Friday, December 19, 2008

More on Needle Felting

Cattycat commented that she wasn't sure how the process was done. I found a free tutorial on the web at that shows it better than I can explain. Make sure you check out the rest of her site - LOTS of inspiration!

Here's some more resources to whet your appetite:
eye candy and tutorials:

Resources for mail order materials and books:

Down to the wire for the Holidayz

Well, we're down in the thick of it now! Of course, I haven't gotten near done what I wanted to - same as last year, and the year before.

I just can't get into the swing of creating Holiday gifties until after Thanksgiving, then there's always extra work at work getting ready for the end of the year...which cuts into crafting time.

But I HAVE gotten a few pieces finished, and I'm working on a few fun ideas using needle felting with new tools from Clover:



Can't say what I'm planning to do till after the prezzies are opened. SHHHH!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fix My Movie, Please!

If you saw my post about last weekend's activities, you may have been a bit queasy from my video-without-benefit-of-tripod...

You should check out what happens when that video is run through the algorithms over at

Here's a link to the movie itself...

One cool thing is to click on the icon to the bottom right of the frame, which shows you a side-by-side version of the original and the fixed versions. I ran mine through on Auto the first time, then ran it through on Remove Jitters a second time.

If I wanted to spend a mere $1.99, I could download this clip with an upgraded resolution of 4x!

Cool! Since just about everyone these days has a camera phone, and those now have video for the most part, this service is actually quite brill...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Serendipity strikes again...

Got a call from friends yesterday to see if I wanted to go with them today to see a free exhibit in Dallas, "Texas Collects Asia: Contemporary Asian Art," at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. When we got there, they were just warming up for a lion dance by a local Kung Fu dojo - unfortunately I didn't get their name...nor did I remember my cell had video till after they'd started (please forgive the fuzziness!):

It certainly was fun to the little girl who walked up and 'fed' the lion at the last bit!

Thoroughly enjoyed the tour, then, in the cultural interaction area, some kids were learning about Noh Theater:

Other kids got to make a pendant with asian symbols or decorate a 'kimono'. This is what I just love about the Crow - their emphasis on teaching the culture as well as showing the art. Their Asian New Years celebration is not to be missed!

As we left the building, we crossed over to the bamboo garden by the Nasher Sculpture center. The light was shining juuuuust right! (Once more, taken with my Nokia N75)

bamboo garden 1

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Bittersweet Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving holiday was unexpectedly bittersweet.

The nieces and nephews brought their dudes, dudettes friends and friends' kids with them and you could feel the young energy surging through the room. I didn't even realize we'd lost that in our generation, but seeing it there once more, I realized we had. Mom had a great time listening to all the chatter.

It was a wonderful mob of new faces and old. Luckily we'd somehow brought enough to feed an army, because it certainly looked like we were being invaded! When all the various bellies were full to bursting, there was just a spoon of green bean casserole and a spoon of Sherri's New Mexican creamed corn and NO mashed potatoes (made with cream cheese, these always go fast)! Poor Bob didn't get hardly anything but roast pork to take home, but he didn't complain.

My niece Chrysta seems to be the Gatherer in her generation...staying in touch and getting all the various sibs and cousins together on the weekends. I worry a bit about Mary (the Girly Goth niece), but she's got to make her own mistakes right now...while she still 'knows everything'.

I got home and wished a little wish that those smiles are all still there next year.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I actually WON something!

At the end of October they had a fall themed contest, which I entered with this card:

The card has a simple three color palette: Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold and Quinacridone Magenta (on the leaf). It's the first watercolor I've been happy with so I'm pleased it was well received.

Anyway, I posted it in the contest on a lark, not expecting much. To my surprise, not only was my card very popular in the anonymous voting, it was in 1st or 2nd place for most of the contest, which ended with a tie for first. They tossed in a few more goodies and split the prize between me and "Crafter412" with card (#10).

I just received the prize package and it included:

Got this:

with a sample card showing what each one does!

And this:

And this!

aaaaannddd three packs of these!


