Monday, November 10, 2008

Altered Bottles - Next Steps

Jenn Francis and I spent the good part of the day attaching things to vintage bottles. This time, we both upped the ante and attempted to go beyond what others have done with this artsy craft idea.

After our initial trials and eventual success in securing shells to bottles and then applying an interesting patina to the solder, we knew that there was more to this than being merely decorative.

The easiest and quickest thing to do was to place things; sand, beach glass and smooth river stones inside the bottles. These internal elements provide some stability to the top-heavy finished product but also it looks cool.

Jenn then placed a place card holder (an element orginally produced by Seven Gypsies) made from twisted wire. Suddenly, the bottle had function and provided an additional option for adding a written statement of some sort to the thing.

I gathered together some microscope slide "charms" (made by sandwiching mini-collages between the slides which are then sealed with copper tape and solder) to add even more visual elements to the bottle.

This proved to open the project to many more possibilities for artistic expression, again beyond the merely decorative.

After we gathered them together, it was agreed it would be difficult to break up the set...or that to create new, complete and cohesive sets of altered bottles.

My next step is to just go into multiples that can be seen as an assemblage made up of individual pieces grouped together.

Also, attaching something other than the expected shells is a natural progression. I've tried large pieces of glass and slides.

Next steps - more found objects as well as other natural objects.

Stay tuned.

NOTE: The patina on the solder still needs to be applied to many of the pictured bottles.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bad Words: A New Blog

Sequestering the art and craft goodness from my feeble attempts writing by moving the bad poetry and other text-based junk to my new blog: Bad Words .

Lots of old crap to be moved first and then I'll add newer stuff as it floats to the top.

Thanks to the three of you who read this tripe. If you're suffering from insomnia, this may help.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver

This poem has always spoken to me, but I am again open to such voices whispering and sometimes shouting at me to listen. Having spent time in nature again as of late, I am reminded of the imporantance of such things as paying attention to God's creations and in doing so, commit a kind of prayer.

How many gifts and blessings have been provided me, I cannot begin to enumerate for the count is indeed higher than I probably know. But I am grateful for those who have come into my life and for the love they give and hope I show that love in return. I am grateful for the moments shared and the moments alone during which the common and the unique can be viewed as precious.

For these things and all the others that may seem trivial to some, I thank the universe and the spirit found within it. Truly and repeatedly I will tell you, I am a blessed man.

I do not try to equate science to concepts of God. One is spirit, one is of the mind. They are separate and they are one. There is no conflict as I do not try to prove the presence of one with the ways of the other.

There is truth in both.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Game of Art

The “Arts de Mer Cruise” is an annual three-day art and craft excursion on the high seas of the Pacific Ocean that sails from San Pedro to Ensenada, Mexico. Anne Garcia, the cruise organizer, gathers some of the top crafted arts instructors on the circuit who teach a series of workshops to the cruisers on a variety of projects and art processes. This year’s theme was, “The Game of Art”.

This year marked my fourth year of involvement with the event and Susan and I treat this as a fun getaway and reunion with dear friends and like-minded art / craft enthusiasts. The workshop I presented was the making of a wooden box using picture frames and bits of wood lath. In essence, we altered the frame to serve as the bottom and lid of the box.

The blank wood served as an empty canvas onto which various surface design treatments could be utilized. The lid also provided opportunities for interpretation and design as collage elements and other embellishments could be applied or by using the acrylic sheet that came with the frame, the box’s lid could remain clear, allowing one to look inside. Oh yeah, the interior of the box also offered opportunities for decoration or other treatments.

As is the case with all my workshops, the students always come up with unique approaches and ideas. I was delighted with the quality of the work and the creativity displayed with each finished project. Shown here are just a few of the many interpretations expressed by the workshop participants. Good work, folks.

Although we look forward to each Arts de Mer cruise, we were informed that due to the reassignment of the ship, there won’t be a 2009 cruise. Anne is furiously working on a new event for later this year or early 2009 but until things are more settled with the cruise line, it appears that we may need to wait until 2010 to cruise with this fun crew.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Next Project - Henry Leo's Giraffe

Going to try sewing again. I've needed to use it about half a dozen times lately but need a project to get back in practice.

While picking up supplies for my workshop, we spied the pattern below and knew that our psuedo-nephew needed one of these.

