Monday, August 31, 2009

And the Winners Are...

... Mary Elizabeth , Chris of Prism Trail , and Seth of The Altered Page!! Congrats to our three winners and thanks to all who drop by and visit here "by the sea". Winners, e-mail me (on the sidebar under profile) with your snail-mail address and I'll get these pencils sent off to you. Our winners stretch from one side of the country to the other - California, Colorado and New York.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh, Those Naked Ladies!

You can always tell when it's August here on the Central Coast - the naked ladies arrive. Along the roadside, in the garden, on the bluffs overlooking the sea. Those lovely Amaryllis, that send up their leaves in late fall and winter and then die down until the stalks appear, in late summer, with glorious flowers ranging from pale pink to a deep fuchsia. How much fun was had by my younger self and my siblings as we'd run through the neighbourhood every August yelling "The naked ladies are here!

Saturday, August 29, 2009


We found these colourful, "Seussian" (I will not say whimsical, because I don't do whimsy) birdhouses at the Coast Galleries on our way home from Big Sur earlier this week.

Not only fantastic shapes and sizes, but adorned with paint brushes, facets, door knobs, silverware and "so much more!".

By artist Dave Bruce from Phoenix, and ranging in price from around $75.00 to $135.00. How cool would one - or three or four - look hanging in your yard?!

Friday, August 28, 2009

From the Bookshelf

The Find

For all of us who love bringing home the lost, the unloved, the dented, the frayed. This book tells how to turn them into great decorative pieces and knock-out furniture! "The trick is to see beyond nicks and wobbles, color and intended purpose and to focus on potential. For example, a vintage leather trunk encased in Lucite works as a stunning coffee table. Pages from old books wallpaper a foyer. A cushion fashioned from a baseball diamond’s home plate makes a garden chair comfortable."

Written by Stan Williams, New York based live-style journalist and Housing Works* devotee - this is a fun read and a darn handy decorating manual. I had a chance to flip through it when I was at Lisa's House a few weeks ago and have added it to my Amazon wish list.

*The HOUSING WORKS is a grass-roots AIDS service organization that has provided life-saving health, housing, employment, advocacy, and prevention resources for more than 20,000 HIV-positive homeless New Yorkers since 1990. All profits from Housing Works Thrift Shops and Bookstore directly support the organization’s client programs. To donate or become a member, visit

Thursday, August 27, 2009

200th Post!

Wow! 200 posts! I was pretty nervous about starting a blog, but with the gentle, yet persistent urging of Lisa Hoffman I took the plunge and now, here we are 200 posts later. And many thanks to all of you who have dropped in "by the sea".

To mark this milestone I'm doing a give-away. 3 sets of 4 marbled paper wrapped pencils. Since I found out how much fun this is to do I've been wrapping every pencil in sight! Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday, August 30. I'll do the random number draw thingie and announce the lucky winners on Monday's blog.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

Tiny glass bottles, some very, very tiny. Clear ,blue, brown.

Some with caps,some with stoppers some with corks, some with droppers.

Waiting patiently in their cigar box - until the perfect spot in an assemblage piece presents itself.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Runic Bird #1

Runic Bird #1
A small assemblage in one of those Bed, Bath & Beyond kitchen organizer boxes. The 6x6" box is backed with paper from 7 Gypsies. The addition of a plastic egg, a feathered bird, a rune tile, and a pewter branch from Global Solutions (available here) complete the interior. A section of hardware cloth fences off a portion of the box.

Another 3 rune tiles decorate the exterior sidewall. This is #1 of a 3 part series, and will be available at this October's Open Studio Tour.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deetjens - Big Sur

photo courtesy of Mary Hatch

A landmark Big Sur experience. Since the 1930's Deetjens has welcomed travelers - the famous, the infamous and all the rest of us too. What does one say? Fabulous food, fantastic ocean views, glorious redwoods, peace and quiet, the susurration of the ocean breeze against the cabin walls and a billion stars overhead.

photo courtesy of Lucy Goodheart
Needless to say, we're having a lovely time. Back to real life tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

7 years ago

Kevah Cafe - Nepenthe, Big Sur
Tomorrow marks the 7th anniversary of my moving away from my old life and setting out on my own to start being who I was meant to be. The first time in my life that I ever lived by myself.
To celebrate, Margot and I are spending today and tomorrow in Big Sur. This afternoon, reading, journaling and sipping lattes at the Kevah Cafe at Nepenthe,
And then spending the night and tomorrow morning in a cozy cabin at Deetjens.

