Visual Journal #3: Between the Lines, Year 2011-2012

Between the Lines Cover 1024x561 Visual Journal #3: Between the Lines, Year 2011 2012

Once upon a time I became inspired to share my visual journals with the world, via a blog. It was a bit overwhelming at first, learning how to design, post, and attract readers. Here I am,still blogging, still sharing, and still creating. I can’t believe three years have gone by, two visual journals blogged, and another on the brink. I remember typing up my first post, hitting the send button, and thinking to myself… “Who am I talking to? Who is going to read this?” Now, a few years later, I have picked up 420 subscribers along the way, and had numerous people around the world stumble upon my blog and send me a quick note about them and their creations. Starting this new book I hope I can continue to keep my pace up and continue to share my pages. Hopefully, someone new will stumble upon my posts and be inspired to go on the hunt for their own book, and start their own visual journal.

I have poured my heart, aches and pains, good and bad into the pages of these books; and I’m so glad I decided years ago to share them with the world. Although my original goal of completing a book every year has fallen to the wayside, new jobs, hobbies, and artistic endeavors have filled much of the space, I hope I always continue to add to my books, discover new techniques, and share my findings.

Between the Lines reflects a book of change. I had many plans for the coming year. I had my goals tucked in the back of my mind, and I was determined to record my journey between the pages of this book. To date, this was my favorite book to work in and I am most proud of my creations. I carefully selected this book from the dusty shelves of my local antique store, and fell in love with the decorating tips, vintage styles, and red and black ink that filled the pages.

Typically, when I begin a new book I work on a few pages, decide what the tone will be, then create a cover to align with my plans. However, going into this book I already knew what I wanted it to be. I wanted it to reflect the growth and change I was determined to experience in the next 12 months. I decided the cover needed to come first.

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Since I wanted to visually represent an idea of growth, I chose a tree. For a long time I have experienced a slight obsession with the shape of a tree silhouette. Someone once told me if they could choose any object to represent me, they would choose a tree. And it stuck. I admire the long branches, the constant change. Over the years trees grow larger, extending their branches like fingertips. Every season they show change, rebirth, new growth, and a shedding of the old. Trees are interesting and metaphorical in so many ways. Perhaps I also strive to be interesting and metaphorical.

While creating the cover I continuously brainstormed title ideas. Nothing seemed to fit, until one day, while listening to NPR on my daily comment home, a program came on called “Between the Lines.” My ears immediately perked, I liked the ring of it. Everything seems normal, predictable, same old, same old on the surface, but when you look a little closer, you discover something else. This visual journal and title are what inspired me to try something new and different, share my stories and techniques with the world, and finally enter into the ever-popular blogging universe.


  • Visual journal
  • Large, white paper
  • Old book pages
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Xacto knife
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • White tissue paper
  • India ink
  • Sharpie
  • Paint brush
  • Red details from the book
  • Laser printed images
  • Packaging tape
  • Laminator


I took a large, white sheet of drawing paper, and wrapped it around the book. I trimmed off the edges, leaving the flaps to hold the cover onto my journal. I then ripped up discolored book pages from antique books and layered them over the white sheet of paper. I trimmed off the extra book pages around the edges, and began on the next layer.

Because I loved the way the discolored book pages looked, I knew I didn’t want to completely cover them up with the trees. To allow the text to still show through I decided to paint my tree forms using India ink, on white tissue paper. While I love the end product, the process was excruciating. The tissue paper fought my intent the entire time. As I placed the brush on the paper, it would try to wrinkle up. As I used an Xacto knife to cut out the branches, the tissue paper would rip, and threaten to loose limbs from my trees. Once I had all of my trees cut out, showing the transition from sapling to full grown, I glued them down in order, going from left to right.

