Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm a Winner

A few weeks ago I lamented the loss of my Chinatown teapot. I had no idea why it made me so sad that the fairly unremarkable pot had broken, but it did. A few days later Russelle let me know that I had won her Summer Mug Giveaway. While it's not a full replacement for a teapot, I am currently loving having a very generous portion of green tea in the afternoon.

The intricately designed mug has a Portland city scene and is glazed in a subtle and beautiful shade with purple undertones. There are buildings, trees a waterfront pathway illustrated as well as people jogging, playing and riding bikes. There's also a sneaky space ship thrown in for good measure.

A mug and delicious green tea.
Besides being able to fill my system with antioxidants from copious amounts of yummy green tea, I love that there are little hidden details like the building impressions behind the handle.

Thanks again!!

The story of the mug
Evidence of happy tea consumption
Your turn to enter to win something special

... J

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mail Art Monday: A Flickr Friend Swap

Masha Andreyeva found me on Flickr and was interested in a mail art exchange. I kicked it off with a variety of items including three silhouettes, which she really liked, a sketch of mushrooms, an 'I'm puzzled' clipping tag, a mountains framed clipping, and a personalized name sticker. Inside the large handmade feline envelope a mini star envelope contained stamps, googly eyes, an M (well, a W, but I was all out of furry M's) and a few shaped figures.

Masha asked me to go through her photostream and chose any so she could send me prints. It was hard to chose only a few because she has fantastic collection of close ups of natural elements. The colours are gorgeous and I hope to use them for inspiration on paintings or for colour palettes in my work.

Thank you Masha! I look forward to checking in on your future pictures to see your photographic exploration unfold.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sketchbook Project: Three Spreads Down

I'm participating in the Arthouse Coop's Sketchbook project again. Last year was such a joy. I had a lot of fun putting it together and met some really great people. This year I chose the theme "Ask Me How I Can Help" and I am interpreting this as advice spreads from older me to younger me.

This year I am off to a much slower start. By this time last year I was over half way done the entire sketchbook. Luckily there are less pages in the 2012 edition. I'm hoping to devote a great deal of time to it this Autumn so it's finished before Christmas takes over.

I read this phrase on Twitter ages ago and it applies as a reminder to pay attention, slow down and don't over share.

Last year's sketchbook had thin paper that bled through easily. While that often made some really interesting effects I decided to eliminate this on a few spreads by adding a thin layer of gesso first. It also created a nice texture on the paper. After that I sketched, painted with watercolour and then added ink.

It's not just me who learns by trial and error, right? I learned not to take shears and hairstyle decisions into my own hands right before the school pictures were taken. This spread had a gesso layer with a different texture than the one above. Watercolour and stamps from an eraser I carved.

I often have mini conversations in my head. Inner monologues, if you will. One side is usually the emotionally driven, worrying side and the other is the very quiet voice of reason. I had been fretting for a while about my eyes until I finally got around to a checkup. Turns out I only need to look away from the computer more often.

It's hard to tell in this photo but the glasses, speech bubbles and background all have different shades of gold and a slight sparkle.

I'm three spreads in and there are many more to go. Time to get crack-a-lacking!!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Painting Cards: Part 2

In my first post about the cards I have been painting I mentioned that there would be several more on the way. My next one is a dinosaur for my nephew's 5th birthday.

When I was brainstorming ideas I remembered that he loves the local natural history museum in Regina and has visited the best Dinosaur museum (and my personal favourite), The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. I was nervous to try this out as I have never drawn, let alone painted, a dinosaur before. I did online research and found a few good references for a T-Rex's shape and colouring.

Pencil Sketch

I thoroughly surprised myself with how well the initial sketch turned out. From there I knew I could produce a piece that looked good enough to mail to my nephew.

Background colour finished

Another thing that surprised me was that I remembered to stop and take pictures of the process. I rarely remember to do this.

Dinosaur colouring finished

Nearly forgot to take a picture after I was finished painting the T-Rex but caught myself after a few lines of the outline were finished. It was late in the evening so I was a little tired and (extra) forgetful.

Finished! ROAR!

It turned out better than I thought it would and I hope he'll hang it on his wall and enjoy it for years to come.

