Friday, September 29, 2006

3 marvelously good things

3 marvelously good things this past week.

1. One morning this week, as we took the boys for a walk on the headland, there was a shimmering blanket of fluttering white butterflies as far as you could see. They were everywhere. I even got a little film clip, the above photo is from, showing the Bergamasco Boys playing with each other and one passing butterfly. (I'm trying to see if it's possible for me to load little clips on here. I know it is possible for lots of people.) It was truly a delight.

2. The village celebrated the wedding of Sue Brown and Jeremy Frith last night, quite vigorously, in a good maritime Irish traditional way. Everyone is tired but very pleased for Sue and Jeremy.

3. Diane AuCoin suggested I have a peek at Armando Lopez's Sculpture gallery. Ohhhhh, lovely! Take a look!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Some Links and Inspiration

Having more fun with photoshop, by Lani.

My sister, Lucia, had a birthday party for her daughter and all her wee friends. They wanted Floam (trade mark, copy right, etc.) and she bought quite a lot of the stuff. She liked it alright, the kids had a great time, but she said the stuff costs way too much money. So of course I decide to snoop around and here's what I found:
You can make the stuff yourself. This particular recipe comes from a Creative Commons Website, Beyond Satire.

* 2 tsp. borax (available in laundry aisle at your grocery store)
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/4 cup white glue (we used Elmer's)
* 1/4 cup water
* food coloring (otherwise it will look like cottage cheese)
* an air-tight plastic bag (for mixing and storage)
* 5/3 cups of polystyrene beads (we used 2/3 cups micro-beads and 1 cup bean bag filler)

Floam™ is made with polystyrene (aka Styrofoam™) beads ranging in size from about 1 mm to 1/8 inch in diameter. You can make an approximation of the beads at home by grating polystyrene cups, packing material etc., although we did not try this. We bought two different types of beads:

* Micro-beads (about 1 mm in diameter), which we found at a Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts store. We had to call several stores before finding one that sold them. They can be ordered from Roseann's Dolls.
* 1/8" beads, sometimes called "milk bottle filler" or "bean bag filler", which we bought on eBay but you can also buy through Roseann's Dolls.


1. Dissolve 2 tsp. borax completely in 1/2 cup (4 oz.) water. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup (2 oz.) white glue and 1/4 cup (2 oz.) water. Optionally add food coloring.
3. Pour the glue solution into the air-tight bag. Then add 3 tbsp. (9 tsp.) of the borax/water solution to the glue solution. Do not mix them yet. You will have some borax/water solution left for another batch.
4. Add the polystyrene beads.
5. Seal bag and knead by hand until thoroughly mixed. Let stand about 15 minutes, and then knead a few minutes more.

This should produce a hard clay well suited for sculpting; for a more malleable clay, use fewer beads and optionally less of the borax solution.


* The polystyrene beads will get everywhere.
* We read but did not try this tip: "If you have access to a chemical supply house, try a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of glue for a less rubbery polymer. It will be more transparent & show off color better." Simon Quellen Field added: "Polyvinyl alcohol is easy to get: It's used in artificial tears (and of course, white glue). On that web site you will find a hundred or so synonyms -- looking them up will likely get you better prices."
* You can read safety information about borax.
* The main difference we could detect between this and Floam™ is that ours smells like glue, while theirs smells like chemicals.
* Do not eat.

Do check the website. They have a lot of mother's feedback after they've actually used the recipe!

I made the floam last night with my 3 year old son . It works great he is playing with it now i had to keep adding the borax a tea spoon at a time till i got the right mixture . I did use the easy floam directions and i made a double batch thanks again
Easy Floam

This makes a smaller amount of floam, but is still plenty, and is by far the easiest!

* Put 1 Tablespoon of white glue into a ziploc bag. (Not school glue!)
* Add 3 Tablespoons of water.
* Add food color of choice.
* Add about 3 ounces (one Dixie bathroom cup) foam beads.
* Add 1 teaspoon of Borax (laundry detergent). It must be Borax.*

Knead mixture in bag. If too watery, add more Borax 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Let stand 5 minutes.
» report as spam
Works Great!
Submitted by Anonymous informant on Tue, 03/07/2006 - 6:24am.

I agree I just did this last night as a little experiment with my sons Cub Scout group and we found that by adding the food coloring after the glue (Elmer's Galactic Glue) and water, we were able to get really vibrant colors!

Another great link from Lore Caldwell is for Bare Books that carries blank books, blank game boards (with game pieces, timers, and spinners), bare puzzles and bare comic books among a lot of other things. The prices seem quite reasonable to this Nova Scotian! Me thinks this may be an art educator and art therapist's dream come true.

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Finding our wings

Playing with the idea of chosing our wings.

And here's a happy group picture with amazonian blue butterfly wings.

Collages by Lani.

Now here's some late-breaking, top secret news. Some of us over at 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life ( are working on a "Lost Sisters 1st Annual Art Retreat and Reunion" to be held in Prospect, Nova Scotia. (There is a lovely B&B here that can put up 12 who are willing to share bedrooms for around $60 a night.) The idea is to have an art retreat that we do our selves so no cost above travel, room & board. We are in the planning stages right now and we are looking at the last weekend of June. Possible work shops would be altered books, atc's, doll-making, deco-making, & shrine construction.
If this sounds interesting to you and/or you think you might want to help plan, teach a workshop, or come to find your lost art sisters drop me a line! (that's lanipuppetmaker at mac dot com)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Flying Lessons

When we were little we thought we had wings. We thought we could fly if we just learned to run fast enough. We learned to run really fast, and we flew in our dreams and we could fly in our art.

Now it's time to get our wings back!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

How does an artist stay happy in an unhapppy world?