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Next, I added color to the background. I stacked yellow and green bleeding tissue paper and dripped water on top. I wanted a light tie dye effect, and using analogous colors allowed me to get the results I wanted. I let the paper dry, then cut it into strips. I began gluing the strips to the background, but carefully ripped the green tissue paper around the tree shapes. I wanted to still be able to see the book pages in the background and the shape of the trees. In the end, it almost looked like the book pages were the canopy of the trees.

After the background was complete I began on the border. I painted a circular pattern on old book pages, cut them out, then layered them on white tissue paper. I cut them out again, leaving a thin white border around the design, then glued it to the edge of the book.

I felt the background still looked a little empty after adding all of my planned elements, and I began brainstorming things I could add. In the end, I decided the perfect addition would be tape transfer frames (read how to do a tape transfer here). The empty frames helped reinforce my idea of growth, change, and trying to accomplish future goals. I chose a range of shapes and sizes, and added them to the back of the cover. I chose a decorative oval frame to add to the front, overlapping the largest tree, to bring even more focus to it.

Once I was satisfied with the overall design I began adding the details. I cut out red ink designs from inside the book, and added them to the trunks of the trees. I did a tape transfer of my book title, Between the Lines, on top of the red detail on the front of the cover. Last but not least, I added a framed seed just beginning to sprout to the front, inside flap.

Between the Lines Cover Shots 1024x326 Visual Journal #3: Between the Lines, Year 2011 2012

After my cover was complete I had it laminated, and covered my book with it. It was no longer an antique, interior design book, it was now my book. For the next year every page would slowly be transformed to something new, different, and so very personal.

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Handmade Ceramics: Wood Grain Mugs and Vases

IMG 8167 copy 1024x585 Handmade Ceramics: Wood Grain Mugs and Vases

In the spring of last year a new, local shop reached out to me about including my pottery in their store. I was excited about a new opportunity to sell my artwork, but tentative about the required year long commitment, and monthly rent. Despite my concerns I decided to jump in with both feet, and commit to Crafted Westside.

Since I signed my contract I have been hard at work, creating, producing, and filling my space at Crafted. The store has been a huge success, and after a short 5 months of being open, they have already expanded into the space next door. I’m looking forward to the  upcoming holiday season, and am keeping my fingers crossed that I will set my personal best sales months.

One of my favorite things about my commitment to Crafted is it has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have had to develop new designs, techniques, and products. I have had to chart what is selling, and what is collecting dust and taking up space on my shelves. I have had the opportunity to experiment, and experienced a great deal of trial and error.

A few weeks ago, while brainstorming new ideas, I decided I want to try my hand at hand building with slabs. Up to this point all of my products had been thrown on the pottery wheel, and I needed a change of pace. I went to my local ceramic store, perused their shelves, and fell in love with a wood grain stamp. An idea immediately hit me, I would hand build a few sets of mugs and vases, using slabs, and this beautiful patter.

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Keeping with the look and feel of my pottery, I decided to keep the exterior simple, with the white body of the clay, and a quick layer of clear on top. For the interior I used blues and greens, to stick with the earthy feel of the wood. I also decided to experiment with gloss and matte finishes. Rather than coat the entire exterior with clear, I left a section at the bottom unglazed.

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I was really excited about my finished products. They have been delivered to Crafted Westside, and are sitting on the shelves, waiting to find a happy home. I hope they do well, so I can continue to play around with my beautiful new stamp.

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In addition to my wood grain pieces, I also made a set of hydrangea inspired vases. Check out Crafted’s website here to look at more products! Check out my Etsy shop here to order your own set of wood grain mugs or vases.

IMG 8148 682x1024 Handmade Ceramics: Wood Grain Mugs and VasesThanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read about my latest works of art. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others on your social networking site of choice! Thanks for stopping by.


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Visual Journal Page 76: The Antiques Book

Visual Journal Page 76 The Antiques Book 1024x726 Visual Journal Page 76: The Antiques Book


I finally reached the end of my second book. The last page was sitting there blank, waiting for the last collage, my dedication page to my book.

