The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 12

When it comes to "sweets" part of your Christmas tea, this is the time to pick some of your favourite little tidbits!  Choose 3 or 4 different sweets.  Here are some ideas of tasty little morsels to include...
Tiny lemon tarts
Champagne truffles *
Shortbread cookies
Mincemeat tarts
Sugar Cookies *
Date Nut Bars *
Poppy-seed Bread *

*download the recipes here

A Few Words about Tea
*Always "warm the pot" before making tea!  Pour in hot water, let it sit for a few minutes, then empty.  Add the tea and hot water and let it steep before serving.

*Tea leaves are very delicate and absorb moisture quite easily.  Always store your tea in an airtight container.

*One of my favourite little wintertime treats is to store my leftover "Christmas tea" sugar cubes in a little plastic bag filled with cinammon.  The sugar cubes will absorb the spicy flavour.

As you fill the stockings on the mantle this year, think of this "Victorian" rule of thumb for filling Christmas stockings: "something to eat, something to read, something to play with and something they need".

Wishing you and your family a very happy Christmas... see you in the New Year!


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 11

Today, we'll chat about the second S in an afternoon tea menu - Sandwiches.

I adore tea sandwiches!
They are so yummy and given my "druthers" I'd eat them every day of the year. There is just something so "civilized" about afternoon tea sandwiches. LOL

Last week, when I was out for Christmas tea with my Victorian Fashion Group at a lovely tea room here in Victoria, one of the women in our group talked about how, during the 50's and 60's, her mom made dainty little "pinwheel" sandwiches just like we all had on our plates for church teas and special occasions.  I remember my Mom doing that too and she always made them for me and my little guests when I had my birthday tea!

Pinwheels are pretty easy to make... here's a short UTube Video you can watch.  Instead of using bread, he uses a tortilla wrap but you can use slices of bread... just cut off the crusts!

You often hear tea sandwiches referred to as "finger sandwiches".   Whatever!!  They are meant to be small, crust-less, dainty bites and are made with a large variety of fillings:

Egg salad (hard cooked eggs with mayo)
Cucumber  (finely sliced "English" cucumber and cream cheese)
Almond Chicken (chopped, cooked chicken, slivered almonds and mayo)
Watercress (white or rye bread filled with watercress leaves)
Cream Cheese, Celery and Walnut Sandwiches (chop celery heart very fine)
Ginger Tea Spread (cream cheese mixed with ginger marmalade and a pinch of paprika on brown bread)
Pickled Spread (bologna ground up mixed with ground dill pickle and mayo)
Smoked Salmon with watercress and mayo
Tomato slices sprinkled with basil on rye bread with mayo
Cream cheese pinwheels with dill pickle slices or asparagus spears for centers
Salmon salad (red canned salmon mixed with mayo and green onion)

For your tea menu, choose three or four different fillings for your dainties.  Vary your breads between white, brown, pumpernickel, even crisp bread and cut them up differently.  Allow about 3-5  little sandwiches per guest depending on their size. In the summertime, you could even add a flower to the plate.  It's all about creating a "pretty" presentation on a china plate!

What's poured first into a china teacup?  The tea or the cream?

Well we all know to keep our elbows off the table and our napkins on our laps but do you know if it's the tea or the cream that goes into the teacup first?  Actually it really doesn't matter.  Some say if you put the cream in first, the hot tea may scald it.  Others say that if you put the tea in and then the cream, it will cool the tea off!  Sugar, on the hand, should be added once the tea is poured and is offered by the hostess to her guest.  If you are the hostess, be sure to ask your guests, "One lump or two?"


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 10

Menu Suggestions for a Christmas Tea Party

"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."  Henry James - Portrait of a Lady

In designing a menu for "afternoon tea" in Victoria, B.C. (the most British of all Canadian cities and some say we are even more British than the British LOL) we keep these three "S's" in mind when looking for recipes:

First a Savoury, then a Sandwich followed by a Sweet.

So let's start with the first S today!  What qualifies as a Savoury?  Something salty or spicy. Soup. Scones.   The whole idea of eating a savoury first is to wake up your taste buds.  Include two or three "savoury treats" in your menu plan.  Here are five treat suggestions to choose from:

Savoury Cheesecake Bites (similar to quiche)
Cheese Savoury on Crackers
Butternut Squash Curry Soup
Bite size quiches (you can purchase these in the frozen food section at your local grocery store)
Herb Scones with Lemon Curd and Mock Devonshire Cream

I have also included my Apple Cream Cheese Scones recipe (my Christmas morning specialty. which can be included in the "sandwich" category for afternoon tea)

You can download all the recipes in a zip file here.

Tomorrow:  Sandwiches ... including those lovely little cucumber ones!

Enjoy!  Sharon

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 9

Focus on the true meaning of the season - celebrate with a Friendship Tea or Punch Party

Christmas is a season of giving. Instead of spending a lot of money on gifts this year, why not focus on the true meaning of the season with a Christmas Tea or Punch Party for your friends!  You could make it a themed "costume party" Dickens style and ask your guests to come dressed appropriately... bonnets and caps, gingham dresses, fancy dresses for women and long scarves, top hats and round spectacles for men... or just a simple afternoon of merriment with your closest gal friends wearing the fascinators you made following yesterday's blog post.

Over the years, I have held numerous Christmas teas for my friends!  What fun they are... planning and participating in. Sometimes they were before Christmas but most often I scheduled them between Christmas and New Year's.  Remember, you can have an "afternoon tea" held during the day or "high tea" (which is at supper or dinnertime) so it could be an "after work" party.

Most of my teas had a "theme" of some sort and were held at home.  Some years, they were "potluck" (I supplied a list of things they could choose from to bring) and other years I supplied most of the "goodies" and my friends brought the wine, made the punch or brought Christmas cookies.

One year, we read passages aloud from our favourite girl books like Jane Austen's Emma.  At another tea, we took turns reading each other's tea leaves (NOW that was a laughter filled afternoon).  One year, we decorated a Gingerbread House and gave it to a local after school program.  Another year, we read (or told) our favourite Christmas stories.

Of course, every party needs invitations so once you have your "theme", take a few moments to write out the particulars on a piece of paper... i.e.  time, date, place, how to RSVP and, if need be, get the link to yahoo maps or map quest.

Here are some places you can go to create and send invitations to your friends online.  Some of the online "party planning" sites will require you to sign up for an account with them in order to use their service.

Drop by over the next few days for some menu ideas and easy recipes for your tea party.


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 8

Make a "Duchess of Cambridge" Fascinator

Imagine having a Christmas afternoon tea party with some friends.  Well, the first thing you'll need are your own fascinators!  It's a fun and easy project... and you can find the instructions here.

Have fun... Sharon

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 7

5 Quick Gifts You Can Make for Less than $5.00

Raid your fabric stash or head to the nearest before Christmas sale at your favourite fabric store to sew up a storm with these easy, quick projects that use a yard of material or less.

Quick and easy, this table runner measures 10" x 24"
Make it for yourself, a friend or relative with this pattern!
Make a set of placemats to match your runner. Here's  the pattern

Make a set of padded hangars to spruce up any closet using these instructions!

Sew some book covers for a journal, favourite book or photo album!

Make some boxer shorts.  Pattern does not come with hunky guy :)  But if you make some for a girlfriend, you could always tuck his photo (pasted on cardboard) in the package! LOL

Have fun...


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 6

Let's get thrifty!

Some of the most popular and visited posts on this blog are the thrifty art tips I put together awhile back (with a little help from my online friends!).

These pages are visited often by long standing blog friends who know about them, but I suspect many newcomers to the blog might not be aware of them!  There are just loads of wonderful tips for recycling different materials you can find around your house, in your neighbours recycling bin (LOL) or in your junk drawer along with some great ideas for storage.

Now the links to all these posts are accessible to everyone who visits.  Look, over there on the right hand side, under the "Recently Viewed Posts" box.  There  is a whole tip list of great stuff for you to discover!


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 5

Time for some penny pinching gift ideas...

Last year at Christmas, I posted 40 Penny Pinching gift ideas for Christmas.  For today's offering, I thought I would point you in the direction of those postings.  Please note that because of my hard drive crash last week, some of the "goodies" I offered to send you in these posts are not available.  Enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Happy Crafting,

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 4

HO! HO! HO!  Time for some trashy holiday humour...

Some days, especially during the holidays, we all need a good laugh!  After a Saturday of fighting traffic at the mall, waiting in line FOREVER to pay for purchases and with our wallets feeling decidedly lighter, it just feels so good to just sit back, relax and have a good belly laugh.  Here's a fun "tongue in cheek" Christmas laugh... Jeff Foxworthy style ... the movie in my head just runs wild imagining Foxworthy's voice telling it... even though it is not one of his routines! 

If this isn't your type of humour... please skip today's offering and come back tomorrow!  It is not meant to offend in any way.

Billy Gene Bob's Trailer Park
Christmas Tour of Homes

"We're so happy you could join us for our very first Billy Gene Bob's Trailer Park Christmas Tour of Homes. We've long felt that everyone, not just those with search warrants, should enjoy our holiday decorations. And remember: All proceeds of the tour goes into the trailer park Yuletide Bail Fund.

"As we make our first stop, please note the cunning use of old tires to form a Christmas tree on the lawn. Yes, they're usually painted white. But if you'll lift one of the tires you'll see that only one side is white, while the other is red and green. This way, they can be flipped over for a festive holiday decoration.

"You can see as we enter the trailer that they favor traditional decorations. The tree is set in a lard can wrapped in a plastic liquor store sack with a Christmas motif. See how they use lights to frame the velvet painting of Elvis. In keeping with their traditional Christmas theme is the Super Large plastic soft drink cup with Christmas decorations incorporated into the design, a memento of the Christmas when the in-laws dropped charges and the family celebrated by eating out.

"Here at our next home, let's pause to admire the workmanship of the decorations, and the care in arranging them for just the right effect. As you can see, the trailer is decorated in early American Honky-Tonk. Note the beer logo formed by miniature lights. Here we have another unusual Christmas tree, made from hub caps, and lit by the cheery glow of a floodlight.

"As we pass the wreath made from discarded cigarette packs, notice that the theme continues inside the trailer. A small Christmas tree is set on the bar, which is decked with garland and miniature lights. Peanuts in bowls and a jar of pickled pigs feet set in a wreath completes the charming effect.

"At our next trailer, we have a delightful departure from tradition. The car up on blocks in the yard is decorated with lights. If you'll look close, the car has a bumper sticker that says "I brake for reindeer." Here at the base of the steps, we have poinsettia set in a discarded commode. On the door we have a wreath made from a toilet seat, which frames a plastic bas relief of Santa Claus. And if you'll pay close attention to the "Back Off!" welcome mat, you'll see that it's made from a discarded mud flap.

"But once inside, the theme shifts to an old-time Christmas. We're greeted by a cheery fake cardboard fireplace. A delightful touch is the aluminum Christmas tree, complete with spotlight and color wheel - a real treat for children who've never enjoyed an old-time Christmas. A cardboard Santa Claus salvaged from a soft drink display ad is propped in the corner, and the holiday Christmas card holder is full of seasonal delinquent payment notices.

"Um . . . we now come to our next home. A manger scene decorates the front lawn. They have an unusual display near the front of the trailer - a back lit silhouette of three men on camels riding towards a town. A single blue light gives the illusion of a star. The words 'Wise men still seek him' are prominently displayed below. The door is decorated with a wreath of holly, and inside we find a typical Christmas tree, and a family Bible open to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah on the coffee table. You can see the religious theme predominates, with another nativity scene on the end table. I really must apologize. I honestly don't know what they're thinking, bringing religion into Christmas.

"Ah, here's a more cheery home. Notice the life-size deer targets decked in lights. A sign saying "Santa BETTER stop here" is whimsically placed on the lawn beside a mineral lick and shelled corn. Inside you'll notice that the nine mounted deer heads are all wearing Santa hats, and the one on the end has a red ball on its nose. See how all the gifts under the tree are wrapped in camouflage pattern paper and with green and brown ribbons and bows. A tape of dogs barking to the tune of "Jingle Bells," along with the deer-scent potpourri, gives the trailer a nice holiday air.

"You can see by the mud bogging truck as we approach our next home that . . . Oh dear. I thought those blue lights were decorations. And I see the deputies have a barricade across the lower end of the trailer park. I'm sorry, but this concludes our tour of homes. Thank you for coming, and please, give patrol cars the right-of-way as you leave.

Copyright © 1999, 2004 by Kevin J. Cheek.

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 3

Shop till ya drop...

Hubby caught me "laundering" money one morning a couple of years ago!  Yes, you read that right.  I was laundering dollar bills and when they were dry, giving them a squirt of spray starch and ironing them smooth.  He laughed so hard when he saw me doing this, I thought he would burst an artery.  Upon reflection, I guess to an outsider it looked pretty funny alright.

But it was for an "arty" cause.  Traveling around the internet, I had come across the "art" of money origami.  It's pretty cool what you can create out of an American dollar bill or a Canadian five dollar bill... shirts, bow ties, valentines, gift boxes, dresses, rings, even eyeglasses... just a few of many.  I had to try it!!

Now, one of the first things the instructions say is to have clean, crisp dollar bills! Well hello, I live in Canada and getting a crisp, clean American dollar bill without going over the border to the nearest bank is about next to impossible. I had the dollar bills but they weren't crisp nor were they particularly clean.  So what's a gal to do in the name of art... wash them and iron them of course!

Following the instructions, I made a little shirt out of one of the bills.  It was cute.  I made another one.  Now I had a matching pair.  So what do you do with two matching dollar bill shirts?  You make earrings to wear on your next shop 'till you drop trip.  Cause, you see, that way if you are short a few bucks, you can just whip your earrings off, unfold the bills and pay the lady!

One of my "shop till you drop" friends got a pair of my innovative earrings in her Christmas card that year and laughed herself silly.  The first time she wore them she kept looking over her shoulder hoping she didn't get mugged!  She didn't.  She's worn them many times since and according to her it still amazes her that people don't clue into the fact that they are made from "real" dollar bills until she tells them.  Most times they either don't recognize them as dollar bills or if they do, they think they are fake!'s the link for the shirt and here's the link  for other wonderful creations.

Now you could make your own shirt out of real dollars or if you can get an image of the back of an American dollar (cause it's the "greenback" that creates the pattern) or the back of an older Canadian five dollar bill (laugh my fellow Canucks... you'll get a "hockey" shirt) you can make some that look "real" but aren't!  The "fake" shirts made from paper could also be "painted" with Modge Podge to strengthen them.    Bet you've got a friend who'd get a big bang out of finding a pair in her Christmas stocking!  OR....

Attach a key ring (like I did with the $5.00 Canadian bill hockey shirt) and voila... instant money chain!

ENTER TO WIN... my "Shop 'till you drop" shirt earrings to wear to all the Christmas sales!! I have two pairs of American greenbacks to give away. They aren't real, but boy won't they be fun to wear on your next trip through the mall?

So just leave a comment on this post before 9 PM tonight in your time zone telling me what you want most for Christmas this year!  I'll pick two names from all of the comments left.  Check in to see if you have won and if you see your name, send me an email before Monday evening at 9 PM with your snail mail address so I can get your earrings into the mail in time for your next shopping trip.   What a deal huh??? Good luck!


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 2

Cleaning your (ART) house before Christmas...

Yesterday morning I discovered (much to my initial consternation and rather ugly spoken words not fit to print)  that the drive on my computer that has all the "good stuff" on it (including most of the stuff I was going to show you over the next week or so) has mysteriously disappeared from my computer.   I haven't got a clue as to what has happened to that drive (I am keeping my fingers crossed that it's not serious) as  computers and me haven't been getting along so well this year... this is the second time this has happened!  So I am just going to do the best I can to keep my promise to you here over the next ten days... although I haven't quite figured out how yet! LOL  But here goes...

This past week, after doing some stamping both on paper and clay,  I discovered I was out of stamp cleaner.  Not being able to find the recipe I had printed a couple of years ago, I knew exactly where to go... this blog's archive.  And yep, there is was.

Now some of you who have been loyal followers over the years will recognize a portion of the contents of this post (I have revised it slightly) and I hope it comes as a handy reminder.  For some of you, this will be new and hopefully you find it useful in your art days ahead! 

Here are some tips today to help you save some money on supplies you can make in order to buy supplies that you can't (GRIN)... and I've thrown in a NEW "recipe" for a hand cleaner for good measure.  This "recipe" works like magic to get your hands squeaky clean once you are all done for the day.  It even removes clay "residue" from your hands after playing with clay, especially liquid clay,  for a day!

Ever painted the walls in your home? If so, you probably have a paint edger, used to paint the edge of walls at the ceiling or the trim, kicking around in your garage with the paint tools. Snatch it from its lonely, almost forgotten spot and put it to work in your art room!

These paint edgers are made from the same material used in much more expensive “stamp scrubbers” you find in stamping stores. The next time you are in the hardware or paint store, purchase a replacement package for the edger. You can then use it to scrub your stamps after your next stamping session.

The recipe I like best (and I have tried a lot of them) is very simple to make. You can find all of the ingredients in your local pharmacy. It’s a good one if you are sensitive to chemicals or have allergies. This one works well on both rubber or clear stamps.

To one cup (8 oz) of distilled water, add 2 tablespoons of glycerin and 1 tsp. of baby wash. You can add some rose water to this mixture (makes it smell nice) but it is optional. Put the mixture in a household spray bottle, spray your dirty stamp, wipe off the excess with an old rag or “seen better days” towel. This will remove most of the ink. Now using your “new” paint edger scrubber, spray some of the liquid on it and give your stamp a good clean.

A few notes about your stamp cleaning brew…
When making this solution, use ONLY distilled water. The chemicals in tap water can harden the rubber on your stamps (makes you wonder what those chemicals might be doing to our bodies huh?) and bottled water still has some traces of minerals that could potentially ruin your stamp over time. In a pinch you could use filtered water but I personally don’t think it would be a good idea long term. You can find distilled water at your local drug store or pharmacy. It is not expensive. You may have to purchase a larger jug of it but you’ll never have to buy another one for a very long time!

You can find baby wash (a liquid “soap” used to wash a baby’s tender skin) in the baby products aisle. I use Aveeno Baby (no fragrance) made by Johnson and Johnson. It’s the same bottle I purchased when my  granddaughter was a baby (she’s seven now) and came with her mom to visit Gramma and Grampa for the first time. Other brands of creamy baby wash will probably work just as well.

Glycerin is often used commercially in beauty products and better brands of bathing soap. Pharmacies stock it in smaller bottles because the medicinal use is to relieve chapped skin, minor burns or for minor cough and throat irritations. If you don’t find it in the “cough medicine” or “chapped skin” product aisle, ask a clerk. Be prepared to tell them what it is used for… some of them seem to not know what it is!

Why does this recipe use glycerin?
When I first came across this stamp cleaner recipe on the web (I don’t remember now where I first saw it), I was curious as to why glycerin was called for in the recipe. I asked my husband, who, “in his old life” was a chemist and he said “Probably to condition the rubber, keep it from cracking or going hard.” Well we certainly want to prolong the life of our favourite stamps, don’t we? Make the effort to find glycerin.

I could just kick myself in the butt every time I forget to clean my glue or acrylic laden paint brush when I am working on a project! I don’t know how many dried on, glue or acrylic paint encrusted brushes I threw out before I discovered this tip: Soak it in GooBeGone overnight. The glue softens right up and you can then get all the “gunk” out of it.


I keep some HAND liquid soap in a container next to my “brush cleaning sink”. Once I have removed most of the water soluble paint from my brush by swishing it in a container of water, I squirt a little of the liquid soap in the palm of my hand, swish the brush in it, rinse it well under running water and set it aside to dry. With very little effort and mess, my brushes (and hands) are as clean as a whistle when I am done.


4 tbls. Murphy's Oil Soap
1/2 cup Borax
a few drops of essential oil if desired (I like lavender, orange or peppermint)

Put the borax in a tightly lidded jar or container.  Add the oil soap and essential oil and mix together with a fork until it is the consistency of a lovely frosting for a cake!  Keep the lid tightly capped so that it does not dry out.

Well that’s it for today. See you tomorrow. Now go clean your (ART) house… LOL!


The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1

First up in this showcase of projects I have done over the years is one you might not expect! 

