Category Archives: Rabbit’s Makes Art

Photos and descriptions of my (new) work in the studio and links to where it can be found. Painting, jewelry, found collage, glass, wirework and more.

Artful Rabbit Makes Memories With Summer Photo Fun

Self portrait: Sisters

Summer fun alert: If you have kids that are a little bit bored here’s a great idea. Unleash their creative flair by turning them loose with cameras to photograph whatever they fancy. Yes, I am lucky enough to be a professional camera hog with at least four cameras in my world so sharing is easy but everyone has digital cameras these days and lots of them are not expensive at all.

The best part is that digital media lets you burn through photos like crazy with no film development costs or worries about the cost of flubbed shots. 

 My granddaughters are old enough to turn loose with my two small but very nice digital magic boxes. I toss one of these in my purse or backpack when the big Canon camera is too much work to haul along. I am never without a camera–even if its my Iphone with Instagram.  Ah Instagram, that’s another entry entirely. I 😛 Instagram!

Pinstripe Petunia

 

I have Adobe Photoshop and use it for professional stuff but for just fun fooling around I absolutely adore Digital Image Pro from Microsoft. It does almost everything Adobe Photoshop does, okay, not everything, but it does a whole lot and its easy to use.

 
Best of all the learning curve  to mastery is not as long as the Great Wall of China. Photoshop is a pain in the patootie to learn and  my goal is to get the kids to love what they can do with photos, not give up in frustration.
 

State Capital WWI monument, check out the light!

I started out by giving them the cameras and the chargers for the batteries, always important. I explained how the zoom worked and the basic features like close up and yes, you can take pictures outside at night and they can be pretty cool.

We had a couple of bumps in the road, but we even got two cameras and two girls to the beach with great success and no sandy cameras.

Bird dreams, filtered shot of one of my poetry birdhouses with text added. Love it!

I showed them how to edit but for them the great fun at this point was in the taking of pictures. I gave them no direction and no guidelines. I wanted to see their response to the world around them. Wow, just wow.

Moosh, hilarious, how did she get that close to his face?

 Some of their shots were incredible. Many of them were perfect right out of the camera. 

We uploaded all the shots to the computer and I stashed them in two files, one for each girl. We will put all the raw shots and the edited shots on a flash drive for each of them to take home. What a perfect memory of summer!

I got in on the collaboration by editing their first batch of shots. Some got cropped, all got resized for print and saving, and a few had filters or exposure corrections on them. I love the black and white effects too. I think I had as much fun making magic as they did!

It has been so much fun to see the world literally, through their eyes. Seeing what they saw, what they liked, what they took pictures of has been so amazing for me. I highly recommend it to any one with kids, cameras and a computer.

Mom and Dad and sand dollars, love this shot!

Mock Orange in bloom, beautiful in black and white

Seattle Bug

Tyler loves shadows and they love her too

 

The State of George

Sunny Cam

Self Portrait Tyler

Tyler shoots sis, great shot of mom too!

The Rabbit Garden Window looks like a garden. Great!

night shot of a geranium, magic happens!

 

Family portrait

And they even got me and Moosh in a shot!

Rabbit and the next Lost Childhood:Anubis

Doll heads are somewhat creepy when re-employed as sculptural artifacts but I love what they do. The face is gold leafed and varnished and the headpiece was sculpted with Apoxy sculpt and painted, the eyes are turquoise chips.

I am so happy to have finished the Lost Childhood of Anubis, subtitled Death, the Grim Reaper, etc. I am loving the result. This one was interesting and difficult to approach because the topic of death makes me squeamish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of death, I just have too much living to do to want to get to know it up close and personal. It’s sort of a verboten subject in our culture because its a door that opens one way and the unknowable is always a bit scary in my mind.

That being said, as a cultural icon, the Grim Reaper is a big one and his childhood? Where to start…every human culture has a death deity that can be a conductor to the other side or the ruler of the other side. My new favorite word is “Psychopomp”, that’s the actual word for the deity that conducts a sould to the next world. I had to incorporate it into the piece.

If you get bored with all the pictures before the end I understand completely, I wanted to document the cabinet thoroughly so its here in detail, maybe too much detail, but I hope it provokes a thought or two and a reaction or three along the way.

The black humor is evident in the copper words, “At Death’s Door”. The cabinet feet are children’s blocks that say Lost in front and Love in back. I drilled a vintage die for the knob, playing on the idea of gambling with death found in so many stories. The front is finished off with repurposed scarabs and a faux lapis grave goddess impressed from a Thai grave offering.

I love these arms, faience blue holding skulls up in homage, delightfully creepy no?

