Monday, January 28, 2008

1 of 9 ATCs ::: Arty International yahoo

Earlier this year, just around new year's, I received an invitation from Greta Young of Australia to join a new Arty International yahoo group for mixed media artists to share their art via organized swaps. Greta had participated in some of my swaps in the past and I was looking for the opportunity to be a participant instead of a host, and work with some new artists - and so I happily joined!

I have just finished my first swap pieces for an ATC swap on the group with Greta's theme,"Favourite Thing". We are swapping 9 for 9. I had to think a while and even discuss it with my husband before coming up with what I wanted to do. I finally decided that "art" and making art, mixed media art with fabric, paper & stamping was really my favorite thing, and then off I went.

I started by finding the original fabric & paper collage I had made last summer. Click on the link above to read how I created it. Since making this large fabric/paper collage I had copied it onto both paper and fabric & then used the copies, but I had never used the original. For this swap, I wanted the original for the texture. I cut two long strips off the top & the bottom of the large piece (most of the original piece is still intact) and used matte medium to adhere it to ATC sized cards, made of lightweight card stock. When they were dry, I used rubber stamps with VersaCraft ink to stamp all over each card and spell out my favorite thing. I also used a bit of StazOn ink and Brilliance ink in Gold for the stamping, and some of this was done onto tissue paper and then added to the ATC with more matte medium.

(click on any image for more detail)

When everything was dry I took the cards to my new sewing machine, changed needles to a heavy-duty one (this was thick to sew through) and used a great overcast stitch to finish the edges . . . I am still marveling at this new machine! It's a Brother 60-Stitch Computerized Sewing Machinewow! I love it. I added a bit more stamping until I was satisfied, and then stamped and labeled the backs. They will head off to Australia tomorrow and I look forward to seeing my returns and being part of the Arty International Group. Any questions about it, please contact Greta through her blog -there is a sign-up button there!

See below for a super-size image from my flickr account!!
These ATCs are really only 2.5 x 3.5"!! I've made this ATC into a postage stamp and also put this same design on a Tote bag. Feel free to personalize and order for yourself!

ART1 ATC, originally uploaded by creativelenna.
Yes, it's true. I love to create art - it is one of my favourite things!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cyber Fyber Exhibition - wow!

(close-up of my fiber postcard)
The other day Dawn Sellers - who is hosting the Fabric Book RR I have been participating in, mentioned a call for fiber art, for an exhibit in 2009. My interest was peaked and I went to visit the link Dawn provided to the Cyber Fyber Exhibition. Please follow the link yourself to learn more about this event, but I will tell you briefly that the exhibit is the brainchild of fiber artist Susan Lenz. The focus of this exhibition is to highlight the influences of Internet access for today's fiber artists. Susan Lenz has created many, many fiber ATCs (about 130) and fiber postcards (about 160) to trade with any artist who is at least 18 years of age with an active blog or profile. She has all the instructions on the Cyber Fyber Blog, where you can also follow a link to view all of the fiber postcards & ATCs available to trade that Susan has made! The ATC or postcard that you send in to trade with Susan will become part of the cyber fyber exhibit in January of 2009. This is really a cool idea and I was really excited to support it! My own art and the internet truly go hand in hand, so I really wanted to be a part of this exhibition. I followed the instructions on the blog and waited to hear. Even though the official opening of the cyberfyber site is not until February 2nd, Susan wrote to me today and said, "Although I haven't "officially" announced CYBER FYBER, I cannot refuse your offer to trade!" Wow - : ^) yay!

The first thing I created was a fabric ATC (click on any photo for more detail). I choose some batik fabric I liked and some batting to match and cut them to size (2.5 x 3.5"). I also grabbed some dyed cheesecloth that was in my fabric bin as it matched my fabric. I wanted to add an image and chose a fabric one from Alpha Stamps -Bathing Beauties #2. I played with the placement of the image and the cheesecloth until I was happy with it and then I glued the fabric image down. I have a new sewing machine (a Brother 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine)and wanted to try the free-motion quilting, so I set that up and used it to secure the dyed cheese cloth in place. If you look closely you can see my stitching all over the cheesecloth!

