Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks and Art Tags

The samples for my bookmark and art tag class have been delivered to Ink About It. The class, Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks & Art Tags will be held on Friday, October 1, 10:00am to 2:00pm.

Here is the class description:

In this class, you will learn how to create bookmarks and art tags with liquid polymer clay. First, you will learn how to use liquid polymer clay as a resist with rubber stamps to create art tags. Then we’ll explore how to make polymer clay paper with multiple thin layers of liquid clay. We’ll stamp, color, and embellish the polymer clay paper to create personally inspired bookmarks. You will leave class with several art tags and bookmarks.

And the materials list:

Most materials provided by instructor. Please bring a Staz-On ink pad (black or brown; gold if you have it), 3-4 favorite rubber stamps, scissors, apron, or smock, and basic tool kit. If you have the following, please bring them to class: 3-4 light color alcohol inks (Pinata or Ranger), 3-4 acrylic paints in squeeze bottles (Lumiere or Ranger), Mod Podge or gel medium (regular/soft), an acrylic brayer.

Cost: $40

Here are samples of the bookmarks and art tags we’ll make in this class:

Bookmarks with polymer clay paper

Art Tags with liquid clay resist

Liquid Polymer Clay Bookmarks and Art Tags

You can register for this class by calling Ink About It or stopping in and signing up in person.


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Artwork Published: Four Word Self Help

In January, I received a request for artwork from Patti Digh. Patti, who is the author of Life is a Verb, sent an email to many artists around the world asking who would be interested in submitting artwork for her upcoming book, Four Word Self Help.

Patti described Four Word Self Help as follows:

I wrote this compilation of four-word self-help wisdom in reaction to all the very complex self-help books I’ve seen—isn’t there a simplicity to life that we can tap into, things we already know? For example, “Eat less, move more” or “Do work that matters” or “Leave some things undone.”

The book would be in small format, 4.5″ x 6.25″.  Participating artists would receive a phrase to illustrate. All artwork had to fit into the small format and could not contain any words, text, or language.

I was intrigued and replied that I was interested in participating.

A couple weeks later, I received a second email with a phrase that I was to interpret and illustrate. I had two weeks to create my artwork and submit it for possible inclusion in the book. We were also told that if our artwork was accepted, the editors may use it for a different entry than originally submitted.

The phrase I received was “Do What You Can.” The phrase made me chuckle. Given the slightly abstract nature of the phrase, I could only do what I could in my interpretation of it.

Creating artwork in a limited time frame is both demanding and energizing. You have to focus on the task at hand immediately, go with your gut, and hope it all works out to your satisfaction.

In early February, I submitted my artwork. On April 15, I received word that my artwork had been accepted into the book!

And on Tuesday, 8/17, my complimentary copy of Four Word Self Help arrived at my home.

It is such a thrill to see my artwork in print and in such a wonderfully inspiring book. I am honored to have my artwork in this book among the illustrations and interpretations of nearly 100 artists.

Here is the artwork I submitted:

"Do What You Can"

And how my artwork appears in Four Word Self Help:

On Page 129

Four Word Self Help is due in stores in September. Be sure to look for it! You can also pre-order a signed copy of the book from Patti. Click here.

Four Word Self Help Cover

Thanks to Patti Digh for this most excellent experience.


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Monday Reflection-A Sense of Self

True compassion arises from a healthy sense of self,
from an awareness of who we are
that honors our own capacities and fears,
our own feelings and integrity,
along with those of others.

-Jack Kornfield


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Two Heads are Better Than One…

…And ideally three heads was the goal.

At the beginning of the month I set a goal to sculpt three heads per week. I haven’t created any new heads or Spirit Messengers in months and my artistic muse has been a bit all over the place. Of course, just as I set this goal, I started receiving wholesale orders and my schedule became a bit more complicated.

Anyways, I set aside some time over a few days to start sculpting heads. Every time I do this, I realize how much I truly enjoy this form of art. I can get lost in the making of a face and soon an hour, then two hours has passed.

I decided to start with some old heads I formed months ago for a demo. These were large, egg-shaped heads that I’ve kept wrapped in plastic. They have an aluminum foil core covered with a layer of scrap clay and then a layer of Super Sculpey.

