Xi’an, China

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Hello, It has been a while! I took a break from blogging to take a trip around the world including getting married in Venice, Italy!

As eager as I am to share that I wanted to take care of unfinished business from our trip to South Korea and China last year first. I left off in Hangzhou, China but I think I lost control in my Asian journal back somewhere around Jeju Island.

We traveled inward from the coast to the Lintong District of Xi’an

on a quest to see the Terracotta Warriors.

Nothing could have prepared us for the complete awe we felt looking across the first pit.

The sheer number of warriors,

each so unique

and detailed,

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was truly fascinating.

Next we were struck with the realization of the enormity of work involved

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in carefully unearthing each fragment and fossilized relic

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and reassembling

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piece by piece

and restoring

this army of thousands.

It was easy to forget they were not real

as the artistry involved was amazing

and at times we felt like we were looking at a battlefield.

We knew our visit here was something we would never forget as we headed back to explore inside the walled city of Xi’an.

Xi’an is one of the most populated cities in China

which is as evident in their traffic

as the crowded pedestrian streets

Equally busy by day and any hour of the night it seemed.

We visited The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

and found a peaceful and beautiful refuge from all the noise and activity at the Great Mosque of Xi’an.

It was an experience to witness the call to prayer

as the neighborhood men filed in.

I will leave you with a favorite photo of this joyful little straggler.

I hope to see you next in our last stop on this trip, Beautiful Beijing! xoxo

Lost in Thought

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My pages started out as an exercise.

Lost in Thought

Tracing over a torn tissue paper strip and pale patterns I had stenciled. Getting more comfortable as I practiced simple straight and curved lines. First with a pencil and then with a pen concentrating on flow rather than precision. Gessoing it all over and starting again only using my pen.

Next text from an old book on my work desk appeared on the page followed by more paint, some stamped text and a TAP transfer on a piece of paper towel of an acrylic painting I had done over a year ago and tucked in my journal.

A beer bottle top I found in the street, rusted and crushed, in the shape of a heart and flowers punched from the rest of the book page on my desk became garlands and I added more washes of color and ink.

As I looked at my pages when I returned from my walk I was surprised where they had taken me.

I had been lost in thought.

Wedding Lace Book

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I have taken a break from my sketching and journals lately to make a gift for dear friends whose wedding we were honored to be part of this past November.

Much of the lace I used was gifted to me by generous friends in my art group or is from my mother’s wedding gown and even bits from the dress I will be wearing for my own wedding next month in Venice, Italy. I hope this book will convey that friendship and love and the endurance of weddings past.

To start the book I gathered cotton fabrics and tore them to the full size of the page. I made an extra shot of my morning espresso and after printing some frames from The Graphics Fairy on fabric and stamping favorite quotes I stained the new fabric to give it a bit of patina. I also printed black and white photos from their wedding day onto fabric.

I added vintage lace and bits to each page and adhered a favorite love poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to an old book cover.

As I stitched I added little pockets to tuck the poem in as well as other mementos I had collected from our lovely weekend in historic Annapolis.

I embellished the next page with a tag from our celebratory champagne  and a vintage watch face and button.

Tucking in a ring pouch which was the color of the wedding cake.

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On the last pages I added more pockets in black and white to tuck the remaining bits.

Stationary from the Governor Calvert House, doilies from Champagne and scones at  Reynolds Tavern,  a vintage card and the stamp and invitation to their upcoming celebratory party at their new home. I embellished the pocket with the champagne top I had saved and a lovely piece of vintage French passementerie.

The back cover shows off the lovely lace from my mother’s wedding gown and one of a pair of earrings from the bride’s grandmother

and the spine is wrapped with ribbon secured with vintage mother of pearl buttons.


This was my first lace book and Sew Somerset and Lilla Le Vine provided amazing inspiration and technique. Thank you Carmen, Patty and Fran for sharing your lovely lace bits, Lisa for those sweet little French buttons. Spreading the love! =) xoxo Susan

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

~ Khalil Gibran

Journal pages 4

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Sometimes when I sit down with my journal I have no idea where the pages will take me. With the last of my four collage images on my desk and thoughts of the anniversary of the loss of my father heavy on my mind I started moving gesso and acrylics across the pages. I mixed light molding paste with fluid gold acrylic and skimmed it over one of the Cathedral Series stencils by Artistcellar.

