Chronicles of an Art Journey

I started this project late last summer. I had no idea back then (but I should have) that I would decide to enter this one in Art Prize.  I just wanted to experiment with scale. Sometimes I work too small and my work is tight and forced. I deliberately try to work larger thinking my work will be loose and free. But even with my best intentions a lot of time my work ends up small.  So I bought myself a very tall tomato cage and went to work creating an armature.

The Aliens In My Yard.
More flashbacks? Man, if only I'd known back then....

Well, I'm stuck on Helen's neighbor ladies. They each hold something which has been created but needs to be painted (by the way my daughter is sitting next to me buzzing like a fast car rather than doing her practice math and I am resisting the urge to reach over an knock her right off that stool- God, I hate noises!)but I'm stalled at the painting part.

And the odor eaters...well, do I paint next...or should I use marker to create the little drawings on them? Should I hang one from its piece of driftwood? Do I do one or work in stages on all three of them. Maybe that Etsy store will never get opened!

So to keep moving- I have all these ideas waiting to come to fruition- I started a different project. Not a new one- this one has been waiting in line- in the form of a tomato cage that I've tripped over a dozen times.

So far I've attached a head using a large paper mache egg purchased on clearance after Easter. I used painters tape that I painstakingly saved after painting the dining room a scrumptious shade of spiced orange- take that- recyclers and repurpose-ers! Then I used screen that I bought in a roll for 13.oo, not typical window replacement screen that I often use but screen that is cut in an 8" width by 100' long to cover your rain gutters with. There is specific armature screening out there for shaping forms but lets face it- it comes in small squares and is rather expensive in comparison to this screen. I am as about as cheap as they come and one of my talents is looking at something and thinking- what else could it be. I encourage you to think this way too- it will open up a whole new world for you. You may go stark raving mad but sometimes that's when you get the best ideas.

After I had several layers of tape (don't worry- I still have many strips of blue paint stuck to my wall in my office to hubby's chagrin) I used plaster strips to start to give her some firmness. I will add a ton of paper mache' on top of that and then paper clay. She's over 4' tall so I'm expecting this project to really eat into my supplies.

Obviously this is another 'lady'. I want her to have a skinny neck and skinny arms like many of the ladies I've seen created by all you art journal-ing guru's out there. I'm not copying, per se, but rather joining in- for at least one sculpture. I'll find a way to make it my own- when she tells me- right now the phrase "I'm just a girl." keeps popping into my head.

7-28 -2010

Warning- these are not the most flattering pictures of me.

In effort to keep going in the last days of July (August has to be dedicated to getting ready for the upcoming semester and the two classes that need major renovations!) I decided to work on little lady's face. Paper mache applied this thickly will take days to dry and I just hope I don't have to worry about mold. I have the dehumidifier going right next to her.

I decided to share with you this portion of the project because its somewhat spiritual to sculpt a face. I found myself deep in thought about the day and my place in life as I worked up her facial features. I felt almost as if I were creating a real entity and I watched her come into being before me.

I smoothed

and pressed

and shaped

and thought to myself- I could do this every day
and if I could do this every day-

what stories I could tell!

New Found Wisdom At Work

After pouring over and bookmarking all the pages from those Art Nouveau books that appealed to me I made copies of all. Then I poured over the copies. I thought and I thought- how do I make this work for my current project? How do I create some sense of order? Do I make a pattern? I wanted her to have some mixed up melodious story woven in and out.....I wanted complex- like we women are- yet with some sense of a simple overall statement- "I'm just a girl" is what she seems to say to me over and over.

So I cut up all the pieces that I thought incorporated my intentions and laid them out on my living room floor. I moved them around until a picture came to mind and then out came my sketch book.

I soon realized that I would never be able to execute this complex pattern on my girls wavy gown. So I adapted.

I intend to use wire to outline these shapes and fill in with 'frit' which I just learned about. Its crushed up glass. How cool is that? Texture and reflection and depth- yummy eye-candy!

But I am way far away from being done. I want to add in some images of women- between the leaves and fronds.

