Monday, February 13, 2012

Get Inspired: Science

Science if often viewed as the opposite of creativity, but that's never seemed quite right to me.  The way I see it, science and creativity go hand in hand.  That's a concept I'm currently exploring in my art, and while I don't have any pieces that are ready to show just yet, I thought I'd share some of the things that are inspiring me.

Antique Medical Items

We recently discovered a booth at one of our local antique shops that sells old bottles - including medicine bottles - and after much debate, picked up these two.  I loved the shape and the label on the Oil of Cloves bottle.  And the other was something I'd never even heard of, so of course, I had to have it.

I'm sure this is just the beginning of this collection.  There's another antique store nearby that has some other bottles and implements and gadgets and gizmos, so I'm looking forward to returning there once I have found a space to store and display things.

Anatomy Illustrations
Whilst on the prowl for interesting ephemera to use in my collages and such, I happened upon this awesome site, which specializes in just that sort of thing and happens to have a great collection of scientific illustrations.  Including an entire page of anatomy illustrations.  This heart here is one of my favorites.

I've always been fascinated by anatomy.  I remember flipping through the set of medical encyclopedias we had when I was a child, pouring over the illustrations and photos.  I could spend happily hours like that.  So the piece I'm currently working on that utilizes these illustrations is a nod to my childhood as well as an exploration of my current inspirations.

Plus, it involves hearts, so I can say I made it for Valentine's day.

Skeletal Articulation
photo by Buzz Hoffman
I've always thought bones were beautiful, and the articulated skeletons you see in museums always amazed me.  I often wondered how it was done and what it would be like to work on what is essentially a complex, three-dimensional puzzle.  I still do wonder.  And maybe someday I'll try my hand it.  Until then, I'll just sit back and be inspired.

photo by stijn
I have similar feelings about taxidermy as I do about articulated skeletons.  I think there's something marvelous about preserving a creature's natural beauty long after it has ceased to live.

While we no longer need to rely so heavily on preservation in order to study things, it was once absolutely pivotal, and it is truly an art.  An art which science helped to perfect.  I think that's a beautiful thing.

So now that you've had a look at my current inspirations, why not leave a comment and tell me about yours?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Woolly Wednesday #1

I've been ogling a lot of fiber lately.  I love wool in all of it's many varieties.  Ever since I was a child, I've been fascinated by the entire process of shearing and carding and dying and spinning and knitting (or crocheting, as the case may be).  I remember going to those interactive this-is-how-the-pioneers-did-stuff museums and getting to try my hand at carding and thinking, "Gosh, it'd be cool to have my own sheep to shear and spin my own yarn."  I still think that'd be cool.  And maybe someday I will have my own furry critters, but for now, one of my best sources for fiber in all its stages is the internet.

And while I'm drooling over all this lovely stuff, I thought it'd be fun to share the woolly goodness with my readers.  So welcome to the inaugural edition of Woolly Wednesday.  Now, on to the good stuff...

Ecru/Undyed/Natural Light Merino from SheepishCreations
I love handpainted/dyed fibers, but one should never underestimate the beauty of wool in its natural state.  Just look at this stuff!  It's gorgeous!  I love that shade of grey and all the subtle variations in color...  Umph.

Blackbird - Merino/Bamboo/Firestar from butterflygirldesigns
I love the colors in this.  They're just so gorgeous together.  But that hint of sparkle from the firestar is what really makes it, I think.  So pretty!

Handspun Merino Wool and Mulberry Silk from LunabudKnits
Holy cow.  I am absolutely in love with this colorway.  It's just so... happy!  It'd make a great hat or scarf, I think.  It would make you smile all winter long!  Plus, I imagine this feels absolutely delicious.  Wool and silk?  Yum.

Spinning Tools
0.80 oz. Red Heart Drop Spindle from 3gwoodworks
I've done a lot of shopping around and reading up on spindles and there are lots of really nice, very pretty ones to be found - like everything made by 3gwoodworks.  They're quite simple, but also quite lovely.  And I've heard they spin wonderfully.  It was really hard to pick a favorite, but I really love the color of the red heart here.  