Since I completed my first visual journal I decided to save the last page for my book. As I work through the pages I rip things out, add them to my visual journal folder, saving them for this page. I want to make sure my book is recognized for allowing me to cover it’s pages, words, pictures, and intended purpose with my own vision. Each page is transformed from an informative text about antiques, to representations of me.

The Antiques Book served as a great backdrop to my creations, and is one of my favorite books I have worked in. It provided inspiration through the images, text, and beautifully, off colored, pages. These final images are discoveries I made as I flipped through the pages. I held onto them and collected them for a year. They have finally returned to their intended places, between the covers of this book.

Thank you… I couldn’t have done it without you…


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • rubber cement
  • Book pages
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Bleeding tissue paper
  • Water
  • Book page images
  • Sharpie


When I was planning out this visual journal page I decided to go with a simple color palate. I have always loved the look of the green bleeding tissue paper, so I decided to go with that color as the main color. I had been holding onto a few circular images from a magazine that had similar greens and yellows to the bleeding tissue paper. Once I had my colors picked out, I got to work.

First, I took a few sheets of green and yellow bleeding tissue paper, stacked them on top of each other, then dripped water on them. The green and yellow pigment bleed into each other, making a tie dye pattern. While the bleeding tissue paper was drying, I cut out the green magazine circles, and the antique images I saved from my book. I made sure to cut close to the edge on all of the images, to give it a cleaner collaged look.

I played around with placement for awhile, and decided to have the majority of the antique objects in a row towards the bottom of the page, and the elephant on the top right side of the page. I glued the green circles down first, then a strip of bleeding tissue paper, to create a space for my objects to sit. I included a green circle in the top corner of the page to help bring attention to my elephant. In addition to the green bleeding tissue paper, I also cut out a few pieces of dyed paper towels. I placed these behind the book page cutouts to help bring attention to the images.

After I got the background pieced together I added the images on top. Last, but not least, I added the words “I couldn’t have done it without you” around the elephant with sharpie.


Create a dedication page to your visual journal book. Make sure you use book pages from your book.

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Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates

DFGMAG Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates


Recently, a very talented glass blower, Doug Frates‘ work was brought to my attention. His pieces have an amazing sense of movement as the colors and shapes spiral outward. His body of work has been referred to as liquid color, a very appropriate title. His pieces almost seem frozen in time, as if they were still in the process of being heated and expanding outward into crazy and interesting shapes.

Doug Frates Glass 2 Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates

I had the opportunity to ask Doug a few questions about his journey to the world of glass blowing. At a time when art seems to be moving into the digital world, with digital photography, graphic design, and computer animation on the rise, I love seeing traditional artists and crafters still at work. Doug’s artistic journey doesn’t take the typical path through art school, but instead, through a war in Iraq, an admiration for handmade glass, and an apprenticeship with two accomplished glass blowers, Tom Philabaum and Fritz Dreisbach.

