Friday, February 29, 2008

New Books For Our Home Library Purchased This Week

I am happy to have so many exciting books come into my hands this week that I thought I'd share about them.

Thank you for purchasing things on Amazon through my blog. Commissions earned through my blog paid for most of the Amazon purchases. Yippee!

To inform me about health, wellness and disease prevention:

1. The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis PhD MPH.
I just watched a BookTV presentation by the author Devra Davis. I needed to know more. I heard there is an NPR interview that can be heard on the web. This is sure to enrage and scare me.
Purchased new at for a discounted price.

2. Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry by Stacy Malkan
Found this while ordering the above Devra Davis book. I am partially using natural and/or organic and/or homemade products. I feel I should know more to possibly pursuade me to use even more natural and/or organic and/or homemade products.
Purchased new at for a discounted price.

3. Menopause, Naturally: Preparing for the Second Half of Life by Sadja Greenwood M.D.
After hearing some scary stories from a friend I feel I need to get prepared for what it is in store. I'm not so worried as to buy a new book, but when I stumbled upon this at the library's used book shelf for 50 cents the other day so I picked it up. If this is not useful I'll put it on my PaperBackSwap bookshelf for swapping.

4. In the education realm---
Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add by Charles J. Sykes.
I heard of another book this author wrote over on the Why Homeschool blog and I put that other one on my Amazon Wish List. This one popped up as one that their artificial intelligence program thought I would be interested in. I feel that I need to know a little more about what is wrong with the American public education systen RIGHT NOW (not about what was wrong in the 1960s or 1970s). I also need this as a reminder that homeschooling should be continued in our family. We're have a bit of a rough patch and the other side of the fence is looking tempting to all of us.
Purchased new at for a discounted price.

To deflect the stress and seriousness in my life and in what I read, I bought two artsy books.

5. Living the Creative Life: ideas and inspiration from working artists by Rice Freeman-Zachery.
I love reading about art process, the intention behind certain artworks and how and why people do what they do. I think this book is what that is about. I have read it praised by others who share the art circles I travel in.
Purchased new at for a discounted price.

6. Art Making, Collections & Obsession: An Intimate Exploration of the Mixed-Media Work and Collections of 35 Artists by Lynne Perrella.
More of the same from #4, in a large format, hardcover book. I have heard good things about this book too.
Purchased new at for a discounted price.

7. The current issue of the new magazine: Artful Blogging by Stampington & Co. Purchased at Joanne's Fabric & Craft store with a 50% off coupon.

8. Current issue of the magazine Somerset Studio by Stampington & Co. Purchased at Joanne's Fabric and Craft store. I probably should just subscribe to this and stop buying it by the issue. I've been reading this for over two years now.

9. Galileo Astronomer and Physicist, Great Minds of Science Series by Paul Hightower.
An educational book for use in our homeschool. Local classical method homeschoolers I know praise this series of biographies for use in the middle school grades. Normally these sell for over $25, as they are only published in the School and Library Binding. This one I snapped up used on Amazon Marketplace for the bargain price of $7 plus shipping. If I could afford it I'd buy the whole series. Too bad these are not in our local public libraries.

10. The Big Burn by Jeanette Ingold.
Historical Fiction "juvenile literature" featuring teenagers in Montana and Idaho in 1910 while wildfires blaze.
Purchased this because I stumbled upon a like new copy at my library's ongoing book sale shelf where everything is 50 cents. It sounds very good. I can't go wrong with a 50 cent purchase, can I?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Re-learning Embroidery with "Doodle Stitching" Book

While shopping on Amazon recently for art and craft books I clicked on Amazon’s Gold Box. I don’t do that often. Gold Box is where you are given larger discounts than normal on books that the system thinks you would be tempted to buy, or books that are already on your Wish List.

One that was there was “Doodle Stitching”. I looked at the book and loved the fun design on the cover. I read through all the customer reviews. Re-learning embroidery is something I’ve wanted to do, just to put a bit on little stuffed creatures or to use it on artist trading cards. (I used to embroider as a child and preteen but had long since forgotten how to do it.)

When I read the customer review that said that the book had very good illustrations to teach each step, and that the book was really great for beginners, I realized it was a book I had to have. Due to the Gold Box price I was able to get it for under $10.

When it arrived, I began reading it that night before bed. I got excited. The book does explain the stitches in easy to understand words and it does have good illustrations.

The following night before bed I ran to my sewing supplies and was thrilled to find a whole box of embroidery needles. I have a wooden hoop from my childhood. I took some flannel fabric left over from a doll clothes sewing project and cut a piece off. I went through my supplies and found about 25 different embroidery thread skeins. That was all I needed.