I love antique stores and one year as I was roaming around the wilds of North Carolina, I came across this lovely little shop tucked away in a small town south west of Raleigh.  Well there isn't an antique shop on this planet that I won't visit, so in I went.

As some of you may know, North Carolina once was the "fabric" mecca of the south.  It still is to some extent but not nearly what it once was. As this industry declined and factories closed over the years, old thread spools and bobbins that had been languishing, forgotten,  in the back storerooms began showing up in thrift shops and antique stores.

Well being a sewer and a lover of anything vintage, when I spotted a bunch of them sitting in a large basket on the floor of this little shop, so lost, forgotten and forlorn LOL, I just had to have them.  I scooped up a number of them from the basket and, clutching them tightly to my bosom,  headed for the cash register. 

"Whatcha gonna do with all these here spools ma'am?" asked the sweet little old fellow behind the counter. "They is from the factory that closed here 'bout ten years ago and been sittin' in that basket ever since!"

"Don't know yet." I replied.  "I am a sewer and I just like them.  Maybe I'll put them in my sewing room."

Fast forward a couple of years. 

I needed a small lamp for a little niche area I had created in our living room.  I had scoured every store in town but still hadn't found one that I liked.  Feeling rather frustrated and impatient at not finding what I wanted, I decided to clean up my sewing room. Yep, that's one of my ways that I work frustration and impatience out... I clean!

All those thread spools and bobbins were sitting on a shelf in my sewing room... artfully arranged I might add... and as I picked up one of the large thread spools, it suddenly came to me that I could make a lamp out of these spools and bobbins.  The thread colour on the bobbins was perfect!  A quick trip to the hardware store for the electrical bits.  A side trip to the local lampshade place and my project was underway.  A rummage through my ribbon to tie the bobbins together on the thread spool and  by that evening my new lamp was sitting on my antique sewing machine.  It sits on a little table today, many years later, and I still love it!

Now if I could just get that "inventive" about all the other stuff languishing in my multiple stashes around the house!! LOL

Have you got any ideas about a project one could make using old thread spools?  Please share...


The 12 Days of Christmas

An Art Fest of Projects

For days now I have been ruminating about my blog posts for December!  This morning, as I rolled out of my nice warm bed to greet a cold, crisp November day, it came to me: create a chronicle of various "art" projects I have tackled or created over the years.. some of which I have shared with you and others that didn't quite make it to these pages!

Beginning tomorrow and until December 12, I will be serving up a short blog post each day "showcasing" one of these projects.  Some you may have already seen, some may be new to you.  My hope is that they inform, instruct or inspire you in your art endeavors now and in the coming new year.

So please, drop by and join me on this little trip down art project lane.  See you tomorrow,


P.S.  Mrs. Santa, who dropped by for a quick cup of tea this morning, told me to also let you know there will be a couple mystery surprise days coming your way over the next 12 days but you're gonna have to be there, on those days,  to be in on that day's surprise!  I prodded her for more information, even tried to bribe her to tell me with a piece of apple pie but she remained steadfast in her resolve to keep her secret.  "My lips are sealed!" she said with a sly smile and a twinkle in her eye!

The Art in Colour Mixing...

The Art in Colour Mixing...

The Art in Colour Mixing...

One thing I have been wanting to do for awhile now is to mix up some clay colours for reference when doing clay work.

After completing this project myself and seeing how useful it is for learning about colour, I'd like to encourage non-clayers to try this simple system of mixing colours in clay and creating some "clay" bracelets to give you a reference aid when mixing  colours in other mediums.  It is an easy project... although time consuming!  The cost of a couple of packages of clay will be worth it for you in the end!

Even though many fellow clayers swear by the "mixing process" of Maggie Maggio in her book "Polymer Clay Colour Inspirations", I just couldn't seem to get the hang of it!  Even though it is probably pretty simple, I was frustrated in my efforts to make heads nor tails of it.  After a couple of tries at it over the last couple of months, I would just give up.  The problem with doing that is that I STILL did not have any reference beads I could use that gave me an easy "starting" formula!  URGHHH!!!!

As I was cruising the web one day, I came across Elaine Robitaille's blog  where she mixed hundreds of colours to figure out the colour formulas for Premo clay.  Well I wasn't about to recreate the wheel, so I thought it might be worth a shot to try doing a simplified version of what Elaine had come up with.

Here is a photo of a two colour layout about to be mixed down into 9 beads.  Using a small cutter, all you need to do is cut out 8 circles each of the two colours you want to mix for a total of 16.  Leaving some room between them, lay them out on your tile from top to bottom, one row of eight on the right, one row of eight on the left.  Working from left to right,  all you need to do now is fill in the space you left between the two rows with more circles of cut out clay. (72 clay cutouts in total.. 36 in each colour)

Here are the three "sets" of mixes I created using Premo clay

Set 1
Cobalt Blue to Cadmium Red.
Cadmium Red to Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Yellow to Cobalt Blue
Set 2
Ultramarine Blue to Alizarin Crimson
Alizarin Crimson to Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Yellow to Ultramarine Blue
Set 3
Turquoise  to Fuschia
Fuschia to Zinc Yellow
Zinc Yellow to Turquoise

Once I had all the mixes for each set rolled into balls and laid out on my tile, I went back and rolled out each ball on a medium setting, cut out one square of the blend and mixed it with two, same sized squares of white to get a hue.  I added this "hue" ball to the top of the bead (and made it a two tone ball :).

When I finally got going on this "project" I decided I would finish it in one shot.... otherwise it would likely get put aside and well you know what good intentions lead to LOL. 

It took me most of the day to complete this exercise in colour and in spite of a very sore middle finger and thumb from mixing all the little "hue" samples, it was definitely worth it.  In the end I created three "bracelets", each with 24 beads of the mixed colour plus the hue for a total of 48 colours per bracelet and 144 colours to play with in the future. And those little bracelets are so pretty!  Had I made the "beads" smaller, I could have simply made a funky, colourful necklace out of them.  I may just take the bracelets apart and do that even though they are rather large!!

A couple of caveats...  Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow are currently only available from the sources listed below.

Polymerclay Express
Creative Wholesale

To find out more about why these colours are not longer being stocked by places like Dick Blick, Hobby Lobby and Michaels, read what Carol Simmons  has to say about this "sad state" of affairs for clayers!

Was this exercise worth it?  YES.  I learnt a lot along the way and some colours surprised me when they were mixed down into a hue!  I am going to continue doing this with more colours just to see what I get and create some more colour chip "bracelets" to refer to using the colours in the fabric samples I have.

Have a great week,


Abstract Art - Visual Poetry in Motion

You know what I like best about creating abstract art?  It's not supposed to look like anything in particular!  For someone like MOI whose drawing abilities leave a lot to be desired LOL, creating something "abstract" is the perfect form of self expression.  I love the playfulness and freedom inherent in just messing around with colour with no outcome in mind... it kinda reminds me of colouring cows purple with green polka dots in grade school. The only person I needed or wanted to please was myself.  When it comes to art, that's still the same for me today.