View from deck at Nepenthe photo courtesy of Lone Cypress

My friend Susan says that in 7 years, all the cells in your body are replaced, so that every 7 years, you are a new person. We're rejoicing in the Erin that has not one single cell left from before. It's been a fantastic 7 years and only looks to get better and better!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Extremely Altered Book

images courtesy Jacqueline Rush Lee

Jacqueline Rush Lee is an wonderful artist who does amazing, unexpected things to books. Check out the above where she's turned books back into tree sections.

images courtesy Jacqueline Rush Lee

And these, where she's made blocks out of books. And dozens of other book sculptures on her website here.

As if getting to see all this delightful artwork on the web isn't enough, she has two books due out soon. Playing With Books: Up Cycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book, being released by Quarry in July 2010. And Papercraft: Design and Art with Paper. coming next month. Can't wait!

Friday, August 21, 2009

From the Bookshelf

If you're not familiar with the "500 series" from Lark you are in for a treat (and several books behind!). The one above is my personal favourite, but they are all wonderful - eye candy to the MAX.

These titles, as well as, many others in the series available here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nevermore - again

I posted about this piece back in April when I finished it and sent it into Somerset Studios for their Vintage Halloween challenge. I'm posting it now because... it made it! Page 106, big as life - well not quite that big, but it's there! I was very happy with this artwork and I'm tickled that it's now published.

Somerset Studio Sept./Oct. hits the newsstands on September 1st.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

Another Wednesday - another cigar box. This one full of locks and keys; old, new, vintage, rusty, shiny, real and "for show"

It's easy to amass old keys - just look in your junk drawer, ask your friends and family to look in their junk drawers. Always a plethora of them at thrift shops as well. And most on-line scrapbook stores will have a collection of good looking old fashioned ones

The perfect finishing touch to that journal page or assemblage - often "the key" to the entire piece! (Sorry, couldn't resist - I know, I should have tried.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Ultimate "Duh!"

You may remember last week when I posted about my friend Lyn Bleiler bringing me back wonderful marbled paper covered pencils from Venice, and how I had used the last one I had from my trip to Venice in 2005. etc., etc. Well, while I was at the workshop in Colorado, I told Lynne Perrella about how I'd e-mailed Lyn and she was graciously bringing me back a dozen - and Lynne said "You can make them yourself you know, it's really easy."

The week after I got back and was at work, a patron needed help finding a book on paper arts. We pulled out two or three and when I was re-shelving the one she didn't take, I looked in the index under pencils and viola! - there it was. And guess what? It's so easy, that these are the entire instructions: "Simply cut a length of paper to fit round the pencil and trim to fit allowing for a small overlap. Glue the back of the paper and smooth round the pencil. Press firmly until the glue dries."

It is indeed, really easy, as these pictures show. I had a lot of fun going through my marbled papers and making these, both regular length and the short golf pencils. And, now I can use them in my artwork and save the glorious Venetian ones to drool over!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Swap Meet Score

A fun, though foggy, morning at the San Luis Obispo Swap Meet yesterday. Picked up my daughter Jenny, and armed with coffee, lots of $1.00 bills and shopping bags, we hit the stalls.
She looks for old cameras, working or not. She has quite a collection and is a very good photographer with an unerring eye for the unique shot.

I had nothing in particular that I was looking for, but open to anything great or unusual. Like these heavy pewter corn-on-the-cob holders (don't they just scream "assemblage me!"). Old boxes and tins are always popular and loved the retro "wooden nickel" style campaign buttons.

This was the "find" of the day though. It measures about 10x6x4" and is a delightful little vintage train case, complete with lock and key. A section in the lid opens to reveal a mirror and storage for m'lady's cosmetics. The ideas are already fomenting for a vintage travel assemblage.