I scraped the face off one of the heads, added a bit more clay, reformed the head, and started over.

My inspiration for these heads were characters from Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza The first head was inspired by the character “Innocent.”

"Innocent" (source of inspiration)

I was so happy when I saw how she looked that I completely forgot to take a picture of her sans headsock. The headsock is a baby sock that I found. On this piece, it reminds me of a long ski cap. I’m not much of a sewer but would love to learn how to make her a real hat. Any suggestions?

"Innocent" side view

“Innocent” has also been given the name “Snake lady.”

Now I don’t typically give my Spirit Messengers hair. I’ve always liked that bald, exposed head. But for the fun of it, I tucked a small amount of wool roving under “Innocent’s” hat band to see how this changes her look.

"Innocent" with hair

What do you think? Do you like her bald or with hair? I’m thinking she might actually be hiding a bed-head hairstyle under that headsock.

The next head was inspired by the King’s court clowns. First you’ll see how these heads look when they come out of the oven. At this stage I call them my empty souls.

(One thing I’m learning about Super Sculpey is that it does color shift slightly in the oven unless you cover it with foil. I lay the heads on a pad of cotton batting. If the head isn’t covered with foil, you end up with a slight “suntanned” face and a lighter back of the head. Might also try decreasing the oven temperature too.)

Empty Soul

I’d say this clown is rather excited to have his face now:

Bald Clown Head

And with his hat and hair. (Note-the hair and hat are not yet attached so I had to hold his head and take the picture. And yes, I used the vignette effect here to try and cover up my fingers.)

Clown with Hair & Hat

The Process

Super Sculpey is a flesh toned clay. It is soft, easy to condition and manipulate. I’m a big fan of the Creager’s and have been incorporating some of their techniques for coloring the heads. This involves using soft pastels to add skin tone coloring. I use a combination of small brushes and my fingers to apply the pastels.

Soft Pastels Palette

Then I use paints to bring life to the eyes and to highlight wrinkles, creases, and other areas of shadow, to add lip color and eyebrows.

Paint Palette

In Other News

I am honored to be the featured artist and business this week on two different sites.

On the Right Brain Business Plan (RBBP) site, my business and business plan is featured in the RBBP Spotlight Read about how this course and the business plan recharged my business. I also give some tips for budding solo-entreprenuers at the end of the interview.

Over at Park View Gallery, I am the featured artist on their blog. Check out my interview here and learn about my one guilty pleasure.


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Photoshop Vignette Experiments

I’m finally starting to teach myself how to use Photoshop Elements to create digital art. This is one step in moving toward my vision of creating digital art cards, prints, and Spirit Messengers inspired by one source.

I bought the book Digital Expressions by Susan Tuttle to use as my guide. So far, so good. I started at the beginning of the book with the lesson on creating vignettes. Vignettes are created by darkening the edges of a photo. Vignettes may give an image an eerie or mysterious quality. Vignettes remind me of old Victorian photos.

Here are a few photos of my experiments. You’ll see two pictures; how the original image looked before the vignette and how it looks after with the vignette effect.

Victorian Boys Before Vignette

Victorian Boys with Vignette Effect

The vignette here is kind of subtle. You can see a slight difference between the two images, especially on the bottom half of the second image.

For the next one I used an image of one of my early art dolls.

Roald before Vignette Effect

Roald with Vignette Effect

I like this one better. The vignette effect is a little more noticeable when compared to the original image. The opacity is a little darker in this example. Reminds me of some old high school senior photographs taken with special filters. (But I did not know anyone who looked like Roald in high school.)

This last one also uses an early Spirit Messenger that I made for my sister April. However, instead of using the vignette effect, I added a gradient background.

Health Spirit Messenger Before Gradient

Health Spirit Messenger after Gradient Effect

The gradient effect is fun because you have several options in colors and strength of the gradient. I really wasn’t quite sure what I was doing as I clicked on the various background choices. I liked this color combination as it seemed to go well with the colors of the Spirit Messenger. I was also bored with the vignettes and wanted to play around with another option.

