Leading up to Earth day I’ve been signing petitions almost everyday. There’s one or two in my email everyday. I care about all the things I sign petitions for: like no oil tankers on my coast, no nasty pipeline through the forests, saving whales from navy maneuvers, the list goes on and on. So many nasty negative things. But today is Earth Day and I want to talk about being a Positive force and Abundance!
I want to talk about up-cycling and recycling from an artist’s point of view. I want to talk about looking for art supplies. And all I see is ABUNDANCE! For those of you who are artists and are already using ephemera and found objects to make artworks, you know what I’m saying. There is just so much out there and it’s cheap, almost free, just waiting to be reused, with imagination. It’s more than a trend now, it’s more than a movement, it’s become a way of creating for many artists. And that makes me feel so much more optimistic, it’s the balance to all the negatives that I’m signing petitions against everyday.
My way of life, of finding and reusing everything is so rewarding I couldn’t do anything else now. It’s a way of seeing things. For instance a broken favourite egg cup or milk pitcher causes only a moment of regret and then,
well, it will join all the other shards collected in recycled salad containers ( made from recycled plastic) in my studio. Another way to create studio storage.
And one day become a Pique Assiette Mosaic tray like this one with handles made from old silverware.
Although I do not subscribe to magazines, since I get them from the library, I do buy old ones sometimes at garage sales
and they become part of my stock of color supplies for collage birthday and anniversary cards.
Or for playing with, creating colorful collages.
And beads, there are so many beads out there, in thrift stores, and me, the eternal magpie always attracted to color and texture can’t help but collect them in my little recycled boxes.
And the boxes stay under the coffee table and sometimes, when I’m watching a movie I’ll bring them out and string them together into a bracelet or two.
Even old frames are collected, most free or almost free. I also collect old board that we cut up to fit those frames and with a coat of gesso they are ready to paint on, whenever the urge strikes, and I never have to worry about the cost of framing.
So this is my little treatise to Earth Day. My little contribution to saving Her from all the baddies out there. It’s small, but there are a whole lot of artists out there just like us and every bit of positive energy counts in the grand scheme of things, I’m quite sure.
In the run up to Earth Day, recycling is on my mind. I do recycle dishes in my mosaics. Lately, I’ve been having a bit of fun quilting with recycled shirts, some thrift shop fabric plus a few squares of quilt fabric found at a garage sale last summer. Sort of doing a mosaic with fabric. I’ve been inspired by quilts found on the internet and also from books about intuitive quilting by Jean Wells and Rayna Gillman. I’m not one of those quilters who likes pattern and measuring and rulers. So the slice and dice, intuitive style that these two quilters teach really resonated with me. And Gees Bend quilts have always been a big inspiration too.
Quilting is one of those old and beautiful forms of recycling that has come down through the ages. Oh, I know these days, a lot of new quilting is done with new fabric, but the beginnings of quilting came from recycling fabric that was at hand like old shirts and even flour bags. And I love using old shirts too. Besides, being one of those slap dash sewers who doesn’t like the button hole attachment much, I find using the button front on shirts as a closure works great and recycles just a bit more of the shirt.
Plus I’ve gotten some new toys at the Fabric store. I’ve discovered the Rotary Cutter! Wow! This is so much fun to use on the self healing cutting mat. Ok, I admit I didn’t really get the hang of sewing curves as shown by Jean and Rayna, but I did have fun slicing up fabric. This is me having fun and a long way from the skill shown by the quilters who inspired me. Sewing curves will come later I’m sure. Now the ladies above cut the material in strips first and then sew.
Being me, I found my own odd way of creating strips. I’d cut up a few bits of fabric in almost the same width and start laying it down, good sides together and sort of guess-timate the width of the next strip I wanted and sew it. Then I’d cut off the excess, and set down a new fabric and so on. That way I got varying widths and didn’t waste much.
When I’d gotten a few strips made sewing bits together randomly and intuitively, I started to arrange them. I’d been collecting pillow fillers at garage sales already and they were waiting to be used, all washed then dried on the clothesline last summer. So it was just a matter of laying out strips over the pillow form until I had enough to cover. I did come up short but then just made a couple of narrow strips to fill in, which added to the overall design anyway.
I made one side with the buttoned section of the shirt inserted between the strips. I’d added a lot of the shirt fabric into the strips as I went along to integrate the color of the shirt into the rest of the quilting.
And voila! A pillow cover that’s a lovely surprise, almost a mosaic of fabric. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist trying to make some more but for now it’ll have to wait. My little studio can only handle painting and mosaic so the sewing gets done in the kitchen. There’s only so long I can live with an ironing board and a sewing machine on a kitchen table full of scraps. Until the next time the urge to quilt hits me….
Bill has gotten into the habit lately of taking long walks by the ocean and he noticed that the tide was getting unusually low. Which of course tripped off the idea that if the tide was low in Victoria it would be the same in Sidney. And sure enough, we found that there would be an all time low tide on March 31. Easter Sunday. The lowest at 1:30 pm! And immediately set about a plan of being there to find beach pottery.