I decided to just start off learning some stitches and ‘doodling’ right on the fabric, that is, sewing without a pre-planned design on the fabric. Random stitches became shapes which became items. That first night, while sitting in bed listening to the television, I stitched a designed Easter egg and an Easter basket.

The next night I tried different stitches. One ended up looking like a bare tree’s branches.

On day three my boys noticed it on the nightstand and asked what it was. Remember they have never seen embroidery before. They knew nothing of it and they were amazed. So that night, you guessed it, when I tried to do the embroidery they both begged to do it. They each took turns doing it. They were teaching themselves the stitches. When asked I explained what the satin stitch is, used to fill in large spaces to make them solid.

The boys have been embroidering for three nights now. Last night they asked me if I have any more hoops and the answer is no. There is a needlecraft sale going on at Joanne’s this week. That is on the way to the orthodontist, who we have an appointment with today. I also would like to stop over at a thrift shop which sometimes has fantastic art, craft, and sewing supplies at ridiculously low prices. I’m going to get each boy their own embroidery hoop, and I’ll buy myself a larger one as well, as mine is quite small.

Last night after the kids went to bed I started and finished the design for an ATC which is for the February Creative Mom Podcast ATC exchange. The theme this month is wings. I have embroidered a bird standing on the ground. I then circled the design twice around with stitches. Today I am contemplating how to finish this off. I think I will put a piece of cardboard under it, fold the edges over and stitch the fabric to the card, so the ATC will have some stiffness. I was thinking also of adding a layer of thin batting and then sewing up the “card” but that would be very soft. I’ll have to think about it more. I have just two days to finish this ATC and get it into the mail on the 29th so it can be considered “on time”.

Anyhow I am really enjoying the inspiration in “Doodle Stitching”. I had read some experienced embroiderers thought the book was too simplistic for a veteran. Some others complained of the lack of patterns, there are designs there to copy and enlarge and so I don’t understand what they are complaining about. I see the book as a good one for beginners as it teaches the stitches well and in general it inspires you to think about different ways to use embroidery rather than just making a design that someone else came up with then framing that on the wall (like my older relatives did a lot in the 1970s).

This book would be perfect for children, preteens and teens also.

I don’t know where this embroidering will lead me. Right now it is a great thing to do at the very end of my day, while sitting in bed with the television on. This is something that is fun and light, something to rid myself of stress. Sometimes I feel like so many very serious things are happening in my life that I need to deflect or offset that with something that is just plain playful and fun.

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Fun with Mirrors (Photo of the Day)

My two boys looking into a distorted mirror at the Boston Museum of Science. We were there on a 'camp in' with Cub Scouts, we slept overnight in the museum. My boys were aged 5.5 and 8.5 at the time.

Photo taken in April 2006 by ChristineMM in Boston, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Educational Toilet Humor (Photo of the Day)

We are not big on toilet humor in our house but this one deserved laughter.

This framed display was in the women's bathroom at the Children's Museum in Boston. It depicts the feces of different animals.

My younger son (then aged 4.5) is cracking up so hard, he could not stop laughing. The situation was so funny I just had to take a photo.

(He had just had a drink from the drinking fountain and made a mess all over his shirt, in case you’re wondering why he is all wet!)

Photo taken in April 2005 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Haiku Monday 2/25/08

Just wrote this for the Creative Mom Podcast Circle's Haiku Monday challenge.

Just am too frazzled
To write any haiku now
Or so I had thought.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Postsecret From a Teacher to the Volunteer Moms

Wow that Postsecret was harsh.

I love the response that one mother emailed to the site.

Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2008 10:52 AM
Subject: To the teacher

Our children are our lives and we're in your classroom because we know how little some of you really care about them and about us. Our little secret? We don't trust you with our children unless we're keeping an eye on you.

I recognize that paper, it is Innisbrook brand gift wrap which is sold as a fundraiser, often by public schools. I own some of that which I bought for a La Leche League fundraiser!

Source: PostSecret entries uploaded 2/24/08 (visible through midnight 3/01/08)

Warning: Some secrets may contain sensitive topics or mature themes or images. New secrets are uploaded each Sunday. Old PostSecrets are NOT archived.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Word of the Year Mug for 2008

Here is the mug I made in January (at one of the paint your own pottery places) with my word of the year for 2008 on it.

CONTENT is the word. I learned about the word of the year concept by listening to the Creative Mom Podcast and the idea to put it on a mug was shared by a Creative Mom on the CMP Circle Yahoo Group.

