Thursday, December 26, 2013

Winter Osage Oranges

I thought I was done posting for the year but when I drove by this tree the other day and saw these beauties laying on the ground I couldn't help myself.  I didn't think it was possible but they are even more beautiful now than they were in the fall.  From a distance they might appear to be slowly rotting fruit but if you take a closer look they are amazingly gorgeous!. 

Walking among these aging fruits at the end of December made me think it's not so bad to enter into the new year.  Although we don't often welcome the signs of age I like to think each year we are all slowly turning a more fabulous shade of amber.   Wishing you a very Happy New Year filled with peace, joy, and beautiful color!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Acorn Linocut - Printmaking

For our final project in printmaking we were free to choose whatever technique we wanted from those we learned in the course, including embossing, collagraph, linocut, woodcut, monotype, and intaglio.  I decided to carve this acorn from a Christmas card drawing I did a few years ago out of safety-cut.  I love this material because it is easy to carve (my friend calls it butter-cut).  The only drawback was I had to hand press it with a spoon because I didn't have good luck running it through the press (the paper shifted unreliably).

I wish I had taken some process photos but I was lucky to just complete the project.  The first thing I did was carve the background and then print the gold color.  This created the background you see here and a solid gold acorn shape.  I then carved the "fingers" where I wanted to reveal the gold, created a stencil in the shape of the acorn to protect the background, and printed the brown.    I then carved where I wanted to reveal the brown and printed the black (again using the stencil so as not to print over the background).  The process is interesting because you have to think backwards.

As you can see below I printed eight copies.  I was trying to use the press at first but was having registration problems so I resorted to hand burnishing with a spoon.  If I became a print-maker full time I think I would have very strong arms.

After I finished printing the color versions I printed four black and white versions.

Below you can see the final safety-cut plate.  You have to carve the reverse of how you want the image to print.  This is very important to consider if you have text in your image. 

I wanted to take the photo with the Speedball linoleum cutter but I turned it in already so I put a pencil in for scale.

This is a close-up of the plate. 

Overall this was my favorite technique we learned this semester.  I like it because it is easy to carve but also because I can do it at home without a press.  Hopefully you will see more of this to come in the new year.  I am not sure if I will be posting more this year so I wish everyone a very Happy Holiday and Happy New Year!!!

If you are interested in purchasing a print visit

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bird Boat Woodcut

A while back I came across a poem online entitled, "Tossing the Oars"  by Chuck Surface. The poem talked about different ways of sailing... some sail by using the wind, others use a rudder and map, and others row like madmen.  But the author chose to surrender.

I took down sail, unlatched rudder and oars,
And threw all into the Vastness.

I loved these lines and tucked them away in my memory.  Last month I was doing some doodles for printmaking and when I looked down at the sketch I remembered that poem and realized it had come out of me in visual form. When I finished the piece I think some people thought it was a little depressing or sad but I explained to them that the girl in the boat was quite content.  Perhaps my woodcutting skills are not quite there yet but I wanted the expression on the girl's face to be one of peaceful content.  What more could a girl ask for than to go on an adventure with her cat in her trusty bird boat?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


When I first saw this vegetable in our CSA bag I did a double-take.  "What the heck is that?" I asked.  It turns out it is called Romanesco, or Romanesque cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli and its scientific name is Brassica oleracea. But forget about the name...look at its shape!  Its flower buds form a natural fractal and according to Wikipedia the number of spirals on the head is also a Fibonacci number.

I just finished reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and in the book they talk about the old theory that food that looks like a body part will help that body part (i.e. walnuts look like mini-brains and are therefore good for your brain).  The scientist in me is not so sure of this idea, but if it's true imagine what this is going to do for my inner spirals!  If ever there were a magical vegetable surely this is it.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Gourds

I know I have been overloading you with gourds this month but I won't torture you much longer because the gourds are starting to rot.  I figured Thanksgiving was the last day I could still reasonably post about them so here we are. 

As I am sitting here looking at these photos I was trying to figure out why I love gourds so much.  I think the reason I like the ribbed ones best is it appears that if it weren't for the ribs holding everything in they might very well burst open with joy.  It also occurred to me how lucky I am to have the time to ponder such things and how grateful I am to share this with all of you.  Hoping everyone has a very special day today  - Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Corn Embroidery Thanksgiving Card

I so enjoyed making my Halloween embroidered card I had to try it again for Thanksgiving.  Some times I get an idea in my head and I have to enact it.  That doesn't mean it always works out, but it feels good to come up with an idea and at least attempt to make it a reality. 

I started out by making an illustration of corn in Illustrator and marking where I wanted to punch holes.  I then taped my guide to the cardstock and started hammering.

About halfway through punching all the holes I started to lose faith and simultaneously started questioning my sanity.  It was a lot of holes to punch.

