Category Archives: Pastimes

Suitcase Painting


I painted my big suitcase back in 2007 before going to New York. This year I decided to paint my smaller carry-on bag. I leave for a week long training on Sunday. I decided on this trip, I wanted to travel super light and just take a carry-on. (Checking is so annoying and expensive.)  I found a quote about travelling. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And then will also be writing some of the cities that I travelled to over the years.


It is turning out a little more pastel than I like, but I had to lighten up the colors to get them to show up on the dark green canvas.

Below are some pictures of my big suitcase.


Josh was living with us at the time and he drew the character on the front. I always love waiting for this bag at the carousel. No one else has a more distinctive bag!


Travel Art Supply Folio

Art supply travel folio

Art supply travel folio

When I travel, I like to take some art supplies in the theory that I will do some journalling. Back in the Artfest days this did happen. But 2011 was the last one of those. ::sad face::

Because of the craft cleanse, my fiber area was tidy enough to make a project! I decided it would be cool to make a supply kit to take my art supplies with me, instead of the gallon zip lock bags I was hauling them around in. The other inspiration for this plan was the Schools for Art Leaders trip later this month. It is an “unplugged” trip where we will be visual journalling for assignments.

I looked online and found some ideas, patterns and images of examples. But none of them really matched my needs. I needed something to hold collage papers, pens, pencils, scissors, glue, etc. Most of the examples just held writing tools.

Inspiration Examples of Art sSupply Folios

Inspiration Examples of Art Supply Folios

So I had to just make it up as I went along. It’s base is like a fabric file folder with inside pocket on each side. Then in the center I sewed in a pencil pouch for glues and such and a clear plastic envelope for papers.   I sewed some small pockets for individual pens and the cut down and sewed another clear plastic pocket to hold the colored pencils. Finally I had to make a flap for a closure, but I am still deciding if I want to use a velcro or ribbon keep it closed. Leaning towards the ribbon for size flexibility.

Once it was made, I needed to decided which supplies to fill it with! So time to finally test my supplies. (One of the assignments of craft cleanse is to make test sheets of all your pens/inks etc.) I dumped out my zip lock bags and started testing. I was sad to discover 4 years of disuse had ruined many of my supplies. The pens were dried out, the oil pastels had melted into a blobby mess. On the plus side, I guess AFTER the craft cleanse I will get to buy some new supplies. 🙂

House Journal

House Journal

I also ran across this book kit that is probably 7 years old. (Turns out I got it in 2002!  It was stiill sitting in the package, never made. I decided to finally build it and use it to record some of the house improvements that we are doing this year.

I was exciting to be making stuff! It has also felt great to just PURGE! Tossing things that are too old, no useable and donating stuff I have never and will never use. Three hours flew by in the studio today!

House Journal

House Journal

Artfest 2011: Part Two

We had amazing weather so I went for a little jog in the morning. I enjoyed the coffee made by one of our dorm mates, Colleen, and appreciated the fridge as I ate some yogurt, granola and fruit.

Friday’s class was Monster Rag Dolls with Andrew Dyrdahl. This was a recycled materials, doll sewing class and I was looking forward to using some fabric scraps. I brought my sewing machine, luckily being able to drive I can bring something heavy like that. It was great that Andrew planned ahead and worked with a local sewing shop to have some extra machines on hand to use and then students could even purchase them for a small “show” price. This was very thoughtful of him and the students that had to travel on the plane were quite thankful. Although this project could be made entirely by hand sewing, it was much easier and faster to sew the body and limbs with the machine. When we went around the room doing introductions, there were several fairly inexperienced sewers in the bunch, despite that everyone in the class successfully finished one or MORE dolls within the day.

The main ~new~ things that I learned included how to use coffee to stain fabric (the key is using vinegar to help set the color), I discovered a great strap turning tool that I didn’t have (and had to go buy on my way home) and heard some fun thrifting secrets for finding good fabrics and prints. I busted out 3 quick doll bodies before lunch, which was the goal. We needed to coffee stain them before lunch so they had time to dry before stuffing. At home, of course, you can toss them in a dryer, but not at the fort. Luckily, we had sun and old fashioned radiators to speed along the process.

