Coming Home: Acknowledging Truth in Art Expression

Small Journal flowersWow, it’s been a while since I posted here. I’ve been very busy with launching my coaching business and after 3 years of working incessantly to the exclusion of all else, the Universe has brought me back to my true calling.

Simply, I am an emotional artist. If I coach anything, it’s how to get back in touch with the fearless little kid you once were who covered everything in finger paint and crayons.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful journey and I’ve learned a lot, but one of the first processes in my Disconnect Your OughtaPilot program is identifying what YOU love to do, what YOU’RE proud of, and what YOU feel you do well so that you can move into living a life full of that thing. Along the way, though, I forgot to drink my own KoolAid and went off around Aunt Martha’s barn in search of a dream that did not correspond to the three cornerstones of living a created life. Tsk tsk on me.

I believe it’s not the destination that’s important, however, but the journey to get there. In April, I broke my leg in two places forcing me to spend the next 5 months in bed. There were three things I could do, watch TV, read or start playing with art again. Continue reading

Keep Thieves Away From Your Credit Cards: Use them in art!

One of my favorite art tools is an expired credit or debit card. I never have trusted the trash for disposing of them, so I find a new use for them.

Here are some uses for them:

  1. Screenprinting using a thermofax screen – they make a great squeegee. (Actually they make great squeegees for any small printing project.)
  2. Cut slits in one end with a mat knife and use them to apply dye, paint or whatever else you want to get some interesting effects.
  3. Cut into small pieces and drill through to hold fabric onto a stabilizing bar to hang.
  4. Cut into small pieces and use the parts without the numbers for a mosaic and then seal them with polyurethane. Some of them are gorgeous and sparkly.
  5. Stacking them and bonding them together with E6000 or silicon glue gives some really interesting cubes for art projects.
  6. For non-art – they’re great for re-grouting your tub, scraping food off non-stick pans that did and gathering up chopped herbs.  You can also keep one to scrape ice off your windshield.

Any more ideas?

I really love using repurposed items in creating art. I feel like it gives those items another life and another chance to be useful.

Art Pins Are Too Much Fun: Wood Shape Base

Another way to make artful pins is to start with the thin wooden shapes you can buy by the bag at a craft store.  The only limit here is your own imagination. Here’s what you’ll need for those:

  1. Wooden shapes
  2. Glue
  3. Fun yarn
  4. Beads, findings, other found objects
  5. pin back
  6. flexible wire

Take the wooden shapes and paint, draw or both your design on them.

This was done with Sharpie pens then sealed with acrylic medium. After that, I took a scrap of copper metal and bent it up into a shape (so there were no sharp edges) and glued it on as well.

Or you can just draw your design on and be done with it, as in this one. What can I say? Sometimes less is more. If you do use a pen to embellish, make sure it’s completely dry and then seal it. Otherwise, since wood is porous, it may bleed a bit.

Lastly if you’re going for bigger pins, you can buy the larger wooden shapes and paint them, wrap them with fun yarn, add some beads on and you have another funky masterpiece.

Enjoy, have fun with it, that’s the main idea.

Art Pins Are Too Much Fun: Formica Base

With the increased focus on recycling and reusing, I’ve been taking the trend to heart and now make  art pins out of recycled materials. It’s really a great way to use up all those bits and dribbles of things left over from my bigger pieces and they’re cool to boot!

Here’s a few to whet your appetite.

There are more here. Just scroll down to 2MCHFN pins.

Anyway – to make these, the first thing I do is get hold of laminate samples. To be honest, what started me with these was a gift from a friend of over 200 of the things. She was going to do a mosaic on her kitchen counter then use bartop (acrylic sealer) over the top. She decided she would probably never get around to it and since I was an artist in need of supplies for an art class for developmentally disabled adults I was teaching at the time, she’d make a donation.  Thanks, kiddo! It’s been hours and hours of fun with these and I still have tons!

If you just want to give this a try on a onesie-twosie scale, you can probably go to your local home store (like Home Depot or Lowe’s) and grab a couple of their formica samples in the “design your kitchen” sections. If you know someone who does this on a grand scale and you find you really enjoy making these as much as I do, ask them for their discontinued samples. Most of the time they just discard them.

There are a number of ways to prepare these. You can:

1) Sand off the number using either a dremel or fine grit sandpaper

2) Cover them with paper or fabric using decoupage medium or even white glue and letting it dry thoroughly.  I love using paper napkins for this, too. Some are quite pretty when they’re combined. Layer the really thin pieces till they’re opaque.

