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A New & Natural Dream is Born

I discovered something incredible today… something that filled my heart with excitement of the possibilities of the future. I love discoveries like these!

While meandering online this afternoon, reading photography articles and other such creative things.. I stumbled on this section of the National Park Service website and swear my world was forever changed. I’d heard about artist-in-residency programs before… but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the national parks of our country had them!

Basically, if you are selected to participate, they provide you housing (usually a quiant little cabin) for 2-4 weeks, in which you are free to explore and discover and create your art in the gorgeous solitude of our land’s national parks. My love of nature and art wrapped up all into one. I can scarcely believe it, and already imagine spending an entire day just photographing how the light changes when it hits a specific mountain or tree.. another day photographing the tiniest insects all around me.. and yet another climbing up mountains to get a sweeping landscape view at dusk. All the while recording every last detail of my journey in a diary and sharing it with the world.

I don’t know when, and I don’t know how… but someday I will do this. It has sparked a plan for next year’s 12 month project already.. to get my photography to a level that I will stand a chance at being selected. I’m not quite where I want to be yet – and I don’t have all the equipment I would need… but I will. I don’t care how long it takes, I will apply year after year until I am accepted. Ahhh to discover something new to hang your passion and determination on.. what a feeling.


Etching Process Complete!

I finished etching the final piece of glass today. Although the final photo will not be done until next week, I went ahead and took a few shots of the process and the finished piece. I’ve got to remember to be better about taking pictures during the process – as I’m often so into actually making the thing that I often forget about pictures! I did manage to get a few of the process for this one. First, I taped off the edges of the mirror to make a nice border, and then placed the vinyl stick-on letters (found in the drafting section of Hobby Lobby) on a piece of plastic laid over the top of the mirror. This was to get the letter spacing and positioning of words where I wanted them before putting directly on the mirror.

Next, I drew some guidelines with a pencil onto the mirror to help keep all the letters straight. Once I had some guidelines in place, I began peeling the letters off and placing them directly on the mirror – one at a time. This was a little time consuming to get just right – some words were spaced too far out and I ran out of room and had to remove and restick. Fortunately the vinyl stick-on letters worked well for this. Once I got all the letters in place as I wanted them, it was time to put on the etching cream. Gloves on first – as this stuff is very corrosive and you don’t want it touching your hands! Working quickly – and with an old brush I didn’t mind damaging with the cream – I laid on thick layers of etching cream to the glass. All the areas where mirror is visible will be etched. The cream sits on surface for about 5-10 minutes and then rinsed off in the sink or tub. I washed the glass with soap as well after, just to make sure none of the cream remained. Now for the best part! Pulling off all the letters and tape to reveal the final piece!





Glass Etching Test

First test of using the glass etching cream! I used duct tape to mask off a rectangle on the bottle. The letters were vinyl stickers bought in the drafting supplies dept at hobby lobby. Then you just apply the cream to the glass, wait 5 minutes, and rinse off. Easy stuff. Pretty happy with it.

Next I need to go to Goodwill and collect some old mirrors. The idea is to make an etched homeless sign on a mirror or old window glass and photograph a homeless individual holding it. I think it will serve as such a strong symbol to the invisibility that these people so often feel.

Feeling good about this project – as I don’t usually do creative work that has a message of protest or humanitarian meaning behind it. This is a very new and different thing for me… and certainly a little scary. But I’m excited to be doing it.



Inspiration: Kirsty Mitchell

A friend of mine and fellow artist sent me a link to this photographer’s website last week… I can scarcely believe it’s taken me this long to share her with you!

Every once in a while – and not so very often – you come across an artist who leaves you speechless and reawakens something inside you. That place inside you that is bursting with wonder and longs to believe in a fantastical world.

Kirsty Mitchell’s photography has done just that for me. I dream of creating the kind of wonder that she has created in her most recent series entitled Wonderland. This series has come about after a tragic time in her life in which her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor. During that time, she took up photography as a way to cope with her mother’s illness – doing mostly self portraits and street photography. Her mother passed on in 2008, but her passion for photography remained and expanded. This series so eloquently brings together her extensive experience as a fashion designer (yes folks, she makes all the sets and costumes herself!) in culmination with her photography. Below are a few of my favorite photos from the series. To see more of Kirsty’s stunning work, visit her website here.

Second Quarter Update

I’m halfway through this year-long project now. It’s amazing that it has been going on for 6 months already. In my first quarter update, I recalled a few key things I had learned and experienced thus far… newfound confidence in my own creative ability, learning to connect and create together with others, and learning to let go of expectations and allow the juices to flow.

I’d say all of these things have been further enforced over the last few months, too. I’ve also learned some other important things…

Thinking Forward
Coming to the halfway mark has got me thinking about how I can continue this project next year in new ways… perhaps I will narrow it down to a 12 Month project on photography or nature art? Or perhaps I will expand it to allow others to follow along and contribute their projects and processes along with me? Another option will be to focus next year on continuing and completing many projects.. as I have started to compile quite a list of projects that were either too big and complex to do in one month, or that I ran out of time to fully complete in a month. Whichever direction things go in, it’s exciting to be thinking about where things will go from here!

