Sunday Sketch - Margot

Margot -Charcoal & Conte on 18" x 24" newsprint    

I spotted a Sunday Sketch post over on Diana Evans' blog this morning & thought that sounded like fun. Also tossed the 2 words into Google & found all kinds of drawings posted.  Check it out if you have the time - or, even better, play along!

I'm supposed to be getting out the backhoe to clean Little Dude's room today, but this was far more entertaining. Sorry the picture is a bit crap - still having some camera woes around here. So I had to hold the paper in front of the webcam to catch a shot.

I love sketching big & loose - haven't done that in a while. And the paper is a fantastic size for blocking most of the mess in my room - haha


Ripple - Digital Collage


For Digital Whisper challenge #87 - prompts were "Introspection" & a photo of Gloria Swanson from the 1919 film Don't Change Your Husband

I merged this with the stock image "Heather" from Jazzy-stock on DeviantArt: http://jazzy-stock.deviantart.com/art/Heather-141872940.


By the way, the next random drawing is for a copy of the book Photoshop Elements 9, The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage. To enter simply leave a comment on this blog before 3/10. Click Here for giveaway details.


Enter to win a copy of the book Photoshop Elements 9, The Missing Manual

No interview this week - I am again behind the 8 ball it seems. However, I have a giveaway that will appeal to digital art fans. Last Christmas Santa kindly upgraded my fossilized mac, installed PE 9 (I'd been using version 2.0)...and gave me this very useful book by Barbara Brundage!

But there was a catch. It turns out I was accidentally sent a misprinted copy. All the text is correct but the photos are only in shades of gray. I've since received a colored replacement. Instead of tossing the black & white version, I thought this manual might make a good Thursday Giveaway prize for the right person.

So, if you are playing with the latest version of Photoshop Elements (or are thinking about it), this is the book for you. There are a number of things that 9 can do which were not available in some earlier versions. You can read more about this fun program here: Adobe.com/products/photoshopel/.  

I'd like to emphasize that the book I'm giving away has only black & white photos. However, all of the other content is identical to the corrected book (which retails for around $29). It is 622 pages long and weighs a ton - now, that's a lot of useful info!

TO ENTER: Simply leave a comment on my blog in the next 2 weeks.  All entries must be received by 1 a.m. (EST) on 3/10. 1 random winner will be selected. This drawing is open worldwide with free shipping to the lucky winner.

Winner of 250 custom printed business cards is......

I'll contact you today with instructions for claiming your new business cards.

Special thanks to Uprinting.com for hosting this great giveaway!

Plus thank yous to all who left a comment and entered the random drawing. Be sure to pop back later today for a new prize announcement.



Shiver - digital art

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. 
- Robert Frost, Fire & Ice

Created for DigitalWhisper challenge # 85 - Frozen. Digital Whispers is a great site on ning.com. If you play around with computer art, I suggest you check it out. I'm a couple of challenges behind (the new prompt is Introspection plus a photo of Isadora Duncan).
The only instruction for the Frozen challenge was to "Create an image that sends a shiver down our spine." This brought to mind wastelands, Robert Frost and Dante -  
Thereupon I Turn'd
And saw before and underneath my feet
A lake, whose frozen surface liker seem'd 
to glass than water.....thus low
Blue pinch'd and shrined in ice the spirits stood. 
-Dante Alighieri, Inferno Canto 32

So, off I went to one of my favorite sources for stock images, DeviantArt.com, where I found these lovely bits & pieces:

Model -  http://tasastock.deviantart.com

Rock Candy- Stock7000.deviantart.com

Blue Glitter Texture - Reno-fan-girl-stock.deviantart.com
 some helpful tips from Vampyriccadence's Glitter & Ice Tutorial

While I was pretty happy with things at that point, another layer was needed to pull it all together.  I  altered Jan van der Straet's Map of Whole Hell illustration of Dante's Inferno (found in WikimediaCommons) and faded it into the picture.

Jan van der Straet's Map of Whole Hell

Some believe that Fire & Ice mirrors Dante's Inferno. You can find more about this here or here. At these links you can also read about Frost's conversation with astronomer Harlow Shapely concerning the end of the world, which may have inspired the poet.

Well, that's what I've been up to lately. How about you??

