Friday, December 27, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

One bird gets a plaster coat

DC124Garland cont'd. 

So I gave one of the birds a coat of plaster (not the easiest thing I've ever done, even though I've been working with plaster for years and years). I've never been so hands on and as usual want things to be perfect. This is as smooth a coat as I could get, seeing as the plaster dries lightning fast. In the end he looks sort of rustic and I don't mind the roughness.

He is posing in front of a tree here, looking dapper in his hat, I think. My daughter is going to fall in love with him instantly when I show her later today so I'll be giving him as is, to her. I will work on another bird with giving it a coat of plaster and then applying a layer of paper strips in a papier mache fashion. That is my plan anyway. As this bird stands, he is pretty much like I saw in the magazine spread a few days ago. I'll keep you posted. See you soon, I hope, hugs, Norma, x

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Three birds make a garland

dc124: garland

There's a flock of flat paper birds laying to dry inside large heavy books stacked on the floor by my work table. They were to be a garland of birds in the end. But they will have to stay for awhile longer inside the books I'm afraid...for while waiting for them to dry, I came across a picture in a magazine that turned my world upsidedown.

I'd been leafing through a magazine while waiting in the lineup at the craft store, and came across a picture that made my stomache leap and my heart thump at the same time. This picture was everything that I could have ever dreamed of, or imagined, but didn't. Some one else did. I thank them with all that I have to give in the way of happy gratitude. This person connected dots for me; my dots; that have been bouncing around inside of my brain for longer than I admit and with nowhere to go but to continue bouncing. So my garland offering for this drawing challenge will be my version of what I saw in the magazine. I put together three birds which will make my garland. They hang from a swath of old crochet.

Yes, they are unfinished in the photo, but time is of the constraint. I'm showing you their bones (or armature) because the next step is something I've never done before, and if I screw it up my birds are toast. The next step is to coat them in wet plaster, applied with a palette knife (I'll know better when I get to it.)

Meanwhile, here is my list of dots that were inside of my head:
1. Using rose thorns as beaks.
2. Using nails as beaks (I'd not thought of spines yet.)
3. Using a metal hanging hook at the top of the bird that was connected inside to the feet/legs of the bird.
4. Using beads as eyes.
5. Using a cardboard weight chunk of paper inside of the bird shape where the metal bits are attached to make a mini armature. This is the absolute necessary step for my fairy birds which I've been making for years.
6. Using an acorn cap for a hat.
7. Stuffing the bird with soft fibre fill.
8. Putting sparkle on the bird.
9. Having a quote or word, either on the outside of the bird, or tucked into the inside. Every doll, bird, or thing I've ever made has a word or something on or in it. I cannot stand the idea that something that is real (it comes alive as I construct it) would have an empty head or heart or soul. (cue the spooky music) These birds have the words, love, faith, and gratitude inside of their little bodies.
10. Having the wings tied on. I've not done it, but seen it done and had made a mental note to add to my bouncing dots inside of my head.
11. Using plaster of paris. I've had a 25-lb. box of dental plaster (which I purchased for use in making molds) sitting around here for at least ten or more years. BUT I DID NOT THINK EVER, OF USING PLASTER OF PARIS ON THE BIRD ITSELF APPLIED FREELY ON THE OUTSIDE. This is not my idea and is the crucial turning point in my being able to connect all of the above dots together. I thank Debra Smith, whole heartedly for her talent and original art form. And, for giving instructions in the magazine. This year I did think of making snowmen and sewed an armature of stuffed fabric from upholstery samples, and had planned to cover it with paper strips for a paper mache 'look' that is described in the next point (12), but my daughter, when I showed her the armatures and described what I wanted to do with them, asked me about what would happen if mold occurred inside. It stopped me dead in my tracks.
12. I love the look of these birds but am going to take it a step further. For this point number 12, I have been wanting to create paper mache birds with the newspaper or strips of paper from old books showing clearly on the outside of the bird, and with tiny black dots for eyes. So I will be coating the plaster with an outside layer of paper strips and then perhaps a dusting of snow glitter, and I will have successfully (I hope) connected all of these bouncing dots inside of my head.
13. Of course you know that the absolute final step in the making of my birds, is that each bird will get 'banded' with its' own number. I am up to the 130s or thereabouts now.

