An Artistic Sanatorium . . . for the muse plagued with artistic attention deficit disorder.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Merci mes amis!

I actually have some new artwork to post, but alas! it is buried in the rubble heap that is my new apartment.  It will turn up soon.

I wanted to do a special post for a few precious followers who have been so kind and supportive lately with their comments.  Tara, Renee, Sherri, and Ruthie . . .

And here are some bits and bobs I thought you might find inspiring.

First "Danse Macabre" conducted and arranged by Leopold Stokowski and recorded in 1925.  Listen to it here.
Via Morbid Anatomy and Dinosaur Gardens.

And a scene from a masterful Russian animated movie, Konjek-Gorbunok from the studio Soyuzmultfilm. Byzantine Russian palaces, firebirds, magic horses . . . I grew up watching this fluid, sparkling gem. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


KIRSTEN HASSENFELD - traverse more of her worlds here. Reminds me of Tord Bjoonte.

Kirsten Hassenfeld

And this is already all over the internet but bears repeating:

Wataru Itou - via Dark Roasted Blend

My own attempts at paper sculpture are entirely dwarfed by the above paper or paper-like engineering feats. Truly, these have inspired me to try again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Circumspectively returning to virtual life . . .

The Martyrdom of Saint Cecilia, Stefano Maderno
© Rémi Jouan, CC-BY-SA, GNU Free Documentation License, Wikimedia Commons

In my art blog-wanderings today, stumbled across St. Cecilia - patron saint of music, as well as that of musicians, composers, instrument makers, poets, and the blind - who reportedly continued to sing despite her severed head.  Hmm.  I'm not so sure it couldn't have happened.

The months that have passed since I last posted anything in the virtual world have been full and heavy indeed. So many things have "died" of late - metaphorically and literally.  But I sit on a deep hoard of hope.  Not the desperate hope that clings to having everything resolved according to my demands, or the wishful kind of hope that expects to win a lottery, but the kind of hope that rides through the storms of life and gives life and joy. 

My heart still sings despite its severed state.

I hope to be creating and posting artwork again soon and to finally get my revamped Etsy store stocked.  Until next time, have a wondrous day!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A beautiful embroidery

Angelo Filomeno. Death of Blinded Philosopher, 2006. Embroidery on silk shantung, linen, and crystals. 42 x 122 in. (106.7 x 309.9 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York. Photo: Michael Bodycomb

Found via from the exhibition "Pricked" featuring contemporary embroidered art at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Elsa Mora - my artistic hero

So I finally come to posting about my favorite artist: Elsa Mora. She is quite possibly one of the most successful artists around when it comes to leveraging the internet. She has three blogs and an Etsy store: one that follows her personal life as it relates to her artwork, one for showcasing her personal style, and one devoted to the art of paper-cutting and sculpture. Visit them here:
All About Papercutting
The Hidden Seed
Elsita on Etsy

"Elsita" is so intriguing because she is so intensely personal and open with her life and experiences. She has done everything from fashion, jewelry, and papercutting to porcelains, paintings, and photography. I have included two of her flickr sets to whet your appetite but don't miss out on the rest of her extensive and amazingly varied work - many more sets here.

Almost everything she produces tugs at my heart with a kind of dreadful, delightful "urgency". Have you ever felt this? What artists do this for you? . . . create a painful, wistful feeling in your heart that such touching artistry or sentiment cannot be held for more than a moment?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Great advice: useful for professional artists

It's been a while and I apologize - I have a large project going on and have had to shut down all other artwork, including my Etsy store, to stay focused. However, today my husband shared an excellent article with me "Client Red Flags? Ask These 4 Questions." By Steve Tovak.

Some artists seem to have as long a list of "bum" clients as "good" clients. Sometimes the bad list is longer. I know I often feel obligated to take any and all work that comes my way, sometimes despite my gutt reaction to the client, because, well, I need the work!

I'm comitting these four questions to memory for the next new client who contacts me.

Medieval Market

Medival Market or Fair. Artist unknown.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Wishing Well

Here's a little project that is no more. I've been trying my hand at paper-engineering. This is the beginning of a sculptural version of the well that also features prominently in another project. Unfortunately, I was using paper that was too heavy-weight and rubber cement as adhesive. As soon as humidity set in, it started to fall apart - rather elegantly, like a rose, first leaning and drooping (as you see it doing here) then quietly losing it's petals - but falling into oblivion none-the-less. Also, the rubbercement yellowed and collected dust in all the crevices. It was pretty forlorn in the end.

