"The life so short, the crafts so long to learn."
~Geoffrey Chaucer

ACEO Cards by Maria Kitano

When I created this blog, I decided not to feature painters because there are so many talented ones out there. Choosing would be agonizing for me. I'm making an exception because I had never heard of ACEO cards before. Until I visited Maria Kitano's blog. ACEO (Art card, editions and originals) are similar to ATC cards (Artist Trading Cards) in that they can be traded with other artists like trading or business cards to promote ones craft. ACEO cards are usually 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches in size, and are also sold today as art to be displayed. Maria started making ACEOs about a year ago, after seeing a few on a website. "I had never tried painting such small formats so it was a challenge to me. After making a few it became an addiction."

Maria lives in Hamburg, Germany, and has been painting and drawing since childhood, and professionally for six years. On her blog she explains, "My work is a celebration of life, inspired from things I see every day, things that most of us do not pay much attention to. My daily experiences: watching the sky, a bird, conversations, media, photos, television, memories, are reduced to abstract shapes and colors which allow me to show what I feel is important and beautiful. Abstraction is the way I come closest to representing the world around me." You will see that birds are one of her favorite subjects, as her blog titles, Tweetart, also suggests.

"I use various techniques, going from pencil and graphite to pastels, watercolors and finally oils which I like the most. There is no complicated philosophical explanation about my paintings." Her craft gives her the opportunity to communicate emotions through her painting. Emotions that are universal. Her goal for the future is to hopefully have a "real" exhibition. But, for now, Maria is content with painting what she loves, and promoting her business. Visit her blog to see more of her works HERE. And, her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with permission from Maria Kitano.

Found Object Assemblage Art Dolls by Suzan Buckner

What do most artists and craftspeople have in common? They are obsessed with their craft. In a positive way, that is. And, Suzan Buckner is no exception. Visit her blog, and you'll see what I mean. "The only frustration that I have with my artwork is that I want to make more than is humanly possible. I want to paint a gazillion paintings a day, and do a couple of dozen assemblages a day, and I want to make art dolls on top of all of that. So, it's frustrating to have to write my ideas down on paper, and do them as I get to them. I need four of me, and 50 hours in a day, and I could make everything that I want to make." Her greatest "unexpected" joy from art is the inner peace that it gives her. "I am high-strung by nature, and art calms me. I also use it to work through various problems in my mind..things that bug me."

Suzan is married to Chuck, and between them, they have three grown children and four grandchildren. Her dog Petey is about three years old (they think). "He showed up in my yard one day, and we tried to run him off, but he kept coming back. Finally, I fed him, and then named him, then took him to the he's a spoiled rotten brat of a dog." She adores Petey! And, she feels the same about her craft. "I have always loved art, and took art in high school, and I have ALWAYS said that I am going to be an artist. No one believed me because I didn't actively DO art. But, I have said that since I was about 4 years old (I am 44 now.) So, I really think that it was predetermined that I would make just took me 42 years to get around to doing it." And, this month is her two year anniversary from the day she "got around" to doing it.

Much of her assemblage pieces are made from recycled materials. "I begin by having my husband get the wood, and cutting it like I want it. Then, I sit in my studio, and just move things around until I like it. I have a gazillion things right at my fingertips, so it's just like putting a puzzle together. I get all of my materials for assemblage at junk stores, thrift stores, antique stores..anywhere. I hoard it. I could probably create a couple of thousand pieces without ever leaving my studio, but I keep buying more stuff." Suzan gets her inspiration from other artists, from pictures, from things that she sees. "Inspiration is everywhere. I jot things down when I find them, and use them for reference later." If you want inspiration, visit her blog to see her artwork HERE. And, her website HERE. And, be sure to take a look at her journal pages on her Flickr site HERE.

Images used with permission from Suzan Buckner.

Ceramic Art Pieces by Diana Fayt

Diana Fayt took her first pottery class in the eighth grade. "Not because I was interested in pottery but because a boy I had a crush on was taking the class. I remember making a clay hippopotamus in that class but I don’t remember what happened with the boy." Today she is buried in pottery. Between her business, giving lectures, and attending shows, it's safe to say that Diana is fully dedicated to her craft. And, she still maintains her sense of humour. In one blog posting, she confesses "I do wish I could tell you that a torrid love affair has kept me away but alas I have been doing a little traveling and working, working and um, working."