I used a lot of faience blue and lapis colors because of their ancient Egyptian significance–Anubis being my touchstone. The arms I swiped from an Ariel doll with great hands, I gave the “hands of time” two howlite dia de los muertos skulls with vintage lucite flowers planted in them. The clock face has random words we use to indicate the transition, the journey, from life to death.  I love the little key to the door without a lock, it’s beautiful, an old Master key from my key stash that is heavily engraved and for some unknown reason, it has the words Le Duc engraved in it. The aged tags on the keys say “Quit Exisitence”.

A great shot of the flowered skulls and the cool neckpiece with Psychopomp hammered into it. The three necklaces will actually come off, they are actually necklaces made for the piece.

The cabinet is painted in shades of black, brown and blue and is aged with layers of paper, gel and layers of paint. The inside is in primarily blues to signify night.

Anubis Cabinet Interior

The cabinet interior has a framed childhood photo of the Grim Reaper, the container of the Department of Death, A chain with three tags that say, “Go Little Soul” is connected to a round glass lens. Four silver milagros, Mexican prayers made manifest, hang from the top of the cabinet.

Fly Away, glass lens with a picture of a little girl with butterfly wings that say "Fly Away", connected by a chain to words that say, "Go Little Soul".

Grim Reaper, Age 4. I love this altered image. I painted a little scythe and mounted it behind a slice of mica in an amazing old light plate cover. I think the most difficult thing about this entire piece was walking the line between sad bathos and black humor. I hate the idea of children and death, and thinking about death having a childhood was an exercise in expanding my consciousness. I found the images I used deeply touching.

I couldn’t believe how many cultures were on the list of death gods I uncovered! I put them on a list and put them in the “Deparment of Death”. An old tin was repurposed by covering it with mica shifted poly clay and applied stamps. Inside it has part of a skeleton, a howlite tiny skull in turquoise, an icon of a saint and a Thai grave god.

Interior of “The Department of Death”

On the inside door of the cabinet is a black and white photo of a woman carrying a big gun and looking happy about it. Perfect, Death’s Mother Takes a Vacation. She is mounted behind a slice of mica and wrapped in copper. Above her is an”old bat” and “her little angel”. Obvious? Why not?

Death's Mom on Vacation

The top of the cabinet has “The Last Trump”–very Victorian, and a glass jar of the sands of time with the words inside, “Your time is up”. The cabinet back tells more of the story of the Grim Reaper’s Childhood and mementoes.

Back View of the Lost Childhood of Anubis

 

Death loved the Merry go Round

I like the allegory of humans going around in a circle all their lives and the idea that Death loved to ride the Merry go round as a child.

Bottom of the back of piece

 I used old Scrabble tiles for the words “he comes”, another metaphor for the games we play with death. The Egyptian icon has a clock spring mounted on it with a clock hand held in place by an 8 ball. Numbers lead to a skull and crossbones that say “smell the roses”.

The picture is actually an old ghostly house I shot in Ophir, Utah and altered. It says “Death’s Childhood Home” and has a Thai grave offering in the doorway.

Left side of Anubis

The left side of the piece has a sheet of music from “Hard Day’s Night”, the metal words “Night, End, Time, and Pray”. Underneath them is a piece from a vintage dia de losmuertos postcard wrapped in copper. At the bottom is a grave god from Thailand. Good shot of the last trump too.

Anubis full right side view.

The right side has aged metal words that go from “heaven to hell”. There is a repurposed cupid/angel at the top and a devil with the word’s “Death’s Uncle at the bottom. An essay in 7 words. Clear shot of the “Time’s up” on the shoulder in this picture.

 I used two of my favorite quotes in this piece, “Death is only the living you do not do”, is from the Laliberte and Pintauro book, “The Peace Box” which I have owned for 40 years and love dearly. The other quote is from Seneca and says, “The day we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.” How beautiful is that?

This piece gave me a lot to think about and I hope it does that for you. I am already at work on Neptune’s Lost Childhood and putting together the pieces for both Betty Crocker and Demon Rum/Jim Beam/Jack Daniels–again, a multiplicity of iconography in one.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one, it was intense and weird and wonderful.

Art Dog Philosophy

"My Bed", classic black dog bad attitude going on here. On repurposed plywood, using collage elements and acrylic paint.

I took the two new pieces of the BAD, Bad Attitude Dog, to Jo at Matter Gallery a few days ago, and that brought up the opportunity to discuss my Dog Philosophy of Art which made me think about it more. I want to share it because it makes me smile and smiling is a good thing, I should do more of it actually. (Remember you can click on any illustration and see it BIG).

"Sleeping Dog", in a private collection, but a great illustration of the sweet positive joyful side Yellow Dog demonstrates. Oil pastel on Canson paper.