But I usually pass the point where I have invested too much time to stop so I just keep plugging away. I did worry that my holes on the small kernels were too close together and they would break into each other and ruin the whole thing.  So I wasn't surprised when it happened but luckily there must have been enough cardboard somewhere to hold the thread.  Oh, the perils of crafting!

If the hours of pounding and peril do not deter you and you would like to make this card, fear not!  I have made you a template with instructions that you can download here.

When I finally finished I really loved the multi-colored corn kernels but I don't know if the burlap was the best fabric choice for the husks.  If I had to do it over again I might use a nice tan linen and would eliminate the smaller side husk.  But thank goodness I don't have to do it over again!  But feel free to download the pattern, alter it as you see fit, and make one yourself.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Gourd Color

“Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? - Pablo Picasso 

One of my favorite color combinations is grey-blue and orange.  So when I was playing around with various gourd arrangements I fell in love with this one.  There is something about the neutral white and grey-blue that does indeed make the orange sing.  I could spend hours looking at different color combinations and thinking about how one color affects another.  If you haven't already visited Adobe's new color wheel site you can visit it here -  It allows you to choose various color rules to produce five color combinations.  Enjoy and have a day filled with beautiful color!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Antiques Warehouse - Cincinnati, OH

Because I had my dates wrong I ended up going to the Antiques Warehouse twice last month.  And what good fortune that turned out to be!  I can't get enough of it.  Every time I go I see something new and it is so much fun to photograph the collections.  Gary Neltner, the owner, is nice enough to indulge my habit and allows me to rummage around, oohing and aahing and making random arrangements. 

As I look through these photos I am starting to realize there is something amazing to be found among these objects.  Under the dust and deep in the shadows I am finding my passion. I am super-crazy-in-love with photographing
rusty metal, peeling paint on wood and vintage curiosities. This trip was an eclectic mix of wagon wheels, a beautiful assortment of hammerheads, tramp art, plastic knobs, antique weights, old castors and wood baubles, and antique lighting. By the end of our tour I am usually covered in dust from laying on the floor but I couldn't be happier.

"Don’t ask what the world needs. 
Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. 
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." 

-Howard Thurman

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gourd Photography

Gourds are some of my favorite things in the world to photograph so I have decided to feature them throughout the month.  I am crazy in love with them.  Their shapes are so perfectly curvy and I especially love the kind with deep ridges.  And don't get me started on the colors!  In my next gourd post I will focus on color so check back soon.  Happy November everyone!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween Embroidered Card

At 11 o'clock Monday night I got a bee in my bonnet that I was going to make my mom an embroidered Halloween card.  I did a quick sketch, drew lines where I wanted the thread to be and marked where I should poke holes through my paper.  By 11:45 I was hammering a gazillion holes.  Luckily George is a night owl like myself, although I think Sunshine (our cat) was annoyed.  I stayed up until one sewing that night and woke up early the next morning and started up again.

I had a big printmaking project due on Wednesday but I just couldn't stop myself.  And to make it worse I kept coming up with more ideas to make it harder.  Originally I was going to glue matching paper to the back, but then I realized I could sew a card to the back - and while I was at it, why not sew a "Happy Halloween" in there?  Aaaargh!  Sometimes I drive myself crazy! But my mom always sends the best Halloween cards and I wanted her to enjoy opening a super fun card too. I put it in the mail yesterday so hopefully she will get it today or tomorrow.  Happy Halloween everyone!  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vintage Light Cages - Antiques Warehouse, Cincinnati

Sometimes when I visit Gary at the Antiques Warehouse I find it hard to focus on one thing.  But when I spied a basket of vintage light cages I knew exactly what I wanted to photograph.  I am madly, crazy in love with these light cages.  Just look at the detail in them!  I have already spent way too much time dreaming about taking down the chandelier over my dining room table and creating a beautiful light centerpiece made of hanging vintage light cages.  It would be so lovely.

OK, I know that isn't a vintage light cage above, but I was so mesmerized by all the swirling metal that I couldn't resist taking a picture of this half-rusted egg strainer.  It was in the basket with the light cages and was just begging to have its photo taken with the others. 

I'm headed over to Gary's again today so check back again soon for more vintage treats!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vintage Light Fixtures - Antiques Warehouse, Cincinnati

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Gary Neltner and Al at the Antiques Warehouse.  It is always so much fun to walk through the warehouse and see what catches your eye.  I think you could walk through it a thousand times and each time you would see something different.  The amazing thing is I think Gary knows where everything is...from doorknobs and faucet handles down to the smallest cabinet hinges and buttons.  I guess you could call it organized chaos.

At first I was randomly collecting a few things to photograph (above), but then my friend John found a box of old flush mount light fixtures that had gorgeous details (below).  And the way the light was falling on them was really wonderful. 

And there was something so simple and lovely about the light socket above.  Although it is the most mundane of objects if you take time with it you start to realize it really is quite beautiful. I know, I know...I always say the same thing.  But it's true!  So on that note I will leave you with a wonderful quote by Leonard Koren:

"... beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.”