Totally off topic, there are still a few more days to enter the random drawing for 250 custom printed business cards. Click here for details


The Lost Thing

So glad I spotted this fun little flick over at GeekTyrant earlier today. If you have 15 minutes check out this Oscar short films contender, adapted from Shaun Tan's book The Lost Thing.

The"Official Synopsis", nicked from GeekTyrant:

"A boy discovers a bizarre looking creature while out collecting bottle tops at the beach. Realising it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but is met with indifference from everyone else, who barely notice its presence, each unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to their day to day lives. For reasons he does not explain, the boy empathises with the creature, and sets out to find a ‘place’ for it."
Pop over to G.T. for more about the author & production. I've embedded the film here, but I know my format tends to cut off the edges of the  video screen. Click here to see the full short over at Geek Tyrant.



Winner of fabric & ribbon giveaway is....

Slommler from SueAnn.blogspot.com

A hearty congrats! I'll contact you for your address today & get your mysterious box of fabric goodies out to you right away.

This giveaway was inspired by my chat with recycling artist Emily Kircher earlier this month. You can see some of her fun fiber creations over at Etchouse.com/EKRA/.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment & entered this random drawing. 

If you haven't signed up for next week's custom printed 250 business cards giveaway, click here for info.


Gut Ripper's Revenge & other Random Tuesday highlights


Wow- where has February gone? Time sure is flying - can't believe it is already Random Tuesday. 

Issue #1 © ConnorKaiComics

First up today we've got 2 new comic books from a fledgling company, Connor Kai Comics. This entrepreneurial 2nd grader decided he needed to earn some cash & got creative.  I am totally digging the cover of issue #1. Also available now:

Issue #2 © ConnorKaiComics

These are very reasonably priced at .25 each or $1 for a 5 issue subscription. Visit ConnorKaiComics.com for more about this budding artist & his creations. 

Totally off topic, I love this Sneaky Jane print from Svitrolica.etsy.com...  Click caption for bigger image & more info.

Sneaky Jane from SVitolica.etsy.com
Fiskars sent along this book page wreath project. Don't know what I'd ever do with a paper wreath, but I kind of like it.

designed by Lisa Storms
 Here's the link to the directions.

Aannnddd....today just feels like the perfect day to mention the National Mustard Museum.  Hmm.... I could totally see a condiment called Gut Rippers Revenge. Wouldn't buy it, but I can see it.....

So, are you supposed to feed a cold or a fever? Either way,  I think it is time to self-medicate with a triple chocolate brownie.

Random Tuesday Thoughts are brought to you by TheUnMom.com. Need a little more anarchy in your day? Click the button on top & see what Keely and her minions are up to. While you're there, join the fun & add a link to your own miscellaneous musings...c'mon, you know you want to...


Musical Monday - Happy Valentine's Day

Here's a fun little ditty for Valentine's Day. It has been forever since I've listened to Velvet Underground & this video from natassaaa made me smile.

Looking for some more (& more traditional) romantic tunes today? Pop on over to XmasDolly where love is in the air. Have a listen & add your own. Have a few minutes to spare? Stop by DeniseIsRunDMT & BlogginWithAmanda for more musical memes.

Pick Your Cupid by Ji Lee for NY Times

Did you catch this fantastic Pick Your Cupid Chart from Ji Lee& the NY Times? I love the "hipster" - very vogue! Click the caption to visit the full view.


Totally off topic....have you entered the 2 latest random drawings yet?

Inspired by recycling artist Emily Kircher, On 2/17 I'm giving away a mystery stash of fabrics, ribbons, and other crafty bits. Sorry no pictures, my camera troubles continue. But take my word for it - only good stuff! To enter this drawing, just leave a comment before 1 a.m. (EST) on Thursday.

And if you need new business cards, enter the 2/24 random drawing sponsored by Uprinting.com.  One lucky person gets 250 custom printed die-cut business cards. Click here for details.


Enter to win 250 business cards from Uprinting.com

       Need new business cards? Feeling lucky?

If you answered yes, you've come to the right place! I'm happy to be hosting a new Thursday Giveaway from those fantastic folks over at Uprinting.com.  They are printing up 250 Die-Cut business cards for one very lucky winner (to be randomly selected from people who leave a comment on this blog over the next 2 weeks). The winner gets to choose from a variety of sizes and styles.