Diana's parents, who are Hungarian, are resourceful people from an old world. Diana observed her mother make clothes from whole cloth and helped in hand cranking pork sausages in their garage. Her father, an intensely quiet person, was a tool and die man of great precision who later went on to make jewelry. Diana's work is hand built and she uses molds that she also makes herself. "All of my ceramics are made with lead free materials and are food safe."

"The process I have developed and use is quite labor intensive which includes approximately thirteen steps from beginning to end. Some pieces (like the platters and large bowls) can take up to seven hours to complete which does not include the twenty three hours of firing time in the kiln. All of the drawings are my own freehand illustrations and the images of the birds, whales and other silhouetted imagery are all also my own original drawings. I use many different tools, including old hand forged nails and found objects to etch my lines into the clay so as to achieve unique markings of interest to my pieces. Some of my pieces may seem irregular in shape. This is intentional. I want evidence of the handmade to remain an integral part of my work." Visit her website to see additional works HERE. And, her blog HERE. And, Etsy site HERE. ~ Text used from her various sites with permission from Diana Fayt.

Images used with permission from Diana Fayt.

Eco-Friendly Hand Dyed and Stitched Textile by India Flint

India Flint comes from a long line of women who made things with their hands in order to respond to the requirements of the moment. "My great-grandmother grew, harvested, retted, hackled, spun and wove her own flax. My great-aunt made wine and preserves, my grandmother sewed all sorts of things and taught me how to dye cloth. My mother was a spinner of wool and a weaver and an embroiderer (but now restricts her creative work to gardening)...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Even my father (an Emeritus Professor) is constantly building things and devising useful objects."

"In our family, if you wanted something, you would try first of all to grow it, make it or find it." India lives on a working farm in rural South Australia, and creates eco-friendly hand dyed and stitched textiles. The ecoprint technique was discovered by her in 1999 and is the signature mark of her work. This technique is a water-based printing process using relatively small quantities of plant material compared to traditional dye methods. She uses natural dyeing techniques having discovered just how toxic synthetic colours can be. "The dyes I make avoid the use of potentially harmful synthetic mordants, relying instead on found metals, ash, seawater, whey and fruit vinegars; among others."

She manages the farm on behalf of her parents, who also live there in a separate house. India is a single mother with three children (two adult, and one nearly adult) and a border collie who is her right hand "dog" on the farm. She also has cats rescued from the RSPCA, but too many to count according to India. There are also sheep and cattle, as well as chickens and ducks to care for. Her hobbies include playing the tenor saxophone which makes her very happy. India also gives workshops, has a r(eco)fashion label, creates costumes for dance, and writes books about her craft. Visit her website to see additional works and to read about her many ongoing projects HERE. And, her blog HERE. ~Information provided by India Flint and used with permission.

Images used with permission from India Flint.

Hand Beaded Jewelry by Patrizia Tager

Patrizia Tager, or Triz, discovered the world of beadwork when her son turned one and started day-care a couple of times a week. "I just needed to get out of the house! And, I wanted to do something creative, so I enrolled myself into four classes at my local bead shop, and fell in love with this medium. I started buying every magazine and books available and sat at home for a whole year learning new techniques and stitches." Triz is a single mother, who lives in Israel with her son who is almost five years old, and her two dogs. One is a 12 yr old rescued dog named Kaya, and a newly rescued 2 month old puppy she named Houdini. She has a B.A. in fashion design, but designing jewelry has become her career.

Not only she is busy taking care of her trio, but she is constantly creating new designs. Not just for her jewelry line, but for birthday gifts for her two sisters. Her family is very important to her. She named her son after her dearest cousin Marc, who was killed in a plane crash in 1988 that left 270 people dead. In a recent posting dedicated to him, she writes "I named my son after you. I hope he grows up to be half the man you were....your smile... your warmth, your compassion, your generosity, your joie de vivre, your friendship, your jokes and yes, even your pranks, are the things I miss the most.... you were definitely too good for this world... and I really hope you are in a better place, otherwise nothing makes sense...."

Triz recently started piano lessons, something she's been wanting to try since she was little. "I used to have lots of hobbies: tennis, karate, yoga, swimming, and photography. But that was before I got hooked on beading jewelry!" As most artists and craftspeople who love their work, Triz is more than passionate about her craft, it's on her mind 24/7. Visit her blog to see additional works HERE. And, her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with consent from Patrizia Tager.