CMP: Have Mug, Will Remember episode 83

Battered Lobster Pot (Photo of the Day)

A battered lobster pot washed up onto the shore is now embedded into the beach's sand dune.

Photo taken by ChristineMM on Race Point Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA on February 17, 2008.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Photography and My Word of the Year

Further pondering of my word of the year was done over this last weekend. I was in Cape Cod and a goal was to take photos. I have never been in Cape Cod in February before. I had hoped to take lots of photos. Well it was freezing out with high winds and I forgot my gloves. The first day I got all the way down a long stairway to shoot, was freezing, and the batteries died. I changed them and those died. I am not kidding.

Over a year ago I had read in the zine Art & Life #1, an article by Tracy Moore about lomography. As soon as I read it, I realized it was right up my alley. These are so called toy cameras that take funky and unpredictable photos. A downside is they are print film cameras, so playing around will cost you in film and developing expenses. Last week I re-read that article and was dying to buy one. Since my husband has a new job the budget has opened up so I don't feel so restricted. Yet the cheapest one they sell is $60 and some are $150.

Topic change, kind of--
I have a big project to do here. I have old photos that my grandmother (paternal) took, to organize. I also have tons of her undeveloped film here. I researched that and found that it will cost me $42.50 to develop that old style film and to help tweak it if necessary to try to get decent "normal" shots out of it.

As it is some of the old film I had developed in the 1990s and the photos came out purple. And guess what, on the lomography site they are SELLING EXPIRED FILM at not cheap prices that will result in purple photos. Like people want their photos to look like that. And here I am wishing our old family photos were not purple.

I am dying for a Holga and the more I look at the Lomo site the more I want all of them, or a bunch at least. Who can decide between a regular photo, a panoramic, a 180 degree fisheye lens, so on and so forth. I want them all.

Some of the cameras take 120 film and I see a package of 20 rolls is going for $45, when bought along with the Diana Edelweiss camera. I then checked the development and that will have to be done by mail/Internet for $9 for each roll. So it is not just the camera cost but the film and development too.

Also I see for example on the Lomo site they are selling a Holga 120 for $70 but on I found vendors selling it for as low as $37. So is the Lomo site a rip off or what?

You know what I am thinking. If I can get these at a discount how many can I then buy?

I just checked my local Craig's list and am not finding any. Well it was worth a shot.

Oh and I remembered that in about 1990 I bought a toy camera for $19.99 that takes 4 photos in a grid format called the ActionSampler. It is plastic and totally junky. It takes no batteries and uses 35 mm film. I will have to pull that out and check it out again. It looks just like the one on the Lomo site which they sell today for $30.

Then I was looking at the Lomo site and realized that many of the photos I've been taking with funky settings on my digital camera are doing these same things. I have been playing with long exposure times, shutting the flash off and shooting in existing light, moving the camera around in the dark, so on and so forth. So why do I need Lomo cameras to do this with?

I am thinking of the word content and how I should be happy with what I have. And not get into the Lomo craze.

Lastly, I do want a SLR digital camera. Perhaps for my birthday I could have that.

Again the word content--be happy with what I have and use what I have is on my mind....

Back in Dodge

I was out of town for three days and three nights. I thought I was going to have Internet access and that I’d be able to blog. Well, I had no Internet access! So I did things unrelated to the Internet. Like I finished reading two books and had relaxing times with my kids and relatives.

We were in cold Cape Cod. I’d never been there in the February before. I had hoped to spend time taking photographs but it was so cold with high winds and I forgot my gloves! And then the cold made the batteries die quickly. I was able to do a bunch of photos shooting from inside our moving car. It was nice to be there when it was basically deserted though.

Anyhow we got home last night. Then today I got up early and ran out the door to attend the public hearing in Hartford about the bill to help parents whose children are enrolled in public school be able to withdraw their children to home educate them. I hope to blog that experience soon. I am still trying to catch up on reading and responding to emails.

I am also thinking deeply about a few issues that are hard to write about and if I can work out the words well enough you can then read what has been on my mind lately. For now I won’t mention them as they are too complicated to explain in just a few words.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My Hand Carved Stamps 2006 to Now

I decided to share all my hand carved stamps to date as I realized I’ve never blogged that before.

I entered the world of hand carving stamps in the summer of 2006.

I wanted to try hand carving rubber stamps for quite a while. I was not seeing the supplies in my local craft stores. I had no idea what this would cost or how to get the supplies. I also was on a tight budget so although I know I could have gone looking for those supplies on the Internet I didn’t. With me and spending it is better to not “window shop” lest I make an impulsive purchase that I should not be buying anyway (if sticking to the budget).

