Sunday, December 27, 2009

Going Out To See the World

Just getting my last things together for our trip to Spain, France and Morocco and suddenly I think of things like bringing business cards. Of course I don't have any of that nice perforated cardstock specifically for business cards on hand so some nice lightweight paper, hand cut will have to do.

Then at the last minute I realize that I haven't thought of a suitable journal to bring. These days I'm thinking a simple wirebound pad isn't good enough after all of the wonderful altered art journals I've been perusing lately.

I've been amassing many weathered tomes but most of them have content that's too good to write over and I'm thinking that one that's more blank will be better. I found a red vinyl covered accounting book that was just a bit too utilitarian looking. If I cut the vinyl off I'd have some nice cardboard pieces to embellish underneath. Unfortunately I cut too much off and the cardboard wanted to fall out. Then I had a choice between red or silver duct tape. So the book regained the red background again but with a tad more funky texture. I found a nice vintage page from a children's book to dress it up.

I know it's fairly simplistic for an art journal but it will do in a pinch. Hopefully the interior will flourish with my entries.

With my husband's new Eee PC that he got for Christmas I won't have to lug my laptop around and hope to be able to blog some on the trip. I should have lots to show and share.!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pretty Exalted Girl and Benign Girl

Kind of a funny Christmas this year. We're rather far from our family members and our local friends are out of town. We had our festivities already with a party over the weekend. My friend Rosalie surprised me with a gift of an antique porcelain doll head which was funny because she hadn't read my blog and and we were out of touch enough for her not to have any idea that I had begun collecting them. When I showed her the collection she then lavished me with several more pieces!

We took a jaunt out to our new property on a fine sunny day, exploring the nearby trashed out shack and found the most wonderful pile of partially painted and nicely rusted metal tiles that will make perfect little canvases for altered art pieces.

When I find myself in new places for the holidays I like to create new traditions. Last year
we had stopped in the border town of Douglas. My favorite thing is to go through the Mexican style dollar stores that have mariachi music blasting out on the sidewalks and throngs of people that have come over the border for their Christmas shopping. Two thirds of the license plates on the street seemed to be from Sonora. It was on our way home so I suggested that we stroll through again this year.

Rosalie and I got such a kick out of "Pretty Exalted Girl" doll that we each couldn't resist buying one.
The funny thing is that most of the goods are from China but they don't have the typical dollar store assortments. I just couldn't resist a couple of these 99 cent toys with their botched translation labels. I'm sure I'll find a use for the Mother Mary earrings in some project or another.

We finished our festive jaunt in the Saddle and Spur Tavern of the historic Gadsden Hotel.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Show Stoppers

Almost forgot to put up the pictures of the Lea & Perrins glass bottle stoppers.

And the glass head. I'm not sure if the head was from a stopper or a doll. I'm thinking it was from a stopper.

Alternative to the Dollar Store

Wouldn't you trade cashmere and suede for these?

The Dolls of St. David

Dollar Store Dream

Ah, the dollar store. It promises too much. I hadn't run across them being isolated in Alaska where they haven't yet overrun. I think they tried a $1.50 store in Fairbanks but that kind of loses it's luster in it's disclosure. I remember being quite excited my first visit to a dollar store in the States but quickly have become disenchanted with the offerings. I'm wondering, do Europeans have Euro Stores now?

What I'd really like to talk about is my fantasy Dollar Store. I do believe I've found places that you can actually get a good deal for a dollar. I was perusing an antique store in Bisbee, Arizona and found a box or two in the dusty basement chock full of ephemera for a buck a piece. I practically needed a drool bucket nearby so as not to drench the precious papers. I allotted myself $30 or so. There were a few pieces that were less than pristine, wonderfully dog-eared actually so I took it upon myself to ask the owner if he would consider 50 cents a piece on some of them. To my delight he added up the whole bunch and gave them all to me for that!

Then the other day on our way to Tucson for a shopping trip we stopped in St. David, a quaint little Mormon town along the way. This is the shop that I found porcelain doll parts of different
sorts. Some quite patinated with dirt but others in fairly good shape. The clear glass head was definitely one of the best scores. the lady behind the counter wished that she had seen it first!
Also they had Lea & Perrins Worcestershire glass stoppers, some with a delicate dichroic patina and iridescence. Imagine, 3 for a dollar!

