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Saturday, November 30, 2013

show & share: peg 'o my heart

In honor of what would have been my parents' 60th wedding anniversary, here's an altered book I made for them over 10 years ago:

I gotta say this is my favorite way of working: gathering artifacts and mementos of a special event or loved ones, then pulling it all together and telling a story with all of it. I had a lot to work with here:
  • my favorite wedding photo of Mom and Dad (Mom says that Dad had just cracked a joke as the photographer pressed the shutter button. This was so Dad!)
  • photocopies of assorted newspaper clippings, plus the handwritten receipt for rent for their first apartment, in Dad's own handwriting
  • snapshots from their courtship and wedding rehearsal
  • bits of vintage chantilly lace from the 1950's
  • crucifix
On the back of the book cover is the text of the Denver Post newspaper article.

I was greatly inspired by by Cindy Pestka's article in the Jan/Feb 2002 issue of Somerset Studio magazine. I played around with the concept, adapted it and made it my own, eventually teaching an Altered Book class at a local scrapbook shop, where I worked at that time. I later wrote an article about my books for Legacy magazine (Oct/Nov 2005). I will share more of these books later...


Here's a more recent photo of Mom and Dad, one which I took just five years ago at Thanksgiving - which we have always celebrated simultaneously with their wedding anniversary. I love this shot!

Have a listen to this old tune 'Peg 'O My Heart' which was a favorite of Dad's:

Peg o' my heart
I'll love you don't let us part
I love you I always knew it would be you
Since I heard your lilting laughter
It's your Irish heart I'm after
Peg o' my heart
Your glances make my heart say
How's chances come be my own
Come make your home in my heart


Kim's Beyond Beyond lesson for Day 34 last week happened along at the right time: making a 'magic' texture and applying it to a photograph for a subtly rich effect. It was just the right touch for the white background in these photos, which seemed a bit sterile for my tastes. Thanks Kim! How do you know just what I need at the right moment?

I used Kim's kk_waterfront20 for my 'experiment' and tried the Color Dodge blend mode @42%...just perfect for my purposes!

I converted the 2008 photo of Mom and Dad to b&w in Lightroom, playing around with the duo-tone concept, and even made it into a preset. It seemed to need warming up, so I added a layer of kk_waterfront12 (Overlay 34%, and then desaturated it a bit).

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

random friday finds: hands to work part 2

See Part 1 of this post here.

My mother has been my 'stitch buddy' for most of my life...and my "best girlfriend" for all of my adult life. (She knew better than to try to be my friend while I was growing up; then she was simply Mom.) 

Here is a random sampling of Mom's quilt artistry. These few examples of her handiwork tell the story of a woman who creates with needle and thread for the pure joy of it...and for the love of her family and community.

Mom has won several ribbons
at the Boulder County Fair
over the years
including Best of Show and Viewer's Choice.
This is one of the quilts
she made for each of her seven grandchildren.


Mom also made a baby quilt for each grandchild.
I "documented" ours in
the girls' scrapbooks
a few years ago.

Here is Kelly's:
(quilt made in 1989)

...and Erin's
(quilt made in 1991)
Mom submitted the photo of herself with wee Erin
to Quilters Newsletter
and "got published"!


Many years ago
Mom helped make this quilt
with her friends on the 
Lakewood Arts Council
commemorating the city's 25th anniversary.
She was instrumental in all phases of its creation:
organization, design, and construction.
It is hand appliqu├ęd and hand quilted.
The quilt is displayed
in the lobby of
Lakewood City Hall.


Mom and I have shared our love of stitchery
over the years.

We were both long time members
of the
Columbine Quilt Guild
Colorado Quilting Council
Here we are making baby quilts
at a
Charity Sew-In
in 2000.


Mom also made a quilt
for each of her four children.

This Grandmother's Fan
is mine.
Mom machine pieced it
and then had it hand quilted.
Each and every quilt
has been documented.

Lillian likes to nap here.
(she is the only one allowed
to sit on a quilt in this house)


Hands to work,
hearts to God.
Shaker proverb


Linking up with

Stay tuned: there's gonna be a Part 3 really soon...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

show & share: lucky little girl

One of the nicest things about scrapbooking is the opportunity to remember stuff from my childhood that I sorta forgot. Once I get out the box of slides (Dad was into slides back in the day...thank goodness, because the memories of almost 20 years fit into just six shoeboxes!) and run them through the old slide viewer (I found it at a used camera place a few years ago: one of the best purchases ever) well, the memories come flooding back. I gotta do this more often.

I was blessed with a happy childhood, surrounded by a loving family.

How grateful am I?


Friday, November 15, 2013

hands to work - part 1

Pulling together the many threads of my thoughts of late, I searched for and found these two photos of my mother. (Don't even try to follow my train of thought when I'm in The Zone.) They were part of an assignment for Karen Russell's online photography class, which I took in 2008. If you ever get a chance, do take this class! I believe the assignment was about exploring depth of field, and my own Mom and Dad allowed me to 'shoot' them. Thanks to Karen's class over five years ago, I have some  wonderful photos of my parents...