The Importance of A Passion Refill
I recently heard on the radio the well-known quote “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” (Diane Ackerman). I have always loved this saying. It has come back up at the right time for me, and made me think about some things in a new light.

In the past three of four months, I’ve really picked up a more active lifestyle. I’m in better shape than I’ve probably been in ten years, and because of that, I’m suddenly excited about new activities I never thought I could really do before. I’m positively obsessed with indoor rock climbing (surely my climbing buddies can attest to this – as it’s all I talk about all week and I become an enormous dork, exploding with excitement, on climbing days). I love everything about it.. the physical challenge, the teamwork, the strategy and planning involved. It gets a completely different side of my brain working – and is positively refreshing in the most glorious of ways.

The beau and I are taking a kayaking lesson in a few weeks too, and going to a practice session this week as well. We’ve also been camping, hiking and swimming like crazy. All of this physical activity and being outdoors is filling me with incredible amounts of passion! But of course, while I am out scaling walls or hiking trails… I am not working on my creative projects! *gasp*

I’ve struggled with this for months now. Almost every month, without fail, I end up “wasting” the first 2 weeks gallivanting about with other activities that I love while my precious project gets downgraded to secondary. Naturally, it looks like procrastination. But it doesn’t really feel like procrastination. It feels like I am allowing myself to experience all the things that bring me joy and fill me with passion, instead of forcing myself to only have one.

I’ve started to realize that just because I set my project aside a bit for a few weeks does not mean that I am procrastinating. There is nothing bad about setting one thing aside for a short bit as long as I feel right with it. It’s when I feel a need to avoid the project out of some kind of fear that I must make sure to focus on it and not other things.

Making the choice to do other things that fill me with passion during those first few weeks actually seems to be a good thing. It typically leaves me feeling refreshed with with loads of energy to be passionate about my projects and committed to getting them done. So, I have decided that taking a break to refill my passion for a short time is really quite important to the process of creating and to the joy of my life. After all, if I imagine holding myself up in a room and forcing myself to create things while neglecting everything else that fills me with joy – well that sounds like exactly the opposite of what I wanted to create out of this 12 Month project! Certainly not a way to foster childlike wonder and the idea of doing and creating just because you love it. Granted, there are times when you won’t love a project, and you must push yourself to do it or finish it… but that should not be the norm.

So here’s to being an excited croc! – Embracing all your passions so that you are so fully inspired and so bursting with creative energy from all the joy you have experienced that you simply cannot WAIT to let it out in something wonderfully creative, crafty, and clever!!




Glass Etching Methods

I’ve spent the last week or so doing a bit of research on glass etching for this month’s project. I’ve found that there are basically two main methods for doing glass etching: corrosive cream or sand-blasting. Being a chick who loves big, fancy power tools.. the idea of doing some hardcore sand-blasting certainly sounds like a lot of fun! I will likely end up having to go the route of the corrosive cream instead, for cost purposes and lack of having a giant awesome sand-blaster. Darnit!

The below video demonstrates these two methods in a pretty basic and easy-to-understand way. The creation of stencils is not covered in this video though, so going to do a bit more looking around to find some good examples of different ways to create designs. Enjoy!

Announcing the June Project!

Wow I can’t believe we are at month 6 already. Halfway over and it seems like it has gone so fast!

I’m not gonna lie… when I first drew the cards for this month I almost redrew because of the utter ridiculousness of the combination. But then thought for a moment… and realized that really is the point of this whole 12 month project -and  that is what makes this combo soooo fantastic too! I already have an idea swimming about in my noggin for this one. Now I am off to research how to etch glass – since I have never in my life done much of anything with glass other than look at it, eat off it or drink out of it. =P


May: Mercury Rising

The finished piece for May is here! If you recall, the project for this month was “nature art” and the theme was “outer space”. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get the full project complete due to being under the weather for about half of the month. My original plan was to do all of the planets in proportion to each other, made out of different natural objects like the one shown here. Mercury being the smallest, only about 3 inches in diameter… Saturn was to reach a diameter of about 7 feet!

For creating Mercury, all of the pebbles and snail shells were collected and arranged by hand, one-by-one. The entire piece took about two hours to create and photograph.. and several days before that experimenting with various materials.

I chose the snail shells because they were similar in color to the surface of Mercury and lended to the idea of the its cratered surface. After trying several backgrounds to surround the shells, I loved the look of the red pebbles as well the coloring – which reminded me of Mercury’s proximity to the sun.

I still hope to continue this project throughout the year and finish the rest of the planets. I’ve really enjoyed the time wandering out in nature that this month has afforded me. It reminded me of how much I love making things from natural objects and how much I’ve lost touch with that living in the big city over the years. I’m very grateful to have rediscovered this and have come away with many new ideas for nature art projects down the road. For now, I decided not to beat myself up over not getting totally done. I’m very happy with how Mercury came out – and it’s a good start to an ongoing project for the future!


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