Embellished Circus


my recent discovery

Okay. I know that "laser print on fabric" techniques have been floating around for some time now, but I just tried this freezer paper method and I.Am.So.Thrilled.

I love the feeling that comes when you try a new technique and then excitedly calculate all the ways you can incorporate it into your art.

Here is a recent set of ATCs I created for a fabric & beaded card swap. My new fabric "label" is top left.

Yay me! :)


Friday Five Four Round-Up

A tutorial from Aimee.

Process pics from Beth.

Nici <3.

Wendy received her first homer.


Are You an Artist?

Draw the pirate.


Art Journal/Sketchbook and Missed Opportunities

I'm still having trouble figuring out what exactly to call the new medium-sized Moleskine sketchbook I bought two weeks ago. Is it an art journal or a sketchbook? So far I think that it's more of a sketchbook than an art journal, but both terms are, I believe, pretty flexible. I'll probably call it what I want, when I want.

To the right is the one page I managed to eek out while at a fly-in lodge in northern Manitoba last week. It's of the flora brought into the house by my two-year-old niece and six-year-old nephew. My intention had been to do a couple more pages, especially since the landscape was so very Group of Seven (more examples here and here and here) but there were fish to catch, beers to drink, nieces and nephews to entertain, people to hang with, and, well, 101 things other than drawing to do.

So, to all you dedicated art journalers and book sketchers, how do you work? In a single go? Using the swiss cheese method (fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there)? How long did it take before sketching/journaling were second nature?


process pix

How many of you take process photos as you work on a piece? I think it can be incredibly helpful if you ever want to show someone a particular technique, but also to myself, to see when I made certain choices, and where I might have gone a different path (ie, where I really should have stopped! lol!).

This painting is acrylic + medium on 19x19 inch stretched canvas, in progress & unfinished. I started it the other day when I was feeling particularly uninspired, and hadn't been for a couple weeks. A friend posted in her blog she was feeling the same. I decided the only way to get past it was to put a sharpie to work on a pristine stretched canvas. You can see the first line I made in the upper left picture.

From there I just drew as I felt, without regard for the fact that I was setting down bold black lines that it takes several layers of acrylic to cover, or the fact that it was a 19x19 inch stretched canvas. Sometimes you just have to use your materials, regardless of how 'important' you think the work you put on them should be.

I am not giving myself any rules for the work I do in the next weeks before graduate school, because there are certainly going to be enough constraints on me there. I just make work now. And I do my best to keep track of it as I go. A process shot from a painting I change may give me inspiration for another. Who knows!

Help please!

My husband reads western novels and a while back one of the pages fell out of his book. He was reading a vintage 1950s book and the page was from the flyleaf and it absolutely captivated me. I've been wanting to do something with this page for a while but now I'm not happy with it. The values are all so similar that the piece kind of blends together. I'm not sure what to do with it to make it pop. I can't do a whole lot to it because everything is glued down, LOL. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Click image to enlarge

Gambling Girl

and yes, that is real snakeskin, LOL. But it is a shed skin, no actual snakes were harmed in the process of making this piece.


Updated Visual Journal Blog

Beth and I have been continuing our Visual Journal Correspondence moleskine journal project, and I just updated the blog for Beth's journal. (crossposted at my blog)


Amyma's New Work



This is my new insanity. The first is Adam and Eve ( larger size.) The second is Frolo the Reluctant Angel (larger size.) Both are 16"x20" on gallery wrapped canvas. Both are being toted to a gallery in Raleigh next week for my first stab at entering a juried exhibition. The basics of this technique were learned at Artfest last year.
These just came pouring out of me as I worked on them. I love the layering and embellishment. It is hard to see all of it over the net.
The struggle I had was in pricing. I finally settled on $240 through a variety of pricing theories.


Aimee's Paper

These delightful handmade serendipity papers came from Aimee and I wanted to enjoy them every day, so I covered my three current pen and ink journals with them. They are spectacular and I'm hoping she will write up a how-to for us so I can teach this to my class in September! Are these gorgeous or WHAT? Kelli


Friday Five Round-Up (a Day Early)

Aimee's been posting up a storm.

