Tag Archives: gratitude

I Marvel

This painting was made in July, 2020. Acrylics, 20″ x 16″.

This year has made me value the outdoors more than ever. Gardens, backyards, trails, woods: all of them have been companions and calm places for me. That is what this painting is talking about – I marvel at the healing a day, even an hour, outside can do for me.

I Marvel 20 x 16 7-20

Hope on View

A couple of days ago, I received a newsletter from the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, an arts advocacy organization in Allentown, PA. I noticed a call for submissions to a project at Penn State:  it was called Viral Imaginations: COVID-19.

In the site’s words, the project “is an interdisciplinary initiative focused on collecting, displaying, and archiving Pennsylvanians’ first-person, imaginative and artistic expressions made in response to their lived experience of the coronavirus pandemic.”

It’s an online gallery of visual and/or written art by ordinary people in our state. I knew right away I had something I wanted to add to the collection. You may remember a recent painting I did called “I Hope” (click here for the post):

I Hope 24 x 36 6-20

It’s now part of the archive. I am grateful to have this chance to express my hope that the world will come out of these hard times into ones of peace, kindness, and caring for all of us.

If you want to take a look at my work along with everyone else’s, here are links:

The main page: Viral Imaginations

My page on the site: “I Hope”

Art Day and Fabric: Let’s Catch Up On What’s Going On in My Head These Days

After reading that long post title I am sure you are exhausted. So, just sit down, and I’ll do some talking.

First thing: We held another Art 451 day (so named by the participants as that is the street number of my house, where the event takes place, and I think it sounds very elegant, Art 451…) on July 30. You can read about the first outdoor Art Day here.

It was a very hot day, so we got started around 9 AM. I set up the tables outside:

Art Day 7-30-20 (2)

with some supplies, a bucket for cleaning brushes, etc., and of course the hand sanitizer table.

We worked on individual projects until about 1 pm, and then we went on to the rest of our day, re-energized. I feel I was singled out by a lucky star when I was asked to teach the mixed media class at the art center last winter, because it led to me meeting these two friends, Andy and Mary Ann. I am grateful, and looking forward to our next session.

Second thing, part one: I’ve been thinking about doing some fabric art again, the impulse spurred by sewing masks in the spring. It was before this blog began so there is no record of it here, but my art career started off as an outgrowth of my experience in sewing. I made quilts, in traditional styles at first, and then moved into applique and pictorial work. (Look here for a post I did about a past art piece in fabric.)

I moved away from fabric art around 2001. I gave away all my fabric but kept my threads, tools, and sewing machine.

Where is this all going? Well, first of all, two friends have been generous in giving me fabrics to work with. Shout out #1 to Tierney at Tierney Creates. A few months ago she put together an assortment of fabric for me and sent it in the mail:

And shout out #2 to Mary Ann (participant in Art 451) who gave me this bag of fabrics at our recent get-togther:

Mary Ann Fabric 7-20

Let me say right now that both of these artists do wonderful fabric work, and I hope some of their influence has infiltrated these fabric gifts, to help me along my own art path. Thank you both for your generosity and support.

Second thing, part two: So where is all this fabric talk going, you might ask. Here’s what I have been doing.

First of all, I bought some other fabrics myself, and I had some small yardage from mask making and a couple of other little projects. I assembled machine needles, bobbins, and found my sewing shears; I dug up my seam ripper, I organized my threads, and I brushed up on some sewing topics.

I do not use a rotary cutter since having a serious accident with one 20 years ago in which I cut off part of my finger and had to go to the hospital in an ambulance. (I just can’t face a rotating blade, not even a pizza cutter, anymore). So I did NOT let a rotary cutter enter my planning.

Then I refelcted on my  history in fiber arts, focusing on sewing (I say this because you may remember I knit, also, and I think I’d like to do more of that, too, but…that’s another topic and another post, someday.)

I’ve made clothing, I’ve done piecing, hand sewing, machine and hand applique, hand embroidery, and I’ve dabbled in painting or dyeing fabrics. I’ve been letting ideas float around in my head, and I’ve practiced a few techniques, to refresh my skills and to see which things I might like to be doing.