After lunch, we stuffed and embellished the dolls and finished the day with a show and tell. I was amazed at the work that came out of this class. Each doll had some personality from the artist but they all looked like they could be in a show together too.

That night was vendor night, which I checked out briefly, after a mediocre Thai dinner in town with Jen and Lisa. Then, I finished up my own dolls that evening while hanging out with all the girls. We read silly yearbook entries from some 1920’s vintage year book. They were very odd and seemingly snarky. Someone decided we should all write a yearbook entry for different camp members, so we drew names. But this project seemed to fizzle out by the end of the weekend.

I am not sure if it is the unfamiliar beds or the fresh sea air, but I had really weird dreams every night. But I still managed to get enough sleep to be refreshed each morning and ready for more art.

Artfest 2011: Part One

I wish I could remember all the years I have been to Artfest, all I know is that I have been on and off every year since it started. (I guess I could look carefully at all my journals and bags to see the years.) But I think this year was the best year ever! All my classes were perfectly wonderful, I didn’t have any weird or overly horrible experiences. Although I got a budding migraine everyday towards the end of each intense class. Luckily, it quickly went away before it was time to enjoy the wine and company of the evening activities.

On Wednesday after finally finishing my packing and taking the dogs to the park for a last long run, I hit the road to Port Townsend. I was rained and hailed on and the week looked like it was going to be a cold and ugly one. When we checked into the dorm I was astounded to discover some new fancy furniture, 2 fridges and a stove in the kitchenette. I am not sure how we managed to get such nice stuff, because I scouted around and did not find any similar upgrades to the other dorms. People started rolling in quickly but I decided to head out to the grocery store to pick up a few things to cook in our new kitchen. I skipped the opening thingie, it was about chakras and I was not interested in that! I enjoyed my first evening visiting with old friends and meeting some new ones.

Thursday morning was Paper Mosaics with Ty Schultz. Marcia was supposed to teach the class along with him, but since there were only 5 students she went off to make wigs instead. The basic technique for making paper mosaics was nothing mind-blowing new for me. The thing that was different was the papers we used for the project. Ty and Marcia had painted tons of scrapbook and painted papers with a thin coat of resin. It gave them a raised, glossy surface that when cut into tile like bits it really looked like a tile mosaic. But the real magic was when we painted in the ‘grout’ (which was just a colored paint pen in grout like colors) He provided us with a couple of different adhesion choices, both double stick tape and a liquid glue in a tiny tip bottle. I preferred the tape because I just hate getting my fingers all sticky. I quickly finished a couple of little mosaics and began a larger one. My goal with each class was to start small and finish everything in class. I was pretty successful, almost to the point of annoying my class and dorm mates. Today’s muse was the hand so each of my little works of art featured that as the subject. Unfortunately, making the special resin papers was not part of this class, which was disappointing to everyone in the group. “Take my resin class,” was the main answer when we inquired. Granted it was great to get right to the tile mosaic without waiting for thick goopy liquids to dry first, but it was still disappointing to not really be able to go back and replicate the look in my studio. I did end up buying some Pitt pens on my way out of town so I can finish my last piece from the class. Ty was a great instructor, very helpful and good at balancing pieces of information with time to get working, along with handouts that I can look at again.

One fun little bit is when one of the parents of one of my art club students came by to say hello. Her daughter had overheard me talking about going to Artfest and knew that her parents would be going, so told her mom to search for me.

That night I cooked up some lasagna and garlic bread in the new dorm stove and we had a little evening in with all the girls. There was some evening “Iron Chef” activity that sounded like fun, but we heard that it tended towards a mob scene so most of us skipped it. The idea is awesome though. Each of the participating teachers was given a bag of art materials and found objects and they had a set amount of time to create a work of art using at least 5 of the items. These finished works were then auctioned off to create a scholarship for people to come to Artfest that need some financial assistance.

