Finding my Footing

Black-headed Heron Work in Process

What happens after a big project ends?

This is probably the time I dislike the most, the time when you’re not certain what path to take. Where should I go next? What should I focus on? I’m pretty sure loads of people love that open option, but I struggle with being confronted with an open box of everything. So, I’m trying to regain my footing. My body is gaining an equilibrium again. An upcoming workshop has been canceled. The slate is clean for the moment. What do I want to do? Maybe another print after dabbling in some large scale drawings. Maybe ceramics…. again, there’s so many options. But I’m staying on the African wildlife theme.

The Black-headed Heron is a native of sub Saharan Africa. I first noticed them at The Hunters Lodge in Kiboko Kenya. They are an abundant species and stand tall at 85cm. I started a drawing on white butcher paper and charcoal so as to not feel necessarily attached to the image or materials. I’m trying to figure out scale and proportions of this bird on a larger than life size. I currently see multiple problems that can’t be resolved on this paper, but maybe I’ll pull out the giant roll of Rives BFK. I certainly have plenty of paper to work with!

So, dear readers, you will be seeing more drawings of wildlife from Africa. Maybe more large prints as well. I’m not ready to totally commit myself to that yet, but the drawings feel possible.

Thanks for checking in!

Zebra Done!

Holding up the Zebra with Oxpecker birds

Saturday was the culmination of a giant printing project that started two months ago. I printed the zebra with a fantastic group of artists and the organizers of Big Ink at the Whiteaker Print Studio in Eugene.

I have forgotten how incredible printmakers are because it’s been years since being involved with any projects. I missed that support and energy. Lyell and Carand are an extraordinary team, working hard each day with all those blocks of creativity. I also enjoyed meeting Jessica Billey, another local artist and Big Ink participant, who needed a ride to the event. I fell in love with her image 💕. It involved sheep, a tree, barn and incredible clouds. It spoke of the area we live in.

So this particular journey has ended but I think I’ll continue dipping back into the world of block prints. My press is ready for some action! I just have to get cracking.

Thanks for watching the process. If you want to see more, please check my Instagram account

Two days left

I’m so tired of this image and I only have two days remaining for carving. My right hand is exhausted. My body doesn’t enjoy all the sitting. I just have to buckle down and keep focusing on the end goal. Saturday morning I leave home at 7:30.

The block is 40” x 24”. Cherry plywood.

Break time

Current stage of the project.

Yesterday I was forced to take a break, not that I wanted it. My back muscles decided to go wonky. This happens several times a year so I typically can get it under control in a few days. Hopefully that will be the case here. So I’m spending time with ice packs and a heating pad, Yoga stretching, hard ball massage, and trying to keep the stress to a minimum. That’s the game plan for today and Friday. Of course this would happen when I was finally getting a better feeling for working the block. Oh well. Maybe this project wasn’t the best choice for me, but I still hope to complete it for the April 16th deadline. I just need let the body settle down.

Woodblock size is 39” x 24”. Cherry plywood.

Carving Wood, Felt Flowers and 13 Years

Let’s start with the 13th Anniversary of this Blog! Has it really been that long???? I’ve been so neglectful of keeping up with everything in life on any platform. Ok, I guess Instagram probably receives the most attention these days because it’s just easy to post a photo and add a few words. Sitting down an blogging takes time and brain energy, which seem to be spent in other areas these days. So, Happy Anniversary to Sticks Stones and Paperstew!

The last two months have been swamped with quite a few things: First, I was asked to add a few items into the Valentines show at Vintage Roost and came away with a little cash (which was greatly appreciated). Second thing to note is an art challenge: a Big Ink woodblock print! Many years ago I started following BigInk Print because of his very interesting press. It’s mobile and can fit enormous blocks most often left to giant construction rolling equipment. I guess the prints could also be created with lots of hand rubbing , but that already makes my arms hurt just thinking about it. So I applied, last minute, to the Eugene OR visit and was accepted. Now I have to create!

The print journey has been running for several weeks. I chose a Zebra with Oxpecker birds that I photographed while visiting Kenya in 2019. The block size is 39″ long by 24″ high (99×61 cm) and is cherry plywood. The surface was tinted with a blue acrylic paint and I used carbon paper to help transfer my image. Print Day is April 16th and I’ll receive 3 images during my session (and the block will come home with me for more hand pulled images). The count down is real! Below are some of the process images thus far:

Transfer of the image to cherry plywood.
Starting to carve out the zebra head
Progress image as of March 16, 2022

Besides printing preparation, jumping back into tax prep, I decided to make a few Snowdrops and Crocus in felt. The weather is warming up after a few weeks of cold weather with rain. Today was beautiful! Daffodils and plum trees blooming their hearts out. The sweet smells of Daphne from numerous neighbors homes. I’m feeling the need to get out and start planning the new garden beds.

