Thursday, July 31, 2008

Susan's Bookmaking, Part 2

Second day, more feeding frenzy for the "good colors". Susan is still happy with her dark colors and Albie is growing more distressed. Tomorrow, the resolution.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Susan's Bookmaking, Part 1

Another one of Susan's books from Albie Smith's class at Art & Soul. Albie supplied the paints and after doing her demo told everyone to come up and get a few colors. Susan described it as a piranha feeding frenzy as everyone tried to get the "best" colors. She waited it out and took what was left and was very happy with the dark colors. But Albie was a little worried about her colors. Tomorrow I'll have pictures ready for the next book she did, which distressed Albie even more.

How Do You Use Photoshop Steroids?

In answer to a Comment:
I use Photoshop Elements 2.0.
Choose the Enhance option > Adjust Color > Hue/Saturation.
In the Hue/Saturation choice box slide the bars back and forth until you like the effect you get.
I also use the Adjust Brightness/Contrast option a lot.
It's just a lot of playing with the options. It's not manipulating, it's creating.
Hope this helps.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gardening with Steroids

Your garden on Photoshop steroids.

Your garden before Photoshop.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Hear a Faint Buzzing Noise

This piece is from my MailBox series. Susan asks me why all my pieces seem to be looking down to their left. I once heard that when a person tells a lie they look down to their left. So if my pieces "talk" to me while I'm working on them does this mean I'm lying to myself?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Born with a Silver Spoon

I learned to make these houses when I first started welding. Funny thing is that they always came out crooked. After I'd made about 6 of them I finally realized the surface of the table I was welding on wasn't level. The big plan was to weave wire in and out of the forks and spoons and thread little beads and doo-dads on the wire. Actually, Susan was supposed to have the doo-dad part. I'm blaming the unfinished status on her! We'll ignore the fact that I haven't put the wires on yet.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Very Cheap Stencil Brushes

A. Buy your cheap brushes at Harbor Freight. $5.99 for 36 brushes.

B. Don't do a very good job of cleaning your brushes. Not that these cheap brushes clean up that well anyway.

C. Instead of throwing them away, cut off the junked-up ends and turn them into cheap stencil brushes.

Harbor Freight is as much fun, if not more, than Home Depot. And a lot less expensive. I signed up for their mailings and everytime I get one I usually find something I absolutely must have or better yet, need. Some of Susan's birthday gifts came from Harbor Freight: Rattlesnake Eggs, a new lighter weight drill, and more chip brushes, because we all know who doesn't clean out their brushes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

More Work Needed

This piece is from a Keith LoBue class. The class started with a walkabout around the Embassy Suites in Hampton where we all looked for "found objects" and I found the fork. It still needs something added to it but I'm not yet sure what it will be. I've photographed it on a painted paper Susan made in a class with Albie Smith.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Potato People

These little guys are only about 2-3" high. I made them at a previous ArtUnraveled on a day I didn't have a class. It was surprising to see how fast they dried on the balcony in the hot Arizona sun. They were fired with the screws in them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nekkid Guy

In the past Michael DeMeng has taught classes utilizing The Invisible Man, or as some of us referred to him, Nekkid Guy. Take a look at the images on his website. Several vendors sell them online, as does Michael.

When Susan first found out about them two years ago she went out and bought 10 of them at Dollar Tree. The plan was to spray paint them all one color and then line them up in a window. After she unwrapped them she realized she really liked the way they looked just ....nekkid. No paint. And also that she needed more. Not so easy to do. She tried all the Dollar Tree stores she could find in Austin but they were all out. On a subsequent road trip we found 4 more in one town and 2 in another and then I put my foot down about having to troll for Dollar Tree stores.

The really wild thing about Nekkid Guy was that those first 16 had varying colors of body parts: some brains were orange, some purple, some green and so on. And they looked really good in a window (feet stuck down with Museum Putty) with all the varying colors and the light coming through them. Per Susan, if you take out the body parts and separate them, you will never be able get them back in. Never.

Much to my dismay, more Nekkid Guys have come to my house as Susan has discovered that Dollar Tree is now carrying them again (a clerk told her they are considered a back-to-school item). But this time they are called Human Body Model and so far they all have the same color scheme for body parts.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Dog Named Crispy

When I take a break from welding I rummage in the trash cans to see what other people throw away. That's how I found a piece of metal that said, "I could be a dog head." Railroad spikes are always available near train tracks and make great legs. Try your local motorcycle repair shop for discarded springs.

Be sure to listen to Prairie Home Companion on NPR. If you're lucky they'll have a skit about Crispy The Rescue Dog. Arf Arf.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I was first tagged by Sherry for this award:

The goal is to encourage bloggers and the rules are:
Put the logo on your blog and a link to the person who named you. Then, name 7 others, add their links to your blog and leave a message on their blog.