Have you ever noticed how something abstract is rather like poetry in motion?  Instead of words or sentences. color, texture,  form, shapes, lines and patterns all dance together to make up the stanzas (verses) of a particular piece of art.   It is filled with mystery and intrique.  Its heart dances freely to the tune of its own drummer.  It speaks to the non verbal parts of us.  The experience of art is very often more important to us than the "understanding" of what a particular piece of art is "supposed" to represent.

This past couple of weeks I have been playing with paint, chalk, gesso, etc.. as well as clay. 

Here's a piece of background paper I created that I particularly like...

I have tons (well, a big old suitcase full) of background papers I have done over the years... I love playing around with different mediums and experimenting with different techniques!  Who knows what I will use them for GRIN.   It's just fun, free wheeling, satisfying and I positively adore the mystery/intrigue in not knowing what I'll get until it's done.  I hate surprises but I sure love mystery!!!

I get the same deeply satisfying experience creating faux Mokume Gane with polymer clay.  Mokume Gane, if you are unfamiliar with this term,  is an ancient Japanese mixed metal technique for creating laminate metal with multiple distinctive layers using various metals.  It was originally used only for sword fittings during the 17th century but later was also used for decorative art pieces.

Polymer clay artists  "adopted" this technique of layering sheets of prepared clay with metal leaf to simulate this process.  The result is positively gorgeous!  It's something, I think,  you have to actually see in person to really appreciate the beauty.

In the photos below, the patterns were created from a stack of 18 ultrathin layers of clay.  Micro thin slices were shaved from the "stack" and placed on a "receiving" sheet of background clay.  This sheet was then hand formed into the tiny bowls below.  After they were fired, they were sanded smooth, buffed and multiple layers of glaze applied to protect and enhance the beauty of these small pieces of art.

Fortunately, I had enough to also make some beads and a couple of pendants after I completed a number of bowls!  Don't know why I had so much trouble getting a photo of the necklace... I must have tried at least 20 times to capture it.  It is really very, very pretty.... and to see it in person is to appreciate it even more!

And, of course, the most wonderful news about these pieces... they have all been accepted by the Coast Collective Gallery for sale in their gift store.  I am a happy camper!!

Hope you have a wonderful week... I'm going to go play with some paint!


Art Bottles - Fun with Clay

Greetings art friends on a cool but lovely Saturday (at least so far) in the Pacific Northwest!

A couple of weeks ago I was rummaging around in my "stash" and came across a large bottle (18" inches tall) that I found rather "funky" when I bought it but wasn't sure what I was going to do with it.

I was feeling rather art deprived... having worked so hard on getting my "Timeless Tales" CD finished and up on cdBaby (and if you haven't had a listen to the previews of the stories, please drop by for a listen...better yet get yourself a copy and/or put it on your Christmas list for yourself, your kids, grandkids, young at heart seniors or anyone who loves stories... hint, hint, nudge, nudge LOL)... I was restless and that's always a sign for me that I needed (yes, needed) some time in the messy studio to create!

As I looked at this strange looking bottle with its long neck, it suddenly came to me what I wanted to do to transform it into something special!  I love those moments of pure inspiration, don't you?

Out came the paint, the clay, glue, stamps, beads and copper wire!  I even managed to find a cork that would fit on the top.  After a couple of hours of playing around... here is the result:

Once it was "cooked" and a finish applied to protect it,  I shone some light on it and was absolutely thrilled with the result... the colours just sparkled.  Suspending beads in the neck of the bottle gave it a very interesting look and I fell in love with the bottle! I'm not a great photographer... but you get the idea.

I wish you could see it in "real life" with the light shining through the top part and making the beads in the neck come to life. It just amazes me what you can do with an idea and how often just getting started sometimes makes all the difference.  One idea builds onto another idea and before you know it you have transformed something very plain and uninteresting into something you love!

Now I was all fired up (no pun intended) and, as it often happens with me when I have done something I am tickled with, I wanted to try my hand at it again.  Out came a vase and I was off on another tangent...  I was having fun and when that happens I produce what I consider some of my best ideas and work!  Here's a photo of my second effort... and a much better photograph (I'll get the hang of photography yet!)

So now that I have got this month's blog offering off to a good start, it's time for me to hit the kitchen.  It's the weekend of the "apple making making marathon".  With all the "abundance" from the garden and my "peach pie making marathon" a couple of weeks ago, I am going to cut back and only make a dozen pies for the freezer this year.  I think I can still find enough room in the freezer for them! The rest of the apples will be canned for yummy goodies like apple crisp or southern fried apples over the winter!

So while I am baking away, filling our home with the sweet smell of apple pie (and driving my neighbour who loves apple pie into fits of mouth watering imaginary tastes through the open kitchen window LOL), go rummaging through your stash for something ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary!

Have an "artful" week,


The Timeless Tales of myStoryART

Today,  I am excited and thrilled to announce that my spoken stories CD album, “Timeless Tales – Vintage Stories from Around the World, Vol. 1” has just been released at cdBaby.

“But aren’t stories and tales “just for kids”?” you ask. Well, yes and no. Lots of adults enjoy tales and stories too! Kids will laugh, smile and maybe even want to tell YOU one of the stories on this CD. 

As a mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, have you ever noticed how, when kids listen to a story, their eyes sparkle and you know just looking at them that they are off in a world of their own, hanging excitedly on every word,  just waiting to hear what happens next? 

Kids love listening to stories.  Stories magically transport them to the creative playground of their imaginations.

Sadly, as adults, we end up missing out on this fun...  a lot.  It seems we all have our own ways of allowing our lives to get pulled down into the quicksand of SERIOUS!

  • Deadlines to meet both on and off the job
  • Family obligations with our kids and extended family.
  • Worry about the economy, the environment, our jobs
  • Concern around our kids, aging parents, paying our bills and much more...

    Ever notice how, as time goes by, one day begins to feel like a repetition of many of your yesterdays?
You are not alone.  Shut ins, aging parents, and older seniors, regardless of how active they remain, experience this tedium and boredom too.

Stress is frequently referred to as "the Silent Killer".  Often left unchecked, it begins to affect your health in a negative way.  Headaches, insomnia, sniffles and colds are often some of the first stress signs we need to pay attention to but often ignore. Emotionally you may feel cranky, impatient and out of balance. Your senses dull, diminishing your vitality and zest for living. As W.H. Auden once said:  “Home to supper and to bed.  Shall we be like this when we are dead?” 

Here are some undeniable facts... 

When you ignore your inherent need for fun and pleasure, the more out of balance, listless and just plain miserable you will become! 

When your life is so busy and full taking care of daily living needs, your job, being the full or part-time chauffeur, shopper, cook, housekeeper for your family, caring for your children (from the little ones to the grown up kind that have moved back home), it's easy to lose touch with the creative and playful side of your nature. Life becomes a series of “have to’s”, musts and all of us (me included) end up “should-ing” all over ourselves.  A sense of amnesia settles in. You forget how wonderful, how mentally freeing, how energizing it feels to go for a romp in the wonder playground of your imagination. 

I claim these as facts...from a place of personal and professional knowledge as well as experience over the past 25 years both as an artist and as a trained and certified Reality Therapist and Master Coach.   My subsequent doctoral studies and training in the methods of the greatest therapeutic storyteller of them all, Milton Erickson, confirmed for me what I have instinctively known most of my life. 

Needs really matter!  
Story really matters! 

This is precisely why I chose to record these memorable stories for YOU.  Plucked from my vast collection of stories gathered over the years, listening to these stories will make a difference in your life, whether you are 8, 98 or somewhere in between :) 

As you listen to these stories,
I want YOU to remember …  
  • the experience of laughter and delight to be found on the playground of story
  • how it feels to be lifted up on the gentle wings of story to the movie theater of your mind.
  • the delight you’ll experience when you access the childlike curiosity within you that perhaps hasn’t been out to play in a very, very long time. 
  • the pure “essence” of relaxation to be found in watching the story come alive on the “big screen” of your imagination.  
  • stimulate your creativity and memory. 
  • connect with the playful side of your nature and  
  • spark the creative part of you where your authentic self lives 
What I want most for you is... a time in the space of daily living where you can leave your troubles, worries and the stress behind, if only for a short time to “dance lightly on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.” (Rabindranath Tagere, Bengali poet, novelist, musician, playright)

Listening to a charming, time tested tale that brings a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart can make a difference…at home, at school and at work.

You see, a good tale, well told, can help YOU   
  • relieve everyday stress  
  • lighten mental pressure & anxiety before important events such as  exams, speeches, presentations, calm public speaking, wedding or graduation day “jitters” 
  • improve performance – at work, at school, at home  
  • help relax you before bedtime so you can have a restful night's sleep 
  • stimulate your creativity and memory  
  • lower your blood pressure, ease pain & discomfort, aid healing, 
  • tickle your funny bone when you least expect it
“Timeless Tales -  Vintage Stories from Around the World, Vol. 1” is a “spoken word” album, punctuated with music, with delightful tales from 9 countries around the world. 

On this album you will hear…  
  • Tales that paint pictures on the landscape of your inner mind to help you smooth out the ups and downs of daily living.
  • Stories to make you smile, pull at the strings of your heart and even provide a chuckle or two along the way. 
  • Enjoy an instant listening preview of all the stories in the album.Read reviews and album notes.
  • Stories range from less than 3 minutes to no more than 13! Perfect for listening during your ride to work, on your coffee break or anytime you need a change of pace! 
  • Download your purchase to your computer in a matter of minutes 
  • mp3 format for easy listening on your computer and/or transfer to your mp3 player, iPod, or phone.  
  • You can burn your stories to a CD for convenient listening at home or in your car 
  • Re-live the experience of listening to “old time” radio 
  • Kid friendly – a wonderful way to keep YOU & the kids entertained "on the road" 
  • Download for $12.99 from cdBaby, a reputable, safe, customer friendly, internet source 
And… on this album, you will even get to hear the humourous story that inspired “the artist within me” to create a likeness of the whimsical and fun “cat” in the story, “The Fat Cat of the Empress Hotel”.

This clay/ceramic cat sculpture will be enjoying some wonderful attention all of its own soon.  Sir Felix will make his “debut” next month… in an upcoming art show! 

You know, even though I know I will never be a cat or any of the other whimsical animal clay/ceramic “sculptures” I have created, sometimes it’s just nice to go hang out in a world that isn’t grounded in our own.  A place where our doubts and fears, worries and stresses can be relieved, if only for a few hours. 

With the cool days of autumn fast approaching, snuggle up with your favourite afghan in your special, comfy spot.  Put your ear-buds in and get ready to be magically transported on the soft, gentle wings of story to the "movie theater" of your imagination. Let the stories that hail from many parts of the world begin... 

Hop on over to cdbaby NOW!

The End (for now)


Facebook and me...

I finally took the plunge!  I signed up for Facebook... and oh my what a learning curve it has been for me over the past couple of weeks.

Being primarily an audio learner, it was a BIG challenge for me figuring it out on my own!  There's not a lot of audio instruction on the "ins and outs" of Facebook in their help menu (NONE).  Way too many hours later, I still don't have some parts of it figured out... but at least I finally got a profile done (well sorta LOL), loaded up some photos and figured out how to "friend" some of my claying buddies and family/friends who are on Facebook.  But beyond that... well let's just say I am WAY, WAY behind the curve on my "to do" list including a couple "unfinished" blog posts! 

Sorry for such a delay... I haven't forgot YOU.  But stay tuned over the next couple of days because I have some VERY exciting news to share with you,,, COMING VERY SOON...I promise!

In the meantime... if you are on Facebook, drop by my page and say hi!  I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that I have done the Facebook Badge (up there at the top on the left) correctly and you can find me!

Happy Friday...


"Tooling" around... some mini "how to" tutorials

After a total *DISASTER* in the computer department, I am finally back online!  The motherboard on my main computer decided to give me a very hard time... three capacitors blew up and that was the end of my computer!  I was *more* than annoyed... the computer wasn't all that old and a well known brand name.  But I heaved a sigh of relief at none of my data being lost!  Doing backups on my external drive made a difference too!  The only problem was... I had to find a computer *somewhere* running XP (I had always refused to upgrade to Vista) in order to access it.  It took a couple of days for hubby to track one down with our local computer guy... who was great.. he switched the drives and I was back in business.  I flipped the switch and  then came the shocking realization I had lost all of my software programs!  Fortunately I had the CD's for some of them (and have most of them now re-loaded) but a lot of programs I had downloaded off the web were lost.  Needless to say, it has been a frustrating and maddening two weeks getting back to this point.

To calm my jangled technology nerves, I whipped out my clay and began to play!!  I have been wanting to cover a needle tool hubby made for me a couple of years ago out of a heavy darning needle and a piece of dowel.  I use it all the time... and not just for claying.  After all that use, it was looking pretty grubby!!

It's the greatest little tool for punching holes in leather, in cloth for putting in grommets or getting a sewn buttonhole started, cleaning those tiny ridges in my clay gun, poking holes in cardboard or paper... oh I could go on and on!!  Want to make one yourself?  Just get a heavy darning needle, drill a hole in a 4" piece of 3/4" doweling that will fit the darning needle and glue it in with some heavy carpenter's glue. Cover it with clay, make a little bead for the end (so you don't poke yourself by accident) and you're done!

While I was at it, I decided to make some little stamps I could use to texture clay from some charms, embellishments and buttons I had lying around my art table.  I simply made an handle out of scrap clay, put a little clay behind the charm, button or embellishment to offset it from the handle, cooked it and voila a bunch of cool little stamps were born.  They work like a charm!  (no pun intended!)

