6×6

https://i2.wp.com/www.artalliancegallerydowntown.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/six-by-six-email-square-lg.jpg

This year the Art Alliance is hosting a fundraiser and exhibition that will be debuting during the week of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. All pieces will be six inches by six inches (add another six for 3D art) and be sold for $25.00 each. Sales will go toward supporting the Downtown Gallery. Opening night is July 12 from 7pm to 9 pm. The show goes until the end of July.

More information at the Art Alliance.

I will be donating four squares:

 

 

hug

 

 

cactusbook

 

Show up. Buy art. See you there.

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April

We all can use a little inspiration now and then. All those creative ideas ricocheting around in our heads can make it difficult to just choose one. Sometimes, we can’t overcome the entropy that has temporarily taken over our thought process. Occasionally, deliberating for even a few minutes, about whether or not to put some beauty in the world, feels like a herculean task. April was a project taken on to encourage daily handwork and creativity in my routine and to bring a little unexpected delight to the people I care about.

Each day for the month of April 2016, I made a small piece of art measuring 2 x 3 inches. They varied in complexity and included drawings, a stencil, a stamp, sayings, handmade paper, a recipe, dried flowers, miniature books and paintings. Materials included wax, paper, watercolor, drawing fluid, ink, colored pencil, crayon, hand dyed fabric, paste cloth, polymer clay, seeds and photographs. I made three versions; each individualized for it’s intended recipient (all creative people with limited time and so much going on in their lives).

I put all the cards, willy nilly, in an altered cigar box. I thought about maintaining more order with the pieces, but in the end, the joy of discovery, and sorting through unknown treasures, exceeded my need for structure.

It is my hope that when my people are in want of creative stimulation, they can pull this box off the shelf, sift through its contents, and kick-start a brainstorm of their own.

It so happens that one friend has re purposed the project to entertain her almost two year old. Most of the cards now live in a wallet that travels with them. When he get impatient, the wallet comes out and he plays with the cards. How’s that for creative reuse?

Altared States

I live in the rural lands and I miss the accessibility and sparkle of The City. When I was in my early twenties I moved to Seattle, Washington from central Pennsylvania. The variety of food, men and shoes available were unbelievable. I tried pho for the first time, met an architect at a film festival and bought my first pair of Vogs. Over time, I lost perspective and forgot what was dear to me. I got caught up in the culture and the concrete. I felt alone, depressed and stopped taking advantage of anything Seattle had to offer. Eventually, I returned to Pennsylvania and then moved to Indiana.

I know myself better now. I can walk off my porch and into the woods. I leave the garage unlocked so the neighbor can borrow the chainsaw. I live in a place where someone will stop if I have a flat tire. I do not have to pick up after my dogs.

And I still love cities. Pittsburgh, Phili, Baltimore, D.C. and New York are all within easy reach when I want a little more art, action and limited release movies in my life.

A friend of mine left the green spaces of rural Pennsylvania last year for the grittiness of Pittsburgh. Initially she had trouble seeing the beauty in it and missed the stillness she left behind. I wanted to give her something that would help lend a sense of grounding to her day if she needed it. I was playing around with concepts of ritual and reliquaries at the time and I decided to make her a portable altar.

I used an Altoids tin as the vessel. I removed the color from the outside with a dremel tool, leaving some of the letters behind and applied some new imagery.

When the box is opened, the contents are removed and the altar constructed.

altar_open

It unfolds to reveal a moonlit forest. The contents include an acorn, a pine cone, a bit of moss, quartz and two miniature deer. All local to central Pennsylvania. And what altar would be complete without incense? Forest flavored.

altar_set

I don’t know if carrying around a tin full of nature helped her transition. Or if encouraging a ritual around a places you leave is healthy. I remember that spending time in Volunteer Park, or Green Lake wasn’t enough for me to feel whole. I missed where I came from and the grounding effect it had on me. My friend has transitioned beautifully into an urban landscape and is wrapped up in the scene of the city. And I can visit on weekends.

Feelin’ Fine, Valentine

There are those who love Valentine’s Day and those who loathe it. I find the holiday contrived, but full of potential. Red roses, drug store chocolates and gaudy jewelry do not make my heart flutter. However, the valentine, that little declaration of affection, adoration, like-you-a-lot, gets me all hot and bothered. You know, in a creative energy sort of way.

This February I  participated in an annual activity guided by Jennifer Rosner of the Delaware Valley Chapter Guild of Book Workers– mail art valentines. I got really excited and couldn’t commit to one image, so I made 4 sets of 5 for the 19 other people participating in the project.

Each set of valentines involved some light collage and wonderful messy cutting and pasting. I not only got them done 2 weeks ahead of the due date (because I was that excited), I had the privilege of receiving spectacular valentines from 19 creative people.

valentine_reverse

Now where’s my chocolate.

 

 

Christmas with Cthulhu

Every Yule, I have visions of distributing thoughtful handmade gifts and edibles to my loved ones. On time.