I worried, I fumed, I wondered would we be too late? There had been other low tides but at later times, times we couldn’t get there. Had all the pottery been picked clean? On the day I got us up early, Bill protesting that we had until 1:30pm. I said no I have to be there early, as it’s going out, to be there to find what I need. I had mosaic projects in mind, I needed pottery.
The day arrived, sunny, warm, breezy, it could not have been more perfect. The tide is usually much higher than the next shot. And we were able to get into corners and areas that are usually covered by water.
And what did I find? A beach full of pottery.
Beautiful pottery, in among the beach pebbles and beach glass, lying in the seaweed, ignored by everyone.
All the others searching that day were only looking for small perfect bits of beach glass in hard to find colors, or tiny,tiny bits of pottery that had a pattern on them also hard to find. But us, we love what everyone else seems to overlook. The warm whites and creams of larger pieces, the curve of the underside of the plate or saucer, the speckled surface, the bit of a cup handle, or even the remnants of a spark plug.
The day was perfect, blue sky, the tide slowly going out. We took our time, enjoying every second.
Taking our best recycled basmatti rice bags to the beach we set about collecting. We took breaks from our bent over searching and sat, totally relaxed, faces to the sun, taking in the sounds of seagulls, breathing in the smells of ocean and seaweed. We gazed at Mt. Baker, its snowy peak framed by poles set in the ocean, perches for squawking seagulls. Then back to collecting. And oh,what a lovely haul.
But the loveliest thing is the feel of beach pottery, it’s warmth, its smoothness. If you use the pieces as we do, only fitting and arranging without ever cutting them, you can run your fingertips over the smooth surface of a finished mosaic and feel the gentle curves that have been tumbled for a hundred years in the ocean.
How wonderful! There is an International Colour Day! Apparently proposed in 2008 by president of the Portuguese Colour Association, Maria Joao Durao, to the International Colour Association.
Thank you Maria!
I love color, can’t get enough of it! Almost, no definitely, more than chocolate, which runs a close second. Anyway, who knew? I only found out today! And it just so happens that I, as a colour nut, a color aficionado, a colour fan, have been taking and collecting colourful photos for ages.
I could have done a garden of color. But no, as an artist, I see colour everywhere, and capture it for later enjoyment. Like chocolate. My eyes are attracted to colour in odd places like fire hydrants surrounded by bright yellow poles, to boxes of curtain rings found at a garage sale. Even a fan in my studio. Then there are things like wind socks, unique and colorful cars, even sewer covers. I could own these cars! Well the list goes on.
So, without further ado… colour from a color addicted artist’s point of view. Enjoy. Please.
Quite a while ago I thought I’d start featuring other artists who, like me, are into recycling or what I refer to as Upcycling. My first featured artist was Leo Sewell, whose sculptures were made from all sorts of recycled bits and pieces. But what he did with them was amazing! But that was way back in May of 2010.
I really meant to carry on with that idea but life happens doesn’t it? Things get lost or found or whatever and this year I’ve been giving my blog a bit more thought, especially about the directions I want to carry on with. And one of the ideas I still want to to do is this feature. Especially when there are so many artists I’d love to tell everyone about. That’s really the beauty of the internet too, that you can be exposed to so much really good work.
So on that note I’d like to introduce on my blog, a remarkable assemblage and mosaic artist, Carolyn Machado. I discovered her work a year or so ago. She was one of the artists in my long list of bookmarked artists before I started with Pinterest. Many of you will no doubt know of her, but for those of you who don’t, you are in for a lovely show. When I emailed her for permission to feature her work, which she graciously gave, she mentioned that she was quite happy to hear that someone so far away was enjoying her work. She also has a blog that you will enjoy.
What I love about her work is the sense that each piece of the assemblage has been lovingly saved and then slowly set into place. In her bio she says that she uses recycled materials quite deliberately because she is attracted to the overlooked beauty of things that have braved the passage of time. I can identify with that sentiment entirely.
Carolyn has a touch with her works that makes her little bits and pieces transcend their humble origins and become something that looks almost jewel like. They have a taste of the Orient about them, being quite simply designed, with a quiet and meditative sensibility. Since I use old odd little ornaments and bits of old dishes in my work too, I’m happy to see that I’m not alone in appreciating their value.
Of course, not all of her work is quietly meditative, some have a sense of humour and a feeling of fun like her Mexican piece or some of her paper collage pieces.
Carolyn shows her work in a rather prestigious show in California called Festival of the Arts at Laguna Beach. You can get a glimpse of past festivals on youtube and also an interview with Carolyn there as well. She also offers workshops on assemblage, so if you are in California, do check her website events page.
I’d also like to share a little video that Carolyn has sent to me about her studio and see a bit about her and how she works. Enjoy.
I hope you have enjoyed my second in the series I hope to maintain. As I said in my previous post I’m loving Pinterest since it allows me to have a visual bookmark at last. I’ve just started but I’ve gotten quite a few really interesting artists collected already and hope to feature more on my blog.