It was a WHOLE lot of fun and I look forward to playing with my new toys!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sleep? What is this Sleep you speak of?

I've spent the last few weeks in the fruitless pursuit of that elusive and underappreciated state of being: Sleep

I've had difficulties in the past, but most recently it seemed that my brain was a 25 screen multiplex that NEVER closed. I haven't been able to get anything accomplished at work without massive quantities of caffeine, which, of course, aggravates the whole situation.

I've gone the whole gamut from prescribed drugs to OTCs to herbs and supplements. So far nothing has worked well and the only combo that worked at ALL was my version of Tylenol PM: Ibuprofen/Benadryl plus some of my magnesium at bedtime.

Most recently I am trying St. John's Wort to lift my mood a bit (the evening shows could get a bit morbid! 'nuff said...) and it seems to be working very well. I especially note this at work, where things can get a bit tense. My cranky factor has definitely been lower.

Note: though it works for mild to moderate depression, studies have shown it is no better than placebo for severe depression...and abuse coupled with other prescription anti-depressants can be fatal. You have been warned!

So, St. John's Wort, plus my IbuprofenPM, plus a homeopathic remedy called Calms Forte have given me one semi-restful night. I shall continue to test this combo thru the remainder of pills in the bottle and see how I feel after that.

I really have to get this under control. My production at work is sub-par (for me) and I have art commitments I have to meet.


Monday, September 22, 2008

PMS + Menopause = Dammit!

Massive mood swings this evening. REALLY don't need this. Feeling absolutely useless. Crying my eyes out.

I know this'll pass, but it's a real crapper right now.

So I decided to share it with y'all too.

Actually, I guess you can't call it a mood swing if it's only going in one direction.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fun! My first blog upload via my cellphone and folding bluetooth keyboard!

Okay, so I told you earlier this year that I was looking for a portable/folding keyboard for my phone. After searching high and low I can honestly say there's nuttin' to be had except discontinued models on Overstock and Amazon. I decided to go with the Think Outside Stowaway, whose company has morphed into iGo and is only doing portable power solutions now. You can still find their support pages and download drivers, but that's it. No technical support - if you can't make it work, you're SOL.

I got it in very quickly and already had the driver downloaded and ready to go. It's working fine, as this entry demonstrates.

The whole thing makes me wonder whether I'm the only person on the planet who wants this capability, or whether they've decided the phones with thumb-boards are the way things are going. I'm a touch typist and I want to be able to use that skill to get the characters input. That said, I wouldn't mind the luxury of both. The whole idea, after all, was to be be able to have blog mobility.

I already have my Flickr uploads maximized with ShoZu, which is an excellent mobile product, by the way.

I'll be experimenting with posting remotely and see if the process is too cumbersome.

Ciao for now!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thereby Hangs a Tale...

Worked on a birthday present for my Girlie Goth niece. I've had the various bits around for a while so I decided to finally try one of those glass pendants with solder around the sides that have been popular lately. Mary (The Niece) at one time had pink and purple striped hair, so I decided to go with that color scheme plus, of course, black.

I wanted to do a more Illustrative style picture, so I went with the "big-eyed waif girl" look that is also popular right now. This was also partially inspired by an ATCard I received in trade from altermyworld at

Click on the picture to see a detailed photo of the finished piece...

I was working with 1" x 1" glass squares, so the painting was officially an "Inchie". The painting took about two hours start to finish - turned out alright for my first attempt at the genre. I do wish I'd thought to put in a mini-mat to keep the glass off the paint...the white gouache is probably going to lift at some point. But then again, with Mary's penchant for losing things, she may never see it happen!

Once the watercolors were dry, I sandwiched the pic between two craft squares and added the metal tape that the solder is applied to. Then I went out on the balcony to solder. Ten minutes later I was back inside trying to figure out why the solder wouldn't stick to the metal tape. It literally beaded up and fell off! Crap! I had used a silver colored tape, so I decided to try some copper colored tape that I also had.

