A week of CREATE-ivity in Chicago!

I am blessed to have been able to attend the innaugural CREATE retreat put on by Cloth Paper Scissors magazine in Chicago (Rosemont) last week.  The Hilton hotel was situated directly across from the convention center.  I could feel 'the ghosts of CHA' roaming those empty halls.  I signed up for the full event, with full-day workshops on each day (and one evening as well!).

I have never felt such a sense of calm, peace and serenity as I have for the past few evenings as I either finished off, or surveyed the day's lessons.  I even polished off my copy of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  What a perfect read for my state of mind.

I arrived on Tuesday evening and checked into the hotel.  Two out of three of my Fedex packages had arrived at this point.  I counted my blessings and settled in to my hotel room; pulling the necessary supplies into my carrry-on bag for transporting downstairs to the following day's workshop. 

If you haven't attended this type of art retreat before – there are no samples to follow.  The supply kit for the class is usually either handouts, use of shared tools or perhaps the base substrate that you are working on.  That's it.  You bring everything with you, including your embellishments, ephemera and supplies.  It is an immersion into your art with the guidance of your artist instructors.


I took the Larger Than Life workshop with Alisa Burke.  Alisa is as beautiful as she is inspiring.  An excellent teacher, I felt completely at ease taking on what for me was an intimidating prospect — PAINT.  I've never felt like I could paint – so I just didn't.  But I decided that putting these self-limiting statements of, 'I Can't Paint', indeed 'I can't _____' (fill in the blank) would no longer be a tolerated internal dialogue.  So…. I jumped in with both feet and attacked not only a large canvas (it's the size of a quilt!) and incorporating Alisa's background and composition techniques, but also working on incorporating portraits of my children as well, using a technique I had seen on YouTube by Pam Carriker.  I don't know if she initiated this technique, but it was the first time I had seen it used.  This is a first attempt – so be kind!  You can click on any picture if you want a closer look.


On the next day, I took Beyond the Vintage Metal Deck with Leighanna Light.  Using 6" x 3" heavy tin pieces, we collaged, painted and embellished the day away.  The only 'new to me' technique was applying a two-part patina kit to the metal.  In the picture below, three pieces flank the original tin piece in the center.  Look at the difference!!  I applied a basecoat of white Gesso, followed by Copper Resurfacer and Green Patina to achieve this rusted copper look.


In all other respects it was simply open studio time to work on the deck of metal cards.  I finished the fronts of quite a few of the pieces (out of 10 total), leaving the three above as they are (there was a 2-3 hour reaction/drying time for the patina).

On this card, I started by collaging sewing patterns and tissue paper onto the tin.  Then I stenciled light modeling paste over a stencil and let it dry before painting and decorating.


This background started by spreading white Gesso onto the tin surface.  I stamped a birdcage design onto the bottom half and placed a piece of lace into the top portion and pulled it off.  I used the end of my paintbrush to fill in the remainders with swirls.  Once dry, I painted over this with a wash of acrylic paints.  I collaged the bird and music papers on top, stamped a musical notes background lightly over the top in dark brown ink and then applied my crown charm and the studs applique.  A few dots of turquoise pearl paint and a cut out sandpaper branch, as well as an epoxy photo corner embellish it further.

On this card, I applied a photo transfer using matte medium and embellished it as shown.
This card started with collaging tissue papers and a vintage swimsuit advertisement.  I added the title lettering, a game piece tile decoration (gift from a fellow student, Thanks, BJ!) a mirror framed by an Advantus bookplate and a glass photo corner.

More collage work, including a napkin for the damask and a stencilled Gesso area.  I added the angel wings with Wellbond (a new favorite adhesive!) along with a coating of acrylic paint and stamping the music notes again.