Take a look at this photo.  Yep, it's my initial!  Can you guess what it might be?

The mystery thickens with some colourful "pick up sticks"

Now what do you get when you add the two together?  Why a "Bead-0-Matic" baker and glazing tool that looks like this:

Here's what's neat about this "tool":  it won't fall over in the oven (even in a convection oven with all that hot air swirling about) while the "cocktail" toothpicks hold the beads while baking.  You can remove the toothpicks and once you have sanded your beads (if they aren't textured), you can put them back on the toothpick, dip or glaze them and set them back into the holder to dry.  If you happen to lose or break one of the toothpicks, you can simply replace it with another one!

All you need to make it are some cocktail toothpicks and some scrap clay.  Form the clay into an "S", poke your toothpicks into the clay (leave them there while baking the "form"), bake the clay at 275 degrees for about 40 minutes (depending on the thickness of your clay).  Remove it from the oven while hot (I use an "Ove-Glove" in my clay room for handling hot clay coming from the oven) and immediately remove the toothpicks.  Let it cool, then put the toothpicks back into the holes in the form.  You have to remove the toothpicks while the form is hot otherwise they will be very difficult to remove without breaking!

Another use for this tool is using it as a holder for painting small "stuff" or when you are making little embellishments to add to ATC's, cards or other art.

So that's it for today... hope you find these tools useful.  I've got some beads that need sanding...

Happy Arting...


P.S.  Have any of you who have blogs had as much frustration as I have had in "transitioning" the Google apps that can't automatically be moved to Google's new structure?  I was ready to tear my hair out...what a process... and I am not sure that I have even got it right.  I consider myself pretty web savvy but boy I found it confusing!  If anyone has some good tips, I'd love to hear from you!

Listening to an inner song

When I realized that well over a month had passed since I last updated my blog, I was rather shocked!

"Where did the time go?" I mused to my SELF.

The answer came back swiftly.  "Listening to the song in your heart." said that voice of SELF.  I smiled.

Allow me to explain.  Around the beginning of June, I was doing some clean up on my computer.  A necessary evil every now and again and not one that I particularly enjoy.  However, I like things relatively tidy and a good "purge" of my inbox, bookmarks, graphics, digitals and files definitely cleans things up... at least for awhile.  Sometimes I am more "ruthless" in my housekeeping than at other times and this time was no exception.  My recycle bin was filling up at a furious pace.  But then.... I came across the digital ATC above that I created at some point last year and had forgotten about.  It stopped me in my tracks... then and there!

I had to admit: "Nope, I haven't been listening."  In my rush to get caught up with all the "stuff" that had languished around for months before and after my foot operation/recuperation, I was going flat out trying to do six months of backlog AND "new stuff" all at once! 

I wish now that I had kept all the sticky notes emblazoned with task after task scattered all over my desk and pasted to my monitor.  It would have made a grand photo to show you!  One thing became clear as I looked at them... I wasn't doing what was most important to me.  It went a long way to explaining why I was feeling so out of sorts, why I was somewhat "grumpy" (not something I am prone to being), headachy and to top it all off, I was "bone" tired!!  I gathered them all up and threw them in the trash.  Boy did that feel "freeing"!

I had come to the sudden realization that I was so intent on crossing off those tasks (and ridding myself of a yellow sticky note) that I had completely forgotten what has worked for me for more years than I can remember:  Every morning, before I start my day, I ask myself this question:  "What are the 3 most important things you have to do today?"  I write them down and get to it.  After those tasks are completed, I get to do whatever I want AND I get to toss that sticky note in the trash!  It has always been amazing to me that once I identify the "must do's", I relax.  Many times I have discovered that once the "must do's" have been completed, I tackle something else that most likely would have ended up on the "must do" list a few days later and because it's not a "must" it miraculously transforms into a "want to".  Strange... but true.  LOL

Having broken the "spell" I was under, I began listening again.  I soon discovered where my headaches were coming from. 

Working on the computer was giving me eye strain even though I was wearing my "regular" glasses.  My eyes blurred up and my head pounded within a short period of time.  I was scheduled for an eye appointment with the opthamologist in a few days so I'd ask her what was going on. 

As it turned out... nothing... my eyesight was perfect BUT my eyes were drying out sitting in front of the computer.  According to the doctor, we tend not to blink as often sitting in front of the screen and should use eye drops regularly.  She also suggested getting a pair of "office" glasses.  These are glasses that are specially made for working on the computer.  Off to the "glasses" store I went to pick out a pair of the funkiest frames I could find!  Well ... what a difference putting in eyedrops regularly throughout the day and my "funky glasses" have made.  Headaches have disappeared and I'm back in business (chuckle).  If you wear glasses and work for more than an hour in front of a computer,  I highly recommend them.

So what have I been up to?  The biggest chunk of my time has been spent on recording stories for a CD I will be releasing soon and hope to get on iTunes.  What fun it has been!  This is a project that I have been wanting to do for close to 12 years now and it feels great "getting on" with it.  Yep, listening to my inner song is definitely working!

During my "sitting around" time earlier this year, I decided to go through my file (upon file, upon file) of stories and choose my absolute favourites.  With over 150 stories that I have gathered over the years, it wasn't an easy task deciding which ones I loved the most.  But... I did manage to boil it down to 50... way more than I will ever need for a couple of CD's.

The next order of business was figuring out how and where to put a proper "recording" area in our house..  When we lived in North Carolina, I had a recording studio built in our home but "lost" it when we moved back to Canada.  But where could I put it in our current house?  Over the past five years, I have filled up any available spot in my creative space with art supplies, paint, clay, fabric, beads, wire... need I continue? LOL.  Add to that rolling carts, cupboards, fridge, oven (for baking clay) and a giantic art table!  I wasn't about to give that up... no way!!

It took some brainstorming, moving stuff around and a couple of "this won't work" tryouts but my new  recording area finally found a home in a tiny corner of my creative space.  Because I stand when I record, I don't need a lot of room to move around (other than for my "flying hands"). 

Hubby put together a tower to hold my microphone, snuggled it and the surrounding area in noise dampening audio foam, added a light, a spot for my laptop, a music stand and a high bar stool that I can straddle (I still have problems standing on my foot for any length of time).  It's perfect!  Very little ambient noise because I am in an enclosed space... a necessity as my microphone is very sensitive and picks up the drop of a pin!  It's like being in a small "British style" telephone booth!.  The only thing I need to do is turn off the fridge (which lives in a distant part of the room, as far away from the mike as we could get it).  I forgot to turn it back on one day last week after I finished recording and had a tiny disaster... it defrosted and the water drained out all over hardwood floor!  Now I have a sticky note on my laptop every time I record:  "Remember to turn the &%"@* fridge back on." Nonetheless, I am a happy camper.  Recording is just plain fun especially so when you can breathe life into a story you love.  Stories just ain't for kids ya know!