One such experiment led to these small 6″ x 6″ fabric…images…somethings…?

This work is done in the same applique techniques I was using when I left off fabric art – I stitch fabrics to a light canvas background using machine stitching.

Two conclusions:

I am coming to the feeling I would like to be making something using the above-mentioned style of construction.

And, I also want to sew seams. Yes, for some reason, I just want to sew seams. That means piecing, to me. Some kind of pieced work.


So…we’ll see. I am very close to starting in on a project. Or, I think two projects, side by side, but different. I feel the day approaching when I will begin.

I will let you know what happens. Until then, I will leave you with these views of me at Art 451 day:

And let’s end on an artsy note. Here I am, pared down to my shadowy essence, in my backyard on July 30, 2020.

Claudia shadow BW 7-20

Outdoor Art Time

On June 30 a couple of art friends and I got together in my back yard to do some art work and visit a little. I think it was a good way to assemble in a safe way and enjoy ourselves, in these times as they are. Here’s what we did.

I met these two friends in the mixed media class I taught last year. We have stayed in touch and wanted to get together. But how? I volunteered my back yard. We picked a day, and luckily it turned out great weather-wise, sunny, but not too hot, and no threat of rain.

Here’s what we did:

First hint: have shade available, or a shelter from the sun. I figured I could set up my tent (that I use in art shows) but it was not necessary. Our yard is very shady.

Second hint: Make sure there is a comfortable amount of room to spread out. We decided to wear our masks as we set things up, then, as long as we remained at our table, or ten or twelve feet apart, we took them off. Then we put them back on to clean things up. Having plenty of room made things comfortable.

Third hint: Bathroom. I had one available nearby, involving walking in my back door into my studio and going only a short distance inside the house. I did a **SPARKLE** clean on that tiny room and had towels ready for hand-washing so each person could have her own.

Fourth hint: Tables and chairs available. Or some kind of area to set up so that each person can have a good space to work. Alternatively each person could have brought her own chair and table, or whatever she needed to work comfortably, but this needs to be settled up front.

Fifth hint: Cleaning items. I set up a table with hand sanitizer, spray cleaner, and towels if anyone wanted to clean anything, and I also put out some bug spray, just in case…


Well, we had a great time. Here are some pictures. Here is where I sat:



and here is our general set-up. We were facing each other so that we could talk or show each other our work.


Mary Ann made a lot of painted papers and she set them on the grass to dry.


I put out the red buckets of water for washing brushes and so on. The hose was just around the corner of the house if we had needed more water.


Here are Mary Ann and Andy cleaning their things up and packing after the session.


Things went smoothly with this set-up. We were comfortable and felt safe. All of us are living very cautiously right now, and this allowed us to get together and experience a bit of an activity we really value – doing art with others. I am so happy we were able to pull this off, it meant a lot to me.

Shout out to Andy and Mary Ann, for a real spirit lifter!



Tile Project – Let’s See the Results!

The tile project I’ve been working on for the past few days has been glaze-fired and the results are in. I will show you in just a minute. First, a couple of comments:

  • This project completed itself in no time flat, when usually clay projects take weeks to go through the processes. This one was quick because
    • I used already bisque-fired commercially-made tiles – I did not have to form them, wait for them to dry, and fire them.
    • I could underglaze the tiles one day, glaze them the next. Often I don’t have time to get the steps done so closely together.
    • I had a large enough project to fill a kiln. Glazed tiles take a lot of room in the kiln – they must not touch each other nor can they be stacked. So, this time I did not have to wait for enough items to make a reasonable kiln load – I had plenty, given those requirements. Full speed ahead!
  • I mentioned my worries about the tiles sticking to the kiln shelves. No problems at all. Let me show you three samples that reveal the situations that emerged:

Tiles examples - back - 3-20001

The top tile cleaned up well, the wax did its job, and there were no glaze blobs to speak of in the indentations and none on the raised areas. This is a best result.

