Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Mild Obsession or Two

If you know me, you know that I love houses. Especially old houses with lots of personality. If they still have their original details all the better.
The root of this obsession goes back to my childhood and my other obsession, reading.
Reading was and is an addiction I'll happily have for the rest of my life, and when I was old enough to hold a book on my own it was fairy tales, ghost stories and mysteries that held my attention...if the story had a house in it it was golden!
I had a favorite book of fairy tales I believe was called "Fairy Tales From Around the World" that I read so often I wore it out.
My favorite story was called, "Baba Yaga" and I read it so many times I could practically recite it word for word.
As an adult, I have done a lot of research on goddesses, witches and wise women and have found none as mercurial and ambiguous as Baba Yaga.
There are many, many stories in the Slavic culture about Baba Yaga, who is portrayed as a witch, a goddess, a villain, a protector of forest and wildlife, a cannibal, a rescuer of children, a child stealer...the list goes on and on. What is a constant in all the stories is that she is fierce and powerful.
As a child, in my little world with my one story about her I was fascinated.
She scared the hell out of me and I loved her at the same time.

What I thought was especially wonderful about Baba Yaga was her house.

She lived in the forest in a house that had chicken feet. Yep, chicken feet! That did it for me....a house with chicken feet?!! Coolest thing ever.
Perhaps it's rare when a person realizes and remembers a passion when it's born, but that was one of those moments for me.
When I was a teenager, my friends were all reading "Tiger Beat" magazine and I was trolling over those house plans magazines, learning about floor plans and traffic flow and kitchen foot prints.

As an artist,  many of the things I make are centered on or around the theme of houses. And I am as curious about what is in or around a house (like libraries or gardens) as the stories about the folks who live in them.
When I make a house, there is usually a story that inspired it. Most times they are something from my imagination, but much of what inspires me are real houses that I've seen or been in that evoke a feeling or spark something off and away I go. One of those houses is the one I live in. It's a rambley old Tudor with a big wild garden and it's filled with many hundreds of books. A constant source of inspiration for me.
Sometimes my houses have feet......

(This one also serves as the header for my's one of my favorites)

And are made from polymer clay.

Some have taken the form of house shaped shrines,

Some are cards or chunky houses.

Sorry about how blue this one is. Some of these pics are old and i didn't know much about taking pictures way back when!
(I still don't know much, but I've learned some)

I make a lot of precious metal clay jewelry and houses play a big role in my designs.

Recently, I've been in a bit of an artistic doldrums and have gained a lot of inspiration from wonderful artists like Jane Davenport, who inspired me to draw this girl who I've scanned into my computer and begun to play a game with. I put her in many projects in as many different ways I can think of. Kind of my own 'Where's Waldo?"

This is the original drawing;
You can see her in a couple of different applications Here and Here.
Another artist I find inspiring is Mary Jane Chadbourne whose workshops on the  Artful Gathering Retreats
have done a lot for getting me out of my artsy slump. The previous post, Lady Divina's Cupboard and a little bit extra  has a couple of pics at the bottom of houses inspired by Mary Jane's workshop, Tinytopia on Artful Gathering Retreats. (see link above)

Another huge inspiration for me was a recent visit to the UK. My husband and I took a glorious three week trip to England and the architecture, age and character of the houses and buildings there gave me such a lift, (the city of York and the surrounding area especially captured my heart) I haven't stopped working since we got back.
Here is a very bad picture of a very messy work table and some work in progress.

These guys are part of a collection I've begun making since our return from the UK. 
I've turned almost exclusively to wood as sadly, I've become sensitive to polymer clay and can only work with it occasionally now. I have to say that although I miss the flexibility of the clay, I'm loving the sturdy permanence of wood and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.
Seems like the traveling bug has bitten and all my houses are on the move!
Well, that and my fascination with Baba Yaga has never waned, so houses with feet or wheels?
Coolest thing ever.

It's been fun indulging in my house obsession and I thank you for visiting and sharing some of it with me!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lady Divina's Cupboard and a little bit extra

Lady Divina, (also known as Jane Chester) after years of palm reading and crystal ball gazing, has packed up her side show tent and retired to the countryside.
She found a lovely cottage with a view and spends lots of happy hours puttering away in the pretty little garden she's planted there.
If you are lucky enough to be asked to tea, Jane may take you on a little tour of her past.
Against a long wall in her parlor is a large old cupboard where Jane keeps the memorabilia of her past life, including her crystal ball collection and the many bits and pieces that tell the story of a rich, full life.

Most of the supplies for this piece came from Alpha Stamps including the cupboard. (though the black table was something MacGyver built for me using dowels and a piece of scrap wood)

After I assembled it, I gave it a rough coat of gesso. I left all the doors off so I could paint backs and fronts easily.

 I didn't have a good shade of red acrylic paint on hand, so I mixed some Primary Magenta and Mars Black and got a nice, rich color that I was a lot happier with.
I painted the areas that were not going to be papered and let it dry completely.
I decided where I wanted to put papers, measured and cut them out and attached them using Golden's Matte Medium. Just FYI, I'm not advertising for them, I just like the product!
I got so into what I was doing, I forgot to take pictures of this stage of the process so please forgive the lack of visual.
After all was dry, I attached the doors, glued on the brass embellishment and the clock face at the top and began painting the decorative gold detail.
I didn't have a plan, I just painted swirls, making sure that they were as close to mirror image as I could get each side.
Here's a tip though;
If you're right-handed, start on the left side and vise-versa. It's easier to imitate what you've done if you can see it without moving your hand and saves you from accidentally messing up what you've already done.
Also, I start at the top and after each left side stroke of the brush (I'm right-handed) I copy it as best I can on the right side.
So, in other words, I work from the top of the piece, from left to right, one stroke at a time.

For the lettering, I wrote it out on a piece of graph paper and placing the slip of paper above where I wanted the letters to go, I used it as a guide for spacing and placement.

I glued the knobs on and started adding little treasures. By the way, I did eventually find that missing hinge!

Inside the cupboard are all manner of tools for divining the future and reading the past, including a skull for phrenology reference, palm reading guides, astrology charts, Jane's crystal ball collection, a wheel of fortune, a 'third eye' energy booster, a Ouija board and Tarot cards. Plus a few little knick-knacks and interesting bits that Jane picked up in her travels.

And if you are very fortunate (ahem) and a little brave Lady Divina, that is,  may invite you to sit a spell and unfold a bit of your future.

For links to supplies, click HERE

Supplies list:
Gypsy Fortune Teller #1 Collage Sheet
Gypsy Fortune Teller #2 Collage Sheet
Tiny Divination Cards Collage Sheet
10mm Crystal Ball
16mm Crystal Ball
15mm Round Glass Globe Dome
Large White Turquoise Skull Bead
Miniature Hurricane Lamp
Little Library Collage Sheet
Tiny Little Books Collage Sheet
Miniature Working Hour Glass
Small Square Brass Hinges
19mm Fancy Metal Drawer Pull
Antique 3D Gold Crown
Eyeball Cabs in Settings
Clock Face Buttons
Art Nouveau Curved Filigree - Antique Gold
Small Wooden Finial
Tiny Wooden Flower Pots
Vintage Gears set of 4
Brass Dragonfly Charms
Miniature Red Lantern (substitute suggestion for the brass one I used and can't
remember where it came from)

Red Acrylic Paint
Gold Acrylic Paint
Black Acrylic Paint
Helmet Charm
Faux Ivory Cat Charm
Dresden Doll  Head
Various Bead Caps
G45 Communique Scrapbook Paper (reverse side)
Black Table (made by my husband)
Tiny House Sculpture (made by me)
Polymer Clay Pumpkins (made by me)

 Take a look at these cute pins and tiny little houses!

They are all one inch wide and the tallest (the house with the tree and love birds) is two and a half inches.
Because jewelry gets a lot of hard wear, I stuck to papers only for the pins and sealed them with an acrylic finish. These are a lot of fun and fairly quick to make. Since they are small, it's a great way to use scraps and bits of paper and inchie collage sheets.
Imagine some cute Christmas pins to give as gifts. They would also make adorable ornaments!
The little house with the clock is also shown on the top of Lady Divina's cupboard.
You can get the perfect little wooden pin to make your own jewelry or ornament Here.

A little branch from the Gnarly Tree and Crows  makes a great tree for the Love Birds House. I also used Black Eyeglass Frame Brads  and little bits from collage sheets including the Tiny Divinations Collage Sheet.
Bits of Dresden trim like Black Zig Zag Border used above and tiny dots of black and white paint make up the finished details.
Thanks for stopping by!