Oh No! It's a chain letter. But Sherry promised me it was OK to ignore it, it was OK to not participate. Arrrgggghhhhh. The pressure!
I did the obvious thing: nothing.
I told myself I'd think about it for a while and then decide.

And that came to haunt me because now I've been tagged a second time by Marie.

I give up. Blogging is fun but it is hard work also and to think that your words just float off into cyberspace without anyone seeing them is a lonely feeling. So, in the interest of encouraging others, and in no particular order, here are just a few of the many blogs I like to visit:

Andrea - Hula Seventy, for creativity and photography
PK (Paul) - BibliOdyssey, for depth of material
Kate - The Department of Me, for beautiful photography
All Things Bright and Beautiful, for blogging tips
Andrea Joseph's Sketchblog, for creativity and artwork
Dijanne Cevaal - Musings of a Textile Itinerant, Susan's choice for creativity
Project Rungay, Susan's choice for irreverent and withering slaps at creative endeavors (and yes, I have watched it and it is like watching a train wreck)


Nope, no welding for me this summer. Or even in the fall, because we keep in the high 80's through October. I'm too old to come home soaked with sweat and so aromatic that Susan tells me to take my clothes off outside the house. But I am setting up my projects so I'll be ready go the first day I'm back there in January.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Book as Sculpture

Susan made this little book in a class taught by Albie Smith. It's only about 3 inches high. She's already planning to make more of them as soon as she settles down and orders some sort of special paper she wants to use. Something about the best kind of black paper so it doesn't fade a lot. Beats me. Albie is teaching at Art&Soul in Portland and Susan is already whining that she wants to be there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bookmaking, continued

Definitely Outside My Comfort Zone
Not only can I make books, I can sew books. This book was made in a Coptic Assemblage class at Art & Soul where I had a lot of help from my fellow classmates. There were six needles to manage for stitching the sections together and using just one needle had me flummoxed. My grateful thanks go to Marie Otero who was very patient with me. I never would have finished the book if she'd hadn't given me such generous encouragement.

Susan: It was at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Hampton. Looking down the atrium from the hallway outside our room, the bar and dining area was clearly visible. And there, in the bar area at a table surrounded by five women, was Don, sewing away on his book.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Who would have thought I could make a book? Lisa Renner wasn't daunted by me fumbling through her "Book of the Old World" class at ArtUnraveled. The small metal plate is etched copper, a technique I learned in a class from Richard Salley.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Break From Heat

Rio Hondo River, Taos, New Mexico
Linda and C.A. (my sister-in-law and her husband) left the Texas heat and went to Taos, New Mexico, for a long weekend. C.A. goes fly fishing and is a Scotch connoisseur (yep, had to look that spelling up). Drinking Scotch means something to do with single and double and malt things but it's all I can do to remember that wine comes in red or white. Pink doesn't count. Linda does photography, reads and does a good job of unwinding at Taos.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feed The Birdie

Susan does most of the work on this blog for me. She tweaks the design, reminds me to take photos, asks me what I want to say, usually types it in for me (if you see typos it was me), and nags me to review comments. If I would let her, she would spend hours on the computer fiddling with photos, changing the blog design elements and looking at other people's blogs. But I drag her away from the computer so she can occasionally have a life that doesn't involve a keyboard.

The least I can do is share my blog space with her art. If you ask her what this is she'll say, "Fabric Collage. No, wait, it's an Art Quilt. No, it's Mixed Media. Oh, nuts! It's just something I did."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Playing with Mud

Some of my neighbors refer to my ceramics work as "playing with mud." That's OK, at least they don't ask me why I'm talking to my pieces as I create them. I work in my garage which faces the street so as they walk by they either ignore me as being totally nuts or come in and say, "Hmmmmm....".

Our street is on the end of a long loop of streets so we get a lot of neighborhood exercise walkers, baby stroller walkers, dog walkers and the occasional runner. It's a nice feeling in today's increasingly fragmented society to see familiar faces, even though you may not know their names.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And Carolyn

Meet Carolyn, up close and personal. If Susan can't name any of the pieces I make it's because the piece is wrong. Missing personality. Lacking soul. No aura. Can't communicate. Carolyn, Hector and Eloise were named immediately.