One day I was in my local big box craft shop and suddenly saw they had a new shipment of some rubber stamp carving supplies. It was such a surprise! I happened to have a 50% off coupon in my hand and when I saw the beginner kit of tools and a 5x7 sheet of pink rubber could be had for $5.50 I bought it. The kit was by Speedball and included a small beginner’s instruction kit.

When I got home I got to work immediately. In the middle of making my first stamp my younger son approached and begged me to make him one. So in that first day I made two: the Connecticut love stamp and the Smiling Skull stamp.

The Connecticut love stamp originated because the first thing I did before carving was to open my mail. In the mail was a letter from La Leche League of Connecticut. Their letterhead contained a black design in the shape of the state. I used that at its original size as the template for my first stamp. I was also supposed to be making ATCs for a themed swap that was called “Proud of Where I Live” and I thought about how I’d always lived in Connecticut and I do love it here. (These feelings emerged when at one point we seriously thought we would have to move out of state for a new job for my husband.) Using the carving tool and my free hand I made the heart shape. I was going to carve it out completely but decided to leave it scratchy so that it was clear this was a hand carved stamp.

The second stamp made for my younger son was a Smiling Skull. I used for this design, a label from a Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirt that we had just bought. I left off the handkerchief headband. It was hard to make the teeth. I would never make this design for me but it is what he wanted. He was five years old at the time and he liked Pirates of the Caribbean and all things pirate related.

My next experiment was to take photos that I had taken, alter them in Photoshop to black and white and to increase the contrast so that they looked more like rubber stamp art. I then printed those off on my toner computer printer and used Citrasolv to do the transfer of the design onto the rubber. This worked excellently.

The carving of the photos was difficult. Remember this was my second day hand carving. Now that I look back on it I realize this was very ambitious of me.

I did the bust of my older son and that was fine.

When I did the bust of my younger son I slipped with the tool and cut off most of his smile. That stamp is ruined. I thought for this blog article I’d show it anyway.

My next stamp done the same week was my two boys standing up, again taken from a photo. The one of my older son came out great, I think, it is very accurate. The one of my younger son, I slipped with the tool and the smaller second foot disappeared. Oops.

Next I bought a sheet of the white Speedball rubber that is about 8x10 inches. Wow that carves so differently than the pink rubber. It is more buttery. It is also thicker and easy to put a stamp on each side if I wanted. I was only able to find this at Michael’s Craft Store and again used the discount coupon. Unfortunately after buying one sheet the store staff said they discontinued carrying it. It was odd as they had just started carrying it then quit.

I wanted to get a feel for carving in that rubber and being more at ease with the tools. I made the doodle of the curlicues which is something I doodle on paper all the time. I have used this to decorate envelopes with such as envelopes I use to swap out ATCs with.

At that time I did the face doodle stamp. I was inspired to carve my common doodles and this face is something I often doodle. The more I look at it, though, the more it bothers me that the woman’s eye has no eyelashes. Oh well. I have used this design on an ATC, printing on colored card stock and using colored ink and having this cover the whole ATC. I thought they looked good.

I wanted to play with carving words. “Simplify” is a word that has inspired me for years. I carved it then I just made the lines. Here I was still trying to get a feel for the tool.

I wanted a stamp that said Swap-bot on it to use on the envelope for my Swap-bot mail art swaps. That is why I did that stamp. I did make one slip on the “B” and so it is not perfect either.

The smiling face is another doodle I do without thinking about it. I decided I should hand carve this stamp to have a little fun and goofiness in my hand carved stamp supply. I like the guy. I left the extra lines to show this is a hand carved stamp.

I often doodle boxes, and have done so since middle school. Using a scrap of left over rubber, I carved the line of boxes.

On another scrap I did the little lips.

The thing that looks like a squiggle are my initials as I sign them when I have to initial something for legal purposes. I used a little scrap up and figured maybe I could use this on the label to my ATCs since at the time I was typing up a description of the ATC and adhering that to the back of my ATCs.

These last ones were done by my children. I have a hard time making art without the kids joining in. I will share that with regard to hand carving stamps I draw a line. These supplies were not in my budget and so to use them on my children is not a good thing. They often will start a project; make a simple mistake and then want to throw it out. Well the rubber is too expensive to just do that.

I do let them carve some at times. The rocket at the upper left was my older son’s first attempt where he forgot to transpose the number to be backwards in order for it to stamp right. He did the second one (middle, top) on another day. I think I helped him clean up the edges.

The one on the upper right was done by my younger son as his first attempt.