Prize Details:
250 Die-Cut Business Cards for One (1) Winner

sizes to choose from: 1.75” x 3.5”, 2” x 3.5”, or 2” x 2”; 2.5” Diameter (Circle)

choice of finish: 14pt Cardstock Gloss / Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated

Front Only or Front and Back printing

How To Enter:
Leave a comment on this blog before 1 a.m. (EST) on 2/24 and your entered. Be sure to leave your email if it isn't already in your blog profile. That is it - easy peasy. On Feb 24, I'll announce the random lucky winner.

Restriction: Limited to US residents 18 years old and above only.

Need a little inspiration?

Check out the cool designs at this link: http://www.uprinting.com/business-card-design.html

I love those non-traditional shapes! Uprinting is generously giving me 250 cards for hosting this random drawing. I'm planning something fun for friends who have opened a really cute home decor shop. I can't wait to play with these new styles.

I can vouch for the quality of these cards. This company is one of my favorite resources for online printing & I have been very happy with the cards I've ordered for my Etsy shops. (When I hand them out people often ask who my printer is). By the way, their customer service is excellent too - they have helped me out of a bind more than once.

Want to know more about Uprinting? Visit their website - http://www.uprinting.com or check 'em out on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/UPrinting

So, what will you put on your cards if you win?

Just peeking in

Hey there. Just tuning in in case anyone is listening. The mystery fabric & other destashed goodies giveaway is still on - buuuutt... no photos yet as I've misplaced the cable connecting the camera to the 'puter. It really is time to clean the studio ( the old refrain, eh?). Basically any comments left on this blog before 1 am (EST) on 2/17 gets you an entry in the random drawing. It'll be a good box-0-stuff but you'll have to take my word for it (enter wink here).

Getting everyone ready for the Intl. Toyfair around here. I will admit to being very jealous - I do so miss NYC.

Everything else is simply status quo. Been watching too much Netflix rerun TV at night, instead of finishing projects or cleaning up. I blame the long days & touch of flu, but really I'm a little hooked on the BBC's Survivors. I feel like a bit of a masochist as I know the series was canceled on a cliffhanger after season 2. But I am a Paterson Joseph fan (have been since his Marquis De Carabas in Neverwhere over a decade ago). Also I'm really enjoying Max Beesley's cold blooded yet conflicted character, Tom Price.

Sorry for such a dull post. If you are in the neighborhood tomorrow pop back as I'm announcing a new business card giveaway - haven't had one of those in a while. And the sponsor, Uprinting.com does some fantastic work. So if you need cards dont miss your chance to enter.

Hope you have a fantabulous weekend! (Haha - tis only hump day & I'm already thinking weekend. )


Musical Monday - David Wax Museum

Listening to a lot of David Wax Museum lately. 

I just saw that they've been immortalized as a New Yorker illo - now how fun is that?

For some reason I thought their new album, Everything is Saved was coming out on the 3rd & not the 8th...silly me.

Loving this single from the pending album - Warning: best put your toe tappin' shoes on before you hit play.

Then I heard from Xmas Dolly that I'm in The Spotlight today & the MM theme is Love. That was all it took for this lovely little ditty from  Carpenter Bird (2009) to start earworming its way through my head.

What terrific tunes are jumpstarting your week? Pop over to these fun Musical Monday bloggers and toss 'em some lovely links to chew on:


Bloggin With Amanda

Hairbows & Guitarpicks

While you're there find out what is inspiring lots of other fine folks today.  

Oh, by the way, if you're into giveaways be sure to pop back in a day or two, I've got some fun prizes on the horizon... Wishing you all a creative week!


Giveaways galore!!

Looking for giveaways? 

I've got some fantastic link's here.

1st up - I'm supposed to post prize photos & a list of fabric goodies for the new random drawing. But....haven't got them yet - sorry. The giveaway is still on - I just don't know what is in it! I promise it will be good. So, feel free to leave a comment before 1 am on 2/17 to enter. One random winner will get a lovely box of fabric & ribbon goodness (with free shipping, of course).Image the fun projects you could make.....