I have been painting dogs forever. Yellow dogs, actually. I started way back in college when a fellow artist who was incredibly talented painted this astonishing bad dog that was wonderful, all teeth and attitude. At that time I was in my “chair phase” and I painted red chairs incessantly and photographed chairs too. Chairs stood in for people in my paintings, but I digress.  Mark and I fell in love with each other’s work and agreed to swap muses. He started painting chairs and I made off with the dog.

"Mine", kind of says it all, the snarky bad attitude dog got the paper and its too bad for you.Repurposed plywood, an old metal printing sheet from the Olympian newspaper and acrylic paint. Privately owned.

I still have a few very early Mark-inspired yellow dogs in my flat file but that dog had a mind of his own and evolved with time. He has even been a she a few times. Most notably in two pieces I have not photographed but I will—tomorrow.  The first piece is Yellow Dog in a prom dress, a stand in for every homely girl that knew , no matter how hard she tried, ugly would be back for her.  That’s a sort of universal chick truth, we all think we are homely at that age, doesn’t matter if we are or not, it’s a rite of passage.

2001 Food and Wine Fest poster, this dog is walking the line between good and bad. Food on the table...tempting for sure.

That’s when Yellow Dog became Every Dog, as in Everyman? Yellow Dog expresses hope and comfort and all the shining parts of our lives. And yes, I can paint people and paint them well, I just don’t want to. When I put a person in a painting the painting becomes about that person and the story hits a wall right there. Enter the dog, stage right… the work is not about the dog, it’s the bigger picture. There’s room to breathe if that’s a dog in there with you.

Yellow Dog Waits is a universal dog and kid truth, sometimes my truth too. Sometimes it feels like all I do is wait. On canvas and on the wall of my living room. That's my Granma's kitchen, loosely interpreted.

Black Dog came along one night in a circus painting a few years ago. He’s sitting on a round drum and there’s a big white horse with a ballerina behind him. He’s obviously got some dog attitude and he’s having a ball. Black Dog evolved to Bad Attitude Dog, he’s not bad as in eat-the mailman bad, but he might scare the mailman just because he can. Black Dog occupies his world, he’s the center of that world and it’s his oyster and that’s it.

"My Pool" makes me laugh. I don't think I'd want to convince him to move personally. The beach ball already bit the big one, or actually, the big one bit the beach ball. At Matter Gallery, repurposed plywood and collage with acrylic paint.

Now cats are a whole other story….

Home Before Dark is enormous, on a master sheet of Canson Paper. Done in oil pastel, it has Yellow Dog headed home to a glowing warm house and running a gauntlet of evil kitties. This piece is over 4 feet wide, framed and really one of my all time favorites. I should photograph it but getting it from behind that much glass? I need to think about that one for awhile.

Rabbit Creates Lost Childhoods, a Sculpture Series

The Lost Childhood Series

My worktable with Father Time's Lost Childhood in the background. I can have several things happening at once with different drying times and assembly steps.

My current series of sculptural assemblage pieces, Lost Childhoods, is about exploring a concept I find fascinating. We have created icons that we accept as part of our culture and socially we agree (generally) on what they mean. For instance:

Jim Beam

Uncle Sam

The Grim Reaper

Betty Crocker

Mother Nature

Father Time

King Neptune

Although some icons do have described childhoods and a sturdy base in reality, e.g. Father Christmas/Saint Nicholas, who was a real person whose iconography outstripped reality, I choose not to focus on these types. This list is just a few examples, I keep adding to my list as I run into another piece of the puzzle.  The commonality of all of these is they are adults, and although we have personified them, we give them only their adult attributes. We don’t stop to think about what Betty Crocker was like as a kid.

Mother Nature's face, the head is painted with a paint that resembles earth, her earrings are birds and her hair is nest of Robin's eggs.

This facet of the concept tickles my absurdist side; I like to think that something darkly humorous is an underpinning of these pieces.  Using repurposed doll heads walks the line between absurd and creepy, a place that we don’t like to think about. As someone who loathes clowns and mimes, I think I may have traveled into a facet of that territory and I am interested in exploring it more. I think these pieces are multi-faceted and along with being curiously humorous they are somewhat sad.

Full View of Mother Nature's Lost Childhood. I love this piece so much

We spend a lot of time in our Western world re-examining our childhoods to see how they inform the adults we become, and trying to repair our own scars from that time of our lives.  These pieces skewer the child in the icon and hold it still like a butterfly on a mounting board for us to look at closely, they are meant to be opened and marveled over. They all have drawers and doors and hidden compartments. Each surface is addressed and everything on the piece has a hidden meaning for viewers to discover and decipher.