The one at the bottom (two stamped images) was done by my older son.

Over time a few things have happened. Sometimes I want to carve but have been so good about putting away my craft supplies that I have forgotten ‘the right place’ that I picked to put these supplies. Other times I had the itch to carve but didn’t have the blank rubber.

My local big box craft stores go in and out of carrying these supplies. When they have them and when I have a coupon in hand I would buy a blank rubber sheet. Right now I have the larger white Speedball one waiting to be carved.

There is a big difference between the white and pink Speedball sheets. The pink is more hard and dense. It is hard for me to get the carving tool to vary the thickness of the lines. I have to push quite hard just to make a decent carving. When I carve the lines are pretty shallow. When I use that same pressure and technique on the white rubber it is very different. The white rubber is more pliable and ‘buttery’. With just a bit of difference with the pressure I can go very deep or too deep. There is a big difference with the depth and width of the carving with very little pressure. The white rubber is easier to work with if you ask me. I do notice some crumbling on the edges of the white stamps after they are cut to size. Due to this I am leaving a bit of space there. The pink rubber is so tough that it is hard to cut the edges to be nice and clean, a small movement of the scissor can leave a ragged edge.

While at an independent rubber stamp store a few months ago I saw that they carry the Strathmore big, thick white sheet. They sell it for $35 which was out of my budget ranger. I have read that this is the best quality rubber to carve on and that it truly is like butter. I have also read that this brand does not break off or crumble at the edges. As with everything, quality is key and I will pine for a sheet of this rubber.

I would have hand carved more art stamps if I had the supplies. I am not afraid of this process and I enjoy thinking about which designs would translate into rubber stamp art well. I plan to continue hand carving rubber stamps and hope that my skills improve over time!

How great would it be to have unlimited money supplies to just buy all the art supplies I think I want and to have it all at my disposal? It would be heavenly. I feel that I have not carved as much as I would due to not having the supplies to do the projects.

Now that I have uncovered from my supply stash, my carving tools and the blank sheet of rubber (they were stored separately) I am planning to make some new designs. I am thinking of doing an alphabet in a larger size than the stamps I have that were store bought. I’d use them in my journaling and maybe also on fabric to decorate t-shirts with.

I have not been to the big box craft stores since before Christmas. I wonder if the stores are back to carrying hand carving supplies or not….

I have tried hand carving a few pink rubber erasers that I already owned. I found them very hard to work with. Some, I think, were dried out and I could not carve into them with my tools as they crumbled and the blade didn’t move across them “correctly”. Note these same blades work fine and great on the other rubber sheets. Other times due to the small size the tool was slipping and I almost cut my fingers by accident. So I am not a fan of carving on little erasers.

The book that was and still is my inspiration for hand carving stamps is “Art Stamping Workshop: Create Hand-Carved Stamps for Unique Projects on Paper, Fabric, Polymer Clay and More” by Gloria Page.

In order to get the code to include a link to this book on Amazon I went to the Amazon site and for the first time learned that Gloria Page is battling Cancer. Read more about it in this other blog entry of mine.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Did 14 Collage Pages in My Art Journal

I felt so happy yesterday! I completed 14 pages of collages in my art journal. (Sorry I didn’t scan the pages or take digital pictures of them yet.)

I had been itching for days and days to make art. I was too busy due to homeschooling my kids and going to appointments. Even in my ‘free time’ I felt bogged down by household tasks, laundry and such. Then I had some very necessary shopping to do. I wanted to make some art and play with my materials but I just couldn’t fit much in. Other than a bit of time working with artist trading cards, shoved in between making dinner and homeschooling and stuff like that. What I wanted was a block of time to just play and feel free and not rushed.

Plans to have art play time on Saturday did not come to fruition.

However I did get about 90 minutes of play time in yesterday, in between church and after my husband was done using my studio to do paperwork on (the studio is otherwise known as the kitchen table). Then we were out the door to my mother-in-law’s house for a visit and dinner.

It felt wonderful to make some art.

I went to the basement and grabbed a box of my stash. What the box is, is a baby salad greens plastic bin. I had it filled with mostly ephemera sent to me by other mail art swappers as thank you’s for hosting ATC swaps. Some of it was my random daily ephemera.

I then took out my artist journal and the Golden acrylic gel medium soft gloss gel and a one inch foam brush and got to work.

Some of my favorite pages had brown tones images and text collaged then I collaged sewing patterns on top which made the images and text more subdued and made them sink into the background. I plan to journal (write) on top of these pages.

Other pages have white space for writing (right now I am not sure if they will stay that way) and then they have images and text decorating the pages.

