Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cupid is 13 years young!

Christmas Day was my German Shepherd Dog Cupid's birthday. She made it to 13, which is quite an achievement for a large breed, purebred dog from American show dog lines that are typically quite inbred. Her sire was Grand Victor Ch. Mar Haven's Color Guard, who also had sheepherding titles. Her Ch. dam was a Ken-Delaine Mastercharge daughter.
13 years and two months ago Dana and I packed up Cupid's dam, Viva, and headed off from Tucson AZ to the Sacramento CA area to breed Viva. We'd picked her sire, "Boss" after we'd seen him at dog shows. He was big, nearly solid black, young, and knock-your-socks-off gorgeous. He was an incredible mover and had a wonderful temperament. After 63 days of gestation, Viva started having her 9 puppies late Christmas eve and continued through most of Christmas Day. She got super-tired and we spent most of Christmas at the emergency animal hospital. No C-section - thank goodness - but lots of oxytocin and walking. Since we had nine little Christmas babies, Dana suggested we name them after Santa's reindeer. So, in addition to Cupid, there was a Blitzen, a big longcoated male who was nicknamed Bear. There was a Vixen, who lived up to her name and was a real handful. She ended up living with a state park employee who took her to work with him and provided her with a wonderful life. Yes, there was a Rudolph (no red nose) who was called Rudy. I had hopes that he would be a showdog but he ended up being a monorchid :( And I can't forget to mention Comet who, as an older pup, caught a bird in our backyard. I guess Comet lived up to his name too. He must have had a special talent...none of my other Shepherds have ever caught a bird.
Thank you for the memories, Cupid. And thank you for your undying love over the years. You add so much to my life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gangsta crafters

This is pretty dang funny video.
I think it can be enjoyed even if you're not a crafter/artist-type.
Warning: there's some mildly rough language.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An artfully wonderful time of year

Today marks the day that two excellent freebies become available to blogland.

The awesome Tim Holtz began the first of his annual 12 Tags of Christmas and admits he may have gotten "a bit carried away" on his snowy, blue, crackly Winter Wishes tag. Tim offers an easy-to-follow, detailed tutorial with close-up photos each day and giveaways too! If you haven't met Tim Holtz yet, his blog is a must visit. He is incredibly talented and very generous.
Lisa Vollrath's Christmas countdown printables kicked off today too, with the first of 25 collage image sheets. Lisa requires that you link to her website before downloading her fantastic vintage images, which is a tiny price to 'pay' for those of us addicted to graphics.
I hope you enjoy these two early Christmas gifts as much as I do~

Monday, November 16, 2009

An amazing artist

Yesterday I went to a fiber fair held at a place I've been meaning to go for a long time now: the Textile Center in Minneapolis. There were spinning and weaving demonstrations, sales of materials and finished products, and exhibits of wonderful art as well as clothing. I was absolutely enthralled by the work of Julie Crabtree-Pfannes, shown here---->
This 20"x20" piece is titled Autumn Glory and, like much of her work, is a handmade paper and hand-dyed fiber collage of distressed fabrics, paint, and free-motion sewing.
She is inspired by the Northwoods of Minnesota and her art was amazing and so textural. I only wish I could afford one of these works!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vintage sewing goodies

A bit late, but here's a photo of someone's old sewing kit that I picked up at a yard sale this summer. I hope to reuse some of the contents in art pieces. I especially love the antique fabric tape measure, and can you dig that far-out 70's fruitcake tin???

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red piece

I've been working on this collage forever. It started out as corrugated cardboard that I sanded, painted, and sanded some more. Then I started applying different recycled materials--a painted dryer sheet, a few labels soaked off of various jars, some trim from a box of Valentine chocolates, and more vintagey-looking scraps. The lady came from a workshop I took from Mike Putman @ JackandCatCurio. I gave her some wings made from maple tree seedpods, aka "helicopters".
I can't think of a name for this piece; if you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment!
Oh, and to my wonderful, sweet, Star Wars-obsessed son:
Happy 7th Birthday, Alexander!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Early winter

The past couple of weeks, I've been living one of my worst nightmares: winter has come early here in Minnesota.
Early snow and way-below average temps.
Why do I hate it so much?
A lot has to do with fear. I remember sliding down a snowy hill, driving the minivan, out of control.
I remember getting the van stuck in ice in a parking lot and 4 men had to help me push it out.
I remember not being able to drive the van up our driveway because it was so slick with ice.
I remember slipping and sliding and falling on the ice many times.
I remember earlier this year Cupid straining /spraining something in one of her rear legs while tromping thru a bank of snow. There was no one to call for a ride; somehow she managed to limp all the way home. Followed by an expensive trip to the emergency vet.
I remember - on less painful walks with Cupid - my face feeling frozen, icy tears being whipped from my eyes, my fingers numb with cold despite wearing gloves.

To cope, I've learned that it's vital that I get out of the house at least daily during winter. Having such unpleasant memories makes that difficult, but it's high on my list of survival tools. Another tool that I started using last year is to list things for which I'm grateful, also daily. At least two a day. In my fowlest moods, that tough to do; other days they come easily.
Today I'm feeling especially grateful for my group. They're a wonderful bunch, some of whom have become friends in addition to being support people. I have a feeling I'll be relying on them heavily this winter.
Another thing I am grateful for is the beauty of nature. I took this photo of a baby maple tree last fall. It was growing up thru the center of a shrub (dogwood?) and couldn't have been more than 15" tall. Just adorable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ahh, I got to swim today. First time in several months. During the summer, with all the kids out of school, I give up on swimming laps. Then there was the annual pool maintenance, which closed it for another month.
I love to swim. I feel very comfortable in the water. Swimming is almost meditative for me. To swim in the tropical atmosphere of our gym's pool, with all the sunlight coming in those walls of windows, is wonderfully calming. I have to admit that it's somewhat surreal to be looking out those windows when it's the middle of winter and the snow is flying outside.
Tonight, though, my long-dormant swimming muscles are starting to complain. Will the remedy be ibuprofen or smelly Icy Hot?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn musings

Yep, winter is coming. I wish I could enjoy autumn without dreading the season that follows. Cupid and I took a short walk today in the woods where we used to take long walks. Her neurological disease doesn't allow her to take the extended walks of the past. I could tell that she remembered the place. She took a nice poo, ate a little grass, and enjoyed the smells. I thought of my dad, who passed away in 1993; he understood how a dog appreciates the opportunity to defecate away from home.
The leaves are starting to change color and drop, after some extended summer weather. It's been about 10 degrees above normal for the past couple-three weeks (another Jim McWilliam-ism). Poor school kids...class rooms don't have air conditioning around here. The colors of the leaves is one of the things that helps me keep my sanity around this time of year. Even a transplanted Arizonan like myself can appreciate the beauty. Getting out into nature is so necessary for me - at any time of year - and I have Cupid to thank for promoting that. I doubt if many people can understand why I feel about this dog the way that I do. I'm sure most of my friends and family think I'm off in the head the way I have included this animal in my life. She's gone on trips with me- by car and by plane- and she goes on nearly every errand with me unless it's too warm. She has her own couch which is placed in front of the living room picture window so she can watch the action in her front yard and on Griggs St. Cupid has been my silent friend for almost 13 years now. She is a comfort to me when I am sad, a calming presence when life gets difficult. She has been my protector and my creative inspiration. I am amazed by her common sense and the grace with which she has handled her advancing years. Her beauty feeds my soul and her quirky sense of humor has added much joy to my life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze 1952-2009

Patrick Swayze died yesterday. He was only 10 years older than me. I wasn't a huge fan of his, but I am of Saturday Night Live, and remember when Patrick hosted SNL back in 1990. He did a hilarious dance skit with Chris Farley (1964 -1997). The video is 6 minutes long, but well worth the time.
Chris Farley - Chippendales
I love that Patrick didn't take himself too seriously.
Rest in peace, Patrick. Thanks for the laughs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Help! Mom's a cougar!

I've been avoiding writing about Alexander's and my trip to Terra Haute, Indiana to attend the Colts (NFL) training camp. I know for sure that I'm going to sound like a cougar....ggrrowwl... or a teenage girl...oooh, he's so dreamy...
Yep, my favorite player was there. Peyton Manning, up close and personal. Stretching and running and throwing. What a thrill it was to be able to watch this future Hall of Fame quarterback practice for his 11th year with Indianapolis Colts.
It was hot and humid and difficult to keep Alexander amused but Colts City helped. A climbing wall, jumping castle, and free snow cones helped break up the monotony for him. Alexander and I "kamped" at a nearby KOA for the three days, which went much smoother than I anticipated for his first tent-camping experience. It was a fun mom and son trip. Thanks, Dana, for help making it happen.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

slide ornaments

Here are my first two attempts at making microscope slide ornaments and soldering. Now I truly understand why soldering requires a lot of practice. My efforts are pretty rough but I'm glad I gave it a shot, and I'm sure I will make more of these.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Altered Book Collage by Barbara Matthiessen

I've been perusing this book recently while exercising at the gym (for some crazy reason, my best place to think about art) and it's really inspired me. I must have bought it a long time ago, probably at Joann's with a 50% off coupon, then put it on the shelf and forgot about it. But now that I'm getting ready to host an altered book round robin, I looked to it for some tips and I'm so glad I did!
Even though this book may look a bit dated (published 2005), it is chock full of instructions, project ideas, tips, and techniques. Barbara seems to cover everything---including faux finishes like rusting, niches, resist backgrounds, heat embossing, microscope slide embellishments, stitching on pages, even image transfers. The text is clearly written and there are plenty of step-by-step photographs.
Barbara is teaching at Art Unraveled in Phoenix this week and I wish I was there, taking one of her workshops. Maybe next year...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lake Itasca

Cupid and I are off to Lake Itasca State Park this morning, hopefully. I say hopefully because my dear old dog had diarrhea last night and a very rumbly tummy this morning. She's had some probiotics and a Maalox and ate a little chicken and rice and seems to be feeling O.K. She's always had a very sensitive GI tract.
The University of Minnesota has a biological station at Itasca where Dana (hubby) has taught for the past two years. Alexander (son) has gone with him both times but this will be my first time there. I'm joining them for just a few days out of the two weeks they're gone. It's about a 4 hour drive northwest, which isn't bad at all unless you have a sick dog with you!
I'd better continue packing...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Journal cover

I finished this journal cover a few days ago. It's a collage of Graphic 45 paper, some botanical images, a bit of handmade (not by me though) paper with plant material in it, a little mesh fabric, and some dried flowers. I painted on some diluted inks too, which worked well with the texture of the handmade paper. In retrospect, I think I wish that I'd skipped the dried flowers except for that tiny brown one in the center. I will still enjoy writing and sketching in my new altered journal though.
Have a happy day!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Beeswax collage

Here's the 2nd project from the Mike Putman workshops I attended last summer. It started with a 12x12 piece of MDF to which we all added patterned papers, transparency and paper images, chipboard, and and anything else we desired to complement to the wonderful kits that Mike provided. Everything was adhered and layered with beeswax which we then rubberstamped and applied Pearl-Ex. When I finally brought it home due to fears of the beeswax melting in transport, I added some additional glass beads, Rub and Buff, and tried some gold foiling which I didn't quite get the hang of. I'll have to attempt it again, not on beeswax though.
It was first time working with beeswax and, though I haven't used it since, I do look forward to playing with it again. It smells really good! Mike was a great instructor and even let me stay late to get as much finished as I could. The workshops were held at a wonderful little store called Mystic Paper in Mesa, AZ. If you're ever in the area, you must try to stop by! It's in an old building that is reported to be haunted, and the store is decorated with antiques and lots of vintage items. Too much fun!

Monday, June 15, 2009

A creation from last summer

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to take two workshops with Mike Putman from Jack and Cat Curio. This is from the first--using metal tape, chipboard, mica, India ink, and more on a wooden plaque.
The class was a blast--fun and conversational, yet inspiring and technique-oriented. Lots of interesting people. Mike makes everyone feel welcome and brings out their creativity. If you ever get a chance to take one of his classes, don't miss that opportunity!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A tag

I finished this tag yesterday after working on it too long, as usual. However, I am getting better with my intent to "Do rather than think" in regards to art.  
For this tag, I used my new-ish Tim Holtz stamps plus a variety of paper and ephemera scraps that were on my work table.  
Now I really need to get working on a small gift for my boy's kindergarten teacher.  I have less than a week!  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cuteness alert!

Cupid found a nest of baby bunnies about 10 days ago.  Mama bunny had decided to have them in the center of an old lilac bush in our backyard, despite the fact that a German Shepherd Dog lives here.  We knew we would do everything in our power to protect the babies from Cupid, and after reading all about about what to do if you find baby bunnies, we also decided to try to protect the babies from the neighborhood cats.  What made a lot of sense to me in the information gathering was that dogs and cats are not natural predators of rabbits and helped me decide that we should definitely try to protect the babies, although I would have done it anyway :) 
Online, we learned that it's darn difficult to keep cats out of places where they really want to go but we laid chicken wire on the ground, strung shiny moving things in the lilac bush, and sprayed a nasty-smelling dog and cat repellant along our fence.  Luckily, our strategy didn't also repel mama bunny. We also learned online that rabbit mothers only visit the nest around dawn and dusk, and then for only about 5 minutes.  Sure enough, when we watched closely, she'd show up when it was nearly dark and really hard to see her, circle the lilac bush to make sure it was safe, then stealthily jump into the bush.  Even with binoculars it was very difficult to see her in the bush while feeding her young.  
We've left the nest alone, as difficult as that has been, only checking occasionally that the bedding material of soft fur and dried grasses was patted down and covering the small dug-out hole with the babies inside. But Saturday, as I took a peek at the bedding, I noticed a large number of small ants swarming around the nest area.  I got really sad, because a big group of ants often indicates something dead nearby.  I asked hubby to do the dirty work of checking more closely but surprisingly, the two babies are fine and way too adorable!  Mother Nature would not be happy but I had to see these little cuties up close, so hubby pulled one of them out of the hole for Alexander and me. Their eyes are now open and their back legs are already strong.  Since they only stay in the nest for 16-20 days, I expect they're going to be hopping out any day now.  What a fun learning experience this has been!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's not too early to get excited about Mother's Day, is it?

Look what I found on the internet!  It could be the most perfect Mother's Day ever!  I enrolled in a beginning needle felting class in which we'll make woolly sheep, and I probably volunteer for a couple of hours too.  Like I need another crafty hobby...
Here's the URL if anyone's interested: http//

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm 25% Irish

I tried pretty hard to find a vintage St. Patrick's Day image that included sheep---yes, my love affair with sheep continues--which means I spent too much time sitting on my butt, searching.  I bet I could have found one eventually, but that would have entailed spending way too much time. You wouldn't think it would that difficult since Ireland is all about the sheep, right? However, I found these two sweet lasses, one hugging her Irish Setter.  

This is my first attempt at uploading copyright-free images for others to use and I hope I did it right.  

The Davis/McWilliam family will be enjoying corned beef and cabbage tomorrow with a hastily-procured Wikipedia version of the history of the day for Alexander.  

There are so many great Irish blessings, but here's one that I especially liked today:

May you never forget what is worth remembering or remember what is best forgotten.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Belated Valentine

I finally finished my husband's Valentine's Day card!  Actually, it was done a couple of days ago but I added the little heart-scroll thingy to it today. Maybe if I start working on our anniversary (5/23) card now, I have a chance of getting it finished on time!  

Monday, March 9, 2009

Blah today

Here's a strange little piece of art I just finished. I don't know what it means...I was playing with laminate and wallpaper samples and some patina'd copper strips, and this is what happened!  

I am so blah today--partly because I'm tired because my boy threw up a couple of times during the night and is home sick today, and partly because once again it's cold and gray outside.  We'd gotten a couple of days when the snow and ice were melting and the sun was shining and it gave me hope that just maybe spring would actually arrive here in MN...eventually. Then the harsh realities of winter reappear. Typical March. Up and down.  For now, I will tell myself to enjoy the bright red of that cardinal sitting in the bare brown tree in our backyard...and then do it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A rushed post

I should not be blogging right now!  I desperately need to finish packing for my trip to AZ but it was important to me to get this collage posted.  I've been working on it forever and I still might mess with it a little more.  It was a bit too wide for the scanner so the edges are cropped off a bit.  
I'm making a not-so-New Year's resolution, and that is--in regards to my making art--to use my brain less and hands more.  To think about a project less and work on it more.  To just make something and not worry that it might not be perfect. To not look at 37 magazines for inspiration because 99% of the time, I end up going with my original idea anyway. There it is.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I'm a proud mama

My son, Alexander, had his first exhibit at his school's art fair on Tuesday.  He used crayons, markers, and watercolors to decorate clip art butterflies. We attached them to a branch painted with gold acrylic paint and supported by a mound of air-dry clay. Alexander had the most fun embellishing the clay with beads, sequins, and small paper clips. We gave the clay a few spritzes of homemade glimmer mist (Pearl-Ex + turquoise re-inker in water). Although the entries weren't judged, Alexander thought it was really cool to receive a certificate of participation. The butterflies will now be sent to the Holocaust Museum Houston for their Butterfly Project.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snow dog

Here's my old Cupid-dog, getting snowed on recently.  Most senior dogs like a cozy, warm place to curl up, don't they??  Not Cupid.  She loves to lay outside on the deck on all but the coldest days.  Crazy bitch :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Blog guilt

Blog guilt. I'm suffering from it. Occurs when you've neglected your blog for too long. Yep, I took the Blogging without Obligation pledge when I first started my blog, but some of the guilt remains. I try to use it to my advantage and turn it into a boot to the butt to get busy.  

Here's a little button fairy whose components had been sitting on my art table for way too long. The guilt-motivated kick to the pants helped me decide to finally finish her up. It is dang hard to get a good picture of one's artwork sometimes, though. I'm going to try making a lightbox which may help me get some of my beads posted on Etsy too. 

'Til next time, whenever that may be.....