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Mandala/Spider Web Project Idea

April showers are here in profusion, making everything wet and muddy. I clean, and the dog, my husband and my toddler just track it right back in. But, the sound of rain at night is so peaceful -and the prospect of spring so thrilling- that it’s all worth it. So, it was appropriate that this art journal be about sounds.

In this art journal the subject was, ” Your Favorite Sound.” What’s your favorite sound and how would you depict it visually? Let me know in the comments or better yet send me a picture or piece of art showing what your favorite sound is!

Step 1.

I painted the entire page black using black gesso. I then added some collage. Bits of a tail, a cut out from one of my abstract watercolor paints and a whole bunch of chipboard holes from the Lace-Ups I had tested and played with earlier in the month. (Yes, I even keep and reuse the holes from our Lace-Ups… Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! LOL!)



Step 2.

I cut one of the square pocket that came with the art journal in half to fit a test tag I had made in developing our Lace-Up tags. I painted it black.

I  painted the tag with white gesso, and then I dumped some water color painted on my painting surface mat and rubbed the dried tag on the paint. I added words in blue calligraphy pen.



Step 3.

I added the pocket and the tag to the page. Then, using my white Singo pen I started drawing circles around each of the chipboard hole punches. I was thinking of the ripples that rain drops make when they hit a puddle of water.

I also used black gesso to prime the Totem PopPet Snake and a small and a medium mandala or spider web. I wasn’t sure which ones I would end up using so I placed them on the side page to look at and think about.

  • Tip: If you can’t decide if you want to add a piece you can place it on the page and then take a picture with your phone. Move it around and take a couple more pictures. You can then look at the different placements over the course of a day or two. Seeing it on the phone changes your perspective and taking time to think about it might bring other ideas.



Step 4.

I tried used silver metal wire to make a spider web with moon stones one it, but the metal didn’t fit through the holes.I tried jump rings and glue too. Neither worded as well. lol. So I decided to use embroidery floss that faded from dark blue, to light blue, to white.



Step 5.

Finally, I added in the words; writing them in blue outlines with white. I added small white circles around the edge of the page to “frame” and complete the image.


Here’s the full poem by Langston Hughes…

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops
Let the rain sing you a lullaby
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.


Here’s a close up of the finished piece.


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Lace-Up Tags Project Idea

Use your Lace-Up tags to organize your linen closet

Lace-Up Tags Project Idea:

Spring cleaning? Here’s an easy idea of how to use the Lace-Up tags to help organize your linen closet!

Here, I have roughly painted the Lace-Up Tags, Small (which are not very small by the way) with white gesso. I then braided three pieces of cooking butcher string together and laced it through the holes. I added the words, “Twin Sheets” using a black calligraphy pen. Then to hang it I used a metal  upholstery nail I had leftover from a chair I had reupholstered, I just braided the string up and around the tack.

Use your Lace-Up tags to organize your linen closet


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Totem Poppet Example: Totem Snail

Finished art journal page using the Totem PopPet Snail.

Spring has sprung, and the willow are starting to green! April showers have turned everything mud colored, but the promise of green is there. For this art journal page the subject was “Your favorite color.” Of course, mine is green right now. The gray-green of moss, the grown green of snails and the blue-green of cold creeks…

Step 1.

The very first thing I did in this art journal page was to mix a bit of black gesso and white gesso in a jar, shake it up good and paint the whole page gray. By doing this I gave myself a nice neutral background that would make all the other colors “pop” out.

Once this was dry, I cut up a couple of print outs of my lime watercolor paintings.

  • Tip: I save all my tester and failed prints now, just for this purpose. I also cut up one of my tester prints that I did of “Entwined”, a HDR photo of some roots all entwined and covered with moss on a creek branch I shot a while back. (You can see the originals here:

Step 1 of mixed media collage.

I cut the lime shapes in half and used them to edge the sides of the page. I then cut pod shapes, similar to the shapes used in the lime paintings themselves out of a striped pattern I had painted. I also cut these in half and used them to trim the bottom.

I cut out the Entwined roots and used a  fairly think mat medium to attach them as a sort of focal point, right in the center – dividing the page.

In the same sitting I decided to add a piece of one of the newsletters we get from our CSA, Spiral Path that had gotten watercolor marker on it. Water had spilled on it an made the whole thing bleed and run and I loved the turquoise it made. I just around the bleed shape to retain the shape.


Step 2.


Next I painted the Totem Poppet Snail brown with my Tombow markers. I used some water to make it bleed and spread. And then I assembled him using the 1/16″ brass eyelets. I added him to the page with just a bit of Golden mat medium under his body. I did not use any on the Totem Snail’s shell so it could still move.


Step 3.


Next, I added a series of washi tape pieces as sort of vertical lines at the top. I just ripped up pieces and laid them down to complete the frame feeling that I had going on with the rest of the page. I let them overlap and I used three different tapes. A blue tape with dots, a green checkered one and a washi tape with a green leaf patterned.


Step 4.