Next I found some shells I saved from our trip to Sanibel, FL last year and some beads and went to town sewing these embellishments on over the cheesecloth. I added some sequins as well. When I was satisfied the front of my ATC was done, I printed my name and website address onto some muslin with my ink jet printer. I sewed this on my back piece of ATC fabric like a label with a decorative stitch. Then I sandwiched the front of the ATC with the batting together with the back and sewed it all up with a decorative stitch.

For my postcard, I used a piece of olive green upholstery velvet I had leftover from when I recently had a small love seat re-covered. To this I sewed on a small strip of scrapbook paper (on the left) and some sparkly ribbons, using yet two more decorative stitches on my new machine! On top of the ribbons I added a circular collage image of a young woman's face. I glued this paper image from ARTchix studio on top of the velvet & ribbon postcard base. Then I chose a transparency image from the same company from a sheet called Transparent Whimsical Wings. This time I sewed the image on. I also used a decorative machine stitch to sew above the woman's head, directly on the velvet.

For the reverse side, I got out a few rubber stamps and my VersaCraft ink pad.

This needed to be heat set, and I also ironed on another label I made with muslin & my ink jet printer. I used a piece of heavy interfacing in between the 2 pieces and used a new over lock stitch to put the two pieces together. I really had fun doing this although I must say I was challenged to try to do some of my best work for this. I love the way both these "trades" came out! Thanks to Dawn for sharing, and to Susan for doing this!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

love is . . .

This is a 4" x 4" collage that I did for the Bi-weekly art lottery on the ARTchix studio yahoo group. The idea behind this lottery is that you create a small piece of art that uses an ARTchix studio product. Upload it to the yahoo group folder, and the hostess who chose the theme will pick a name from a hat (or somehow randomly). Whoever's name gets picked (one of the participants) wins ALL of the lotto entries! Who ever participated sends their piece to the winner.

It has been a while since I have participated! Some of my past entries are on my webpage. This bi-weekly lottery theme is: "Love is . . ."
I thought about this entry for quite a while before I started working on it. I wanted something meaningful to me to finish the have sentence, "love is . . . ". I talked about it with my husband and he suggested a quote stamp. He asked me, didn't you have a number of love stamps from when you had your own stamp company?? (LennaLines) WHy, YeS! I did, and I found the perfect one - Love is, above all, a gift of oneself. It was easy after that! I looked for ARTchix images that illustrated that quote, cut them out & arranged them on a 4x4 card. When they were all glued down I used a brown water colour crayon to add colour to the edges and small spaces in between the images. Then I added a small bit of metallic gold pen to the edges of the heart and the outside edges. the quote was stamped on tissue paper and then adhered with matte medium, which I also used to cover the whole collage. This was really fun to create. Now we just have to wait until Sunday to see who wins! : )

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Black & Gold ATCs

I created these Black and Gold ATCs for members of the Colour Groupies artist group: Frieda Oxenham, Debby Harriettha, Tristan Robin Blakeman and Caryl Hoobler. Since I know that everyone in the group has received my ATCs, I can share them now. This is a colour combination ATC swap every month for all of 2008. The ATCs are meant to be a surprise so there is no uploading until everyone receives! January's color combo was Black & Gold.
Peggy Gato sent me a marvelous book called Perfect Pairs as a hostess gift for the Valentines Swap. Inside were tons of great B&W photos of favorite movie stars. I copied these onto prepared fabric and then used the fabric to create my ATCs. I added black velvet ribbon from Alpha Stamps and black music notes from the tissue paper Peggy used to wrap the book (thank you!!!). I figured that was enough black and went to look for "gold things". I found a string of gold beads, that I glued in place, gold mesh, gold fabric (looks grey here) fabric & leaves with gold streaks & then I painted on gold lumiere paint. It was so fun to do I made an extra one for myself! : ) what great challenge, Frieda & Debby! Looking forward to more.