While I was thinking about what I wanted to do with these photos, what should appear in my Inbox but two important emails from Kim Klassen:
  1. The long-awaited release of Kim's new Waterfront Collection.
  2. A brand-new post for our Beyond Beyond class, complete with a new Lightroom preset and tutorial as well as one for texturizing in Photoshop.
Kim was thinking 'still life' and, naturally, I had portraiture in mind. But I figured I could make it work. I applied her new DarkDay preset, as well as her SummerHaze. Jumping into Photoshop, I did a bit of texturizing, but I used a different texture: kk_waterfront20 - a little more subtle for my needs. The little tip about selective sharpening was perfect for Mom's hands.

Look for Part 2 next Friday - I should have it pulled together by then.


Hands to work,
hearts to God.
Shaker proverb


Linking up with

Sunday, November 10, 2013

show & share: that sad parting hour

art journal page

Slowly, and not always surely,
I am finding my way back to what I want to do
...by simply doing it.


I picked up this leaf awhile ago and brought it home. I set it on my studio table, where I could see it in passing and enjoy it in its fragile beauty. And think about it. And maybe do something with it...

I opened my art journal, with its few still-blank pages left. I've been flipping through the pages lately, rediscovering...something. Thinking how I might do some things differently now. My tastes have changed a bit. One day I tentatively started laying down some gesso on a clean white page; I textured it a bit with a big cardboard tube. Later I added some bits of paper: old book pages, scrapbook paper, tissue paper. A bit of scrim stuck down with acrylic medium.

Not much color yet. I still liked it white with touches of old-paper tan.

The leaf seemed to fit nicely within the circle. It seemed at home there. I loved the tilt of it on its stem - like a tree blowing in the wind. But it was curling and crumbling. I had visions of glueing it to the page, mercilessly flattening it...and possibly ruining it. Both the leaf and the page.

A few days more of just thinking about it all.

Meanwhile I let the leaf inspire me with its colors: rich rusty browns and golds, just beginning to fade. So I grabbed a few bottles of liquid acrylic paint: brown iron oxide, celery green, bleached sand, interference oxide green. I brushed on some light washes and rubbed them in/wiped them off, leaving just a hint of color. I painted a watery green onto a scrap of sequin waste and 'stamped' here and there with it.

Okay. It's time to 'fish or cut bait.' I decided to embed the leaf as best I could with matte acrylic gel medium. It's called faux encaustic. I've played around with this before, so I knew what to do: Daub some gel medium on the page and press the leaf into it. Uh-oh...the inevitable crumbs!! I liked them on the page, so I just brushed them away, painted some gel medium on the page and re-sprinkled the leaf bits and anchored them with more gel.

Now walk away and don't worry about it for awhile. After it dried I spread a bit more matte gel medium on top of the leaf, letting it get thick and waxy. And I gently brushed some more on top of the crumbs.

I think it needs some more random organic-ness. Some watery drips maybe: a spritz or two of Cinnamon-colored Glimmer Mist. Now I gotta leave it alone, or the water-based spritz will disappear. I could spray it with a matte sealer...but I think I'm done.

It needs a few words. Open an old book; look for a fragment of a sentence or verse that might speak to me. First page: I found it right away. (Either I was lucky this time or I'm learning to be less controlling.) I did want to have it sort of float on top of the page, so I attached it to a bit of cardboard and trimmed it up before I glued it down.


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Thursday, November 7, 2013

animal lover

I'm linking up with Kat Sloma's Photo Heart Connection today, in which I choose a photo from last month that really speaks to my heart, and then tell why. While looking through my Lightroom catalogue I came across these two photos of the garden next to our front porch.

These were just quick practice shots I took the other day, picking up my 'big girl' camera for the first time in months after shoulder surgery in August. As is so often the case, a casual snapshot accidentally captures something special, and ends up worth keeping. These two photos remind me why I love my husband.

I call this my Hamster Memory Garden, the final resting place for Lulu, Buddy, Scooter, and now Henry. You can see the four stone 'markers' (one is actually a neat grouping of smaller stones). Two of these little guys - Lulu and Henry - started out as Erin's pets (Lulu was initially thought to be female, but the vet eventually informed us otherwise, but we never did change his name); the other two were mine from the start.

Bob never wanted to hold or even pet any of my hamsters (being a street cop in Toronto held too many memories of real-life encounters with large urban rats...hamsters are, after all, rodents).
UPDATE 11/8/13: After Bob read this post he clarified his position on petting the hamsters..."I just didn't want to get attached to the little critters..." He also routinely feeds the squirrels (also rodents), as well as the dogs next door.
But when Lulu, the first one, died it was Bob who talked me into going to the pet store to fill the void in my heart; I came home with Buddy. Then when Buddy died, Bob went to the pet store with me and helped me choose Scooter. Henry - the last one, and the sweetest - passed away in September.

