Tuesday, August 11, 2015


When time permits, I love to browse Etsy shops just to see what's new on the horizon. That is when I saw this reproduction of an antique Santos Cage Doll. I didn't mind that she was a reproduction and that there would be others just like her for sale, because as soon as I saw her, visions of Sugar Plums danced in my head. I knew right away that I as going to alter her entire appearance and that there would be only one just like her when I was finished.

This is her original appearance when I purchased her. She was not meant to be altered, this is what she would have looked like in her day. I just envisioned her to look a little more saintly, more distressed, chippy and regal. I had no idea what I was going to do but that is the kind of projects I love. She stands 22" tall with her crown.

The first thing I did was to give her a good sanding all over rubbing off the original color different places and leaving patches here and there including her face. Then I went to town with paint and then more sanding. I altered her eyes to make them bigger and used a bit of antiquing in places on her face and other areas of her body to make her look older. The best part was using crackle heavy in areas so that it would even chip and crack off.

Her crown was part of a larger crown that I cut and made smaller adding jewels, antiqued crosses and jewelry findings, then antiquing the entire crown after it was finished.

Her breast plate is a gold Dresden embossed foil cut out that was gifted to me by a sweet friend in a pocket page. I never antiqued one before but I think it came out beautiful and looks like it might be bronze or metal. 

I added a vintage rosary with crystals and a necklace I made with a vintage looking locket and a very old skeleton key with a diamond cuff.

 I found these awesome tin wings at "A Vintage Season" on Etsy. I antiqued them as well and I was really pleased with the results and how well they fit her. The butterfly is also a Dresden foil that I antiqued.

 I already had this awesome metal ex-voto flaming heart on a stand that fit perfectly in her cage, adding a little gold leaf to the flame.



Thank you for stopping in and checking out my latest project. 
I hope you will visit again soon, there are some "Zetti Birds flying around my studio right now!

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Rusted Evolution is actually the name of the Etsy shop where I came across this amazing vintage wooden bird house. I was shopping for some embellishments for a cage doll I was working on and when I saw this, well you know where my mind immediately went.

                                                    Vintage wooden bird cage

I loved the door and the metal sign above it, the way it latches and that it is all wood and obviously the original owners loved it too since it appears to be very well preserved and cared for.

I COULDN'T WAIT TO GET STARTED...... everything else got put aside as many of my projects do when I come across something else that excites me.  I gave it a good dusting, a little sanding and a good base coat of paint. I had a couple large Santos Cage Doll kits on hand from Retro Cafe Art Gallery for other projects and I already had a vision of making this a Frida Kahlo Santos Cage Doll. I had a few things to figure out, but if you believe in possibilities, everything is figure outable, right?

The best idea came from Tricia and Ryan who sent the bird cage to me. They took off the top piece with the metal ring (the part you use to hang the cage) and inverted it inside just for shipping purposes, so it would not be damaged. Thank you Tricia and Ryan, you set my mind in motion. I was just going to remove it and not use it at all so the Cage Doll would sit on top. I decided to leave the hanging piece inside the cage and use it to hang my flaming heart on from Sandra Evertson's line of Relics and Artifacts.

The back side of the heart is embellished with paper that matches Frida and a cross on the flame.
After giving the entire cage a base coat, I set it aside to let it dry and began work on Frida. I didn't actually have a Frida face, but this face from Retro Cafe Art Gallery worked fine with a little help on the eyebrows. I painted the body back and front, adding paper collage on the top half and adding a Frida quote on front bottom half and back side. The flaming heart is one Sandra's Relics and Artifacts that I painted and embellished. I also added a beaded embellishment as her necklace and a metal bird at the rim. 

 I had so much fun with this Frida. I found a hand woven large button in my bits and bobbles and used this as a base for her hat to which I added roses to the front of it. I love this quote as I myself have found it to be so true.
         "At the end of the day we can endure much more than we think" 

Many of the embellishments, like this one on the back side are jewelry pieces and some all round the cage are craft brads purchased at various places.

 After the cage was dry, I began to add my quotes and different colors. I also had this great vintage ruler forever just waiting for the perfect spot. The eye is also from Relics and Artifacts.

 On this arched door that I just love, I added one of Frida's quotes that says:
"I would rather sit on the floor in the market of Toluca and sell tortillas, (the rest is on the inside of the cage)

 Than have anything to do with those artistic bitches of Paris".
 After I got everything glued on, I gave it a light coat of antiquing stain to give it that aged look and more depth. To my surprise, the Santos Cage Doll fit on the top of the bird cage like it was made for her. My heart did leaps of joy throughout this entire piece. Everything just came together. It doesn't always happen like that, but when it does... it's a great day!

The final finish - Front side - She stands 24" tall and the bottom is 8" wide. She may be available in my etsy shop in the very near future, but I am going to enjoy looking at her for awhile.

 Thank you Tricia, Ryan and Chloe for this wonderful found treasure, Retro Cafe Art Gallery for my beloved Santos Cage Doll kits and fantastic art supplies, Sandra Evertson for her forever inspiring Relics and Artifacts and for everyone who has stopped by to take a peek and comment. Hearts to All.


