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Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas!

merry christmas, everyone!  i hope that you have a peaceful, relaxing holiday!!

Monday, December 20, 2010


these are some necklaces i made this weekend.  they are all made with vintage buttons, beads, and found objects.  two of them have tiny princess watch cases in the mix.  the little frames are from a company who no longer makes them.  i have used vintage ephemera inside, but you can take them apart and add your own images if you'd like (same with the watch cases).  there are a few parts that aren't vintage, but i really tried to not make them look like every other piece of jewelry you see.  they are all strung on leather cord, which is knotted at the top so you can make them the length you like.  i'm gonna put them in the shop today.  there are others besides what i'm showing here.  they are $22 each.  what a deal!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

finally, time to paint!

i spent the day at the shop yesterday.  it was a good day to paint.  i was done with the monthly paperwork early, so played around with some gouache.  this is what i came up with.  gouache is hard to paint with when you are layering.  the under layers sometimes lift when you paint on top of them.  so i usually save this kind of painting for regular acrylics. i have been getting a bit carried away with the under-drawing lately.  it's something i never did before, but it seems like it has crept into my work slowly.  i think it tends to leave out the freshness of the painting.  so on this one i did no drawing whatsoever.  just put the values in the right places.  i always told my students that painting is like drawing with blobs.  get the blobs in the right order, and you have a face!!  it feels good to be free.  oh, and this only took me about 20 minutes!!

time to finish up the christmas shopping.  tomorrow is my deadline.

Monday, November 29, 2010

some more game piece boxes

 available at

here are some new boxes.  i have been having a really hard time finding pieces.  i drove all the way to fort collins on saturday, and only found ONE piece!!  it's the globe on top of the one box.  i am seriously getting down to no more stuff to make boxes with.  it used to be easy!!  guess the world wants the things i want, now.  i ordered a game off ebay the other day.  i was desperate.  i had to pay $15 for enough pieces for one box.  and that's just the "base" coat!

i love making these.  i think it's really fun, satisfying, and good problem solving.  so i gotta figure out a new source for stuff.  seems like the folks on etsy are buying up all of the games, dividing them up, and charging exorbitant prices.  like $6 for 10 or 15 alphabet tiles.  and i need about a hundred for each box.  that calculates out to about $50 for each box, just in pieces!!  agh.

i think i may have to raise my prices.  i hate doing that, but i'm thinking i have no choice.  each box takes at least 3 hours to make.  i start by painting the interior and then placing game ephemera (like directions from games) inside the lid and bottom of the box.  then i start assembling.  i use gel medium for glue (don't even ask how much that costs!!) because it's thick and flexible, and acid free.  and you can imbed stuff in it for a great "stick".  i use a little brayer on the flat stuff to get good adhesion.  i get the base coat of pieces on, and then let them dry overnight. next day or so i start the "decorations".  these are also left to dry overnight.  then two coats of matt medium to seal everything up, and a coat of spray sealer on top of that to make sure everything is durable.

that's that!  by the way, these look really nice in groups.  i have four on my living room table together, on a black tray.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

installation almost ready!

these are the boxes, almost ready for the big night on friday.  after this picture, i added price tags.  i tore up an old memo pad and wrote the prices in pencil.  then i pinned them on the books or the wall near the pieces.  the other stuff is for sale, too.  and below the boxes i am selling parts so that you can make your own assemblage box!  all you need is the box, the creativity, and the patience!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

series complete!

these are the last 3 in the eggbox series. i was having a bit of trouble photographing today, maybe the metallic finish is skit-zing the camera out? anyway, the good news is that they are done!! i am going to install them along with some other stuff for the artful evening at the shop on november 19th. after that, they will be available on the website for sale (if there are any left! ha!!)