Roses for Frieda!

Now that I know she has received it, I thought I would upload the fabric ATC I made for my friend Frieda Oxenham who lives in Scotland -she is an award winning quilt artist and mixed media artist extrordinaire! Frieda & I are both Design Team members for Alpha Stamps, we both belong to the ARTchix studio yahoo group and we are in two artist groups together: Colour Groupies -a small group of 5 artists sharing ATCs monthly on a color theme, and Tip Top Journals - a group of 10 artists sharing tip-in journal pages monthly. Frieda does the hosting & organizing of both of these artist groups (along with Debby Harriettha). We are also both members of the Alpha Stamp yahoo group and recently, I have been participating in a few "inchies" swaps that Frieda is hosting through ATCards - my first time creating them. Wow! Suffice it to say we have a lot of the same interests . . . Frieda posted on her blog recently that she was knitting again -- I thought the yarn she was using looked familiar?? When I checked my knitting bag in the closet - a project abandoned a few years ago, I found I was using the exact same yarn as Frieda was for her scarf - and it's from Uruguay ~ so wild!

I feel very blessed to have as much contact with Frieda as I do & be involved in many of the same projects as she is. A lot of people consider me a prolific artist, but I know Frieda is! I am constantly amazed with the amount and quality of inspiring art that she produces, and most of it is fabric art. When I sent Frieda my Black & Gold Colour Groupies ATC, I slipped in an extra ATC to thank her for all she does (see the rose ATC above-click for more detail).

Since Frieda's theme for her Tip Top Journal is Romance & Roses , I thought she might like a 'rose' fabric ATC. To make this I dried some roses in a microwave flower press. Then I prepared cotton fabric to go through my inkjet printer/copier by ironing it to an adhesive sheet and then taping this to a piece of card stock with masking tape so it would be stiff enough to run through my printer. I took my pressed roses, laid them on the copier and made a color copy directly onto my prepared fabric! I used this as a base for Frieda's ATC, stamped the saying with VersaCraft ink and glued on a string of gold beads.

To finish up, I used my test piece of paper, to which I had color copied the same pressed roses and ripped a section of it to fit on a card and stamped an appropriate saying. Thank you, Frieda!! Looking forward to continued inspiration from you : )

Pen & Ink samples

As a member of the Alpha Stamps Design Team I am given "assignments" of working with new products to create sample artwork. (I know, it's a rough life!) One recent package sent to me included a set of perfectly clear pen & ink stamps. I was busy with other projects (organizing & unpacking my studio) and did not work with these new stamps immediately. So, I was glad when Leslie asked about them - was anyone inspired by these new stamps? I took them out and was impressed! They work so well with a clear acrylic block. You can see right through to your paper or previous work for perfect placement. I really love them! Here is what I have created so far with the new pen & ink clear stamp set:

It's fun that the image on the postage stamp is from an Alpha Stamps Tallulah's collage sheet: Drama Queens

The design is from one of my journal quilts and I created the postage stamp via!

ATC closed-and OPEN! This was created for an ATC Lotto on the newly formed Alpha Stamps yahoo group. Join us for rubber stamping, collage art and general artsy-type discussions, plus swaps & projects!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2007 Journal Quilt update

This is a small photographic "mosaic" I made with fd's flicker toys of all the journal quilts I created in 2007 - wow! You can click on the scan for a larger mosaic picture.

I started creating these last January with a goal of creating one journal quilt a week. In fact, that is what really drove me to start blogging - so I could write about my creating & share it! I started these journal quilts as a personal challenge to keep myself creating regularily & also to make pieces that Steven & I would keep, instead of me sending them away as a swap or a gift. I did that too, but these were specifically for us. I wanted to create 50 journal quilts by the end of the year . . . .

Well, in August we decided we needed to move and put our house up for sale -- it sold in record time & we found our new home and moved - all within about 4 weeks time! Needless to say, my attention was elsewhere after August and through the end of the year. I am so happy I did create about one journal quilt a week for as long as I did. At the end of December I had made twenty-eight - 6" x 6" journal quilt squares!