I first learned how to make rivets in an Art Metal class taught by David Clemons, who makes beautiful, meticulously crafted art pieces. Keith LoBue helped me hone those skills. I really like making rivets but sometimes it is a challenge to keep recycled pieces of metal from breaking apart while I work on them. Again, pieces from July 3.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hector and Eloise

Hector and Eloise. Check my post of July 3, you'll see pieces I used here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Susan's Moo Cards

Susan: I scanned in 5 different pages I'd made and then manipulated the colors in Photoshop Elements, saving several different color variations of each page. It would also work if you just took a picture of your art rather than scanning it. Moo lets you shift the skinny "choice" window around the image and even rotate it, so just one piece of art can yield a number of different Moo card images. I made 5 different color variations of each page so I uploaded 25 separate images to Moo to get my 100 Minicards.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moo Cards

These are some of my new Moo Minicards. The fun part about Moo Minicards is the fact that in your order of 100 cards you can have as many different images as you want. I've already given several out to people who want to know about the art I make.

On the back you can have up to 6 lines of information. Here you can tell people your email address, where they can find your blog, your latest slogan, or anything else you want. Don't mistake these for business cards because they aren't the same size. But Moo does make business cards also.

They come from England. No, not a problem. They like American money just fine and happily took my $26.98 total in exchange for 100 cards, shipped First Class/Airmail. I ordered them on Monday, June 23, had a confirmation email by Wednesday, June 25, and Moo cards in my mailbox by Tuesday, July 8. The real problem is that once you get your first order of Moo Minicards you immediately want to order more!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Photoshop Effects

The picture on the left is of a table top made of cut logs (and too much flash flare). The picture on the right is the same picture manipulated through Adobe Photoshop Elements 2. Manipulated about 6 different ways and I have no idea how Susan did it. And neither does she but she's generated a crick in her neck from sitting so long at the computer as she played with it. When I asked her if she could fix more photos for the blog all she'd say was "Stay tuned."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Garden Gods and Goddesses

It would be nice if my garden would show more respect for the Gods and Goddesses I have made for it. They stand about 18" high, sneer at my attempts to make flowers blossom, scoff at the idea of any rain falling, and welcome all sorts of hungry bugs. The armadillos leave them alone. I plan to make some more this fall, desperately hoping they just want some more company before they work their magic.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Today we are dealing with carpenter ants.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Susan Doesn't Like Fruit

Susan doesn't like fruit, especially not fruit juice. She firmly believes that 9 grapes meet the recommended 9 servings a day of fruit and vegetables. So I lure her into eating fruit by making her "designer" breakfasts every morning, which she will eat, as long as I don't try to sneak in prunes. At least she doesn't try to convince me that guacamole is a green vegetable.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Flags on July 4th and J. Clifford McKittrick

In 1966 I joined the Air Force. I didn't have some misguided quest to be a hero or to fight for justice, I just thought it was my duty as an American citizen to volunteer for military service at a time when the draft was still in force. In 1967 I volunteered to go to Vietnam because I thought that was the right thing to do if you were in the military while a "conflict" was going on. Sort of "In for a Penny, in for a Pound" thinking. The ever-efficient military finally sent me over there in 1969.

365 days later I came home. While I was in Vietnam Susan sent me a POW-MIA bracelet she had randomly picked from the "M" box at a protest march. As you can see, the inside of the bracelet is worn away. I wore it everyday through 1975. The custom is to send the bracelet to the family when the POW returns home or the MIA status is resolved.

I did what I thought was my duty. Then I came home. Captain James Clifford McKittrick is still Missing in Action. And I'm still waiting to be able to send his bracelet to his family.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My Art Supplies are Trash

The other day I rode my bike to my secret "art supply" location. It's like walking on the beach and looking for sea shells. There is always something different to see, even if you go back over the same area again and again. I kept finding unique shapes and textured pieces and putting them in the bag in my rear bike basket. I found so much that my bike nearly fell over from the heavy load. I had to stop but there was just one more... one more.... I know that when I go back they will still be there, along with many others.

Does anyone else look at trash and see treasure, like I do? I know Aaron Kramer does. His motto, "Trash is the failure of imagination" definitely resonates with me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Today we are celebrating Susan's birthday. When it comes to gifts she is easy to please. Nothing fancy or expensive for her, in fact I do most of her gift shopping at my favorite store, Harbor Freight (the rattlesnake eggs were a hit!) or her favorite store, Amazon Books.

I had fun embellishing her gifts with some quick metal art objects I made.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Peirce Mill

For the past few years we've made The Big Road Trip to the east coast to go to museums, take art classes, sightsee, and visit friends and family. A highlight of a past trip was a visit to Peirce Mill. Yes, the sign inside the Mill is spelled wrong. They are just checking to see if you are paying attention. No, I don't know anything at all about mills but was the grateful recipient of a special guided tour by two people deeply involved in the restoration of the Mill, Sheila Ploger and Steve Ortado. It was a beautiful day and the floors of the mill creaked with history.

If you are ever in the Washington DC area and are lucky enough to go to Rock Creek Park, try to take time to visit Peirce Mill. It is still being restored and you'll need a phone call ahead of time to schedule your visit but it will be well worth it.