While I was putting together these birds, I came across this (refer to point number 3 above) which is about three years old and has been banging around in my sewing basket all of that time, and has now lost the original shine of the chicken wire and taken on a dull patina. I never threw it out because I knew some day I'd be able to figure out how to use it. I had faith. Three years later...ta da!

Who is responsible for this drawing challenge fun? Nadine, of course! It was she that took on the role of host and given us this wonderful theme of 'garland.' Thank you friend! If you want to visit the folk who participated in this week's challenge, just pop over to tiny WOOLF where you'll be linked. Thank you for visiting today, and I hope to see you again soon. Norma, x

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Winter Secrets

dc123: swanlights

Stefanie has sent me on a creative journey unlike no other. I went places far and wide, but in the end decided to make a new little accordion folded book with two elements that spoke to me the loudest. Namely swan and water (winter cold water.) These prompted the new design for my beloved hand made paper and sumi-e ink sticks and brushes which are of import in making a little book.
This is the design for the book which I will use as a guide. It is quickly done and I make no apologies. I need to practice my brush strokes as I haven't held a sumi-e brush for quite some time.
And my stamp ink (red) is almost all dried up. Time for a new one of those.

Here is a close up of my black swan.
As it passes under a winter plum branch in the icy cold water, it leaves secrets behind. Perhaps buried under the water. To view more art contributions with this theme and for this drawing challenge please visit Stefanie's blog where you will be linked. Thank you so much dear friend for taking me on such a wonderful creative ride. Thank you for dropping in today. Hugs, Norma, x

Friday, November 29, 2013

Winter berries

dc122: everyday objects
My favourite mug is white with birds on it. One of them, a black bird eating red berries, inspired me to try a drawing using oil sticks. I used my usual used tea bag paper which held up well considering the force I used with the sticks. Now the paper is a lovely greasy textured mess of sorts. Here is my mug:
Here is the visual that started me thinking of drawing a mug in the first place. I hope that Cathy is not insulted. HA! Thank you to dear Kristen for being the host for this challenge, and for choosing such a fun theme that got me going on the oil sticks. To see more contributions to this challenge visit Kristen's blog where you will be linked to all who are playing along this week. Thanks for dropping in and I hope to see you again soon, Hugs, Norma, x

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My etsy shop is up and running again...

...with one listing! Well one has to start somewhere hey? Here is what is up for sale:

You've seen my birds. I'm selling them in my etsy shop now. They've been selling in shops in Vancouver, and will still be there, but they've been anxious to fly farther afield. I did offer them in my shop some years ago and am doing so again. Have a peek if you are interested.

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope to see you again soon! *smiles* Norma

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Angels in the wings...

Angels have come calling to my muse. I'm dreaming of them and of making them. I'm wanting to draw them and I am making one of papier mache in a sort of 'construction.'

The mold I was making worked well and here you can see it separated into the two halves, and the start of an angel figure (bust) which has been cast from the mold you see.

I'd mixed up a batch of air dry clay so that I could push it into the areas where I wanted good detail. In this case, the face area. Once dried I placed it back in place inside of the mold and just continued on with the usual paper strips and boiled paste method. Together these will give me detail and a lighter weight overall.

My angel bust will have wings cut from metal from an old cookie tin. I plan to adhere them by a screw and nut combination so I need great strength in the back area where they will be attached. I decided to make an air dry clay back and made a paper strip shell which will have the clay section fit into the inside of the back. The air dry clay is as strong as a rock. Shockingly strong. It is a new material for me to work with so I'm just playing to my heart's content. I'll be making and attaching the wings before I put the two separate pieces together because I need to be able to work on the inside of the back. I've not done this before so it's a learning curve. I was most fortunate to be gifted a tutorial on how to work with plumbers putty and gold leaf in a kind of sculptural way. Once I get the wings in place, I plan to work in a bit of plumbers putty on the outside and then gild it. I don't know if I'll gild the wings or not. I will see when I get there.