This time it worked. However, the soldering iron had a heat-up, working temp, cool-down, heat-up cycle that made it take FOREVER and I accidentally applied too much solder. It was hideous to say the least! (no, I didn't take pictures).

So I checked a few magazine articles (you know, those EVIL articles that make it look like you could do this in five minutes and sucker you in...) and decided that the extra solder just had to go. Trying NOT to scorch the painting in between the glass, I set it up in the third hand and tried to time the next working temp cycle, then slid the tool down the side of the square and literally swept the excess solder off onto a wet sponge. Woot! This could work!

However, with the wonky soldering iron it took waaaaay too long to get the job done and I finally said, 'good enuf" and used the Dremel to give the remaining solder a brushed finish.

Handed it off today and was please with the positive response! (She especially liked the cleavage...go figure!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

To everything there is a Season...

While catching up on a friend's blog (, a comment she'd made stopped me in my tracks. A piece she was working on included a tape measure as her 'timeline' and she stated she was "more than a bit past my half way mark".

She's my age.

And THAT got me thinking: How does your age affect your art?

When I was a kid (4th grade I believe) I had this dread of dying before I'd 'done anything', because then nobody would even know I'd been alive. (Is that morbid for a 4th grader? I dunno.) Looking back, I've been pretty lax (for me) about 'getting things done'. There was always plenty of time 'later' and I could make mistakes or putz around and not wind up with diddly to show for it, and that was OK.

But now, even if I DON"T up and die suddenly as some have done recently, the time I have left is less than the time I've spent getting here and now. So, what am I gonna do with the time I think I have left?

What's on your list?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More creative fun! It's All About the Chunky!

Today, well, actually it was last night, anyway... I was playing with my woodburner on some scraps of craft micro plywood and a coffee stir stick. Just doodling a bit but very happy with the results.

Also working on some "chunky" pages for a Vintage Halloween swap being hosted by Andreananda over at These are 4x4 heavily embellished pages that are later bound into a book, sometimes with special covers, sometimes just the pages. It's my first time making chunky books so I'm already suffering all kinds of performance anxiety... I'm such a ditz sometimes!

Andrea gave me some pointers this morning and showed me some of her books...yeah, I can do this!

Here's a scan of one of the base pages (Hint: click on any of the pics to see a larger shot).

I've started off with some printed craft foam I picked up last year on clearance, backed it with a 4x4 piece of cardstock and sandwiched in between some fringe yarn. Punched holes for some long chunks of yarn - very popular on chunky pages. Besides the color, this yarn is almost sinfully strokable...

The next scan is a page that doesn't have its long fringe yarn yet, but I've put together a cut from a vintage Halloween postcard printout with a new piece of cardstock and applied that with 3D foam dots.

It's allllll about the Chunky!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I have simply GOT to designate a time to blog!

It's simply amazing. I look up and it's been weeks and months since my last post. Now, it's good that I've been so busy, but all the wonderful little things I meant to share are lost in the fog of time. Drat and Pooh!

Okay, what have I been up to artistically? I've been playing with China Markers, aka Grease Pencils and it is really interesting what you come up with on a limited color palette (literally RGB plus B&W in this case! I've managed to track down some yellow at a WONDERFUL local independent hardware store, Turners Hardware in Farmers Branch, TX). The markers are very pigment rich and stable, since they are designed to withstand up to 750 degrees F without burning off. The first one is also topped with a medium layer of UTE (Ultra Thick Embossing Powder) that has a lot of texture AND pumped up the colors. The second is sealed with good ole Workable Fixative. NOTE: all but the last are regulation ATCs (2.5" x 3.5"). The last is just a scrap I was playing with.

So, I played with these 'crayons' and also pulled out the Prismacolor colored pencils.

(Chop Translation: I know too Much to be Sure of Anything.).

Then I played with some Water Soluble Oil Pastels - messy and not so hot for details...the fine details here were Prismacolor pencils.

Next I pulled out the ole sumi-e inkstick, brushes and chops for an Asian Summer themed card.

