Mixing Up My Media


Remember as a kid the fun and excitement of going to a friend’s house and playing with all their cool toys that you don’t have? That was my weekend.

The friend: Fine artist, writer and photographer Christine Goldbeck

The house: PA Guild of Craftsmen Center for American Craft

The toys: paint, canvas, rubbing alcohol, Liquitex sealer, stamps, putty knives, basting brushes, sand paper, paper towels, tissue paper….the list goes on.

Truth be told, I didn’t know Christine until this weekend. My friend Jessica and I took the Experimental Media Painting class in Lancaster and Christine introduced us to color theory, painting techniques, aspects of focal points all in a few short hours.

I am not a painter. Nor do I intend to be. I signed up for the class hoping to jump start my creativity by experiencing a type of art with which I am unfamiliar. We painted. We scraped and sanded. We Mod Podged, we spritzed with rubbing alcohol and sprayed with water. We colored with oil pastels and chalk pastels. We painted some more. We cut and glued paper and stuck anything and everything to our canvases. I added horse hair (of course) and deer antler pieces. There were angst-y moments of worrying we’d “ruin” our work and also the realization we can always paint over it and start anew.

As you can see, my masterpieces can still use a lot of work but I have every intention of finishing them. Christine insisted. November is my month to do that. In fact, I’m hoping to make November a month creation and hope to create something, anything each and every day. This is payback for the year my husband did NaNoWriMo 🙂

Happy crafting!

Yellow Bubbles

Yellow bubbles by Red Tail Designs
Yellow bubbles, a photo by Red Tail Designs on Flickr.

Sent off this custom horse hair bracelet today to a customer in Ohio. The yellow beads look to me like bubbles floating around the wearer’s wrist. Maybe that’s because spring in the air, which means at my house a new box of sidewalk chalk and new bottles of bubbles for the kids.

Adding yellow beads to a black bracelet isn’t a color choice that would have occurred to me, but it turned out gorgeous.  That’s the beauty of creating custom orders: Customers have their own visions that I need to translate and that process, in turn inspires, me to think of new and different ways to create jewelry.

Contact me and we can create a custom piece of jewelry that inspires you!

Tag, I’m It


Seems I’ve been tagged by Kris at Monkeyfoot Designs to answer some questions about blogging.

Somehow, this reminds me of taking a Cosmo quiz in high school. I did try to wiggle out of it by claiming a rarely cited rule about not being able to answer questions if you have less than 5 blog entires, but alas, that did not work. So here it goes. (I included a few fun spring photos in case you get tired of all the words:))

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging for a few reasons: 1) I’ve been looking for new and different ways to expand my business 2) I was hoping to find a way to stay motivated and 3) planning to get myself on a regular work schedule. As I was rethinking/redesigning my web site, a blog seemed a good way to accomplish many of these things all at the same time. Plus I had a lot of familial influence, with my husband and his sister being bloggers.Crocuses

2. How did you come up with your blog name?

My blog name is the same as my business name, which was inspired by a red-tailed hawk. For many years I have been involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education. I was training a red-tailed hawk for use in education programs, and often wondered what the hawk thought about me in its life. For days I pondered this and then it occurred to me that this red-tail probably called me a red-tail. I have red hair and usually wore it in a pony-tail when working with the bird, so I sported my own “red tail” on a regular basis. It seemed an obvious name for my company.

3. Do your friends and family know about your blog? What do they think of it?

My husband helped me design my blog and most of my friends and family know of my blog. About half of those people look at me kinda funny like, “a what? a log? a smog? a frog?”

Wheel barrel o pussy willows

4. How do you write posts?

Being trained as a journalists, I write my posts like one. I write stream of consciousness, then go back and edit and make it a story with beginning, middle, and end. It will be interesting to see if that changes over time.

5. Have you ever had a troll or had to delete comments?Pussy willows

Thankfully, no.

6. Do you check your stats? Do you care how many people read your blog? If you do care, how to you increase traffic?

I do check my stats. I find it interesting to see how people get to my site, what words they search to get there.

7. What kind of blogs/posts interest you?

Right now I read many sewing and crafting blogs. I like seeing how people put together materials that wouldn’t normally be associated with each other. That inspires me to try different things.