And then there is the whole front side of her to 'decorate'. Stay tuned folks!


This is what big little lady will be holding. What is it? Why a bird of course!

The bling? Well, had to do something with the back of the cavity! A ballerina stolen from (yes, Kayla might get it from me...) Brooke's jewelry box will circle around inside her new little world. She's attached to the music box which will be part of the bird. If all goes well a person should be able to turn the key and hear a pretty little song while the ballerina twirls a pretty little dance. Cool, right? Wish me luck.

Oh, yeah- the bling- After shopping blissfully childless and alone at Michael's I purchased 56.00 worth of stuff. I was on a quest to provide a suitable back drop for the tiny dancer.

I bought spray paint to re-silver mirrors- $12.00, and $17.00 worth of glass beads from Martha Stewart. Crushed glass.


Here's a quick peek at the ballerina that will fit in the bird. What species of bird is it? No clue. Pigeon? Nothing too exotic. Anyhow this little lady measures 3 1/2". Her head is approx 3/4". Wow, try putting a face on that! So she's not as pretty as I'd hoped but still has a certain 'old world quality'? I really like how this paper clay paints up and varnishes. I may use gloss on her. Her tutu is covered in glass glitter. As I intend to use frit on the body of the piece I wanted to use real glass glitter on her and will use some of those tiny, tiny glass marbles- somewhere- as well.

I'm excited to get to working on the lady herself again but this sculpture is building itself in a certain order. Had to figure out what she was holding before I could do the hands. Had to figure out what the bird contained before I can finish it. Had to figure out a way to contain and protect the ballerina. Had to figure out the back ground for the ballerina...which led to the shopping trip and broken goes on and on....can you say obsessed? This may well be a year long process. Hang in with with me- would you?? white, mauve and silver. Foil in case I changed my mind about the paint- $7.00 And then walking out the door I changed my mind on how I wanted to make all this happen. I decided I would buy some Christmas ornaments, crush them up and sprinkle them and the silver glitter glass in a bed of glue. It would be like a mirror but fractionalized. So the paint and the foil never even made it into the house 'cuz I'm returning them!

What do you think?

Ballerina Revisited

I tried. Really, that goofy grin. Couldn't just get myself to leave it alone. Perfectionist? Yeah, I know- perfectionism = limits. rest until she was...
just as beautiful as I thought she could be.

Once again I turned to my friend- the embellishment queen- Kristi for help with tiny ballerina's tiara. Kristi works at Pages in Time, a scrap booking store, so she's got the 'in' on all things tiny. She's also on this wonderful journey of all things felted and I wish I could show you the fabulous scarf she just made out of a strange silk (nou nou???) that she then felted and embellished. Turned out to be very sophisticated and I covet it. I would send you to her blog for proof of how wonderful it is but she hasn't updated it since her trip to Ireland this summer. Maybe if I guilt her enough....

Any how, I used this really cool twisted wire I purchased from a florist supply store and glued on the world's smallest gems (thanks, Kristi, now get to that blog!) and viola` - a tiny tiara. Its difficult working that small, people!

I refrained from making ballet slippers because- 1. no one will see them and 2. I'd have to melt the hot glue that is keeping ballerina straight when she twirls. She's got a definite tilt to the side- looks like a tiny ballerina that got a tiny bit tipsy before she went in front of her audience! Thank goodness for hot glue even if it is a bit gloppy.

Anyhow- that's all for now. Am in the final weeks of the semester- big projects for the students going hot and heavy. Leaves little time to Facebook or blog. I do check in with your blogs so keep it coming! Take care.

Woman Down, Art Broken!!!

I was supposed to be showing you a picture like this.....

...because I spent last week concentrating hard on getting small details to a point where I could finally paint the damn bird. Things like creating a nice edge between the cut area (belly) and the body. Oh, yeah, I told you how I overwound the first music box mechanism and searched all over for a new one right at Christmas then wondered how I would ever get her off of one and onto the other, right? Well I did all that but then worried about it happening again so rather than just gluing the ballerina/music mechanism and ornament in I figured out a way to make it removable.