The Natural World drawer. Each drawer has a bottle with an amazing quote in it and objects that explain the drawer's meaning.The A-Z drawer actually has two little bottles of seeds that could be planted, Alyssum is A and Zinnia is Z, plus a copper pea pod with howlite peas.

Ultimately, their childhoods are a mystery much like our own.  Doors we can’t open, doors we can, things we understand and things we don’t.  I wonder why we came up with the idea of these not-human humans to express a concept.  This part doesn’t matter to me, the artist; I’m involved in the re-imagining and creation of Lost Childhoods. My goal is show them as a group when I’m finished and I am enjoying their appearance in my life one by one.

The little purse created from an old tin with a lid has a poem on metal tags inside, it hangs on one shoulder.

PS: Venus isn’t on the list because she showed up full grown. Neptune is because he has come to personify the sea in general although he’s a Greco-Roman god in particular.

The other side of the studio worktable with parts of Mother Nature in the assembly stage. Anubis/Grim Reaper is underway now and so is King Neptune.

Not exactly a tea party…

Even better than a tea party! I love the classes in the studio.  Today was gray and wet outside but fun inside. The studio is just the right size to be cosy, sometimes you could even call it snug, but with all the fun and laughter it was perfect on a gloomy day.

I am so glad I decided to just slap a coat of poch paint on the floors. One end has carpet for comfort but the work area is safe to spill, splash, drip, drop and generally make a mess.  I have two long tables at the perfect height to work standing or on a stool–and here’s a tip–Goodwill is my lamp purveyor of choice. I watch for those swing arm lamps for two bucks, great deal!

At the far end I have my Inspiration Point, a laptop connection and a printer that uses toner. Old school, baby! I keep photos and tidbits that make me happy pinned on the wall. Including photos of my pets and kiddos, a shampoo bottle from France and various and sundry quotes I love.

Here’s me, so happy to be in the studio working! I’m wearing my French studio hat. Very silly, but it keeps my hair out of my eyes, all I need now is a scarf a la Isadora Duncan and I’m all set.

And of course, the helpers. The one requirement for helpers under 18″ tall is that they are black and white. One cat: Sweetpea; one rat terrier, Nellie; two shi h tzu’s, Mish and Moosh. The cast changes according to who wants to hang out at any given time. They have their own door, toys and beds-can you say spoiled?

Today the studio class was Do What You Love Most. Three of the gal pals wanted to make more garden ornaments. I think we are thinking of them like spring voodoo, our offerings to the weather gods to please hurry up and bring springtime our way. This is part of the saltshaker stash. The perfect basis for fun garden hangers.

This is a batch of finished garden hangers. Lots of them can be seen at www.runningrabbitgallery.com. Mr. T. put up overhead metal lines for me last year, very handy to hang stuff on and get it out of the way. I love all the things he does to keep me happy.

The two Lindas and the one Carolee totally focused on their projects. Linda O. discovered what a monster buffer can do to put a shine on poly clay. She also learned if you don’t hang on tight the piece becomes a missile and flies across the room. A lesson we’ve all learned at one time or another, startling but no harm, no foul.

Another shot of the studio students from my fuzzy camera. We had so much fun today, much better than a tea party!

Jaime bundled up in a work apron and a big fat old sweatshirt to stay warm while she worked at the glass station grinding her glass for a mosaic. I don’t think she noticed we were missing she was having so much fun out there in the damp all by herself. The mosaic/glass area is covered so she didn’t drown in the downpour and she accomplished a ton. Every girl needs a great glass grinder!

In April we will be making crazy funny pull toys of wood and dealing with power tools. I can’t wait! I always list classes on my gallery site and new students are always welcome. $25 for a two hour class and supplies and tool use are included unless otherwise indicated.

Join us for better than a tea party. If you have friends and want to do a class together, let me know. Choose a time that works and as Larry the Cable Guy says, “We’ll get ‘er done!”

Rabbit Off the Rails

Sometimes I just need to let the pictures tell the story….

I looked around my yard for signs of spring. The pink camellia by my front door is always first to signal winter may be ending.

On my hunt for spring, the studio staff kept me company. How handy. Black and white cat and dog. This means no matter what color you wear you have hair of the opposite color on your clothes.

Before I buckle down, I always have to salute my Friend Wesley, now mounted on a Yellow Tang horse. He's holding my favorite button. It says I'm a kitty cat, dance, dance, dance.

Last week was CRAZY, I had to sort my newly acquired shaker horde and then I had the great pleasure of cranking out fun garden ornaments. This is one tiny box, there is also a BIG box, a medium box and a tray of shakers.

