Monday, November 14, 2011

Gel Printing

This summer I had the opportunity to take a class in gel printing.  What is that?  I didn't know either. 

The recipe we used included 15 boxes of Knox gelatin which was poured onto a cookie sheet until gelled (see recipe at end of article).  After that it can be used whole or cut into smaller pieces.  Using a brayer, printing ink is rolled onto a smooth surface and then used to ink the gel.  Flat objects are laid on the inked gel in a design and paper is laid on top.  A negative print is made.  Than after taking the objects carefully off the gel, another paper is laid on and rubbed gently.  This is the positive print.

Since our class was held at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in Maine, we went to the herb gardens and gathered leaves, flowers and any other natural and interesting shapes we could find.  It was a lovely day to be outside.

We brought our bounty back to the classroom and the fun really began.  The eight of us went crazy, laying out various designs, using different colors of ink and printing those pictures.  It was interesting to see how differently everyone was thinking when planning their prints.  And the results were AMAZING!  The detail that was picked up on the paper was incredible.  We spent a happy morning creating print after print.

After lunch, we learned about bookmaking.  Using accordian folded paper as the base, we sewed covers on our books and added our best prints.  Some of us used inked stamps to add words or designs to our books.  Each of us made two books....and they were beautiful.

It was a fun and inspiring day and I fully intend to do more printing on my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello, Again

Thank you all for being patient.  I hope I haven't lost your interest.  Much has happened in the past 5  months since I last posted and and I will be talking about that in future blogs.  But today I wanted to let you know that after these months of living life at a slower pace, I am coming back busier than ever.  Besides continuing to add new pieces to my shop at , I have two craft events scheduled for this fall and my paintings are featured in a solo show.

The solo show is actually a Solo Wall as part of a larger show sponsored by the HyattsvilleCommunityArtAssociation ( .)  I have titled it "One Summer In Maine" and it features some of the things that excite and inspire me about living in Maine.  If any of you live in the Washington, DC area and want to see the show, just make a comment and I'll send you the information.

In November I will have a booth at the Montgomery Village Holiday Craft Bazaar ( ).  This bazaar has been around for many years, so I have a good feeling about it.  Right now I am planning my booth and how to best display my jewelry.  I will also be offering notecards, calendars and paintings for sale.

In December I am participating in a "Home Show."  This was the idea of my friend and she has generously offered her house as the sale site.  At least four artists will be showing their work and there will be a variety of things to choose from.  I am most excited about this sale.

Besides unpacking and trying to get my life in order after so long away from home, all my spare time is spent creating new pieces of jewelry so that I will have plenty of stock to offer.  It is hard to know when to stop.  I could run out of things early on; or I could have a box full of jewelry to store in my closet.

Friday, June 24, 2011


It is summer again and we are back in Maine.  Since we have limited access to the internet, my blogging, etc, may be slowed down.  But, all the extra time I am going to have will be filled with the projects I have planned.  I hope to come home in the fall with many new paintings and pieces of jewelry.

Our Maine home is a small cabin directly on a small lake.  The quiet and peace is so different from our home on the edges of Washington, DC that the change is startling at first.  But soon I settle into it and feel like a different person.  The lack of distractions energizes me and I find it easy to focus on painting or sewing or beading and I spend a great deal of time working on various projects.  We have been here less than two weeks and I have finished one large painting and three small ones.  The more I work, the more I want to do.  I had better sign off and get to work!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Art Festivals

Years ago, when I was making and selling cloth hand puppets, I used to do the craft fair circuit. The first couple were fun, but after that it got to be a lot of time and work for very little return. It’s hard to listen to people discuss your creations as if you weren’t sitting there. And it’s tiring to spend a day and not get any sales. I said, "That’s it, I’m not doing this anymore.

Now, many years later, the internet has revolutionized the craft market, but the fairs and festivals are still around. Recently, through my membership in the Hyattsville Community Arts Alliance, I had the opportunity to participate in the Annapolis First Sunday Art Fair Several League members would be sharing booths so I wouldn’t be sitting out there all alone. I had different wares, so I decided to try again.
It was fun to decide how best to display the jewelry and to create a "shop" that would appeal to the crowd. Besides jewelry, I also planned to sell notecards made with photographic reproductions of my paintings. At the last minute, I decide to bring along some small framed and unframed paintings. But I didn’t expect anyone to buy one off the street.