Now if only I had infinite monies so I could buy all of these lovely goodies...  Ah, well.  A girl can dream.  Now what about you, dear reader?  Been eyeing any pretty fibers lately?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tentacle Tuesday: Lighted Jellyfish Sculpture

I've probably already mentioned this, but in case I haven't - I really things with tentacles.  Octopuses, squids, jellyfish... I love them all.  So I'm always on the lookout for cool tentacle-critter-related items, and I thought while I was looking, I might as well share.  So welcome to the first installment of Tentacle Tuesday.

In light of this auspicious occasion, I have found what might just be the coolest piece of tentacle art I've ever seen.  Check this baby out:

This totally kick-ass sculpture is made from reclaimed plastic beverage bottles and it glows in the dark.  Plus there is a battery-operated light in the lid of the jar, which means you could totally use this as an incredibly awesome nightlight.  

I can hardly even think of anything intelligible to say about this.  So I'll just point you to the shop - 10tacles - so you can join me in drooling.

Monday, February 6, 2012

This Week's Inspirations: New Supplies!

Yesterday was my birthday, and one of my special birthday treats this weekend was an excursion to one of our local yarn stores and the awesome little art supply shop next door.  I've been wanting to try spinning for a while now, and I've been reading up on spinning with a spindle lately, so I was hoping I could find some supplies at the yarn store.

Sure enough, tucked away in the back of the store, I found a lovely little spinning oasis.  There were fibers of all sorts in an array of colors, books, carders, and several gorgeous spinning wheels.  The only thing missing was spindles, which were temporarily out of stock.  I decided to grab some wool anyway.  Spindles are simple devices, and I thought I might be able to find the materials to make one in the meantime.

I looked over all of the fibers and did a lot of debating, but there was one bundle of roving that just kept calling to me, and I knew I had to have it.  Just look at this gorgeousness:

I'm hoping spinning will be a happy experience, and I can't imagine how I could possible spin this stuff and not be happy.  Look at those colors!  

Finding the supplies to make a spindle wasn't as easy as I hoped, though.  No one nearby seems to have the little wooden car wheels I need for the whorl.  So I'll either have to expand my search or wait until the shop gets more spindles or, perhaps, order one online.  I've found plenty of perfectly lovely spindles on Etsy.  I'm just not sure I have the patience to wait for one to arrive!  

On to the art supplies...  Kitty stocked up on pretty vintage papers and snagged an awesome ephemera package.  I can't wait to see what she does with it!  I, meanwhile, grabbed a few odds and ends...

I got a three-pack of canvas boards for more altered magazine art (most likely), a bunch of little glass bottles and a package of glass slides.  I have some really cool ideas for the slides, but I'm keeping them a secret while I experiment.  As for the bottles... I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do with them.  They'll probably wind up being part of a display I'm planning.  Mostly, I just got them because they appealed to me.  

So that's what's inspiring me this week - new goodies!  What's your current inspiration?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

In Progress

I haven't been feeling very well this week, so progress on things has been a bit slow, and my organizing project it temporarily on hold.  But I have been working on a couple of cool things, so I thought I'd share.

First off, I decided to whip out the needles and do some knitting.  It's nice to have a project that I can work on while I'm curled up on the couch.

I've been wanting to try felting for a while, and it seemed a good idea to start off with something small, so I decided to take a stab at making a felted cuff.  I tend to work more with acrylic blends and cotton yarns as they're easier for me to get ahold of, so my options were somewhat limited.  I went with a ball of Noro Chirimen that I bought a while back just because it was pretty (the reason I buy most of my yarn).  I experienced a bit of label dyslexia, and initially thought that it was 60% wool and 16% cotton.  It's actually the other way around, so I'm not sure how well it will felt.  I also might be making this thing entirely too big, but that's sort of intentional.  I have no idea how much it will shrink when I (try to) felt it, and I figured too big was better than too small.  This is definitely an experimental piece, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

It's already quite pretty, I think.  I love the colors in this yarn, and it's so nice to work with.  I think I'll be buying more the next time I make it to the yarn shop.