3) Give them a coat of gesso (white or black) and let dry completely. Then you have a ground to work from.

So, now that you have the background finished, start by layering on the fun stuff – I love handmade paper, even scraps from sewing patterns that have been stamped or drawn upon, brown paper bags that have been wrinkled and rubbed on stamp pads, all give texture and color. Use decopage medium to layer the papers and let dry.

If you have a focal object; pieces of old jewelry, shards of china or sea glass, wire knots, etc. glue this on as well. If you like tails/fringe, the best thing I’ve found is waxed linen thread. A gourder friend of mine taught me to use the waxed linen then once it’s knotted, spread all the filaments apart and use them as fringe for small beads and knot them after.  You can see this effect here.

The easiest way to get the holes in the back is to use a dremel with a drill bit the size you want. You can make the holes big enough for jump rings or waxed linen thread, your choice.

You’re limited here only by your imagination.

Silkpainting on Cotton

The time honored skill of silkpainting is revered and envied by many, and rightly so. The results are beautiful and exciting.

Of course, not everyone is working with silks. Some of us prefer cotton, rayon  or some other cellulosic fiber.

The look can still be achieved with a lot of the same technique, however. And it can be done on those more familiar fibers.

Try this:

What you need to prepare:

Soda Ash solution (1 cup soda ash f0r each pound of dry fabric)

Elmer’s Blue Gel Glue or Silkpaint’s Water Based resist

Assorted MX dyes dissolved in chemical water*

Presoak a piece of muslin in a soda ash solution and hang to dry. DO NOT PUT ANYTHING WITH SODA ASH IN IT IN THE DRYER — IT CAN CAUSE A FIRE.

Once it’s dry, pin it to your work surface, making sure it’s taut. Now draw your design with the resist of your choice. I like Elmer’s Blue Gel because it’s easy to draw with right from the container. If you need really precise lines, I recommend getting one of the gutta bottles and thinning the blue glue to a 5:1 ratio with water. You will quickly develop a feel for moving ahead of the glue and laying down the lines rather than directly drawing them.

Once the design is drawn, let it dry overnight. The glue will pull and pucker the fabric. This is one of the main reasons you want to pin it taut to prevent this from happening.

Now ready your dyes, paints, or whatever you’re doing. I like Procion MX dyes for the cotton. Go lightly until you see just how much dye is required to get the depth of color you desire. I recommend several coats rather than soaking the material since the blue glue is, after all, water soluble. This is why it doesn’t work for LWI.

Let me know your results!

The Ultimate Work Table

My favorite work surface is light, easily managed and stored and relatively inexpensive to put together.

rigid foam sheetsSTEP ONE:

Start with a 6 foot length of the rigid insulation you can purchase at a home improvement store.  My personal preference is the Owens-Corning Foamular 2′ x 6′ sheets that are 2 inches thick. You can keep it 6′ or cut it easily with a hacksaw or even a mat knife into smaller pieces.  I prefer cutting it a little less than 5 feet long so the felt covers easily. I don’t recommend getting the styrofoam, it really doesn’t hold up well at all.


Once you have this, cover it with craft felt (the cheaper the better). October is the best time of year to do this since all the craft felt goes on sale everywhere by the bolt and is usually the 60 inch wide (or sometimes you get lucky and find the 72 inch).  Wrap the foam with the felt once around. Using T-pins, secure it well everywhere. If you plan on ironing on this surface, include a piece of tin foil on one of the sides, as the felt will melt under the heat if you don’t. It works best to open up the felt and wrap it around the width of the 2′ side so you’re not wasting any. (If it’s 60″ wide and your foam is 54″ that will give you 2″ at each end to pin down and cover.)


Now take an old sheet or piece of muslin you don’t care about (this is a perfect place to use the older sheets with the snags that are cotton/poly or some twin sheets you get at the thrift store) and wrap it the same way you wrapped the felt. Make sure the aluminum foil stays where you put it. This will secure it in place. Now pin this securely so there are no wrinkles or bunching and there’s no movement.

Once you have this done, you’re almost there!


Now take another twin size sheet and tear it in half or thirds length wise. This will be your actual working surface. You will lay this over the part that’s pinned down so that you can change it as often as you need to. If the material is cotton/poly, it tends not to soak up the dye or hold onto it. Pin it securely, but it doesn’t have to be long enough to wrap over the entire surface. This is what you’ll pin your workpiece onto/into.


When you’re using a work surface like this one, make sure you use the longer pins with the glass heads and pin at an angle. I find that pinning towards the center of the workspace works best.

