Art By Necessity

My husband (and I - but it's mostly his) owns the oldest comic book shop in our city (26 years!). It's not in this location any more, but when we first opened, we needed signage and, although my father is a wonderful artist and was a signpainter for many years, I had to paint our signs myself (I'll skip the childhood angst stuff - suffice it to say he didn't want to). Well, I had never painted much at all, but I always say that I can generally do a fairly decent job if I'm inspired. So paint I did...

Oops, OK, my dad helped some- he "blew up" this pic of Captain America for me, so all I had to do was trace it on the door and paint it. I thought this was the greatest thing - definitely made our store recognizable!
Heres' a closer shot

Then the business 2 doors down wanted a sign, so I did another (don't worry, they didn't pay much for it!)
Then I painted another for the beauty shop next door - I was on a roll! I was only working part time in those days, so I had the time! These are old film photos, sorry they're not clearer, but it was a long time ago! So, BTW, don't try calling any of these places - they're long gone! (Hey, wait, our store's phone number is still the same! Give him a call if you need comic book related items!) OK,enough of my shameless promoting of the shop (It's at 4400 Heatherdowns, by the way)....  :o)


The Leaves of Winter

The snow had melted some, so I went out to check my "inventory" of raw cement pieces I still have. "Hey!" I thought, "Not much more to do!" ..Then I looked to the left, And noticed....

OY! I guess I still have a while to go.....The large painted one is the largest Castor Bean leaf I've ever done - but it's too bulky to take anywhere!

While, indoors, here's one finished and one waiting....


Work Is Continuing

I have been on a quest for white cement (or any kind of a white cement or concrete product - mortar, resurfacer, whatever) ever since I cast my first piece, because I know the colors would be so much more vibrant if they were painted on white instead of grey. For some reason, everytime I read something ANYWHERE that goes like, "AND it can be found at any of your local home and garden stores!", OURS doesn't carry it. I have a Lowe's, a Home Depot, and a Menard's all within a couple miles of my house, and they don't carry white cement products, or things like smaller diameter copper pipe than 1/2" (which I could really use, also), etc., - and if I ask them if they can special order it, they all tell me No, in that special way that REALLY means, " Yeah, right! And go through a little extra work for YOU? No Way!". So much for being helpful to the do it yourselfers - sure,they can help, as long as it's something they already have in store! Yes, I have found it online, but I'm not paying shipping costs for CEMENT!

My second choice would be to paint a base coating of white, but the colors don't blend as easily on white paint. I HAVE found that white primer works quite well, and of course it is primer, so it would bond the paint to the piece better, and, although I usually don't have trouble with the paint adhering, it couldn't hurt! Here's my first try at a primed Rhubarb leaf, and I'm really happy with it! (Yes, the "worktable" that you see is the clothes washer!) This is only the first color after the white base coat....

..and here is the next color! I already see a drastic difference, and I'm really happy with it! I'm afraid I just added another step to my procedures, but if it improves the quality, that's what I'll have to do!



Back To Beadin'

As I was beading the other day (yes, I still work on jewelry - I love doing it, and I have oh, probably tens of thousands of beads [millions, if you'd count each SEED bead!] all over in my house - gotta do SOMETHING with 'em! ), I realized I really wanted to incorporate the jewelry aspect of my art with the garden side of it.

(NOTE: Don't mention to my husband what a great love I have for beading - he has another side to it! Basically, he just says quietly," I can hear you cussing over there - must be beading again, huh? " I have no idea what he's talkin' about...)

I still do have the cast leaf pendants, but I also have a LOT of what I would call "natural" or "organic" beads - coral, bone, semi precious (garnet, turquoise, pearls), Job's Tears (which I grow myself) - even manmade materials, but still closer to what occurs in Nature - copper, silver, terra cotta, etc. I guess I could even slide by with glass, since it does occur naturally sometimes (near volcanoes!) I have already opened an Etsy shop, but decided to open up a separate store, just for this jewelry, so I now have "Nanci's Organic Jewelry Creations"! I will post the link soon, but since I only have 3 items in there at the moment, it's not too exciting right now!

..Just a fraction of all the beads I really have!

 I'm also making some "Pseudo Pandora" bracelets, just because they're so popular (AND so expensive!). It IS a nice idea, a high quality fashion accessory in which you can add different components or beads to follow seasons, or holidays, or just how you feel that day- and they ARE pretty! But $35 -$45 dollar per BEAD? Seriously? There are websites where you can build yourself a virtual Pandora bracelet online, I tried it out and none of my bracelets came in under $1000.00! So much for that.
..So I decided to make my own, using the many beads I have collected thru years of shopping in bead catalogs, bead stores, craft shops, thrift stores, parents' and grandparents' jewelry boxes - noo, they're not interchangeable like the Pandoras, but I

figure I can make oh, maybe 40 of these for what one of THOSE would cost me! A bead for different holidays? How about a whole bracelet for each holiday!


Leafin' In The Snow

Sorry about the lack of posts recently - mid winter's not an exciting time of year for garden art! I do have an event lined up for early March now, though, so things need to speed up! My New Year's Resolution is going pretty well - I am determined to get all my raw cement pieces painted before the Spring leaves start appearing, and so far I'm "keeping my nose to the grindstone" - (you'd think it'd at least get smaller -LOL) and, despite my losing interest a little after the holidays, I believe I have my Mojo back and am again enjoying my chosen craft. Every winter I worry myself - I have started many projects over the years - art related or otherwise- and the normal lifespan of most of them was maybe a few months! I am beginning my fifth year as a leaf caster / nature artist, and after four years and well over 600 finished cement leaves I am amazing myself at my continued interest and excitement with my work. A lot of people think I'm kidding about this (except the ones who know me VERY well), but I am extremely lazy! If I could sit at home and do what I want WHEN I want, I would be very happy. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be working full time AND working every other spare moment on garden art, I would have laughed them out of the room! A full time job was plenty of work for me, thank you! And necessary - unfortunately, quitting to cast leaves full time is not an option. Believe me, I am not doing this because I have nothing else to do, or that I need to keep busy - it's
just something I have to do.

Don't feel sorry for me - I'm definitely not killing myself - I know a few people who could probably do a lot more than what I'm doing, but this is it for me! I have a philosophy in life - and I hate to say something so cliche' as "Stop and smell the roses", but that IS how I
feel. I think a lot of people rush around and do so much that they're killing themselves! Most of the workaholics I know either have cancer, or heart disease, or are diabetic, OR are dead already! I see it over and over again. I do feel it's important to be productive on a daily basis, but it is also important to relax on a daily basis, also. OK, I'm off my soapbox now (Wow, this must be Cliche Day!).