the first box is about 5x8x3 inches, and the paper covering the outside is teresa's workbook from 2nd grade. her handwriting is forever preserved as a work of art! the second box is the smallest in the series...about 3x5x3 inches, and inside i have wired a wonderful old french ivory frame with a sweet bird from a tobacco card inside. there's a mirror, and some tiny china, and oh!, some eggs! last one is 8x11x3". this time i have some glass things inside. i couldn't glue them because you would see the glue through the glass. so i drilled holes in the box and then "sewed" them in with wire. i like the effect. i think it's a neat change. i always like to show hardware, so it goes right with that theme. the little wooden plaque at the back is an old shopping list, but i turned it over because some little kid decided to practice writing on the back with blue crayon. "NO" it says over and over. funny! i love stuff like that. it also has the last large piece of the rusty metal johnine gave me.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


this is eggbox5. five finished, one on the table ready to glue, and two to go! why eight in the series, you ask? well, because john made me 8 boxes.

i ordered a dozen tiny mixed eggs from etsy. one is in this box, inside the tiny teacup. they are so amazing--from brown to green to white, and some speckled. eggs are so incredible.

speaking of eggs, john and i are doing the south beach diet. leaving the classroom and entering the artist life has kept me on my backside more than usual. i sit a lot and make stuff, instead of running around like a crazy woman at school. so it has had its ill effect on my mid-section. we like the south beach diet, but i literally get sick to my stomach eating eggs every day for breakfast. funny that i am making a series of boxes about eggs, and can't eat them at the same time. the good news is that i found a spectacular protein powder made from egg whites. you mix it with some soy milk, and it's really delicious!! almost like having a meringue dessert for breakfast! yay eggs!!

okay, off to finish #6.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

more eggs and dishes

these are the next three in the series. (and i just received two dozen tiny eggs--don't know what to do with them yet.) i'm not going to put these new boxes on the site, but instead save them for the open house on november 19th at the shop. i have been having fun with these. john asked what i would do when i was all out of eggs and dishes. well duh, another series!!

by the way, you can click on the small photos for a closer look!

Monday, October 18, 2010

eggbox1, finished!

here it is!! available at
check it out!!

eggs and dishes and rust in a box

these are the parts to my new box in progress. i played around on iphoto and tinted the photos sepia. there really is not a lot of color, anyway. i'm doing a whole series with not a lot of color. they all have to do with eggs. eggs and porcelain. and old stuff. and i took jill's advice and did some drawing. see the eggs inside the box? there you go, jill.

johnine also helped me out on this one. she sent me an old, rusted gas can she found on the side of the road. i thought it looked like a mottled egg shell, like a quail's egg. so i used it. i had to go to the home depot and buy some tin snips to cut it. you should see the mess in the studio. there is rust everywhere. thanks, johnine!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

new prints

i took these pics with my iphone, so they are not the greatest quality. but they do give you the idea. i printed them on 90 lb. hot pressed watercolor paper and then adhered them to hardboard with archival book binder's glue. i will pop them in a frame tonight and they will be in the shop by the weekend. they are 5x7", but i plan to beef them up with a nice wide frame. i have been having a bit of trouble finding frames. most are made with backs that fit into the frame and close with little tabs. and that doesn't work for these because i have to staple them into the frame. and where the staple goes, there is generally a track for the tabs to clip into. so sometimes it's a struggle. hopefully aaron bros. will come through. that's my last resort before ordering (expensive) custom frames. but i will do what i have to do!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

new game piece boxes

these are two new boxes i finished today. they are created with lots of plunder from old children's games. i glue them on nice and sturdy like, and then seal the whole thing with matte medium. finally, i spray them with acid-free sealer. i always leave the patina on the pieces. i think it makes them feel more like they have a soul. inside and on the bottom i have decoupaged old game ephemera, mostly the directions that come with the games.

the one with the pinwheel is $65, and the one made from pre-lego bricks is $55. available on our website or in the shop.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


this is the second one. her name is "lulu". i know that because the old photo she was inspired by tells me so. it's inked in on the border of the picture. she is collaged on canvas and then spray painted on top using stencils. i think there were about 5 or 6 stencils in total. the background is collaged with paint chips from the home depot. (don't tell them). i had fun with her. my favorite part is her skirt, which is made from a piece of hand-made paper from india. 12x30"

i have still been a bit down lately. i don't know if i'm having trouble adjusting to not teaching, or what. when i left school i was afraid i would miss the interaction with people, and i think i do. i am a introvert at heart, but i like being in the presence of people when i am working. i have spent lots of days alone, which is nice because i get a lot done, but some days i miss the camaraderie. i also think that i am having a hard time adjusting to not having ben around as much. he is a lucky guy, having lots of friends and a full social calendar. but he is not home as much. i am really glad for him, and swell with happiness that he is having fun. but i still miss him. i know i need to get used to it. in 3 short years he will be away at college, working on completing the transition to the wonderful mature person he will be.

