Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools & Techniques

greeting card tools and techniquesThe Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools Techniques
by Susan Pickering Rothamel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cool thing about creativity is that it generalizes and spreads like wet grass in a thunderstorm. It is more a mindset than it is a specific “I am talented in this one area” phenomenon. And that brings me to Susan Pickering Rothamel’s Encyclopedia of Greeting Card Tools Techniques.

Don’t let the mongo title fool you. This is a fun book, filled with bright ideas and amazing examples of the types of greeting cards you can make. Paper weaving, crayon resist, interference mica, quilling, lace paper, mizuhiki cord, ornare. The author spotlights talented artists and gives examples of their work.

She takes on complicated techniques like stamping and spritzing, working with vellum, and thermography.

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon engrossed in a seed catalog or the Sears Christmas Wish Book (remember those?) you’ll love perusing this glorious collection of possibilities.

Fun to read and dream. And even make a few cards to send. Who do you know that might appreciate one?

art of paper collageAlso recommended is her book, The Art of Paper Collage. In addition to being the founder and president of one of the largest art paper companies in the world, the author is a talented and creative artist in her own right. Why am I not surprised!

This second book showcases some of her extraordinary work and highlights how she did it.

What stoves and gargoyles have in common

old stove

What delights me about this old stove, in addition to the antique vacuum beside it, are the curves and swirls and decorations on the metal panels. After all these years, long after the designer of the appliance has passed away, these remain.

They remind me of the gargoyles placed high upon the cathedral roofs in medieval Europe. These immense churches could take a century to complete, sometimes being worked upon by generations of stone masons.

The roofs needed spouts to carry the water away from the slates, and so gargoyles were born. They could have been simple drainage spouts like we use on our roofs today.

Instead, these stone masons made a choice.

These stone gargoyles, hundreds of them, became elaborate creations, carved and placed where most people would never see them, monuments to the stone carvers who created them.

Just like this stove. The designers didn’t have to add all of those curlicues and furbishes. It probably ran the price of the stove up at least another nickel or two. But because they did, a thing of beauty as well as utility was born.

We are all creators, every day, in our own way.

To my mind, creativity is creativity, whether you’re making art or running a company. Anyone who does anything well is an artist.
~Dale Chihuly~


My bucket’s got a hole in it

bucket got a hole

I found this old bucket in a Gold King Mine back lot. For those of you who haven’t been to Jerome, the Gold King Mine is a three-acre graveyard for all things mechanical: old ice cream wagons, belt-driven band saws, trucks and cars and tractors that are slowly melting back into the environment, one rust chip at a time.

What fascinated me about this arrangement, attached to a working windmill by that pipe you see, was the fence down the middle of the bucket. It provides much-needed water to two critter enclosures, neatly dividing the water between them, share and share alike. And the burros seem to like it just fine that way!

To love and be loved is to feel the sun
from both sides.

~David Viscott


Dance like no one is watching

agave and eucalyptis

I caught these three at play on a windy day in the Thompson Boyce Arboretum in central Arizona east of Apache Junction. It seemed as though the huge agave plant had invited the eucalyptus tree to dance a tango while the palms waved in chorus.

The scene reminded me of the Pixar movie, Toy Story, in turn a riff off the Tchaikovsky ballet, the Nutcracker. The toys come to life when no one is watching just as these huge plants had done. Are we not like those objects, with the ability to come to life whenever we chose?

How much richer our lives are when we relinquish fear of what “they” might say and live our days according to our own North Star of intention.





Book review: Dale Chihuly: 365 Days

chihuly 365Chihuly: 365 Days
by Dale Chihuly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dale Chihuly’s career as a master glass artist, now spanning four decades, is illustrated in this amazing book of 365 full color photographs featuring some of his most famous pieces. Included, also, is a running commentary of his views on creativity, productivity (he believes in eight-hour days with no lunch breaks) and the joy of being alive.

When Chihuly lost an eye in a serious auto accident and dislocated his shoulder soon after in a body surfing accident, he turned to a team approach to working with glass. He then was able to turn out immense works of art, some over fifty feet in length, constructed of blown and fabricated glass elements.

Color is primary to his creations. He says he never met a color he didn’t like, and his works explore a wide palette: bright green heron pieces in a river, a crystal chandelier of aquamarine and white, a boat filled with yellow, blue and red glass objects. Lighting of these glass art works is essential. Within a museum, the pieces seem to glow in a dark room. At a conservatory or a lake amidst plants, they peek out from the leaves adding explosions of yellow or red or magenta.

Chihuly explores other elements as well. In an exhibit at a Citadel in Jerusalem he exported 64 tons of ice blocks from Alaska to create an immense melting wall that both blended with the current architecture and symbolized a wall that no longer needed to exist.

Viewing the book is visceral pleasure and reading his philosophy is nourishment to the artistic soul.

Highly recommended.