This piece was a funny, end of the day piece.  One of my friends is beleaguered by an ex… so I made a 'men are dogs' – themed card, collaging the dog's picture into the grid of photos.  I added rulers – since size does matter (LOL!) and a phone charm.  Men, it seems, have such a hard time using this device…or reading a time piece and arriving on time.  LOL.  Ok, not about my guy (well just a bit — sometimes?)
And this piece is just begun, but I've painted a layer of black Gesso over the tin, stamped with a Judikins background stamp to remove the Gesso in a pattern and expose the original tin color.  As a final preparation of the background, I've attached a piece of cheesecloth painted down with the black gesso.  I'm looking forward to working on this piece some more this evening.  I'll post a before/after later.


Friday was the Jewelry Alchemy workshop with Barbe Saint John.  Here is where my AWOL Fedex package presented a problem.  Pretty much EVERYTHING I purchased and brought from home to use for this workshop was in the renegade package.  Fedex left me a quite pitiful message about not having scanned this package's location in over a week.  It was also looked for in 2-3 sorting stations at this point.  They are giving it another week before calling it lost.  Lucky for me, I had insured the box appropriately as is always my custom when shipping my supplies.  But sadly a small cache of found objects, items that cannot be replaced, are also in that box.  I'm truly hoping it will arrive safely home to me soon.

Still, the workshop instructor was quite adamant that I sit down, and participate.  I loved her style.  Part 50's maven and drill sargeant all in one.  'Shut up.  Sit Down.  Learn Schtuff.  Or Else.'  And learn I did – playing around with making wire forms, clasps etc and conquering my fear of the Dremel.

I don't have a finished piece to share — but I did learn schtuff which I will incorporate into future projects.


And then it was a day playing with Vintaj Alterable Blank Canvases.  These are metal canvases – not cloth.  This class was taught by Jess Italia Lincoln.  I learned how to rivet.  Rosie isn't going to lose her job any time soon – but it was interesting.  I think longer tube rivets will be much easier and am looking forward to their introduction soon.  We embossed the blanks using embossing folders, and colored them with alcohol inks as a background application before embellishing further.  Here is my mini-book front.

I used their lovely filigree trimmings as well as a hanging tag and bookplate (framed by an Advantus ornate bookplate frame).

What I learned in this workshop was that Ranger alcohol inks, with Pearl Metallic Mixative as a base, are quite MATTE in finish.  When I utilized my Copic Markers to color the embossed branch design, this portion was more glossy in appearance.  The contrast was very appealing.  It is most visible on the back cover because of the lack of layering.  You can also see where I hammered the metal randomly with a tiny harlequin design, resembling animal tracks… LOL.


On Friday and Saturday evening I was hosted by Donna at Stampology (a mere 10-15 minute drive from the hotel) to teach two Copic: What? How? and Wow! workshops.  We packed em in on both nights and had a lovely time.  I'm looking forward to my next visit in March.  :)  Donna spoils her customers, having homemade guacamole and chips, cupcakes and a cheese/meat tray with crackers and 'pop' to drink on both evenings.  She has a lovely store!  Check it out if you are in the area.


I had to fly out early, but had 30 minutes to enjoy the beginning of the Sketch and Watercolor: Journal Style  workshop with Jane LaFazio.  She went over her methodology and sketched a pear.  The students introduced themselves, and then I had to catch the shuttle.  So I will challenge myself to work on that.  I have the book by Danny Gregory, An Illustrated Life – in which Jane's work is featured as more inspiration.  So I WILL.  LOL.  That will be my mantra once the kids jump on that lovely yellow bus on Wednesday.

And so I'm back home!  The return flight was uneventful – although the temperatures and traffic home were quite memorable…  Laughably, Neil and I literally crossed paths on the way to/from the airport.  We honked and waved literally at the midway point of the Whitestone Bridge.

So it's just me and the short people getting ready for the first day of school.  We're off to get a couple pairs of shoes, shop for locker schtuff – and pay taxes on the house and cars.  Ick on the last one.

I hope you have a great week!


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