Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Visit From Santa Paws

I have a very special in my heart for cats. I absolutely love cats, all cats, any color, any size, any temperament.  There is just something about a cat that calms me.  On this Christmas eve I'd like to share a poem with you from the book A Cat's Christmas by Stefanie Samek (1996, Dutton) (find it on Amazon here)

'Twas the night before Christmas, in the sleeping cats' house,
Not a feline was stirring-for even a mouse.
Cat stockings were hung by the cat door with care,
In hopes that Santa Paws soon would be there.

The kittens were snuggled in Mama Cat's bed,
With brothers and sisters curled head-to-head;
And Mama Cat on her quilt, and I on my mat,
Had just settled into a delicious catnap,

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my mat to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, 
Climbed up the curtains, pressed my nose to the glass.

And what in the world did my feline eyes see
But a small golden chariot, pulled by cats just like me!
With a fluffy old driver so white and so furry,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Purr-y!

More rapid than rabbits his kitties they came,
And he yowled and meowed, calling each by name:
"On, Slippers! On, Sneakers! On, Bigfoot! On, Spats!
Christmas is coming! Let's go, gentle cats!

Now White Sox! Now, Bootsie! Let's go, Gloves and Mittens!
To the back porch we fly!  Let's go, cats and kittens!"
So down to the cat door his kittens they flew,
With a catnip-filled chariot-and Santa Paws too!

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the latch
The pawing and clawing of Santa Paws' scratch.
As I sniffed for his scent and looked all around,
Through the cat door Santa Paws came with a bound:

His eyes, how they sparkled! His whiskers so merry!
His cheeks were like marshmallows, his pink nose like a cherry!
His little cat mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the fur on his paws was as white as snow.

He meowed not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all of the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
Then washing his whiskers, ears, coat, and tail,
After having a snack, out the cat door he sailed.

He jumped on his chariot, to his team gave a yowl,
And away they all flew like nine cats on the prowl.
But I heard him meow, as he drove out of sight,
"Meowy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
                                                                               ---- Clement Moorecat

My cat "Lefty" (because she was missing her left eye).  RIP little girl.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Small craft bazaar

Photos from the Winter Bazaar I was in last weekend:

I prefer making snowmen over santas

Debut of some of my altered paintbrushes

I love painting these doll chairs

My very whimsical one-of-a-kind painted doll chair

I'm now branching out and painting on other found objects as well

Another one of my painted chairs

More fabric baskets

A few Christmas coiled fabric baskets

One of my tables

Another table and I still couldn't get all of my stuff displayed

There wasn't a lot of room in the gymnasium at the school

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Upcycled Paintbrushes

If I tried to explain how my creative brain works sometimes you might get lost or dizzy.  I have never been one to keep a sketch book but lately I've found that it's now the only way to organize my thoughts.  I quit my day job a few weeks ago which now allows me to devote more time to my family, my two boys, and my art.  
Ok so back to these altered paintbrushes... They are fun!  They are whimsical! They are way out of the box!
I will be doing a small arts and crafts show this weekend and will be debuting them there:

"Shabby Chic"

** "Ladybugs"

"At the beach"


** The ladybugs on the ladybug paintbrush were made using flat black stones, I then painted them and put a clear top coat on them to protect from chipping.

Thanks for looking!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Merry Christmas!

I much prefer to create Halloween stuff but I have been working on these two Christmas wall hangings for some time now and I have finally finished them!  

I designed and embroidered this nutcracker adding beads and sequins.  The face and hands are hand painted with acrylics.  I then free-motion quilted the entire wall hanging.  It has a rod pocket on the back for easy hanging.

My "cutesy" snowman was created with the coiled fabric bowl method.  The red and white background is actually an upholstery remnant.  The snow is three-dimensional (gel medium) and I hand painted all of the buttons

The back is pretty fun too!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Found objects and photography

Today my son asked me "Mommy why did you get interested in smashing things?"

"Well Joshua, do you remember the Steampunk wall hanging that I'm making?  Steampunk involves a lot of gears and wires and instead of buying them at a craft store I thought it would be more fun to smash apart an old electric knife cutter."  (This truly makes my art pieces one-of-a-kind)
Today I decided to go back to these railroad tracks that I explored a few months ago to look for more found objects.  These tracks are about an hour away so I don't make it up there often.  When I was there a few months ago I remember finding A LOT of railroad nails.  I picked up a few last time, and again this time, but what I was really there for was other rusted metal pieces. Rusted metal = steampunk look!
I am a very quiet and "to myself" kind of person so walking on railroad tracks by myself, enjoying the beautiful autumn weather is pure heaven for me.  I have always liked railroad tracks.  Maybe it's the idea that they could take me to different places that intrigue me.  Maybe it was the 1986 movie Stand By Me that turned me on to railroad tracks.

