Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My house boat life

I don't really live on a houseboat, but if I did, I would be a full time artist.  I really don't know anything about houseboats or boats in general but living on a boat sounds so romantic.  I'm pretty sure it's not.  I bet there are really hundreds of reasons why one would not want to live on a houseboat full time.  But I can dream can't I?   Here is a boat I found that might do.  It's for sale and can be found at Elite Boat Sales .  They have lots of really neat boats for sale.

 I would string up some colored party lights in here.
 Doesn't this look fun?
 This would be a great place to sit and work on my watercolors!
 Wouldn't these beds look great with colorful quilts atop?
 The galley (hey that's an official term) is tiny but efficient.
Some vintage kitchen ware would light this up wouldn't it?

Check out these items from the Lake Forest Kitchen Lady's Ebay store

Once I got the tiki lights up, the quilts on, the retro kitchen and bathroom goodies in, art supplies on board then I would have a party of course.  Cocktails, appetizers, and interesting people.  I would chart a course out of her slip and sail her to the a beach spot where we could have a bonfire and party into the night. 

I guess it costs a lot to park a boat in a Marina though, and I don't know what I would do with my husband and dog Max.  Just another daydream I guess.  But really, check out those retro shops above, you'll love them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jewelry I've made

My journey as an artist has taken me in several directions.  I've enjoyed painting in watercolors and oils, drawing, needlework, lace-making, hemp jewelry, beading, and currently am hoping to learn more about silver smithing.  Here are a few of my first jewelry creations:

When I'm not creating something, thinking something up, planning a new project, or dreaming of a new direction, I feel like I am missing something.  If you are interested in jewelry making and want to try beading, go to Fire Mountain Gems.  They have everything you need.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Favorite Watercolor Teacher: introducing Susie Short.

I used to paint with a lovely box of Prang Watercolors.  I still have the very first little me box of watercolors I got as a child.  Eventually I advanced to the big girl paints in the little tubesA watercolor block, paints, a couple of buckets of water, an old cloth diaper or paper towels, and some adequate brushes is about all you need to get started.  My favorite video watercolor workshop teacher is Susie Short.  I was inspired by her lovely watercolor seascapes.  She makes it seem easy and you can work right along with her.  But she does other subject matter as well, including landscapes.  She is fun to watch.  If you don't have the tubes, fancy paper, or expensive brushes, it doesn't matter.  You can get a box of Prangs, a pad of watercolor paper from the craft store, and use any brush that feels right.  The important thing is, if you are inclined to try this DO IT.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a Few Finds here and there

As we careen into the wireless information age, the virgin arts and the artisans that master them are disappearing.  To discover one such artist is serendipitous, a joy of inspiration.  My first exposure to sewing in general was my middle school sewing class.   My project was a turtle pajama bag.  I got the zipper in crooked, but the feeling of accomplishment I got lit me on fire.  I am inspired when I come across the evidence that art is still alive.  The spark of creation is still being struck all around us.  In a world of digital art, machine embroidery, mass marketed art prints, photographs, and clothing, it's almost a miracle to run across these artisans.  As I drink my coffee and troll the internet, I feel like an explorer of ancient artifact treasures.   Here are only 3 of my finds in this secret garden of the arts. 

Out of Orlando, FL, Amy Morrell is keeping the art of heirloom monogram embroidery alive.

To take up a skill such as hand embroideryintricate lace making heirloom sewing and learn this in a vacuum without benefit of a mentor is not easy. 

Custom Masterpieces original oil portraits

In an era of digital photography, isn't it wonderful to find the handiwork of a gifted artist?  A hand painted portrait captures a moment in time but also embues it with the essential personality of the subject.  The softness of the skin, purity of innocence, love of and between the subjects and the gentleness of the moment are all communicated in the portrait above.  The hand of the artist brings this portrait to a multi dimensional experience. 

Baby Blush Boutique

Aren't these little booties sweet?  Simple in design and structure, but the effect is priceless.  I'm inspired to search for adorable little fabric print, maybe Japanese or Hawaiin design?  Yummy.  I'll keep you updated.    

Hand Mades for Children
smock·ing:  (noun)   Needlework decoration of small, regularly spaced gathers stitched into a honeycomb pattern.
I won't tell you how long it has been since I first learned to smock.  It was a while ago, let's leave it at that.  But I remember it well.  The lessons were offered by Dottie, a lovely young woman from Georgia.  She had relocated to Southern Indiana with her husband and sweet little boy.  Along with her genteel accent, she brought along her lovely heirloom sewing skills that southern women are taught at the knees of thier Mothers and Grandmothers.      

A dining room table in Dottie's house sufficed for her shop.  I had two small children at home and was soon caught up in the magic of this new craft.  I was able to create sweet designer quality outfits for them for very little money.  I even started sewing for others and not long after, a stream of Moms and Grandmas started showing up at my door to order and purchase my little creations, and then to learn the art of smocking as well. Dottie had moved back to Georgia with her family by this time.   She and her husband missed the southern charm.  Soon I was selling supplies.  My living room had a spinner rack of clothing patterns and I had binders filled with the smocking designs or patterns one uses to create the designs over fabric.

Smocking fabric is first prepared using a special hand cranked roller tool called a pleater.  Light weight fabric is used.  The beauty of the garment is the smocking design itself.  This can be either a geometric pattern or a cute little picture, known as "picture smocking".  A design is carefully sewn over the pleated fabric per the design pattern and using the underlying threads that pierce the fabric into pleats as a guide.  After the design is done, the gathering threads holding the pleats are removed leaving the pleats held together by the design stitches on top.

I no longer have my little shop.  My little ones grew up and one by one went out the door.  I went back to school.  Our lives change and we move on.  But now there is a second generation of little ones to think about.  I have entered my third life phase and my name has been changed to Mimi.  My smocking patterns were carefully and safely tucked away in special little cases.  The sewing patterns, embroidery floss, needles, pleater, and all the essential tools have been patiently waiting for my return. I believe that the classic beauty of hand made children's clothing never goes out of style.  More on this subject later.  For now...sigh, the smocking. 

In Walnut Creek, CA, Rabbit Whiskers takes it to a whole new art form

All hand embroidery, original design! 

To learn more about smocking and how to get started or where to find supplies: