Monday, February 28, 2011

Art Bites - A Taste of Resin

It's that time of the year when Brisbane City Council announces it's annual Art Bites Program and I'm really pleased to announce that my resin bangle workshop is part of the program this year.Art Bites is a series of arts workshops run through March and April each year which are designed to bring like minded people together to learn a new craft or art form.

The workshops are free. Yes you read that right.... FREE! but are only open to residents of Brisbane City Council. They include a very diverse range of workshops from computer animation to singing, metal smithing, printmaking, photography, life drawing and of course, resin jewellery making to name just a few.

The workshops are designed with beginners in mind so this is a great opportunity to get a taste for a craft or art form that you've always wanted to try to see if you like it.

You can find out more about the workshops included in the program by visiting the Art Bites feature page on the Our Brisbane website.

And if working with resin has been on your "To Do" list then why not give it a go in this hands on two hour bangle workshop. To find out more information about my resin workshop or to make a booking, visit the Art Bites Resin Jewellery page. Bookings by phone are essential and numbers are strictly limited.

So why not give a new art form or craft a go this autumn. Remember........ it's free!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Curious, and Curiouser

I stopped by the AMACO booth at CHA and had a chance to watch Michelle Zimmerman in action with Cloud Clay - the wonderful air dry, light as a feather (or is that light as a cloud) clay that is non toxic, non greasy and has a pleasant smell.

Michelle is well known for the wonderful, whimsical creatures she creates and she invited me to have some fun with this creature and tell her what I wanted him to look like. She already had him underway when I joined her so we had a good base to start with. As you can see, he started out looking like a snail.

Michelle and I were throwing around some ideas about his features and between us we decided he should have purple eyes. No, actually, we decided on just one eye - he should be monocular. And so we named him "One Eyed Pete". Oh, we were having such fun with this imaginary creature!

We thought he still needed a little something and we settled on a single purple horn, like a unicorn. And as quick as a flash, Michelle had modelled his features and attached them. One of the great things about Cloud Clay is that you can stick moist clay to dry clay and it will stick. How neat is that!

He's a rather curious looking creature though, isn't he?

By now, One Eyed Pete was really taking shape, but Michelle didn't think he was quite finished and that's when the magic happened: He began to morph into Curious and Curiouser; first she modelled him a little saddle and carefully placed it on his back.

And then she created a little jockey - a mouse-fish! He was a unicorn too! Michelle is a picture of concentration here as she places the mouse-fish in the saddle. And that 's how Curious and Curiouser, aka One Eyed Pete came into being.
Michelle says Pete came from my imagination but I think Curious and Curiouser may have just escaped from the pages of Alice in Wonderland! This whimsical creature accompanied me home and now sits cheerfully on my computer desk. Thanks Michelle!
Next I moved on to the make and take table and joined Helen Bradley as she was taking everybody through the simple steps of how to make these very cute cupcake earrings.

Remember when I said how light Cloud Clay is? Well, that makes it perfect for earrings. They're so light you can hardly tell you're wearing them. I can tell you that this was one very popular make and take and I spotted lots of crafters wearing their very own cupcake earrings on the show floor.
Helen suggested a coat of Glossy Accents to protect them so that's what I did when I got home. And now I think they look good enough to eat!

This is such a great project that not only did the adults love doing it but it would also be a hit at a girls birthday party. I can tell you all the Mum's would want to get in on the act too!

Hope you find lots of time for crafting this weekend.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love is........ a Zentangle!

Ah, Valentine's Day! And romance is in the air!

When I walked into the office this morning I was greeted with a beautiful bunch of roses in shades of pink and red, and then shortly after by a box of exquisite foil wrapped chocolates in a heart shaped box. How romantic!

Before a minute had passed the cutest little kitten with a red bow tied around it's neck appeared. Romantic image after romantic image flashed across my computer screen - what a lovely start to the day.

I bet you were thinking how spoiled I am? Well, perhaps I'm not quite that spoiled but my sweetheart and I did exchange boxes of chocolates this morning and we'll sit down quietly tonight to share them as we watch Sleepless in Seattle together - mushy stuff, I know, but very romantic!

And that leads me on to today's post - Zentangle inspired Valentine's Cards.

One of the wonderful things about Zentangle is that there really are no rules so there is nothing to say that your doodle has to fill a square, or a circle for that matter. This Valentine's Day, why not Zendoodle your heart out?!

Try doodling on punched out hearts!
Or doodle the embossed hearts made using a Cuttlebug folder. Or why not Zentangle some chipboard letters and really spell out your feelings!
Show the special people in your life how much you love them this Valentine's Day and create a Zentangle inspired Valentine's card for them. After all, Love is........ a Zentangle!

Happy Valentine's Day!

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Buttons and Fibres - an Extreme Tac Solution

One of the booths I always make a beeline for at CHA is Blumenthal Lansing. Apart from having such cool buttons, they always come up with really great but simple make and takes. Here's one I did at their booth this year.We started with a really unique bangle base - a piece of plastic tubing held together with duct tape! The base is then simply wrapped with specialty yarns. And the pièce de résistance: their gorgeous resin floral buttons! We used a collection from the new Flower Garden range which are securely wired on to the bangle and embellished with some seed beads. I love this little treasure and have already worn it several times and had many admiring comments!