Coming next will be fishing and nautical themed paintings for my parents. Just putting the finishing touches on those.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Insect Envelope

The only piece of mail art to arrive this week was in Sumi Senthi's mail box. Sumi received her treats in one of my favourite insect envelopes. Stuffed inside was a framed clipping, stickers, a house & pipes sketch, a name tag, a 'she's well preserved' clipping tag, a pink & green card and a mini star envelope stuffed with photo corners and stamps.

Now that the weather has officially shifted towards fall I will hunker down and get to work on my long list of mail art replies.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Painting Cards - Part 1

Summer seemed to sweep right by and before I knew it, it was mid September and I had either missed several birthdays or they were quickly approaching. Rather than pop a store bought card in the mail with a sorry note, I decided to paint my own postcards in the hopes that handmade will equal forgiveness. 

For my friend's daughter's first birthday, I painted her name in a medley of colours. My daughter included a drawing of her own and I topped it off with a little letter sealed with a sea turtle sticker.

As an extention of my mail art and because I am sort of obsessed, I made another handmade envelope and label. The paper was taken from a DesignEdge Magazine's Awards Annual which has some gorgeous spreads and thick paper.

I have several more postcards in the works which I will post about soon. Perhaps after I get through this batch, I'll do a few more so they can arrive on time. Shocker!

... J

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friendship Bracelets

The other day I found a really interesting tutorial from Honestly WTF for chevron friendship bracelets. The only downside to this tutorial I found is that since I've never made one before I had a lot of questions that aren't covered in the steps.

About the same time Anika mentioned making bracelets for her niece & nephew. I asked if she could recommend a tutorial and she went one step further, she created her own! Her new blog, Classettes, will house her craft, art & design tutorials and the first two posts were friendship bracelets. I finally had a bit of a lull this weekend and took that opportunity to watch this video, gather my material and give it a go.

I started by making one for my daughter. I have been wearing a friendship bracelet from Sumi Senthi's mail art package and my daughter had been requesting one of her own.

For the wee little.

Anika's tutorial was easy to follow and thorough. I made an alternating red and pink strand for my daughter. Through most of the process she was hanging over my shoulder, asking questions and wondering why it was taking so long. For the record it was only a 10 minute project but that is an eternity to a 3 year old.

And one for me!

I had about half of it left so I made a small one for myself as well. This one is half pink and half red.

I'd like to try this out again with other colours and experiment with adding some beads. I'll likely try out her other one and then I might be savvy enough to try the chevron bracelet.


Anika's Bracelet tutorial 1
Anika's Bracelet tutorial 2
Honestly WTF Chevron Bracelet

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Ships, Maps and Stars

This week I learned of my first possible lost package. I've had a few bounce back due to being undeliverable or lacking a touch of postage, but this is my first lost one. The optimist in me is hoping that writing about it will bring it out of its hiding place while the pessimist in me thinks it's been tossed in a bin along the way. Let's not focus on the negative and get straight to the goodies.


Jessica Gowling may have the fastest turnaround time ever. Her secret, according to her most recent mail art post, is that she looks for and collects things she knows I'll like. She spoiled me rotten yet again by sending me the perfect ships and bees package.

Her shipping envelope had a tall ship on the cover and when I opened it the first item I spotted was the vintage ships book. What a treat! I'll absolutely be using this as a reference for future nautical themed art. There was a print of an altered book page with a ship, a ship sticker and a harbour picture. The nature and bee themed items included a cartoon bee flashcard, a small frog on rice paper and pages from a book with technical illustrations of bees and wasps.


Anna Jane Searle received a variety of pretty and sparkling things stuffed inside a map envelope. Space and dog stickers, a feather drawing, an 'Anna' name tag, a clipping frame around a small ink doodle, an 'oooo snip' tag, a sheet of beautiful hellebore specimens and a small star envelope filled with stamps, photo corners and sequins. Anna was kind enough to write a really sweet blog post with wonderful photos.

I've been filling people's envelopes with quick sketches on note paper. The sketches are images from old sketchbooks and the paper was from an inexpensive pad I picked up with the hope of doodling and stuffing into my daughter's lunch bag before school. I use a black pen and colour with some bright gel pens.