My other good score of the week was when a friend had given me a pile of clothes to go through. My friend Rosalie gifted me suede jackets and cashmere sweaters in abundance.
She told me that any I didn't want could go to the local thrift store for a credit exchange for future purchases. I held on to several pieces that might upgrade my wardrobe to the dressier standard that I expect to experience on our upcoming Spain trip. I kept the black suede jacket and several other cashmere pieces. I subscribe to a very informal, casual (maybe even ratty) Alaskan standard of dressing which means my dressing up translates to just a bit shabby by international standards. I mean I've seen gals in spike heels trotting about on cobblestone in places like Estonia, Latvia and Cuba. I'm flat-foot Crocs and Chaco sandals all the way.

Unfortunately I couldn't abide the fuchsia suede coat or the neon peachy cashmere sweater ( it brought out an awful tone of my skin) I marched down to Penny Lane thrift store here in Warren and traded for the most lovely old distressed door locks and door plates.

Now you're beginning to see where my priorities lie. Trading in suede and cashmere for vintage thingamajiggies!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UFO's - Un Finished Objects

This is a reliquary of objects found on the nearby migrant trails close to my house. We're quite close to the Mexican border.

I think I'm going to capture this colibri in a frame

I got this bread box at the thrift store and I'm decoupaging images from an old social studies and a physics book. Needs a special knob I think.

I had been reading Altered Bits blog about her huge list of unfinished projects and had to analyze my own pile of unfinished projects.

As a lampworker/beadmaker I'm accustomed to quite short projects of under 30 minutes each although I usually dedicate an afternoon to the torch up to four hour stretches, max. I find I need to take a 10 to 30 minute break every hour as it is quite a focused sort of craft when actually torching. These breaks are the perfect time to have some ice tea on the patio or check in on my internet goings on.

Lately though it seems since my retirement and my snowbird seasons in Arizona I am incredibly drawn to the altered art and collage and working with found objects since there's such a wealth of resources for cool stuff either in thrift stores or on the ground as I rummage about. It was harder in Alaska as far as the easy fabulous finds go. People tend to hang on to their stuff and there just isn't the population base that you have in the States.

Since my retirement I have come to look upon my bead and jewelry designing business as my "real job" and my hobby is the assemblage/collecting/ altered art. In reality they are all melding together in a wonderful flow of expression for me.

The collage and decoupage projects are the ones that are tending to be in a state of evolving.....OK, OK, they're just not finished! Some I started last winter when we were here.
We were so inundated with visitors from the northland that wanted to taste our Arizona sunshine that my creativity took a back seat to entertaining. Oh, and then the little matter of my folks coming to visit and my father's heart attack and ensuing quadruple bypass on the last day of their visit. Actually one of the reasons I took an early retirement was to have more flexibility in caring for my aging parents. How convenient of them to have the crisis at my warm sunny Arizona abode rather than cold and wintry New England.

My friend PJ that's a member of the Bisbee Fiber Arts Guild says that they call the unfinished projects UFO's for Un-Finished-Objects.

Here are a few of my own UFO's-

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beadness & Badness

Picking up pieces and scraps of glass and silver from the table

Nuggets with copper and silver reactive glass

December Focals

Somehow time slipped away between visitors and other projects and I realized that weeks have gone by since I had been in the glass studio. I had run out of oxygen and am lucky to have it conveniently an affordably delivered right to my studio. Well, several yards way from it anyway. I have to get my husband to place it up on it's perch next to the house. Those tanks are super heavy.

I finally have a day that I'm pumped up to get back in to make beads. Dave had hooked up the bottle for me, something that I'm accustomed to doing myself. When I open the tank there emits a strange clicking noise at the regulator that I've never heard before. It kind of freaks me out as I'm wary of oxygen bottles and the pressure behind them and I know enough to steer clear of the regulator when opening. it. Just to be sure I disconnect it all and re-hook it all up again.