My original plan was to have wires coming up from the wings where they join the back. They would come up and over the head and have jewels hanging freely from each end. But you know how the muse works! Even at this very early stage the muse has told me that this angel does not want the wire halo. This angel wants a circle of tiny amethyst chips strung onto wire and wound round itself into a wreath and placed on her hair. I always obey the muse.

Well, thanks for dropping in today. Nice to see you. I'll be working away on this when I'm not tied up helping my daughter make stock for her Christmas Fairs. See you soon I hope! *smiles* Norma

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pink Duct Tape

The brand name is Duck Tape which makes it fun. I'm not sure that it is as sticky as the silver duct tape that we all know and love, but it sure makes me happy. I feel the 'happy vibes' firing up when I work with this instead of the silver. Life is funny. Anyway, here is the pouring of the first half of a mold of a bust (oh yes!!) that will be an angel bust shelf decoration when I'm finished:

She's been given a coat of vaseline to act as the resist when I try to take her out of the hardened plaster of paris mold, which is the very last procedure. I'll pour the second half maybe tonight, or even better, tomorrow. Thanks for dropping in today, and I hope to see you again soon. I've been swamped with helping my daughter make stock for her Christmas Fairs!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Altered Witch Shoe Blog Hop and Giveaway


Welcome to my spot to celebrate friendship and shoes. Witches shoes that is!!! The lovely Celia of "Adventures of the Striped Stockings" fame, is hosting a get together this weekend (Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th) and I welcome you to my place here, to show you what my contribution to the party is:

I made a witch's shoe greeting card that can stand on a shelf to decorate your home. Here you can see the entire card with four decorated shoes. I imagine I'll be adding more stuff before I send it. We'll leave that part to the muse.

I'll be putting the names of the players into a witchs' hat and making the draw tomorrow, so I can hopefully get this off in to the mail system so it'll arrive before Halloween! Thanks for dropping by today and I hope to see you again soon. Hugs, Norma, x

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How I learned to draw a human 7 steps!

dc118: Homage

My homage is to perseverance. Keep at it!! (note to self here)

My project for this drawing challenge with the theme 'homage' took a complete right turn as I was busily working on my original idea. Right in the middle of searching for some special papers, I came across a page that I'd tucked away specially so I'd not lose it and of course lost it in my memory of where I'd stashed it. The minute I spotted it, my idea for this drawing challenge took on a different theme.

Some years ago I owned a yahoo group with my daughter. For two years we traded flat paper art dolls every month, with players around the world. I had no drawing skills whatsoever and started with a pretty basic doll. All of my faces were cut from magazines and glued on to a head shape. After a few months I really desired strongly to be able to draw my own face for my art dolls.

One day I found a face shape that I liked a lot, and grabbed a magnifying glass to study it in minute detail. I tried to see it differently than just glancing, and studied the colour of the skin, shadows, angles, little things I'd never noticed before. I grabbed a pencil and my water colour box and a tiny brush and just started to try to copy to my best ability, what I saw through the magnifying glass. The whole procedure took only about 20 minutes and I am not kidding.

Here are the steps I took (I pasted numbers beside the drawing/painting for you to follow):
1. I noticed that there was a definite shadow under the chin area of a face and kind of noticed where about the neck might meet the face area.
2. Clearly, I wanted my gal to have freckles! HA! Now I'm noticing where shading might occur in the eye area and have left the upper lid unshaded. I'm also noticing more about mouth colour/shading, and have extended the eye lashes beyond the edge of the face at this angle.
3. Looking at overall shading of the whole face, and trying to figure out the angle/shading of the nostrils.
4. Now I'm figuring out a pouty mouth shape and more specific shading of the eye area.
5. My pouty gal is coming along. Figuring out eyebrows here.
6. This is a breakthrough. Her eyes have opened! Now she has better shading under the nose and above the upper lip.
7. BINGO. I put all of the above 6 elements together and this is her face and this face is the only face I know how to do and I've been doing it for years now. Her hair is kind of over the top, hey?
8. Studying better face angles.
9. Giving her some life with skin tone and an actual outline that I can use. I made a template of this and used to use the template for everything but now I draw it free hand.

