Monday, March 6, 2017


I sent this card to our pastor as he is undergoing some medical tests.  I sprayed Dylusions London Blue ink spray through a couple of stencils.  The stamp is a large Stampendous set (the card is 5"x7"), and the sail is pieced from a page of a falling-apart copy of Milton's complete works. Since it was from his essay on church government, it seemed appropriate.

The Stampendous Fran Seiford stamp set (Cling Sailboats) comes with its own stencil and dies to cut out the stamps, but I didn't use them this time as I had this background already made. The "God Bless You" is a Brittania die

I'm thinking of entering it in the Simon Says Monday challenge "Make Your Own Background" featuring Dylusions products.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I am in search of a cartoonish rubber cat stamp as pictured here.  I don't even know who manufactured or designed the stamp.  If anyone could help me or has one to sell, I would be most appreciative.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I've had to wait almost a year to post this, but now that my art group has returned the round robin color art journals back to the original owners, I can show you a two-page spread I made for my friend Laura.  Her color was green, and I was in a Zentangling mood.  It took forever --  just figuring out what patterns to use where and how to shade and color -- but it was so much fun. I think we all enjoy creating our own little worlds. Hope you enjoy mine.  Don't you wonder who lives in the little houses?

Laura loves hummingbirds, so that is why you have the bird's eye view of the landscape below.  I used a Cheery Lynn Lace Hummingbird die and backed it with dry embossed Elizabeth Craft blue iris Shimmer Sheetz. I used dozens of Copics on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper.

Here is the beginning layout.

Materials used:
Cheery Lynn Lace Hummingbird die B194

Elizabeth Craft Blue Iris Shimmer Sheetz
Strathmore Bristol Smooth 100 lb. paper
Copic markers

Saturday, April 13, 2013


World author Chinua Achebe died on March 21, 2013 in Boston. He was born in Nigeria, the son of a teacher in a missionary school. His parents were devout Protestant evangelicals who also instilled in him many of the values of their traditional Igbo culture. He is known primarily for his novels describing the effects of Western customs and values on traditional African society. 

He worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service for many years, taught at the University of Nigeria and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, published several literary journals including Okike, and won innumerable awards including the international Man Booker Prize. He was an ardent supporter of Biafran independence, an advocate for the African voice in literature and life, was unfortunately paralyzed from the waist down in a 1990 auto accident, and spent his final 23 years as a professor at Bard College and Brown University. 

Most importantly, he brought African literature by Africans to the attention of the rest of the world.  I taught his novels every year that I taught World Literature or Black African and Black American Literature. What impresses me most about Achebe is not just his novels, but his explorations about language and identity.

Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, who used to write in English now writes in Gikuyu (spoken by 6 million people and 22% of the Kenyan population)) because he feels that the use of English perpetuates colonial imperialism. His choice should be honored, but it does limit the exposure of his work and subjects it to someone else's translation.

        The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. 
         Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.

Achebe, however, took the English he learned at school and made it his own, incorporating the storytelling lilt of his native culture, Igbo proverbs and words, and the pervasive sense of community. 

      Is it right that a man should abandon his mother tongue for someone
      else's? It looks like a dreadful betrayal and produces a guilty feeling.
      But for me there is no other choice. I have been given the language
      and I intend to use it.

      I feel that the English language will be able to carry the weight
      of my African experience. But it will have to be a new English,
      still in full communion with its ancestral home but altered to suit
      new African surroundings. (Achebe, "The African Writer and the 
     English Language")

Do read Achebe's novels, but also read his essays on language and social injustice. Read his "Issues in African History" and, if you are a Christian, think about what our moral responsibilities and attitudes should be. 

     African frustration was compounded by the inconsistency between, 
     on the one hand, universalistic Christian ideals (for Christianity spread 
     widely during the colonial period, as did Islam) and liberal political ideas 
     which colonialism introduced into Africa, and, on the other hand, the 
     discrimination and racism which marked colonialism everywhere.
     This discrepancy deepened during the Second World War, when the 
     British and French exhorted their African subjects to provide military 
     service and labor for a war effort which was intended, in part, to uphold 
     the principle of national self-determination. Post-war Africans were well 
     aware that they were being denied the very rights for which they and their 
     colonial masters had fought.

