Category Archives: Inspiration

Glass ornament on tree

Glass ornament on tree by floating inkI can now show you some of the things I made to give as holiday presents.  Here are some I feel somewhat guilty about, because the first one was heavily inspired by one I saw in a shop. I say only somewhat guilty, because what usually happens when I’m inspired by the work of someone else is that I try hard to reproduce it–figuring out the materials that were used and what techniques were employed to put it together and so on. And then I might make one or two such things–never to sell, but perhaps to give away.

What happens next is that I make yet another of whatever the thing is, but now the thing begins to take on a quite different form. What if I do this instead of that? What if I employed a radically different material that makes the old thing a new thing, or takes it in an unexpected direction? By this point my mind is happily racing ahead and within a few hours I’m off making something that was definitely inspired by the original thing, but which is now something completely new.

Like this:

Glass ornament on tree, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

Do they call it fall because that’s what acorns do?

A quickie. I’ve been seeing these all over the internet and finding them very appealing. Just about every art and craft blogger is making them. So, you know . . . my mom doesn’t have to know that. She’ll think I’m very clever when she opens a box full of these:

New monoprints

Time to whip out the gelatin blocks and make more monoprints.  I spent about 4 hours working on a large series. Some don’t really work for me, but quite a few did. Here’s a peek:

And another:

Here’s one:

And another:

I’ve still got this block (about 8 x 8″) in the fridge; will try to pull some more impressions from it as the week goes along.

Everybody’s a critic

Okay, I have a confession to make. I am the woman who stands in front of you in line at the post office, taking my own sweet time as I select just the right stamps for whatever I’m likely to be mailing.  I understand that you have places to be and things to do and that this is the only post office in this small town, but I have my standards.

I went to the post office yesterday to mail a package to First Child at college, but while I was standing in line I got to admiring the posters advertising the new 2010 stamps. No flags here (okay, they do have some nice enough state flag stamps, but these still don’t float my boat). But they definitely had some good stuff. I figured I might as well replenish my stamp supply and spent my time in line trying to decide between the cats and dogs animal rescue stamps or the Lunar new year stamps. Or maybe the Katharine Hepburn stamps–very chic.  Or maybe Cowboys of the Silver Screen. All good.

But then I saw them: abstract expressionist stamps. Gorgeous. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get a letter with a tiny little Jackson Pollock in the corner? Right? Art for only 44 cents.

I mailed my package and said, “And a sheet of the Abstract Expressionist stamps, please.”

The nice bearded guy behind the counter shook his head sadly.

“All gone.”

My face fell.

“But,” he said, by way of cheering me up. “You wouldn’t have wanted them anyway. Most of them looked like somebody had dipped a chicken in paint and let it walk around on the canvas.”

“Some of those chickens,” I countered, “are very talented.”

“Maybe,” he said. “But I still don’t want one hanging over my sofa.”

I may have to take a field trip to the next town over to see whether they have better taste.

A little down time is a dangerous thing

Whew! Upright again after 10 days on the couch with my foot in the air. Tip: watch out for foot/soccer ball/dog mouth collisions.

The bad news: having a laptop computer takes away any excuse a self-employed writer might have to lay off work during a convalescence.

The good news: 10 days on the couch still gives one lots of time to get into trouble dream about new projects. I started lists of new projects, made notes about ways to complete unfinished projects, and basically ended up with some very exciting to-do lists, enough to fill many weekends when I’m off and many minutes and hours here and there when I should be working instead.

I kept my little idea book and pen by my side (right there with the antibiotics and the bandages and the DVD remote), and filled pages and pages with ideas, inspirations, and notes. And now I have more projects to do than I’ll ever have time for.

Indeed, a little down time is a dangerous thing.

Owing to the goodness and patience of my Better Half and the bounty of our state’s inter-library loan program, I was kept well inspired by the steady stream of books that came to me while I was down.

These are among the books that kept me inspired over the last 10 days (in no particular order):

Gwen Diehn’s wonderful (that’s redundant, of course–all of Gwen Diehn’s books are wonderful) book for kids on making books. Don’t let the “for kids” part put you off–it’s a great introduction to making books that don’t just lie there, and has given me new ideas for my sister’s belated (belateder and belateder by now) birthday present.

