Tiny Art - Art Exchange

I was invited to partake in a Tiny Art Exchange and thought it was pretty neat. This exchange was one on one with another artist. He shared a 1 inch square mixed media piece.  I sent him a small sculpture measuring less than an inch on all sides.

I'd like to trade with other artists too. So if you'd be interested in sharing a 1 inch (2.5 cm) piece, leave a comment on this post. I'll track back to you for your snail mail address and initiate the


Looking forward to sharing, Surfbunny

Amazing tools from amazing places

Every time I print a small project I get out two tools which continually amaze me.  So simple, so direct, so perfect for their purpose AND they are Thrift Store finds which cost next to nothing.

First, let's praise the bread machine!  All those nice square loaves made across the country just couldn't be better, unless of course they were SLICED BREAD.  Yeah, the greatest invention since sliced bread is the bread slicer guide in my opinion.  

Just look at this gem of engineering - 

Equal spaced knife blade guides designed to reduce that dreaded too thin toaster burning morning disappointment.  Or perhaps that way too think on one side sandwich slice that just won't do for little cucumber sandwiches at tea.

Well, this dollar find makes the best medium sized print drying rack you can image.

And if your paper is too thin to stand, just slip some cereal box cardboard between each slot and stiffen things up a bit.

Now if you are printing something smaller, or your print area isn't as large, behold the toy of the 40s, 50s and 60s - the SLINKY!

Yeah, a dollar for a toy and a couple of pennies for small zip ties and you have the most attractive postcard dryer the world has ever known.  

Good luck thrifting and let me know of any other amazing uses for common products.

Titisvillus stays at bay, but printer's devils sneak in none the less

Printing up the various textual portions of my Winter Postcard Swap I think I managed to keep Titivillus frustrated.  I don't think any misplaced letters or misspelled words managed to sneak in.  That doesn't mean that no Printer's Devils were at work though.  It seems that no matter what I have the habit of leaving ink traces where they don't belong.  Try as I might, ink seemed to creep onto my fingers and migrate its way around to the non printed side of the pieces.  Some of course were worse than others.  I hope the recipients will accept these stray marks as proof of the hand made nature of the cards.

You can see in the picture that the work surface took the brunt of the slung ink.  Why is it that a brayer always wants to first off roll backwards off the block and onto the table?  Arghhhhh........

Carving Consortium Winter 2015 Postcard Swap and Year of the Sheep/Ram Book Swap

I'm participating in the Carving Consortium Winter Post Card Swap.  There are 14 carvers creating a winter based image.  We'll then print our pieces and mail them to each participant.

I chose to try a woodcut printing block.  I've never tried wood cuts and thought it might be interesting.  I got a very nice piece of poplar lumber at Lowes and began the process.  Wow, this probably isn't the best wood for this but it seemed to be about my only choice.  The cedar was way too rough and the oak was even harder than the poplar.  I know that Japanese carvers like to use cherry wood and that wood carvers in general like basswood, but poplar is what I could find easily.

The design is a rabbit jumping over a stylized snowflake.  After carving the rabbit and the backgrounds I know that the snowflake was a non starter for me in wood.  I researched and found a way to carve in wax and then have my wax turned into a polymer plate for printing.  I guess this is a lot of how printing is going now a days.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the postcards.  Here's some work in progress pictures.

Also I'm in a Year of the Sheep/Ram swap where we send our prints to a central swap host who will bind them together in a book.  There are are 25 of us in that swap.  I used some of the fancy dancy carving foam which is now on the market.  I made a three color seperation set of blocks and then printed them in sequence.  This was good practice in registration of colors although I chose a pretty easy way of doing it.  Next time I'll get more challenging ideas.  I can hardly wait to see the results of these two swaps.  I'm so new at this I don't know if my stuff is total garbage or at least acceptable.

Rabbits and Cats

I've been on a terror this past month sketching and painting rabbits and cats.  My family are probably getting tired of them popping up in their mailboxes, but that is the joy of painting.  Good or bad, I get to inflict them on those dearest to me.

Winter Bandit

Someone has been helping themselves to the cat food at the bowl for our garage cat Creme Brule.  Creamy as we call him has made it known that he doesn't much appreciate having his bowl emptied, but he's a laid back kind of guy and there hasn't been any fighting going on.  Not sure who or what is eating the crunchies, but it inspired this rendition of the Winter Bandit.