ok...time to work. i cut a series of stencils yesterday for another spray paint/collage piece. it's a house, and i plan to make a large piece using the house stencils with the stencils from the two women i have already finished. i think i will do a piece with only the house, too. we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

spray paint!!

ok, so i had a really fun day. and i made this. with spray paint, and stencils. it was so incredibly fun. i spent over 4 hours playing with techniques, literally painting myself into a corner and back out...over and over again. it was a true day of artistic problem solving, and exactly what i needed.

i have 2 more to try...unfortunately i left the canvasses in the studio, so i will have to go down first thing and get them while i'm on a roll. i was so into it that i almost forgot to feed the dog and make dinner.

if you look really close (you can click the image to make it look bigger in a new window) you can see that her dress is collaged underneath with an old calculus book. and the texture in the background is paint chips. they are now painted over, but i like the texture the create. i also wanted to keep it a little out of control, hence the orange. i sprayed it on at random before i put down the stencils.

the piece is 12x30".

triptych (first in the series)

this is the first triptych in the series. i felt like playing with color and edges and letting the underpainting come through. now i am working on a larger scale triptych, but i think it will go in a completely different direction. at the studio yesterday i was looking at some vintage photos and found some funny shots of some frumpy ladies. so i collaged a background on a 12x30" canvas, and am working on a juxtaposition of vintage ladies with a modern twist. so far, so good. i'll let you know if they work out or go in the trash!! it does feel good to play.

sometimes i worry i am going in too many directions. i look at artists who pick something and stick to it, but i guess that's just not me. i can't imagine doing the same thing over and over. i know i look a bit scattered with my work sometimes, but i can't help it. i get excited by doing something new!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


this is what i did today. this is the second in a series of triptychs. each panel is 4x12", so it makes an approximate 12" square. tomorrow i'm gonna try 12x36" panels. scary!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

thrift shopping

i have been shopping for vintage stuff for the past week. i have been in a bit of a lull on the vintage stuff. i just haven't been able to find any cool stuff lately. john and i went to an auction about a week ago thinking that was the answer, but after about 5 hours of waiting for the "good stuff" i ran out of steam. i lost it when the auctioneer moved from the front of the room and started auctioning off things one at a time on the tables. it was too much for me to handle. i would not be able to do the auction thing very often if i had to.

so i decided to look around this week for stuff in other places. i went to lots of thrift stores, and was pretty lucky. i also asked john to go through some of the old tools he has, and we came up with a box of cool things. i also went to the outdoor paris flea market down on santa fe. and i came out with a bag of fun items.

ben had a race in winter park this weekend, and i went up on saturday after the paris market. it was nice and cool up there, which was way nicer than denver where it is HOT. john and i drove to granby this morning to check out a little antique store there, but alas, it had the "closed" sign on the door even though they said they were open on sunday. drag.

i drove back after lunch (did i ever mention how much i hate driving in the mountains? well, i do hate it, and was very happy to be done with berthod pass, thank you very much). anyway, i decided to go to the thrift stores on broadway on the way home. i found the letters pictured above!! now i know what the ceramic letters i have been using are for! they were made as title letters for home movies! you could spell out whatever you wanted on a background and then film them. or you could glue them to glass and shoot through them. so awesome. the neat thing was you could light them, and since they are 3-D they cast a shadow, making a cool effect. did i mention that they were only $1.49? deal of the day!! i am thrilled beyond belief.