(Chop translation: If Everything is Art, then Art is Nothing):

And, lastly, I was playing with Watercolor on Yupo (plastic sheets). Bright color but the slightest goof and it slides right off the surface. May have to try sanding it lightly to see if it will stick better! NOTE: this 'scrap' is about 2" x 2"

Soooo, I've been busy. And that's not even going into the Computer going on the fritz, or the car on it's last legs, etc.

What's everybody else been up to?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ever heard of a Zentangle?!?! Neither had I!

A few months back on the ATCsForAll site I was looking thru the gallery listings and came across some ATCs that were doodles called "Zentangles." Don't get me wrong, they were cute doodles and all, but I was thinking...why the fancy name?

So I started looking online and see there's a couple who, with the help of some savvy marketing and New Age psycho-babble, have made doodling into a business! Yep, they sell books, materials and give seminars on how to doodle in a meditative sorta way, with names for their different patterns (or 'tangles', as they style them), special official, specifically-sized doodle cards cut from fancy heavy paper, which they will $ell you in kit form, including a special pen! Special Corporate rates available! They've even got a special gallery for the art that various alumni have come up with. Ain't THAT special?!

That said, I was invited to join in an AFA member's first hosted swap (the first three swaps anyone can host are limited to 12 participants, kinda like Swapmeister training wheels.) - and the subject was (drumroll) Zentangles!

Erm...okaaaaaaay! I'm game for anything once! So I check out what's being posted Zentangle-wise and add my own spin. The primary difference is I don't have the overall pattern totally abstract, instead I start with a theme I can hook it into. And ya know what? Once I get past the original bad taste I got from the merchandising, it's an interesting exercise. I'm pretty happy with the results. Here's what I came up with (all are regulation 2.5" x 3.5"):

Wait! What's this?! I am not alone! While Googling "Zentangle" to see what others might be saying about this marketing phenom, I found another blogger with a similar take: Lisamarina: art in ink & watercolor + cool links & art info.

Nice to know I'm not always out by myself
in left field.

Monday, June 30, 2008


As I shared in "Tales of the Obsolete parts I and II," I have an ancient laptop that can barely run XP and has a whomping big 4 Gb hard drive. I immediately tripled it's capacity with the addition of an 8 Gb thumb drive. I could have gone for a larger portable HD, but I'm trying to keep it lean and lightweight.

Now, the real problem was that, when I'd loaded all the software I wanted/needed, I had no space left for temp files while I was editing/composing. Rut Roh! Surfing the web, looking for an answer, I found this:

I've always loved the concept of Open Source software and other freeware packages. In fact, I use Art Weaver to create some nifty digital pieces.

I've wanted to get into Open Office, but every time I've looked into it, and other Open Source software, there's this confusing array of files, "compiled" and not, and I just don't know where to go from there. Don't know the secret handshake. Don't have time to learn it. A true Windoze Slave though I rattle my chains on a regular basis. But I miss the days when I carried my apps on diskettes and used them on whatever computer I wanted to. (Yes, I'm OLD. Hush.)

Enter This site offers a truly impressive array of FREE open source apps, soup to nuts, with an easy to navigate menu, ready to go right out of the box! The real kicker? They not only FIT on a thumbdrive, they are PORTABLE! You carry your software with you and work off of any computer with a compatible Windoze OS. Nirvana! (and did I mention FREE?!?) They leave no footprint/cookies/files on the host computer. When you use the included Firefox Portable browser, all of your links, history and cookies are on the thumbdrive. They are kind enough to include donation buttons for both the Portable Apps website and the individual programmers/orgs. So after you download, show your appreciation, OK? I've downloaded the majority of these apps and when installed on my thumbdrive they take up less than 650 Mb. I'm burning a mirror to CDs to give to friends with pitiful slow dialup.

Below, I've cribbed their current apps listing. Click on "Applications" to go right to the webpage. Impressive, huh? With my aging eyeballs, the magnifier is pretty sweet.





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