Author Archive

Recycled Art: Mosaic Art Bowl

September 15, 2015 2 comments



Do you have an old wooden salad bowl? I was given one but I also see wooden bowls crop up a lot at thrift shops and yard sales. Get one if you want to recycle it into a mosaic art bowl. This is a fun, easy project to make an old wooden bowl into something much nicer.

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Product Review: Staedtler Master Carve Block

September 14, 2015 2 comments



I had tried a few different kinds of soft carve media blocks as an alternative to linoleum. I did not like any of them! The prior brands were easy to carve but were not good for fine lines -or even clear lines- as the edges would cut raggedly or crumble. I carved the blocks as soon as I bought them, in case the soft media blocks can dry out and harden with time like linoleum. Then I tried a Staedtler Master Carve block and it was totally different, holding fine, clear lines like linoleum while being as easy to carve as a pencil eraser. I am so hooked on this product!

This is the carving I did with the block. I used Dockyard Microtools 1 – 2 mm V and U gouges to do the carving. I wanted the pattern of the cat to be hair-like and to also have cuts in the block delineate the fur. I also like carving with gouges a lot, seeing the line appear in one cut as it curls away from the block. Sharpie marker is helpful to get the design on the Staedtler block so it can be carved; once the ink was dry it did not smudge or wipe off.


Carved block before printing.

Carved block before printing.


I was thrilled with how smooth and easy the gouges cut through the block. This media would be great to carve with an Xacto knife or any other block print cutting tools. I carved the background around the cat because I wanted to print the noise and have that as a comparison to the positive image.




I used my preference of an oil-based intaglio ink to print. Oil-based ink takes longer to dry but does not smudge and has a richer, deeper color. Both the positive design and the background noise printed wonderfully with the Staedtler Master Carve block. I used an Asian paper with some mulberry tree fibers and shiny silver flecks in each sheet for printing. The final print on this paper is very lovely. It makes me feel like a cozy cat is curled up on a snowy day so I titled this piece “Winter”.

WordPress Hates White Space

September 4, 2015 Leave a comment

WordPress, or at least some of its templates, really hates white space. Even the &nbsp; or <br> tags for HTML will not work and something overrides the code to remove empty space. I personally don’t think text, images and video should be rammed together. I was particularly tired of embedded videos and images being run together with each other or jammed together with text above and below. I came up with a simple hack if you want to space elements out in your blog posts and put negative space between different parts.

My solution for giving space is to insert a blank image. The background of this template is white, so I just made two white rectangles in Photoshop. Here is one at 550 x 20 pixels. You can save it and use it:


Here is a thinner blank image giving a gap of 550 x 10 pixels:


I just insert these blank images as I would any other image in areas that WordPress is not allowing space between items. If the text is against the video box, add in a white rectangle. If you want to make sure there is a gap between photos in a series, then put a rectangle between each photo.

Making a different size rectangle is simple; just give it the pixels dimensions you want when you create a new file. If your template has a different color background, just screen cap a page of text, sample the background color with Photoshop’s eyedropper tool and use the bucket tool to fill your rectangle. Test it out in a block of text in a draft post to make sure the color matches and the rectangle blends in invisibly.

The nice part of this process is that you do not have to upload the rectangles over and over again. You can use an uploaded rectangle repeatedly. I just select the uploaded blank rectangles from the images gallery: when writing your post go to Add Media > select the Media Library tab > select your rectangle to insert.

Categories: Digital Design

Recycled Art: Crochet Fabric Bowls

September 3, 2015 3 comments

how to crochet basket bowl


This is a fun craft to use up fabric scraps or recycle old clothes. T-shirts cut into strips work well. I made these two small baskets above and went on to make some larger ones with stripes. The frayed edges of soft flannel were interesting while a stiffer fabric like denim looks good but takes hand strength to crochet.

This video shows two ways to recycle t-shirts into fabric yarn and the mechanics of crocheting a fabric basket / bowl. There are a number of videos and patterns online but the basic mechanics are the same: you make a circle and crochet upward in a spiral to become the walls of the container. This is easy and a good project for beginners, too.


Categories: Recycled, Video

East Meets West: Matisse Manga

August 30, 2015 2 comments



This concept should probably have a question mark: Matisse Manga? I love the Modernist drawing style where simplification was a focus. Matisse had his sweeping line for a face shape and the eyebrow / nose combination that Picasso swiped plenty of times. Add some really kawaii Manga eyes and the style just clicks, at least for me it does.

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Teacher Hack: Easiest Method on How To Learn and Teach Animation

August 19, 2015 Leave a comment


This is the fastest, best way to learn animation and teach it to any age student. File this under Hack to School: I adapted a 3D stop motion animation app to make 2D hand-drawn cartoons using a tablet computer. A smartphone can also be used, but the smaller screen size will make the process more difficult. This method is easy, gets quick results and is fun. This is a great way to combine hand-made art for painting and drawing with digital skills. I found that kids came up with ideas and completed their drawings on a varying timeline so a whole classroom of students were able to share a single tablet and everyone made a cartoon. Enthusiastic go-getters made more than one cartoon.


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Categories: Digital Design, Video

Meet the Student Loan Debt Stegosaurus

August 13, 2015 2 comments

Debt Dinosaur

It’s not for an art degree, I promise. Time to learn some programming and interface stuff. You know, skills I can get paid for some say.

Categories: Cartoons & Comics

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