The next tile, bottom left, had glaze blobs in indentations and on raised areas. The white parts are where the kiln wash pulled off the shelf. No damage to anything, but it’s unsightly. Note: the red color is underglaze that somehow got onto the back of the tile. It does not adhere to shelves, and though I usually clean the backs of tiles to remove underglaze, I must have missed this one. It just looks messy, but is not a problem.

The third tile shows glaze blobs in the indentations but nothing on the raised areas, so there was no kiln wash adhered to the back. It’s imperfect but acceptable.

Remember that if these tiles were intended to be adhered to a wall, none of this would matter. The tiles could be set and do just fine. It’s when you want to sell the tiles as an item of decor that the back starts to matter. People look at both sides when they buy, in those situations.

Now… Time to see the tiles.

Note: I am not a good art photographer and my aim was to make photos that do a decent job of portraying the tile, but I am not great with reflections and so on. I did my best, and I think you can see enough to get an idea.

If you’ve got any questions about a specific tile, as to how I achieved the effects you see, just ask a question in the comments!

Here are the bird tiles, as individuals:

and a group shot:

Clay Bird Tiles 3-20 Group013

Here are the head tiles as individuals:

and a group shot:

Clay Head Tiles Group 3-20 4x4001

Well, that’s it. Soon I will be taking them around with me to leave out in the world. If you follow my personal blog (Sometimes You Get So Confused), where I post my art drop-offs, you may see where they end up.

Thanks for going along with me in this tile journey.

Art-Drop Off Objects

If you follow my blog Sometimes You Get So Confused, you are familiar with my art-drop off activities. These tiles are perfect for it and that is where they are going. Maybe some already have – I don’t keep track of the items I send into the universe, I just keep them in a box and refill it when needed or as I make new things.

There are always items that fit in this category, in every kiln-load. Something small and yet something a person coming along might enjoy taking home.

These tiles were done at various times over the summer of 2019.

Art Show Wrap-Up, Pennridge Gallery of the Arts

Every so often I think you might like to see some scenes of the art fairs in which I participate. This previous Sunday, September 15, we were at an event in Sellersville, PA, about 40 minutes from our house.

It’s a street fair that lines Main Street in this town, and it’s very festive and full of lots of things to see and do. I want to mention how well-organized it is, too – from a vendor’s standpoint, it’s an extremely easy show to do. I especially appreciate the high school students who volunteer (and there are a lot of them), helping with unloading the car and other tasks. It’s really nice.

Anyway, the day was a perfect early fall day.

Sellersville 9-15-19 #56

We got things set up and took it from there.

Guess what. My tall lady figurine, one that you might remember from a recent post, won 3rd prize in my category.

Sellersville 9-15-19 #78

I think she and I were both very happy. (Thanks to my friend John G for these following photos.)

Lots of friends stopped by the booth during the day – thank you to John G, Bill F, Chris and Mark, and Missy M.

What else happened? Well, all day we kept hearing a bell-ringing sound, the kind you associate with the fair activity where you hit the platform and spring a weight up to ring a bell. Yes, we heard many rings and lots of cheering.

Late in in the day I went down the row to see what was going on. Sure enough, just as we thought, but – the set-up was sized for six-year-olds. The fire department sponsored the activity and the fireman on duty said there was no age limit to participants. I stepped right up to the challenge, hoping not to embarrass myself since two quite young boys in line in front of me handily rang the bell multiple times

Luckily I could handle the job. As my reward, like all the kids, I got to try on the fireman’s helmet. My husband took this picture.

Claudia fire woman Sellersville 9-15-191

All right, I think this day was a success all around! And a lot of fun.

A Metamorphosis and Subsequent Whirlwind of Events

I’ll just tell the story the way it happened.


About three years ago I painted this image, Arbor, in acrylics. It was a large painting, 40″ x 30″.

Arbor 40 x 30 11-161

Well, I took it around to some shows, but it was hard to fit it into the car, and I had another one I liked better, the same size, and it got included if I had room, rather than Arbor. I will mention that I did use a detail of it for one of my books:

Vines Overpower Trellis and Run Book Cover 2018001

Nonetheless, I never felt Arbor had quite finished being whatever it wanted to be, but – lots of other things were more interesting for me to be doing, so I did them. Arbor waited in the basement in a box.