However, I learned a lot and Percy has some new tricks up her sleeve we'll have to try.

Notes to self:

Try a light Canson paper

Good ole Elmer's glue

Work from ground up - not top down. Seems obvious, I know, but remember my background is in costume and clothing is usually draped or "sculpted" top-down.

We'll see what happens next!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An Old Favorite and A New

The old favorite, and an all-time favorite forever, is Elsa Mora or "Elsita" (right); more on her in another post. The new favorite is Carlos Estévez. He and Elsa Mora are opening together in a show called "Laboratorium" in Los Angeles. Both are Cuban artists living in the US. Their artwork touches my soul; it somehow manages to capture much of my emotional memory of Ecuador and Colombia, even though they are from Caribbean Latin America. I long to be able to capture such feelings in my own work.

A post on a new piece I created will be coming up in a few days. Until then, enjoy these other beautiful pieces from Carlos Estévez.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A New Embossing


These photos were taken before I put the finishing detail on; and I forgot to photograph the completely finished piece I was so eager to get it in the mail! Wish I had because the last item I added really brought it all together. Oh well, here it is in almost finished state.

It is about 4"x5" in overall size. The challenges to embossing a human subject, on this small a scale, are numerous and probably obvious. I have learned quite a bit, especially about leaving depressions instead of flipping the work over and depressing from the opposite side.

Most of embossing is done on the reverse side of the paper, pressing hardest for the areas that need the most loft: cheekbones, shoulders, brows, nose. Once I've completed the fuller impressions I flip the work to the right side and use a very fine-tipped point to define edges and details. The hardest embossing decisions revolve around small detailed areas such as eyes, lips and hair. They require a delicate play of impression next to depression. The first impression is usually the finest - repeated impressing in the same place wears out the paper, can look "deflated" or collapsed and won't take fine details - so getting it right the first time around small, detailed areas is imperative.

Anyway, the person for whom I made this piece is a very unique and talented one. May beauty bloom in unexpected places!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Etsy Handmade Moment Contest

So I desperately want to make a little stop-motion animation using one of my poseable figures and enter this contest. Of the myriad reasons I have not done so yet, the most legitimate are: 1. that I have no completed figures in stock and 2. I have non-Etsy commissions to finish.

So I'm simply going to give a shout-out to my favorite entries thus far:

Watch all the entries here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Three favorite things

Not much to post this week as I have a lot going on in my day job. Three things for which I have a great appreciation:
1. Tim Burton artistic vision
2. Colleen Atwood's costume design
3. The red, black, white color palatte

All three combined in the following promotional pics from Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland. Behold the White Queen:

Images via The Costumer's Guide to the Movies which has the most comprehensive image collection of film costumes I've yet found on the internet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I "heart" a new artist: Jennifer Khoshbin

I "hearted" the artist Jennifer Khoshbin on Etsy a while ago, after only briefly perusing her items. Today, I went over to her site and what a tender treat! Her work is so intimate, delicate. She reminds me of paper-cut artists Jen Stark and Su Blackwell,but she has built upon their innovations by adding sound. Don't miss her lovely "intonation" pieces: books outfitted with music box parts (with soundclips available), "transformation" (scroll down to the beetles), or her magnificent machine-embossings and paper carvings in "illustration".

Visit her Etsy store here.

Ooo, she just makes me want to head home and create all kinds of new things! But alas, must attend to the work at hand.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Special Dedication

Percy secretly called during my little hiatus a couple weeks back and I quietly mounted up for a ride. Sometimes deadlines for other work must be put off for things of the heart. I created these as a gift for my parents, who have been tremendously supportive to my husband and I recently.

The Harpist

My mother is a wonderful pianist, runs her own piano studio, occasionally composes sweetly yearning pieces, AND owns a lovely Andean folk harp she acquired while we lived in Ecuador. She only had a few lessons on it before the rest of life took over and the harp was put to slumber prettily in our living room corner. I hope that someday she will take it up again. The harp in this silhouette is modeled - loosely - after hers.

The Harpmaker

My father tunes pianos for a little extra income. As the provider of my mother's pianos, and mechanic to them, he inspired me to create a harpmaker. This piece was quite a challenge to compose. I decided to use an ancient Egyptian harp as the basis for the composition so that I could keep everything oriented horizontally - the Egyptian harp lends itself to horizontal lines because it is visually heavier at the bottom, unlike more contemporary harp shapes. Every time I sketched in a contemporary harp on it's side the composition felt awkward and overly complicated. I also like that it is in keeping with the general theme of ancient art that inspires most of my silhouettes.

