The Mystery Of the Errant Fabric Pin

A blast of an almost forgotten memory hit me as I was re-reading an old Art Doll Quarterly. The events are still so strange to me that I decided to share the story for your Halloween spooky-story month.

This advertisement from Anima Designs popped up to surprise me at how baffled I still am, after all these years. The ad featured one of the sample fabric pins that I made for them using their rubber stamps.

Advertisement from Anima Designs

The mystery happened in the middle of a rubber stamp class that I was teaching at Cloud Nine in Monrovia. Well, let me back up…it really started when Kim from Anima Designs e-mailed me to say that one of the pins that I made was stolen from her last rubber stamp show. It is heartbreaking when that happens in classes or at shows but, as you can guess, it happens a lot. Theft of handmade goods or artwork is so sad that I had to learn not to take it personally. I had to tell myself that it is the price of doing business and let it go.

The class that I was teaching was probably to be my last as I was moving out of state and did not know if I would continue in the same direction. I had mentioned it to my group a couple weeks earlier.

Well, in the middle of class, a student walked in and I thought, “late as usual”. (Lateness is one of my pet peeves and, in a full class especially, it is so not fair to the other students to be interrupted by a late comer. OK, that is a whole other story.)

Dried flowers for fall

But, in walks this regularly pain-in-the-butt student. She surprises me by saying that she is not in the class, but that she wanted to bring me flowers for being one of her favorite teachers and to say that she will miss me. OK, now I’m completely turned around emotionally because I was in a totally negative state at first and then put into a suddenly happily-surprised state. I was just thinking that it was strangely kind of her when she announces, in front of everyone, that she brought something to show me that SHE had made. Yep, you guessed it- it was unmistakably my pin.

It was not the pin in Kim’s ad that you see above, but it was the pin that Kim said had been stolen. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of that pin to show you. But it was unmistakably my pin. You see, I had hand dyed the fabric and all of the trim, so I recognized it immediately. I flipped it over to see my signature on the back, but it had been crossed out with a black Sharpie.

I was shocked and appalled. So now I went from happy state to WTF?! A million thoughts crossed my mind. Should I confront her? Is she crazy to think that I wouldn’t recognize my own handiwork? What is her game? And, finally, is she the one who actually stole the pins or did one of her friends do it and then gift it to her? I don’t understand. All of these thoughts put me in a practically catatonic state as I kept smiling and mumbling about how nice.

I didn’t want to be rude in front of the other students who were all smiling at how nice this lady was for bringing me flowers. What to do, what to do…. In the end, I did what most women my age do when being slapped like that. I did nothing.

Obviously this still bothers me and is wrapped in a bunch of strong emotions. I do realize that it is yet another one of those just-bury-it and let it go things.

Mostly though, I’m posting this because I wondered what others would do in the same situation. What would you have done?

Still perplexed
autumn flower arrangement
art · Travels

Visiting the Palatki Cultural Center

The Palatki Cultural Center is awesome! Les and I are interested in ancient ruins as well as artwork from any period of time. This place is rife with both and is located smack-dab in the middle of some of the most amazing red-rock scenery. It gets a HUGE thumbs up from us. OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you about our day at the site. (grin)

A gorgeous meadow on the walk from the parking lot to the Cultural visitor’s center where you have to check in.

The very first thing that we learned upon entering the visitor’s center is that we were supposed to call ahead to make reservations. Oooops! After a long, bumpy drive down a dirt road, we could have easily been turned away from the ruins. The reason is that they don’t allow more than 10 people on any given tour. The ledge in front of the dwellings is fairly narrow and really would not comfortably and safely accommodate more than ten. Also, the site can be closed for renovation, rock falls and rain. At times, the walk to the cliff dwelling is closed, so you can only view them from a distance below the cliffs. Continue reading “Visiting the Palatki Cultural Center”


Inspiring Paper Mâché

It’s very early morning and I’m surfing the web again. I ran across a couple of REALLY fantastic paper mâché art pieces. I have to tell you, right off, that not one piece of art in this post is my own (I WISH!)  I just wanted to share it with you because it is so darned inspiring. Of course, all links to the original artwork are included in my post.