A delicious breakfast afterwards with more time to visit and home in time to get into the studio and play for the afternoon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Weekend!

A few miles up the coast near Cayucos

We've had a few days of sunshine here on the coast and hoping for more the next two days, now that my weekend has begun. Off early to the local swap meet with daughter Jenny and then buttermilk pancakes stuffed with Swiss cheese and strawberries at Big Sky in San Luis Obispo. Yum-yum. A great start to my weekend, enjoy yours!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prospect New Town

Prospect New Town is a wonderful development in Longmont, Colorado. Built on a former tree farm, there are single family homes, condos, studios, multiple living spaces, park areas, playgrounds, and retail buildings. All done with a commitment to minimize negative impact on the land.
Every building is different, loads of glorious colours, street names like - Ionosphere Street, Tenacity Drive, Confidence Drive and Neon Forest Circle. There's a small "downtown" area of retail buildings, a coffee shop, restaurants, etc. It all looks like it's been there for years because of the mature trees. There's an in-depth article here and just google "Prospect New Town" for loads of info.

Narrow tree lined streets, big front porches, garages in back with second floor apartments, a neighbourhood feel and working with the environment - you gotta love it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

From the Bookshelf

When Lisa and I were drooling over everything at Two Hands Paperie last week, I stumbled on this wonderful tome. Pictorial Webster's is a alphabetical compendium of all the glorious 19th century illustrations that we remember from the old dictionaries in our classrooms back in the '50's and early '60's. No definitions - just the wonderful pictures!

It's quite weighty - what dictionary isn't? - and I decided it would not be a wise choice to try and get it in my already full suitcase to bring home on the plane. But you can bet the minute I got home it went on my Amazon Wish List!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Midtown Kiosk

Midtown Kiosk

For awhile I've had the idea of recreating a section of kiosk on a red rosin painting - flyers, posters, announcements, sorta grungy, peeling, lots of layers.

When I gessoed the red rosin paper I used cheese cloth, fish net, net trim and Golden pumice gel for the maximum amount of texture. I picked a non-characteristic palette, for me, of burnt sienna, raw umber, and avocado green, with highlights of cardinal red, copper and bamboo.

I raided our scrap paper box at work and came up with old flyers from our public bulletin board. I made sure to rip off or cover phone numbers and any personal information. I coloured these bits with Portfolio water soluble oil pastels in a myriad of colours, and then affixed to the painting with matte medium. A round of drips and splatters and voila! Midtown Kiosk.

One more ready for Open Studios.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cigar Box Wednesday

This week it's musical instrument bits and bobs. If only I had known back in the 1970's when I was teaching junior high band and orchestra in East LA and Watts - I could have amassed a ton of some of this stuff, as my students were always using it up and tossing it. Hind sight is a glorious thing. Of course, where would I have stored it, in the intervening 30 years?

I have two or three boxes with this sort of thing. This one holds trumpet mouthpieces, clarinet and bassoon reeds, and piano hammers. When I first became interested in altered art I remember seeing the work of an artist who always used bassoon reeds in his/her work - but the name eludes me now.

The piano hammers came from a massive tub full of them at Art From Scrap in Santa Barbara - something like $.25 a piece. I'm still not sure what to do with them - but, really, how could I resist?!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Teahouse

One of the most breath-taking things I saw on my recent trip was the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Boulder is sister cities with Dushanbe, Tajikistan, a former member of the Soviet Republic bordered by China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The teahouse was built in Tajikistan, then taken apart, crated, and shipped to Boulder, where it was reassembled. The master builder accompanied the teahouse and oversaw its reconstruction.
Beautiful painted ceilings and walls, and intricately carved pillars fill the interior. A central fountain with delicate copper statues rests in the center of the main area. Ceramic panels cover the exterior.

It has become one of the most popular spots in the city, to take afternoon tea there is to enter another world, calm, serene and apart.

The sound of the creek adds to the soothing and truly beautiful aura that surrounds this special and magical place.