So thank you to Carolyn Machado for allowing me to feature her work and also thank you for being such an inspiring artist.
Yes, it’s true, I’ve gotten myself a Pinterest account. I’ve even gotten on Facebook. Who knew I’d get all into the social networking scene?
I actually got a personal Facebook page first, just to keep in touch with all the kids and rellies too. And you know these days I’m remembering Birthdays for people whose birthdays I never even knew before. So that’s nice. They all get one of my collage birthday cards. And I get to see all the nieces and nephews too and what they are up to.
Then just a little while ago I started a Facebook page for Summerhouseart.com. I’m a bit slow, it took me ages to set up, but it means I can say when I’ve got a new blog post up and also spread the word on a lot of other sites I really like and support. All about art, recycling and mosaics of course. So if you’re on Facebook, please feel free to pop over.
In the last year or so on the blog I started to notice something new called Pinterest. People were Pinning my mosaics! I’d see their Pinterest boards from my stats page. And I thought Wow what a great idea!
I mean I’ve got a list of bookmark folders down the left side of my Bookmarks screen that goes on for ages. But the thing is, I can never remember exactly why I bookmarked them or what they are about or look like. So, hey, here comes Pinterest and now I can bookmark with Pictures!! Perfecto!
So for those of you who have been pinning my mosaics, please please accept a huge thank you from me. It’s been great to see how many times my mosaics have been pinned and I really appreciate how it’s brought even more people to see my little blog.
So it took me a while to get onto Pinterest too. For that I went to the library (big fan of the library I am) and got one of those Dummies books and found out all about it more or less.
And one thing the book tells you to do and that I’m slowing getting done, is watermarking my images. Because one thing that I’m finding out on Pinterest is that sometimes you just can’t get back to the source of the image you like. Don’t you hate it when that happens? So, at least for mine, you’ll always be able to find where mine come from, at least the one’s that are fresh ones.
And now I’m on Pinterest just pinning away. I’ve been going through all my old bookmarks and pinning all that good stuff I’ve been saving for ages. It’s taking a bit of time and I’ve got lots left. Plus I’ve been finding so much new good stuff to pin on other Pinterest boards too. I think I’m getting hooked on it.
So please have a look at all the stuff I’ve been pinning. You might like some of them yourself. You’ll find a badge on the right side of the blog. And again, thanks so much for pinning from my blog. As they say at Pinterest, Happy Pinning.
Tags: starting on pinterest
Actually, I created this mosaic a few years ago. Another one of those shrines that come together almost serendipitously. I had an idea of creating a mosaic with cats and to that end I’d been collecting all sorts of cat ornaments. And although there are quite a few on this particular piece, there are still an awful lot left over that are still waiting for homes on a mosaic or at least a shelf or windowsill. I do sometimes bring them out to the kitchen windowsill to sit among the African violets. But I wander from the point…
Ok I had a amassed a huge collection of thrift shop cats, since I tend to have a soft spot for cats. And I was looking for some sort of a background to set them against but nothing had came to mind. Then one summer day, Bill and I came upon a garage sale that had a lovely collection of rosy bone china saucers. As I remember it, the cups were missing so the saucers were going cheap. And they were absolutely full of bloom and color, you could almost smell the scent of roses coming off them. I snapped them up. I’d suddenly had a vision of my cats with all these roses!
Almost as soon as I decided on the theme, I found at another sale soon after or it could have been the same day, quite a collection of rose ornaments with these deep purple roses as well.
I put together a bit of a unique color scheme. Not so pastel, with that dark green around the rim and those dark almost black roses. And now I also had the place for some really outrageous rose ornaments as well. I decided to go over the top!
And it must have been too, because when I had a big display of my mosaics at the local municipal hall, I got written up in the local community paper. And what did the writer wonder about? Well, as I remember, she wrote that although she loved all the mosaics I’d made, she thought the whole Cats and Roses shrine was a bit too sweet and she hoped I was being facetious when I made it.
All I can say is that she did get the gist of it. It was meant to be Over the Top. But I like the combination of Cats and Roses, they have an affinity. Both so beautiful but with sharp bits like claws and thorns. So maybe not so sweet after all? Who cares? It’s not meant to be serious.
But it’s over the top Kitsch too. And I love kitsch. I once heard of a garden that was full of things that were over the top kitsch like flamingoes, vintage signs and the oddest things for embellishment. What I loved most, though, was the unapologetic sign in the garden that said to please tell the gardener if anything “tasteful” was found and he would make sure to remove it right away. Love it. Hope you enjoy my little Over the top take on Cats and Roses.
I’ve been collecting Heart shaped boxes for a few years now. It’s sort of like a perpetual Valentines Day in my kitchen.
They are all hanging up, well almost all of them, on the wall in the kitchen. Today I thought I’d share a few new ones that haven’t yet made it to my wall of hearts. Sort of my way of wishing everyone a Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy and I hope you make sure to have some lovely chocolate too, or flowers are good if on a diet. But chocolates are better. Very necessary for the full enjoyment of the day.