     This deepening sense of frustration and injustice set in motion the events 
     which would lead to national independence for most of Africa by the mid-1960s.
     (Achebe, "Issues in African History")

Read Achebe's criticism of Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness and see if you agree. Read Achebe's essay "An Africa Voice." 

     The last four or five hundred years of European contact with Africa produced
     a body of literature that presented Africa in a very bad light and Africans in
     very lurid terms. The reason for this had to do with the need to justify the 
     slave trade and slavery. … This continued until the Africans themselves, 
     in the middle of the twentieth century, took into their own hands the telling
     of their story. (Achebe, “An African Voice”) 

And finally....   

     There is that great proverb—until the lions have their own historians, 
     the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. Once I realized that, 
     I had to be a writer. It's not one man's job. It's not one person's job. But 
     it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect 
     the agony, the travail—the bravery, even, of the lions." (Chinua Achebe) 

You might ask who the hunters of your life are and if you are writing your own story. For my art friends, stories are not always written in words. Sometimes, too, the hunters are not people or cultures, but our own inertia.  Go write, go create, go tell your story. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012


As I've mentioned before, I belong to an ATC Club (Artist's Trading Cards) that has been meeting at our local stamp store for the past four years. Five of the members are original to the group.  We meet once a month, trade our ATCs, talk a lot, and someone does a demo. Lately, we've been meeting earlier for dinner at a local restaurant.  We go on road trips to stamp stores, shows, and to each other's homes to work on projects.  The ATC ladies are some of my dearest friends; they are so funny, creative, and supportive.  

The gentleman to the right is from the Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz collection, CMS072. The trimmed bird cage is a Memory Box Poppy Stamp die.

Each of us takes a turn to select the theme for the month, and this month it was Steampunk.  Because we select the themes a year in advance, we've been collecting gears, stamps, hardware, charms, and odd bits and pieces for months.  We all admitted that we have enough stuff to do hundreds of steampunk ATCs.

I used a combination of rubber and digital stamps. The lady to your right is the first one I picked up; it's a Stampington rubber stamp called "Temptress." I cut out a stencil of her to white wash the design paper background, blurring the edges, before embossing the lady on top.

Viva Las Vegas Stamps has a great selection of steampunk stamps, including the darling elephant and giraffe ones here.  I also bought the horse, fish, cat, and camel. 

Leslie named the elephant "Metalaphant."

The elephant and giraffe paper is something I've had in my travel stash forever, made by Paper Pizazz. 

VLV also carries the coolest steampunk tape, which comes in big rolls like packing tape. I used the hinge design to connect the two parts of my Crystal Palace ATC, but VLV also carries O-ring, tower bolt, and strap designs. 

Because steampunk merges the Victorian and the industrial, I made an historical ATC celebrating the Crystal Palace. (You can see shades of my former career as a teacher of British literature here.) Our group likes ATCs that give the background of things. The image of the Crystal Palace is off the Internet and printed on design paper. The Victorian gentleman is also a VLV stamp.
The Crystal Palace was a cast-iron and plate-glass building (1,851 feet long by 128 feet high) originally erected in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. The six-month event, originally conceived of by artist and inventor Henry Cole and heartily supported by Prince Albert, was designed to showcase the industrial, military and econmic superiority of Great Britain. Over 6 million visitors viewed more than 14,000 displays and inventions from all over the British Empire, including a Jacquard loom, an envelope machine, a stuffed elephant, a collection of the largest gems ever mined, the McCormick reaper, daguerreotopes of illustrious Americans by Matthew Brady, new Colt firearms, and a dirigible. The Crystal Palace was almost outshone by the park in which it stood, which contained enormous sculptures, exotic plants, and a magnificent series of fountains. Some 120,000 gallons of water were piped through daily, an engineering feat in itself. The Crystal Palace was later moved to Sydenham Hill and was the site of many events until destroyed by fire in 1936.