I've been doing some more painting this week, as well, though nothing quite as artistic as last week's project.  Nope, this is a more utilitarian project.  

I found myself faced with a bit of a conundrum when I decided to close my first shop and start fresh with a new one.  I had several hundred business cards left from my old shop, and I was going to be needing knew ones.  So I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by using the old ones to make my new ones.  

I painted over both sides with a couple layers of gesso, added a couple coats of green and gold, then experimented with hand-lettering and stamping the shop name.  Here's my favorite:

Obviously, I still need to add the rest of the pertinent information, which I'll probably just write by hand.  Once the informative side is done, I intend to do a quick mini-collage on the back of each card, basically creating an informative ATC.  

Of course, this process is somewhat time consuming, so I'm considering ways to make it quicker.  I might try spray painting the cards rather than painting them all by hand, for instance.  And I'm going to look into getting a custom stamp made for the shop name, and possibly the info, as well.  

So.  What have you been up to this week, folks?  Tell me of your crafty adventures!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Art: Engel der Nacht

Experimenting with collage and mixed media has been at the top of my artistic to-do list for a while now.  Last week, I finally got around to doing it.  After reading about techniques for altering magazine pages in a great book called Exhibition 36, I was eager to try them out.  So I picked up a few necessary supplies, grabbed a canvas, found a magazine page I liked, and set to work.

I used gel medium to adhere the page to the canvas and gesso to block out the parts of the image I wanted to majorly alter.  Then I used a combination of acrylic paint and colored pencils to paint over and recolor the image.  And here's what I wound up with:

Alas, I didn't think to get a picture of the pre-altered page, but it featured a young, brunette woman in pink lingerie and a big, gold heart necklace, cuddling a teddy bear.  So the pose is the only remnant of the original page that remains.  

The biggest challenge was finding something to replace the teddy bear.  It just wouldn't look right without something there.  The phrase "Engel der Nacht" (Angel of Night) popped into my head shortly after I started working on her, and I knew that was what the title of the piece would be, so I took my inspiration from that and decided to add a lovely full moon.  The image was printed separately and adhered with gel medium, then painted to better match the tone of the rest of the image.  

Another challenge I faced was a limited range of colors to work with.  My studio space is still very much a work in progress and many of my supplies are still in boxes.  I searched high and low but couldn't find either of the two full sets of acrylic paints I have, so I decided to make due with the acrylic craft paints that I could find.  I used only three colors for the entire piece - black, gold, and a lovely metallic blue.  

This was my first time working with gel medium, and I have to say, I'm hooked!  I had so much fun experimenting with the different effects it can produce, and I can't wait to play with it more.  

This is a technique I'll definitely be exploring more.  In addition, I've started working on stock for Phantasmagorium - my hopefully-soon-to-be-open shop.  You'll be seeing more about that here and on Tumblr.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Featured Shop: Jewel Renee

I am so excited to introduce you to our next featured shop, Jewel Renee.  You may not know this yet, but I am exceedingly fond of aquatic animals.  Dolphins, whales, tropical fish - and especially octopuses and squids.  So Jewel's amazing aquatic illustrations are right up my alley.

From sea horses...

to seals... 

all of her work perfectly captures the ocean's beauty - its peace and tranquility, its vibrant colors, its variety and vitality. It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think mine are the cuttlefish...

and the jellyfish. 

Fortunately, if you're on a budget, like I am, owning a piece of Jewel's gorgeous art won't break the bank. She offers prints in three sizes, and you can snag a 4 x 6 for just $6.

So be sure to go immerse yourself for a moment and pick up something pretty to adorn your quarters.

And if you are of Regretsy, don't miss the Hellephants!

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