the race...ben did okay, and was feeling good about it. he raced dual slalom, and tomorrow he races downhill, which is more of his passion. i hope he does well, but really it is about being out there more than anything else. he really looks like a man this year. i guess he is no longer my little boy. sigh.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

no strings

so i didn't get my stuff into the show. that's ok. i have to build up some thick skin. i was kinda down yesterday and so i painted this (very ugly hideous painting that i had to delete before it made me crazy). it's a bit different from my usual. i'm calling it "no strings". i'm not quite done. feel like the hands and feet need some work. and maybe the yellow is too bright? (or maybe i could just rip it up and try again?)

anyway, it just came out of my brain yesterday. frustration with being a new artist in an old world. that's why she's naked under that dress (and she looks like a freak). feeling really vulnerable. the whole thing is a little (a lot) high school, really. but it made me feel better. maybe i have worked through actually cutting some strings. isn't that what art is about? sometimes it's not the product (thank god), but the process. this one will always remind me of the feelings i had on that day. and it will probably never go in a a frame or be sold (more like the trash can). it's more like a diary entry, only bigger! ha!

Friday, August 27, 2010

upper and lower

another new one, finished last night. this is a very different color scheme for me. light and pastel-y!

this piece is in-keeping with another i did about a year ago, called "gossip", which is now sold. i really liked the look of the small frame within a frame layout.

these letters are plaster (or ceramic?) and have pins or nails embedded in them so that you can press them into a material to create a sign. when i got them they were in their original cardboard holders, which had gotten wet. so each letter was rusted into the cardboard, and had to be picked out with nimble fingers and tweezers. it was worth it, though. i love them.

off to the studio today, and again on saturday. i don't know what i will work on today. maybe more prints? i have found it almost impossible to work on boxes there. i need too much stuff, and i usually don't find the right combination until i try many many many objects. so painting or printmaking is usually a better fit for me there.

i still need to fit the back and add hanging hardware to this one. then it will be added to the website for sale.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


this is my new piece. it's called "whose?" because on the old tobacco card it says "firm lips humorous eyes (whose?). on the back it tells you it's clark gable. i thought it was funny. i have had this card for a while and just now found a place for it.

people are confused about the descriptor "assemblage" at the shop. they keep asking me if that means "mixed media". i suppose i am making mixed media pieces when i do the boxes, but i would rather call them assemblages because they are created mostly with objects. it seems like a better word to me. mixed media implies that the work could be flat. and it's not.

i am entering this one in a show. it's being judged by a prominent gallery owner here in denver. i am hoping his eyes think my work is worthy. cross fingers. i hope the fact that it didn't photograph as great as i wanted doesn't ruin my chances. the copper looks white-ish in the photos, and it's not. weird.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

not my day

this is what i found when i got to the shop today. another painting on the floor with broken glass. this is the second one in a week. they are doing construction next door, but say they have not been banging on the wall. hmmmmm.

i think i will spend today sticking sticky tac on the back of all of my work. grrrrrrrrr.

the bad news is that teresa lost a platter and one of my pictures hit one of her radios and dented it. tom is the lucky one. but he has no work on this wall, so he was out of the danger zone.

that's it for today. i need to concentrate on something artwork??

Thursday, August 5, 2010

little boxes

a new painting that measures 12x30". it's acrylic on a deep wrapped canvas. i like the whimsical look and the bright cadmium red. not too serious.

i had two days in a row in the studio. i have been putting out the prints like crazy, and decided i needed a break. i divided up the canvas, and worked out the color scheme of the boxes. i kept trying to get an abstract painting. for a whole day i painted and painted, experimenting with layering and dripping. it just wasn't working out. on the second day i was walking to the bank and got the idea of the houses in each box. i wanted them to be simple (there's a lot!!)

so i just started putting them in each box (i needed to paint all of the drips out first, which really was a big pain in the butt). the end product came out pretty cool. it's a bit folksy but still modern. and i like the fact that everything is a little off and crooked. and it was fun!! isn't that the goal? to enjoy what one is doing? well, i sure am!!

btw, i tried to download the whole painting but because the blog edits the dimensions of the photo, the whole thing won't show. too long and thin for the space. sorry. i will try to get a full shot on the website if i can figure it out...check it out on