So there are a few vignette and gradient experiments. It is fun to learn some of these basic effects, especially when I can now say “oh, that is how they do that.”

Coming up: new sculpted heads


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Bubbles!

This week I’ve been working on wholesale orders; one is a re-order and one is for a new customer. Both orders have products incorporating my Bubbles pattern. I created this pattern several months ago and it has been a good seller for me. People have asked how I create it. Below are a few pictures of the process.

The pattern starts with three colors. In this particular color option, one of the colors is a custom made green which reminds me of a D’Anjou pear or a Granny Smith apple.

Three Color for the Pattern

Each color is conditioned and rolled into a sheet. The three colors are then cut and combined to create a Skinner Blend.

Three color blend sheet

To extend the Skinner color blend sheet, I back it with a sheet of scrap clay and run it through the pasta machine again to the desired thickness.

Then the fun begins with creating the bubble pattern using circle cutters. This was a rather tedious process when I first started creating the pattern. Now that I’m used to the process, I can work through it a little quicker.

Here is a finished Bubble pattern sheet:

Blue Bubbles

The pattern is available in 5 different colors. You’ll find it on my business card cases and perfume pens. In MA, these items are available at Five Crows in Natick, noa in Groton, West Concord, and Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, and Jewelry Inspirations in West Dennis. You’ll also find them on my functional art website, Moonroom Crafts.

Bubbles Business Card Cases

Bubbles Perfume Pens


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Summer’s Bounty

With the heat of the past few weeks, our veggie garden is producing lots of yummy goodies.

First up, the ever popular grape tomatoes:

This is a rather standard variety. It isn’t too bad. Our favorites are an heirloom orange-skinned grape tomato. I don’t remember the name but I recognize it when I see it. Unfortunately, because it is an heirloom plant, it can be hard to find at the local nurseries. It is sweet and delish!

In the spring we had another favorite: asparagus! The last couple seasons we’ve had to deal with asparagus beetles. Nasty little buggers that like to nibble the tips and stalk of asparagus. I know, they don’t eat much. But when there are multiples of them…yuck. By now, the asparagus is past its prime. Which means we have an asparagus forest in our garden now.

Asparagus Forest

Love the ferns. We’ll cut these down later this summer. For now they’re pretty to watch as they sway in the breeze.

I also tried some new items in the garden this year: Swiss Chard and eggplant.

Swiss Chard is great. You can steam it, saute it. It makes a great substitute for spinach. And it lasts much longer in the garden than spinach (a cool weather green.)

This is the rainbow variety. I bought it in a six-cell pack, popped it in the garden, and have been enjoying it for several weeks. We also had red leaf lettuce and bibb lettuce. Those are cool weather plants which have since been consumed (and/or shared with friends.)

The eggplants are my experiment. I’m not sure when I started eating eggplant. Its only been the last year or two. When I saw the starter plant at the farm stand, I decided to give it a try. Eggplant is a warm weather plant. Some varieties can take up to 90 days to mature!

The recent heatwave has caused a profusion of eggplant to burst forth from our garden.

Young eggplant

Hiding eggplant

Because of the weight of the eggplants, I had to stake each plant, otherwise the entire plant was starting to face plant in the dirt. Sadly, one of the eggplant branches snapped and started peeling away from the main plant. That meant I had to remove a rather large eggplant and cut off the branch. The eggplant wasn’t ready for prime time. Its skin was quite soft; definitely underripe.

However, I was amused to see its ‘face’ when I turned it over. I dubbed it One-Eye before dumping it in the compost bin.

One Eye Eggplant

Though we have a fence around our veggie garden to keep out the deer, it hasn’t stopped a chipmunk or two from making themselves at home inside the garden. Along with the plants above, I also planted cauliflower and broccoli. The cauliflower never saw the light of summer as either Dale or Chip (or both) made short order of the cauliflower plant. One of the baby plants was literally ripped out of the veggie bed. The rest were chewed and stripped of their leaves.

Then D & C went after the broccoli, annihilating three of those plants too. They saved three others for us, except for several side leaves on the broccoli plants. And the other day, the little invaders were generous enough to only eat two large tomatoes and save two for us. Glad their mum told them about sharing the garden’s summer bounty.

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