While I'm looking for rusty metal and taking pictures of these beautiful tracks today I remembered that photography was my first love, my first artistic expression.  So here again two of my artistic interests cross paths.
If you'd like to visit my Steampunk board on Pinterest you can find it here.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Two of my "in progress" art quilts

I cannot believe my favorite upholstery store is going out of business!!  This store was a hidden gem for me.  When one first enters this shop it seems pretty small, then there are swing doors to the second part of the store.  The first room housed most of the upholstery, the second room had mainly trims and tassels.  Then there was a third room in the back!  This is where I get super excited because they have bins and bins and bins full of remnants... CHEAP!  When I started making art dolls years ago I would use these remnants as their clothes.  Some upholstery is very textured and rich in colors and there are different types of patterns that you can't find in a traditional fabric or quilt shop. 

Since my artistic endeavors change like the wind I can usually find various uses for my art supplies.  Sometimes if I'm working on two different projects in two different mediums they will overlap, hence my love of art quilts.  Art quilts combine traditional quilt methods with a modern twist, usually adding unexpected objects to beautiful wall hangings. And this is where my ideas overlap... I could use my upholstery remnants as a base to creating unique one-of-a-kind art quilts!

This was one that I started a few months ago:
Of course it was 2-D until I added beads, yarn, ribbon and puffy paint to it.  I also made some of the centers stand out by using extra upholstery and stuffing it with cotton.
Then I found some of my old sculpey beads that go almost perfectly with these colors!  I probably made these in the early 90's.
(circular bead in the bottom right hand part of the photo)
Again this is not finished yet.

Last week when I went to this upholstery shop again (they aren't closing until at least December) I found this remnant that I fell in love with!  The moment I saw it it inspired me.  The dark brown part of the leaves are velvet and feel oh so soft!  Here was the picture I took a few days ago after quilting it and hand sewing a row of gold beads:
As you can tell by the photo there are gold accents on the beige background part of the upholstery.  When I quilted over this it seems to disappear so I wanted to make that stand out again... fabric markers to the rescue!  I have also added decorative yarn and turquoise beads.

I have a huge collection of beads and usually I can find the right colors to go with my projects.  Here is a photo of everything I've used so far:

As with the first one posted here I like to work on these for a while then walk away for a few days. This is why I could never be on Project Runway, sometimes they only have one day to complete a challenge!  Anyway, when I return to a project it is with "new eyes" and I am able to be inspired again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Steampunk and it's after effects

It all started with a show called Steampunk'd.  This is Wikipedia's definition of this genre:

"Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.[1][2]  ...steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power."

I'm not sure why I'm intrigued by this form of art, I think I like it because it's so different than any other art I've done. (I'm also starting to get into Shabby Chic but that's a whole different blogpost).  Steampunk has to do with gears and mechanical objects usually powered by steam.  
This photo is from a wallpaper app on my phone:

I love creating one-of-a-kind art quilts and the theme of steampunk lends itself really well to an art quilt.  With an art quilt I can attach gears and leather and paint a Nerf gun to look "post-apocalyptic" to add to the 3-D effect.  Believe it or not steampunk fabric does exist but I had to order it online.  

(photo to come!)

Another idea I had while creating this is that I could easily find gears and parts if I take apart other electrical things.  Thrift stores are my best friends so off I went!  I have two boys and when I asked them if they wanted to help me smash things they said "SURE!"  We had so much fun that day smashing a "boom box/CD player" from the 90's.  Joshua (blue shirt) is still working on the radio while Jacob (yellow shirt) and I moved onto breaking out the glass from an old window pane for another project (again Shabby Chic for the window pane),

After taking apart a few things and looking on Pinterest (small addiction) I stumbled upon "Assemblage Art".  This art form is called by many different names like upcycled art and junk art.  If you click on this link it will take you to my assemblage art board on Pinterest.  I am now working on two different projects (actually three, paper quilling, but again for another blogpost) so please stay tuned because there will be plenty more pictures in the next post.  

On a positive note...

Tomorrow will be my last day of work "outside the home" which will now give me more time to focus on my family and my art.  I am already signed up to do two arts and crafts shows in the next two months and I'm thrilled!  I will be reopening my Etsy shop and will be posting a lot more on Instagram plus I will be able to blog more often too.  Life is good!

