Friday, December 12, 2008

Flea Market Finds

A Wednesday morning stroll through a small town flea market proved fruitful last week. My purchases: Two early 20th century swivel picture frames. I had never seen these before but they are fantastic. I had planned to frame some collage work in them to sell on Etsy but I may have to keep them for myself. A blue and white tin made in England by Daher company. Seller claimed that it was 19th century, I've yet to confirm that but it is lovely nevertheless. And added to my total at a quarter each are some tourist brochure/pamphlets from the 1970's from England. I do plan to dismember these for reincarnations.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter's Night

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Lonesome Hour

Postcard Art

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Long & Winding Way


I make capricious
u-turns in the middle of dirt
lanes; a wake of dust trails behind
as I wander back roads
of back woods with
windows rolled

Bending toward
the sun, blades of gold sway
in fields to my left, to my right
roadside weeds flap a
weeping rhythm
against the

The Wind showcases
her fury - fragments of
tin choke trees, cutting into
their dying flesh as she
blows her soft side
through my

Sulky limbs of trees
hang low over roads like
barren cages of ribs; skeletal
remains on the blacktop
disappear with every
day, every

Clouds blow by
shaped like bones of a
fish, some like sails of a ship
as I roam these roads of
decay, yet, from them
I inhale their

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gothic Reverie

Autumn, she beckons my attention. And like the Muse, she lights my imagination with fiery colors. But with Autumn’s colors come a darkness. Shade, shadows, and an early setting sun. Mist and fog fumble with my vision. My eyes play tricks on me. I’ve grown accustomed to the sunlight and I find myself more interested in that mysterious world behind the shadows, in the dark forest, along the cold corridor. Whether real or imagined, a different realm creeps slowly near. Does the cool, howling wind blow thinner the veil between your reality and the realm of shadows?

It does mine.

And in honor of the darkness, a darker manicure. Happy Hauntings!

pumpkin orange acrylic - text from Shakespeare's Macbeth
"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble."
black cat & witch's hat handpainted

mesh technique using lace, pumpkin orange acrylic, & black acrylic
bats & coffins handpainted

A special thanks to Barbara & Laura for letting me experiment (and then take many photos).

For those of you who love Autumn, check out a terrific little treatise on Autumn by my friend Jess at

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Muse & the Manicure

As a licensed manicurist and reader/writer, I've managed to literally fuse these two interests into some fabulous nails. I can put whatever text desired into the acrylic nails (but I'm going to keep my trade secret). For those of you who are familiar with acrylic nails, the text will not come off with polish-remover. So, better than polish. This is only my first set (and they are on my own fingers). I anticipate my next set to be better and I believe there will be more innovations to come. [And yes, those are snippets of Dylan lyrics]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Down the Highway

On August 28, I attended my first Bob Dylan concert. The short version: it was sublime, mythical waves of words & melody pounding my ears. If you want the long version, continue reading.

Dylan Live '66 (

We head north on Highway 71. I’m drunk on my favorite concoction, anticipation & the road. And my husband isn’t expecting anything. He likes to experience things with a blank slate, so to speak. No expectations, no disappointment. I think he’s missing out; anticipation is a heady high. We near our destination, Kansas City. While scanning the radio stations I stop on a KC jazz station issuing a haunting harmonica solo. I haven’t heard it before, but I know it. A strange incantation of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” rings from the radio with a slanting tune & altered lyrics. I wouldn’t expect any less from Bob Dylan, the Master of Reinvention.

I am on a pilgrimage, albeit a short one, to see Dylan in the flesh, to hear him with my ears, to marvel at the legend. The jazz station offers a good soundtrack as we near our destination. Dylan songs are sung by various artists, some funky jazz tunes follow. Momentarily, a freight train (one of Dylan's favorite images) travels along side the highway. Clouds roll in, dark & low, though the sun still shines through & around them. The train cars pull away.

We arrive at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City two hours early. Anticipation is slowly dissolving into culmination. We walk down three blocks to join the end of the line; excitement is palpable. I see fourteen year olds, sixty-four year olds, a wide spectrum of young indie rockers, suits straight from work, peasant shirts, hippie skirts, & cowboy boots. Dylan is everywhere, looking as iconic as ever on a plethora of fans’ t-shirts. I am donning a gray felt newsboy hat in homage to Dylan & boots I will regret. I have a habit of staring at my fingernails (I am a licensed manicurist); I examine a job well done, or poorly done. Tonight this habit is amplified as I have fashioned the lyrics of “Visions of Johanna” on a few of my nails, the others are a deep inky purple. On them I read, “We see this empty cage now corrode where her cape of the stage once had flowed. The fiddler, he now steps to the road.”