Yeah- it was a real brain buster and let me tell you my house is a wreck/bills are unpaid/everything has been neglected. So I got through all of this finagle-ing petrified the whole time that I would break something and it would be unrepairable. Literally- at one point I was using gas grill lighter to melt plastic to create a "plate". I'm telling you, after this I am qualified to be lost on a deserted tropical island with a a group of people (think Gilligan's Island here) and I will make things out of tree fronds and sea weed to help us survive in comfort. Just don't ask me to cook- leave that up to Marianne.
I digress, again.

So, yesterday I painted the bird. Then I repainted it. Then I rubbed it, painted it, rubbed it, adjusted the color and said "Oh, my God, I love it!" Then, later when it was dry, I grabbed the bird, my soda-pop and headed for my lower level to take many pictures to show you all.

Ever fallen down a flight of stairs? It happens quick. The soda pop launced against the wall and the bird took flight. It was similar to the episode of WKRP (don't worry if this doesn't ring any bells- it was a 1980's sitcom- loved Less Nessman) where they thought it would be a good promotion to do a turkey drop out of a helicopter not knowing turkeys don't fly well. My bird didn't fly well, either.

My bird was broken on both wings and tail feathers. The plastic bulb protecting the ballerina had a split in it. And this morning I noticed that even tiny ballerina is in need of repair as both of her arms have hairline fractures. Arrgh, doesn't begin to describe my chagrin.

I might have yelled a bit. Especially when no one came running to see why I screamed the first time. And with soda pop pooling up on the new carpet I knew I had to deal with that quickly. So, I had to crawl up the stairs and limp into the bathroom to get a towel and get back to the toxic spill which I managed to do all of that before my Karate Champ Kalya brought me three tiny paper towels from the kitchen. Before you think badly of the nine year old let me tell you that the 7 1/2 year old never left the computer even though she heard me screaming for towels. Worse yet- hubby was in the garage and 'just thought Kalya spilled something again' and never bothered to check. I love them all though, I do.

I might not have been so upset except that I loved, loved, loved the way the wings turned out. I've never done feathers before. Not out of anything, paint or paper clay. I kinda thought if I could do this then it must be true that I could do anything. But the Chris Factor is never to be minimized, never.

Thank goodness that 'Chris' is a really determined chick. I have already started to repair the bird and it is turning out well so far. I will not be defeated by a horizontal trip down a flight of stairs. I will however use the guilt of a broken Mama to torture my family. I asked Brooke if she would rub my broken butt and she did answer "eeewww, uhh, errr, MAYBE!" in a squished up, raggedy voice that let me know that even though she would never forgive me for making her- she was kinda, somewhat willing to make my pain a little less. Ahh, the power a Momma has....brings me back to all those times I saw my Mother in her underwear and had to go to my happy place to get past it. Fluffy white bunnies, fluffy white bunnies....

Look at Those Cheeks!  I Could Just Pinch Those Cheeks!

I started right away to repair the broken bird. I was very dedicated and I have to say I'm pleased to report everything A-ok, in the end. Well, maybe not my broken rump but there's only so much that can be done about that- without surgery or worse- exercise.

I thought I'd pick up a brush and apply some color to big little lady's gown but there must still be some thinking to do because instead I found myself working on her eylids- which turned into lower lids and nose and forhead and eyes.

And here she is ready to speak to me (and you) and say something so very important. She is- just look at those eyes!

I'm a little afraid she's going to say "Hey! Why'd ya make my nose so big?" But I am prepared to tell her its just perfect. Those cheeks! Those lips! I can't wait to have her develop even more. But wait I will, its been another hellish week at work. I don't know what the economy has been in your part of the world but here, in Michigan, at my firm- we're way understaffed and running with the heat turned down way low. But, we're here, the doors are open and we trudge along.

