Wednesday, July 30, 2008

inspired by red shoes

I wasn't sure what to post today until I was inspired by uschi's post. It's all about life as art and seeing the things that surround you in a different light. She talks about viewing your home as if it belonged to someone else and suggested imagining what the people who live there must be like. She photographed her own wonderful shoes. I believe that you can tell a lot about a person from the shoes they wear. So I took a look at mine through new eyes. Rather uninspiring I must say. Those of you with fashionable shoes will probably be horrified. I'm not really a shoe person and comparatively I probably own very few. I don't think I've actually purchased any new shoes for at least 5 years now. I have specially-made orthotics that only fit into certain kinds of shoes, which does limit me. High heels are out! As a matter of fact, even low heels are out. Mostly because I prefer flats. Very practical, me. As evidenced by my shoe collection.

Here is every single pair of shoes that I own, including some that I no longer wear but can't bear to part with. All size 7.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

tool tuesday: tile nippers

It's Tuesday again and that means tools! In my last post, the colourful and cheerful mosaic work of Melissa Davidson was featured and now we get to meet the tool that literally shapes these beautiful pieces. Her nippers! Here is what she had to say about her favourite tool:

When I’m in my mosaic studio, my nippers are an extension of my right hand. They shape the glass or ceramic tile to the size I need. Some people use double wheeled nippers but I like my trusty side biters, as some call them.

Thanks Melissa! Bloggers...keep those tool submissions coming!

Monday, July 28, 2008

tam tam jam

Every Sunday since 1979, people have been meeting at the foot of Mount Royal in Montreal to participate in the Tam Tam Jam. Drummers gather and play together in various drum circles while others participate in their own ways: dancing, juggling, acrobatics, hacky-sack and all kinds of other weird and wonderful antics. I used to go on a regular basis in the late 80's when I lived in the neighbourhood. This Sunday I went with my sister Maureen and her partner, Becky, who are visiting from Nova Scotia. It was a wonderful afternoon. We found a shady spot and just hung out with the hundreds of people who were gathered there. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, people-watching while listening to the rhythmic beat of the drums.

mouche studio gallery

Friday was vernissage evening at Mouche Mosaics! Behold the yummy food we were privileged to try. I am one of about eight artists who exhibit and sell their work at Mouche Studio Gallery here in Hudson. It's an intimate and lovely space promoting the work of local artisans. It's run by Melissa Davidson who does mosaic workshops and mosaic commissions and Anne Brisson who creates papier mache sculpture, drawings, and functional art. Here are some photos of their work:

Two of Anne's "works in progress"... although I love them in their raw form.

This piece just sold!

And this "cat creature" is waiting for a home.

Melissa's mosaic mouche (fly in French)!

...and more of Melissa's stuff. Watch for her favourite tool on an upcoming "tool tuesday". Can you guess what it may be?

In addition to Anne and Melissa, there were four other artisans at the vernissage. Here are some peeks at their work:

Joanna's work

Camilla's work

Yoshiko's work

And mine!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Jo's last post got me thinking about repetition in nature and multiples in general. This is a metal piece I found laying on the road many years ago while I was attending art school. For some reason it interested me and I asked a friend to make multiples of it in the jewellery studio. I wasn't sure what I would do with these pieces and eventually I created a kind of bouquet from the 13 new pieces that had been made. For the past 12 years they have been displayed individually, each "flower" with its group of "stems" side by side, stapled onto my wall. A strange decoration indeed, but pleasing to me. But now I have taken them down and brought them together to be photographed in a bouquet. I like the bunchiness of them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

marché aux puces

I've lived in this area for about 12 years now, and until recently, I'd never heard of the Lachute flea market (marché aux puces in French). A few weeks ago, two people on two separate occasions, told me about it, and since then I keep hearing about it. So I decided I would go with my friend Tina, an art school buddy who lives in Ottawa. We don't see each other very often but when we met up a few weeks ago and I realized what a flea market fan she was, I knew we had to go! It was about a 90-minute drive for her and a 60-minute drive for me. The flea market was huge! There was a great fiddler playing in the snack bar area and even a few people dancing to his music. There was a guy selling amazing sausages (which we sampled later). There was another guy demonstrating his "magic sponge". There was everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to the usual made-in-china stuff to antiques to just junk. We spent most of our time at the "just junk" stands. Tons of fun going through bins of old rusty things! I couldn't resist taking a photo of all these shiny scissors! And here is what we bought:

This is Tina rummaging for old brass rings. I think she plans to make earrings out of them. And check out the impressive tool collection that she is amassing! She bought the giant drill bits just for their wonderful shape, the hacksaw to use, and the gyprock saws for their handles.

And here are my treasures! A collection of rusty doorknob plates (I plan to make some mini-assemblages with them eventually), a collection of tiny lightbulbs (not sure why I am attracted to these but I will find a use for them), copper seal rings (probably will incorporate these into some jewellery pieces) and a beautiful (antique?) object used for weaving. I was told it was over 100 years old, but who knows... I will rely on blog-readers to tell me its proper name. I got all these treasures for a grand total of $12.00. Hope to visit again...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

tool tuesday: bone folder

I love my bone folder. I use it for creasing, scoring, smoothing, burnishing, and working materials into tight corners. I use it to score paper before tearing it. I use it in bookbinding to make nice crisp creases in my pages. I burnish with it when I'm doing an image transfer. I probably use it for a lot of other things which I can't remember right now. It's a versatile tool. It has a polished surface and feels smooth to the touch. It has a beautiful shape. It's light and fits into my hand nicely. It also fits easily into my pocket. I love my bone folder. And it loves me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

art day

Most weekends, my friend Carole drives to art vein studio and we have an "art day" together. The table above usually seats 6-8 people when I give workshops, but when Carole and I get together, we spread out and take the entire surface (actually, when I'm working on my own I take the entire space plus every available work surface I can find). Sometimes we try out new techniques together and sometimes we each do our own thing. Sometimes we do both. Here's what we did yesterday:

Inspired by Jo Horswill's wonderful collagraphs, Carole suggested we try some ourselves. We have very little experience doing this but buoyed with Jo's instructions, we started our plates. We used mat board, gluing on our collage elements with gel and matte medium. The heart-shaped design is Carole's and the other two are mine. As this is a multi-step process, we are allowing them to dry before we seal them with gesso and varnish (or would just varnish be sufficient?). We don't have a press so plan to go the rolling pin/brayer route. Or failing that, the drive-over-them-with-a-car method. We will post our experiments when we have printed them....we're keeping our fingers crossed that they won't be complete disasters! Jo, if you have any advice for us, we would welcome it. Thanks!

While our plates were drying, we each worked on some artist trading cards. I printed off some of my glass photos to mount on cards and Carole used a technique found in the book, Artist Trading Card Workshop, by Bernie Berlin. She cut out magazine face photos, applied a thin layer of gesso, and then re-drew the faces, adding funky hair and other details with a marker, Pebeo Touch 3-D paints, and acrylics. Gives a surreal effect and is a great way to get the hang of drawing faces.

It seems that most mixed-media artists know all about Cloth Paper Scissors, and although I had heard of it, I had never actually peeked inside a copy. Carole brought it in and it looks quite interesting. I've borrowed it and plan to peruse it more carefully this week. Of interest to me were the article on creating mini-assemblages with old rusty lightswitch covers and a peek into the creative spaces of other artists...always fascinating!

Another gift! Carole had just returned from a visit with her sister-in-law on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. When her sister-in-law saw my blog and my reliquaries, she gave Carole this wonderful barnacle to give to me. It is one of her beach finds. I absolutely adore it and am so touched that she was inspired to pass this very precious object on to me. I will make it a beautiful home. Thanks Judy!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

japanese paper

Today I made the steamy drive into Montreal (a 45-minute drive from the town where I live) for a much-needed haircut. While I was in the city I dropped into my old neighbourhood and visited au papier japonais, a wonderful store that carries over 500 kinds of Japanese paper as well as paper from other parts of the world, and samples of the famous Montreal-made Saint-Armand paper. They also give an amazing array of workshops in the areas of paper arts and techniques; books, boxes, portfolios and photo albums; and drawing, painting and collage. The owners, Lorraine Pritchard and Stan Phillips, are knowledgeable and helpful and it's always a pleasure to drop in. This time around, I purchased the following: moriki goldenrod (for my firefly pieces), etchu pure kozo (for collagraph experiments), MM tengujo and HM tosa tengujo (very fine tissue often used for conservation mending but I sometimes use them in my reliquaries and sewn paper pieces and plan to experiment with them in some ink pieces). And then, to top off the afternoon, I walked a few doors down to my favourite bagel place, the Fairmount Bagel Bakery, and bought 2 dozen sesame seed bagels. Montreal bagels...the best bagels ever!

These four sheets were my purchases today.

...and these light and chewy bagels were added to the post in response to Jo's comment. Thanks Jo! The reason that the shapes are slightly wonky is that each bagel is rolled by hand, in a flick of the wrist, before being baked in a wood-fired oven. Quite something to watch.

Friday, July 18, 2008

oka ferry

This past week I've been driving to Laval, a city north of Montreal, to work on a contract I've been doing with an adult literacy group there. I've been organizing their library and now I'm at the point of entering all their books into a database. It's a 45-minute drive on roads clogged with traffic, and even worse now that road construction has peaked. After a particularly frustrating drive back home, I realized that I had another option...the Oka Ferry! Hudson, the town where I live, is situated on the Ottawa River but as it is so wide, it is called Lake of Two Mountains. Across the river is Oka (photo below), famed for at least two things: the amazing Oka cheese originally made by Trappist monks and the "Oka Crisis", a 3-month land dispute in 1990 between the Mohawk Nation and the Town of Oka, when a golf course was built on a sacred ancestral burial ground. There are two 10-car ferries that travel between Hudson and Oka, essentially flat-bed barges pulled by power boats. It's a fun way to commute home. So I took the ferry. It took me about 30 minutes longer (as I had to wait for the ferry and the ride across is about 10 minutes) and it cost me $8.50, but when I arrived home I was relaxed and refreshed. It was a heavenly commute...I think I'll do it again!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

happy 75th!

My Mom turns 75 today! Happy Birthday Mom!

This is a blind contour drawing of my Mom that I did for an artist trading card series. I covered the cards with black gesso and then used gel pens to do the drawings. I love the spontaneity of blind contour drawings. Sometimes you really capture the essence of your subject in all those muddled lines. And it's great therapy for someone like me who is drawing-challenged and often obstructed by perfectionism.

More ATCs. These are blind contour drawings of my two sisters, Jerzy, and my Dad.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I am compelled to make nests. Many things I make end up being nests, even if I don't start out with that intention. This morning I gathered up all the nests I have laying around my home. If I looked harder, I'd probably find more.

black and white photograph of a found grass nest

formed copper nest

constructed glass nest

silver nest ring

twig nest found on the ground

nest and egg made from scrap wood and shavings

copper wire nest

polaroid transfer from slide of found nest on a fence post