The rather bawdy steampunk chick is a Kenny K digital stamp; this one is called Scarlett West. The Spellbinders banner die is designed to match JustRite stamps, but I stretched a VLV "Steampunk" stamp in a curve to stamp on it instead. The background paper is DCWV's Tattered Time matstack, which is just full of great embossed papers (4.5" by 6.5').   

The gears on these ATCs are from various sources: Tim Holtz, watch parts I bought on E-bay, washers from hardware stores, and charms from bead shops, stamp stores, and E-bay.

Vincent Ballard provides beautiful free digital images on his blog Crafty Moments, and he's really into steampunk lately. This is my favorite and was so much fun to color and decorate -- although I am still peeling  Glossy Accents off my finger tips.

Check out Vincent's blog. His artwork and cards are amazing, and he's such a nice guy. Some stamp company ought to commission him to design their stamps.

I love cats even more than I love stamps, and their mysterious ways just lend themselves to steampunkery. The globe is an Internet image cut out, the cat and the saying are VLV, and the cat's glasses are twisted jump rings I bought at the bead shop. 

It's hard to tell in the picture, but the eyes and the fur are enhanced with Twinkling H20s.

The corners on this ATC and the bawdy chick ATC are made with Cheery Lynn Lace Corner Deco Dies B.

This last steampunk ATC is alcohol inks on dry embossed metal; the F.E. Linus stamp is Stampendous; and the background page is from an old literature text of my mother's. I have trouble tearing up a book, even an old one, but the pages in this one are yellowed and crumbly, and I have all the poems and prose in other texts.  I thought "The Bird" poem by 17th-century poet Henry Vaughan was propitious in the circumstances.

There are nine ATCs and nine ladies in our group, the same number of pockets on the acetate baseball card sheets we use to display them. Most of us do nine different designs, but occasionally, either because of time constraints or a design just too good not to duplicate, someone will do all the same. Everyone has a different style; I can usually tell whose is whose without looking at the back. In my next blog entry, I'll show you some of the others that I got to take home. I have four binders full of amazing small works of art, each one a remembrance of dear friends and good times.

I know this was a long blog entry, but perhaps it will make up for my silence of the last couple of months.  (We have had non-stop company, a graduation, a wedding, a family reunion, and three trips out of town, but things should settle down now for a bit.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Spring jumped the gun this year in Connecticut. I heard songbirds in the second week of February, a month during which we are normally encased in snow. The daffodils, tulips and hyacinths bloomed early, my hydrangeas are putting out leaves, and my peonies are knee high. The plum trees burst forth into blossom during a sweet week of 70-degree weather in early March and then...the month that came in like a lamb roared out like a lion. Temperatures dropped below freezing. 

George was worried that we'd lose the fruit in the orchard (as though the squirrels don't always get there before us anyway) or that the trees would be damaged. He remembered reading in his Weekly Reader (the little educational newspaper distributed in most U.S. elementary schools) eons ago about saving the fruit trees in Florida from unseasonal frost by spraying them with water and using smudge pots. We didn't have smudge pots, so...

Time will only tell whether or not the plum trees (or the peach, apple, pear, and cherry trees) will produce fruit this year, but the ice forest George produced with the sprinkler was impressive.  

The funny thing is that I remember reading the same Weekly Reader article in a DoD school in Germany, 4,500 miles away from where George read it in Kansas.  
Weekly Reader published its first issue on September 21, 1928, and is still going strong.  Today it is read by 7 million children.  What a long arm of influence that tiny little newspaper has had.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This time last year, the ground was covered with snow, but spring has shown up early in Connecticut now. The temperature is in the 70s. I should be outside clearing the garden beds and enjoying the early crocuses and daffodils, but Just-Rite's Challenge #068 (one color plus black & white) lured me back into the studio.

I took inspiration from Tosha Lyendekker who made a rosette from the Just-Rite Cast All Your Cares border. It really is the most beautiful border.

Materials used:
Spellbinders Dies:  Labels Twenty
Paper: Queen & Co. Flourish, Bo Bunny Passion Fruit Flourish, Paper Pizazz Bright Tints Swirl