I peer up at second story windows. Would Dylan be curious enough to peek out? Is he drinking a cup of coffee now, preparing his harmonica? I don’t see him, but if he peeked down, I think he’d be impressed. Like any great carnival, this convergence of civilization hosts a street performer, a sideshow (although not at all grotesque). A girl dressed in early Dylan (jeans, boots, a work shirt, corduroy beret) strums the guitar hung over her shoulder & plays a harmonica on a rack. She sings “Talkin’ World War III Blues”. She delights us as the line shrinks. Sporadic drops of rain turn my grey shirt black, one spot at a time. We make it inside just as a hard rain begins to fall.

It is difficult, but I walk past the tables vending t-shirts & trinkets. The commercialism seems anti-Dylan (although they are selling his wares). I don’t buy anything (but secretly wish I had). I vow to buy John Wesley Harding instead of an overpriced t-shirt. We make our way into the theater. The tickets are general admission, so we can sit or stand anywhere not already taken. I am enticed by how close we can get to the stage if we stand, so I choose a spot in the center about 30 feet from the stage. It is still an hour before show time. Meant to recreate a “vibrant Venetian courtyard,” the theater is intimate, with a capacity of 2500. It glows with colors - blues & corals, golds & greens. Goddesses are sculpted high in arched alcoves. Columns flank arches & ornate sculptured woodwork climbs the walls and ceiling. Dylan has played here several times. I can see why he likes the theater. It is soaked in myth like his music. And with him playing, this will definitely be a mythic experience for me.

An hour of waiting passes quickly. Someone lights incense on stage. The smoke spirals slowly up. A voice I cannot see announces, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Bob Dylan.” Applause swells within & around me. Drums crack, guitars wail, and Dylan begins, “Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat. Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat. Well you must tell be baby how your head feels under somethin’ like that, under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat.” A marvelous opener and a favorite, “Leopard-skin Pill-Box Hat” stuns with Dylan on keyboard and harmonica, a version unlike any other. What other magic will ensue?

I’m impressed by Dylan’s voice (Internet reviews have not been kind). No, it’s not his 1963 folk crooning or his ’66 electric sneer, & I didn’t expect as much. He’s somewhere between Robin Hood, the Wild West, & heartache, plus a couple (thousand) packs of smokes. His intonation & diction are still all crooked and cracked. It’s wonderful, and it's a good thing he sounds great because I can’t see much. At five foot nothing (plus a few inches of boot heels), I’ve never been so acutely aware of my height. I shift left and right, countering the fans in front of me, crane my neck, & will myself to grow taller (Oh, where are my Elton John platform shoes?). Still, I only catch views here and there. There are six men on stage - three playing guitar, one on steel guitar, one on drums, and Dylan on keyboard. The band is dressed to the nines in black suits and everyone is wearing a hat - a derby, fedoras, a backward beret. Bob is no exception. He’s wearing a black suit with silver buttons down the front. His shirt is a dusty rose color. His dark gray hat is wide brimmed and flat with a black band.

I peer intently through cracks in the crowd trying to see his hands hammering out sounds on the keyboard. Of this, I can see very little. I find myself distracted by trying to see and often I just close my eyes and listen to the music, the rhythm, the ragged voice of a generation and occasionally a brilliant harmonica solo. Early Dylan anthems are mixed with his more recent music, somewhere between country, rock, folk, and blues. A fiddle and bass accompany a few songs. Dylan has continually reinvented himself, refusing any labels, especially “genius”. In that same tradition, which I believe is the heart of his art form, he has molded his older songs into new incarnations. They have a different voice and sound, maybe a few strands of original music. Even the newer songs morph into amped up versions with quicker beats. I listen to him sculpt quicksand on stage and he does it masterfully. I welcome the songs with awe and bliss. The set is stellar, one pleasant surprise after another, especially “Watchtower” to close with.

I’m still trying to take it all in as the crowd shuffles outside into the muggy aftermath of a Midwest thunderstorm. My husband (who was both pleased and impressed by the show) has to work tomorrow so we are driving back home tonight. He’ll fall asleep while I drive, which is just fine because he's probably had enough Dylan & I’ve already slid Blonde on Blonde into the CD player as we make our way up Broadway then back to 71. I’m filing freeze frames and sound bytes into my memory. I’m trying to weave a tapestry of Dylan - early, recent, & that magic I just heard - crisscrossed by train tracks, carnival routes, and my road home.