I really was playing around and not judging myself and just working quickly and without analyzing the work.

It felt so wonderful as I reached that ‘flow state’. Hooray!

I was feeling so happy I didn’t even feel angry when my husband said, “It is time to leave now”.

This morning I looked over my pages and am feeling very happy with them. I want to dive into my ephemera again and play some more. However I must go do the homeschooling. I plan to find some way to make time for this kind of work. I might have to start doing this after the kids go to bed at night or something. I’ll need to think of a plan.

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Difficulty with Water Transfer Technique

Boy, I'm having trouble with the water transfer technique as taught in the book "Artist Trading Card Workshop" by Bernie Berlin.

I am hosting an ATC swap on using that technique.

Last week I worked to select images to use. I worked with my husband to print them off as I don't know how to use the program he uses to print them.

Four days ago I had time and energy and desire to work on these ATCs. I was so excited. I began to work. One after the other, the technique failed. Instead of transferring the image entirely, I got a little smudge here and there of ink. Ugh. I tried some other ways of doing the transfer. I used a brayer. I used the back of a spoon. I wetted the paper more. I rubbed it longer. I soaked the image for hours in water. Nothing worked.

I then tried an alternate technique that I made up myself. It was all wet and looked

Then I began getting emails and reading notes on the site that others were having trouble with the technique.

The alternate technique I tried was a failure, which was apparent after the papers had dried for more than a day.

Now this is not fun anymore.

I had to come up with a work-around. Those of us in the swap who were unable to make this work are faced with a problem. If we can't get it to work how can we fulfill the swap? I decided that if anyone tried it and it didn't work they could use any other transfer technique and make decent looking ATCs to swap out. They were then to write a note to their swap partner explaining how the water transfer technique failed despite their best efforts.

Yesterday I took time to edit the swap data on swap-bot. I then emailed all the participants to tell them of this change.

Now I need to make the new ATCs!

Right now I'm having a burst of creativity but it is to do things that I know will work and not to experiment with new art techniques.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Blythe Dolls, New To Me

While on I went to look at what swaps are being offered and one at the top of the list was a Blythe photography swap. I didn’t know what that was so I read it. People were swapping photos of their Blythe dolls. Their what?

I read a bit on the Internet and see these dolls were sold in 1972 and were short lived. Like the Japanese manga, these dolls have huge eyes. The dolls had a cord that was pulled and then the eyes would close and when they reopened they were a different color and looking in a different direction. The dolls have three or four eye colors!

I then went to a Blythe site and see a large photo gallery of Blythe dolls. Some people are dressing them up and taking artistic photographs of the dolls, posing them like models in special clothing doing poses.

(Note there is the original size and a three or four inch tall mini size called “Petite Blythe” that sells for much less and if you ask me they have less character.)

I read that the original dolls can resell for thousands of dollars. Hasbro is selling some new ones now, and I found some for $80 online.

Additionally I found lots of people making outfits for the Blythe dolls and selling those on the Internet.

This is interesting and quirky at the same time. Is it me or is the world getting more and more hobby obsessed?


This is Blythe site

History of Blythe dolls on This is Blythe site

Gina Garan photography exhibit press release featuring Blythe dolls

About Gina Garan, Blythe’s official photographer

Gina Garan’s Blythe photo gallery on the Blythe doll site

Blythe doll official site

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fun at the Clay Place Today

This week my husband had a birthday and he began a new job. Now that he has a new office I wanted the kids to make him something to put on his desk. Back the last time we did this my older son painted a pre-made pottery piece at the clay place and it looked professional yet was custom decorated by my son.

I also wanted to make myself a mug with my word of the year on it. Now that we have an income rolling in I don't feel badly about spending $22 on one mug for myself.

We had fun at the clay place. We went at about 3pm on this school day so there was no one else in the place.

It was not perfect as my younger son (aged 7.5) was frustrated by imperfection in his painting. My older son (aged 10) made some mistakes and goofed up his original design.

I myself had fun. I was challenged to write well with the bad brushes they had there. Next time I will bring some of my own from home.

I can't wait to see how my mug and what the boys did turns out. They said we'll have to wait about ten days or maybe more.

I accidentially left my camera home so I couldn't take photos which was something I intended to do.

My husband tells a story of how when he was a child he made a few pottery pieces in school for gifts for his father and how his father treasured them. So my husband wanted that with our children and my kids, upon hearing that story, wanted that for my husband too.

It was fun for me today to do something creative.

To be honest I have been bogged down with homeschooling the kids, cramming lots of lessons, doing tons of laundry, doing housework, and being out of the house at various relative's celebration parties.