After it dried I rubbed the relief with Vintage Photo, Distress Ink to age it and used some Shimmer Spritz which gave it the look of limestone.

Then I added vegetable dyed lace from a friend overlapping the pages.

I added my collage over the lace

and painted blue Forget Me Nots with acrylics

scattered across the facing page as well, some paper hearts, one for each year and a quote

from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Wishing a merry month of May to all. xoxo

Journal Pages 3

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This week I continued with my drawing and watercolor practice.

Sketching baby Mourning Doves, born in a planter on our balcony last week, I tried to capture their downy little bodies tucked in their nest.

I am not sure my watercolor techniques are improving but I am really enjoying experimenting and would eventually love to find a local class.

After I finished my sketch the existing adjoining page was far too vibrant for my liking so I tipped in a part of a vintage birthday card from my ephemera collection. Surprised at the striking resemblance of the pansies depicted on the card to the pansies I had painted, even down to the color and placement, I decided it was meant to be!

After attaching the card with a few strips of pale yellow Washi tape I had on my worktable I used another of my collage images adding glittery butterfly wings I found on the sidewalk and a few journal lines.

The pretty face I used is from Paper Whimsy, the epaulettes are an ornament cap flattened and cut in half. Her skirt and pompom are cut from garden catalogs and the cake dome and her party hat (an upside down wall sconce) are from a home decor magazine. I sketched her arms and legs.

I did a little research and found that free-living doves live between 7 and 11 years of age. However, banding research confirms a longevity of much longer than that. The Mourning Dove is actually one of the 10 longest lived free-living species in the Bird Banding Lab Database, holding a record of 31 years and 4 months!

I hope our sweet little Mourning Doves have many more birthdays!

Hangzhou, China

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The rain followed us from Shanghai to Hangzhou and continued on and off.

Hangzhou is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China.

We spent little time in the modern section of the city other than visiting the silk district on Xinhua Road

where the street was lined with shop after shop of silks and other fabrics.

Our first day we strolled along the Weeping Willow lined banks of West Lake located in the historic area.

Enjoying the sights

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and admiring the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon

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on the Su Causeway

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and the Baochu Pagoda rising in the mist.

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The lake was dotted with tourist boats,

some fancier than others,

working boats

and fairy boats waiting by Lotus leaf docks.

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In the evening we enjoyed a glowing and ethereal production of Impression West Lake.

The next day we ventured up a less traveled path.

First lined with small alleys and residences, then quickly turning into a thick forested area where we passed a man washing vegetables for a meal

and encountering a group of men playing cards

near a small shrine carved in the rock.

Walking further we came upon a cave

We found an entrance and descended finding a tea house

and much larger shrines all with such vibrant colors.

Our final day we visited Dragon Well tea village where Longjing green tea is grown.

We admired the simple beauty of a dried bouquet adorning weathered wood doors,

a woman doing her daily wash with Koi looking on just feet away

and a watermelon cooling in the stream.

Next we will leave the lakes of Hangzhou

and head to Xi’an. I hope you will join me there…

Journal Pages 2

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I enjoyed making a second journal spread this week still working with my recently collaged images.

Inspired to make a few changes to my original Flower Angel collage

Flower angel

after visiting Dumbarton Oaks Gardens this week and taking some photos.

Dumbarton Oaks Gardens

I used the camellias I photographed to make part of her gown.

Camellias

Several months ago I had collaged background paper using paper napkins, sheet music, paper towels I had cleaned up my painting surface with, cheese cloth and other various scraps. After cutting out two sections I stitched them with my sewing machine to tack down loose bits and created pockets in the cheese cloth that did not glue down well. Then I glued them to my journal pages.

I adhered my collaged image with gel medium to the right hand page and added an old watch face topped with a vintage locket to her torso and the word “seen” cut from an old book page.

The edge of the page is trimmed with a scrap of felted wool, some lace from a friend and leftover cheesecloth, twine and a vintage velvet flower.

Still practicing my sketching and experimenting with watercolors I made a bookmark

for one of the pockets

and tucked a few bird feathers I found on my daily walks in the other little pocket.