More fun with images. This one is a Blanksy knockoff! Thank you Blanksy!

And thank you Gioia and Adela who sent me wandering in the realm of political images and public art, Art Not Ads, Banksy.

How does an artist stay happy in an unhappy world? Adela pointed to Banky's answer. "Essentially, it's [speaking of his new show] about what a horrible place the world is, how unjust and cruel and pointless life is, and ways to avoid thinking about all
One of the best ways turned out to be sitting in a warehouse making 50
paintings about cruelty, pain and pointlessness. You get immune."

It is a very good question, but I don't think that Banky's answer was the real answer. At some point in the article he confesses to not taking money from Nike to do work for them. I think the answer may be hidden in that confession. He is an artist with beliefs about how things could be better, and he's doing his art as a way of expressing that belief. I think that is part of the answer, that we are happier when we are doing art that we feel is meaningful. And another piece of this is that artists shouldn't feel alone in the world. There are plenty of artists who are troubled by world events and you can read about what they are doing, you can even join them if you want to, you can support them in all kinds of ways and of course you can make more art.
I got real happy reading about these pranksters even if my spray paint days are over. Just knowing you all are out there fighting the good fight is great!

In the more personal art realm I wandered over to my friend jaihn's blog for visual delight. Not only was she working on the first happiness challenge, but she also has a great collection of links to more quiet joys and happinesses. Scroll down the blog till you find "gorgeousness" where you can link to a page of beautiful "flickr" images. Just gorgeous. And then scroll down just a bit further for the link to a website that collects old copyright free images of extremely high quality. It's a real treasure trove.

So that's it for now. Stay tuned. Got to go feed the Bergamasco Boys.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Panhala; Hindi for Source of Fresh Water

"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." -- Edith Wharton

Yesterday the Artist's Happiness Challenge began.

Maureen sent a beautiful image and poem which comes from
(Panhala is Hindi for "source of fresh water". )

So Much Happiness
It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records….
Since there is no place large enough
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it,
And in that way, be known.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

If you join this group they send out poems and prose that make the day a little brighter. How nice is that?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Has anyone told you lately...

Has anyone told you lately how
much Joy
You Bring? Let me.

Has anyone told you lately how
You Are? Let me.

I couldn't resist two more. It's way too much fun!

Collages by Lani, and last image from PaperWhimsy.

1 Day till the Artist's Happiness Challenge begins.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Has anyone told you...

I got the most wonderful spam today. I don't usually like spam, of course but this one was a little different. It was all about cards that you hand out or place in particular places for people to find. What a lovely idea, and not new. You Are Beautiful has been doing it for free for a while. Anyway this wonderful spam got me playing. Have a look:

Has anyone told you lately how
You Are? Let me.

Has anyone told you lately what
a Gift
You Are? Let me.

Has anyone told you lately how
You Are? Let me.

Has anyone told you I love you today? Let me!

Collages by Lani, and the last two are images from PaperWhimsy.

2 Days till the Artist's Happiness Challenge begins.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Things are lining up...

collage by Lani

For those wondering, things are lining up for the Artist's Happiness Challenge.
This session starts on the 18th of September and lasts 12 weeks.
For those who have signed up, please do join the yahoo group where you will find pdf files of interest on current research in positive emotion and health as well as meditation practices and other good things related to the course.

Childhood Enchantments

Collage by Lani

I heard a wonderful Prospect story yesterday, told to me by Ellen Ryan. Having grown up here in Prospect I suspect she may have many such stories about childhood enchantments. She used to attend the local school which was very small, and run by nuns. Right around Christmas great interest grew in elves, little people, and fairy folk. All kinds of magic began to happen. The older children had certain periods of the day when they worked on secret presents for the younger children. They had also devised a way to make little notes fall from the ceiling on the little kids (at least this is the way Ellen remembers it). The notes were from fairy folk. As you might imagine by the time Christmas came, the younger children in the village were nearly beside themselves with magic, joy, and possibilities.

I think there is real magic when we secretly create things for others; presents, fairy notes, post cards, messages in bottles, on pebbles... the possibilities are endless.

Try this:
Engage in some fairy magic today.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lost and Found

Lost collage by Lani

Have you had this experience?

You have grown accustomed to quirks and ways of something in your life, say your beloved computer for example? And then suddenly (well not all that suddenly) it is well and truly gone, it has passed over with no forwarding address. It has taken all of your files with it. Maybe. So you go down to your Mac Men in Halifax and tell them your sad story, bringing the deceased along... just in case. Why, yes, they tell you, it is possible to buy a new computer and put the old files into it and no they really can't fix this one.

And you wonder what sort of burial you should have for a beloved computer, and will they really transfer all your files, and what if you and the new computer don't get along. Anyway we picked up the new computer and pugged it in and guess what, it has the soul of my old one. It even has my beloved desktop. I couldn't believe it. So the soul of a mac can transmigrate, no problem.

Desktop Found collage by Lani

Other things going on: lots of art happening. Lot's of secret art stuff from the very enthusiastic 14 Secrets for a Happy Artist's Life group some commissions and some writing deadlines. Whew.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Artist's Happiness Challenge; the course.

collage by Lani

It's finally here, the Artist's Happiness Challenge on my Artella web page.

This course will provide you with three months of art challenges, current positive psychology research, happiness inspiring stories, and a yahoo group format.

You will receive email lessons which will also be stored in the yahoo group website. During the course we will be exploring and experiencing the connections between positive emotions, art making, and health benefits. We will be experimenting with new ways to reduce stress and release endorphins, while making art! Discussion will be encouraged.

You can't really beat that! Good fun, lots of endorphins, group support AND you will have art work to enjoy at the same time.