I am dying to make art here at home but just can't fit it in unless I intentionally stay up late at night or something. Sigh.

Cute Robot Animated Clip

While going to YouTube for something intentional which was useful in my real life, I saw this as a spotlighted clip. Since my older son loves robots and I like hand drawn art I had to watch it.

Cute. A little diversion from real life.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Just a Few Photos From Our Disney Trip (Photo of the Day)

I took hundreds of photos on our Disney trip in January.

Here are just a few that show me and my children having fun. I don't share images of my husband on my blog so he is missing from these shots. He was there and he exists, believe me!

Enjoying big Ice Cream at Ghiradelli's at Downtown Disney.

My LEGO fanatics loved these life-sized LEGO creations at the LEGO store at Downtown Disney.

Younger son and I at the Hoop Dee Doo musical review.

Younger son is excited to have School Bread at the Pavillion for Norway at Epcot's World Showcase. This was a sweet bread dough filled with sweet cream, with white frosting on top then sweetened coconut flakes and a dollop of more sweet cream.

Older son in his glory riding at the front of the monorail, where the driver sits.

Daycare Worker’s PostSecret

I am a fan of PostSecret because I think it is good for people to not keep secrets and to deal with what they have been hiding. And I am a mail art lover. I love the entire idea of the PostSecret project. With that said some of the PostSecret submissions while true may be shared more for entertainment value than for relieving oneself of a burden that has been carried.

I read this yesterday and it is still on my mind.

I am highly disturbed by this Postcard.

I know that daycare workers are humans with real emotions. I can only imagine the job is stressful. However for this worker and her co-workers to come up with nasty nicknames for the children in their care, including racial and sexual preference put-down's is not only not funny but it is shameful. (Is it right to call a young child a lesbo?) And in some states these names are legally deemed hate crimes. A less severe issue is making fun of a not-yet toilet trained child by calling them names about being a poopy pants is ridiculous, immature and just wrong. The daycare workers are in charge of changing the child's poopy diapers and it should be done ASAP not left that way and to make fun of them for being in a soiled diaper.

If these workers are in over their heads and they are having trouble coping with the stress of working with young children in daycare then they should find a different line of work that they can handle. These children deserve better caretakers, plain and simple.

And I can't wait until the day when this daycare worker has her own children, so she can rethink how she acted and wonder how her own child may be treated by others. I wonder also if she ever does have children if she will put them in daycare?

What bothers me also is that so many parents of children in daycare facilities trust that the daycare workers have the children's best interests at heart and that their children are in the hands of loving, dedicated daycare workers. I bet the parents of these children have no clue that the workers use such nasty nicknames on their precious children.

I am so glad that my own children were not in daycare so they were not fodder for some daycare workers entertainment like this.

I remain disgusted.

Here is the link to the PostSecret site. But before you link through be aware that the postcards change every Sunday and if you wait too long you won't be able to view this postcard on the site. Some of them might contain profanity or nudity for arts sake (as one this week does) and sometimes nudity is there in a more crude way. You may not like all you see so if you are afraid of what you may see don't bother clicking through.

A friend once told me she was disgusted with PostSecret as it was negative. Well some secrets such as those revealing childhood abuses and such are negative but what else could they be--a crime is negative, plain and simple.

Postsecret does not archive the past showcased postcards but there are a bunch of books that have been published full of PostSecrets. Here are links to read more about them (or to buy them from Amazon).

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Strangest Music Video Ever

If you need a little escape from reality watch this

Haiku Monday 2/04/08

Bitter cold today
Fingers frozen at keyboard
Cold even inside

Cub Scout year dwindling
It has flown by so quickly
Finishing up rank

Challenge from CMP Circle.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Trying My Hand at Some New Projects

I wrote this a few of days ago but had to wait until today to upload the images so now I can publish it.

Okay so this is the second day that I’m home from the exhausting but wonderful Disney vacation. I wrote a lot yesterday to get those creative writing ya-ya’s out of my brain. My creative juices in other areas are flowing and tonight I gave myself time to do something creative other than writing.

I have a few things that I want to try to do. I’ll tell you what they are first then I’ll share what I did tonight.

I want to decorate some t-shirts and/or hoodie sweatshirts with custom words and images for my boys to wear.

The first and easiest thing is I wanted to try to use acrylic paint (which I already have on hand) and textile medium (which I bought last year but never used). Using the textile medium with the paint you can turn any acrylic paint into a fabric paint. I want to use stencils or large rubber stamps to write words on t-shirts.

