Friday, June 13, 2008

Owl inspiration...

For most of the people who will read this entry, you probably are well aware of some of the "standard" discussion questions asked in yahoo groups to keep the conversation flowing. One such question seems to be: "How do you get inspired to create something?" We've all seen that question, right?

For me, my process usually begins with searching for ideas. I don't usually just go blindly into a project... although, I must say, that it is the times when I DO enter into a project "blindly" -- or without a specific vision -- that I end up being the most pleased with my results. The reason for this, I'm sure, is because I entered into the project without expectations, so I did not have to attempt to exceed them nor did I fail to meet those same expectations.

Anyway, one of my favorite places to go searching for ideas lately has been Etsy. The more time I spend there, the more time I love the place! And I can find inspiration throughout the site, in even the most unexpected places. One of my favorite ways to waste time is to browse through the Etsy Treasury. Here you will find collections of 12 items available for sale on Etsy. These treasuries can be made by anyone who is registered on Etsy... the real trick with the treasury is being at the right place at the right time. They have a "limit" of 333 treasuries -- although this doesn't mean that there are only 333 treasuries at any given time, there are usually much more than that. But as soon as the treasury count reaches 332... then you have less than a second to type in a title for your treasury. Once you have a title for the treasury successfully entered, you will have a blank canvas on which to create your very own treasury collection.

I've managed to get myself in the right place at the right time, and create a few treasuries over the past few weeks, and it's very addicting!

But, I digress...

On my last visit to Etsy... I came across this little owl... now, I'm not usually the one to succumb to super sweetly cute, and to be honest, I don't know if I'd call this owl super sweetly cute (although one could!) I think I'd call him whimsically adorable, perhaps. Yeah, I think I like that better. What inspired me to sit here and write about this owl, though, is the fact that I know I will be receiving an owl deco within a few weeks to work in, and owls has never been a subject matter that I've ever attempted before... so I guess I was looking for some inspiration and ideas to get me started. Some sort of battle plan before I get that deco and get started...

I like to have some sort of battle plan prepared before I get a deco or altered book (or any other round robin piece) because then, when I'm shopping, I know what I should look for... or I can decide if I have the materials in my stash necessary to work on the piece without shopping for additional goodies. I usually DO have the goodies I need... but that rarely stops me from shopping with the excuse that there is something I need. ha!

So... I don't know that this blog entry is going anywhere... other than allowing me to get a bit drowsy so that I can get to sleep -- a big day of house shopping tomorrow! -- but, thanks for letting me talk you in circles, anyway... I hope you enjoyed it!


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NATURE Fatbook on Etsy!

Hello Everyone!

Well, last time, I posted all the photos of the tea fatbook I had, now I guess I'll post the Nature fatbook photos.
The Nature book was one of two fatbooks that my group, EccentricPastiche, created to donate to Robin Whittemore to assist her with her medical expenses. You can learn more about her plight here. Unfortunately, Robin passed away before we could donate the books and other things to help with her medical bills, so I decided to sell these items on Etsy and the proceeds will be donated to the Pickens County Bone Marrow Drive in care of the United Way in Pickens County of SC, in Robin's name, on behalf of the artists who contributed and of course, the lucky person who purchases the book!

NEWS FLASH: The tea fatbook that I published in my last blog entry has already SOLD! YAY!

Let's start with a picture of the front cover of the Nature fatbook:

Here is the front and back outer covers of the book scanned side by side while the book was open and flat on it's covers!

And here is the inside front cover, with the listing of contributing artists:
This is the page from Anne Grappo...

This is the page from Ann Cooper...

This page was contributed by Cindy Ericsson...

This page was contributed by Crystal Calhoun...

This page was contributed by Ellen Quigley...

This page was contributed by Fran Lainhart...

This page was contributed by Janice Lopez...

This page was contributed by Jeri Aaron...

The next two pages were contributed by me...

This page was contributed by Nancy Tasker...

This page was contributed by Susan Tidwell...

And finally, a page from Teresa Stebbins...

There are a couple of other pages that I couldn't scan... but, you get the idea, right? This book is phenomenal! I love it! I know that whomever buys it won't be disappointed!

To purchase the book, click here.

I hope you enjoyed this pictorial of the book!


Monday, June 9, 2008

Fatbooks now on Etsy!

Hello Everyone!

Well, I finally got the two fatbooks we made for Robin (put 4Robin in Etsy's search engine for easy access to all that has been donated to this cause) listed on etsy! I still have an original artwork "true colors" journal to list 4Robin... but that may have to wait a while until we get moved! I'm not sure yet just when the move will take place, many things are up in the air as we wait to see whether we are approved for this house or for that one... you know how it goes!
Anyways, Here are some pictures!

Tea Fatbook Cover ~ Cover was created by Carol DuBois, who also bound the book:

Inside Cover and Front and Back outside of the cover, shown side to side (Open and scanned on it's "spine")...

Here are some of the pages for the fatbook... I don't know how many blogger will allow me to include... so it may be that I'll have to submit another blog entry tomorrow with the rest of the pictures... anyways, enjoy!

Pages from Ann Cooper...

Page from Anne Grappo:

Page from Carol DuBois:

Page by Cindy Ericsson:

Page from Crystal Calhoun:

Page by Ellen Quigley:

Page by Fran Lainhart (who also assisted with the binding of the book):

Page by Janice Lopez:

Page by Jean Bennett:

Page by Jeri Aaron:

Page by Liane Ciglar:

Two Pages by me (Anne Downen):

Page from Nancy Tasker:

Page from Susan Tidwell:

Page by Teresa Stebbins:

Well, what do you know? I managed to get all the photos uploaded! woo hoo! Let's see now if I'm able to publish the post! I hope so!

SO... isn't the book AMAZING? Don't you love it? Want it? To buy it, click here! This is for a great cause... and it's a one of a kind, remarkable collection of art! There's only one of these in the whole world... so you better hurry before someone else grabs it!!!


Saturday, June 7, 2008


Hello Everyone!

About a year and a half ago, I assembled some mail artists together (via the US Postal Service!) to create a few pieces of art to donate to Robin Whittemore to help with her medical expenses as she battled Myelodysplastic Syndrome. You can learn more about Robin Whittemore's courageous fight here. Unfortunately, most of these various works of art were not completed before Robin passed away, but, we still want to donate these pieces to a charity organization that worked with Robin to help her in her fight.

The first of these works of art that I have listed in my etsy store is this fabulous Travel Destinations Puzzle. This is an altered art puzzle -- it started life as a blank puzzle like this. I divided the 12 pieces into sections of 2 pieces each -- creating 6 blank canvases ready for the artists to alter.

*The frame was altered by Teresa Stebbins. She created an awesome, well-traveled suitcase look for the frame, and it's complete with a handle that can be used to hang the puzzle on the wall.

*The upper left corner section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "Asia/China" and was altered by Crystal Calhoun.

*The upper middle section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "Paris/France" and was altered by me, Anne Downen.

*The upper right corner section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "Italy" and was altered by Carol DuBois.

*The lower left corner section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "London" and was altered by Nancy Tasker.

*The lower middle section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "Hawaii" and was altered by Janice Lopez.

*The lower right corner section of the puzzle celebrates the destination "Ireland" and was altered by Tamara Comerford.

There are many various materials used to alter this puzzle, including (but not limited to) cancelled postage stamps, ephemera, paper, ink, paint, charms, ribbons, and beads. The proceeds of this sale will be donated to a charity that was actively involved with helping Robin, The Pickens County Bone Marrow Drive, in care of the United Way of Pickens County, SC. The funds will be donated in Robin's name, on behalf of the artists who contributed, and of course on behalf of the lucky buyer of the puzzle! Hey, maybe that will be you!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

My new Gingher Scissors

I have known for a long time now that I really needed to buy a new pair of scissors that were designated only for my fiber arts -- I have several pairs of scissors that are for paper cutting, my favorite are the short blade Kai scissors, these work fabulously for detailed cutting.

But, as any fabric/fiber artist can tell you, when you use a pair of scissors for cutting paper, it dulls the blade and you really need a separate pair of scissors for fabric/fiber use.

However, I've held out buying a new pair of scissors that would be designated for fiber/fabric, mostly because I know myself well enough to know that unless I bought a pair that was a 'true investment' (read: expensive enough) that I would end up using those scissors for paper eventually, thinking "oh, it will be alright to use them for paper this once." Then, I'd need a new pair of scissors... and I'd continue that cycle until I made that true investiment.

So, last week, I had a 50% coupon for Michaels, and decided it was finally time to make that true investment... mostly because I've been dabbling more in fiber arts, and I was tired of trying to use my Kai scissors for fabric cutting. So, I did it... I invested in a gorgeous pair of Ginger Knife Edge Dressmaker shears. This pair reminded me of Gramma, these are the same kind of shears she used in her sewing nook -- one of my first "safe places" I could remember... one of my most cherished memories would be to have Gramma at work at her sewing machine while I sat next to her and stitched some pictures by hand on some of her scraps. I felt so safe and warm right there next to Gramma.

So, warm, toasty memory aside... these scissors were SO WORTH the investment. They are so amazing. And enough of an investment that I'll keep them safely in their special tin when they're not in use -- on FABRIC only!


PS: thank you to GAIL for telling me about Gingher a few years ago -- yeah... it took me this long to finally break down and buy a pair!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Domino Workshop 2

OK... now let's play with some techniques using the sharpies ink and alcohol ink blending solution.

To Create an "impressionistic" brushstroke effect: This is a very simple way to add interest to your background but it *does* take some practice and a certain willingness to make mistakes.

Remember, if you *do* make a mistake and smudge off too much color, you can always start over again by simply using the alcohol ink blending solution to whisk off all the color off of your domino. The blending solution acts as an "eraser" of sorts by adding a squirt of the solution directly onto the domino and then using a rag to wipe off the ink and solution. Be careful though, as the solution can also dissolve the color on the "back" side of the domino (the side with the dots!) and if you want to keep the back side clean (for a more polished look to your finished domino) you don't want those inks to be lifted off and smudged.

Using a small, inexpensive paintbrush, squirt some of the blending solution onto the bristles. You want the bristles wet with the solution, but not dripping wet. If the brush is too wet, simply run the bristles across a dry rag once or twice. Next, swish the brush lightly over the top of the domino in a soft, circular motion, until you have acheived the desired effect.

To intensify your color, add a little bit more ink from your pen, and continue to swirl the paintbrush over the top of your domino.

Now, you can see some of the varigation of the color, but, it's become more blended and the colors appear to be painted on.

Using just a few simple tools: Sharpie Pens, Alcohol Ink Blending Solution, Q-tips and a paintbrush you can create some really unique and interesting backgrounds on your dominos.