Friday, February 2, 2018


You don't have to drink Tea to love Tea bags! I do love an occasional organic cup of herbal tea and more so,I especially love the time set aside to enjoy that tea in quiet moments that are normally far and few between. With the on going tea bag art craze, I save all my bags, but when your coffee clearly out numbers your tea, then I call upon my tea drinking friends to save me theirs. It is really amazing how resilient tea bags are and how lovingly they take almost any medium. As much as I love painting them, I decided to reach outside the box and replace the contents with some soul calming organic flowers and herbs. 

They make the perfect vessel for sachets bags which I refer to now as "Aroma-Tea", simply life after Tea.. that also comes with a special bonus..

 Not only is it fun to create on the tea bag, it is also super calming to the senses, smelling all those lovely herbs and aroma's.

 I really love to give these back to my friends who so generously spent time with me sharing moments, drinking the tea, supporting and encouraging me along my journeys. Aroma Tea bags are also just nice reminders for stop, slow down and breathe, and be extra kind to yourself . . ...everyday.

Saturday, January 6, 2018


                    There's Something About The Circus

There is just something about the Circus. I never resist the urge to play with Teesha Moore's collage images. So when  it became my time this month to do a post for Retro Cafe Art Gallery as a member of the Design Team, I found myself looking at one of Retro's awesome Circus Shrine Kits and so it all begins with a Circus!
                               Left Side of Tent
I have to begin by saying that I always find it difficult to keep my mind on track and I am always altering kits and sometimes merging several together. It's so easy to do and fun with all the interactive kits and supplies that Retro Cafe offers, making for endless possibilities.
You don't have too, but I always gesso my pieces first just because it gives a lighter base for your paint and your images adhere well. 

The first thing I did was to glue the box together first, paint it and give it a vintage look by wiping on some Golden Van Dyke Brown Hue and lightly wiping it off. Next I added my inside images and circus floor image distressing them with Tim Holtz's Distress Ink Pads. 
 I continued on the sides and back of the box doing the same, painting and adding images.
                                 Right side of tent

                                           Back of tent
Once the sides and back were completed and dry, I painted the circus tent and glued it to the front of the box. While the tent was drying, I started on the articulated doll that comes with the Circus Shrine Kit. This doll's body is glued in a slot in the top of the box behind the tent. ( I made an error here and forgot to keep my slot free and clear of paint and gesso which dried and prevented me from inserting the doll into the  slot. Easy fix, I cut off the expended piece and glued the front of the dolls body to the back of the tent). 

Designing the doll is one of my favorite parts. Retro Cafe has a large variety of faces available as well as some Circus Collage images. The personality of my doll always starts with the face. The face I used was a Marie Antoinette paper cut. I painted the dolls body first back and front and then attached her arms by using the brads included. Then I glued on her face and made her a hat fit for a Mermaid Circus. After adding her head and hat, It seemed something  was still needed. And there it was, she didn't have a Mermaid body!  I scoured through my Teesha images and found one that would fit and of course you can easily make your own.
I glued the image to one of the packing pieces that you get when you order the paper cuts, cut out the tail and glued it to the back.

Speaking of the back side, you don't have to complete the back, I just choose too because I love the whole assemblage thing and I love adding paint and images where ever space allows me. To the back of the tail, I painted it black and added the words:
"And just when she thought her luck had run out, the Mermaid Circus came to town".

The front was now dry and I added one of Retro's vintage labels and wrote the words: "Mermaid Circus" and glued it on the front of the tent.

Just when I thought  I was finished, it occurred to me that somewhere in my "stuff", I had a mini articulated Mermaid Doll from Retro Cafe that would be perfect to add to the front.. and so she was.
To finish her off and make her sparkle, I added some random dots of Diamond Stickles to her body.

I do hope you enjoyed the Circus. 

"Those are the Best Days".



Acrylic Paint
Images of your choice

P.S. When you create your own Circus, I would love to have a ticket!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


All of the times she visited, she had never been up to the top floor. The door was always shut and a barrier placed in front which usually meant it was off limits to lookers...

