Archive for February, 2011

hand bound book

So what can I do with a watercolor experiment that didn’t quite turn out to be the masterpiece I thought it would? Rip the pages down into a smaller book. In my last post I shared my Susan Cornelis inspired watercolors. I had used my favorite Arches watercolor paper and I have a very hard time not using every little scrap of that paper, or re-using it by painting on the back.
I decided that I would use some of these paintings in a handmade art journal.
First I ripped down the pages to the size I wanted, turned out that was approximately 3 x 4 inches give or take. I created my “signatures” in pairs and alternated folding the paintings so that there would be plain facing painted surface.

I found this roll of upholstery thread at my favorite thrift shop. It’s great for sewing book pages or for sewing buttons that you want to be able to hold up to a lot of use!

I am always experimenting with new ways of binding books. This time I thought I’d try making a book with a glued spine and glued the signatures in to the spine.

Finally finished it out with a bird button I’d been hoarding and a bit of twin to loop around for a closer.

In the end, I had a small cute journal that is just the right size for carrying in my purse. I’m not 100% with the binding part of the book, as some of the pages stuck together and it doesn’t lay flat like I’d like.
Now on to the next project!


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saw a few hints of spring, had to grab my camera.

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This post by Kim Klassen here is a powerful message about getting out of our own way and to ‘just do it’.

“I’m busy, don’t have time to do ___________.”
“I say I can’t have homework to finish”
I say these things a lot and they are true. I am crazy busy, who in this world isn’t?

But as I re-read this post by Kim, I keep thinking, ya I’m busy but if I can’t make something, even a quick watercolor I feel empty and lost. Even when I take the time to create a quick card to mail I get happy. I like to make things, it makes me happy. And as I create those spaces inside me that were hurting or out of sync–they slip back into place.

It’s almost as though I’m a car getting a wheel alignment. And when I get a chance to get paints out get a brush dirty, I can feel those bruises on my heart healing.

The smell of gesso soothes my overwhelmed senses, drowning out other senses. And the more paint I get under my nails, staining my fingers, worked into my cuticles, the more I feel like I can breathe.

And after, when I can’t quite get all of the paint off of my fingers, I feel a secret smile, because I am carrying with me my art talisman.

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So declared my sweet girl after I finished “fancying” her room.
For Christmas she recieved two Fancy Nancy books and since then she’s been pestering me to make her room “fancy”. I’ve been putting her off, sorry mommy has homework, sorry mommy needs to grade papers, sorry mommy’s busy.
(Insert guilty-worst-mother-ever-feelings)

Yesterday after a frustrating few hours of statistics homework I decided to start folding the mountain of laundry piled on my bed. And then I went in the kids’ rooms to put clothes away and had to bite back the urge to scream. Disaster isn’t a big enough word to cover how bad their rooms looked. Instead of blowing my top I got my girl and said let’s organize your room! And if ever there was a doubt that she’s my kid: she’s a total hoarder and pack-rat! She saves everything, and has little “treasure boxes filled with her finds.

Later we stopped by Goodwill, and since I had placed myself on a 12-step program to avoid thrift stores for a while, I was excited.
Kids were told no toys, at all. They could play with them but nothing could go home with us. As I wandered where the curtains were hung, my eye was caught by the largest mass of bright pink tule I’d ever seen.
I couldn’t tell what it was, a curtain, a canopy bed or just a lot of pink tule. I grabbed it, and when my girl saw it in my arms she just knew it had to be something to make her room “fancy”!

5 bucks later, I had it on the swing set to air it out. I’m sure my neighbors wondered what that mass of pink was flowing in the breeze!

As I looked at it, I could see it had a top and sides, and loops on the corners. Perfect for a canopy bed!
After some serious rigging with pony tail holders and a few sparkly butterfly barrettes. I had it set up. I gathered a bunch of ribbon to tie the tops and corners. Then I took the girl’s “wedding bouquet” she found at another thrift store and added flowers to the top and corners. I kept adding ribbon, and stuff. Really like a bird making a nest out of found materials.
And here you have why my girl told me that I was “the best mommy in the world even when you’re cranky and not nice”.

