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!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Featured Shop: Ant's Pottery

One of my favorite thing about being involved in the crafty community is seeing all of the unique and beautiful things my fellow crafty folks create.  It never ceases to amaze me how diverse the craft world is.  There truly is something for absolutely everyone.

Ant's Pottery provides truly gorgeous handmade pottery to fulfill a variety of purposes.  From the decorative, such as this beautiful corset-bedecked vase...

to the useful, such as this lovely stoneware tumbler.

But Ant's specialty is pagan pottery.  From cauldrons...

to totems...

Any altar would be a bit more beautiful with one of Ant's works gracing it.

There's much more to see, so be sure to pay Ant's shop a visit and pick up a piece of handcrafted goodness for your home, hearth, or altar.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Organization by the Book: Week 3

How did last week go?  Quite well!  The task was to organize my schedule, and while my day-to-day schedule was already pretty well organized, my more long-term to-do's needed a bit of attention.  I made myself a master list of Things to Get Done and prioritized it, and just getting that accomplished made me feel much better.  I put some of the big items in my planner, and I'm going to put some of the more urgent items on my dry erase board once I decide on a nicely visible home for it, so I'll see it every day and remember to work on those things.  In sight, in mind, I hope.

This week's goal:
Organize my cleaning schedule.  This is another goal I've already got a bit of a jump on.  I've been working on tidying up one room each day during the week, and it's been going pretty well.  I've made pretty good progress conquering the post-move-in chaos and clutter.  Now I just need to work on scheduling tasks like sweeping, dusting, and other actual cleaning tasks.

I'll probably make myself a To Do list for each room with things to do each week, each month, etc.  I might even make it pretty and share it here, depending on how industrious I feel.

In the meantime, there's one big tip from the book that I'd like to share.  Whenever you're cleaning, carry a basket with you and when you come across something that doesn't belong in that room, just toss it in the basket and put back where it belongs later.  I decided to put this into practice when I first saw the idea whilst flipping through the book, and simple as it is, this really makes a difference.  You don't waste valuable cleaning time running around the house to put things away, but you don't run the risk of forgetting about those little out-of-place items either.  Genius!

So now it's your turn, readers.  Got any clever cleaning tips for me?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Organizing Update + Drawing Challenge

Hi, folks!  You may remember last week's post about my plan to get organized.  Well, week one went pretty well.  I did some journaling and gave myself some "me" time and generally accomplished most of my goals for the week.  The only thing I didn't manage was finding time to exercise.  My plan was to get up early and go for a walk, but I was feeling a bit under the weather most of the week (thanks, weather) so that didn't happen.  But I'm not giving up!  I'm going to keep working on it.

This week is all about organizing my schedule.  I've been sort of organized in this area for a while, so it's nice to  get down to it and really get a handle on things.  I've started one big To Do list of everything I need to do, and I have to say, it felt great to put all of that down on paper and get it out of my head.  If I'd known just writing things down would make me feel that much better, I'd have done it a long time ago.

Now, then.  In other, more creative news, I've taken on another challenge.  I came across this 30 Day Drawing Challenge a few months ago, and with all the business of the end of the year out of the way, I decided to give it a shot.

I always loved drawing, but I never felt like I was very good at it, so I got discouraged rather easily.  Eventually it got to the point where I rarely even attempted it.  Lately, however, I've been meaning to pick it up again and try to just enjoy the process without worrying too much about whether or not my drawings were any good.  So the challenge was the perfect thing to give me a jumpstart.  I started yesterday, and I have to say, I'm quite pleased with my first two drawings.

Both were cleaned up and colored in Photoshop because I just couldn't resist.  I can't guarantee I'll upload everything I draw this month, but I'll certainly post my favorites at least.  

Anyone else done any drawing lately?  I'd love to see your work! 

Note:  You may have noticed my drawing are marked with a Tumblr URL.  That's because I posted them on my new crafty Tumblr too!  If you're on Tumblr come follow me at!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Organization by the Book: Week One

Happy New Year, Folks!  I know it's a bit belated, but it still applies, right?  I hope everyone had a great holiday and you're all enjoying the start of a new year!

I've never really been one for New Year's resolutions, but this does seem to be the perfect time of year to start a new project.  And I've recently found myself with some extra motivation to get things organized, so I've decided to start a big organization project.

A few months ago, we picked up a book called Organize Now! by Jennifer Ford Berry.  A lot of organizing books seem to use a whole lot of extra words just to say, "Get rid of stuff."  So finding a book that does not beat you over the head with the idea that 90% of what you own is crap and you should just get rid of it and stop being so damned sentimental was quite refreshing.  Equally refreshing is the fact that the book itself is so well organized (imagine that!).

Organize Now! focuses on one area of your life each week and gives you a handy checklist of goals to try and accomplish in that week, as well as tasks to do periodically in order to stay organized.  It is, hands down, the single most practical and useful book of its kind that I have ever laid eyes on.

I've been dying to start working my way through it since we got it, but I've waited because I felt like we ought to finish unpacking things and get settled in a bit better first.  Now we've done that and the holidays are over, it's a new year, and there seems to be no better time.

So here I am.  Day 1.  This week is pretty easy.  It's all about organizing your mind, and I've already done/am doing several of the things on the list.  For instance, I generally get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  I write out a quick To Do list every morning - if not the night before.  And I started a journal a few months ago (which I lost track of for a while and serendipitously found this afternoon).  The biggest task for me is going to be scheduling time to exercise.

Ideally, I would like to get up early enough to do some walking with Miss Kitty before she has to leave for work.  We've discovered that it's doable - it's just a matter of actually doing it and getting into the habit.

As a bit of extra motivation now and throughout the rest of this challenge, I'll be sharing my progress with you, my dear readers.  So I'll let you know next week how the whole exercising thing went, as well as getting back into the swing of journaling.  Wish me luck!

What new projects are you going to tackle this year?  Leave a comment and let me know!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...