Ang's sister has excellent taste.

Nici would like some feedback.

Nicci loves your belly.

Penny's been *ahem* holding out on us.


Art Journals

I have only just begun keeping an art journal...I took a Fun Art Journalling course through Artella that just finished and learned so much about how I deny myself the pleasure of my own work! That may sound odd, but it was the first time I was creating for my own enjoyment rather than for accolades or sales. It utterly changed what I did visually in a lot of ways. Here are a few pages I really enjoyed making.


it's all in the details

in all the discussion we have been having about making embellishments (paper beads), keeping journals, and decorating the backs of our ATCs, i have been thinking that the underlying message here is that really what we like about our art and that of others seems to be the details. we're drawn to things that are not only interesting, but seem to have some sort of care of extra little oomph in the details.

that is the very reason why this particular page from one of 2 stuffed/glued/taped/sewn/written on pages from my London Visual Diary is my favorite. here's what i had:

a case of the non-inspired blues
about an hour before i dropped into bed of exhaustion (i was sick at the time--of all the luck... go to London and get sick!)
a popsicle stick (from chocolate bar called a Magnum, which i only bought because two people i was with in London insisted it is the best icecream bar they have ever had, and made us search for them! i thought.. this darn thing is going in my journal now, after all the trouble we went through to get it!!)
a rainy day outside making me sleepy
paint pens
photographs from previous days, printed from an epson printer
an xacto knife
corner rounder

so. i took all that and combined it into this page. it was hot, so i kept wishing i had a fan. i made a little hand held fan from a photo of myself taken in a mirror in an Abbey Road gift shop, and used the popsicle stick. i cut out a 'window' in a page, then glued it to the page behind it, leaving a pocket to slip the 'fan' into. behind that, i drew a little self portrait is poster paint pen, acquired at a local art supply store.

this page probably most accurately describes my experience--hot, weird, and visually insane!

never underestimate the power of sleepy, anti-biotic addled brains when creating!

just remember, if you get lost, edge some pages with a dark color. punch some holes. thread some cool yarn through it. go nuts!

Art in the Park

Here's our booth at Art in the Park in Holland and Heather in the center with my daughters on either side. I'll have the rest of the photos on my blog at ephemeralalchemy.blogspot.com. It was a HOT HOT HOT day and the location was moved this year due to downtown construction, so crowds were down from the usual 15,000. Our sales volume was not high but we met a lot of cool people and had a great time shining as we showed off our circus freak talents!


Paper beads

My turn! After seeing Nicci and Penny's beads I just had to go try my hand at it. I used a glue melting pot for the UTEE but I think it might be too hot because it turned my clear UTEE brown. Oh well. It was fun anyway. I even managed to get some holeless beads on a couple of these. paper beads

on the bandwagon, part 1

After consuming some of the best Vietnamese food in the city and an ill-advised iced coffee (it kept me up until the wee hours of the morning), Ptichka and I went to the local fancy pants grocery store in the neighborhood. And by fancy pants, I mean suburbanish. Wide aisles. A vast array of choices. Multiple floors. Covered parking. We normally shop at the aptly named NoFrills.

We needed kosher salt. Unfortunately one suburban trait that the fancy pants grocery store in our neighborhood does have is consistency. We've found the kosher salt with the run-of-the-mill salts, with the bulk items, and at the end of a random aisle. Never, of course, has it been spotted with the other kosher food items. That fact did not prevent us from checking out the kosher food section first, though. The prospect of looking at matzo, exotic candies, and kosher marshmallow fluff all in multilingual, retro packaging is too much for us to resist.

After checking out the candies, the soup mixes, and the fluff, I spotted a box of paper for lining shelves. A pile of them were among boxes of Shabot candles. I suppose that there was some free real estate in that area of the store. The new and improved shelf-lining paper promised to be "white, replaceable, multi-use coated paper." And that description sounded as though it could have been applied to freezer paper.