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Rollin' and Tumblin'
Girl from the North Country
High Water (for Charlie Patton)
Chimes of Freedom
Til I Fell In Love with You
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Honest With Me
Just Like A Woman
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
Beyond The Horizon
Highway 61 Revisited
Ain't Talkin'
Thunder on the Mountain
Like A Rolling Stone (encore)
All Along the Watchtower (encore)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The birds were like black letters

The owl is an image transfer from an antique ex libris bookplate. The tree and boot are also image transfers. There is some embellishment with black ink. Typewritten text.

Chair image is an image transfer embellished with black and blue ink. Typewritten text.

From Urgent 2nd Class by Nick Bantock:

In 1869, the Austrians issued the first postcards, and a year later the British followed suit. However, the earliest picture postcards didn't emerge till the Germans quietly started what was to become a universal trend. Without realizing it, they were setting free a torrent of images on the unsuspecting universe....In analytical terms the postcard could almost have been designed as a model for the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious. The text deals with the day-to-day practicalities and the image represents the dreamer's world. When you look at old cards, it's curious how often the front and back express conflicting or ambiguous messages. A bold, risque photo or illustration can be glossed over with a simple greeting: "Mildred. Sunshine wonderful. Paddling everyday. Yours, George."

Here are two pieces of postcard art. They actually got stamped, addressed, & sent to friends. Part of the charm of mail art is that it actually makes the postal journey, gets postmarked, crosses time & land. Even if I have to send one to myself to make it legitimate. These two were inspired by a couple of my favorite quotes. One from Orlando by Virginia Woolf & the other from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

Whimsy, Windows, & Watercolor

The Merry Wives of Windsor and Gothic Window By Elizabeth Schuch

As you may have seen on my sidebar, I do adore the art of Elizabeth Schuch. I first saw her art in the little shop at Shakespeare's Globe Theater in London, England. I bought of few pieces (reproductions because of a student's budget) and they appropriately adorn the wall above my favorite bookshelf. Much of her work is inspired by the great Bard but her other pieces are marvelous as well (like the Gothic arched window above). So, I was very pleased to stumble upon her blog where I browsed with delight, especially the how-to's. It is definitely worth your time to browse her sites. View her non-Shakespeare art at . View and purchase Immortal Longings art at .

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I got a letter on a lonesome day

A letter is a living soul, it is so faithful an echo of the voice which speaks in it that sensitive spirits count it among love's richest treasures. Old Goriot -Balzac


Image Transfers made with Xylol/Xylene, available at hardware stores. I love the way this technique distorts the images. I feel like I'm trying to peek through a window or a hole in a wall or decades of dusty time. These images were used in a letter I sent to a friend, on the envelope and a package for a CD. Does anyone know if there is a copyright issue with transferring an image that is not yours? There probably is but I did lose a ton of detail in the transfer.

A Trunk of Treasures

Acrylic & Latex paint on Cedar to match previous mural

Friday, July 4, 2008

Café Des Amis

Can’t have coffee with a friend? A letter will have to do. This address book is inspired by the colors and textures of coffee. The stamps are handmade and stamped with two shades of brown ink. The address pages, as well as the dividing tabs, are handmade and then hand stitched. The cover is genuine leather in red, distressed brown, and another red in a faux croc print stamped with ink. I added a pocket on the back cover for the owner to keep stamps or letters. It is made from an envelope embellished with a rubber stamp of script and international postal stamps in red and brown.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Feather So Lightly

This address book was constructed for a bird lover, complete with some Dickinson verses, brightly colored dividing pages and handmade stamps: a bird on a branch and two different feathers. The cover is a thick textured wallpaper, fabric, and green leather stamped with black ink. The stamps were great to make; I see much stamp making in my future.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Addressing Mothers
& Mother Earth

This address book was made to give as a Mother's Day gift. It is inspired by nature with botanic cutouts from textured paper on each dividing page - flowers, leaves, and other plants, a rogue robin, and a water puddle. It is covered in a brown cloth napkin and the leaf shaped windows display another fabric and an initial for the recipient.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Spring Blooms

I am always ambivalent about plucking the flowers in my yard, especially when only one has bloomed, but it was cold today and the wind was fierce. I feared this beauty would lose her petals or that her stem would snap, so she got plucked and will finish out her life inside, brightening my table, my spirits. The least I could do was photograph her, chisel her sunset epitaph, write with colors her obituary.