This is my work table, I'm multi tasking. There's a metal fish, 3 chalkware pinecones, a goofy bird and a parrot. hmmm...which one to do first?

A shot of the wreckage, my studio looks like an explosion in a housewares factory. Luckily, it cleans up fast. Thanks to efficient storage and my trusty label maker!

I have been doing some research into the history of the adorable plaster shakers I found. I think the corks were stuck in them in the 30’s and never removed. I had to drill most of the corks out! Chalkware is basically molded and painted plaster of paris. It was used as carnival prizes from about 1904 to the early 60’s when plastic took its place in the hierarchy of cheapitudionous rewards. Some of the little figures are adorable, goofy birds and fish, pine cones, you name it, they made it. I did put two good coats of Krylon Triple Glaze on them but still, these are not meant for going outside to live, just fun to have in a window or hanging a lamp or plant indoors.

These are chalkware, too adorable for words.

Time to paint! Finally, website done, shakers done, time to hit the easel. This is the studio set up for painting. That's my working sketch in the foreground with the two helpers underfoot of course.

 

I has paint, oh boy, does I has paint! The calendar is an old Matisse calendar, I love it and use it for inspiration. I seem to have absorbed his color palettes somewhere along the way.

Or maybe not...I use a Winsor/Newton Sta-wet palette and its getting a little on the grungy side. Here it is midway through the painting.

"My Pool", Bad Attitude Dog on recycled plywood, with collage elements, the beach towel and the house windows are old cut paper. Ready to dry, get a coat of varnish and have a frame built. Next up: My bed. BAD dog takes over the bed.

Inside the Rabbit’s Studio, About the Process

I see those beautiful glossy magazines with nothing but page after page of gorgeous studio interiors. They make me do two things: drool and wonder. I always envy organized beauty, work spaces that look so cozy, so sexy, so beautiful and so inviting. That would be the drool part. The wonder part has me asking myself how the hell these folks accomplish the sturm und drang of art making if they can’t make a mess in the process. Hmmmm….

In the middle of work, the glossy photo studio is long gone, controlled chaos is underway.

I spent Valentine’s Day organizing my studio (more, again, still) and losing a day down the rabbit hole. It’s all the hubs fault, he gave me a new Dymo Letratag Labelmaker. Its fabulous! I already mark everything well because if I don’t I’ll spend hours hunting for one washer or a doodad I know I have somewhere. My masking tape tags were a)ugly b) tend to unstick after awhile, so this is mo bettah, it look so nice, I’m ready to label the world!

And the OTHER worktable fills up fast too.

I have also been converting myself to old tins and glass for storage, attempting to move away from plastic and cardboard; it’s my homage to those beautiful magazines. This is as close I’m going to get to a drool-worthy esthetic with a busy working studio. My work tables are thick plywood and the floor is painted in the middle and has cheap carpet at both ends. Carpet makes my feet and my studio staff happier. The staff would be the three dogs and one cat who meander in and out, which also explains the toys and the beds all over the place. Knowing my furry buds will be roaming the floor makes me very careful with chemicals and small bits of crap which could harm the animal that ingested it. I can always tell when I’ve dropped a bead, Mushka is a bead collecting magnet, he finds them and rolls them around in his teeth, clicking noises alert me to make him spit out the slimy thing before he can swallow it.

The work tables are full of nicks, scratches, gouges, glue blobs and solder, which I scrape off to level the surface on a regular basis. That’s not even counting the paint, and other liquids that stain things. I like having these tables because I don’t have to be careful, I can just lose myself in the work and spread out around the room.

Mother Nature's Lost Childhood, head drying. Very creepy...

 I took some shots yesterday after I got started on a new piece in the Lost Childhood series. Keep in my mind my studio looked like a photograph when I started, after my labeling frenzy. Within three hours it was destroyed, but I know where every single thing is as I work including tools, tidbits, dogs, and cat.

Little wooden legs from a stick I've been saving for years from a wand making exercise. I saved these odd little Chinese cricket leaves because they were too cute to toss.

Beginning the assembly after about six hours of paint and selection of parts.

This drawer has real flower growing seeds--A-Z, allysum and zinnia.

Each drawer has a quote to match the contents. I love this one. "Where flowers bloom so does hope." Ladybird Johnson

For years and years I have picked up sticks, seeds, pods, bark, rocks and shells everywhere I go. I keep my natural world in big glass jars to inspire me.

This mornings work is to put a coat of satin varnish on the little cabinet that took hours to paint and collage. I did it about three times until I was happy with it. Who said art is easy? It’s not, many times it’s just doing and redoing and never giving up. My favorite quote: “Process gets you times of  no ideas far better than ideas get you through times of no process.” The Far Out Furry Freak Brothers said that back when and its still true now.