This one’s so great I’m going to have to get my own copy after I turn it back in to the library. I already have her other book on journals, so I got it out, too and added it to the stack by the couch:

This one taught me a lot and gives me confidence that I can pull off another project that’s on my list.

This terrific volume from Lark Books (whose whole catalog I would love to own–Lark people, are you listening?) is another one that goes on my to-own list. Even Second Child, who deliberately skirts the edges of much of my making-things drive (don’t worry, she has plenty of wonderful creative outlets of her own), got caught up in this one and spent a long time going through it with me: “Oooh, look at this one!” and “Could you make something like this for me?” (note to self–add more projects to the list).

I checked out a lot of books that began to look the same. But even after looking at a number that I won’t mention here because they began to feel a little same-old-same-old, I’d find a gem–same genre, but with a fresh, original take on the subject. This book by Holly Harrison was one of these–really worth going to get.

Here’s another I almost overlooked–at first glance I was afraid it was another of those “if you stick a paper crown on it, it’s art” books, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong–I loved this one and especially picked up a lot of tips about different techniques and materials from this book by Lynne Perrella:

Finally, this one was still hanging around from when I made the noren a month or so ago.  I checked out several newish books about printing (with an emphasis on printing on fabric), and some were good and some were disappointing. I won’t reveal the name of the hip, hot, newish one that I thought was wayyy too simplistic and not terribly inspiring, but I will say that this book by Lena Corwin is much better–this is one to buy if you’re going to buy a book on hand printing on fabric.

My art and craft book budget is pitiful these days, so my new technique is to look up on Amazon all the books I might want and then try to hunt them down through inter-library loan.  I’m astonished at how often I’m able to get my hands on the ones I want–and for free, too (good news for the poor, the broke, the frugal, and the just-plain cheap). Then, once I’ve vetted them, I like to support these authors/artists whenever I can, so I buy the ones I know I’m really going to want to refer to again and again.

Cheap tip:  open a tab on your browser for your online bookstore of choice, then open one next to it for your local library and bring up your account there. When you see a book you think might be useful, pop over to the library site and put it on your “request” list. I find that these books often become available within a very few days.

What?! you don’t have an account at your local library?! Go and get one immediately–it’s free and it enables you to maintain a list of things you want to have sent to you asap. You can also probably sign up to be notified by email as soon as the library gets the book for you. Between the Better Half* and me, someone from our family is at the library at least 3 days a week.


*Of course, some of us are retired and can read any time we want to. Hrmmph. Lucky man. On the other hand, my little taste of being able to read whenever I like was delightful, but if it means I have to be an invalid in order to do so, I’ll take health any day, thanks.


When my sister and I were kids, we had access to all kinds of wonderful art supplies because Dad was very generous about sharing his stuff with us. We had watercolors and pens, acrylics and crayons, calligraphy tools, and all kinds of wonderful paper. The one thing we did not have (much): coloring books. A few crept into the house here and there (in particular I recall one with troll dolls to color in), probably gifts from a grandmother or aunt, but Dad thought most of them were abominations–carefully crafted to rob of us of our creativity and make us color inside the lines.

I think he was right, and I’m grateful for the guidance.

Still, lately I’ve been gravitating towards doodling images of things that can be colored in.  These, for instance, scribbled over the past couple of days in a nifty little handmade journal filled with very thin sheets of lokta paper, make me itch to take crayons or colored pencils or fine-line markers to them. And even to stay within the lines.

But maybe since I made the lines, too, Dad would have given these a pass. What do you think?

Tomatoes–hothouse, dirt, and ripe

No, not the kind that you put in your mouth, though we are finally approaching the time when we can renew our acquaintance with them here in the up-until-now rainy and cold northeast.  Last week, on a day when I thought summer might actually be coming because it hardly rained at all and I didn’t have to put on a sweater until after the sun went down, I visited my favorite truck farmer, Jake. When I took my corn and tomatoes to his till to settle up, he was at pains to tell me–apologetically–that those were his tomatoes, but they were hothouse tomatoes. “We won’t have real dirt tomatoes until August,” he sighed.