Other great giveaways this month include:

Soul House Shrine by Lorraine Reynolds

A fabulous Bird House Shrine from one of my favorite mixed media artists, Lorraine Reynolds, of GlimmeringPrize.Etsy.com. Follow the rules over at Lorraine's blog - GlimmeringPrize.blogspot.com - for your chance to win. (Ends 2/28)

Two $30 Gift Cards to Anthropologie from Paul Byron Downs. Leave a comment on his contest post over at TheBasicsByPaulByronDowns.wordpress.com (Ends 2/13)

by Diana Evans

Diana Evans is giving away several of her Sweet Guardians angel prints on Feb 17. Leave a comment on her blog - DianaEvans.blogspot.com

Diana is also one of the 800+ bloggers participating in the 5th and final One World One Heart Giveaway this year. Hosted by A Whimsical Bohemian, this fantastic blog hop is loaded with giveaways until 2/17. For a direct link to the list of participating blogs CLICK HERE.

Well, that should keep you busy for a while! Good luck to you and pop back this week I have a couple of new giveaways of my own to post.


Visit with Emily Kircher, Recycling Artist

Peacock Feather Spiral Upcycled Rug from Ekra.etsy.com

“The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.”  - P. Ehrlich

Last month, I was thinking about this fun Paul R. Ehrlich quotation while searching HandmadeSpark.com for folks who create with recycled materials. I was immediately infatuated with Emily Kircher's  fun colorful pieces. Cute & clever, her rag rugs, baskets and bowls are made from reclaimed fabrics. She also makes whimsical necklaces from bottle caps, vintage playing cards and old children's books.

Lucky us! Emily agreed to pop in for a visit today. So pull up a chair and join us for a chat. By the way, you can click any of the photo captions for details about each piece. They are all available in her Etsy shop, Ekra.Etsy.com.

Made to order cupcake rug from Ekra.etsy.com

EK: Hi. I'm Emily of EKRA (Emily Kircher Recycling Artist). I've always been a maker, but it wasn't always my full time job like it is now. I used to be a scientist! 

I was always interested in biology and concerned about the environment. My concern for the environment and love of science and learning led me to an environmental toxicology (ie. the study of poisons) PhD program. I had dreams of working for the EPA, or the DNR, and figuring out how to save the world. 

Little did I know when I started graduate school that what I would really be trained for was to work for a pharmaceutical company. Yikes! That's not what I wanted at all. In fact, working in a lab turned out to be pretty lonely. I was working on a project that so few people in the world new about, I didn't have much to talk about with normal people.

Sad Octopus Crocket Area Rug (closeup) from Ekra.etsy.com
So, how did you get from a career in science to creating unique home decor pieces with salvaged fabrics?

EK: Fast forward 4 years. It was getting harder and harder to get up in the morning and go to my lonely lab. My boyfriend (now husband) said to me, "Do you know you don't have to do this?" I had no idea! I could change my course! It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me and I immediately started actions to leave grad school with a MS and not continue on to complete my PhD. 

Wise Owl Bottle Cap Necklace from Ekra.etsy.com

My science friends were shocked! Everyone wanted to know what I would do. I didn't know, so I told people that I would get my teaching certificate. Others believed that was a viable option, but I didn't. I'm not a patient person when it comes to teaching. I pretended this was my plan, but had a secret plan in my head..... 

I had always been a maker, crafty, whatever you want to call it. I had been crocheting rugs as a hobby and giving them away as stress relief while in grad school. I would try to turn my hobby into a business! I loved crocheting rugs and I had also taken a class in mosaics. I called myself a Recycling Artist because I didn't really know what I wanted to focus on except that I would use recycled materials. 

Cupcake Hotpad / Trivet from Ekra.etsy.com

What are your favorite materials and why?

EK: I like working with / recycling fabrics. When I lived in Madison, WI there were tons and tons of thrift stores and there were limitless amounts of fabric to be recycled.  I could take my pick of the best sheets and linen.  

I recently moved to Carbondale, IL where there are far fewer thrift stores. So... I had to get creative about getting fabric to recycle. One of my new sources is a warehouse that houses factory mill ends. When factories are making things like sheets, or pillowcases, or whatever, they will take an entire roll of fabric and cut it to the widths they need. A small portion is left over called a mill end. This fabric is narrow and yards and yards and yards long. It is essentially waste to the factory but great for making rugs with. I like this form of fabric because I can get large amounts that are the same color and texture which allows me to make solid colored rugs and applique them. Also, it allows me to make style of rug over and over. 