8. What do you like and dislike about blogging?Snowdrops

I like how people can connect and get fabulous new ideas from blogging. I don’t like that I don’t have enough time to do it as often as I’d like and that my pictures are as fabulous as I’d like them to be.

All done! I am going to tag Melody, Hedge, and Ken to continue the Cosmo Quiz blog questions. While they’re doing that I’ll be off to tackle my pile of birthday goodies I got this week. Lots of old issues of Mary Jane’s Farm and a new book called Doodle Stitching. Can’t wait to see what they inspire next!

Doodle Stitching

Iris or Inkblot?

Iris Inkblot

Is it a smushed iris or Rorschach Inkblot test?

This smushed iris turned into a Rorschach test as my 4-year-old told me that it looked like a bug. Yet another Valentine’s day craft I did with the kids to create sachets for the cousins. This craft is great because it’s so simple:

arrange flowers on muslin and tape with masking tape

Placing the Flowers Tape the flowers

flip over and smash with hammer

Smash flowers Peel back

The flower pigments bleed through the muslin in neat patterns. I then outlined the flower pigments with a permanent marker.

Any craft that involves smashing rather than precision is fun for adults and kids alike!

The flower pounding idea comes from an HGTV quilting show I saw a few years ago. These directions explain how to prepare the fabric for dying, which I honestly didn’t do, so I’ll be interested to see if the flowers fade much.

After we made the flower prints, I cut and sewed them into heart-shape pillows before filling them with fresh-smelling herbs like parsley, rosemary, lavender and peppermint.

Herb station

The local health food store has a wall o’ herbs and spices in jars so you can smell them before you buy them, and then purchase a pinch or a pound. I could spend all day opening the jars and smelling the herbs. We went through a lot of mustard seed. It doesn’t have much of a scent by my little person loved the way it looked I guess, so she wanted lots. I set her up with jars and bowls and spoons and she made a huge mess mixing herbs.

Valentine Sachets

After we stuffed them with the herbs, I sewed them up and hot glued some ribbons to them. I made one for my nephew…not really a boy gift but I was at a loss. My friend Melody suggested I rename it a “stinky pillow” so boys would like it.

Finding easy-to-make crafts for boys is hard. Most books target girls and suggest you use boy-ish fabrics or colors to transform it, but they really aren’t intended for boys. Anyone know of good books out there where there is more than one craft to make for the male set?

Make It Like a 4-year-old!

Valentines 2008

Can you tell which valentines I made? My 4-year-old and I have been busy making valentines to give out at preschool. We actually create the valentines instead of buying the Dora or Transformers valentines at the store.

At this point my 4-year-old doesn’t even know you can buy pre-made valentines at the store. I’ve kept this little secret from her for two reasons: 1) Valentine-making is a great art project for the kids, something to keep them busy while I work on jewelry; and 2) I love to make valentines. Funny, since I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I don’t do dinner, flowers or candy. We don’t even give each other cards.

But I could sit all day with scissors and red paper and make hearts.

With 20 kids in the class, that’s a lot of valentines for one little person to make. I do my part to pitch in, but I want the valentines to look like she made them. So I get to create like a 4-year-old.

Besides being just plain old fun, creating like a 4-year-old is actually a good creativity booster. No need to be perfect. Hearts can have missing parts or be lopsided. If the whole thing falls apart, put more glue on it. Now more. Now even more glue. It’s very freeing to use supplies in excess and not care if the end results with match the preconcieved notion in your head. So give it a try. In case it’s been a while since you were 4, here are some tips:

1. Put all the stickers in one spot

2. When painting, use the brightest colors you can possibly find.

3. One color is good, but 5 colors are awesome. Mix all the colors together, then paint. Who says you can’t have brown valentines?

4. Use entirely too much of everything: too much glitter, glue that covers the whole paper and seeps onto the table cloth.

5. Use enough paint to cover 10 valentines on a single heart. Let the paint run down your arm and drip on your pants. Now that’s real painting.

5. After you finish each valentine, say, “Isn’t this the most beautiful valentine you’ve ever seeeeen?”

One last tip: wear a smock and cover the table with a vinyl tablecloth. If you really get into it, things can get messy.

And, in case you were wondering, I made the valentines on the right.