Monday, November 24, 2008

Collage class (11/16/08) and catching up!

Gosh, where does the time go?
I almost could not believe it when I looked at this blog today, and saw it had been 2 weeks since my last post! Things may continue to be that way for a while . . . even though I'm still busy creating, it could take a while for me just to catch up and upload photos of what's been going on! These days I am putting in a number of hours each week at Stonewall Kitchen in Avon, CT for the Holidays, which shortens my time for everything else I like to do . . . . Although, I do really enjoy working there! Yummy, yummy food, great people, and all-around nice place to work.

So then, what are all the photos here in this post?? The photos you see here are from a collage on canvas techniques class I taught that was held in my home studio in Avon, CT on November 16, 2008. Click on any photo for more details. Usually I am much speedier in getting class photos uploaded to my blog; but not this time! Below you will see a wonderful photo or two of Joyce Adomaitis, my only student in class on that day. Having just one student made for a very relaxing class, and we certainly enjoyed ourselves! During class we went over various techniques to cover a blank canvas - using baking soda, rubbing alcohol, masking tape, salt, tissue paper, plastic wrap, and more - to create backgrounds with acrylic paints.

-- Joyce's collage to the left in progress, just lovely! Joyce wrote me an e-mail after class:

Thank you for making the class such a wonderful experience-it was a pleasure meeting you. I received so many compliments on my creations, and it was great to have a finished piece at the end of class. Please keep me on you email list when you open up additional classes.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday with your family-hope to see you in the new year!

The class was was great fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I do have a few more classes scheduled. Here are the dates:

*Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008: Painting & Stamping Silk Scarves 10:00am-1:30pm

*Saturday, December 6th, 2008: Painting & Stamping Silk Scarves 10:00am-1:30pm

Wednesday, January 14th (New Date to be announced!): The Star Book 10am-4pm

*Saturday, February 7th, 2009: The Accordion Fabric Panel Book 10am-4pm

Please E-mail me with any questions or to register for any of these classes.
yours, creatively, Lenna

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fabric Collage for prize giveaway : )

This is the fabric collage I made specifically for the 'giveaway' I am currently holding on my creative swaps blog in celebration of writing 500 posts there! I thought I would show the collage off more in detail here on this blog, and tell a little bit of how I created it, below.

On November 22nd, I picked
the winners
for the give-away and my student and swap participant Barbara Roberts won this fabric collage. It was wonderful to receive Barbara's reply to my announcement email:

Hi Lenna, I couldn't believe it when I saw my name. I saw the first 3 names and thought --Oh I didn't win, then I saw more winners and still not me, and low and behold there I was at the bottom --the grand prize winner!! I almost fell out of my chair. I called out to my son and let him find my name on the screen. I am so honored to be able to have the fabric collage you created for this occasion! It will be loved. Your fabric book class I took a few years ago opened up a whole new world for me and I will always remember you for that.
Thank you!
Barbara in Ft. Walton Beach, FL

How I created this collage: First, I gathered fabrics that were appealing to me. I had spied the blue, bubbly fabric on the left earlier in the week and had put it at the top of the fabric pile so I could find it again. The dark purple fabric is actually in the same pattern but a different color -someone gave me this piece in one of the swaps.

On the right is a greenish-blue fabric I colored myself with Dye-Na-Flow as part of my Fabric Stamping & Painting class prep work. I stamped that fabric with purple VersaCraft ink as I was putting this collage together. I used a little chicken scratch stamp from Magenta and heat set the stamping with an iron after drying it with my heat gun. The denim material in the middle is an old swatch from a pair of Steven's worn out jeans that already had the fabric patch sewed on - I stamped this as well with the words "Art is just another way of keeping a diary". (click on the photo for more detail).

Then, I put these fabrics together in a way that looked pleasing to my eye, like a patchwork, and then found a piece of fusible interfacing to iron to the back of all the fabrics and hold them together. My idea was that this would keep the pieces together until I got a chance to sew them together. Instead of using batting and another piece of fabric for the back of this piece, I opted to use a piece of thick blue felt. I peeled the paper off the back of the fusible interfacing which was stuck to the patched fabrics and ironed the felt to the other sticky side. When I stitched the various fabrics together later, it created a great pattern on the back of the piece that shows.