In the folder along with the page of face practicing, I found an outline of the paper doll she was to become. I made a template of this also. The snippet of lace would be important in her dress.

Here is the finished paper doll (which you have seen before and may remember.) She remains one of my all time favourite doll that I've made:

THANK YOU to Kristen, dear art friend. As host you have chosen such a fun experience for me. For me to share my original experience of learning to draw something was a walk down memory lane. To view all of the entries in this drawing challenge pop on over to see Kristen's blog, highlighted above. Thank you for dropping in today and I hope to see you again soon! Norma, x

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Paper cup and saucer

DC117: Cup
I made a paper cup with saucer for your drawing challenge and to honour your birth day! May you have the happiest of times, and may you enjoy the best of health and the most fun creating your beautiful art! Thank you for hosting this week's drawing challenge dear Stefanie! I've missed the whole month of September somehow! I did have fun though. Well, hello everyone! Nice to see you again. For those of you wanting to view the art offered in this drawing challenge with the theme of cup, click on to Stefanie (the birthday gal) above. You'll be transported to a world where much eye candy and good feelings dwell. See you again soon, I hope! Norma, xo

Friday, August 23, 2013

A nod to Mother Nature

dc113: Nature

Well I'd made a little book featuring an accordion hinge for a giveaway and really, the book was my first attempt and not really up to scratch to be actually given to anyone, never mind the winner of the draw! So I had to make another little book in the same style and as it turns out, it is perfect for this drawing challenge with the theme NATURE.

You can see the spine is made of large pine needles (the species of pine is unknown to me, but the trees are from somewhere in the United States.) The needles have been bound and embellished with tiny sequins and a button. The cover paper is handmade Japanese art paper heavily embedded with leaves and plant fibres. On the front cover is a painted mushroom.

Inside are pages of used tea bag paper, and a sheet of vellum. I've added gel medium image transfers of mushrooms, india ink script writing, and another small acrylic painting of a mushroom.

The mushroom theme comes from the idea of a mad tea party event that took place earlier this year. I enjoy making these little books very much and plan to make one for sale in my etsy shop. I'll keep you posted when I get it listed.

For this drawing challenge I applaud and celebrate our illustrious host Nadine who chose the theme of 'nature.' If you visit her blog she'll take you to all of the folk who joined in on this challenge. There is always such a variety of gorgeous and interesting creations offered here. Thank you so much for dropping in today and I hope to see you again soon. Norma, x

This little book will be sent off to its' proper owner (the winner of the draw) Designing Fairy Ronni!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beds I Like and My Bed

dc112bed and board 

I started out looking for images of sidetables and maybe headboards that I like which was my planned contribution to the drawing challenge this week. I got stuck on beds, beds, beds. So I am staying with the bed idea. Here are a few that I like and they are ALL from the same site which I'll link to at the end.
And here is my real bed. Well it is a picture of the pretty-much exact same style. It is high off of the floor which I love, and it has the top part on which I drape with fabric according to my whim. Mine is very faded green (the colour of patinated copper) with red contrast. Pictures are painted on the headboard sections and Kali complete with snake is on the very center. Everything is so weathered I don't even wash it. I just give it a light dusting. One day, out of the blue, my Indian neighbour Kim, gave me the bed. It's from India and she used to own a furniture store so she'd get a whole shipment of Indian things to sell. This bed was just leaning against a wall in her garage. I love my bed.
The drawing challenge this week was chosen by our beautiful host Ariane and to see more interesting visuals and art and wonderful surprises, just click on the link and she will take you to such inspiring places. Thank you for dropping in today. I hope to see you again, soon, Norma. Most of the bed images are from my most favourite interior design blog, AN INDIAN SUMMER.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Whittling down...

