Work in Progress and Other Things

I’ve been struggling with making more journals lately.  I’m working on them, but I kind of hit a wall for a bit.  I guess life got in the way with Thanksgiving and kids and all that entails.

There was a lunar eclipse that I really wanted to see, but it turns out it happened at 3 am, so I didn’t want to see it bad enough to wake up that early.  I might have caught it if the cat had woken me up at that time, but this was one of those times he chose not to.  I did get a couple of shots of the full moon the next morning.

Full Moon in the morning
Full moon in the morning

These aren’t the best pictures, but they are better than what I usually get with my phone.  It’s really hard to get good pictures of the moon for some reason and I have an iPhone 11 Pro, so I thought that would make a difference, but it really hasn’t.

After the slump I had, I did start working on some new journals.  But first I needed to replenish my dyed paper stash.  I used the dipped and sewn dyeing method because it’s faster than the dyed and gone to heaven method, but it’s still a process.  Fortunately we have warm, sunny weather this week, so I decided to take advantage of that to dry the papers.

Sun drying hand dyed papers

These papers are going to be used in three travelers journals I’m working on.  I recently was asked if I wanted to sell some of my journals on consignment at the gorgeous Sky Pony Gallery in Willow Bend Mall.  I gladly accepted, but now I need to make even more journals than I had anticipated so that I have enough for the gallery and for the Craft Guild’s Spring Show.  So I guess it’s back to work for me!

On a final note, the geese are back. Yay!

Geese on the course
Geese by the pond

They are funny to watch because they have no fear of the golfers whatsoever.  They just go where to want to no matter who is in their way!

Bye for now!

Around Here – The Week Before Thanksgiving

Sometimes I realize that my website has a blog, but then I tend to forget all about it.  I’m not great at blogging, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to be.  This space can be whatever I want it to be and it can be just for me. It’s absolutely okay if no one else ever reads this.  Maybe one day, when I’m no longer on this earth, my kids will read it and I hope it makes them smile.

That being said, I’m going to post more often.  The older I get, the more aware I am of how fleeting life is and also how precious it is.  Not just the big things, but the little daily things as well.

There is a chill in the air today that we haven’t felt in a while.  We were blessed with two 80 degree days, but today is in the 50’s and quite windy.  The ducks were enjoying it though.

Ducks on the Pond
More ducks on the pond

They seem to be enjoying themselves, despite the stiff breeze and colder temperatures.  The geese were nowhere to be seen though.  Perhaps they were at another pond.

One of my favorite birds are hawks, especially red hawks.  We have quite a few of them in our area.  The other day I was sitting at my desk and when I looked out the window, I saw a red hawk land in the tree right behind our back yard. It was really gorgeous.

Red Hawk

I watched as the hawk moved up the tree and seemed to make itself comfortable.

Red Hawk

To my surprise a second hawk came along and landed on the same branch quite near the first hawk.

2nd Red Hawk

What occurred next was somewhat shocking – they started fighting and flew away.  I wanted to get a picture of this, but it all happened too fast. It was quite surprising, but also very interesting to watch.  Sadly,  I haven’t had either one of them visit since.

I really do enjoy my view so much more now that we moved.  It’s nice to be able to see something besides the alley and our neighbors fence!

I recently finished the Craft Guild’s spring show and it went really well.  I ended up selling 40 journals, which is amazing,  but I think I could have sold even more if I hadn’t procrastinated so much over the summer and then had to rush to make things before the show date.  That really wasn’t smart.

I also had someone who liked to “help” me with my work, but wasn’t all that helpful.

Cooper snoozing on my desk

He is cute sometimes though!

Cooper with one of my journals

Till next time!