Today I set up a new sewing machine that I just got last week (whoo whoo!). It's a Brother 60-Stitch Computerized Free-Arm Sewing Machine and so now I am really itching to put these journal quilts all together. I have always wanted to create a large fabric wall hanging and this was my tricky way to do just that. Although, I would like to have each square flip-able, if possible, so the viewer could read the journaling on the back of each piece. I will put my thinking cap on and let you know when I accomplish my goal in full - I will share the finished piece here.

To see all the squares and some of the journal entries close up individually, please visit my journal quilt set on my flicker photo sharing account. To follow the blog posts and writing about the journal quilts I did last year - follow the journal quilt label/tag. Thanks as always for looking! Lenna 1/17/08

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

St. John Journal - 12.20.07 (Thursday)

My husband Steven and I spent a week visiting St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, December 17th-23rd. I kept a journal that week and wanted to share our travels and my thoughts here on my blog. To find the earlier posts (2) follow this link for all the travel journal posts & scroll down! This is the 3rd of 5 entries . . . .

The past two evenings Steven & I have enjoyed watching DVD movies from the home library here at our "villa" as we are now calling it! We have found this a nice and relaxing thing to do with a symphony of frogs and bugs singing outside the window. We have also been cooking dinner at 'home' instead of going out to eat. I remember when Steven first mentioned that we might cook at home while on vacation, I wasn't sure how I felt about that! When I went on vacations previously (unless visiting my parents in Florida) I had dinner out in restaurants instead of cooking in. But, I had to admit to Steven today that I was really enjoying cooking & eating at home. We have had delicious fish, steak, yummy salads, baked potatoes, and I even made my Nonie's shredded carrots! This is a vegetable dish I have been wanting to make for Steven for the longest time, and I just never remembered to do this until now. Carrots were not expensive at the little grocery store we shopped at the other day, and carrots are a good veggie all around, so we bought a bag. We have also enjoyed a super sweet and delicious mango, and a yummy avocado. mmmm!
We fed bits of the mango and some orange juice to the visiting bananaquit birds - that was fun. Click on any photo for a more detailed view. There are also lots of little anole lizards scurrying around, and a stray cat that comes by for food, provided by the owner of the property, who gave us instructions for us to leave food out.

I saw a powder puff tree growing right here in the yard! This is a tropical plant that is exactly the same as one that my ex-husband & I bought from Logee's Tropical Plants in Danielson, CT. It started as a small plant but grew to be a tree very quickly in just a few years -- I am not sure if that is one of the plants John took with him or not. It may not have survived our divorce; I don't have it anymore. Perhaps it is still growing? None the less, it was just amazing to see this same plant/tree growing wild outdoors.
Today Steven and I went to the Annaberg ruins. This is an old Sugar Cane Plantation and factory where slaves worked. The remains of the buildings and the grounds were very interesting, I thought, so I took some photos. I looked up the History later too and will share it here with you . . . . .

After visiting there we walked to Water Lemon Cay; quite a long walk along the shore - longer than Steven remembered! He has visited St. John before and so he already knew different beaches and places he wanted to share with me. He said he was happy to "burn new memories" with me on this island; this is something we have both

done for each other by going to places that were familiar to us with our ex-partners -and instead visiting these places now with each other. It really has been helpful.

Water Lemon Cay was different from Salt Pond Bay, which we went to yesterday. At Water Lemon Cay we went snorkeling and saw a lot of fish; pike and string-rays - who scared me a little, even though I really had no reason to be scared of them. They just look mean and dangerous and I was swimming near them. We saw one starfish, then another, and then we realized there were a whole lot more starfish, nearby on the ocean bottom. Floating on the surface looking down through my mask, it looked like a starfish garden to me; very beautiful and different. And then, we saw a huge sea turtle! He looked like he was flying as he floated through the water moving his flippers, going up. When he reached the surface of the water, he took a breath of air and then dived down into the water again. It was wild!