Wow! That’s a lot of pink! The pink of her walls almost matches the tule! yikes!
But she’s very happy and the boy was invited to play and read as long as he is good.

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Last week I was mentioning that I was stuck. I had looming homework deadlines and I was trying to create a valentine piece for “Valentine for Aids” hosted for the last 18 years by a funky, artsy coffee house downtown. I’ve been invited the last 4 years to submit. I should have said no, passed on this opportunity. But I feel that I have given up a lot of things I really love in order to juggle my family, job, and school.
Here is my final piece:

Memories Found

I had this collection of things sitting on my work table for nearly a week, moving them, stacking them, unable to break my need to use them!
The photo is one of my great uncle and his wife and is part of a stash of photos I found in the box that my grandma had given me before she died. What’s remarkable is the obvious affection there is between these two people, these are no staged, grim looking poses. These are candids of two people who loved each other. The story of them was a bit of a scandal and a mystery in the family I was told. I only have pieces of the story but she was nearly 20 years older than him and he was barely over 20. As I worked on this piece I thought about making a book about them and creating my own “memories” of them. This is an idea that I’m working on even now.

The coin purse is from a collection my father in law gave me when he was helping to clean out the house of an elderly neighbor who had no children.

Found items: memories made, and so memories found kept coming to my mind, these things were telling me the story of a couple on a special day and I could imagine the woman saving the leaves she found and pressing them in a book, saving his letters.
I could imagine it sitting on her dresser slowly aging as she remembered the time of this picture. I scratched in the wet top layers of the paint imagined memories she might have had of him, of their time together.

Overall, I really loved this piece. It’s a love story. As I went to the artist reception this week I had butterflies in my stomach, worried that my piece would be less art and more “craft”, or that it would stand out as so obviously bad compared to all of the other pieces.
But I went, alone as my husband had to take the girl to ballet and do something with the boy.

Even though I felt isolated and lonely, I wandered the shop to see all of the art displayed. And there, on the main wall at eye level was my piece, it looked lovely, and I got the same little thrill when I’ve seen something I’ve created on walls other than my own house.

It was unique, the colors were soft, and no other piece had a coin purse on it.


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I am creating a little valentine for each day until Valentines Day.

This last year was the year that my husband and I were able to mend some of the broken fences in our relationship. Some of these were just the overwhelming reality of being married for 11 years and then BAM! we were the happy parents of new born twins! Don’t mistake me here: I am so incredibly blessed and I can get so emotional when I look at my nearly 5 year old babies and think that I really didn’t think we would ever have children.

But there is a price and as our babies consumed our lives, it became easier and easier to let the distance between us grow. Add in the fact that my husband was in severe pain because of hip, a hip that would give out from time to time which made it hard for him to carry a baby for any length of time. I wasn’t the nicest person about this, and I have felt horrible guilt about this. But I have learned to let go of this and forgive myself. I was trying to take care of everything in the and around the home, care for two babies, and not having a lot of help. After the babies turned two, he had a partial hip replacement and it was hard. It was another baby who needed more help.

Now, two years later we are getting back to really being in love and have talked about our struggles and forgiven each other. This reconciliation is such a blessing. We are different people than we were before we had kids and this is okay, as long as we still come back to center.
And I want to remind him daily how much I love him and what he means to me.

Here’s the first few days of valentines.

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Recently I was looking for some inspiration to get my creative juices flowing and found this youtube video by Susan Cornelis. It’s a lovely video to watch, and looking at how she creates these lovely pictures out of what starts out as random-looking splotches is truly amazing.
So I mixed up some watercolor paints and started playing.
Blue no. 1

Blue no. 2

Red no. 1
This one reminds me of an oriental poppy.

Red no. 2
Reminds me of tie dye.

I love these, but I have to admit this is not my style and I don’t have the eye that Susan has to “see” the picture or the story that emerges from the ink and paint. What I love is playing with paper and watercolors and letting the color move where it would like.

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