On her last trip an older woman was running the shop, someone she had never seen before. She never left town on her visits before stopping at her favorite oddity shop that she stumbled across quite by accident. It seems that the owner had taken ill and the shop was being watched by her elderly mother who was just as pleasant and friendly as her daughter. There was a bathroom upstairs on the second floor and from there you could see a short flight of stairs that led to the top floor with a door at the end of the short hallway that was always cracked with a chair in front of it as a way of saying "off limits". After a brief chat with the shop keeper and a long look around mostly waiting for the rain to stop and picking up a few items, she made her way upstairs to the bathroom. The elderly woman offered her a look in the room upstairs making to sure to mention that there wasn't much of anything up there except a dusty storage room with items that were broken, or in need of repair. She apparently was unaware that her daughter was very protective of that room and never let anyone up there mostly due to the room being in disarray and a place for overflow. Based on the quirky items she purchased that day and the fact that it was still pouring outside, she thought it was a nice gesture of the shop keeper, who also didn't mind her company on that quiet day. She tried not to show her excitement as she had always wanted to venture into that room just from the peeks of the cracked door, and probably more so that it was off limits. She could always see just enough that she knew it was a catch all room and a place that boxes were stored and probably not looked at again for sometime. As she made her way from the bathroom to the top floor, the giving of the wooden stairs and the creaking of each step brought back old memories of going to play in her grandmother's attic. Upon entering the room, it was an odd shape and shared an unused half bath that was also filled with boxes and random items, mostly things that were not presentable for sale and most likely were broken or needed repair. She spend a longer time than she normally would looking through old magazines and musty books and linens she found in an old vintage wallpaper crate. It was difficult to see as it was cloudy outside and the light was not good from the lamp in the corner. After awhile she took it as a sign that is was time to go when the sun's rays came shinning through the lace curtains of the two small windows and the rain had stopped. Just as she was moving boxes back where she found them, she saw it.... in the corner on the floor, hidden behind a bag of vintage clothes. It was the beautiful carving that caught her eye.

 Unsure of what it was, she already knew that it was something special. As she pulled it out and dusted it off, she saw writing, the kind of script from an antique fountain pen.

 It was laying flat open much like a writing desk, not the kind that a school child would use, but because of it's simple and ornate beauty , more the kind that a writer or an artist would have made and carried with them on their travels. 

As she gently picked it up to investigate the mystery of her extraordinary find, she gasped when she realized it folded up into a beautiful box. It appeared very old and something that was very loved. There were other random items with it and she knew right away that no amount of time can change the heart. . .  . this was a Dream Box.

All the above is true. It was just an ordinary afternoon, but the time spent in the top room felt comfortable and familiar. The shop keeper or her daughter did not know of it's origin, and did not even recall having it. She thought it must have been brought in with other items that were picked up and stored and apparently had been in the corner of that room for a long time. She was not even aware that it folded up into a box. She was more than happy to sell me the items I found along with the box. You could tell she had done this for many years and the excitement for her had been dimmed by years of collecting and probably having more than she needed. She was more about the sale and chatting with me over the coffee she offered than anything that I discovered or was buying. She wasn't interested in researching the box or it's value and she priced it at a cost that made us both happy. The memory of that day still fondly lingers with me and this box is probably one of my most sweetest finds. It was obviously handmade with love and could have been used by a writer or an artist. . .  but most definitely, a Dreamer.

Description and Box Dimensions:

This is what I think would be called an Antique Portable Writing Desk or Artist Desk. I did some research and I found a few on line but none with the character that this box has. I discovered and came to the conclusion that a box like this one is rare and hard to find. I have yet to see or find any that appear to be as old as this one that still contain some  original writing or have the beautiful handmade carvings inside. You only have to touch and feel it to know that someone spent a lot of time filling this box with dreams.

This is a gorgeous piece and I am happy to share it with you. If you are interested in purchasing it, you can find it listed in my Etsy Shop. A perfectly wonderful gift for a collector of antiques, a writer, an artist  or those like me who just love to dream.

Size: 14 3/4 inches long
8 1/2 inches deep
6 1/2 inches tall
unfolded - opened as desk, 17 inches across from top to bottom.

Wood: unknown, handmade dove tailed corners
Box closes and opens with ease. Key fits but lock does not work, may need cleaned or worked with.

Items included with box: 
One vintage cabinet card
One vintage postcard
handmade welded heart
Antique skeleton key on vintage ribbon
glass piece, shell, handmade bird nest (added) 
feather, paper, vintage/antique watercolor paint tin - Kroma Water Colors from the American Crayon Company,
Vintage lace and glass charm, ribbon, handmade blank art journal with 4 signatures each with 6 pages.
The top of box was hand painted and altered by me.