Hand Painted Boxes, Mixed Media, and Folk Art by Flor Larios

Originally from Nicaragua, Flor Larios grew up in a family of artists and art lovers. "My first contact with painting was in fact through my grandfather's work. My grandfather was an exceptional man whom I admired as a child and from whose example I continue to benefit. He was a musicologist by profession, but did primitivist painting when his research allowed." And, though her grandfather introduced art to Flor, it was a stranger who ultimately inspired her to pursue it. "It was actually the work of Frida Kahlo that motivated me to spend more and more time painting. There is hardly a more courageous artist, defying all expectations, challenging standards, and in the process managing to communicate her feelings and experience."

Over the years Flor worked very hard to overcome the challenge posed by her lack of formal training in the arts. And, it has been frustrating at times. But, she is fully devoted to her craft, and seeing her children develop a sensitivity for the arts has made it a very rewarding experience. Her children are also involved with her business. "My daughter, she is always giving me the right prices to sell my art, and my son, always giving me new ideas and good advice." Her husband is the greatest admirer of her work, but a tough critic, as well.

Flor lives in sunny Miami, Florida with her family. She admits to "complaining all the time." It's just a habit, she acknowledges. But, if she complains, it's partly because she expects so much of her herself. And, she works extremely hard. As most artists and people in business should do, she is constantly developing new ways to promote her craft. And, she does it well. Visit her blog HERE to see additional works. And, her ETSY site HERE.

Images used with permission from Flor Larios.

Vinyl Art By Daniel Edlen

Jimi Hendrix

Daniel Edlen came up with the idea of painting vinyl records (remember those?) as a teenager around 1992. "My dad had turned me onto The Beatles on vinyl, and my mom volunteered at the library handling used book and record donations. I got first pick of the records, which didn't sell well. Amassing duplicates of my favorite albums, the idea hit me after a high school art project I did using white pencil on black paper. I did about 6 of them and lost interest."

John Lennon

In 2006, some friends suggested that his vinyl art might make good holiday gifts. Though Daniel had been sculpting people out of clay for years, he never lost his painting skills. So, he began selling his vinyl art for a living. He uses "only white acrylic paint, dabbing it on with small brushes which wear out very quickly. "

Tom Waits

"I know that the mere idea of portraits on vinyl might seem gimmicky or hokey and the pieces might not fit into typical art world categories, but it is the passion for music which motivates me." He's willing to do customized orders, and will even paint on a buyer's own record album. People are always curious about Daniel's work, and have asked all kinds of questions. Such as whether or not you can play the record after it has been painted. The answer: No. Unless you'd prefer scratches on your painting, it is highly discouraged. Visit his website to see more vinyl art HERE. His blog HERE. ~From his site with consent.

Jimi Hendrix on Vinyl by Daniel Edlen
(Time Lapse Painting)

Images posted with permission from Daniel Edlen.

Environmental Art by John Dahlsen

“Blue Rope” (Triptych) (Environmental Assemblage Art)

Environmental artist John Dahlsen has eyes the color of the bluest sea, and that's only fitting since it was the ocean that first inspired his craft. While searching for driftwood to make furniture at a remote beach in Australia, in the mid 1990's, he discovered "vast amounts of plastic ocean debris" Following his instincts, he started picking up the beach litter and hauled it home. What happened next is somewhat of a history in the making. John's history, that is. And, an inspirational one it is. His is the story of the creative, artistic mind. One we are all capable of tuning into,if we only try.

6 Driftwood Totems 2009 (Environmental Driftwood Art )

John took the beach litter and organized them into groups according to their material and their color. There were ropes and strings, all kinds of plastics (yellow and blue and red in color) and plastic coke bottles, and even thongs (flip flops.) These were the materials he would later use to create his abstract environmental art. He likens these found objects to a "giant painters pallete." "I later had the notion of making assemblages of each of these objects once sorted, this occurred to me as a natural extension of the process I was undergoing in the studio. This whole new palette of colour and shape revealing itself to me immediately affected me; I had never seen such hues and forms before which enabled me to make new environmental art."

Blue River (Recycled Plastic Bag Art)

"As I worked with these objects, I became even more fascinated by the way they had been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature's elements. My challenge as an artist was to take these found objects, which might on first meeting have no apparent dialogue, and to work with them until they spoke and told their story, which included those underlying environmental messages inherent in the use of this kind of medium. " Read more of the artist's statement of his works HERE. And, visit his website to see more incredible environmental art HERE. ~From the artist's website with consent.

Images posted with permission from John Dahlsen.