I am thinking also of hand carving some rubber stamps with one alphabet of letters of my design that I could use for this purpose (and for other things). I am thinking about letters sized at about two inches high. I already have one big slab of rubber here waiting to be hand carved.

I want to combine a graphic with the words on the shirt. I have a few ideas. One is to custom design a stencil. My wood burning tool has a stencil burner on it that allows me to burn plastic stencils (outdoors so the fumes don’t kill me). I have never carved my own stencils before so that would be yet another new thing to teach myself. My understanding is that you can buy Mylar sheets at the craft store for a low price to use as the stencil blanks. I need to investigate this.

I was thinking of using a graphic based on a photograph that I took. I would digitally alter the photo first by removing the color, then by using the brightness and contrast and adjusting them until it was an image similar to that of a rubber stamp. I could then use that as the pattern for my stencil. I did that tonight with one image but it was too detailed to use.

I could also hand draw a stencil. That would have to be pretty basic and not detailed.

Inspired by the Hollister shirts that are in style right now, I was thinking of doing an appliqué for the image, and having the image be blocky and basic such as their current seagull design. Copying after Hollister I could also be rough with the stitching which meshes well with my sewing talent level! I could use felt. I could use cotton and leave threads hanging like Hollister does. I could also use denim which I have a surplus of here from a former project. I have boxes of old jeans sitting in my basement waiting to be used.

The biggest thing of all that I am pondering is that I was considering using screen printing for this project. I got a basic beginner screen printing kit for Christmas and I have yet to take the wrapper off of it. I am scared to be honest.

Tonight I began by watching some DIY videos on YouTube that show the screen printing process. I have a feeling the basic components in the kit I own are not all that the guy in the video is using. At that moment I felt intimidated. (There are a lot of those videos on YouTube just do a search on the keyword “screen printing” or “screenprinting”.)

Tonight I decided to try for something easier. Grabbing an old cotton knit nightgown from my rag bag, I decided to experiment with the textile medium, acrylic paints and foam stamps.

I had fun experimenting. This was very easy. I first did solid lettering then I experimented with more dabbing on of the paint so that the letter came out with a distressed or aged look to it. This was so simple. The hardest part is trying to figure out how to line up the letters in a way that makes them spaced evenly and going in a straight line. I tried working with tape but that was not working very well. Maybe I’ll just go for a rough look.

It was ridiculously simple to use the foam stamps and acrylic paint and textile medium in this way. Now it has to air dry for 24 hours then must be heat set then always washed inside out.

Tonight I also altered a photo digitally but came to realize that the photos that I have are too complex and detailed. My kids want a certain image on the shirt, a log cabin that the children and their instructors built at their wilderness school homeschoolers class. This will be quite complex. I also realized I don’t have a good enough photo of 100% of the cabin as they want. If I really want to try that I’ll have to drive to the school and take a mile hike to get to the cabin to take a photo and start from there.

Now I am contemplating a graphic that is not photo-based, something simpler. Perhaps the image could be the crow that watches over the children as they are in class (it follows them on their hikes if you can believe it). The image could also be of an evergreen tree or even a pine cone. Maybe I could find a copyright-free silhouette in one of my Dover books. (Although I need to say that after I bought a few of the Dover “copyright free” design books I read the copyright page which limits the buyer of the book to use only a limited number of the designs. Talk about false advertising.)

Up and coming is I need to work on ATCs for a swap I’m hosting on for another technique in the Bernie Berlin book “Artist Trading Card Workshop”. This time we’re doing water transfers which is another new-to-me technique.

I will have free time on Friday to make some art and I hope I’ll have time on Sunday after church as well. Update: the weather changed my plans and I had no free time on Friday. Now I also have plans with extended family to celebrate a birthday on Sunday. Other than what I did the other night I will have no free time until possibly Wednesday night, Feb 6th. It is crazy how the calendar fills up.

Books I'm Using To Make ATCs This Month

Friday, February 01, 2008

Thank You For Your Amazon Purchases

Thank you for making your Amazon purchases through my blog. I don’t know who you are but I appreciate it!

(By clicking through the Amazon links here on my blog and making your purchases I make a small commission on each sale. Once you click through you can buy anything you want from Amazon, I don't have to have a special link to it here on my blog. I am told what was purchased but not who purchased it so your sale is confidential.)

I just received the payment and after chipping in a few bucks I was able to use my Amazon gift certificate payment to buy myself these three books. I really felt that I needed some reading material for my own self that was about creativity. There is one book about writing poetry, one about making art with mixed-media and the last is about making books from scratch (making an actual book not writing the words).