My second exchange with Kimi Kobashi included a turtle envelope, a mixed media drawing, an 'away we go' passport clipping tag, a star frame clipping, a paintbrush drawing, a personalized 'kimi' name tag, a feather silhouette print and a constellations mini envelope packed with vintage stamps.

I bought a stack of astronomy magazines at the library and have been using the beautiful imagery to make mini envelopes and framed clippings. The tags are another way for me to use random clippings in a purposeful manner. I found a stash of tags in my collection and glued down the clipping with an interesting phrase that came to mind.

Kimi has just started a new collaborative project in which I will be participating. Her Portrait:Landscape travelling journal is just in the initial stages, but I'm excited to see the work, feel the pages and contribute my own art.

In the back of my head I thought I had only recently mailed Michelle Ashton's package but she reminded me that it was actually at the beginning of August. A full month in transit is really unusual and it's quite likely that it's MIA. Perhaps writing about it will bring it out and into her mailbox... here's hoping.

Inside the handmade sea otter envelope was a Vermeer postcard, a coneflower silhouette print, three drawings including mushrooms, a nest and bamboo, two wildlife stamps, two framed clippings, one in a silver frame and one in an old slide, a small packet was stuffed with a maple seed, sequins, stamps and stickers.

I have one more week of attempting to accomplish a number of overdue items on my to-do list including handmade (late) birthday cards and a few watercolour paintings. I plan on getting back to my mail art replies next week.

... J

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Three New and One Original

Three out of three of my incoming packages this week were from new mail art pen pals and my single arrival was to my original pen pal, Jessica.


I've known Anika Starmer for a while now (close to a year, I think) via Twitter but this is the first package I have received from her. She was the the runner up on my cork stamp giveaway and since she was so very close I had to send her a set as well. In return, I ended up winning one of her paintings from her 20 in 20 challenge. She pulled together a delightful and colour coordinated parcel that included her geometric painting, handmade cards with envelopes, an original sketch, colourful victorian inspired cut outs, stickers, vintage seed packets, an origami balloon and a temporary 'to do' list tattoo.

Anika left a small note on the origami balloon saying that if I needed help figuring it out, I should ask. Uh, I need a little assistance. Perhaps another video tutorial? Anika just launched another blog, Classettes, which will house her creative tutorials. I will definitely be trying out her friendship bracelets as I have a bunch of colourful floss leftover, wee recipients who won't notice any irregularities and quick access to the teacher to bug if I have questions.

Dana Davis asked if I'd like to exchange beautiful mail and I jumped at the chance. I've been reading her blog and drooling over her beautiful, lush garden. I feel as though her package was influenced by her garden as it featured flower prints, a handmade flower card and several beautiful photos (which I will attempt to paint and perhaps send back to Dana). There was also a clever 'How to be an artist' sheet, large and colourful buttons, a map themed page from a magazine (all of the items featured are drool-worthy), an inspirational card, a colourful round print and three cork frames.

I believe that Dana is fairly new to exchanging mail art so I will put my creative brain to work to make a package worthy of this great start.

Emily Orpin put together a reply that was perfectly suited to my taste. This wasn't entirely surprising as the contents of her blog usually make my heart flutter. The treats were housed inside a handmade map envelope and included map bunting (yup, heart is fluttering), a seagull clipping, a print from her recent trip to Dubrovnik, personalized and patterned stickers and a sweet personal letter.

The two show stoppers were the bird bird clippings with stamps on card stock and the beautiful, blue Maedeup ornaments. I love the images, the torn edges of cream paper mounted on dark kraft paper and the light overlapping stamp.


I delayed my reply to Jessica Gowling since she was away for most of the summer and I knew she'd have quite a lot of packages to sort through when she returned. I gathered together a funny assortment of clippings, found material and original pieces. Jessica wrote about my package here.

My daughter recently started drawing pages during our craft sessions and was specifically outlining that this was for "mommy's friends to send in the mail". Jessica received an original (and the first discernible) rainbow by my 3-year-old. Usually her drawings are bursts of erratic colour (that I love) but recently the images are now forming and there are things that look like rainbows, flowers and birds.

I'll be taking a couple of weeks off from creating new mail art to work on a few projects including new creature watercolours, a few craft projects and studio resort/organize/cleanup. By the time I begin creating again I hope to have some fresh ideas and new material.

... J
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