I had just finished teaching an image transfer class prior to making this, and so the first addition to this fabric collage was the transfer of a woman's face, somewhat incomplete, to the main fabrics. I used a decorative, almost button-hole stitch to sew it in place, and before I completed all the seams around this transfer, I stuffed a bit of the leftover felt inside to make the image more dimensional. Next, I used decorative stitches to sew down all the raw fabric edges where any 2 fabrics met up and lastly around the edges of the entire piece. I chose a leaf stitch to free hand stitch all around the collage; you can see the pattern I did best from the back of the piece... I do love that stitch!

I wanted to add some other things to this because the piece did not look finished to me. I wondered if any trims would work? I found a small scrap in just the right colours and size and added it to the top (this seems to happen a lot). Then, I considered skeleton leaves, having used them recently with my students in a collage class. I found I liked using a combination of a maroon leaf and two gold leaves by 'trying them out' - placing them down and seeing what they looked like on the fabric collage before using any glue. Tacky glue was a good choice for these once I decided to add them as it dries clear. I 'audition' items like this a lot when I am working.

Lastly, I decided to add shells to this piece. I think there was a small bag of shells in one of my collage boxes which gave me the idea -this was not in my plans originally. I have a larger stash of shells that we have collected laid out on a tray on a shelf. I retrieved it and did more 'auditioning'! I settled on 6 different kinds of shells in different sizes and shapes and added them to the collage with Goop Glue. My favorite on this piece is the large Abalone shell Steven & I picked up off the beach while visiting Sanibel Island, FL. I sprinkled a little bit of iridescent glitter over the piece and it was caught where the glue was still exposed and wet around the shells. I signed my name and smiled.

It felt really good to me, even though I was quite busy that day, to create this piece. I enjoyed working with fabric again and following my typical process of gathering items and jumping in to start creating. I talk about this process with my husband Steven a lot - how it seems rather odd that I rarely have a formal plan when I start to create something. Instead, I start with an idea or certain materials and I make myself start doing something because as always, one thing leads to another. Steven says watching me has changed the way he will create art in the future. In the past, he told me he always knew exactly what his finished piece would look like before he even started creating it. I am the opposite - I never really know what I create will look like before I start . . . perhaps I'll have an idea of it, but I almost always get fed information from my brain while I am creating that guides me in what to do that I would have never guessed from the start. To me, it seems that this way of working is not quite right or up to par somehow - almost like cheating, and yet my husband says it is a truly artistic, creative way of working that he aspires to do -go figure!

I said a lot more in the post that I started out to (kind of like my creative process) but I hope you enjoy my thoughts on this anyway!!

Studio Classes continue . . .

Last week on Tuesday, I had 5 students over to work in my studio learning image transfer techniques. I forgot to take any photos during class; the photo here is of my own working space, when class was over! To see more of what my studio looks like with students actively working - visit my pictureTrail. There are a photos of some of the 2008 classes held in my Avon, CT studio, in the top left album.

Image transfers are definitely tricky and an all day class (10-3) is a great way to try a number of transfer methods and different materials and get comfortable. It also gave us time for a nice break in the middle of class for lunch (homemade soup and bread, salad) and to look at all the art that has come in for the swaps I host in person. My hope with this class is that students will have a number successful transfers to bring home and use in other projects as well as find the best methods for transfering for them. So many choices and variables!

Upcoming studio classes:

Sunday, November 16th, 2008: Collage - Techniques on Canvas 11am-4pm
Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008: Painting & Stamping Silk Scarves 10:00am-1:30pm
Saturday, December 6th, 2008: Painting & Stamping Silk Scarves 10:00am-1:30pm
Wednesday, January 14th (New Date to be announced!): The Star Book 10am-4pm
Saturday, February 7th, 2009: The Accordion Fabric Panel Book 10am-4pm

E-mail me with questions or to register!
yours, creatively, Lenna

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Red & Pink Hearts" for ARTchix Studio swap!

Just in the nick of time (these are due to be postmarked by Monday the 10th of November!) ~ I have finished and packaged up my "Red and Pink Hearts" valentines for a swap hosted by Helga Strauss, the very creative owner of ARTchix Studio. Helga has recently started writing a very cool and inspiring blog that I love to visit: My ARTistic Life.

The swaps hosted by ARTchix Studio are a lot of fun, very well organized and you get to receive items from all over the world with such a large number of participants. Plus, Helga sends amazing treats and ARTchix Studio goodies with each swap! An added bonus is that she uses the art pieces she receives for the swap to create wonderful collage sheets -participants must sign a release form when sending in their swaps. How cool is that?! Your art could be published on an ARTchix Studio sheet! You can read about upcoming ARTchix swaps on the Classes & Activities page of their website.