One of my favorite parts of artfest though is the evening dorm show and tell. We all come back from class and show off our various projects, dish the dirt on the class, teachers and other students. Then if anyone has an energy left, we journal or finish up the projects from the day while we talk into the night. Eventually people start to peel off to sleep, depending on their zip codes usual

Artfest 2011 is in a month! and other news

getting super excited…

I finally (after having to do A LOT of cleaning and sorting) found my stuipd artfest booklet that showed what classes I was taking, so I could look up the supply lists. and I am super happy to discover that ALL the supplies are things I already have in the studio, so I will not need to BUY anything! which is a good thing since I am the only income in the house right now. there is a class fee for 2 of the 3, but that’s ok.

I will be Making paper mosaics,
class example

then monster rag dolls,
class example

and finally rug hooking houses.
class example

In other news… Shawn, my domestic partner of almost 10 years, is going to be starting a new business. He is going to start a food truck, which should lead to catering and eventually down the road a full restaurant.

The theme is going to be based on his roots in the Island of Saipan. Island style grilled chicken that is marinated in a sauce of garlic, ginger and soy sauce (plus other top secret stuff) it is very savory, not sweet like the Hawaiian Islands. Plus he will have sides of Red Rice, Potato Salad, and Lumpia. He is still working on the name and plenty of other details before he will be grilling and serving. But it is an exciting shift in our house.

Here is the truck, we looked at it again today, still trying to hammer out the contract details with spanish/english interpretation needed.

My puppy, Frankie graduated from basic manners class with flying colors. So we got x-rayed to check his hips to see if there is any hip dysplasia issues. Luckily there is NOT, which means on Apr 2 we are starting an agility course training class! so excited.

This is what happened to the couch!

This is they type of thing he was doing to our couch BEFORE manner’s class. Luckily he has moved past this troublesome behavior.

I have another big bike ride tomorrow (40 or 50 miles) and soon I have to start weekly back to back big rides to be ready for my STP 200 miles ride in July. It  is getting so close so fast. It is going to be a BUSY Summer!

Now off to work on some more artfest trades!

2011 Artfest Trades

2011 artfest trades, originally uploaded by Charger’s Mommy.

FINALLY Getting into the studio, now that I quit all my time sucking Facebook games.

These are little books made from scrap fabrics, couched fibers and ribbons and filled with recycled and scrapbook papers. Each one is about 3″x5″ and has a velcro closure. These are what I am bringing to artfest 2011 for trades with my friends.

Ceramics for Beginners: Hand Building

Ceramics for Beginners: Hand Building by Shay Amber

This summer I have been looking at a lot of books, buying them and checking them out at the library. I decided that perhaps some reviews were in order. I look for books that might give me inspiration, teach me a new skill, guide me through a project idea or lead my artwork in a new direction. I also browse books that might aid me in my classroom instruction, or ones that might provide students with ideas and inspirations for their own classroom projects. Here I will attempt to share the ones I like and didn’t like, and would love your feedback!

I love books with lots of pictures. I am a visual learner (as many artists are) so I like to see things step-by-step whenever possible. If there is too much text I will be completely turned-off and quickly dismiss the book or blog. I saw this book and thought it might be perfect for my students when working with clay.

Time will tell if it is a good book for the classroom, but I am totally inspired to get back to the classroom and make something. It is an all inclusive book giving details about all the tools, materials and equipment necessary for doing basic hand built projects. You will probably skip over a lot of the pages, like I did, if you have already spent time creating in a clay studio.

Free Tutorials

snow day #2 2008

Surfing around a lot while snowbound here in the Pacific Northwest. We have more snow right now than in 30 years!

Two Creative Studios  is one site that I found today that has a bunch of cool free tutorials in addition to some great looking online classes. I am so inspired that I am heading up to the studio to work on some fun fabric stuff! (probably more doll clothes, but I also have a quilt to finish for Christmas gifts.)

Are you trapped in the snow? What are you up to for the holidays?