Doug Frates Glass 3 Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates
-When did you become interested in art?
I really did not know this would be a Career until I saw that people were recognizing my work as something different.  I probably really started as a professional artist in 2003.
-Was there a particular person or people who helped guide you towards a career in art?
I have worked for a phenomenal artist by the name of Tom Philabaum in Tucson, Arizona.   I also was guided by Fritz Dreisbach.   It was through their commitment to me that made this possible.   I thank them very much for the opportunities that led to the direction we are heading.   
-Did you go to college and study art or learn through an apprentice like experience?
I guess you could say that I was lucky enough to apprentice under Tom Phillabaum. It was a paying job, but I was taken under his wing.   
-What is your favorite part of working with glass?
The colors and the options available to me are what is most interesting.   Between transparent and opaques there are so many variations allowed.   The hard part is the characteristics of making those colors work within the style we work.   It can get very tricky and sometimes they just don’t work.   
-What are you trying to accomplish through your artwork? Do you have a particular statement your are trying to make or is it more about pushing the glass into different forms that you find interesting?
 I love creating!  I am always trying to push myself into unknown directions.   This allows us to concoct new style and flair in the industry.
-Do you have a particular piece you like best or are most proud of?
I am proud of everything we send out the door.   If it does not look right or has the slightest flaw it will not work for the client.   I have learned over the years that only quality will pay.
-How do you live off of your work? Is it primarily through commercial sales, gallery sales, or commissions?
We are primarily commission based.   This allows us to constantly be creative.   We work closely with our customers to get the what they want.   That is the fun part about my job!!!
-What do you say to people who say you can’t make a living with art?
People can be skeptical about art as a living.   Truth is everywhere you look there is art.   Without it there would be no sense of creativity and prosperity within life.   Yes it is very hard to make a decent living with art, but understanding that you have to run a business first is very important.   So you make it work. Just like any other small business it can be challenging.   We have found a way to do it and others can to.   We employ 6 at our shop and they love what they do.   Surrounding yourself with employees that are team oriented is key.  As a veteran myself we have half employed that are veterans.   This really makes for a great team atmosphere within our business. 
-Do you have any advice for students interested in pursuing art?
 For the students.  Give it a try,  if you don’t succeed at least you tried but you did not fail because you tried.   This happens all the time in the art world and I think it only makes you better as an individual.
Doug Frates Glass Liquid Color: Glass Blown Forms by Doug Frates
Looking through Doug Frates‘ work, I am very impressed by his range and creativity within the glass medium. I love introducing new, interesting artists to my students, and I can’t wait to add Doug to my list of inspirational, working artists. Thank you Doug for this interview, your amazing talent, and good advice to upcoming artists. Doug’s list of awards and recognition is proof enough that it is never to late to pursue your passion.
Thanks for taking the time to checkout my blog and interview with Doug Frates. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by.


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Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor Classroom

sculpture garden 1024x682 Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor Classroom

When I started at my new, fancy, private school, I was amazed at the classroom I was given. I had so much space, it was fully stocked, and it was set up to specifically serve as a sculpture classroom. I barely had to change a thing, it was practically perfect. I even had double doors leading outside, to a walled in patio space. I already had a beautiful classroom, and now I even had an outdoor workspace.

While my classroom was well put together, the patio space was a blank slate. There was nothing but a concrete slab and a beautiful brick wall enclosing it. For a year I sat at my desk, stared out the double doors, and saw a space going to waste.

At the beginning of my second year I decided it was time to spruce it up. I put in a few wish list items to our school’s arts alliance, and was granted enough money to make the space useful and more aesthetically pleasing. I purchased two planters, one round planter, and two picnic tables. I am blessed to have a landscape architect husband who helped me fill the planters with interesting flowers, wonderfully smelling herbs, and interesting foliage to look at and touch.

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When everything was put together I was excited at the transformation, but I quickly realized it wasn’t enough. Walls still stood empty, space was being wasted. The next year I added even more. I purchased two more large planters, 4 round planters, a storage shed, a storage box, and succulents to add as centerpieces to my picnic tables. Once again Nick came to my rescue and helped me select the many plants necessary to fill up my planters.

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I couldn’t believe how beautiful the space was becoming. The piles of straw for my raku firings was hidden away, my propane and acetylene tanks and a protected space to live, and my planters could barely contain my plants. My watering system was working well, automatically watering every three days, causing growth spurts in everything I planted.

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The final touch I added to the space were four sets of three slip casted tiles. These beautiful pieces sat unglazed and abandoned in my storage closet for years. Once I added bright coats of glaze and fired them, they were the perfect addition to the walls of my sculpture garden.

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I love seeing my students working out there. This forgotten space has finally reached it’s potential, and is being put to good use. I can’t wait to continue to add student made sculptures to the space, and continue to grow my beautiful sculpture garden. Check out my first blog post about transforming this space here.

IMG 8106 682x1024 Art Education: Sculpture Garden, an Outdoor ClassroomThanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help me spread the word by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by!


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