One of the best parts about this surface is that you can either stack them to work on may pieces at once or you can stand them against a wall to let them batch.

I usually lay them on top of a hollow core door I have that’s on two sawhorses for stability. Then I can dyepaint, silkscreen,monoprint or do almost anything else I want to. I have a separate worksurface for discharge that has a bit more foil in it than the other ones.

I call it Slop and Sprinkle

I have a process that is such fun to do, I almost cannot help myself when I’m playing and have just a little of this and a little of that left over. It usually happens when I’m using MX dyes on silk scarves in the microwave.  (I’ll post on that one later).

Here’s what you do: (Now make sure you follow these intricate instructions very carefully!) ~_~

Take a piece of indeterminate length of prewashed, wet cloth and sort of arrange it in a shallow pan (I use a really shallow plastic dishpan). I’ll try to get pictures and add them the next time I do this.

Now, if you have any dye liquid left over after another project (about a cup or so, mixed up according to the LWI recipe I’ve already posted)

Randomly slop the dye liquid over the fabric here and there, mixing colors merrily as the Spirit moves you, but not too much or you’ll get muddy overlap.

While it’s still wet with dye, get out your masks (extremely important!!!) and put them on.  Open up a jar of dye powder in your choice of color and with a plastic teaspoon, take a teeny bit on the end of the spoon and sprinkle it gently over the top of the wet fabric.

Cover the dishpan with a plastic bag or piece of plastic to keep in the heat and place the whole shebang where it’s warm for at least 6 hours.

Finish the process as usual with the rinsing and the Synthrapol.

I find the colors come alive when you iron it dry but that’s just me.

Here’s a sample.

Beware! This process is very addictive. Heh heh heh!

My very own LWI process

Low water immersion (LWI) is a process that is a little different from the tiedye and the vat dye processes we also use.

I’ve never seen anyone else with quite my process, which I swear I got from Dharma’s catalog, but it’s not there now and hasn’t been for years. By the way – I usually break this down and only mix up a third of the recipe per color. I get phenomenal colors and wonderful patterns.  I’ve been doing this since 1998 and have been reluctant to try anything else.

3 gallons of hot tap water
3 cups non-iodized salt
1/3 cup soda ash
9 T Urea
1 squirt calsolene oil
Dye according to label directions (in Tablespoons single, double or quad)

Shake well, and pour over wet, pre-washed  fabric, let sit 24 hours without disturbing. Then rinse the fabric cold to hot water till the water runs clear then wash with Synthrapol and dry.

I stuff wet fabric into buckets of all shapes and sizes to get interesting effects. I can get 2 yards of Nature’s Way by Roclon into a plastic ice cream bucket (1 gallon container?)

What do you think of the process? I’d love comments.

The Unconscious Conscious or “the walking dead”

Where has 2008 gone to? I just saw that my last post here was in December 2007.  Here’s it’s June already.

I definitely had cause for thought about it, though.  How many times have I gone through how many days on autopilot and missed out on enjoying what was there? Or learned what there was to learn?  I think it goes beyond stopping to smell the roses — you need to make the effort to find them to smell them.

How many times do we go through our lives for days, weeks, months, even years, unconscious and unaware, just taking care of crises and not living the moments in between where we can take a breath, center ourselves and be ready for what comes next?

I bumped into a friend last week.  She and I have been trying to plan a lunch date.  Last time I spoke to her was 6 weeks ago and I could have sworn it was just the week before.  Where had my life gone and what had I missed?

This is not a good thing.  I hope you will join me in being more present and alive in every moment every day.  There are only 24 hours in a day and I plan on enjoying my waking ones 60 minutes at a time.

Until next time,


Patience Pays

All Good Things


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, I hope.

Great things are happening for DSA.  Sold more stuff, hung more stuff, ditched more stuff and got even more stuff! But best of all, I found my daughter. 

Actually, I found her MySpace page and I’m hoping she still wants to be family.  We’ll see.

Things are finishing quite nicely for me. I’ve signed up for a silk painting class next month so there will be lots of new pictures to enjoy and drool over.  Might even find a way to sell some of the work online. 

I’m speaking again at Unity Church of Peace on 1/13/2008.  Subject is Hindsight: Looking Forward or how to leave the past in the past and discover new adventures moment by moment. Should be fun.

I’ve reclaimed my music which has been silent for almost 20 years. More about that later.

So, good people all, have a wonderfully magickal New Year’s and knock ’em daid in 2008!