Yesterday at Salt Pond Bay was different than today because there were less people in the water or on the beach. It was quieter. Yesterday was the first time I had been snorkeling in years & years and so I had to re-learn how to do it. It didn't take too long . . . I had to teach myself to breathe through my mouth ONLY, and when I did, I relaxed and found it very enjoyable to swim alongside Steven. The salt water kept us afloat very easily and with my head half way under water I could hear myself breathing . . . in and out of the tube. I would make myself slow down my breathing in order to relax more and found then I more fully enjoyed the wonder of all I was seeing: all kinds of coral, sea urchins & lots of fish. It felt extremely meditative to me swimming along like that, moving slowly, breathing slowly and taking everything in through my mask.

It is very beautiful here on St. John; tropical waters that are often a shade of turquoise blue, surrounded by green hills. I would almost describe them as small mountains, except that I think they are too small for that. This is definitely a paradise island and I am enjoying it, but I am not in love with it. I do not want to move here! The warm weather is a lovely change for us and simply time spent with Steven is the best part of this vacation. We are funny and perhaps a little unusual in that we can spend inordinate amounts of time together, happily! We can talk + talk + talk + talk -- or we can just be quiet together. We are very well suited for each other! I am enjoying this and relishing it . . . and feeling very grateful right now that we are such a match.

Steven adds this to my journal entry:
"Sitting on a towel in the shade at Water Lenna Cay (I officially re-named it). Sailboats are moored here in the bay and people are snorkeling here and there. We KNOW where the Sea Turtles and String Rays are because every group of snorkelers who see them underwater lift their heads up and yell out to their friends. It's a Turtle Warning System." : )

Here is a drawing that I started and asked Steven to finish (he is so much better at drawing than I am!). . . of Water Lemon/Lenna Cay ~ and he helped me with the perspective around the edge of the water . . . thank you, Steven! xo

Saturday, January 12, 2008

ABR RR - Altered Books Revisited RR

Earlier this week I saw that the Wednesday Stamper site was challenging us to do something with KEYS. That must have been on my mind when I created this altered book page in Linda Bean's Gumshoe Girl themed book, as the stamped keys I used from Acey Ducey were perfect for both! In the ABR RR Linda gave us a challenging theme - at least for me - but when it was all said and done I truly had a blast coming up with ideas!!

I have uploaded a ton of photos of Linda's book to the ABR RR blog, as I was the last person to work in it before sending it home to Linda. The other participants in this RR exchange are: Cynthia Weed, Ann Peterson, Shauna Palmer, Pilar Pollock, myself, & Linda Bean. Please visit the ABR rr blog to view the photos of our books and our pages for each other; I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Inchies (my first)

Hmmmm . . . . what do a box of chocolates have to do with "inchies" you say?? Well, my friend Frieda Oxenham is hosting a 'chocolate' brown inchies swap through ATCards! (This site is closing (02/08), but a new trading site is being set up: ). I had never made an inchie before but Frieda certainly got me interested with all the uploads on her blog and I knew she would be a wonderful hostess . . . so I signed up! There was some talk of real chocolates on the ATCard forum and it gave me an idea. I found a photo of chocolates - and knew I would use it somehow to make my first inchies.

Inchies are just that, 1" square little works of art, fabric or paper. A very small work space! But I did enjoy the challenge. I took the photo and played with the size, testing it on plain paper first. When I got the photo the size I wanted (1-inch chocolates!) I printed it out onto fabric that was already prepared with an adhesive backing. Then I attached the chocolate printed fabric to a piece of fuzzy chocolate brown fleece fabric I had leftover from another project. I sewed with a zig zag stitch around each chocolate in preparation to cut them out.

They seemed like they need more, my inchies. They were just too plain simply printed out onto fabric, so I used brown acrylic paint, prisma glitter and little clear but captivating Iridescent Glass Spheres from Alpha Stamps - I can't get enough of these! Below is what my chocolate inchies looked like after decorating -- click on any photo for a larger more detailed view - note the 2 empty wrappers!