But I also knew that just any old color scheme would suffice, so I found the fabrics scanned below.

I've got until July of this year to finish. No problem, he says. Hopefully it will look something like a giraffe and not a three-legged horse. With horns.

Altered Art Boxes - Loteria and Le Jeu

Two samples for the upcoming Arts de Mer Cruise. The theme this year is "The Game of Art."

I've got at least one more to finish as well as building a few in stages for demo purposes. Having a good time with these.

You will notice a change from the original "Loteria" box. Re-worked it completely, actually.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Loteria Box - "Altered Art"

This March will mark the fourth year of teaching a short workshop on the Arts de Mer cruise. Mary Jo McGraw, Tim Holtz and Robin Knutson will also be presenting their cool stuff as well.

The theme this year is "The Game of Art" so in keeping with the theme, my workshop participants will be creating a box that can be used to hold game pieces, playing cards, ATC's or whatever else strikes their creative fancy.

The initial project was a paper-based box project, but given the time constraints involved and the complexity of proper box making, I changed course last month and began to look at various objects trying to determine if it could be altered into a box-like structure.

While in IKEA recently, I spied a pile of smallish picture frames and the project came together immediately.

The frames are stripped of everything except the actual wooden frame to serve as the box's top and bottom. The sides are made of wood lath, carefully cut to fit within the frame.

Chipboard, thin luan ply or mat board is fitted into the frame to serve as the box's lid and bottom. The lid should be collaged or enhanced before the rest of the box is painted.

Once dry, the box may be painted, finished or otherwise embellished as desired.

In keeping with the cruise's theme, I've used images from the Mexican game of "Loteria."

I love Loteria images and could almost see them used as a kind of Tarot, as each image seems to have a story to tell well beyond the label each one is assigned.

The legs of the box are made of chess pawns.

I'll probably touch up the finish as I got a little carried away with the "distressing" and I may place wee handles on each side of the lid. We'll see.

I've got to make a couple more samples in differing heights, but it is late and my muse is already snoring loudly in my ears.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Miss you, Dad

Harley Clifford "Lefty" Tyson: Sept 5, 1928 - Feb 8, 1998

It will be ten years in a week that my father died. Last night, I dreamed of him. It was another one of the vivid dreams that I've been having lately and I recalled almost all of it upon awakening.

I remember talking to him as he reassured me in that "everything's goin' to be fine," tone he was good at delivering. He was generally right, not always, but usually his optimism was on target. I've done my best to adapt that outlook.

In this dream he hugged me strongly, warmly and kissed me on my forehead. I always thought that Dad had the strongest arms and he was unashamed to kiss his sons. As he turned to leave, my brother arrived and noticed I was crying. I told him about seeing Dad.

He turned to follow him and I warned him that "Jim, it's only a dream, but you better hurry if you want to see him." He thanked me and caught up with him for a bit before returning to tell me, "Yeah...only a dream. But, shit, it was good to see him."

Not much else remains of last night's dream, but I do realize it is the second time I've seen and talked to him in as many weeks. Life is a bit stressful right now, so it's no wonder I've turned to him for comfort.

Thanks, Pop. I think things will be okay...just need to get through this rough patch.

He wasn't a perfect man, but he was truly a man. And a truly good-hearted one. He loved life, the smell of lakes, fairness, ugly little dogs and the sound of old fashioned, twangy Rock-a-Billy. He hated Democrat senators, intolerance for the weak or down and out, strong wind and concrete that wouldn't set up.

He lived long enough to see me marry Susan, but didn't make it to my birthday. Mom sent me a birthday card after his death with his signature on it. He apparently had signed it before going into the hospital for the last time. As some of you know, it is one of my true treasures.

Not all that sure about heaven and such things, or that we'll see loved ones later on. But I do know that he's here (pointing to my chest) and will be until I discover if the rumors of an afterlife are true or not.

Miss you much, Dad. You'd like the new house and my bird feeders.

EDIT: After posting this picture, I am amazed how much my brother Jim, looks like him. I also have his mouth, but it's only evident when I shave my beard which I haven't done in years. I think I look a little more like my Mom's side of the family overall (especially my rascally Uncle Bob, Mom's baby brother) , which is not a bad thing at all, either! I had good lookin' parents.