(later) i did it!! i was able to finally put a full-sized image on the site! you have to click on the detail, and then it will come up on the next page. call me brilliant, huh?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

i'm having so much fun!!

some more finished prints today. with the new ink from gamblin. i am having a blast with this. now if i could only keep the margins clean so i don't have to mount every print...i would like to show the edges of this beautiful paper...but i am a mess. i get so excited with the process that i can't even think about keeping it all tidy. my mother would be telling me to slow down and be neat if she were alive. "ruth claire, you need to stop being such a mess", she would have said. i will listen to her next time, i promise!!

my hope is that people will "get" these. that's the problem with abstracted images...people sometimes don't get it. i was thinking today that i am really into just trying to solve the problem of getting something that looks beautiful...i really don't care if it looks like something. i named both of these works "trees" because they remind me of sitting under a tree on a breezy day when the leaves overlap each other as they move, but i could have just as easily called them "composition in green and brown".

collaged monoprints

i have still been playing with the printmaking process i learned at shy rabbit in pagosa springs. i have been cutting up the prints and reassembling them onto wooden blocks. i am trying to make several at a time with the same color scheme and feel so the could be hung together. here are two examples of the new work. they are on 3x4.5" birch plywood that has been stained on the edges and back. i am thinking of also making some simple strip frames or putting them into a shadow box type frame. lots of possibilities. i am putting some on the website for sale. the ones that are just glued onto blocks as-is (a single print) are $35, and the collaged images are $45. can you guess which parts are collaged, and which parts are not? it's pretty hard to tell, and that's why i like it so much!!

i also ordered some new printing ink. it's made by gamblin, and is really intensely colored and i have found it is best knocked down with some transparent medium, also made by gamblin. it's oil-based, and about the same price as the speedball inks i have been using, but i think the quality is better. i just have to play with it for a while to understand the way it works. i also like that it comes in glass jars. it just seems cooler for some reason. don't know why...maybe because it seems old-fashioned or something.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


these are the monoprints i have been practicing since i finished the (amazing) class at shy rabbit in pagosa springs. i mounted them on 3x4.5" blocks of birch plywood so they can stand on a ledge or be hung on a wall with mounting hardware. i think they are pretty cool...i will be working on a whole new series this week...and will post the results when i am finished. they are printed with oil based block printing ink on hot pressed watercolor paper.

Friday, July 9, 2010

two new boxes

just finished the second box, a shrine to our lady with lots of fun stuff. it just seems when i am making shrines they turn out a bit brighter than my usual work. she just brings out the bright side of me i guess?? anyway, she can be hung on the wall or can just sit on a ledge. i am getting really good at making these with less glue and more screws. seems like they are just sturdier. i went out an bought myself a dremel tool for the studio so i can drill and sand to my heart's content. ahhhh, power tools. what an invention!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

wing tips

this is the full sized version of the gouache painting that appears on the site. i kinda got sick of boxes today, and decided to paint instead. i stayed small so i could finish in one day. so they are actually pretty small. the whole painting is only 5x7". it was good to paint again. maybe i'll do a series??

we got back from santa fe and taos on tuesday. saw tons of art, most really good and inspiring. loved jane sauer's gallery and nuart gallery on the canyon road. act 1 in taos had some nice aerial view paintings by dina worman.

time to sleep. it's been a long day at the office.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

new boxes, new life

oh my. what a few weeks it has been. first the end (forever) of school. it still hasn't hit me that i will now be a full-time artist and shop owner and not a teacher. it's a good feeling...i can truly give my art the time it needs to develop.

i've been working on some boxes. this is one isn't completely finished. i am going to put plexi on the front. it can stand or hang. it's made of old building sets and some other found objects and ephemera.

i am also working on another virgin mary box. i'm making this one small (5x7"). i will post photos when i'm done.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

new coin box

this is the desk in my studio. it's a mess with all sorts of assemblage fodder. i really like my new set-up. i have 3 work spaces, and now i really can set stuff out and play. i will admit i am not staying as tidy as i had wished, but oh well. at least i am being productive.