Friday, October 2, 2015

About my personal life, sadness on so many different levels

I normally don't share a lot of my personal life on this blog but tonight I need to.  I need to let my readers know why I haven't posted since June.  During the last week of school my younger son (age six) was hospitalized for six days with pneumonia.  Because of my baby being in the hospital I was unable to go on my "mommy getaway".  Two weeks after school ended my older son (age eight) came down with pneumonia also but did not need to be hospitalized.  I will not talk about everything that has gone on at work but let's just say it has added to my stress level that I wasn't prepared for.  Because of work I decided not to go on our family vacation.  

I live in Portsmouth, Virginia and as I type we are getting pummeled with rain from Hurricane Joaquin (pronounced WaKeen).  The hurricane isn't projected to hit land anymore but there is major flooding in all cities around me.  Today I was supposed to be setting up my artwork for the Newport News Fall Festival of Folklife this weekend.  It was cancelled, thanks Joaquin, NOT! I have been preparing all summer for this once-a-year festival.

And finally the worse part of these last few months?  This morning I had to put down my pet.  She was the sweetest and kindest and most gentle animal you could ever meet.  I loved her so very much.  She is not in pain anymore but I miss her tremendously.
RIP Duchess, my little girlie:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Networking and making connections

I'm not a very outgoing person, I keep to myself and I like it like that but when it comes to promoting my items I'm learning to engage with people more.  I need to break out of my shell and slowly but surely I'm learning how.

I always carry around my business cards in case anyone asks what kind of artwork I do.  It's hard to explain Art Dolls or Fabric Bowls so I just lead them here to see everything I do.  This past week I was at the vet and started talking to a lady who mentioned Instagram.  She said that she buys items off of Instagram!  I chimed in and said that I joined Instagram last week to get more exposure but I didn't know you could sell from Instagram!  (I'm on Instagram as KimberlyJDC) So I'm looking into this but that was one business card.  

The other card I gave out was to a lady that struck up a conversation with me while I was getting my car inspected.  I was drawing a Zentangle and she asked about it.  She was super nice and we talked about everything from Pinterest to thrift stores to tattoos.  I didn't get her name but if you are her reading this here is the finished Zentangle I was working on while we were talking:
So a big THANK YOU goes out to anyone reading this and likes and supports my work, you guys are the best!
Link to my Etsy shop: October Cat Studios

Monday, June 1, 2015

Revisiting an old friend


I have two sketch books full of my zentangles.  You can check out some of my previous posts here and here and here.  My mom borrowed my books for a while and when she gave them back to me it reawakened my love for drawing them.  When I sat down to do another one I realized that I was "doodling" the same designs as before, I needed inspiration, I needed new ideas.  I looked at Pinterest for new ideas.  I already had a board full of inspiration here.  But I was looking for something different.

I went to Barnes and Noble and found two amazing books full of inspiration!  The first one is called Zen Doodle Tons of Tangles by Tonia Jenny and Amy Jones.  And the second one is entitled The Beauty of Zentangle by Suzanne McNeill and Cindy Shepard.  I have added color to my tangles before but these two books have inspired me to try color again.  I want to be more intentional about the things I draw, like wildlife, buildings, etc.  So now my third sketch book will be "all about color"!
Page 1 When Seahorses Play
(I need to adjust the color on my computer because this is much more vibrant in person)
 Then yesterday morning while the boys were in handbell practice I started my second one:
Last night I finished my second one:
I love to sew but I also love zentangles!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Altered Barbies

About 20 years ago when I was collecting Barbie dolls (yes I have the #1 Barbie that came out in 1959 in the black and white bathing suit) I remember going to a Barbie convention and seeing a few "altered Barbies".  At that point I was teaching myself how to reroot hair on old Barbies and that's when the two ideas merged: reroot non traditional hair and design a non traditional outfit.  That weekend I tried to create my first altered Barbie and let me tell you that my vision was a lot more polished than what actually happened!  I will try anything once and I tried it but decided it wasn't for me... until last year.  I tried it again and this time I loved my results!
My forest Barbie was one of my first ones:

This was one of my favorite ones because of her wire skirt:

Zentangle inspired:
This one was inspired by the button on her back that, when pushed, lights up her torso and legs.  I'm not sure if I'm finished with this one yet.  I would like to paint more designs on her chest and maybe put some braids in her hair.  In the last picture you can see that her belly is lit up blue and one of her legs is lit up red, this is more more vibrant in person.

I also create one of a kind art dolls and in my mind these two go hand-in-hand, art dolls and altered dolls.