Advice to budding artists: always work in series. If you get stuck, you can start again and you learn from each piece how to make the next one. Even if you hate it after while, finish what you said you would do, all the pieces. Be patient with yourself. You don’t learn this stuff and acquire the tools overnight.  You have to do it again and again and again, as Thoreau put it so nicely. “Know your own bone, gnaw  it, bury it, unearth it, gnaw it still.” Can you tell I’ve been talking to a frustrated young artist? Someone who never can paint what he sees in his head and he sees that as a problem. Guess what? I have never, ever, ever had a painting come out exactly like what I saw in my head. For me that’s the thrill. I’m on the road and I have a map, but I never know exactly what I will find around the corner. I learn from my work when I’m willing to listen to it.

And right now…it’s calling me to come and play and finish Mother’s Nature’s lost childhood before I teach my class this afternoon.

Salvador’s Dollies Meet the Rabbit

I have started on a new series of pieces. I think I’m in love. All the art stuff (read crap With No Useful Purpose) that I have been tearing apart, categorizing and holding on to, despite my husband’s what-the-hell-are-you-saving-that-for-expressions, is now coming in to its own in an exciting way.

The back story: Friday I escaped the lair (read studio) for a few hours to meet my friend Linda C. and chew the art fat. We met at Barnes and Noble because they have a big old shelf of art books. I look at ten books and usually wind up buying one book or a magazine.  Have you looked at magazines lately? Holy cow, magazines are seven or eight bucks, the same price as a paperback. I hate libraries, you have to give the books back. B/N gives me a table and serves Starbuck’s coffee which makes me a happy person-and I reward us both by spending my allowance on books.

I found a fantastic book called, Who’s Your Dada, Redefining the Doll Through Mixed Media by Linda and Opie O’Brien.  I’m telling you, the Holy Grail of art books for this kid. It even features  a piece from one of the artists from Matter Gallery, the place that shows my repurposed work. How cool is that?

Inspirational book Dada Dollies

My writing room/computer room/office/guestroom has one wall of bookcases, full bookcases. My living room has one and one half walls of book cases. My studio has a book case and the loft has a big long row of books.  I like books what can I say?  I digress…

These are not the cuddly dolls from your childhood.  These dolls made my son Torin’s hair stand on end with the creepy factor present in quite a few of them.  I, on the other hand, grabbed my sketchbook and started making notes and sketching ideas. Of course, I have now had to buy and tear apart several  old used dolls, that part is really creepy. I have a box of arms, legs and heads to work with. Sigh…what I don’t go through for art…

I love looking at the concept of what a doll is and turning that on its end. What does it mean and why did it smack me between the eyes on so many fronts?  How can it mean new things? How can I use the idea of a doll to convey other information?

Girls especially resonate to the idea of a doll. As little kids, this is an inanimate object we  possess, carry around everywhere, love obsessively and refuse to be parted from, no matter how worn and grubby our dolls get. I think of my first doll and still get warm fuzzies. Why? Is it because this is the first thing that was all mine to love? Does the idea of love run downhill like water from our parents to us?  I still have the stuffed rabbit  doll that my dad gave me when I was four years old. It has a creepy doll face and a yellow furry body and it used to have blond yarn bangs. Poor Rabbit was my go to friend and  absorbed so much saltwater from my tears over the years I was growing up that its stuffing turned to dust. Rabbit has been restuffed and sits in a chair in my office, one of my totem objects. I have two ancient rabbits, which is a story for another day, but now you know where the original rabbit habit got its start.

My first doll was a rabbit. I'm still confused

Dolly dada deconstruction begins

The other intriguing bit is using the “doll” to convey the idea of Dada, which I think was the precursor to going green and making wonderful new things with things that originally had a different purpose. Here is what About.com says in the art history section: Much more succinct than anything I could rumble up.

” What are the key characteristics of Dada art?

  • Dada began in Zurich and became an international movement. Or non-movement, as it were.Dada had only one rule: Never follow any known rules.
  • Dada was intended to provoke an emotional reaction from the viewer (typically shock or outrage). If its art failed to offend traditionalists, Dada writing – particularly Tristan Tzara’s manifestoes – proved a fine, nose-thumbing Plan B.
  • Dada art is nonsensical to the point of whimsy. Almost all of the people who created it were ferociously serious, though.
  • There was no predominant medium in Dadaist art. All things from geometric tapestries to glass to plaster and wooden reliefs were fair game. It’s worth noting, though, that assemblage, collage, photomontage and the use of ready made objects all gained wide acceptance due to their use in Dada art.
  • For something that supposedly meant nothing, Dada certainly created a lot of offshoots. In addition to spawning numerous literary journals, Dada influenced many concurrent trends in the visual arts (especially in the case of Constructivism). The best-known movement Dada was directly responsible for is Surrealism. (Think Salvador Dali)
  • Dada self-destructed when it was in danger of becoming “acceptable”.

