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

Sunday, May 31, 2015


I would like to start out this post by telling you about my far away travels and how my journeys took me to this ancient ruin where I found these amazing relics and artifacts. The truth is that I didn't even have to physically leave my studio but my Dreams were hundreds of years away as I worked on this Large Exquisite Santos Doll Antiquity Shrine Kit from Retro Cafe Art Gallery

 As of late I have been completely taken away with the Relics and Artifacts by Sandra Evertson and Prima Marketing, Inc. When I saw this new Santos Doll from Retro Cafe Art Gallery, I knew I was about to embark on a journey for Ancient Relics and Artifacts.


The making of this doll took days, which any good journey does, and there are things I learned along the way that I would do differently if making one again, but all in all, I think my Found Ancient Santos Doll turned out better than I expected and with surprising results as most everything was done by trial and error.

 I have to admit that was truly the most fun of my journey with it, experimenting with different techniques, textures and layers, just like a real "Art-ti-ologist! :)

This is what the shrine part looks like once you get it put together, without the doll on top. My first thought was to add the doll later, since I wanted to paint and finish most of her before adding her to the shrine.

 I added Gesso on all parts and then began adding texture by gluing different strips of paper on the entire piece. Molding paste was the final texture added. I love working with molding paste.
FUN TIP: If you look closely, some of the texture is from different textured papers I added, and also from this:

 It is a sample of wallpaper from a textured wallpaper book I acquired.  I have used these samples on so many things. The book is free and you can ask for them when they are retired at any place that sells wallpaper. Check your Home Depot, Lowe's, and or paint stores.                                            

BIG TIP#1: Don't cover up the hole where you are suppose to attach the Santos Doll to the Shrine! Eeek!
After I covered the shrine in gesso, layers of paper, molding paste and more paper, there was no uncovering the hole. Okay, so I would improvise later on with that.

I already knew I wanted Sandra Evertson's Archival Cast Ancient Heart to be the center piece for the Shrine and I wanted to break it into pieces for two purposes. One to add authenticity of age and the other to go with the quote that I love; "The wound is the place where the light enters you" by Rumi which I added almost illegible on the back. Sandra's pieces are so tough and sound that you can even drill into them, so I wasn't sure that I could even crack them with a hammer. After a few swift whacks on concrete it broke into three pieces. "Ouch", watch fingers. The toughness really added to the fact that it did not cause the pieces to splinter or crack into pieces too small to use.

 BIG TIP#2: Add your eye hook to the top of the shrine (to hang your flaming heart) BEFORE you put the shrine together or before you add so much texture that you can't get it in. That was problem number two.

I had my heart set on it so I had to put on my thinking cap.This just goes to show you that sometimes your mistakes can take you in a better direction or one at least as good as what you originally intended. I have always maintained, "Where there is a will, there is a way". All I needed was a wooden two inch block that I could paint and make it look like an aged stone that the heart could sit on it or look like it was sitting on it. 

To the back of the three broken heart pieces, I added a little fat wooden spool, one that I purchased at Hobby Lobby to use as feet on some of my previous wooden ATB dolls. I glued one spool on the back of each piece and to the back of the flame. Once dried, I  attached all the pieces to the back wall of the inside of the shrine. This made the heart stick out from the wall giving it a 3D effect.  I also added gold leaf to the cracks to make it look like the light was shining through the cracks. Mistake fixed and I think I even like it better.

 I wanted the shrine to have feet, so I glued two wooden blocks together, tapped in a nail or two for an aged look. I then painted and added these great little pieces to all the sides that I found in my stash box. It helps to have a nice stash of supplies from Retro Cafe Art Gallery.

 All the little brass fish, beads and findings on the shrine came from Linden Avenue Designs on Etsy, with the exception of the crosses which I made from paper clay. The brass crown is from Retro Cafe Art Gallery as well as Sandra Everton's Relics and Artifacts on this piece which include: Hands- Archival Cast - Milagros, Flaming Heart Ex Votos II, Archival Cast - Visage, Wings-Archival Cast- Rising Spirit III, the scroll on the head piece came with the Large Santos Doll Antiquity Kit from Retro Cafe Art Gallery.

 I also included one of Retro Cafe Art Gallery's Vintage Door Knockers (Dimensional embellishments) and placed it upside down.

The picture on the back is also from Retro Cafe Art Gallery and the flaming heart on the back side was one that I previously made, I just changed out the picture in the center  and  added it as a nice addition to the back.

BIG TIP#3: I used the wings from Sandra's Archival Cast - Ancient Soul. I originally thought I would wire them through the top arm holes. I worked with that for a while and it just wasn't happening. Then I remembered that I had in my stash from Retro Cafe Gallery, a variety of Masonite wings used for previous projects. I had to cut a pair of them in half since they would not be long enough to go across the back and then glued each half to each side of the back. 

That gave me a platform to glue on the wings from Relics and Artifacts. It worked perfect.

 I didn't even mind that you could see the other set of wings because after all, it is an ancient piece of art, right?

 This piece is tall, heavy and feels like it is old. I am not sure it ended up like I imagined it when I started out, but that is all part of the journey.. the discoveries along the way, and the things we learn from them.  

Many thanks for visiting my blog today as I shared my journey with you. Remember, "The wound is the place where the light enters you". We all fall, we all fail and we can always try again. 

Credits to Retro Cafe Linden Avenue DesignSandra Evertson and Prima Marketing, Inc. for these amazing supplies and art pieces and a shout out to Jessica Brogan whose post I just read and admired about encouraging others to share their art. Thanks Jessica, fabulous inspiring post! I love it when people share.

Leave a comment if you have a moment, I would love to know that you were here!