I go into the studio and light up the torch. This time the weirdness is occurring at the torch head and I get blasts of air popping intermittently (or absence of oxygen, I'm not sure which)
definitely worrisome and it makes me wonder if it's my flashback arrestors activating which means there's explosions in the line being quelled or something like that.

I've got no one around to allay my fears about what's going on at this point so I have to quit the whole idea of making any beads until I get this sorted out. I'm not even exactly sure who to ask except perhaps the Car Quest guys that delivered the oxygen. I call them up and the guy that most likely knows anything about oxygen bottles or regulators is out for the next few days so I'm dead in the water as far as making beads. A good time to regroup and go thrift shopping!

It's only a couple of days later and we stop into Car Quest just in case someone may be able to help me figure out what's going on. Johnny, the man behind the counter was so helpful and reassured me that it sounded like it was in the regulator and had nothing to do with the flashback arrestors. He thought that it was diaphragm failure and that I was pregnant. (just seeing if you're paying attention!)
No, he actually thought that the diaphragm was sticking and that it just needed a good blast of pressure unlit with the torch open. He told me to kind of flush it out a couple of times this way and then try it. It worked and I'm back in business!
I used copper red and copper green Effetre glass as well as some bits of Double Helix and Kugler and Dali Lama TAG glass, all with reactive metallics that give more of the ethereal effects that I love so much. I only use these as embellishments and not as a base. at $80 a lb. I like to use them as surface applications to maximize usage for the most bang for the buck.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Winners!

The first prize winner of the Madeleine Tin Ornament in my giveaway is Trudy Callan of Artistic Creations With Trudy who thoughtfully went through each post and commented on each and every one of them.

Because this was my first giveaway I hadn't realized the magnitude of what I was requiring. It didn't seem that it was that long ago that I had started up this blog and that it added up to so many entries. (pat, pat on the back to me! - my old blog fell by the wayside and into oblivion) Next time I won't have such a stringent requirement and hope that it will be easier and less work.

All current followers were entered into the second prize drawing of the box of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From My Brother's Travel Collection

Front Side

Back side

My artistic brother recently gifted me with a pile of his own ephemera dating back to the early 70's from his extensive travels. I decided that the fitting first project would be to gift it back to him in the form of a collaged/decoupaged tin. Tickets and stubs, decorative cigarette packages and a couple of his passport photos make up the front and a baggage claim ticket, airline ticket and security fee slip make up the back.

Image of Christmas Past

I was enjoying Altered Bits Blog about her collaboration on an art project with her young son.

Yesterday as we were trimming the tree I found this Santa Claus ornament that my young artistic son had made over 20 years ago and wanted to share it with you. It always makes me smile when I find it each year. I guess it qualifies as vintage since it's over 20 years old!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Give-Away from NuminosityBeads

I've decided to do a Christmas giveaway to help my little pinpoint of light in the blogoshpere to radiate outwards just a speck more and promote readership and involvement to spur me on to sharing ever more of my creative process. So it will become a literal sharing of my work if you are the lucky winner.

What I'd like to propose is that anyone that posts a comment on each of my posts thus far will be eligible for one of my Christmas ornaments similar to the ones in my last post. ( I have several more as well) If you become a follower you are also eligible for the second prize which is a box of Trader Joes's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. Current followers are already eligible for second prize.

Prizes will be randomly and fairly drawn from a hat by my unbiased and unbribable husband.
I will need to contact you for an address if you are a winner.

Drawing will take place on Dec 9th.


I've been holding on to these madeleine molds for awhile now. I was thinking along the lines of some Our Lady of Guadelupe shrines but instead I opted to make these Christmas ornaments.
The tins I picked up in an antique shop in Maine on one of my forays while visiting the folks.
They're nicely tarnished and bear the stamp Made in Germany. I had picked up a book at a thrift store with some great plates of reproductions of stained glass from the Chapel of Konigsfelden in Switzerland from the early fourteenth century. I allowed myself to cut up some of the smaller images. the larger plates I saved for reselling or bigger projects. I also had some Christmas cards that I had picked up at a thrift store here that I used. Now all I need to do to finish up is to put some hangers on them and they'll be ready to go.