One question that is nagging at me- what will I do with her hair? Really! I have only one idea and am not particularly sure that is the best one, at that. I will thicken up her neck-just a bit, not much. I don't want to get too realistic because, well, reality sucks! Ask my sore rump!

Next up will be her hands. I am putting that off because we all know hands are hard. I suspect they may actually be easier to sculpt than draw. I'll let you know. Then I have to figure out how to permanently attach the bird. Do I screw through the hands into the bird? Use glue? use glue and screws? Right now I have an extra long twist tie holding the bird in place.

I will hold my breath the whole time I am figuring this out, I promise, because- well, I'm just saying if my follower in France or my follower in Auckland hears a piercing scream off in the far, far distance they can be sure its me and something bad happened. But let us think positive and perhaps say a teeny prayer that all goes well. Right? Anyhoo, hope you all are well, warm and cozy and looking forward to Spring. I am!

I'm Not God But I Did Make Bird Eyes!

Ok, I'm going to make this quick! I'm in the middle of my first ever architectural rendering and there is a real client waiting for this masterpiece so I have to figure out how to turn this trainwreck around. (That means that so far things are not going well.)

And, yes, I did hesitate before I used that title for this post. Insert my mother's voice saying "Christine! That's sacreligious!" But what the heck, its all in jest! Right? So that makes the sacreligious part O.K., right? Right?

Anyhow- I made eyes for the bird and they were super easy!!!! Want to know how? Ok!

Almost anything I could ever imagine (and that's a lot) can be made of items purchased from my local art store, grocery store or one of my favorite places- the hardwares store. I like to walk down the aisles and look at all the weird parts and pieces they imagine I might need and instead, imagine all the other things they could be!

Actually, most of this came from my local grocery/home goods store. Thumbtacks, brads, nail polish and markers is all it took to make these eyes. Yep, plain old .49 cent thumb tacks will give me a way to doubly make sure these eyes will stick on my bird. Brads will give me some defination because our iris do sit slightly on top of the white part of our eye and our eyes are not completely smooth.

I used marker on top of the thumb tack. I carefully criss-crossed the lines and then went along the outside with olive green. My advice- don't over think this, the nailpolish mixed my colors together and while you couldn't tell I had a plan of action in the coloring, I still liked the result.

I clipped the working ends off the brads so that I just had the rounded top. I used clear nail polish to glue the brad to the thumbtack. I put some under the brad before placing it on the tack. I decided to make them slightly off to one side and dropped off center. I recommend that you use Sally Hansen brand clear nail polish- why? Because it makes me think of my Grandma. It was her favorite brand and she was the coolest person in the world.

I brushed the nailpolish across the top but tried to make it pool up where the brad joins the thumb tack. to lessen the height difference. I let that coat dry and then repeated the process several times. The hardest part was allowing enough time to dry- patience is not my virtue.

While waiting I decided to experiment with the glitter dots. I picked these up out of the scrapbooking department just in case the thumbtacks didn't work out. These would be fun for bug or reptile eyes. So that's it! Let them harden up a day or two, they might look dry but as I just found out- looks can be deceiving!

Now, just because I can't help's a pair of eyes I did not create (Thanks, God.) but get to look at every day and know that I had a part in bringing into this world and maybe have just a little part in putting that smile on her face.

Ok, have to run and check my inbox so that icon will quit blinking at me. I'm sure its Chinamommy apologizing for all but ignoring me while she cleans her dumb ole basement! HEY, Chinamommy! GET OUT of the basement and call me but give me time to answer because I'm in MY basement! Have a great week, everyone!

Freaky, Mom, Freaky!

So I put the new eyeballs on my bird and you know what my kids said? Ewww! Freaky, MOM! Those eyes are huge! They're bug eyes! Well, as much as I tried to convince them that they eyes were the most beautiful thing on this Earth next to Webkinz they weren't having it. And truth be told I wasn't crazy about how they protruded away from the head in certain areas. Note to self- maybe plan this in earlier, like when shaping the head! Knowing the perfectionist inside of me I knew it wouldn't suffice. I'd see nothing else on that bird but where the eyeballs didn't quite touch the head and it would be like an itch I couldn't ignore.