And below still, what my inchies looked like cut up with pinking sheers and ready to be sent to Frieda --

I also signed up for Frieda's Silver Inchies swap . . . I figured if I tried making inchies once, I may as well try again and see what I think! This time I did not use fabric, but a silver duct wrapping tape I got from the hardware store that I have used in altered books before because it is easily tooled. I used the same principal for the inchies, tooling it with a dull pencil., making marks. I started like this below, a full sheet. I attached the duct tape to a piece of cardstock and doodled away:

and my inchies ended up like this!

It was fun, Frieda!
- and a first for me.

Thank you. I look forward to my returns and we'll see what I cook up to do with them to display them : )

Thursday, January 10, 2008

St. John Journal - 12.18.07 (Tuesday)

View of Coral Bay from our porch ~ wow.
I kept a journal while traveling last month to St. John, in the US VI and this is my second entry, written December 18th, 2007. To read the first entry, go here. St. John is the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands and 2/3 of it is a National Park. The only way you can get there is by ferry or boat! We flew to St. Thomas - via Miami, and then we took the Red Hook Ferry. Here's my 2nd journal entry:

My first full day here. It is evening again and I forgot to write yesterday about all the sounds at night. I think it is mostly frogs and bugs but it sounds like (and feels like) you are smack in the middle of a jungle! When I woke up this morning it was so quiet in comparison to the sounds at night. I also woke up to a beautiful view of Coral Bay. I could simply sit up in bed and see the green hills of the islands and the beautiful blue bay.

We ventured out in the morning -- down the extremely washed out and steep ravine of a road that was paved at the very end, but nick-named by us, "the ski jump". A 4-wheel drive vehicle is an absolute must!! I put up with the drive to and from our place because I HAVE TO! We found our way to the 'Love-City' Mini Mart and Steven made sure to say "Good Morning" to the proprietress, keeping in tune with the local customs. We bought coconut bread (cake), two bananas and an orange-carrot juice (no coffee - and we had headaches later to prove it!). Then we had to make our way on the twisty-turny and hilly roads, watching out for donkeys, from Coral Bay to Cruz Bay so we could sign the papers for our rental jeep. The office was closed when we arrived the night before, but they graciously left the keys with the young man who met us at the ferry to guide us through the dark to our cottage.

We didn't feel like doing a lot today after all the traveling to get here, but on the way back from the rental place we stopped at Maho. This is a place, an "Eco-resort" where you stay in tents - huts on a wooden platform - very inexpensively. I was not sure I wanted to go that route when we were planning our vacation (tents, shared community bathrooms) so we choose to rent a guest cottage for the week -- and upon arrival we were given the whole house because of a cancellation! But I did want to check Maho out and see what it was like. Since we were driving right by on the way back, we stopped. Again, we faced another terribly steep driveway, up to Maho!

made it up the road just fine, parked the jeep and the first thing we came to was the Pavilion/eating area. It has the most beautiful view of the Bay below. Click on any photo for a more detailed view.

Next, we walked on the boardwalk paths that meander through Maho and I checked out an empty tent to see what it was like! The living quarters really did not seem bad at all and the walkway through the "jungle" was really enchanting.

Steven & I continued down the boardwalk steps all the way to the beach which was really quite lovely and private. Of course that meant we had to walk back UP!! I wasn't used to all those stairs and had to stop and rest here and there, but it really wasn't all that bad. In fact, I liked it there; I surprised myself!
We got back on the road - winding back and forth and back and fort, driving ON THE LEFT! We made our way back to coral bay and the 'Love City' Mini Mart for provisions for our cottage/house. We bought fresh frozen fish & steak, potatoes, salad makings, 2 bottles of wine, milk, butter and cheese, fresh bread, frozen vegetables, a fresh sweet mango, and more for $130.00!! But, we figured this would be a lot less money than if we were to eat out at restaurants - and cooking ourselves proved to be much more fun! We finished the day by making dinner and watching a DVD movie in the living room (no cable). Wonderful!!      

by Lenna, as written in St. John on 12.18.07 - the 2nd of 5 journal entries.