December 22, 2009

Christmas Presence

I completed a collage artwork today that is a gift for my Mom for Christmas. She arrived today from California after 22 hours of traveling. It is good to have her here. When you live in another country, there is nothing quite like having your Mom visit your home for the first time. There is a sense of complete-ness about it.

Anyway, I have been thinking about trying collage for some time now. I am particularly inspired by the woman who created Art Chix Studio, an online store for collage art. The images are so rich, compelling and creative. With her blog, My Artistic Life, she encourages others to create by giving instruction and art challenges. People send her photos of their creations and her cats pick the winners.

So, I must admit I was a little intimidated by the process. My art is usually based on precision, so to just let loose and slap some stuff down on the paper is a bit scary to be honest. I decided to mimic one of her projects that she did recently, just as a place to start...the circle background. But the rest is all ME. I used a photo of my mother as a wee baby, all dressed up to go out in the snow (she was born in Maine). I started my project at 1030 at night...not the best time to start, but when the creative urge strikes, it's best not to get in the way.

In a word, I had FUN. I tried not to let my brain get in the way, but just let it flow and played with the colors and the paper and the paint. I am really happy with the result and I'm sure my Mom will love it too. It's framed, wrapped and under the tree.

I also finished knitting a pair of socks, also for my Mom. They are made from Noro Silk Garden Chunky and I had to look hard to find a pattern that works for chunky yarn, but I found one and adapted it slightly. I'm not wild about this colorway, but they do contain a lot of colors. And they are BIG socks (affectionately knicknamed "Godzilla Socks"). Big and cozy. She could even wear them over another pair of socks. But since her feet get cold easily, I figure she will find good use for them.

Here they are blocking in the sun...
Now my Christmas preparations are all DONE. I can just sit back and enjoy the season.

December 17, 2009

Sea Tree

The Sea Tree looks magical. I feel a little sad that the tree has to die though. Thank you Tree.

December 15, 2009

Sparkly Sea Shells

After gathering some shells off the beach near our house, I painted them with white acrylic paint, then dusted them with silver holographic glitter and let them dry. Then I cut some small lengths of silver tiger tail (but anything like ribbon would work) and glued a loop to the back with a hot glue gun. I made about 18 of them for the tree.

This is the best photo I took, but is only about 30% of how the sparkly-ness appears to my eye. It's hard to capture just how sparkly these shells are. The holographic glitter has all the colors of the rainbow in it and the sparkle seems to be more intense at night, with just ambient lighting in the house. So I'm just imagining these babies on the tree with the tinsel and fairy lights. Oh!

We are going to get our tree excited! I can't wait to see the sea fantasy tree come to life.

November 30, 2009

A Star is Born

Using the same technique as the seahorse, I made some starfish.

Rainy day in Christchurch. Perfect for catching up on indoor pursuits. Many things to do and Christmas is right around the corner.

November 26, 2009

The Blogger Returneth

Yes, I'm sloggin' back to bloggin' after a very long hiatus. I have nothing to say in my defense except maybe I was just too busy while I was in Antarctica for 8 months. And maybe on some level I was just ignoring that I was actually there. After eight winters and many summers on the ice -- and as amazing as Antarctic is -- I had just had enough...and this was how I felt BEFORE I started last winter. I was conscious that I wasn't fully participating in my life down there, even though everything went really smoothly despite me.

In my off time down on the frozen continent, I must say I did do a lot of creative stuff. I was involved in several tie dye sessions and I taught myself how to dye yarn (jaquard dyes and bare yarn from I knitted all the time (keeping stir craziness and general garden-variety insanity at bay) and made heaps of hats and part of a sweater, and socks and gloves too.

Now I'm back in New Zealand and I really appreciate all the things that the big world out here has to offer. Sunshine is a good one (try being without the sun for four solid months). Flowers are nice too. And rain. And the beach. And being able to eat any food I want whenever I want. And I never get tired of waking up when I want to. Anthony and I are taking a year off...or as long as we can while the money holds out.

Big Secret
Anthony is working on his film ( and I have a project of my own. I started to write all about it and then I deleted it. There's this voice in the back of my head that wonders if I write about it and people know about it, and then something happens and it doesn't get finished, will I feel like a big failure? I could just say it's a big surprise and I'll reveal it to the world when the project bears fruit, but we'd all really know I'm just afraid of failure. It's an artist thing. Well it's a slightly inhibited, insecure artist thing.

I haven't decided if I want to talk about it yet, and I may not ever, but then again I might get a wild hair sometime and spill the beans. I always thought it was a good thing to do something and talk about it after you've done it (this worked very well for my first skydiving adventure and climbing Mt. Whitney). But for now, let's just say that it's a great project, and I'm collaborating with two terrificly talented women and it's good for me to have something to focus on during my spell of unemployment and if all goes well, it could be a doorway into have a creative life that I can actually pay some bills with. Wish us luck.

Christmas Ornament Challenge

So the last day or so I've been in the midst of a creative burst that gets me closer to my goal of making all my own Christmas ornaments this year from stuff I have laying around the house (no buying of any supplies allowed). We are having Christmas at home (being our house in Christchurch) this year and since this is the first time we've done this, we have very little in the way of ornaments and decorations.

So I had an idea for a "by the sea" themed Christmas tree. The first ornaments are seahorses. I found an image on Google images, then laid it out on the computer so there were 5 left facing seahorses and 5 right facing seahorses (so my ornaments could have two sides).

I printed it out onto some special transfer paper for injet printers. This stuff is cool!

Then I trimmed each seahorse close to the image.

Then ironed each image onto pieces of muslin and peeled off the backing when it was cool.

Then layered a piece of thick poly batting between a seahorse front and a seahorse back.

Lined it all up, then stitched around the edge with quilting thread.

Then, with scissors, trimmed each one about 1/8" outside the stitching. Leaving the edges raw for a handmade, old-fashioney look.

Then I painted parts of the seahorses with Sparkle Mod Podge (can get this at most craft stores like Michaels). It's kind of like glitter glue. Dries clear.

Then I used my Bejeweler Pro and some hot fix Swarovski crystals that I bought last year to put crystal eyes on the seahorses. Then affixed a hanging loop and voila! 5 pretty horses for our tree! Next, starfishes...or maybe minnows. Haven't decided yet.

Oh, the only thing I am allowed to buy are the twinkle lights.

I am really amazed at how many craft supplies I have in my possession. But this is a really wonderful thing, because it is all there at my fingertips and I can just boldly go into any creative project. To be happy, Creatives need to have lots of creative stuff around them. It's like water to fishies.

I'll try not to let a year go by before my next post.

January 07, 2009

Ain't it True?

Thank you to my friend Shandra for sending me this cartoon...

...and this GORGEOUS SCARF. This photo does not do it justice. It looks like sparkling gems in the colors of peacock feathers. I am so lucky.