Our Banana Plantation

We actually have quite a few banana and plantain types growing around our yard.  This is a true banana patch with some Red Bananas and some Fingerling types.  Banana leaves are called flags and like any flag they shred in constant winds.  The large leaf in the foreground was fully shredded by the morning after I painted this.  That's alright, there is another new flag growing quickly and the shredding actually helps the plant with its internal distribution of nourishment.  We have several plants in blossom, so I'll painting the flowers and the developing bananas as our Spring progresses.

A New Sketch book for traveling

As I sketch more and more I find a need for different paper styles and different materials.  I am working more and more in ink with watercolor paints.  So I created this little sketch book to carry with me.  I used paper from the Khadi Papers India mill.  Their paper is a vat sized cold pressed cotton rag paper made by hand in the heart of the India cotton growing region.  This paper has a soft hand, comes in approximately 140 lb weight and is perfect for watercolor, pen and ink and charcoal/pencil.  I created the sketchbook within a 6 to 7 oz leather wrapper and used cotton twine and hand carved beads to bind it.  The actual paper is held in place without holes by the long stitch binding and can be swapped out when it is full utilized.  I really like the 6 by 6 inch size, it gives a great 6 x 12 landscape mode.

Here's my first sketch in this new book.  I'm quite happy with it.

Who knew there were so many types of palms.  Here in our South Texas Tropical paradise there are a lot of native and non native palms.  Each winter that we have a little cold snap reduces some of them to withered stumps, but I am trying to learn about the survivors.

I'm embarking on a new endeavor, sketching....  I've always said I couldn't paint and I couldn't draw, but now in my dotage I guess I don't know any better.  So notice the page above titled Urban Sketching.  I'll try and post my sketches and what I am learning about life and drawing.

More papers from the 2013 Etsy Papermakers Guild swap

I promised some more of the excellent papers which were swapped among the members of the Etsy Papermakers Guild and I have five more to share today.  See the post directly below if you didn't see the first five.

Using Eastern style materials and equipment, Gayle Fitzpatrick sent this washi or hanji style paper.  It is wonderfully thin with a convincing crackle and snap when popped between the fingers. This paper would be a great vehicle for pen and ink, either calligraphy or sumi-e. More of Gayle's papers can be found at Papermaker's Etsy shop.

This embossed sample came from MaidofPaper. She created to basis with recycled papers and used a texture mat when pressing to create the embossment. The recycled papers give this paper a soft hand, yet it doesn't bring to mind "paper towel" like many other recycled pulps.  I can see this being used as an artistic matting around a photograph or an underlayment in the presentation of a letterpress sampler. This would also make excellent material for the collage artist.  I hope MaidofPaper can tell us where we can see more of her work.

Several more paper artists used botanical inclusions. These flower petals of the white shasta daisy are a very striking addition to the yellow recycle papers in this recipe by Betty Hendrick.  The recycled papers must have been of good quality because this sample has a nice tight feel with just a little weight, almost like a linen laid paper. The daisy petals are both worked into the pulp and laid across the face of the sheet, only one had managed to slip its bonds on our piece. This would make a wonderful party or even a casual wedding invitation. Much more of Betty's work at her shop.

While flower petals are pretty, the vegetable patch can be downright beautiful!  Who would have thought about asparagus paper?  Our Phred has made some mustard and lemongrass and even corn paper, but asparagus?  Wow!  Judy Dominic created this mixture of our old friend abaca and asparagus and cooked it all in a pretty traditional Western papermakers method then dried it on glass windows in the sun.  Yum yum, this almost looks good enough to nosh on.... So deeply flecked with green. What a great paper for writing summer sonnets, capturing the poetry of spring robins and jays, or just making your essential grocery list for the May Day Party. Please, Judy, tell us where we can see more of your papers!

Now who doesn't not like blue? This beauty of a sheet is from Betsy Dollar? (sorry if I have the name wrong)  Three layers of pulp sprayed thinly with a different coloration all add up to this gorgeous sheet.  A nice firm hand, eminently writable, this paper could be every persons diary or journal. In different colors it would be a riotous rainbow of a book.  Betsy, tell me what your Etsy store is named!

More to come in the next few days, the goodies just keep coming out of the envelope.