Fabric and Paper Art Quilts by Terri Stegmiller

She Dreams in Color (Fabric Art Quilt)

Terri Stegmiller is one busy lady. Not only is she the assistant publisher of Fibre & Stitch, an online mixed media zine, but she lives with her husband and FIVE cats: Abby, Zoey, Junie, Patty and Lucy. (Two are indoor cats, the other three prefer the outdoors.) Her son left the nest within the last couple of years. They live outside the city limits in North Dakota, on a 10-acre plot where she tends to her flower gardens every chance she gets. Oh, did I mention she also creates art quilts? Yes, she does, and she does it beautifully as you can see for yourself. "I think I'm possessed with art. When I'm not in the studio working on something, then my mind is working, thinking, or dreaming about new ideas. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love and with the technologies of today I can connect with other like-minded artists." Terri has worked with one type of craft or another for most of her life, and only started quilting around 1994. And, she considers herself blessed as her husband is very supportive of her love for creating art.

Blue-Mers (Paper Art Quilt)

She began with traditional quilts in larger sizes for beds. "I decided these took too long and my interest in them faded, so I started creating wall-sized quilts. When the traditional patterns became boring for me, I starting paying more attention to art quilting and would spend many hours on the Internet looking at the great art that a lot of quilters were creating. I knew that was the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to create my own designs and not follow any rules." Her favorite subjects or themes are flowers, cats, and the female face. "I like fun and whimsy in my quilts, therefore the subject matter isn’t created to resemble real life. I enjoy working in a small format and art quilts are perfect for me. My quilts rarely reach sizes over 36 inches tall or wide."

Winter Wonderland (Fabric Art Quilt)

Most of her quilts, whether paper quilts or textile quilts, are made in the typical manner as most quilts—three layers making up the quilt sandwich. "I like to use up scraps as much as possible when creating my quilts, but I don’t make it a rule. The techniques I use when quilting vary, but the technique I use most is fused, raw-edge appliqué, which is then free-motion quilted. I love texture and some of my pieces are heavily quilted with more surface texture and interest added with other mediums, such as paint. I love lots of color and most of my quilts reflect this." Terri also teaches online classes, like this one HERE. You can visit her blog HERE to learn more about her craft. And, her website HERE and her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with permission from Terri Stegmiller.

Designer Hand Knits for Pets and their People by Vanessa Sam

A self-proclaimed "obsessive-compulsive perfectionist", whose passion for knitting started when she was a mere 1st-grader, Vanessa Sam lives in the San Francisco Bay area (California) with her husband (they just celebrated their three year anniversary), and miniature schnauzer Bach. Bach is her star model, and has been with them for ten years. He's very dedicated to their business, and loves the free clothes! He's lucky that he lives with the designer.

Bach modeling "The Backpacker" (a cat/dog turtle neck sweater)
You'll have to visit their Etsy site to see his adorable face.
(Not that his butt isn't cute enough!)

Vanessa inherited her knitting "gene" from her mother who was obsessed with knitting pretty baby dresses while she was pregnant with her. Vanessa's first project was a vest for her teddy bear; her second project was a vest for her little brother. And, she's been "hooked" ever since. "Recently my mom revealed that the reason she taught me to knit at the age of six was to stop me from bothering her while she was knitting. I find that hilarious. But I am so grateful that she did teach me; this hobby has stayed with me for 20+ years and not only do my husband and dog benefit from the hobby, it has now become my business. By the time I was a teenager, my mom moved on to quilting. But there are lots of baby photos of me wearing her knitted dresses and cardigans, they're really cute!"

The Hipster cat/dog turtleneck sweater

Vanessa is a healthcare finance consultant by day, an obsessed knitter by night, and a photographer by weekend. Every item is knitted with love. And, she even customizes her knits according to variations in size. She also created a custom design for a buyer who wanted to recreate a toddler sweater that her mom knitted for her and her twin sister when they were kids. The result is the "Hello, My Name Is...." sweater. The buyer ordered matching dog sweaters for her corgi and her pug. Vanessa makes a human version of this sweater for toddlers, too.

She doesn't have kids yet (the two legged kind) but if she ever does, her shop will explode with knitted baby items! But, don't worry all you dog and cat lovers, she'll continue to knit adorable and "designer" outfits for your loved ones. And, yes, for most of us the weather is getting warm, but winter is just around the corner. So, visit Vanessa's Etsy site to see her designer hand knits for Pets and their People HERE. And, see her photography HERE.

Images posted with consent from Vanessa Sam.