Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lesson 4: stamp carving

If you are just coming across my blog, I have recently changed the template.
For more info on this new look and how to navigate, please go here!
I am taking Stamp Carving 101 with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. This is an online course where you work at your own pace. I love it! Check it out. My friend Linda Kunsman and I signed up for this course at the same time, on purpose! We decided it would be a great way to inspire each other and that we would also make a tag for each other based on our lessons. What a great idea, Linda!! 

Lesson 4 is about making a series or set of stamps. Julie showed the small banner shape above at the beginning of her lesson, but then went on to make a set of stamps that were more in a chevron shape with a pointed top. I fell in love with this banner shape and went on to make my set this way. Julie said it was okay!!!

Here is my test paper. Julie suggested test printing as you carved, to see if any changes were needed. This was a great idea as I often changed or added cuts, depending on my test print.
My tools and my final hand carved stamp set.
The two tags I made - one for me and one for Linda K! 
The plain pink banner above is the 1st layer for some of my stamping.
The instruction is great and I am really enjoying the exercises.
Even though I have carved stamps before and taught carving before, I am learning a lot! 
Julie has just announced she will write a BOOK about stamp carving due out in the Fall of 2013!
Hope you are well and squeezing in some creative time . . . 

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
  ~ Grandma Moses




a new look again!

Siesta Key beach, Tuesday May 29, 8:30am
If you actually visit my blog instead of viewing it another way, like through a reader or email subscription, you'll find a big change when you do visit. Now I know some people don't like change, even me sometimes! But as far as my blog I really felt a need to change it up; I've been writing this blog for over 5 years. And so, I have changed it.
Welcome to my new look!

I went back and switched to one of the 'dynamic views' as my blog template. A few of you may remember I tried this last October when this template was fairly new. Soon afterwards I abandoned it and went back to the more traditional look. At the time, dynamic views was quite bare-bones. You'll find the biggest difference is still in the side-bar content . . . although NOW there is a "pop-out" sidebar on the right side when you are on the Home page that has a number of my original items included. Some of my link lists, the list of blogs I visit ("inspiration and fun") and all the labels I add to each post are there. I add labels to my posts to make it easier to find one or a collection of posts and it was a problem for me last October when they were not there in the sidebar. And just as I thought if I just waited a bit, Blogger would work on the template and improve it. They have! Before making this change, I backed up my template and exported my blog so I am all set. I recommend you do the same. Also, I can revert back to my other template anytime I want. Although I doubt I will because I do like seeing my blog this way!

*This is a different format*. I have chosen the Magazine view as the default. Instead of needing to scroll down to find other posts, you will see about 5 posts right when you land on the home page. Important: They will be shortened versions of the post with one photo and a bit of text. You will need to click on the post to see more. There are other dynamic views you can easily look at the blog with by placing your mouse cursor over the word 'magazine', on the top left. Move down the list and click on any of the other views to try them out, see what you like, and use 'Home' to return to where you started.

On the home page with all the posts, if you go over to the right side you will see a tiny border of grey. Just hover over this and this border will pop out. Move down the list with your cursor and choose anything that appeals to you. This is where the sidebar content is. Not as much as my other template design, but enough for me for the moment. I can still refer to my original sidebar in editing mode, so if I need to add more things I will figure out a way to include them. I think personally that it is easier to look at my blog this way and I like it cleaned up. Of course I welcome your comments - Pro OR Con!

To leave a comment while on the blog you will need to scroll down to where it says Add Comment or View Comments. When you click on that it may not seem like anything has happened, but in fact the page has expanded below where you are viewing. Scroll down and you will see the text box to type your comment in!

The photo at the top of this post is my new background for the blog. I took it right before Nia on the beach on Tuesday, when it was very stormy and lots of waves. There was not an option for customizing the background the last time I tried this template so I am happy!! I will be back with more art later today or tomorrow, but I wanted you to to know about these changes. xoxo lenna

I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
 ~ Ettiene De Grellet

Monday, May 28, 2012

A friend . . .

A friend is someone who will do a personal art exchange with you, hee hee!
My good friend, Frieda Oxenham and I have been exchanging our art and our thoughts since 2005. We've never met in person yet because we live across the ocean, but we've developed a good friendship through our many exchanges. Two of the groups we were exchanging small works of art with recently wrapped up their exchanges. I felt bereft in not having Frieda's art and her snail mail letters in my hands on a regular basis. She is very busy and involved with both her award winning art quilting and her mixed media art but we figured a loose, open exchange with a long response time might work for us. I decided to start with an ATC for her and made myself one as well (similar, but different) as a mirror of what I created for her that I would keep. Frieda has received her ATC now, so I will share both with you! Click for details.

