Thursday, February 24, 2011

Night Owls

Another quick project.  I began with a Speedball Speedycut rubber sheet and drew a South African Scops Owl in pencil.  My husband, last to use my carving tools, seems to have lost them during the move so I used a simple paring knife to cut away the rubber sheet.  As I cut away from my design, I use a Sharpie to highlight the areas left behind would print as I intended.  Once the stamp was complete I stamped it onto commercial scrapbooking paper with silver embossing powder.  I have layered this image with other scrapbooking papers and then completed my ATC with a couple of sequins and did some detailing with colored pencils and pens. 
The wonderful thing about carving this stamp is that I could work on it five minutes at a time until finished.  A very handy aspect in a project when caring for a toddler!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Doll Project in Zimbabwe

I belong to a piecemakers group here in South Africa.  Many of the members are not quilters but we all do some kind of handwork and chat and have tea/coffee, etc.  As we were sitting together sharing projects Irene brought out several dolls.  She is an American who, together with several other expatriate volunteers, began working with a group called Batsiranai while she was living in Zimbabwe.
Batsiranai is a collaborative made up of mothers of disabled children who make embroidered handicrafts to raise money for food, housing and school fees for their children.  Irene and her friend Ellen, both with backgrounds in maternal child health programming, joined the group in 2003 as volunteers.  They developed a child health and stimulation program for the disabled children and their preschool siblings in order to compliment the handcraft  business enterprise. Some of the mothers were trained to run the child center; the children began to repond to music and play activities and their mothers were amazed at the changes in their children. Ellen and Irene felt that the children could benefit from having some toys, so began experimenting with different doll designs including a doll with a knotted cloth body and head.  In the end the women liked the design of the doll shown above the best and decided to add it to their list of crafts for sale.  This doll has a Waldorf like head, an embroidered pocket on an African cloth (shweshwe) body and of course the pocket holds a baby.  These dolls and the other work of Batsiranai have been Fair Trade certified and they can be purchased through the website.  The dolls and other crafts would made a great addition to a Christmas bazaar.
Note: An interesting history of shweshwe can be found here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mermaid ATC

I love doing the swaps at Swap-Bot.  They give me incentive to create small pieces of artwork.  Sometimes it just feels good to get a piece done.  This Artist Trading Card (ATC) is a break from the collage oriented pieces in the past.  The swap theme is mermaid and I decided to just draw what I had in mind.  This mermaid was drawn in pencil and then I outlined the above water area in Pigma pen on teal linen cardstock.  Oil pastels to give the watery, immpressionistic feel and then I have painted the 'wet' areas of the card with high gloss varnish. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

South African Wine

My US friends left behind suggested that I write a little about South Africa, so from time to time I will deviate from my arts related focus of the blog. 
I want to state I am no wine expert.  I just know what I like when I taste it.  It has been fun to explore the local wines here with my husband.  Wine is South Africa is much less expensive than at home and a decent bottle can be picked up for $7-10 (R49-70.)  We have been warned not to buy wine from the supermarket but the selection is so vast I can't help picking up a bottle.  Sure enough the best bottles have not come from the grocery store. 
In the foreground of the picture are my two favorite so far, Alto Rouge and Barbarossa Maria Carbernet Sauvignon.  The farmers markets here serve alcohol (including shots of tequila at one of them, but that's another story) and after buying one glass of Alto Rouge my husband and I had to buy a bottle.  The Barbarossa was a gift from our sponsors when we arrived.
The bottle of Giant Mistake lying down in the photo I purchased totally for the label.  The wine didn't live up to its name but it was not very good either.  The other bottles have been lightweights but for the most part drinkable.  I hope to visit some wineries when we travel down towards Cape Town in a few months.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

More Experimentation with Fabric Design

As I am exploring fabric design further, one of the first questions I come to is how to I get my design to repeat? I am very interested in creating a fluid design that does not look like little bricks stacked together (as my previous test piece would if printed.) When I'm looking for knowledge, I do what everyone does, I Google it. Here is an excellent tutorial on repeating designs. Creating repeating designs is not as difficult as I thought it would be however, without this tutorial, I would have ended up deconstructing a bit of fabric and probably arrived at the same information the hard way. Tip: cut your paper really straight when quartering it.

My design below is based on protea flower petals. Proteas are the national flower of South Africa, the country I am currently living in. The first photo is the sample and second the repeat.
As usual all of my designs are copy written, please contact me if you would like to use them.