There was one box with a loose end, which we loosened a bit more to check out the paper. It was, indeed, freezer paper masquerading as something else!

I bought one roll of it and tried a stencil this afternoon. That's it up there. I think that I may be an addict, although it makes me sad that shelf-liner stencils are one-offs. I want to reuse them. But I'm still on the hunt for other images to use for future stencils.

If you'd like to see more, there's a flickr group dedicated to freezer paper stencils.

If you'd like to give it a go yourself, Craftster has a now pictureless tutorial.

More Paper Beads!

My recent paper bead making results. I find these are very addictive too...just what I needed!!


Layered atcs

Since we were discussing how we sign the backs of our atcs, I thought that I would post some recent atcs where I tried to tie the backside in with the design on the front. The theme for these atcs was "layered" and I used several different kinds of paper, a little blue paint, embroidery floss for the stiching, and a photo copied image on vellum - to allow for the "layers" to show through a bit more.

paper beads + tutorial + zine

when working on making paper beads, i discovered that many of the available tutorials online listed a bunch of supplies i didn't have, and each one seemed to be a little bit different.

i decided to have a go at experimenting with some things that i did have, to see if i could get it to work for me. well, it did! and they look a lot like the paper beads made by other artists on the net. paper beads are addictive and fun!

i used: white glue, handmade papers, imported papers, toothpicks, clear stamp ink, clear embossing powder, and an embossing heat gun. i also made a tutorial, and put it in the middle of a zine i made, called mostlyHANDwritten. this tutorial is in the middle of mostlyHANDwritten #6. if you would like to see more on the zine, please check out the 'retail presence' links on the right of this blog, and click 'designs by nicci' under it!

as for my first paper beads that i made a while back, here's what they look like!

anything you can get to stick can be embedded under the clear coating--such as seed beads, threads, bits of yarn, bits of paper, glittery powders, etc.



Ok, I know the paper bead swap is a few weeks off but I got a jumpstart...maybe this will inspire some reluctant players...I had fun mixing pearlex powders into the UTEE this time...and especially enjoyed adding teeny words to the layers...one says "subjected to heat" and another says "revolving". A third says "somersault backward".

What's at the *bottom* of the pile

Hi all. Love the blog. It works for me because of the handy dandy LINKS the mods so kindly put in. Now I can check your blogs and galleries regularly. Brilliant! I've been particularly impressed with Amy's work lately (she's got the abstract thing going on like crazy) and that atc by Miss Fish is stirring ideas like mad. So creative! Here's what was at the bottom of my studio pile...some art dolls I started more than a year ago. I thought this was a good time to air them out, finish them up and send them out into the world. When I wasn't looking, they got wings! Kelli


Friday Five Round-Up

from doodle to doodle

i have recently been cleaning out my studio, and poking about in some stacks of artworks i have made. i thought i would share some here. it's funny. i used to do this sort of doodle art all the time, and then i stopped doing it, because i got into more 'serious art' stuff. and what the hell does that mean anyway? so, i stopped doing it for a while, and did other things. i find it quite amusing that i am back to doodle art now. i am no longer afraid of just drawing, and taking the time to make it fine art (process). just cos it's a doodle, that doesn't mean it can't be a screenprint or painting, or crazy, crazy stamped out image.

this is one of my favorite printed doodles. this is a hand pulled serigraph of a girl named 'Jinx'. she is fond of the striped shirts, and also of standing about outdoors at night.

this is a one of a kind serigraph (screenprint). it is a 3 color print (blue, yellow, black) made on arches 88 paper. this image was made with 2 methods--a reduction screen filler method for the color, and a photo emulsion screen for the black line work.

image measures roughly 8x5 inches, paper measures about 10x7 inches.

remember, just cos it isn't photo-real, and doesn't have 80 thousand layers, doesn't mean it isn't art!


Flaunt It If You've Got It

There are tonnes of various artistic challenges out there that allow you to connect with other souls by strutting your mad art skillz. Some highlights: