June 29, 2012

Painting on Craft Paper

detail of Happy Times

How was Happy Times created?

On a recent trip to Mexico I wanted to do some acrylic painting. I bought about 15' x 5' of heavy craft paper at a papeleria and some inexpensive acrylics at the Mega Mart in San Jose del Cabo. Blue Tail Public Art Studio was also an excellent source for better quality acrylics and they were very helpful.

I tore the craft paper into more manageable sizes - about 2 ft x 3 ft.
My preference was to coat both sides with gesso but I didn't have any so I painted both sides with acrylic. The paper was quite absorbent so it took a LOT of paint. With gesso I would not be wasting all my colours.
Then I played:
- used found materials such as pieces of bamboo, twigs, leaves to use for drawing and stenciling
- collected yogurt containers for water, lids for paint pallets or for making a stencil
- cut up a cheap inner sole to use as a stamp
- made stencils from cardboard boxes
- paper towels were great for adding textures by gently pressing and lifting wet paint (and also for clean up)
- if area needed more experimentation, layered over with white or other colours and start again

I was lucky to be able to leave my 4 pieces laying on the floor. In the morning I would see something new or want to try a different colour or technique. These pieces probably have 4 or more layers of acrylic on them so the paper is definitely embedded within.

'drying rack'

The initial first layer of acrylic paint on both sides of craft paper.
Gesso is better for this first layer.

First marks inspired by bougainvillea leaves on ground.

I decided to cover the previous marks, added other shapes which were still inspired by the initial marks but I whited over the ones that didn't fit. Dots were added using a cork dipped in paint

This is the final version of Happy Times.
As you can see I covered over again.
You can still see some of the blue circles and the green and yellow shapes.
Dabbed on squares of colour using a sponge covered in paint.
Swirls were added - put paint in plastic bag, cut a small hole in one corner, squish paint through opening like cake decorating.

When my time was ending to leave the land of warm and sun, I rolled up the dried artwork and took on the plane back home. On arrival home I cut up one of the art pieces. I found 'sweet spots' within the larger piece (using a square cut out of cardboard or mat corners) and then cut into the smaller art pieces.

Here are two of my finished pieces:

The girl
24" x 36", acrylic on craft paper
 I saw this shape in my sea of white when I opened my curtains in the morning.
I traced the shape I saw and painted more details.

 24" x 36", Acrylic on craft paper
I made 3 stamps from an inexpensive inner sole and stamped the orange shapes.
 Bonus was the little holes in the inner sole subtly showed up when I stamped.
I carved another stamp from a wine cork which created the delicate white flowers.
The blue dot is the end of a pencil.
(this version no longer exists, I made 4 smaller art pieces and have sold 3)

June 28, 2012


 I recently returned from a 13 day Rick Steves tour of Turkey. AND IT WAS ABSOLUTELY awesome! Turkey is an amazing country - safe, clean, friendly and so much to see. Istanbul was our first stop - Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, grand bazaar and spice market, cats everywhere, beautiful carpets, shopping, shopping, shopping, good food.  The tile work and mosque ceilings were a constant source of inspiration.

April 4, 2012

Calyx Distinctive Arts Exhibition and Sale

I am very lucky and pleased to be accepted into the Calyx Distinctive Art Exhibition and Sale. This is a two day sale of quality and 'distinctive' art. There will be different artists on each day. My art will be exhibited on Saturday, April 21. I have all new art for sale, including a new abstract adventure, mirrors and 3D 'homes'.
Click artwork here or at the top of this website to see samples of my art.

Hope to see you.

March 19, 2012

Gelatin prints in Mexico

I had great intentions of producing gelatin prints of the various flower petals and leaves in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. It seems the humidity and warmth cause too much moisture to get the detailed print I want. Does anyone have any hints or suggestions?

February 23, 2012

New Paintings

I have been totally inspired and thrilled with a workshop I recently took with Samantha daSilva at Calgary School of Art. She shares her heart and ideas.

I have two new paintings for sale. Please see my artwork on this website.

Samantha daSilva 

February 10, 2012

Sharing information

One of the wonderful things (among many) with the world wide web is the sharing of ideas and information, easily and quickly. A good friend of mine, Jo Baarschers from Thunder Bay, Ontario, recently wrote to me saying she enjoyed my blog and asked if she could share her most recent art book projects. Jo is a calligrapher, exceptional card and book maker and is a member of the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild.

Jo says "I have made some wearable books and got some inspiration from your 'clothe the book' ". Inside each wearable book is a quote about ideas.

Jo continues to say "Also, in one of my "downsizing" efforts, I made a book structure I saw a few months ago in Bound and Lettered, Vol. 8, no.3 ... Lots of fun and lots of fiddling." She made three for her book exchange.

February 9, 2012

Calligraphy resource webpage

I received an email recently from an after-school program person:

"One of the girls (in an after school program) found a great calligraphy resource during computer time that I thought I'd share with you, http://www.overnightprints.com/calligraphy. Could you add this to your list? ..... Plus, I thought it would make a great addition to your page for others looking for information."

It does look like a great resource starting point for calligraphic information. 

February 8, 2012

Whose reading?

What an absolutely wonderful surprise to get this email. It is so nice to know that someone is able to use some of the information I  post...that's my goal..!

"I just wanted to send you a quick email to say thank you for your webpage.  I work at an after school program for middle school students and every year in February we have an arts and crafts day. We usually end up doing the same few projects year after year, so I thought doing some research would give me some new ideas. Your page has some great art resources that we will be able to share with the kids. Just wanted to say thanks for all the help! :-)"

My pleasure and have fun.

December 7, 2011

Making Books in Red Deer

I am the luckiest instructor. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to teach an enthusiastic, talented and friendly group of women in Red Deer. The Lettering Arts Guild of Red Deer hosted me to teach Making Books the Beginning. We all learned from each other. AND the tables were set up for me. The location and space at the Red Deer School Board were perfect. A lovely coffee break was also brought by one of the participants and I understand that they usually eat very well at these gatherings!

Some hints

  • Don't forget to remove your measuring strip (used to show where to punch holes for binding) from the signature when you begin sewing the signature pages together.
  • Those blue looped dental flossers are great for threading or beading.
  • When gluing always burnish the applied paper with a bone folder thoroughly
  • When making a slit, mark the beginning and the end of where you are going to cut with a needle to have a start and end point for the craft knife.
  • Learn how to tie a Square Knot - a knot that does not slip.

November 9, 2011

Needle felting

How easy is needle felting? Uber easy! Mechthild Reinders in Calgary, Alberta, Canada inspired me when I took her workshop recently on wet felting a purse. I would not have gone this next step without her wonderful instruction, encouragement and positive outlook. I also learned from a kit I bought to make a needle-felted heart by Blushing Lotus at Plush in Vancouver. It is a treasure of an instruction booklet. (note: jab and stab are the same)

1. This is pumpkin coloured merino wool roving. One layer
(about 10" x 5") is put on the foam.  The light coloured block
foam used to stuff cushions, etc,  is great as an underlay
for stabbing (the purple foam in this picture is
actually a foam pad used for rubber stamping).
Foam has to be underneath the wool to be felted. 
2. Another layer of roving is added in the same direction.
In this case I am trying a much coarser wool - Dorset -
from Alberta, Canada.

3. Roll up the two layers, like a jelly roll. Now you are
ready to felt with your needle.

4. Holding the felting needle (it is barbed and very sharp
so be careful), stab the rolled wool..make sure foam is
underneath so you have something to stab into...always
move needle straight in and out of wool or needle
will break easily. I do a few jabs and then roll
over and do more, until I have jabs on all sides and the
roll seems to hold shape a bit.

5. Now, get more serious. Stab lots, keep rotating your
roll. Gently fold over the ends and stab them to get a
finished end. Stab lots --50 to 100 or more times. Stab
until you get rid of those little bubbles and bumps. You
don't need to go right through when you think you're
getting done, can do tiny surface stabs. Check for sym-
metry and even density and smooth look.

6. Check the density. Here's how: clench your fist tightly,
feel the bubble of  muscle that is below the thumb on
your palm, it should be quite firm...this is firmly dense
(from The Blushing Lotus instructions for a felted heart).
BUT, I stopped when mine was softly dense - that's
how that thumb muscle feels when you relax your hand.

7. This is my finished roll at the softly dense stage.  It is
 about 7 1/2" x 3/4".
8. Now I get to see how my 'candy roll' looks inside!
 I cut it right in the middle with sharp scissors.

9. I continued cutting until I had all these coins that could be used for buttons or beads or other embellishing.


  • use all the same type of wool. I think the very coarse Dorset probably over powered the very fine, soft merino wool. Corriedale wool is supposed to be good for needle felting.
  • stab to a denser stage.
  • add more wool to make a bigger bundle.
  • do it again!!

November 2, 2011


I have a new adventure. I totally love Felting!!
Mechthild Reinders held a felting workshop recently at Leighton Arts Centre and I, along with 4 other lucky women, was able to attend. It was definitely an ultimate upper body workout (Mechthild reminding us to remember the Mongolian women making their yurts...) but totally worth the end product. We learned wet felting, dry felting and needle felting. Now I'm hooked...

1.  3 thin layers (each applied in different directions) of merino wool roving were placed on the resist (flooring liner). The resist was the shape of the purse and about 2 x larger than the finished size would be.

2.  Once the layers have been applied, the wool was wet with a mixture of soap and water. Bubble wrap with bubble side toward wool was placed over the wool and then the massaging began to meld the layers together.
3.  When the layers held together, it was flipped over, the sides folded around the resist. 3 more layers were added to this side. The above steps were applied to this side as well.
4. The fully 'clothed' & massaged resist was wrapped around a swim noodle along with the bubble wrap. Then it was rolled 40  times...lots of muscle, great upper body workout. Unrolled, flipped around & over, 3 more times and 40 more rolls on each turn. That's a lot of rolling...!! As Mechthild kept reminding us to "remember the Mongolian women..."
5. Now, it's time to throw the bag around and down and over and over for about an hour....! The resist is still inside. The bag begins to shrink even more at this stage. It's actually a fun stage...although aren't they all fun stages...
6. Now, finally, the resist can be removed...remember it was still a fully enclosed resist up to this point. The resist formed a pocket on the inside. So, the wool is layed out flat to the shape that it was supposed to be...it is now about half the size that it started out as in Step1.  It was cut threw two layers with scissors to form the upper handle of the purse. One layer of the flap was then completely cut off..the other layer formed the fold over part.

7. When all is done, the shape, shrinkage...it is rinsed in water to take out the soap and then placed in a vinegar and water bath to adjust the pH. No more shrinkage will occur after this stage (I think...).

8. TA DA!! A finished purse complete with my very first try at  dry needle felting...fun and rewarding.

Mechthild then showed us how to make a rope or cord. One layer of merino roving was placed on the bubble wrap in one direction. Another layer of roving was placed on top in the other direction. It was rolled up, thoroughly wet with soapy water. Then rolled back a forth until the cord was shrunk to desired density.

The Mongolian women build the inner covering of their homes similar to the above method except the fabric is rolled and dragged behind a horse in step 4.

July 28, 2011

Nan's Eco Print Books

So, as promised, here are the books Donna and I made and printed based on India Flint's techniques.

The four signatures for this book each contained 4 pieces of paper with the centre paper containing fabric that is sewn onto the paper. The four signatures with plant material were clipped together and 'cooked' in a water bath of rusted iron pieces, for about 30 minutes. When the pages were dry we bound them using reverse piano hinge style binding that I had seen in Gwen Diehn's book 'Real Life Journals'.

This next wonderful little book design is Hedi Kyle's Blizzard Book. The book was completely folded and then the plant material was placed in between the pages and pressed together with clips and bathed in water with rusted iron pieces. We also added 4 used tea bags which gave the pages a wonderful aged look. We absolutely love this book design and this technique of making plant prints.

page close up
inside view
back view

page close up

Finally, a few more plant prints. I do hope to bind these pages soon .......
aspen .. ?! ... outside ... wild rose leaves .... wild rose leaves ... poplar leaf ... poplar leaf ... dandelion

July 25, 2011

Eco Colour and Erosion Bundles

Did a fun project with Donna this past week at my summer place in an Alberta aspen forest area. Placed leaves and such from where we were into folded paper (arches text wove, water colour paper, etc, absorbent works best)..folded paper can be a meandering according fold, book signatures not sewn ... pressed the package really tight with clips, chopsticks, elastics, tart tins... cooked gently, no boiling, in water with copper or iron (which act as mordant) for about half hour or so...took out...opened while still wet .... 'it was like opening a present to ourselves!' I will try to post some pics when I get them.

This technique is based on one by India Flint and it is in her book Eco Colour: botanical dyes for beautiful textiles. This is one of her pieces from Marks on Paper:

Also visit the blog Erosion Bundles for some wonderful visuals.
Save the Erosion Bundle Image for your blog...