Frieda's ATC is on the left - the one I made for myself is on the right.
Frieda's has a "friend" rubber stamp on it that is quite correct!

For this small ATC I wanted to use one of Frieda's favorite colours, yellow. I reached for a piece of "fabric paper" that I created two years ago. I attempted such a large piece of fabric for this project, I have plenty leftover!! This was not planned when creating my ATC for Frieda, but so appropriate because it was Frieda who taught me how to make fabric paper in the first place!


I ran an ATC size card through my xyron adhesive system and then pressed the fabric paper onto the card. I used a strip of yellow fabric with an additional piece of fabric paper on top and attached it to the card by beading tiny seed beads onto the card. This type of beading is what I would call a "signature" of Frieda's fabric art. i was trying to create something that would make her smile!!



Then I got Frieda's latest letter out, sat down, read it and composed my response.

"Hi Frieda!" 
I was taking photos for A day.org that day . . . 

Mail art for Frieda, who always appreciates it! 

'Till next time!! 


Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
  ~ Vincent van Gogh

Friday, May 25, 2012

Art Journal Every Day (only when you can!)

"I have some awesomely good news for you: you don't actually have to art journal every day to be a part of Art Journal Every Day. So if you're up for a little bit of "you" time every day (or every other day, or simply when you can) I hope you'll join us for Art Journal Every Day this year."


The quote above is from a very liberating post by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer I read last January! I'm recommending you all go read the entire post: Why I art journal. Back when I read it, I was finishing up my Sketchbook Project 2012 and starting my Limited Edition Sketchbook -all hosted by the Art House co-op. For her Art Journal Every Day, Julie has a link list on her blog. Once a week on Fridays you can upload a link to any art journaling you've done that week. I used the link list for my Sketchbook Project pages a number of times, but today is the first time this year I am using the list to share pages in a journal I am doing just for me - whoo Hoo! How I started:


and what the page looks like now:


I had been thinking about starting a new art journal, unrelated to the Sketchbook Project. One that I would do and keep -not a journal to enjoy working in and send off. I was having trouble starting though, because I was looking at the whole big picture and it was overwhelming me. But taking the Stamp Carving 101 class with Julie gave me a small hand carved heart in my hand, looking for someplace to be tested! This was just what I needed to get me thinking about just one page. Then, I had a lot of fun on subsequent days, doing more things in my new journal like squeezing, spreading and combing paint . . .





I had also taken several photographs of my mother's beautiful hibiscus flowers and brought the photos into Photoshop. I made extra layers and tweaked the saturation and properties of those layers. I truly do not know a lot about using Photoshop, I only how to do what I describe as "fooling around with layers", but I have signed up for a short workshop locally next month - yay! I hope to learn more about the program. Anyway, I really like this recent series of creative looking flower photos I took and tweaked. You can see one as a new header on my blog! I wanted to put a few of these images in my new journal. I thought about transferring the flower image but decided on printing a couple of these tweaked images onto a clear transparency sheet. Below you'll see one of my hibiscus flowers, printed on a clear transparency sheet and added to my art journal by running it through my xyron adhesive system.


I also wanted to work more with the soft pastels my Creative Breakout instructor Bill Buchman had introduced me to -- and so, I got them out! I really, really like them and need to do more with them. This time I used them simply as flowing lines into my photograph. Click on the photo for more detail - a close up of what the photo printed on a transparency looks like is below:


Most of the writing in this journal comes from a list of "positive affirmations" my friend Joanna Urbani in the UK, so kindly sent to me. She created a set of beautiful affirmation cards which of course led me to ask her about the affirmations. On the page above with the soft pastels it reads, "I only allow that which is good come into my life." Below, I took another affirmation and inserted the text into the photo before printing it out. It reads, "I appreciate all that I am and all that I have."


I hand wrote another affirmation on my painted page and it reads, "I am responsible for the day I create for myself." I had been wrestling with this myself lately -how I spend my time each day- so it really hit home to me. I love that this idea/affirmation is now in a journal that I will keep. 


I cannot quite express how happy I am to be working in my own personal art journal again! Don't get me wrong, I love doing the sketchbook projects . . . it is just very different to be working on something for myself totally again. It was about a year ago - May, 2011- that I found Art Journal Every Day and started playing along. At that time I really did try to do some art journaling EVERY DAY. Now I am content to just make sure I get in there and play every week -and so can you! 

(If you want more . . .  see lots more of my Art Journaling here including earlier journals I did for Art Journal Every day and all my Sketchbook Project journals.)




The only certain thing about the future is that it will surprise even those who have seen furthest into it.  ~ Eric Hobsbawm



Thursday, May 24, 2012

stamp carving 101 . . . is fun!