Over this past month, I have managed to get a number of stories recorded. Now begins the "grunt work"... editing and getting a "master" done.  This is the part that is so time intensive to do it right but with new "computer" glasses, a tenacious spirit and a bunch of enthusiasm, I am raring to go.... but first...

some beach time this weekend and then back to playing with story.  Yep, life is good!

See you time I'll show you the CD cover I have designed for these wonderful "vintage" tales.


A Wonderful Birthday Surprise!

The day dawned rather cool and cloudy.  "Where's the sun?" I mused to myself.

It had been a rather dull and rainy week but today the sun would shine for sure!  You see, it was my birthday and the sun has shone on my birthday for as long as I can remember.  Sometimes only for a few minutes but it has never disappointed me.... even on that day I turned ten.

A freak snowstorm dumped so much snow (I was living with my family in Ontario then) that the snow drifts were so high that it blocked our front door and I had to cancel my birthday party!  I was so disappointed.  Then, early in the afternoon, the sun came out and sprinkled diamonds in the snow for me.  It was a birthday gift that I have never forgotten and now I have another one to add to the "memory book" of my life...

I fired up my computer and opened my mail. There was an email from the gallery that I had, on a bit of a  dare, submitted three of my pieces for an upcoming art show.  I opened it, just as the sun peaked through the clouds for a few seconds and shone in through the window.

I am certain, that had you seen the look on my face as I read the email, it would have been... well... priceless!  I had to read it three times before it sunk in.  It was an acceptance email for not one, not two but all three of my pieces.  Now THAT is quite an unexpected but very sweet birthday gift.  I was so excited that I thought for a moment my heart would jump right out of my body.  If that's what winning the lottery feels like... BRING IT ON!  I am really looking foward to inviting some of the very special people and friends in my life to the Artist's Reception and Opening on May 28.  The show itself is open to the public from May 26 - June 5.

This particular art gallery has always appealed to the Victoria historian in me and I love going there... even just to wander around the gardens on the property.  In my wildest dreams I never expected to one day have my art shown there. 

Being a "collective" gallery (a community of artists and mainly run by volunteers), I had given some serious thought this past winter to offering some volunteer time at the gallery just to put myself in a community of artists.  I felt it was an opportunity to get to know other artists and their work in our area and perhaps attend some of the art workshops there.  Hubby and I talked about it and he encouraged me to "go for it".  I was all set to contact them after Christmas when, of course, I found out that I was about to be sidelined on the "lazy boy" for a couple of months.  So much for that idea!

In early April, a friend mentioned that the gallery was looking for artists to submit their art for jurying and be included in their upcoming "Anything Goes" art show.  It was an "open" submission... meaning that you didn't have to be an "associate artist" of the gallery in order to submit.  I must admit, I rather scoffed at the idea at the time.

"Oh for Pete's sake, Sharon" she said my friend, rather annoyed.  "You've had pieces juried and accepted in the two biggest shows on Vancouver Island that every artist covets getting into.  Both of those shows accept only about a third of all the submissions they get.  Considering that the percentage of pieces sold at those shows is less than half, that's a big message.  It tells you there are people out there who like "your "stuff".  Your pieces have all sold. You can submit three pieces to the Coast Collective Gallery... just pick three of your favourite pieces that you can part with, fill out the application and submit them for heaven's sake."  So, after thinking it over for a few days, I did!

Have you ever had the experience of initially rejecting an idea because something seemed to be stopping you?  I admit, this "kick in the butt" conversation with my friend  got me thinking.  Was I afaid of being rejected?  Did I not value my own work?  What was going on in that brain of mine?  It took me a couple of days to figure it out.

Working through those questions prompted me to write a new artist's statement.  It's a great exercise I think every artist should be required to do at least once a year (and mine was a couple of years old) I feel really good about my artists statement now... it is definitely more authentic than ever before and  a much truer reflection of where I come from and what my art is all about for me.   Want to have a "conversation" about the process of writing an artist statement?  Let me know and I'll put a blog post together.

In the meantime, a "snippet" of Victoria history that surrounds the Coast Collective Gallery, a photo of the building and photos of my pieces that were accepted into the show.

"Pendray House" - Coast Collective Art Gallery
Havenwood Estates at Esquimalt Lagoon
Colwood, British Columbia

The Gallery is at the end of a winding road in Havenwood Estate (close to Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University) in the historic Pendray House.  Built in 1928 by Herbert Pendray (1883-1956), the son of William Pendray, Herbert worked in the family paint business (the British American Paint Company) in the position of Vice President. 

His father William came to British Columbia in 1869 during the gold rush to work in the mines at Mosquito Creek in the Cariboo.  He struck it rich when he acquired one of the gold mines that turned out to have the richest diggings in the country.  He returned to England for a few years and then made his way back to Victoria and founded the Pendray Soap Factory ((located near the grand Empress Hotel at the head of Victoria's Inner Harbour) and later founded a highly successful paint company known as the British American Paint Company. 

Nestled in the woods overlooking the ocean, Pendray House was built in the English style of a Mediterraean villa.   A Gardener's Cottage, used by the grounds caretaker followed in 1935 along with a greenhouse and barn.

Sold after the death of Herbert's wife, the house has had a few owners over the years. In 1966, it was purchased for use as a country club and later became a rest home for the elderly but sold again  and was leased by the Pacific Center for Family Services up until a few years ago when it became the Coast Collective Gallery. 

Situated in one of the most beautiful settings for a gallery in Victoria, the grounds surrounding the house are absolutely gorgeous.  One highlight is the antique sundial sitting on a plinth of river stones in the garden.  The inscriptions on the sundial are worth noting...
“For every hour that passes, a remembrance;
For every hour that strikes, a happiness;
For every hour that comes, a hope."

The inscription inside the hour circle of the sundial itself reads, “Time is Precious”

Wandering through the “house” with all its little rooms filled with art “goodies” is delightful. There is a lovely gift shop with a “tea veranda” and the main gallery, with its full frontage windows, overlooks the grounds and the ocean… the view is spectacular.  It's a little piece of "heaven" tucked away close to my favourite beach.

Here are photos of the pieces that have been accepted into the show:

Kyoto Geikos - Clay Mixed Media
inspired by the story "Memoirs of a Geisha"

"Tweet T2" - Ceramic/Clay
inspired by birds singing and "tweeting" while I was drinking
some southern "sweet tea" in a garden in Savannah, Georgia

"Sakura Geisha" - Japanese Paper Collage/Drawing
inspired by a tale about a beautiful Japanese
Geisha who was a dancer but sent the man she
loved most of all away for she felt she was
"unworthy"  of his love for her.  A sad but
moving tale of of sacrifice --- she mourned
him deeply to the end of her days.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful long weekend.  Now I must take the time today to fill out my forms to become an associate member of the collective!  YIPPEEE!