Each holiday I fall short of that goal. This past December, like always, my intentions were good. The  Kitchenaid made an appearance and I concocted crumpets, caramel marshmallows and baklava. They were beautiful. After a quick sample, they were unceremoniously covered in saran wrap, thrown into ziplocs and shipped around the country. January is really close to Christmas. Receiving your presents after the fact is like a post-holiday bonus. Right?

I had three non-edibles that took longer than I expected; a stocking, an ornament and a pinata. I was determined to make a Cthulhu stocking for a tentacle-loving friend. I borrowed a pattern from a fellow sewer and adapted it. I used purple silk velvet and green upholstery velvet for the exterior and hot pink silk for the lining. I was able to present the stocking on the agreed upon exchange day, but I snatched it back to finish twenty minutes of hand sewing (that took another week).

Cthulhu stocking

Cthulhu stocking

The second gift was an ornament meant for my friend and her husband. In the past few years they have married, moved and had a baby. They are in the process of creating traditions unique to their family. When they moved in together, they took Janus as their house god after an apropos parking incident. He is the Roman god of transition and change. I wanted to honor that and I began a doorway ornament. Each side was different, representing the two heads of Janus. I used fishing line through the piece, so that it could spin. It was made from bookboard, paper and a little bit of mylar. Why did it take so long!

Janus green

Door from side

Janus moon

Door from side

The final project wasn’t a holiday present. I just wanted to do something kind for someone who was experiencing some tragedy. She was angry and grieving. I thought the best way to address both was to make a pinata- she could hit it and get goodies. I collected objects for months- candy, alcohol, candles, magnets… I bet you’re picking up on the time issue. My mother had recently retired and offered to start the paper mache body. Halfway through she lost interest, but forgot to tell me. There went another two months. Time continued to pass and the guilt of not completing this project weighed on me. I had to get this thing done! I finally took a week, finished the paper mache, filled that sucker with booty and got out my trusty glue gun. I’m convinced a pinata might be the gift for any occasion.

pinata front

pinata back

This year, I’ll start early. All projects will be completed by mid October. I’ll have a whole month to wrap and ribbon. Items will be sent and received the week of Solstice to open, or put under the tree. Baked goods will be Pinterest worthy. Maybe, I’ll even decorate. Or maybe, I’ll be hiding in my studio, working late into the morning in order to finish my sister’s book trio by July. Time will tell.

Pull Up a Seat

A few months ago I received an email from one of my local art organizations inviting me to take part in a charity auction. The Bellefonte Library discovered a number of chairs with no historical import in a dusty corner and decided to turn them into an opportunity to raise money for literacy. They invited artists to pick up a chair, work their will on it and return it painted, primped and bedazzled. The chairs will be auctioned off in May to the highest bidders.

The chair I brought home was decorated in black and gold. I’m sure it was a solid choice at the time.

Original chair

I stripped the black paint and was rewarded with another coat- a white monster paint no solvent would touch. So I broke out the hand sander.

Stripped chairAfter a white primer, I started the fun part.

First coatI went with an ocean theme and stopped short of a pirate ship.

Finished chair

There’s an angler fish lurking under the seat for surprise factor.

Angler fish

chair_back

The Art for Literacy Chair Auction will be held Saturday, May 17 from 2-4 p.m. at the Historical Museum Community Garden at 203 North Allegheny Street, Bellefonte. The admission is $20.00 and it includes a live and silent auction, complimentary wine, hors d’oeuvres and live music.

Tickets can be purchased at www.centrecountylibrary.org and proceeds benefit the Centre County Library and Historical Museum.

Anchors away!I’ll see you there.

Pokeberry Ink

Say “Gumbi.” Pokey! Or, in this case, pokeberry.
Pokeweed is a toxic (yet edible if prepared correctly) perennial plant with a bright pinkpinkpink stalk and dark purple, almost black berries. The berries produce a vibrant fuchsia juice that can be used for dye and ink. Unfortunately, the color, although striking, does not have good longevity. Since I’ve been on an ink making kick with the black walnuts I decided to try a pokeberry ink recipe I found through the The Fountain Pen Network (there is also an interesting discussion of the process and the ink results). It uses yeast to ferment the berries in order to preserve the ink (although denatured alcohol might do the trick).
Materials: Pokeberries, 2 20 oz clean plastic bottles, cheesecloth/coffee filter, gloves, rubber band, package of yeast, large bowl, gum arabic (if desired)
Pick and wash 8 ounces of ripe berries (I did a triple batch) and funnel into a 20 oz plastic bottle. Screw on the cap and shake vigorously until the berries are pulpy.
Remove the cap and pour one package of yeast into the bottle. Replace cap and shake again so the yeast is dispersed. I also put two teaspoons of gum arabic (found in powdered and solution form in most art stores) in my ink in order to emulsify the dye and help the ink bind to the page.
Remove cap and replace with a square of  cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Place the bottle in the dark at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
Using a larger piece of cheesecloth, strain the contents of the bottle into a bowl.
Place a coffee filter in a funnel and the funnel into a clean bottle. Slowly pour the unfiltered liquid into it. This process can take a few hours. If you are impatient you can squeeze the filter, but be gentle- the fiber breaks easily.
Transfer ink into a container of your choice and store away from direct light.