I have plans for a new take on my silhouettes when I create a piece inspired by my Grandmother. But these will have to wait until I get back to and meet my current deadlines for commissions, etc.

Thanks for peeping in again! Have a lovely week!

Monday, July 6, 2009

La muse s'appelle . . .

Persephone - "Percy" for short. For many reasons - which Wikipedia lays out much more concisely than I ever will.

Here's my favorite reason to call her this: Plato calls her Pherepapha (Φερέπαφα) in his Cratylus, "because she is wise and touches that which is in motion".

Thanks again for all your suggestions!

Here's the embossing I created for the winner of the drawing, Renee. The actual figuring in the peice is probably no more than two inches wide, which made her face a bit of a challenge - it's only a few sixteenths of an inch! Overall size is about 3"x4".

Thursday, July 2, 2009


How many times have you wished for an undiscovered manuscript, composition, or painting by your favorite dead artist to magically be unearthed?

Well, I've had several little "unearthings" this week: two by one of my favorite Fin de Siècle illustrators, Kay Nielsen, and one of my own sketches.

I'm assuming these Nielsen illustrations have been known to others much longer than to me but this steals none of the magic from my own emotions upon finding them on the web.

I found these via Golden Age Comic Book Stories, which has wonderful, wonderful images from many classic children's book illustrators, comic books, and pulp fiction.

As to my own lost sketch:

Today I send "The Embroiderer" off to a new home. As I turned her over to inspect, voila! there on the back of the Bristol is a light sketch of some lanky, ornately encrusted, medieval princess I did while working up roughs for The Embroiderer. The ink from the finished piece on the other side seeps through so that the sketch is not very discernible; it did not photograph or scan well enough to post. But what a fun remembrance for me and what a nice "extra" for the new owner!

Next post, you will finally discover my muse's new name and I'll post pics of the prize I created for Renee. So come peep in again soon!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Feeling like a Color Goddess

So things are struggling along but today I felt I had the energy to work a little on some commissions and therefore decided to post a little something just to remember my muse (name to be announced soon) is still alive and kicking even if I'm feeling a little like death-warmed-over.

Go check out if you have some free time. Too much fun!

Color by COLOURlovers

Color by COLOURlovers

Color by COLOURlovers

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sadness . . .

I had plans for several posts that have not been realized due to some private matters. Please have patience with me as I navigate some new emotional waters. I hope to be back soon with some progress updates on work and other new and interesting ephemera to share.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen is one of my favorite artists of all time. Two years ago, while living in southern Vermont, a friend took me on a day trip to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). (It's strangely situated in the middle of Nowhere, Massachusetts but it is worth every minute of the long journey.) I saw this stunning creature there.

I have been obsessed ever since. The graceful, skeletal forms, monochromatic palette, simple and melodious engineering - they take my breath away.

Because there is so much out there on Jansen and his work, I'm going to link to a fellow blogger who compiled a pretty concise and comprehensive list of images and videos.

I want a strandbeest for a pet.

Tomorrow, another of my favorite artists . . .

The winner of the personalized embossing is . . .

Renee! (Sorry I took so long posting your winning - husband had to monopolize the computer last night. Please don't hold it against him - he was working on his Graduate paper.) Send me an email here with your mailing address. I'm hoping to create a little Bosch-esque mermaid for you - let's talk about how I can personalize it for you!

The Garden of Earthly Delights - Detail, center panel. Hieronymus Bosch

Congratulations, Renee! And thank you for being a part of the naming process.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I'm so sorry some of you are having trouble posting your comments. I don't know how to correct the problem as I have done everything on my end to make it as easy as possible. I will be posting comments for some who have contacted me directly and will enter you in the drawing.

Seven Sacraments, Roger Van der Wayden

Again, my apologies!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Naming the Muse: An Embossing Give-Away!

I would like to invite you to participate in a very important decision: a name for my muse. To honor this sacred event (a little snickering as I type that) I'm going to do my first give-away. The prize will be a 4"x4" embossing which I will create for the winner.

To participate, please make your name suggestion by commenting on this post. A little exposition on meaning or why you think it's the perfect name would be welcome.

*Gentle Facebook Readers, please go directly to the blog to comment if you would like to be entered in the drawing. (Click on the title and you should be taken directly to this post.) Facebook comments will not be entered in the drawing for the prize but the names suggested will certainly be considered for the muse.