Some final bits of collage are added… I didn’t like the bright yellow green piece I had in the center -I found it too distracting- so I added this watercolor painting print out of a Jalapeno I had done to cover it up.

  • Tip: If you don’t like something about your piece in mixed media, or your art journal, don’t be afraid to cover it up! You can use another piece of collage or black or white gesso. Sometimes covering something up is just what you need to add depth and interest to a piece!

I also added the USDA  Organic collage piece and the I made a spiral piece of collage to add to the Totem snail’s back.

Adding 3D:

For the Totem Snail’s shell I cut a circle from a thicker piece of magazine paper. I then cut an spiral into the center. I cut and folded a long thin rectangle of paper into an accordion and mounted one side to the shell and one side to the inside of the spiral.  I glued the outer rim of the spiral down.

Then I broke out the paint pens!

I added dots all around the cool shape of the Spiral Path Newsletter piece to blend it in more. I had lots of fun adding dots all over the snail to give him personality and texture. And I added some spirals coming down from the Washi tape at the top to fill up that blank gray area.


Step 5.


Now that most of the space if full of collaged bits, and paint pen its time to stuff the words in. I found this fabulous quote about green online by just searching “quotes and green”. I used a white Signo pen.


Step 6.


Finally, I outlined each letter in blue and then added in a bunch of drop shadows to make the letters and the snail “pop” out using a medium gray Copic marker.

  • Tip: Keep your shadows all on the same side of letters and objects to make things feel more real.
    ie. Like the lighting is all coming from the same source.
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The beauty of vultures

It’s spring here on the river, and in the town where I live, work and walk the vultures have returned! Every spring, 30 or 40 -sometimes as many as 50 or 60- vultures decend on town and surrounding woods. Okay, ok, they don’t really decend, they circle and soar! Watching them as they wheel and glide, barely lifting a wing to accend higher than all the other local birds in the sky, they really are quite amazing. And they’re huge too! The vultures like to perch in the pine trees lining the cemetery where I walk, and the sound of their enormous wings flapping as they launch themselves from the bowed branches as I approach is something to hear -eerie and yet uplifting at the same time.

Vultures are one of those animals that are often misunderstood. Portrayed -and perceived- as ugly or dirty they’re actually very helpful as they cleanup carrion and prevent the spread of disease.

Sometimes we too judge -or are judged- and are misunderstood. If you see vultures this spring, wheeling and circling on the up-drafts of life, stop to consider; maybe like us all, they are just looking for love.



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Tutorial Video: How to Assemble Totem Poppets with 1/16 inch eyelets

Last week we filmed some tutorials at Charmed I’m Sure Studio in Mechanicsburg, PA. A BIG thank you goes out to Jean for hosting us, and for being our co-host as well as Angelo for doing the filming.

Check out this nice short video tutorial -about 6 minutes- of how to put your Totem Poppets together using 1/16 inch brass eyelets and the Fiskar eyelet setter tool on YouTube.

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Photos from the Make and Take

What a great time we had Saturday during the Make and Take at Joys of Life Scrapbooking! There was a constant flow of people -and of chatter. Kids and adults alike commented in how fun and easy it is to put the Totem Poppets together. The girls had such a cute time, naming their butterfly’s and outing “secret” hearts under the movable wings!








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How we roll…

Today we have been packaging 300 bags of eyelets for the Art and Soul Retreat attendees goodie bags!

Here is a shot of my setup. Yes that’s a real turtle shell. I found it while out hiking. (Just the shell, sans turtle.) what I find fascinating is the inside of the hell has the spinal column attached to it!

And wouldn’t you know I’d did indeed spill part of the bag of 58,000 -yes you read that right- eyelets earlier. I guess that just the way the eyelet rolls. Literally.



To package your eyelets, we first count out the bags. Then we add the sticker labels. Next, using a digital scale, and two small measuring spoons, we weigh out the eyelets. Although we have calculated the exact weight for the various piece numbers, we use 0.02-.03g more, to ensure that you get MORE then the number of eyelets promised on the packaging.


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Bring out the Girls!

A sample of the our Totem Poppet butterfly in yellows and oranges.

This Saturday April 5, 2014

Grab your girls! And join us anytime between 10 AM- 2PM at Joys of Life Scrapbooking on
5222 E. Trindle Rd. Mechanicsburg, PA. for a fun and free spring Make and Take!

Make2 of our beautiful new Totem Poppet Butterflies.
Paint them, stamp them, zentangle them….

There will be plenty of yummy art supplies to play with and lots of the other totem Poppets to check out as well!
And then “Take” them home with you!


Butterflies 2Butterfly

Butterflies and moths are renown worldwide for their amazing metamorphosis from a caterpillar into a beautifully-colored butterfly. But, did you know that there are actually four stages in the butterfly’s life? That of the egg, the larva, the pupa, and then the butterfly or moth! If a butterfly totem has entered your life, be prepared for change. And consider that you might have to go through several stages to reach the end goal: lightness of being and soul.

Here’s a sample of just some of the many things you can do woth the butterfly Totem Poppet!


Totem Poppet Butterfly