Well, I am loving this class I'm taking on stamp carving with Julie Balzer. Most of the teaching is done by videos that are not too lengthy, through a private class blog. I have not watched them all yet but for what I've seen so far, they each run about 20-25 minutes. That's just about right for someone antsy like me! There's also an outline of skills to practice for each lesson and a flickr group to share your creations on. It is working out well and I have completed lessons 2 and 3 since I last wrote about it.

Carving stamps is not entirely new for me. I found out the other day when I located a small notebook that I carved my first stamp in 1995. Wow, do the math and you'll discover that was 17 years ago! (see the bottom of this post for more on that). But I was correct in thinking that a "refresher course" with someone I admire, whose carved stamps I have seen and loved, was a great idea, and a great deal at only $30!

Lesson 2 was about creating two simple interlocking stamps; stamps that you can overlap or rather, overstamp so they compliment each other. I have never done this type of carving before. We started with simple stripes, but I would like to try a more complicated design in the near future.

It may be hard to tell, but these blocks of speedy carve are the same striped design, filled in with black on opposing stripes. I used my linoleum cutting tool to remove all the black on both stamps, creating 2 opposite printing blocks.  




Trying out the printing . . . I need to practice interlocking carving again, 
but it was still fun even if it did not turn out "perfect".



The tags I made are below -I used different colors on a black tag. I am taking this class with my friend Linda Kunsman and we are doing an exchange. We'll make 2 tags for each lesson, keep one and then send one to each other when the class is done! This will make a neat little tag book.


* * * 

Lesson 3 was about carving a larger size stamp. The first few we made were only about an inch or so in size. This time I cut out about a 3" square piece of speedy carve and tried following Julie's chevron design. 







I am definitely enjoying this and look forward to lesson 4!

* * * 

I could not help but scan some of the pages in the tiny notebook where my boys and I stamped our early carved stamps. They were around 11-to-12 and 14-to-15 years old at the time (now 27 and 30!!). You can click on any scan for a larger, more detailed look.

my first carved stamp, 8-11-95

dallas and decklin's first carved stamps


Remember, I told you they were carving Calvin & Hobbes! 



This is just FUN!! Stamp carving material is so much better these days. 
Speedy carve is like butter to carve in comparison to what we used 17 years ago. 
Maybe you'll join us? The class I'm taking is Stamp Carving 101 with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer! 

* * * 

Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong.  ~ Ella Fitzgerald

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A date! Spanish Point in Osprey, Florida

Steven and I try to spend a day together exploring Florida, once every week or so. It is a way to enjoy doing something different from our usual routine. We spend time together like we are on a "date" and we learn about Florida. On Sunday we left the dogs at home and went to Osprey, which is not too far. You may have heard me talk about the Spanish Moss we have here in Florida . . . well, this photo taken at the Bay Preserve at Osprey so exemplifies the look I see here so often and love. Click for larger, then click again for even larger!!


We spent a bit of time at the preserve, but most of our time was spent at Historic Spanish Point, 30 acres of gardens, jungle walks, views of Little Sarasota bay, plus environmental, archaeological, and historic sites. We had visited once before, but this time saw things we had never seen before. We really had a fun afternoon.  I thought the most interesting thing was the aqueduct and incredible fountain feature in one of Mrs. Palmer's garden which you could still work. The sign instructed me to push the red button and sure enough, water started flowing down the aqueduct. This reminded me of the many levadas I saw in Portugal and Madeira in 2004 which were the main water irrigation system. When the water reached the end of the irrigation channel in this garden, it cascaded over conch shells set into concrete - a fountain! It is so gorgeous!! 



I love the reflection of the shells below.






As we walked along and reached this point, the water started to flow over the shells.
I did not even realize that this was going to happen!!


Notice the lizard? They are everywhere!








As you can see, I was fascinated by this feature of Historic Spanish Point.

I have put together a whole set of photos from Sunday showing among many things, the Spanish Point packing house where they made crates and packed oranges, the boat yard where they shipped them (Steven was delighted), the chapel with it's stained glass windows and cemetery -- taking photos, I felt like I was my dear friend Frieda! We also met a black cat who made friends with us and followed us on many of the garden paths . . . and much more - even lunch on the waterfront. You can see the set here if you like.

I have been working in an art journal that is just for me - wow! I'm finding it so wonderful to art journal again. And, I have also moved through lessons 2 and 3 in Stamp Carving 101 with Julie Balzer. I am enjoying that very much too! So I will be back with more soon. Till then, be well. yours, lenna 


The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
  ~ Emily Dickinson




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