac Fonts 101

By special request, here’s the Mac version of my last post:

Finding new fonts to use on your Mac is just as easy as it is with Windows computers, just a little different. Again, I start with Fontspace just because I can usually find something I like there.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.36.35 AMI found one that I want called “Celtic.” I clicked on the Download button directly below the font.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.37.12 AMMy download window opens and I double-click in the folder that has the name of the font.

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.37.42 AMWhen the folder opens, I double click on the font itself, the file that ends in .ttf (true type font)

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.38.39 AMI click on the Install Font button and  – voila – the next time I open a word editing program or any other application that uses fonts, it’s there (see below).

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 11.42.20 AM


Friday Freebie – another absolutely invaluable free tip

I learned this from a jewelry designer friend – I have a favorite pin that’s shaped like a kimono, and I like to wear it, but it’s kind of large and heavy and it slips around and always seems crooked. My friend showed me how to cut a short length of drinking straw and slip it onto the rod part of the pin. Close the pin clasp around the straw. Then you can slip a thin leather cord or a very thin chain through the straw and turn it into a pendant! Check it out – it’s very simple and very cool.


Friday freebie

Well, it’s a free tip, anyway – this is an instant spa treatment for dirty hands. Mine are always covered in paint or dirt from the garden. Here’s whatcha do (and you probably have everything right by the kitchen sink) – put a spoonful of sugar in your palm, add six or eight squirts of hand lotion, then without using water, scrub and rub your hands together for about a minute. Rinse well with warm water, dry with towel, and voila! You won’t believe how clean and soft your hands are. Try it and share this tip with all your dirty-handed friends 🙂


A magical space . .

I worked at the Studio today (big “S” means new studio) and took some photos for a short video about the space. You guys, I am so excited! It is still a work in progress, but it’s going to be the most wonderful place for workshops and meetings. I wish everyone could come for the opening party in a couple of weeks. The first workshop is scheduled for January 20th, and I think I’ll have an open house the afternoon before that, on Saturday January 19th, 3-7 pm. But Shards Blog people are the first to know – and if you’re on the mailing list, you might get it twice. Arg, sorry about that, but that way you’ll remember – please come 🙂 . Anyway, here’s the video – yay!!

Joanna, Spirit Dolls and new faces . . .

Joanna Powell Colbert appeared in my life at a serendipitous time – she ordered some of my little faces for a Spirit Doll workshop last year and, in doing so, opened a door to lots of new connections for my shard faces. You’ve seen some of the photos of Spirit Dolls that people have sent me – now Joanna has made her booklet describing how to make these small spiritual sculpture available to everyone. What a cool gift!
How To Make a Spirit Doll by Joanna Powell Colbertspiritdollbook

I’ve had lots of new orders for faces and, as a result, I spent last night making new ones, about 100 of them. Every one of them seems to have a different story to tell. It’s kind of meditative to work the clay and see the expression in each face. Here are a few, ready to finish drying and go into the kiln. Thank, as always, to Joanna for her example and inspiration! We’ll be making Spirit Dolls at The Studio in the spring 🙂White clay faces before firingWhite clay faces before firing

Terra Cotta faces

Terra Cotta faces


I ♥ hardware stores

I went to Harbor Freight yesterday to see if they had gotten in more of their canvas drop cloths – what a find. My friends Chip and Jane told me about these – beautiful heavy canvas for stretching on stretchers (or just using loose) to use as a painting surface. The price is right, too – a 4 by 12’ heavy canvas panel for less than ten dollars or 9×12′ for $15.

While I was there, the aluminum tape caught my eye – probably a lot of people know about that stuff, but I had a great time playing around with it. You can crumple it, paint over it, scratch it – great possibilities. In these examples I used black marker, transparent acrylic, and acrylic ink and rubbed it over the surface, then buffed it off. Next time will check out my neighborhood hardware store and see if they have it there. I’ll definitely be using it on some book covers for Nueva Street Gallery – yay for hardware stores! They even smell good.

foilPS The Baby Bee dish is there just cause it looked nice propping up the examples – no foil used in clay – it would vaporize!