A spooky haunted mansion?
Nope, It's the opera house in Zürich, Switzerland. From the nighttime lighting in this photo, it does look like it might be a good place for a Halloween costume party but the evening I spent there was anything but spooky. It was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Switzerland. We saw the Italian opera 'Nabucco' and yes (fortunately!) there were English and German subtitles on a screen above the stage. We had a pretty good idea of what was going on because before going we watched a hilarious video that used little plastic toy people to give a synopsis of the story.
When I say we, I'm referring to me and my friend Bea who I used to work with here in Connecticut. She has since moved back to her home country. This was the day I arrived after not seeing each other in person for 6 years.
It's such an incredibly beautiful country I wanted to share a few photos with you.
A 30-minute ride on the world's steepest cogwheel train brought us to see this view from Mount Pilatus.
Older villages like Carona have some of the prettiest windows and doors.
I bet palm trees are not the first thing you think of when you think of Switzerland. I was surprised too but Lugano and the southern village of Morcote reminded me very much of southern California.
The medieval architecture in the city of Lucerne was stunning.
Autumn color along the Rhein River, floating towards Stein am Rhein, Switzerland.
"It was a beautiful, bright autumn day,
with air like cider and
a sky so blue you could drown in it."
~ Diana Gabaldon, 'Outlander'
Late summer days
On these late days of summer, there's been a lot of activity in my garden. Hungry caterpillars munching away on the butterfly weed and bumble bees gathering pollen during the day and then settling in for the night, wings tucked as they curl up inside the cosmos flowers. Squirrels, always comical to watch, have been feasting on the plentiful seed pods of my witch hazel tree and I love seeing the occasional bunny out for a stroll at dusk.
If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen the unusual stitching project I've been working on since early July. It started when my husband was getting rid of an old pair of gray camouflage shorts that were falling apart. Knowing me so well, he asked if I might want them for something before he tossed them in the rag bin. The worn pattern was so intriguing that I knew I wanted to stitch on them.
Since I had already mended the shorts once by machine there was some messy zig-zag stitching that I wanted to cover up. That's how the dyed cheesecloth came in and it was handy that I already had a pile with a variety of colors to choose from.
This is what one of my Instagram friends said: "The peaceful sereneness of this 'landscape' puts me on the shore with the gentle waves washing over my feet as I walk, and little tide pools all along the way with the possibility of hidden treasures inside."
When I started stitching I had no plan or specific intention but I did begin to think about water as the piece evolved so I really love her description. 'Tide Pool' sounds like the perfect title. There's still more threadbare fabric so I may have to stitch a few companions : )
Japanese Anemone in my Waterford, CT garden
The world is full of magic things,
patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~ W. B. Yeats
Since the last studio update, I've finished several more organizing projects. Each one I finish brings another bit of joy to my working space and I'm finding cardboard to be is an amazing building material!
This is the desk top shelving unit I showed last time when it was almost finished. I wasn't able to find drawer pulls that would work for the 2 drawers so I made these strap-type pulls from the same fabric the boxes are covered with instead.
I cut strips of the fabric wide enough so it could fold over for a sturdy double thickness and glued it together by ironing with Heatn'Bond.
With a sharp exacto blade I cut 2 slits in the face of each drawer and slid the fabric strips through the slits. I made sure the strips were long enough to overlap when I glued them to the opposite side. I even added a divider to the smaller drawer for storing sewing needle packets. Having them stand up makes them easy to flip through when searching for a particular needle.
The second shelving unit (on the left) for storing paper was also made from cereal boxes following the same process as the first. Painting a cardboard magazine holder that I already had now stores the larger papers I need for messy gluing projects and smaller papers for writing notes. I used washi tape as trim to clean up around the raw edges of the holder.
Depending on my projects, I have spurts where I use my sewing machine and other times it sits idle for months. I don't have room for a dedicated sewing table so my husband came up with the idea of attaching a drawer slide unit under one of the shelves on the bookcase and attaching a piece of plywood as a pull out table. When I'm not using the sewing machine I just move it to the bottom shelf of the bookcase to store until next time. A perfect solution I never would have thought of myself.
The table sticks out about three inches when pushed in which is not a problem and gives me twelve inches of work space when fully extended. When I'm not using the sewing machine I just move it to the bottom shelf of the bookcase to store until next time. A perfect solution I never would have thought of myself.
I removed the closet door a long time ago because it took up so much wall space when it was open. I put a tension rod on the inside of the door space and hung a piece of muslin as the curtain. I was at the thrift store not long ago and purchased what I thought was a pretty striped table cloth. It turned out to be a shower curtain and it wasn't even the right size for my table.
I thought it might be a nice touch of color for my studio but it was about 10" too short. Since it was plenty wide enough I was able to trim off a section and stitch it to the top. It's so much prettier than that dull off-white muslin curtain.
Well, there is and it was last Saturday, May 14th. Initiated by Kolaj Magazine in 2018, it's an annual international celebration of collage. Artists and art venues are invited to hold events on that day to share the art medium that excels at bringing different things together to create new forms and new ways of thinking.
Above are the four I created while leading the class and watching the timer. Below you can see some that were done by those who took the class. Impressed? I sure am!
I was just taking a stroll in my backyard and was surprised at all the new growth and color since the last time I was out there which was only a day or two ago. The periwinkle and phlox are in full bloom. There are dandelions everywhere feeding happy bees and the little lilac buds are forming. I thought this one was a white flowering lilac but these buds are looking pretty purple.
The changes in spring happen so quickly that they can easily be missed if you're not paying attention, but how can you not pay attention when the colors are just screaming to be gazed upon. I found these grape hyacinths growing in a spot where I did not plant them. That's always a nice surprise.
Last week, I saw these little flowers in the wildflower garden at the Connecticut College Arboretum. I had to look them up to see what they were when I found a small patch growing in my own yard. The delicate perennial wildflower is native to the Eastern United States and is called bluet. It also goes by quite a few other names including quaker ladies, Venus's pride, Little innocents, and eyebright.
New workshop coming in June!
I've been creating and sharing a sketchbook collage every Monday on Instagram and Facebook for about 3 and a half years. I've learned so much over that time and when I look back at my older sketchbooks I can see how my work has evolved.
For quite a while, I've wanted to share some of what I've learned but translating it into a class format has taken more time than planned. I think it's because these collage works get started with a much more personal and intuitive approach than the other more process-based classes I've been teaching. Sometimes putting into words why I do things the way I do can be difficult. I've been spending more time paying attention to my thoughts and intentions while working so I can more easily express these ideas in an uncomplicated and helpful way.
My new Sketchbook Collage Workshop is very close to being done.
Studio organization update
Last month I talked about how I was rearranging things in my studio space. I'm still making small tweaks to see what's going to work the best. For it to be an efficient workspace it needs to be organized but because I spend so much time here I also want it to be comfortable and pleasing with colors I enjoy and having items around that are meaningful.
I've been in need of organized shelf space for papers and supplies. Since I never seem to be able to find exactly what I need to fit a particular space I turned to Pinterest for some help and cardboard was the answer. Click here to see how I made this desktop shelving unit and another small DIY project.
I'll continue to share more DIY studio updates and tips as they come about.
She turned to the sunlight
and shook her yellow head,
and whispered to her neighbor:
"winter is dead"
~ A. A. Milne
Hi, I'm Kathy a collage, eco-print artist, and rust enthusiast who loves to teach and guide you along on your creative journey.