Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Time To Be Thankful

It's Tuesday and dark outside.
And I am alone and working on taxes.

Sometimes when I know it is going to be a gruesome day,
I try to spread a little sunshine throughout my house.

The sunflowers are on my dining room table.
Hard to be sad when you look at them.

And when I know it is going to be a really long day of paperwork
and not the type of work anyone likes to do, I start making a list of all the things
that people give to me to be thankful about.

My mom gave me this whole quite last week.
A man that lives by her asked if her quilting group could do something with it, to restore it.
They could not - it was just too old.

So, I started thinking about what I could do with it to
make it into something else.

And I started cutting it apart, and used it to embellish
some head wraps that I made that are made with felted cashmere.
I like the way they are looking.

And I have gotten so many buttons lately.
It is like everyone has cleaned out their grandmother's stash.
I use these like crazy, so I really appreciate them.

My friend, Saint, just gave me a ton of stuff, stuff she was going to throw out.
Old wine labels, stamps from cool places, foreign postcards.
I know anyone into paper arts is salivating right now.

Thank you to everyone that believes in repurposing and trying to help me along the way.
I really do appreciate all of your thoughtfulness and generosity.
And even on a dark Tuesday, you brighten my day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I Really Altered My Louis Vuitton Tote

My favorite LV Bag

I am not crazy. I promise. Swear. Cross my heart.
I am brave, though.

Many of you know I worked for Louis Vuitton for many years. I love LV products, because they are handmade. My passion for handmade items started way before I started my current company.

One of the pieces I own is this rather large tote pictured below in an old ad from Neiman-Marcus. I used it as Lucy's diaper bag, which I am sure was ghastly enough for some people. The fact that I would carry something like this for that purpose. But that is what I think things like this are for - to be used and carried and worn out.

Align Center
One day, I had it behind the seat in the car, and somehow, when the seat got pushed forward, it got caught and developed this terrible rip. The only way to replace it would be to order a new panel for it. And that new panel . . . would be about the price of a weekend trip to Austin at a five star hotel with all our meals included. No, I am not kidding. And since I was the Leathergoods manager, I know how to repair something like this, and I won't bore you with those details, except to say, no shoe place or anything like this could do a better job than what I did.

So, I decided to hot glue it back together (please stop screaming) and then cover it up. At least, I can still use the bag. And if years later, I come into a small fortune and want to get the panel replaced, I still can do it. But here is a LV tip for you . . . if you EVER have a shoe repair place touch your bag and repair it, and then try and send it back to LV, they will refuse to touch it. That's the French for you.

Digging through all my piles of things

The final product is a very happy bag

It looks better in person, I swear.
I cannot wait to go to Paris and sport this around town one day.
I might get stoned, but I will rock this bag. I promise.

Scooter, who I think, watches all this and often thinks I might be crazy

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cyanotype Printing

This is a Cyanotype print. My friend, Brenda Benkenstein Cooper, invited friends to her house this past Saturday to share with us how to do this spectacularly easy and rewarding printing process. She learned the technique from taking a class at The Museum of Printing History here in Houston. Brenda and I met in a letterpress class at the museum last fall.

Brenda has been posting pictures, like these, on Facebook and people have gotten so excited looking at them and wondering about the process. Every once in awhile, I get the pleasure of seeing an artist emerge. Brenda has gone gun-ho since our class at the museum. Her abilities have expanded rapidly as she is just soaking up all the joy she is receiving from learning and doing. She will be a force to reckon with, I guarantee it.

Do you want to learn how to do this? Here is how . . . and these instructions were written by Brenda. She is so organized!!!!!

These are the supplies you need. Only 2 chemicals and a sponge brush, and these chemicals, as Brenda learned in her class, are not terribly toxic. You can touch them with your fingers, but she still suggests using gloves. Bostick & Sullivan sells the kit online for $26.95, under the heading of alternative process kits. With priority shipping, it's just under $35. Here is the link.

After you have the chemicals, you treat the paper. And when the paper dries, it looks like the ones above. The green stripes are the spot where you will lay your negative. You can brush very precisely, or if you are like me, unprecisely. Brenda already had all the paper pretreated for us, so we just had to go and select the size paper to match the photo we wanted to print. And it is important to use watercolor paper as you will have to rinse the photos, and this weight of paper tends to handle the water bath well. I want to try using grocery bags next - will let you know how that works.

Next, you'll need to print negatives on transparencies (at a copy store, or on your home printer if you have good ink). Here's a link to prepare your negatives using photoshop or a free program called GIMP.

Last step, select your paper and negative in a place with as little sunlight or fluorescent light, as you can. Because once these papers hit the light, they start exposing. I did it in my studio, with lights on, but not near where I was standing. At Brenda's house, we did it in a dark bathroom and she had the lamp on the floor with a bulb in it that cast very little light.

This is what your negative looks like. Now, lay a piece of glass on top of it. When I got home, I took a piece of glass out of a frame, cleaned it, and used it on some of mine. Brenda said you can also buy pieces of glass from Texas Art Supply (from the paper counter). So, you have a piece of glass on top, then your negative, and then the paper directly underneath it. Put all of this between 2 pieces of cardboard. This just ensures that no light touches this before you get outside. When you get outside, take the cardboard off, and be sure your shadow is not on the picture or paper. And let the sun expose the negative for you.

How long it takes depends on the time of day you are out there and where the sun is. We found 3 to 3 1/2 minutes was a good time, but you might have to test. Make sure you bring your cell phone to time it!

This is an example of the same picture, but exposed differently.

Next thing you do, when you feel like it is done, cover it back up, go inside and rinse the picture 3 times, dumping the water each time. Immerse it. And then let it sit for about 10 minutes in the water. Now go do another picture. When you come back, take it out of the water and let it dry on paper towels, and blot it on the top with paper towel.

That is it. I liked this picture the best. It's Joby in a Mardi Gras mask. I think it is stunning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

New Book Idea to Replace Photo Calendars

I have a new idea brewing in my studio. A very good idea, I think. It was not mine. It was gifted to me by the manager of The Houstonian Sports Shop, Roberta Hethcox, and the buyer for the store, Holly Tuten. They had seen agendas I had done in the past, where every month had a separate page with that month highlighted through greeting cards or a collage.

This is a sample of one I did for Lucy.

They suggested I expand the idea into a book. Twelve pages of months and a blank page provided for someone to add a picture of their child or family for that month. Like the idea behind photo calendars, except this would never expire.

I like showing what the book looks like from the side, b/c they are 3 dimensional.

And with mom's so busy, the idea of a book already done, where all they had to do was pop in 12 photos and keep it for themselves, or give to the grandparents . . . this could be achieved.

So, this would be September.

This is the October page....

And then the page filled with pictures.

See how easy? The book is made. All you have to do is add the pictures. Anyone can do this, I promise. And if you can't . . . I could be persuaded to do it for you for an additional cost.

I will have ten of these ready for the show in September. When is the show? September 29th and September 30th at The Houstonian Sports Shop.

Here are a few more pictures of pages. I will add more embellishing and writing to mine, maybe later tonight.

My girl and her boyfriend, Brett.


Yes, these are Barbie Slippers.
Finally a place for all this little crap that lies in waiting at my house.