Snowdrop in wool.

I suspect that’s enough for now. Please keep following along for more print updates. One of the completed images will go to auction to benefit the Makindu Children’s Program.

New ideas popping up

Happy Lunar New Year! I’ve been working on numerous projects lately, mainly with wool, and slowly selling off the remaining chickadee cards from our holiday print run. Taxes are in the works because I’m awful about keeping track of expenses/time invested into projects. The Vintage Roost, a local seasonal venue, is currently hosting a few items of mine during their Valentines Open House. Additional stock was produced for the event and it’s actually starting to push me into thinking about other ways to use wool. Their clients seem to be interested in quite a wide assortment of finished goods. This weekend I started to work on wool as jewelry. If you look at Pinterest, there’s an overflow of ideas (yes, I do pop on to look at colors and textures in a variety of things from printmaking, ceramics, and textiles). So I’m slowly learning how to make small things and play with my existing bead stash.

Beaded felt earrings still missing the actual ear loop portion. That will be sorted soon.

Another thing that surfaced last week was the print advertisement for the upcoming show at our local arts center. I happened to win the 2021 “Peoples Choice Award” with the giant felted wool cow head. The winning art is featured on the show advertisement the following year.

The artist and her work.

I’m glad they chose to feature a photo of artwork and artist. It certainly gives a size reference for the art but actually connects the art with the actual artist, even if I have on my face mask 😷. One friend said I looked like a cattle rustler! This is the first time they have used an image like this for their show.

Hot pink heart with Red the cow.
Heart magnets.

Everything hearts seems to be the current studio theme. I’m glad it’s coming to an end and my brain is pushing forward with ideas for the upcoming event later this spring.

Spring is coming to our part of the country. Snowdrops and crocus are blooming! Even daffodils are almost in bloom. Migrating birds are starting to move back north. I saw my first Turkey Vultures of the season on January 28th, happily consuming a rotting critter. It seems a few weeks early, but they certainly know when spring is coming.

wood burning on plywood. Warbler part 2

Eventually I’ll get back to working on the Warbler block. It takes a special energy and focus that I don’t seem to have available right now. Maybe later this week I’ll uncover it. Maybe not. I do want to make a valentine card for family! Oh dear, that’s my impatient brain running away with ideas again!

Thanks for checking in!

For those who want to see what I’m doing more frequently, please check out Instagram

Warbler Start

Warbler start on plywood

Here we go with a second round of bird wood burning/ drawings. This is a Townsend’s Warbler, a very active bird around my area. I’m working from a photo that I took last February during the same ice storm as the Chestnut Backed Chickadee. This little male has a lovely profile but his tail end is actually facing me. I’ll be attempting to get all those delicate fluffy feathers and strong wing and tail working in an appropriate manner. Time will tell! I have lots of burning ahead.

The wood is a plywood cut as a 9 inch square. Wood burner is from Walnut Hollow.


Progress image of a Chestnut Backed Chickadee in burned wood

For several years I’ve created a special holiday card for family and friends. The vast majority of them were hand pulled prints including block and screen prints in multiple colors. The last card (2019) was created from cut paper pieces put through photoshop and sent to a printers to replicate. Holiday cards are special and made with love, but haven’t been quite as regular as in years past. This year I’m going for a little different attempt with, wait for it…, yes a totally different medium!

Pyrography, also known as wood burning, just recently popped into my life. I ran across a pet portrait artist on Instagram who does lovely images and it intrigued me. I happen to have a wood burning tool purchased for a different reason years ago and hasn’t been used but once a few weeks back to create signage for wool laundry balls.

Of course this is just a giant experiment for my brain to jump on. What if I burn wood? What happens when I add colored pencils over the top? Does that add to the look? Do I get greater interest from it? Possibly! When this particular image is completed, do I experiment with the same chickadee image in pastels? Cut paper? Ceramics? Felt? Life is one giant experiment in the making. I’m just swirling around on different eddies of artistic delight. Maybe someday I’ll settle down on one thing.

Hopefully, once the cards arrive, I’ll have enough to sell later via art events or online. The above photo is a progress image. I’ll post the final image after Christmas. If you’re on Instagram, you can see the completed image there

If I don’t get in another posting before Christmas, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

December? Already?

Vintage Roost Display

Oh my goodness! Where has all the time gone? Wait, I seem to remember lots of wool… stabbing with barbed needles and production. Yes, I’ve been working on product and things have been selling. Which means more production for restocking. Now the final weekend is almost here and I can shift to creating the holiday card for 2021. The image is in my brain but how to put it to paper is the question. Will it be a block print or drawing? I’ll try to keep you posted. After the weekend, all the remaining felted product will return home and be placed on Etsy for sale. Ceramics are also going into production. Oh my! I think my hands are primed and ready for clay action. They really haven’t enjoyed all the felting torture. So on to new projects!