"As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don't see a room full of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don't see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No. I address you all tonight as you truly are:
wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians.
You are truly the dreamers."
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Dream on....


Monday, December 4, 2017


I've never been good at giving directions, at least not in the normal sense. I don't notice street signs as much as I do the color of houses or the shape of buildings. Sometimes I start on my way and then I veer to another path if I see something interesting that peaks my curiosity. The same thing happens with my art. I can begin with precise directions and before you know it, I am wandering off, paving my own path. But I think that's how all art should be, learning to pave your own path and listening to your heart's direction.

This month's post for Retro Café Art Gallery started with an Antique China Doll ATC Shrine Kit from Retro. Once assembled, this little Shrine makes a wonderful place for housing some of your favorite Art Trading Cards. One of my favorite things is having a really cute space for my business cards or those business cards of favorite shops I am always hunting for. It didn't take long into the process to find myself "wandering". Hence, I love the quote: "All who wander are not  lost",  perhaps they are just following their heart's direction.

If I am painting and not using paper, I always start by giving all the parts a nice layer of gesso.

While the gesso is drying, I am thinking along the lines of what embellishments or cutouts I might use. As you can see by this photo and the end result of  my piece, I already switched direction and did not use the shells.

Next, paint one layer of ivory acrylic paint on the box or shrine body. Once dry, glue the shrine box together. Once that is dry, give a second layer of ivory paint to the box after assembled which will fill in any cracks and make everything extra sturdy. The decorative embellishment that goes on top is optional but I decided to use it because I was already thinking that I could loop some wire through the holes.
Next, I added doors to the front, which are also optional. Using washi tape, I lined them up and taped them to the sides, then I painted over the tape with a layer of gesso and acrylic paint.
 To the front doors, I decided to add these adorable mini door knobs. I didn't care for the bright gold so I gave them a coating of Golden Van Dyke Brown acrylic paint.
On the inside, I cut and added the words from Tim Holtz "Small Talk" which says:

 "What seems ordinary is often extraordinary, listen to your heart it will show you the way." 

Then I added some grungy paint and used a black pen to line and circle around the words.
 On the back side, I used a stamp on paper first and glued it on. Then I added Tim Holtz Alpha Cubes for feet which gave the Shrine a little more height. 
To the sides, I added some paper embellishments that I had in my stash. Next, I painted two skeleton key cut outs and then rubbed on Inka Gold (Copper) to give them that vintage appearance. I attached them with annealed wire through the holes on the top of the shrine.
 I attached my head piece last and added a Fish Paper Cut because it reminded me of what a sweet friend and mentor once told me, "Be like the fish that swims up stream, go your own direction."
 To the top of her head I added a large Moth Paper Cut to a thicker backing and glued it to her forehead as a reminder that not a day goes by that I am not in "The Presence of Wonder".


Acrylic Paint 
Rubber Word Stamp
Artist papers


I love the Santos Doll Kits at Retro Cafe Art Gallery, all sizes of them. Working really small is generally out of my comfort zone so I tend to put those things aside until the moment finds me. At Christmas time I love to decorate my tree with handmade ornaments and ornaments that represent the things I love, so I thought this was a perfect time to put this doll together and make her an ornament for my tree.
She is very basic and simple to put together. You position her arms the way you want them and then glue them on. With a variety of mini paper cut faces at Retro, you have a lot to choose from for her face,
the same for wings.
 I also used Tim Holtz Idea-ology Small Talk Words in white and they fit the all the little cage slats perfectly. Then I just distressed the edges of them.

The little wooden embellishment I used for wings, I found in a package in the wood section at Hobby Lobby.I pick up embellishments wherever I go. The little brass Christmas Tree and trinkets hanging from her arm were tied on a package I received from a sweet artist friend, Diana Darden. There are a lot of ways to personalize this mini Santos Doll. 
Lastly, I gave some gold to the edges of the doll's body, and added wire to her wings for hanging. 

Now I have a a memorable easy to make Mini Santos Doll Ornament and I can't wait to get it on my tree!
Acrylic Gold and Ivory Paint
Annealed Wire
Wood wings-
Lots of Wing Options at Retro. 
Just put wings in the search box. 

and May your Tree be full of SPARKLES!