I created my valentines for the most part when I was in Florida the last week of October, visiting my parents. I had brought a small art kit with me and specifically put in some squares of red paper about 4" high, as the swap call suggested. I also added the required products - At least one piece of ARTchix Red or Pink German scrap for each piece. I brought along red mesh and pink flowers along with a number of chixies PINK faux postage pieces (created from an earlier swap). I also brought an 'I love ARTchix Studio' sticker originally created by yahoo group moderator Cindy McMath and I added a few other collage images I like from ARTchix as well.

I free-hand drew my first heart on the red paper square, cut it out, and then used that heart as a stencil for my other hearts. I borrowed some of my dad's carpenter's wood glue since I was traveling lightly and did not bring any glue with me on the plane (it worked fine!). I chose bits of scrapbook-type background paper I had in my art kit and played with the placement of the collage images and faux-post stickers.

Lastly, I added the red mesh and/or pink flower German scrap and in some cases, lace trim. I used my watercolor crayons to add color and lines to the edge of the hearts. Since I forgot my watercolor brush, I simply dipped my finger in a bowl of water and worked it along the line of the watercolor crayon -- born out of the the necessity and ingenuity of traveling & wanting to create!

The six hearts I made for the swap are shown above. Then, because my parents are going through a tough time with more to come (my father starts chemotherapy for his liver cancer this week) I decided to make a few extra valentines . . . one for my husband Steven, whom I was missing while I was in Florida (he stayed home this time), one for my mom, and one for my dad. They are shown below.

The valentine for my dad is the one on the top, and says "Thinking of You". I left it on his computer desk. The one on the bottom left is my mom's; it says "I Love You" and I left in on her bureau. They found them later . . . The one on the bottom right was for Steven, and said "Thinking of you". I carried it home with me, and forgot to give it to him at the airport. Later, while he was at work, I slipped it inside a book he was reading, next to our bed. Later, I asked him if he had found the valentine, and he said, "what? No!". We went and looked for it and . . . it was gone! Mind you, we have 2 very curious and playful cats and at least one dog who likes to eat paper!!!! We think they collaborated. Steven never held it in his hands - only saw the photo I took in Florida that I am showing you now!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The apple does not fall far from the tree!

I have a number of posts that I want to write and not quite enough time lately to pull it together . . . but, this one I am pushing through!
In the photo to your left (click for more detail) are 4 lovely little handmade wooden spoons my dad made for me recently. I was visiting my parents in Florida last week and while I was there, I noticed my dad had ordered a work bench, drill press and a band saw for the work area in his garage. Now, mind you, my dad has a wonderful, very professional woodworking workshop at his home in CT - but because of my dad's health issues, my parents did not make it back to CT this past summer. So, I think my dad was itching to do some creative woodworking again! He has made many beautiful wooden boats and he plans to make a custom canoe paddle for my husband Steven, hopefully by the time we come to visit them again in late December - as there is a handmade Dale Andrews canoe down there already!

When I was talking to my dad on the phone about his various Doctors appointments the other day, he slyly told me near the end of our conversation that he had sent me a present. What? With all that you have going on, you sent ME a present?? Yes, he said, I thought you deserved a present for coming down to see me - ha! I was so happy to visit my parents! Well, I did not know what the present was, nor did he tell me what it was. Maybe some oranges, I said to Steven? My dad has sent me those from Florida before, usually Mineolas, yummy! Yesterday, his package arrived. It was these 4 spoons and this note:


The 1st project from my new workshop. Your mom always enjoyed the stir-ers I did a couple of years ago. I hope you like them. I had a small piece of Tiger Maple left over from a boat model I did.


What a treat! I absolutely love these little spoons he made and I am so glad my dad sent them to me! The first project from his new FL workshop too, that is so great. My mom always says that I got all my creative genes from my dad . . . well, I am not sure about that, as my mom is very arty and creative too, but it is a really wonderful thing to be his daughter. My dad has always been a shining example for me and he is continuing to be that for me through his cancer diagnosis. My mom too. Both of my parents are concentrating on taking things one step at a time, which I truly believe is the only way to get through anything like this that seems really too overwhelming to think about. As I told my friend Carla, I aspire to be as grounded as they are in the face of such news. With much love, lenna