But what keeps the fibre in place? Well I'm glad you asked!

Blumenthal Lansing teamed up with Glue Arts who kindly provided their wonderful Extreme Tac adhesive squares for this make and take. And when they say extreme, they really mean EXTREME. These adhesive squares were perfect for attaching the lengths of fibrous yarn which would have been a difficult and messy task with a wet/liquid adhesive. There was no such problem using the Extreme Tac squares - they were easy to dispense and easy to use and of course were immediately permanent meaning the project moved along very quickly. They would be perfect for attaching a variety of embellishments for mixed media work because they're also acid free. I can't wait to use them in my next difficult-to-stick situation!

Well tomorrow is the day for lovers. I'll be back with something a little different: Zentangle inspired Valentine's cards!

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Art of Writing Chinese Calligraphy

This past weekend, my local shopping centre put on a wonderful community program to coincide with the Chinese New Year. The aim was to introduce the local non-Chinese community to Chinese culture and traditions. It ran over several days with the main activities being on Saturday.

I was keen to experience as much as I could and first stop was Chinese calligraphy.

Dipping the brush in the ink and brushing out the excess was the first lesson I learned.
Brush to paper: learning how much pressure to apply for each part of the stroke. With a master calligrapher to talk me through the strokes as I put brush to paper, the first few strokes were the easiest!Learning how to hold the brush was a task in itself - this was a really foreign concept for my westernized brain. I had to constantly remind myself to hold the brush upright instead of at an angle.A picture of concentration! I was completely engrossed in the task at hand and by this stage I'd been at it for about 30 minutes with my teacher watching over my shoulder and guiding my strokes. My patient husband stood and photographed without complaining!Here's my completed calligraphy practice sheet. And whilst I don't recognise any of the symbols, the Master tells me my characters are readable and that I have done very well for a first timer. I think he was being very kind, but I appreciate this art form so much more now that I know how tricky it is to manipulate the brush to create the strokes. Thank goodness for the grids on the practice paper!
I had a go at everything else that I could too. Here I'm learning how to make hand pulled noodles with Master Chef, Sam."Fold and twist", he tells me."Then fold and twist some more.""Swing it like a rope and then slap the rope down hard on the counter to soften it.""OK, your turn", he says.
So, step 1, fold and twist. I got this part.... this was easy!Step 2: Swing it like a rope to stretch it. Oooh, this is fun!Step 3: Anyone for jump rope?!! Watch out, it almost hits me in the face! Laughter breaks out around the counter.And then it snapped. Master Chef, Sam decides I've done enough damage and takes over! I truly looked like I'd never stepped into a kitchen before. But it was fun!

For a small donation to the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal you could have a master calligrapher personalise a painted Chinese fan with your name and special message. There was lots of discussion amongst the artists to work out how to write Myléne. In the end they decided it should be Mai Lin (I think!).
There were Chinese knot tying demonstrations to watch too. After experimenting with Kumihimo braiding last month, I was totally fascinated with this. How about this for beauty and simplicity: button knot flowers. We spent quite a bit of time watching a master fruit carver at work. The smell of sweet, ripe summer fruits was divine.Of course there was the traditional lion dance through the shopping mall but I managed to miss all photographic opportunities of this!

With all this Chinese art and culture surrounding us, we truly felt like we were on vacation somewhere in China. It was such a great day out.

And so to all the wonderful people who made this day such a pleasure, Gong Hey Fat Choy

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Whilst in LA for CHA I stayed at the most delightful hotel: The Figueroa. This charming, Moroccan themed hotel is a welcome oasis in the concrete, steel and glass skyline of downtown LA. With its exotic and unique decor it exudes charm and it has a relaxed ambience, made all the more soothing by the new age music which filters through the hotel lobby. It couldn't be a more perfect hotel for artists and crafters to stay in. Enjoy the snaps I took around the hotel.

The lobby with it's distinctive yellow luminescence. It's difficult to photograph but it sets the tone for the whole hotel.Looking across the breakfast areaAn ornate mirror nestled above an extraordinary lanternWherever you look, the light fittings are exquisite, whether they are floor lamps.....or ceiling lanterns.The spectacular filigree chandelier in the lobby Poolside - the bar area is draped in luxurious fabrics,canopied seating areas, and more exotic ceiling lanterns.The coloured window panes throw beautiful subdued light across the bar areaA weathered latch on a rustic wooden door leading to one of the function roomsThe pool area is like a very private courtyard
What to do when a palm tree dies and you don't want to remove the trunk. Make it a feature by adding an ornate lantern to the top!
I hope you enjoyed your tour around the Figueroa. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I loved it's eccentricity. It was a warm and welcome home away from home.

'Til next time.....

If you can't get enough of My Tutorials and you want even more inspiration, click here to find my books and printable pdfs