The first article that I stumbled across is of a free tutorial on making paper mâché tea cups. Free tutorial?! I’m THERE! This one did not disappoint. The cups are adorable and Ann Wood even has a follow up blog post about her artwork being sold through Anthropolgy in 2016. Very cool stuff. Below is Ann’s blog address.  You MUST check it out. Ann’s work is adorable, fun, interesting and informative. There are lots of cool tutorials as well as things for sale in this blog.

Continue reading “Inspiring Paper Mâché”

Sculptures on the Tips of Lead Pencils

This past weekend Les and I went to Tucson to visit the Miniature Museum. Or more accurately, we went to The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. OMG! The museum exceeded all of our expectations. The main reason for our visit was to Oooh and Ahh over the dollhouse miniatures, but there was more, MUCH more than just that. I’m going to do another post on what else we saw, but first, I want to share the special exhibit with you.

The temporary exhibit showcased carvings on the tips of lead pencils. Both Les and I have marveled in the past at these mini works of art. “How do they do that?”, has been a recurring question in our conversations about different artisans. Not ones to look ahead to see what we are getting ourselves into (LOL), we were surprised to find out that the special exhibit was on a subject that has fascinated us for so long. The exhibit features over thirty micro mini sculptures done by three different artists.

Continue reading “Sculptures on the Tips of Lead Pencils”

Painting big bold flowers

Bold flower paintings are all around us these days, so I decided to jump on the fun wagon. It all started with my niece wanting a large painting above her bed. We searched all of the stores in her area and could find nothing that she could afford. The search wasn’t wasted on me since I developed a good idea of what kinds of paintings that she gravitated toward. Expensive ones, LOL, but based on what she liked, I decided to try my hand at a bold, riotous floral to surprise her.


Of course, with anything that is “in” at the moment, you know that it will be “out” soon, not to mention that this art is highly derivative. Still, I figure that it’s for a private home – no sales involved- and it was fun slapping colors onto a canvas just because I wanted to paint some “sofa art”.

Sometimes I like to paint with absolutely no pressure as to the outcome. It clears up my confusion about too many things piled up and makes me able to focus on just a few things at a time again.


You can see, by her bedding, that my niece favors colorful prints. So that was my direction – a large, loud floral painting. I told her that she did not have to use or keep the painting. However, I’m thankful that she loved it and hung it right away.

Painting like this was so enjoyable that I already have five other canvases primed for more stylized floral paintings. Yes, it was that fun! The next set of canvases will be less a conglomeration of paintings that I saw while shopping and more “me”. But, I swear that they will be just as loose and crazy flowers because that was the fun of it. I can picture masterpieces now… hmmm…Did I just pile up even more stuff to do? LMAO…ah well, the lies we tell ourselves…


Abstract Paintings of an Early Snow

Our snow has come late this year. I’m calling it an early snow, in spite of its lateness,  because it’s our first and an unusual amount of fall color remains on the leaves. It has stayed warm for so much of this winter that, even after the snow has melted, there is still a fair amount of autumn foliage surrounding us. This past year has been a year of record breaking statistics and total strangeness. Then, along comes January and it’s STILL strange. Ah well, no matter my opinion, life goes on. What to do about it? Paint it!

abstract apinting by Sandra McCall
Early Snow on the Old Homestead

After a quick gathering of supplies, Les and I set off for another art day in the woods. We chose a close campsite with a long table and got right down to our experiments. It was too cold to stay overnight, so this was strictly a short day trip.

pen and ink by Sandra McCall
Autumn Outing

My experiments were all about using a limited pallet of ink and only white acrylic paint. I smeared, splattered and painted. For some reason, I LOVE struggling in trying to paint a good abstract. Les asks me why I don’t just paint in realism because it comes so easily to me. And that, I think, is exactly the reason that it is not as challenging to me.

ink and paint abstract by Sandra McCall
First Snow on Autumn Leaves

Long ago, I had an art teacher, in college, who critiqued my sketchbook. He said, “You are not an artist, you are a draftsman. Sure, you can draw what you see, but there is no “art” in what you are doing.” He further went on to pour salt into my wounds by proclaiming loudly, “Your paintings are homogeneous.”