The winner of the personalized embossing will be randomly selected from all comments that suggest a new name. So the more new and original recommendations you make, the better your chance of winning. Comments about an already suggested name will not be counted. Comments must be received by 5:00 am EST, Monday, June 15th. The contest winner will be announced later that day. Whoever wins must then contact me about your embossing within 48 hours. If I do not hear from the first winner, another name will be drawn. Instructions for contacting me will be on the post announcing the winner.

As to the name I actually choose for my muse . . . wait on. I see another give-away in my future.

Now, for your consideration - this muse's characteristics:
Willful, deeply loyal and oddly fearless but very slothful, insanely fun to ride, wiry, aloof, illusive, distracted, mercurial, original but not witty, vaguely annoying but deeply endearing

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Bit o' Thanks

. . . to Nothing Elegant for including me in her post Things You Never Knew You Needed Until Now... Tara is one of my favorite style bloggers. If you're into a mesclun of whimsy, fairytale, and retro tossed with a dash of the macabre you'll enjoy Nothing Elegant.

She also sells neat vintage apparel, shoes, and accessories in her Etsy store, A Single Charm Vintage.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Returned and Reconciling . . .

I've actually been back in my sweet Falls Church home for a few days but was so exhausted (from trekking all over Atlanta to see old friends) that I have had to spend these few days recovering. Now I'm ready to start back to creating. My muse and I are not exactly reconciled - I suspect she's just repressing - but no matter, that's her problem. We are speaking and co-habitating again . . . the rest will come. It helped immensely that our last customer was overwhelmingly delighted with her little felt dragon. My muse is a praise-monger - to a fault.

One thing we are agreed on is that calling her "my muse" is getting tiresome. I hope to include my wee list of followers in the naming process shortly so be watching for an upcoming post on this. It will include a special treat.

In other news, inspiring me today:

Laberinto en la Guitarra by Ensamble Continuo

My mother's Ecuadorian folk harp - I am missing my family today. (OK, I think it's actually a Paraguayan folk harp. But she bought it and learned to play on it while we lived in Ecuador so it is erroneously burned in my brain as "Ecuadorian.") She rarely touches it now, being busy with her piano studio.

I am also missing my Andes Mountains today. Specifically Pichincha - though not the most beautiful of Ecuador's stunning volcanoes, it was Pichincha's craggy, gloomy slopes to which I awoke every morning for many years as a child. I remember vividly - down to temperature and smell - trooping through the wind, clouds,and/or intense sunlight that crowned its head.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Disagreement

Kay Nielsen

So my muse and I are having a row. She's got all these wonderful ideas she wants to pursue. I, on the other hand, have some commissions to complete before I leave on vacation next week. She is being very obstinate and refusing to help me with the commissions. In fact, she is slowing my work down by assaulting me with fabulous ideas I don't have time or energy to pursue. Don't know how long it will be before we're on speaking terms again. I'm going to whine a little now: why do I always have to be the "adult" in these situations? So wish I could just indulge her.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Medieval Meandering

My sister-in-law is on her way to Paris later this week and I'm so excited for her. I have yet to visit France but I have my list of "must-sees" ready for when the opportunity presents itself. On this list is the Musée de Cluny or Musée National du Moyen Age. The above well, located outside the museum, has been an inspiration in several of my artistic endeavors. Look here to see one of these.

If you'd like more information Sacred Destinations has wonderful images and clearly presented, concise, useful information.

Speaking of inspirations . . .

And here's another fairytale-ish element that's becoming a go-to inspiration. Look for it in up-coming posts.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mozart + Reiniger = Delightful

The color-palette of this lovely Lotte Reiniger film is delightful. To see more about how she created her wonderful paper-cut animations, see "Escapism" in the bottom margin of this blog.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In Between

In between illustration commissions and Etsy orders I've been stitching away at my own version of an embroidery sampler: my own rendering of "Death and the Maiden." I plan to work in every kind of stitch, floss, ribbon I can find and learn. (Needle'n Thread has a wonderful video library of how to perform many different stitches.) I am obsessed with white-on-white in most things I do; finding this obsession quite a cleanliness-challenge - I'm not succeeding at present.

I learned many of these techniques as a child but have only recently revisited this craft. I've found I love embroidering - so calming. Making lots of mistakes and stumbling upon little tricks now and then.

Fine artists are also taking this craft to a new level:


Rosalind Wyatt

Jenny Hart

Animated Embroidery
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