Enjoy your weekend and may it be filled with art and inspiration!

xoxo

Susan

Journal Pages

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I made this journal out of canvas boards and fabric over a year ago in Lesley Riley’s class at Art and Soul and rediscovered it after organizing my art room. I still haven’t finished the cover.

I was inspired to work in it last week after creating some collage images on a project day with my art group. 

Birthday girl Flower angel

I started with the face, some were from Paper Whimsy, and then created the rest with cuttings and scraps from magazines, catalog images and bits of ephemera. I collaged some images on background pages and sketched legs, arms and feet where needed.

Blue girl   Chandelier angel

Next I applied the little blue girl image to a watercolor page in my journal with gel medium and then stenciled, doodled and added acrylic paints and white and black gel pens to the background.

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The nest is a TAP transfer and I layered scraps of sewing pattern tissue, a torn piece of an embroidered shower curtain from Patty and a piece of a vintage tape measure.

The preceding page was a small insert of sheet music on which I had done a TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) transfer of three eggs and sewed a dyed and tattered doily to the page edge.

And after a walk through the Virginia Bluebells at Bull Run Park on Saturday

I was inspired to do a watercolor sketch of these lovely and prolific blue beauties. In my haste to get color on the page I applied too much saturation to the flowers forgetting the all important unpainted white spaces to highlight the lovely blue flowers and it all got a bit mucky.

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But since it’s in my journal now, hopefully I will look back and improve my next attempt at watercolor.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Boston and all those involved in the horrific tragedy yesterday. Wishing peace and safety to all.

Getting Organized (Part II)

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The truth is I have been avoiding my art room because I was overwhelmed by too much stuff and not enough storage. I scoured Craig’s List and not only found this prefect piece with lots of storage but had the pleasure of meeting Jacqueline

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who gifted me with this lovely sheet music and ephemera!

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After I lined the drawers and shelves I was ready to store my collections of papers

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and fabrics.

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The top along with two shelves provided much needed surface space

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for odds and ends and altered and hand made books. (I didn’t realize I have seven in progress!)

I still had room for my existing small bakers rack filled with paint, gesso, gel mediums and other supplies. (Which still needs organizing! One step at a time…=)

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I was also able to squeeze my old desk in front of the window for more storage for my collection of glitter filled S & P and powder shakers.

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I made the three tier stand out of a thrift store silver plate lazy Susan, tray, bowl and candlesticks.

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and recycled printers trays for small bits.

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Much thanks to my new friend and kindred spirit, Jacqueline, for her generosity and love of all things vintage! xoxo

Now there’s the sewing nook … =0

Tea with Marie – Part II

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I sent my Tea with Marie altered book out for a round robin with the girls in my local art group last June. You can see the cover and beginning pages here. I was just thrilled with the lovely pages they created!

This is Lisa’s sweet spread.

Lisa used a post card titled Love Letter by Georges Barbier and embellished a silver souvenir spoon with an M from the foil top of a wine bottle. A bejeweled heart hangs just out of camera view from the gold crown.

These are Fran’s pages.

Blooming with pink rose fabric, ribbon and lace and one of Fran’s special rosettes behind Marie’s head. It is a floral fantasy!

Next is Linda Y’s who says she doesn’t do pretty…

An indulgent feast of pretty and humor, no? I love her tea tag and the shimmery gold mesh she used in the background. Pretty to a “tea”!

And so inspired by these talented ladies I couldn’t wait to do a page!

I started with a photo copy of an antique French book cover as my background adding bits of toile patterned tissue paper and gold napkins, from Patty (you can see Patty’s gorgeous spread in my book here), and further ageing with acrylic paint and brown ink. I stamped an embellished frame and sketched armoire doors and added a magazine image of a key to hang my golden slippers from. There is a wonderful tutorial by Terri Heinz for making the shoes on her beautiful blog Artful Affirmations.

It was such fun to create “Marie” from scraps of clipart images and magazine clippings and then dressing her in a crepe paper petticoat, fabric and lace. Adding flowers and a feather to her hair as a final touch.

Thank you to all the special, talented ladies who worked in my book. Still more pages to share in a future post! xoxo

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