http://arthistory.about.com/od/dada/ig/DadaatMoMANewYork/dada_newyork_07.htm  This link shows a photo of a well known dada symbol. Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal which he put in a show and signed R. Mutt in 1917. Most dada art is not quite so in your face establishment! as the toilet was, but its deliberate use repurposing items out of context to convey ideas shocked the world at the time. It was a fascinating time, and the things the artists did/meant/stood for, are part of my own core values as an artist. This movement is worth tracking down for what it was and doing more reading.  http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/dada.htm is an excellent place to start. Dada as a movement only lasted from 1916-1923 but it spread like a forest fire and went world-wide in that span of time.

 I have been in love with dragging home “Things With No Useful Purpose” for a very long time and going dada with them. I just never thought about the doll part until now. I do love it when synchronicity happens…

Bring on the Earring Bling-Its Almost Spring!

 I have been so busy the past two weeks in the studio I haven’t even wanted to crawl out of the rabbit hole to go junk-hunting, and  that’s saying something. I like what the Brits called the whole junk shopping thing, jumble sales.

My lovely old metal case full of trinkets and rescues, ready to get to work!

My worktable ready for V-Day!

There is something so delightful about calling it a jumble sale versus a yard sale or garage sale. From my previous forays out  into the junking world, I have a lovely stash of descontructed “things” in the way of old jewelry and odd bits that spoke to me when I found them.

 I work hard to keep everything organized because there is nothing more frustrating than knowing you have something and not knowing where it is! Believe me, it happens, so I label, label, label EVERYTHING.

Label, label, label to make life easier!

I work to find things to incorporate with newer materials that are either: reclaimed and repurposed, reusable-as in metal, organic  as in glass versus modern plastic–except when I find lucite or bakelite, both heavenly and rare these days. I do love vintage plastic, its fun to spruce it up to go out in the world again.

 There are times when I bring polyclay into the mix to0, because a beautiful bauble can weigh too much to wear around your neck when its really a heavy lump of turquoise or jade. If I can do a beautiful faux bauble it works on three fronts: cost, weight and creating something exciting and original.

Now that I’ve hashed out the philosophical side of making my jewelry pieces, bring on cupid! I adore Valentine’s day, I always have. There is something so girly about the holiday that it just makes me happy. Really, chocolate, flowers and jewelry, what’s not to like? Of course, the guys may have a slightly different view being the ones who have to go out and round up the right stuff for the gal in their lives.

I talked to Jo Gallaugher, owner of Matter Gallery in Olympia about V-day. Matter showcases my work and its such a fun place to visit and shop! (Shameless plug) www.matteroly.com  for more information on the gallery and the wonderful artistes who show there. Who knew artists could make all this amazing art stuff out of Other Stuff? I did, which is pretty obvious, but I want everyone to know what sustainable art looks like.

I  wanted to know what people are asking for in jewelry, specifically earrrings and specifically the guys for Valentine’s Day. The answer: Earrings that are fun, affordable, and not too long and dangly. Some dangle yes, too much dangle, nope.  With that in mind, I set out this week to create earrings that are affordable, not too dangly, and really fun.  These are all available at Matter which sells through the mail too. (yay–and they are putting in an online gallery that will be really fun) or by contacting me at runningrabbitstudio.gmail.com for more information and prices. So for my funky valentine’s I present the following. (click on a picture to make it bigger)

Almost Pearls, repurposed fiber optic pearls paired with lavender Czech crystals

Arms of Love, silver milagros, lucite flowers and glass hearts

Lucky in Love: stack the dice! With red glass hearts

Lock up your heart: vintage tiny brass padlocks and red glass hearts

Key to your heart: glass hearts, chain and tiny pewter padlocks and keys

I love shoes! adorable vintage brass shoe charms and red glass heartsHearts and Pearls: sterling silver Mexican hearts with coin pearls make a pretty pair

Green With Envy: Paillettes of Vintage lucite, simple and pretty

Coralicious: lucite triangles with turquoise for a pop of spring color

Butterflies: brass vintaj butterflies with a shiny little accent, cute with blue jeans I'm thinking

Blue Fish: Sterling Thai silver fish with African trade beads in cobalt

You're a star baby! Even ears can smile with these little red-orange smiling stars and pearls

Princess Pink: pink stone drops with czech crystal and silver accents.