dc111: FERN

This challenge took me on a few turns. First, I had numerous ideas and couldn't fix on just one of them. Finally I chose, and as is usual with me, my idea was a large one. I did get a start on it however, so I do have something to show you. This is a fern leaf and you will just have to believe me and use your imagination. It keeps morphing into some generic who-knows-what leaf, perhaps a fancy ivy or something. But my intent was to do a small section of a larger fern leaf, to show the underside where the spores form. I needed a leaf shape form on which to place the spores. Here is what I ended up with. It's a leaf shape made from baked 'Sculpey III.'

I sculpted a leaf shape to start out, then baked it, then formed a mold from it and baked that. From the mold I can make as many leaf shapes as I want. When the clay is pulled from the mold it stretches to make an elongated leaf shape. I like it in the end.

My plan is to make more leaf(s) and put them to use in different projects. I'll show you when I get some of them done. Meanwhile this mold making process is my contribution to the drawing challenge this week.

To see more art works from those playing along, just click onto their names and you'll get to their blogs which show their handiwork. Thanks for dropping in today and I hope to see you again soon. Hugs, Norma, x

THE PLAYERSCindiArianeSusCelineNadinePatrice, Lynne, TammieLee

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Drawing Challenge invite...

With the theme FERN. Here's some ideas:

In a short time on google images, I found a bevy of beauties to inspire. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you do with this theme FERN. So come on and join in on this drawing challenge by leaving a comment below. I'll start a players list from that. This upcoming weekend, Saturday August 3rd, and Sunday August 4th, post your contribution to the challenge and we'll all have a blast visiting and viewing and oohing and awwing. Anything goes. Photos, drawings, sculpting, painting, writing, cooking, to name a few. Just have the fern idea in your mind. See you soon! *smiles* Norma

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mad Tea Party 2013 Giveaway Winner

Drum Roll Please... Ronni of "The Designing Fairy"

I'll be emailing you to get your particulars. Thank you everyone who left comments. You all just really make me feel great. See you soon, I hope! Norma, x

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Wonderland Mushroom Tea Book

Welcome dearies! What would a mad tea party BE, without a recipe book for mad mushroom tea, to take to the party! I've made a little book to hold recipes for mad mushroom tea, and have begun with one recipe which is a very old family treasured brew! I'll be collecting more recipes to put in the book, so if you know of any please feel free to leave it in the comments section and I'll add it to the book.

Here is what the little book looks like so far:

It's the front cover and it looks oh so boring right now. I'll be adding a title a bit later. Let's open it:


 Okay that look a bit more interesting. There's an advert for the publishers, and an illustration showing a wee mushroom. It's a beginning anyway. Let's see if there is more:

Oh, it's a closer look. Well let's get even a bit closer. What kind of mushroom is this anyway?


Is there more? Oh! it's our first recipe (my own!):

 This little book is made in the 'piano hinge' style, using three large pine needle sections from a species of large pine tree somewhere in the U.S.A. The cover paper is hand made Japanese paper using plant fibres and leaves, as you can see. Inside paper includes hand made sumi-e Japanese paper, and two sheets of used tea bag paper (my favourite.) The mushroom is painted using acrylic paint and stickers help make it kind of fancy looking. The spine is adorned with a mother-of-pearl button and two copper-coloured sequins just for fun. This will be my giveaway. I'll be adding things to the little book (hopefully your own family recipes for mad mushroom tea.) Just leave a comment below and I'll do the draw in one week (so, next Saturday 20th July, 2013.) Remember, to pop by to the beautiful Vanessa to view her gorgeous offering of delicious eye candy, and to see all of the participants in this wonderful mad tea party 2013! Ta! Love you all, Norma, x


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