It was Bob's idea last year to find a Saint Francis statue for this little corner of the garden, to watch over my beloved little critters. It was Bob who carefully dug each small grave, deep enough for the little kleenex-lined box to remain undisturbed. It was Bob who stood by my side - patiently, quietly, respectfully, each time as I tearfully said good-bye. Together we covered them with dirt and a simple stone marker (also his idea). And this last time just a few weeks ago, when I put a few peas and a sprinkling of broccoli slaw on each grave, he smiled as I reminded the little fellas,

"Life's short: eat your peas first."

And yes, the four tiny pumpkins were Bob's idea too.



Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened.

Anatole France


Linking up with
Photo Heart Connection
Texture Tuesday

texture used (top two photos only):
Multiply ~50%
+Soft Light ~65% 

pre-Photoshop editing in Lightroom:
Dave Delnea's preset: C+V Washed Vintage-001

then my own RadLab 'recipe':
Edge Blur
+ Derelicte (39%)
+Homestead BW (28%)
+Boutwell Magic Glasses II

Sunday, November 3, 2013

show & share: every child is an artist

Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Pablo Picasso

You would never have known it by reading my blog that I have done some serious stitching. I have mentioned it in passing in a few posts over the last year or so. Four, to be exact. Click on my new sub-heading, 'Stitchery' - or click on the 'Stitchery' category to your right to see those posts.

I actually defined myself as a Quilter for almost 20 years. I was into quilting big time. More on that later. Early in my quilting 'career' I discovered crazy quilting...and re-discovered a childhood passion for embroidery.

Last week, while searching for something else I stumbled across these 'artifacts':

My first embroidery
cotton floss on polyester cotton fabric
age 5
(signed backwards - natural for a lefty)

Crewel embroidery pillowcase
wool yarn on linen
age 10
My mother taught me
while she embroidered
a bedspread.

Embroidered sampler (purse)
wool yarn on woolen fabric
age 12
I believe this was from
an Erica Wilson book

Folk Art embroidered purse
cotton floss on muslin
age 14(?)

Yesterday I was showing them to my daughter, Erin, and telling her about this Show & Share link-up. She suggested that I make this week's theme Kid Art. So here we go...

Take a photo of some childhood art - your own or that of your children or grandchildren...or any child you know. I hope you will join me. It's not nearly as scary as showing your First Quilt.


Friday, November 1, 2013

friday finds: albuquerque part 3

Today I am concluding my armchair journey to Albuquerque. It's still in keeping with historical, cultural, and architectural themes, but I am fast-forwarding a few hundred years to the late 1940's.

It's time to "get your kicks on Route 66" and here's a little music video to get you in a nostalgic mood:

I couldn't help but hear the fabulous velvety voice of Nat King Cole
on that hot sunny day five years ago
as I made my way along Central Avenue SW (the old Route 66).

Admittedly, this is a little before my time, but it puts me in mind of the many summer vacations
with my family, when I was a kid in the 60's and 70's. 

We stayed in more than a few motels like this -
many with a quaint name or homey atmosphere
to remember them by.

We ate in many an eatery back in the day.
Some of the old places have been restored and/or are still in business today.
I'm not so sure about "steak fingers" and eggs. Meh.

This old neon sign is wonderfully grungy.
I hope someone rescues this bit of Americana
but it's kinda big...where would you put it?

Do you suppose today's big SUVs would even fit in these carports?

Here's a place with some attractive features.
No WiFi though, and thanks, but I've got my cellphone.

Many sites are now obscured behind chain link fences,
I suppose to keep away vandals and vagrants.
Or nosey tourists with cameras.
I wonder who actually owns these run-down old properties
and what, if anything they plan to do with them.

I can still picture my mother doing a 'recon' before the whole family trouped into the place
(motel or restaurant).
She sure had an eye for a clean bed and bath, but sometimes
we had to settle for somewhat 'less than hygienic' accommodations
(aka a "flea bag")
especially out in the middle of nowhere.

If Mom saw tablecloths on the tables, then chances are it was safe to eat there.
She also checked out the menu, with taste and budget in mind
(Mom + Dad + four kids + two grandparents...that's a lot of tired, hungry people to feed).


I know there was probably a more efficient way to 'batch process' these photos, but I wasn't in the mood to spend the time to figure it out. So here's what I did:

In Lightroom 4  I cropped each photo, keeping the original size ratio, then treated them with the following presets:
  1. Dave Delnea's CyanSkies Look3
  2. His Backlight Vertical Left 
  3. His C+V Washed Vintage 001
  4. Lightroom's Rounded Corners White (in hindsight, I would have increased the width a bit; as you can see, only the corners show up)
Here's a screenshot of my Photoshop CS6 processing:


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