Feliz de San Valentin! Fun & Affordable Valentine’s Day Mexican Folk-Style Jewelry

Detail of El Dia de los Valentins, Numero Uno

I have had so much fun this week! Before Christmas I found a fabuloso old post card in Seattle at my favorite Mexican folk art shop in the Pike Street Market. I love Milagros, which is the store’s name and also the name of the cool silver/pewter/tin charms that I love and collect at every opportunity. The store inspires me and makes me covet half of what is in it. I’m always happy to come home with something small and fun that gets the creative juices flowing.

The card is actually scenes celebrating Dia de  los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is celebrated to show respect to ancestors round about halloween. My postcard shows six bony couples having fun and I thought it would make a great crossover for Valentine’s day. I adore black/white/red together too, which made this just about perfect. I scanned the card at a really high resolution, saved it as a jpeg (photo image) then resized and cropped every image before printing it on high quality WHITE paper. With papers, there is white, pretty white and blinding WHITE. I like the blinding white for printing photos to put under glass because the contrast adds a lot.

Milagros in my studio, my stash of silver and gold

I printed all the images, cut them out with my trusty scalpel and ruler and then put them carefully in glass sandwiches. I have so much glass around of all sizes and thicknesses that I could probably put the history of the world under glass in one way or another. All this glass is a side effect from framing my own stuff and being given junk frames by friends. I can’t stand to throw out the glass, which explains the 2 foot thick stack of glass under my work table.

If you intend to cut glass, invest in a really good glass cutter, actual cutting oil and running pliers. They make your life so much easier and you waste so much less glass, After cutting I always carefully sand the edges by hand or with my glass grinder as I don’t want to cut off a finger making art, I don’t even want to cut myself so sanding really works for me. I will do a demo on cutting glass within the next few days but for now–on to the wearable Valentines! I foiled and leaded and soldered my folk art sandwiches after I cut out a little red heart and popped it into each side of each piece. I like oval rings on the top for strength and because they just look cooler. Then add a fun bead and chain, chain, chain, chain of ….oops, wrong reference.

Each piece is unique because the top bead is different and the chain is different. I had fun going for silver, vintage brass, and even a brass bath tub chain. A lot of them have double chains for the added effect the chain weight gives visually.  And the best part? They are soooo affordable!

Mexican Valentine's two sided, each necklace is unique!

Yours for $21 plus $5 shipping. Unique, six only, you get to choose which one you like until they are all gone…. I will be taking the pieces to Matter Gallery, but if you see one you love, let me know and its YOURS!

Also as promised, a shot of the bone dishes I keep on my work table, pretty, great shape and they keep me organized to some extent. Click on the photo to see it up close and personal.

Work table with bone dishes and Valentine's day in full swing

I’ve also been constructing a ton of adorable Valentine/love inspired earrings and will shoot those tomorrow. This is the work table in full construction mode, everything at my fingertips, love it.

I found an awesome wire tree to hang the earrings on this week. Next project is to seat the tree in a pot of plaster for stability and turn it old vintage white, pictures to follow. Hint: This is something you can do with those old black wire trinkets that were so hot a few years ago. Like I mentioned, a super productive week, a new necklace in the works in vintage brass, red hearts and pearls. It’s on the form now. It’s called “Eva” (pronounced Ava)for my beautiful soprano singing muse Eva G., who will be going off to Julliard, USC, UCLA or some equally prestigious performing arts school next year for college. I’m waiting for a few days of sunshine to photograph her in my mask collection soon, that will lots of fun, something to look forward to when winter gets me down. I do so love beautiful singing divas in my pictures…come on Spring!

When I got distracted this week–Squirrel!–as in the movie, “Up”, I got out my polyclay and started playing. I want some new major beads and the best way to get what I want is to make it myself. I needed it for the hearts on  the Mexican valentine’s anyway, great excuse, eh? I wound up making some copper green clay and popping it into my glorious new running rabbit chocolate mold. Here’s the result, after being altered and fastened to a piece of old tin with rivets and hung on chain.

Running Rabbit, from a chocolate mold in polyclay, copper and tin

After posting this I’m  back  to the studio with lots of music and dogs and cats and dancing-yay! This week: the 1930’s which includes Fats Waller, Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Fred Astaire and Cole Porter–with that group who wouldn’t dance! Earrings to come!

Lessons in the studio to learn all this stuff yourself! Starting February 9th at 3:00 in the afternoon. Affordable fun, your chance to try something new before you invest heavily in supplies and tools. Take a craft for a test drive and make beautiful things. Contact me at runningrabbitstudio@gmail.com for information or questions or to purchase a Mexican Valentine.