August 2019 rolled around and with it the Lansdale Festival of the Arts. I have participated in this show for decades and in almost all of my mediums – fabric, collage, mixed media, and now acrylics. I was packing things to go to the show on Friday, August 23, and I decided to take Arbor along. I am planning to do only limited shows with my paintings in the future and I’ve sold down my inventory. There was room for Arbor to attend this show.

As I brought it up from the basement the idea struck me to touch it up a little. Just a little. I could fix a couple of areas that have been bothering me, I thought. I worked on it the rest of the afternoon. In a devil-may-care type of mood not very typical of me, I decided to take the new Arbor to the show in the exact shape that it was now in.

So, on Saturday, August 24, we set out for the show. Let me set the scene for you – it’s held in a lovely park, and the day was pleasantly cool and sunny. Here you see the show set up but before it opened, and a shot of my booth, and then the show with its attendees.

By now you may be saying, “What about Arbor?” Let’s enter the booth and see.

Lansdale 2019 #19

You still don’t see it? Oh, I guess I forgot to say – it’s now called Queen of the Birds, and it looks like this:

Queen of the Birds 40 x 30 8-198

And here are a couple of detail shots:

Yes, I did quite a bit to this painting, didn’t I? I know, and I think the same thing – what had gotten into me? No real answer other than, well, Queen of the Birds is where we are now.

At this show, prizes are given – I was competing in the Oils and Acrylics category. Each artist selects two pieces for the judge to review. I figured, why not? Queen of the Birds is my biggest piece and it’s extra brand new. And so, partly in tribute to Arbor, who hardly ever got to go to a show, I chose Queen of the Birds as one of my two candidates.

The show got under way. The judge stopped by and looked over my display, made notes on a clipboard, and after a short chat with me, she left my booth. I appreciated it that she spoke with me; many judges won’t approach or sometimes even acknowledge the artist while reviewing work.

In the afternoon, the awards were handed out.

Lansdale 2019 #65

Yes, that is Queen of the Birds with a 3rd place ribbon in its category. Fantastic!

Then I sold the painting. Yes. I did.

Well, that’s the end of this story. I’ve been doing art and art shows for a long time but nothing like this has ever happened to me, for sure. I was thrilled. Grateful. Very surprised. Laughing. Happy. And I’ll remember this experience, you bet!

Jewelry Class – Let Me Tell You More

As you know, I’ve been taking a jewelry class at a local art center. Yesterday was the last class of this session. I’ll show you and tell you what happened.

I have small box of bits and pieces I’ve collected over the weeks. Surely something could be done with some of them, I thought.

And, we had our back door replaced this last week, making its keys useless. It turned out we had quite a few keys for this one door. I decided take them into class, too.

By this time, I feel more at home in the jewelry studio. While having very little skill, if any, at most processes, I have an idea of how things work. It’s important to remember this fact when you start a new topic in life: it takes time to become familiar with the landscape, what’s in it, what’s not, and how the parts interact. You can’t get down to details until you have a map of what’s out there.

All right. I got out my keys and the instructor and I talked things over. One idea (quite practical, if not jewelry making exactly) is that you can use the punch machine (sorry, but I don’t know its name!) to punch out a hole in your key, so that you can find it by feel in the dark. Yes, I agree, I can think of times that would have been helpful.

Punching out holes is right up my alley. I got to work on one key, punched holes, and then sent it through the rolling mill for good measure:

Holey key 7-24-193

I set it aside. It will tell me what to do next when it is ready.

We took another key, twisted it in a vise. The shaft did a nice turn but part of the head snapped off. All right. I then took a hammered copper wire spiral and one of the punchouts from the first key and after some soldering, polishing, and filing, here is this uncategorized object:

Semi-key 7-24-192

Once again, I don’t quite know what will come next. But there is a lot I like about it now. The twist in the shaft, for instance. And the brass dot at the bottom. I think as far as the spiral, I would not wrap it as tightly the next time and let more “air” into it.  But…if nothing else, this item is pleasantly heavy and smooth to hold in your hand.