I’d like to say that the day was a huge financial success. At least I made more money than I spent. I thought I would sell some notecards (sold 1) and maybe some inexpensive jewelry (sold 2), but I did sell TWO paintings. A day well spent. And it gave me the confidence to try again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mother's Day

My mother loves beaded jewelry and wears the earrings and necklaces I have made almost every day.  Which is why she will be getting jewelry for Mother's Day.  What would your mother like?

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Don’t Want to be a BusinessWoman

One of the things I never learned in art class was how to market my work. For years I didn’t care about it because I was just creating things for my family and myself. But now, I have an online jewelry store and I am also trying to get my paintings seen. And, Hey, it would be nice if something sells. What this means is that I am now spending more time trying to learn marketing strategies than I am painting or creating new jewelry pieces. Facebook, Twitter, Stumble, Tumble, whatever....I am trying them all. Anybody got any ideas?

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Can anyone truly explain the "why" of the artistic urge? The desire to create? I don’t know why I have this need, I just know that I do. I imagine it’s that way for all artists, with or without an audience.

Critics will say, "What’s the use? Where is the value in art?" There are as many answers for those questions as there are artists. Let me give you an example where art is used to enrich and, in a way, save lives.

James Hopkins has begun a micro-finance program in Nepal where he pays women to make quilts which are then sold online. All the money raised through the sale of these beautiful works of art is used to send their children to school for one year. Use this link to hear James tell his story.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Yesterday was a watercolor day. I take painting classes at the local Arts Center with a wonderful teacher and Thursday afternoons are devoted to painting. Besides getting instruction , I enjoy the give and take of working with other students.

I love color. I love to squeeze the pure colors onto my pallette. I love to drop colors onto a wet sheet of paper and watch them run and mix and do what they want. Of course, I have to control it to a certain degree in order to accomplish what I want. But I almost always get something wonderful that I did not expect.

Painting is about balance: far and near, dark and light, hard and soft, warm and cool. I am nowhere near to mastering it but I improve with every finished piece.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The snow came down. The power went out. The week of work and projects I had planned came to naught. What could have been three days of misery, though, was averted because my dear friends invited me to stay with them. My beading business is portable, so I was still able to get some pieces finished. I co-opted the end of the sofa and spread my supplies out on the coffee table (did I mention that these are very good friends?) While chatting, catching up on news, watching a movie on tv, I created three wrap around bracelets with which I am very pleased. Susan, who is also a photographer, had some great ideas about photographing the pieces. Ideas that I was glad to use. Inspiration can come from anywhere; whether it be from within or from a collaboration.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Beads are fun.  They are tiny little design elements that can be combined in infinite ways to create an artistic statement.  I enjoy mixing and matching beads; trying a variety of combinations until just the right one surfaces.  Many sizes and shapes and all is a joy and a challenge to find the right design.

Earrings are generally faster to make than a necklace or bracelet, and an evening of work will result in three or more pair.  Recently I have begun pairing charms with beads to create earrings with a specific theme.  I am starting to look beyond my bead box for other design elements that can incorporated into my work.

In the three years that I have been making jewelry, I have given pieces as gifts to almost everyone I know.  My mother has earrings to match every one of her outfits.  My jewelry box is overflowing.  What to do with all these beads?  My daughter-in-law, Katie, suggested that I open an online store.  After a lot of thought I decided to go for it.  Now I am an entrepreneur.

Monday, January 17, 2011


My fascination with glass had never been fully realized until the day I found my window sills filled with cobalt blue glass pieces. This would explain, at least in part, my growing interest in glass mosaics, sea glass and Depression glass. My eyes have always been drawn to the bright, jewel-like colors produced by sunlight shining through stained glass. This fascination must be what initially led me to creating beaded jewelry.

To be completely honest, I started by shopping for beads; I wanted to own all the beautiful, shiny colors I could find. In order to justify these acquisitions, I had to use them for something. A couple of classes later and a jewelry maker was born.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A beginning...

Writing is a new thing for me.  All my life I have been interested in projects I can do with my hands.  I learned to sew and embroider when I was a child; in school I studied painting and the arts; as an adult I have added quilting, mosaics, beading and photography to my interests.  My mind whirls with ideas and it's sometimes hard to stay focused.  I hope that by writing down some of these ideas I can collect my thoughts and create a better understanding of what I do and why.