this photo shows the new coin box in progress. it's been a really fun problem to solve, both in color and composition. it has a late 60's color scheme, and lots of vintage stuff. all mounted on an old game board. i found some cool pre-made shadow boxes to put it in. i am also putting the first coin box in the same kind of box. they are deep and stained an espresso color. i think they make the artwork richer. unfortunately i still have not sat down and figured out how to put two images on the website of the same work. so all you can see there is a detail. (i know, i am technologically impaired.) once school is out i will have time to figure it out.

anyway, it will be in the show on the 21st, so stop by and see it in person along with the first box. neither have ever been in the shop before.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


i am so damn frustrated. i brought a gessoed panel to the studio today to paint another figure in the series i am working on. it's a piece of crap!! this is what i ended up with after 2 hours. i started the whole process by tinting the panel cadmium red. let it dry. started painting and noticed that some of the red was coming up with the new color on top. so i tried to do a little test and scratched lightly with my fingernail. the paint scratched right off. i already had the whole painting blocked in, so i was not amused. i took it to the sink, and the entire thing washed right off. so i dried it, checked the package to make sure it was made for acrylic ONE MORE TIME. package said it was suitable for oils and i thought...maybe if i sand it first. so i did, and i re-started. seemed better. the tint coat didn't bead up this time. so i started painting again. from the photo you can see what happened. had the whole thing blocked in...seemed better...tried the scratch test...seemed ok...then the bad part. i made a mistake while painting, and tried to wipe it off while the paint was still wet. i do this ALL the time on canvas and paper. the dang paint wiped right off and TOOK EVERY LAYER down to the "gesso". so i brought it back to the sink, and you can see what happened with a wipe of paper towel. so i am DONE with this "gessoed" panel. it's now in the trash.

i feel better now. i am always telling the kids about product failure at school. that sometimes things don't work, and that is part of the artistic process. but i am still mad, and want to write the speedball company a big fat letter. i know i won't, but it still feels good to say so.

if you don't know me well, you may not know that i tend to vent with a big bunch of words. i just did...

now back to the proverbial drawing board.

Monday, April 26, 2010


this is the box i have been working on this week. i used a set of old type-written letters from a guy living in italy to his mom to cover the box. i tried about a million things in the center, and nothing would work. i spent all day sunday putting different things inside, but it all looked either forced or lame. this morning i was walking into the kitchen and saw this nest i made from wire and string sitting on the ledge...and that was it! all i had to do was add the red thread and sew the glass beads inside. that little nest took me a couple of hours to make. i don't know how the birds do it.

anyway, i like it! when i went to look for some scrap of ephemera to put behind the nest, i found another letter home from italy--this time from another person. on the back i have adhered an air mail envelope from italy, too.

this one won't go into the shop until the show on may 21st either. but i just can't resist putting it on the web.

Monday, April 19, 2010

bird box 2

This is a detail of my new "bird box 2". i kinda like this one. it will be hard to give up. i got the carved birds at the antique mall the other day. they were so cool, that i went right home and built this box. my dear friend johnine sent me the little memo book with that awesome scrawl in grapite. and i got the flocked wallpaper at amy's shop, the pink attic cat, in littleton. it's on the website, but won't go into the store until the show in may. i gotta have some new stuff to wow the crowds! hahaha!

tired tonight. this life with two jobs is killing me. only a few more weeks of school. then i can stop and rest for a minute.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


it's finished. all i need is glass. i always put the glass in last so that i can photograph the boxes without it. then there's no glare to deal with.

i glue in the pieces using gel medium. i have found it's better than any kind of other glue because it dries clear, is really strong, and is also flexible. it also has a long drying time, so you can adjust things a little as you get the pieces put in. way better than epoxy, once you are past the 5 minute drying time, you are unable to move anything.

i also finished bird box 2 and am really happy with it. i think i'll photograph it tonight and get it on the site. i'm thinking i may leave it out of the store until the show. i want to make sure there is some new stuff that nobody has seen yet. i am also buying up some fun and different things that i will have for sale. funky magnets, cool necklaces, lots of found objects and ephemera. i just hope i can get it all together before then.