Next, I moved on to something I’d been thinking about ever since I made this guy at the beginning of the sessions:

Jewelry 1 6-25-191

It’s a piece of brass and I sawed out the nose and mouth. Remember my feelings about the saw? I can see, now that I have more experience, that it is useful to know how to saw, and I would profit by trying it again. I do like the shapes it made.

All right. Here’s what I did. I cut off the bottom section. I took some spirals I had made from copper wire and soldered them on to make eyes. Yes, I used the torch. I’m feeling less afraid of it. Familiarity is not breeding contempt, no, I will always be respectful of it, but maybe I can lose my fear of it.

Anyway, here is the result.

Face 7-24-191


Funny-looking guy, right? But I’m thrilled. We polished him up and I like the brass/copper finish he has now. I am not happy with the eye on the left (as you look at him). I now see that I should have chosen spirals with a similar opening in the middle of the spiral. The center needed to be darker, I thought.

So, the instructor mixed up some liver of sulfur, a substance that oxidizes metals and darkens them. You dunk the item in and when it is dark enough for you, you wash it off. I carefully painted in the middle of the eye to darken just that section.

I liked it better. But I am thinking it needs more. Possibly a dark small bead-like object (think the tiny brass button at the end of the key thing I showed you earlier, only dark). Eyes don’t have to match but they need to go together.

Plus, how about some hair or something for this guy? No, he’s not finished yet.

Well, that was enough for this one day. I have accumulated more wire bent into shapes and hammered:

As I’ve said over and over, I could hammer all day. I love the effect of flattening wire and I love creating textures in metal. And I just like hammering.

Let me show you one more thing, this small piece of copper that got liver of sulfured by me in one of those “let’s see what happens” moments. Here’s the back with some L of S seeping over:

Liver sulfur back 7-24-194

Here is the other side, given the full treatment:

Liver sulfur front 7-24-195

and a close up:

Liver sulfur closeup 7-24-196

The subtlety and array of colors really appeals to me.

The sessions are over and I reflect on what the experience has brought me. I now have a picture in my mind of how jewelry gets made. I have worked with tools, raw materials, and equipment to put together some items and in doing so I’ve begun to understand the properties and behaviors of all these things.

I feel now that I have an idea of what interests me in this line of art-making. It’s not making jewelry as such, which I guess is kind of strange when what I’ve been doing is taking a jewelry class! But to me, it’s the making of small objects out of metal that is attractive – whether a person could wear them or not. I am fortunate that the instructor was open to this way of thinking and encouraged exploration.

I also like the small scale of the metalworking we did – the tiny details of the stamps, the gradations of color in the metals – the idea of making small artworks that you could hold in your hand and examine is intriguing.

Last but not least, it was fun. Thank you to the instructor and my fellow students who made this possible.

All right. I have a feeling my adventures in metal work are not over. We’ll see what happens!


Thanksgiving 2018 Art Drop-Off #3

This post is part of an ongoing series on my personal blog, Sometimes You Get So Confused, focusing on art I’ve left out in the world as I go about my days. This post concerns a Thanksgiving session (this post is 3rd of three) but I do this all the time and have for years. If you are interested in more drop-off sessions you can search under the category Art Drops In on the Confused blog.

Anyway, thought you might like to see where some of my art goes…

Sometimes You Get So Confused

After leaving West Park in Allentown, the site of our second Thanksgiving drop-off, we ate lunch at the Hotel Bethlehem.

Conf Bethlehem 11-22-18 #809

We had parked the car a few blocks away, next to God’s Acre, the historic cemetery of the early Moravian Church in Bethlehem. The city was founded by members of the Moravian Church and their influence is seen in all parts of the city, especially the historic section.

I wrote a post about a previous visit to this resting place for so many people, and it has a fascinating history, based in the customs of the Moravians. (Look here if you want to know more.)

Anyway, we set a figurine on a bench here.

I took a few minutes to look around at nearby gravestones. All lie flat to the ground, and the cemetery is divided into burial groups not by family but by status in society (single, married…

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