So here's the bird with eyelids! Birds have eyelids, Don't they? Well this one does! I ran it past my panel of judges and I got one- "Awesome, Mom, really cool!" And one "Still freaky, Mom!". I'm going with it, though.  Time to move on.

Today I ordered frit. In our little downtown area there's a stain glass shop. The owner let me sort through boxes of scrap and I came up with two piles of glass that I think when mixed up and crushed will make lovely material to work with. Oh- yeah, frit is crushed up glass, if you didn't already know. I didn't. I just learned of it this past summer. I'm using it on the leaves that decorate big little lady's gown.

Ok, that's all for now. I have pile of laundry. I just made the Mr. mad because I disagreed with his decree that the bathroom remodel could wait until the girls were old enough to close the shower curtain over better. I couldn't help it- I had my say and now he's mad. Guess we'll have to see how long he can be mad. I'm just saying....I can wait to make up a lot longer than he can....oh, by the way... how do you like my Valentine theme for my blog background????


I'm at an awkward spot on the big little lady sculpture. (and yes, on other fronts, I haven't made a decision on a doll head but instead have made two more) I want to start working on the glass portion of her gown. Because--- it will be spectacular fun with amazing results! Or a complete disaster. Either way, the anticipation is killing me.

But I can't start working on the glass until I have all sanding and messy stuff done. Who wants dusty glass, right? I must buckle down and do some hard things first. Like the hands. I don't know how to do hands of this size- haven't done it before. But I think...they should have some fair amount of detail and be somewhat realistic don't you?

The fun part of sculpture is building the skeleton. Because--- it gets covered up in the end people don't know if you used wire and tape or tape and a milk jug to get the shape you wanted. There's green for you- reduce, re-use and re-cycle! When ever I paint I save all that tape left over for later use in my sculptures- love it, it works perfectly! And it makes me feel better about the paint buckets I just added to the local landfill.

Here are the hands...kind of creepy, right? So, of course, I scared my children with them, repeatedly. Ah, the memories I'll have to look back on.

Then I had to attach them to big little lady's stumps. More creepy stuff. Had to shorten the stumps a little. I cringed and said to her- "Really, no one is getting hurt here but this is gross. Hope the neighbors don't choose this moment to start spying through windows!"

And then I said "Ok, this will hurt me more than it hurts you...especially if I slip..."

And then she had hands!

I added paper clay to flesh them out. At first they looked like noodles. They were skinny and perfectly posed.  Hmmm. I put the bird in place and it didn't fit. So I took a couple of those skinny noodle fingers and broke them in several places. Again with the comments- "Why couldn't you just co-operate? Why do you make me do these bad things? I am not a monster! Really, this is for your own good!"

The bird was once again positioned in place and strapped in for safety. We all remember its other attempt at flying, right? Not happenin' again. The fingers were positioned better and then the cracks were filled in.

These fingers are much less perfect and much more realistic. No longer am I reminded of my mother washing dishes with yellow rubber gloves.

As a matter of fact, I am so happy with them I will post many more pictures than necessary to tell the story.

Ahh- the power of being in charge of your own blog.....

Ok, I'm done. And mostly the hands are as well. The arms, the neck, the face- probably not worth a post. But the will share in that journey with me...

This picture is a good example of how I like to mix up my mediums. The round flower is Creative Paper Clay. The 3-petal blossom is made from the paper clay recipe found on line. Both of these flowers adhered quite well with out any glue to the paper mache` background.

This flower is uses a big round ball of paper clay smooshed on the surface of paper mache`. I needed the paper clay's dryish consistency to maintain the shape of each petal as I dug into the clay and lifted the petal up. Neither paper mache or the paper clay recipe would have given me this fine detailed result. 


  1. Absolutely beautiful!

  2. ...breath taking...

  3. OH my goodness!! How amazing! Soooo much work! And, beautifu. :-)

  4. OH my goodness!! How amazing! Soooo much work! And, beautifu. :-)


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