Sunday, July 5, 2015


Did you ever have the joy and dream of putting a message in a bottle and watching the tide take it out to sea, wondering where it would wash up and who would find your message?  Would they respond, or would your message be retrieved years later by someone walking along the shore perhaps hunting for treasures? Hopefully your message was one of playful fun longing for some mysterious adventure and not one of a distress call waiting to be rescued.

In the sea world, I believe there are messengers of hope and rescue and romance who find these floating messages and retrieve them sending them along their way on a path to their intended destinations. I couldn't think of a more fitting Sea Messenger than this Medium Octopus Sea Maiden Articulated Art Doll Kit from Retro Cafe Art Gallery. It takes a lot of arms to fetch all the messages in bottles that she finds floating in the sea. She is also called  a Sea Angel and there are many like her.

Each of her arms have 7- 10 tiny suckers made individually with paper clay. 
After they dried, I painted them all and then glued each one individually on her arms. The crab she is holding one of her beloved helpers. It helps to have helpers on land and sea.


 The crabs on the stands went so well with this doll kit that I ordered them together. The one on the right has a metal S.O.S. box that contains bottles with messages of distress. It is his job to make sure those bottles reach the shore where they are needed. The crab on the left works the land and sea delivering & retrieving bottles and re-directing them to insure their correct delivery. The crab on the far left, well, he is just grouchy and crabby and not much of a morning person, kind of like me! :)

                                                                     Back side of  doll

              Back side of crab, all crabs have been painted front and back

My husband really likes this one... he said, someone needs this by the coffee pot! I agree, that could be his cue to put the coffee on!

                                           "Blessed are those that work with their hands"

 Thank you so much for stopping by, please leave a comment so I don't get crabby! Have  a wonderful day and don't forget to eat at JOE'S! 

* You can find this these kits and all embellishments used here, and more at Retro Cafe Art Gallery. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

OF THEE I SING . . . .

I'm always surprised by the things that inspire me to make something. For instance this little vintage piece of flag ribbon. The ribbon was originally used by women who would cut each piece and hand make little flags for your lapel or hat. I knew I would use it for something - first, because I love anything vintage and second, it had an interesting history in a time when most things were handmade in the U.S.A. and less things were mass produced.

As a mixed media artist, one of my favorite things to make are the Santos Cage Dolls.  I try to keep one on hand so when the inspiration hits me, I don't have to wait. Waiting is so hard when you are inspired. However, I order mine from Retro Cafe Art Gallery and mailing is super fast so I usually have my order in a couple days anyway and with Jelly Beans! My other favorite muse lately has been Relics and Artifacts by Sandra Evertson in conjunction with Prima Marketing Inc. I tend to keep these on hand as well because I have yet to find a lack of inspiration from them. So, with this little flag piece of ribbon and my recent order from Retro Cafe Art  Gallery this week, as soon as I opened it, I knew " My Lady of The U.S.A. was about to be born.

  The hardest thing for me is the beginning, getting all my pieces organized and priming them (back, front and sides) with gesso. I compare it to getting out the Christmas tree and having to assemble it first before you can start decorating it. It's agonizing, because I love decorating the Christmas tree. 
 Then I paint my colors. Planning at this stage is important before you start assembling your doll. Any stamping or writing I am going to do gets done before anything is put together. On this doll, I sanded all the edges to distress the doll and give it a little aged look.

The next thing that goes together is the bottom cage first. This is where I rely on my gorilla. I only used gorilla glue on the assemblage pieces because it will dry fast and strongly hold everything together, it never fails me!

I put a little glue in each cut out and even dip the tip of the nails in the glue before putting it in each slat.  And I do a lot of wiping with a wet wipe because I am so messy. I always make sure that I have assembled everything I am going to put in the cage before I put the cage  together.

For the bottom of my cage I used a red, white , and blue paper cupcake holder that I bought for cupcakes for the 4th of July. I spotted these on the counter when I was washing the glue off my fingers. (You never know what will inspire you)  I just completely flattened it out and glued it down going over it several times with my fingers pressing hard to get all the wrinkles out. There are tools for this, but I always end up using my hands.

For the body of the doll, I add the arms first attaching them with the brads included. I generally cut the brads shorter so they don't stick out. 

The face I used from Sandra's Relics and Artifacts was the perfect size for this large size Santos Doll kit. After painting the face and making the hat with vintage ribbon, I glued the face to the doll.

 Once the body of the doll is complete, then I add it to the bottom half of the cage doll, again adding a little glue and firmly pushing it in. The rest is just finish work (like tinsel on the tree) adding things you might want to add to the front or back side. I thought it was only appropriate that her hand was placed over her heart and she was holding our beloved flag.

"Sweet Land of Liberty,  of Thee I Sing"

I love making mixed media and assemblage pieces. I have finally come to terms with myself, enjoying what I do more than ever with "beautiful inadequacy", ... a sweet relief, a rest of my soul, an acknowledgment that I will never perform perfectly, producing a peace within me that confirms enjoying myself is enough.

What has inspired  you lately to create something?

Thank you for stopping in and for leaving your lovely comments, you make my day!
And for my friends in the U.S.A. , Happy Fourth of July! XOXO