Boy! I’ve never forgotten that slam and it still stings after waaay too many years. So, struggle I do, because someday I WILL be an artist!  (grin) Don’t worry, I do know that he was just a jealous old fart – as I told another female student who was in tears over his critique. Oddly, all of the guys in class got glowing reviews. hmmmm….OK,  STILLED pissed! (Smacking my Head)

mixed media painting by Sandra McCall
Snow Over Autumn Landscape

But, back to painting- These abstracts are about trying to depict what I saw and felt that day. The air was crisp, there was a light snow covering the area, but the sun was shining and there was still lots of fall foliage peeking through the snow.

Letters From an Autumn Campsite
S McCall

Halloween Assemblage

Making Halloween decorations for 2017

First of all, I have to give props to Polly’s Paper Studio.  Her post on her peat pot birthday assemblage gave me the kick that I needed to get busy on my Halloween decor. I decided, as soon as I saw Polly’s post, that I wanted to make a Halloween pot.

For the first step in this project, as in all projects, I had to make a mess. I usually drag all kinds of supplies out to see if this will go or if that will go- you know the drill.


One of the things that I knew I wanted to use was a little pumpkin that I carved out of clay. A mold was made from the clay pumpkin and then cast in resin. You can see him in the bottom right corner of the pic above. He’s painted with a coat of acrylic craft paint.

Halloween rosettes
Halloween ornaments

I had made a ton of Halloween rosettes for my Halloween tree, so I nabbed one of those to use in the pot as well.

My other self imposed constraint was to use only what I had on hand. A little metal pot started out as my base after I drilled holes into the side of the pot. I took three colors of pipe cleaners, twined them around each other, then fit the ends into the holes in the pot. Now I had a cute little handle.

Next, I cut a strip of scrapbook paper to length. I cut divets into the paper from the bottom up, leaving a connection point at the top of the strip- only about an eighth of an inch deep.   The divets helped to overlap the paper in the forming of the pot shapes. If you will cut those, you will have no buckling as you try to shape the paper onto the pot.

Halloween crafts
Components of assemblage

A little shredded paper went into the pot as a filler. That was topped with tulle and ribbon glued in with a glue gun.

The  stars were freehand cut out of glitter scrapbook paper.

The “Boo” banner is a scrap book embellishment from Recollections. The adhesive ribbon around the pot base and the banner are left-over supplies from a previous scrap book project. I used a glue gun to assemble everything and there you have it.

OH! I also lightly sanded my little pumpkin to give her an aged, vintage look. She got a body and a little paper dress with pom-pom for her outfit.

Halloween decorations
Halloween bucket nestled in with other Halloween decorations
S McCall

Birthday Fairy Peat Pot and Anything Goes Challenge

I first saw this post on Facebook and was captivated. I’m going to attempt to make a similar little pot for Halloween. I’ll post that when I’m done. Until then, enjoy Polly’s post and follow her if you’re inclined toward paper crafts. She has some adorable ideas on her blog.

Polly's Paper Studio

Today I’m sharing a sweet little project I made for my BFF Heather for her birthday. It’s not actually until the 6th of January. Guess I’m early for once : )

IMG_0333I covered the little pot with torn strips of book page then inked it heavily and stamped a dot border at the bottom.

IMG_0336The little girl is a vintage image from Graphic’s Fairy. I trimmed off her top hat and gave her a party hat complete with glitter and a pom pom top.  wings for her back make her a proper fairy. The super simple banner is just trimmed paper…inked and stamped and glittered of course. It’s held up with silver wire. I used a chenille stem as the “handle”

IMG_0337-001I made half of a paper rosette to help hold in the paper filler in the pot. for the rim I knew I wanted to add real vintage buttons…

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