My Obsession

I recently was given the opportunity to take a class online that has previously only been taught in person.  I was never able to take the in person workshop before because it was in Auckland, and unfortunately, that was just a bit too far for me to go.  Then the pandemic hit and lockdowns ensued.  I haven’t found too many positive things that have come from this nightmare we are all currently living in, but Liz Constable of Book Art Studios decided to teach her classes online for the first time ever, so I guess that was my silver lining.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to sign up for anything and everything she has made available.  Her Dyed and Gone to Heaven class has led to my current obsession – hand dyeing papers.

I’ve always coffee and tea dyed a good portion of my papers, but her technique took me in a direction I never knew was even possible.  I can’t divulge the process, it’s a highly guarded secret and you can only learn it by taking her class, but I can tell you it’s amazing and has taken my paper dyeing to a whole new level.

Here are a few examples:

Finding dyes has been more of a challenge than I expected.  Apparently, tie dyeing has been very popular during this pandemic, so the supply of Rit and Tulip dyes at local craft stores is quite low.  I have experimented with food coloring, both powdered and gel, as well as India inks and other inks as well.

I really love the results and I’m also super excited that Liz is teaching the second class, Dyed Again, online as well.  I signed up for that one and I can’t wait to learn even more amazing techniques for turning ordinary paper into something extraordinary.

Practicing New Techniques

As artists, we all have other artists we look up to, learn from and generally admire.  One of my favorites is Liz Constable from Book Art Studios.  Not only is she an incredibly talented book artist, she is a great teacher and very generous with her knowledge.

I have always wanted to take one of her Dyed and Gone to Heaven workshops, but unfortunately, I could never figure out how to make that work since she is in Auckland and I am in Texas.  Up until now, she has only taught in-person workshops, but the pandemic changed all that.

I was able to take both her coptic binding class and her dyed and gone to heaven class via zoom.  They were great, and thankfully recorded, because I had to refer back to them more than once.  I had done coptic binding before, but this is a new method that took some practice on my part.

Here are some pictures of one of my favorite books I made, filled with scrumptious, hand dyed paper, using a process that I’m sworn to secrecy not to divulge.  If you want to learn it, you can visit her website and sign up for her next online class!

Try, Try and Try Again

mixed media collage

There are times when a piece comes together almost effortlessly on the first try.  This was not one of them.

I originally planned on creating an abstract floral piece that consisted of a very detailed mixed media background, along with a vase and flowers.  I worked for hours on the background and the vase come out just the way I wanted it to.

Unfortunately, the flowers did not. They were a disaster.  The loose style I was trying to obtain never quite came together.  I tried to fix the flowers, but I only ended up making them look even worse than they already did. I was at the point of no return.

As much as it killed me to do, I had to cover up everything with gesso and start from scratch.  Hours and hours of work, now gone.

Next, I decided to go in a different direction and try some sketchy watercolor type florals.  I just didn’t feel confident enough to try the same technique I had just failed at.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get this right either.  It was just not good. Although I was able to fix the flowers using stencils and acrylic paints, the leaves and stems were still awful.  I was thinking that I was going to have to start all over once again.

It was then that I remembered a vine stencil I had.  I pulled it out and decided to give it one last shot.  I’m glad I did because that stencil allowed me to save the piece.

I don’t think this will ever be one of my favorite creations, but I’m glad that I didn’t quit and that I was able to step back and take a moment and figure out a new direction.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were able to do this in our personal lives as well?  Sometimes, when things aren’t working out the way they should, whether it be a job, a relationship, a personal goal, etc., we tend to become emotional and just walk away.  We quit, we abandon, we sabotage.

I know I have done that so many times over the course of my life. I felt that it was easier to just walk away instead of digging in and doing the work that might have salvaged something and perhaps taken my life in a new direction.

I’m not saying that we should stay in toxic or abusive relationship.  That is never the case.  But I am saying that perhaps a friendship could be saved or deepened or a relationship with a child could be turned around if we just took a step back, took a deep breath and figured out what we need to do next instead of walking away.

So today, I’m going to choose to hang in there and do something difficult instead of giving up and walking away.  I know it won’t be easy, but I know it will be worth it in the end.