I can wait. And this will help to tide me over.

My Floating Ink blog has been honored with a Ripe Tomato for Blogging Excellence award.  I was surprised and tickled.  Fellow blogger and comrade in the (increasingly deep) trenches of freelance writing Ron Doyle gave this little honor to 15 blogs he admires and loves to visit, and–whee!–yours truly was in a prime spot on the list. Thanks, Ron!

First, go to Ron’s Blog Salad to check out the other blogs he loves–great ones about bicycling, humor, writing, parenting, food, travel, and all the rest of life.

Then check out the blogs below. Part of Ron’s plan is a sort of “pay it forward” approach–he’s asked each of us on his list to create our own lists of our 15 go-to blogs.

Here are mine:

whipup:  The hub of the crafting blogiverse, inspiring crafters and artists all over the world, showcasing clever and creative people of all stripes, and providing inspiration even on those days when you’re sure you’ve seen it all before and you could never make that yourself–you haven’t, and you can.

Sandi Kahn Shelton: A writing and life blog not just for writers;  this author of wonderful, wonderful, wonderful books (a 4th wonderful is in the pipeline) will make you laugh so hard that tea comes out your nose, and cry over characters that you wish were your best friends.

The Panopticon:  The incomparable Franklin Habit.  Funny, wise, snarky, erudite, and adorable. Ostensibly a knitting blog, but even if you’ve never knitted a stitch, reading Franklin’s posts will make you wish that you, too, were a cute, multi-talented, artistic, Buddhist, creative gay man whose alter-ego is a boozing, politicking, philandering, rabble-rousing sheep named Dolores.

Spirit Cloth: To call Jude a textile artist is like saying e. e. cummings dabbled in poetry. Astonishng, soul-feeding work. I visit there regularly but don’t comment as often as I should because there are only so many ways of saying “oh, my god.”

Whiskey River:  Disseminator of wisdom via an electronic chapbook.  Poets, zen masters, lovers, and fools.

Green Chair Press:  For lovers of books, makers of books, font fans, letterpress and type geeks, and appreciators of all sorts of typographic and literary beauty.

Woolgathering: Artist Elizabeth Perry’s daily sketch journal. She inspires me to see the beauty in the everyday–under her skillful eye a tossed-0ff sketch of a candy wrapper, a lighted lamp, a few cherries, even a pair of flip flops shows us the essence of the thing. And makes me think it’s not silly to subject you fine readers to sketches of staplers and jars of peppercorns.

Nichobella:  Healing through art. Acey’s journals, textile arts, and explorations of what makes us who we are take us beyond the level of “crafting.”

Contemplating the Moon:  Ah, if only. This blog introduced me to encaustics. Which I will never, never master. But I will always, always try.

Joe Pastry:  Want to know how to make your own pasta on your kitchen table?  Why you should make jelly rolls?  What kind of flour makes the best pizza in your back yard bread oven (because we know you have one of those)?  How to make Cornish pasties, an Alsatian onion tart, two kinds of fruitcake and your own homemade caramel? Course you do.

Tea Spot:  My friends and family know me as someone whose blood type is Earl Grey, so I was delighted to find Ana’s tea blog. Besides taking the best food photographs around, Ana gives you the scoop (get it? little matcha joke there) on all kinds of teas and how to brew them. Best of all, she shares info on where to find (and, often, how to make) yummy comestibles to go with them.   Japanese Hiking Donuts, anyone? Or tea-poached pears?  Put the kettle on–I’m on my way!

elsewhere: He takes you there.

3191: That’s the number of miles that separate photo-bloggers Stephanie and Mav in their respective Portlands. Their cameras are our windows on the quotidian beauty in their worlds that let us see the same in ours.

maya*made:  I read many, many, many art and craft blogs and would love to be able to list them all here. But since Ron says that 15 is the magic number, I have to pick one, and this is my pick.  Beautiful, simple, creative things made with love and shared with us.

the worst horse:  Had enough of those boots of Chinese plastic?

Now, each of these bloggers has to think of their list of 15–tag, you’re it.

And thanks again, Ron–hope it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride where you are.