Green beach crab recycled crochet area rug from Ekra.etsy.com

My second new favorite source is from Krista Lawhon, another etsy seller who makes great memory t-shirt blankets (which you can find at KristaLawhon.etsy.com). I contacted her to see if she was using the leftover bits of t-shirt fabric. She wasn't, so now she boxes them up and ships them to me. I like this form of fabric because there is only a little bit of each type of it, there is lots of variation in the shades of each color so I'm able to create interesting fades of one color into another.

I still go to every thrift store I see and do a lot of yard sale shopping in the summertime. I love fabric!

Where do you find inspiration?

EK: Lots of places... I like to browse through the treasuries on Etsy.com and I follow a few design blogs. I also draw a lot from things that I like, and hope others will like too. When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist, and I still like sea creatures, so they show up in my work a lot. 

Hello Jelly Ornament from Ekra.Etsy.com

Do you listen to anything while creating? If so, who is on your current playlist?

EK: When I'm working alone, I alternate between watching TV and listening to my iPod. When the TV is on it is usually on some sort of Law and Order. I cycle through "favorite bands" pretty frequently - right now I'm playing Standard Fare, Wavves, and Soft Pack over and over again. One band that is always at the top of my favorites list is Jaill - a band my brother is in.

How long have you been selling your pieces?

EK: I started selling my work in 2004, as soon as I registered my business.

Happy Narwhal Crochet Area Rug from Ekra.etsy.com
What is your favorite piece in your shop right now?

EK: My favorite rug right now is the Happy Narwhal Rug which is a collaboration with Aorta.etsy.com. Jessica, the woman behind aorta, makes the most amazing appliques! I found her on etsy when it first started, either 2005 or 2006 and have been a big fan of her work ever since. Everytime I wear one of her pieces, I get tons of compliments. I contacted her to see if she would be interested in selling me her appliques to use on my rugs and she said yes. 

Icy Blue & Brown Kitty Cat Crochet Rug from Ekra.etsy.com
What do you like to do when you are not creating?

EK: When I'm not working on making things or running my business, I like to read, travel with my husband, play with my cats.

Emily, thank you for stopping by & sharing your whimsical work today.

And  thanks to those of you who visited with us. Please be sure to leave a comment. Your interest in these features is what keeps them coming! And the artists & artisans love the feedback. 

Want to see more of Emily's recycled creations? Check out these links:

www.etchouse.com/ekra - also lists retail locations for buying Emily's rugs

A Final Note: New Thursday Giveaway Prize

Inspired by Emily's love of cloth (& my ongoing attempts to make some elbow room in the studio) the new Thursday Giveaway prize is an assortment of fabrics, ribbons & other sundries from my overflowing stash. Pop back this weekend for a list & photo of the prizes.

So, on 2/17 one  lucky winner will get a big ole box of fiber goodness! To enter this random drawing, leave a comment on my blog between now & 1 a.m. (EST) on  2/17.  Drawing is open worldwide with free shipping to winner.

Winner of RawkMama random drawing is.....

Stacy Uncorked!
Congratulations, Stacy! You get your choice of either Sammie Flame's  original art card Love or a $5 (+ free shipping) spending spree in the artist's Etsy shop, RawkMama. I will  contact you today about claiming your prize.

Thanks to all who left a comment & entered this fun drawing. Pop back later today for a chat with a "recycling artist" & find out about the next Thursday Giveaway.


The Greely Expedition

The Steamer Proteus 1881 from Wikipedia & U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
 You may know that I have a thing for the 19th Century.
Especially the explorers & scientists.

Last night I settled in with a cup-o-the-Kraken and American Experience's feature The Greely Expedition. Before the show, all I knew of Greely was that he was an American who went to the Arctic & something about rumors of cannibalism. Just enough to pique my interest...

In 1881 Greely led 25 men into the Arctic on a scientific mission. (They also wanted beat the Brits' record for traveling furthest North). After  3 years and a series of bad luck coupled with poor decisions only 6 men returned.  
The 6 Survivors of the Greely Expedition. #22 is Greely. Photo from WikiPedia Commons.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, I've embedded the episode below.  Or click through to the PBS page if you would rather watch it over there.