Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Waxing Alphabet Blocks

Garage sale finds are the best!  It's like a treasure hunt every time.  A few years ago, I snagged some old wooden alphabet blocks.  I wasn't sure how I would use them, but I knew they were one of those lucky finds. 

Since I've been waxing encaustic (pun intended!), I realized that these little blocks would make perfect canvases for some mini encaustic art pieces.  Wax is heavy and brittle, which makes wood the perfect foundation.  I literally felt a light bulb go off in my brain. I could create encaustic ornaments using my own photos for the 212 Art Center's Holiday Sale. 

This is the story of the birth of my block ornaments.  You've seen my first attempt with a larger block with the letter "N" on the front and a 3-d nest on the top.  I've improved it with a couple of felted eggs in the nest.

 Here are all the "babies" I made today.  I picked up random broken chains at the fiber fair this weekend to make charming little fobs with which to hang them.

These photos are all from shots I took of birds in my yard.  I took the liberty of adding red berries onto whatever tree or shrub they were perched on regardless of the actual species!  :)

Here they all are hanging...

Here are the backs...

And another view...

I'm very pleased with what I've come up with so far.  Let me know if you have some ideas.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Encaustic Marathon

Today I was in a creative zone with several encaustic pieces; new and in progress.  I finished 4 completely today.  I had one already complete and I have one in progress on my desk.

I remember reading about encaustic a year or more ago but it seemed too intimidating to attempt.  Until...I started noticing beautiful pieces in gallery's and little art stores.  The effect was ethereal and one I could never duplicate in another medium. 

At first, I toyed around with heating a block of beeswax in a small crock pot.  Although I was happy with the results I obtained in the following inchies, I was too limited by the one effect.  I wanted more options. 

 When I came across an encaustic class taught at 212 Art center, I jumped at the chance to really learn about this elusive art form.  Rob was a great instructor and showed us several techniques to try.  However I got stuck on my practice board and never finished the the two full size boards we were provided.
Night Bird is my practice piece from my first encaustic class.  I used a photo transfer technique with photo copies of a photo I took of a bird and had manipulated in Photoshop.

Today, I transformed my unfinished full size board from this...

To this...

The stone or egg shapes are from some lovely fabric I found at Quilting Seasons, a small shop in Saline.  I loved the fabric so much, that I also used some in this piece...

I also added beads by pressing them into the warm wax.  It is hard to get a good photo of this as the glare from the wax and beads was so distracting, I purposely lowered the contrast in Photoshop so the details could be seen.  The colors are not quite true.  It is better in person.

A small encaustic piece I finished a couple of weeks ago was enhanced by some interesting snap trim I added...

This late summer we had an art camp.  Lucky for me, Rob was teaching a mini encaustic course.  I signed up, of course!  It was wonderful, because I had time to try new techniques that I didn't have time to in his original class.  This is what I made...

This poppy is a carving, filling, and scraping technique.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.

The last piece I started and finished today is my favorite.  I used a medium copper printing plate I had picked up at a antique store for $5.  I didn't know what I would do with it at the time, but the copper printing plate was too fascinating to leave behind! 

Using my own photographs, I turned it into this piece of collage...

I have so many ideas and techniques I still want to try, so stay tuned for more encaustic to come!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mirror, Mirror...

My self portraits are finished and ready to hang for the upcoming self portrait show at 212 Arts Center.  In my self portrait art quilt I've shown cropped portions of the eyes...

but for the most part I've kept the piece under wraps until it was completed.  Well, it is completed!  Here it is...
It's a little wacky, and the lips are very strange but I had fun with it.  It involved A TON of hand stitching, a few charms, and one chicken!  Oh, and if you recognize the fabric...Shhhh, don't tell (wink, wink).

My second piece is from a class I took with Jean Canavan where we painted our self portrait using mirrors in the style of an old master.  I chose Modigliani, hence my title: "Modigliani and Me"

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. Primarily a figurative artist, he became known for paintings and sculptures in a modern style, characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form.  To see examples of his work look here.

If I have enough time, I may try an encaustic self portrait in the style of Frida Kahlo.  I wonder how I'll look with a uni brow!  Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nuno Felting

I am fascinated by all things felted.  In fact, I have started searching the racks at Salvation army for sweaters that are made of 100% wool, mohair, or any other natural fiber.  I've already taken a wet felting class, a felted soap class, and now a nuno felting class where wool and bits of yarn, string, or other ephemera is felted into a silk scarf.

We began by dying our scarves and microwaving them to set the dye.  We ironed them dry and lay them out on two tables end to end.  We created designs with the wool roving and bits of yarn.  Then similarly to wet felting, we used water, soap, and agitation to felt the wool into the silk scarf.

I learned that I like control over my art.  That's hard to do in the dying section of the class.  I found it frustrating but persevered and made it through.  The designing and felting more than made up for my early dismay.  I ended up with a lovely scarf with various sized ruffles due to the wave pattern I used with the wool roving.  I must make more!

A detailed view

Friday, October 18, 2013

Learning Proper Quilting...so I can break the rules later!

I started a traditional quilting class last Monday at Quilting Seasons, a darling little shop in Saline.  They claim to be friendly and they are!  The first day Mary, the owner, showed me how to create the Friendship Star block.

So I went home and finished 12 more of these blocks.  That Wednesday Mary showed me how to make the Double Nine Patch Variation block.

 So I went home and finished 12 of these blocks.  They were a bit more difficult...but I was determined!  The following Monday, I stitched my blocks into strips, then I stitched the strips together.

Then I needed to decide the colors and arrangements of my border pieces.  Of course, I had to get technical and create "flash cards" of color variations to help me decide.

Ultimately, I added one more fabric to give it a little more depth.  Here is the quilt top finished.

Wednesday, Mary helped me sandwich the top with batting and the backing material.  This week my homework is to begin quilting the layers together.  I am amazed at how quickly and easily this came together. 

I think the fun part will be naming my lap quilt.  I've also decided to incorporate my mistake into the title.  Did you find it yet?