Art and Craft For All

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the other artisans in the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale, as promised in my previous post and the one before that

Beka Brayer is  a mixed media assemblage artist. Beka says that her goal “is to breathe new life into intriguing old or found objects.” Beka has also published a limited edition hand embellished book entitled “Art of Whimsey”. She has contributed works for a wide range of fundraising benefits and has shown at ArtSpan, City Art Cooperative, Mission Artists United, and Studio 333.

Beka Brayer's assemblage, Don't Play With Matches

Glass blower Holly Wallace, formerly of Ruby Glass Works, is currently an exhibiting member of Berkeley’s oldest art cooperative, ACCI Gallery on Shattuck Avenue. Her work has been shown and sold at SFMOMA, Gumps, Celebration of Craftswomen, and many other galleries, shows and museums.  Holly describes glass blowing as “the whirling dervish of the art world. It is a juggling act with fire and form.”

Holly Wallace blown glass vases

Victoria Veedell paints vibrant and colorful abstract landscapes. In her words, she “captures the essence of nature by examining the effects of light on form in the natural world.” Victoria’s paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in galleries and art centers, and are in many private and corporate collections.

Victoria Veedell's oil painting, View of the Bay

Julie Long Gallegos creates hand beaded jewelry and accessories, including purses. Julie finds inspiration for her designs in Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, California Decorative Style, Art Deco, the Wiener Werkstatte, African art and Native American beadwork. Her Klimt “Kiss” cuff bracelet and “Coral Snake” lariat appeared in Lark Publications’ Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry book (2012).

Julie Long Gallegos' Poppies Purse

The ArtFirst! Show continues this Wednesday through Sunday (November 28 through December 2) at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito (cross streets Eureka and Stockton), from noon to 6:00 pm.

This is my original blog post with all of the information about the show. Visit the ArtFirst! website.

The Fragrant Arts

I promised in my last post to introduce you to more of the talented artists and crafters who’ll have their work at the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale

ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale

One of our main goals was to include a wide variety of artisans in the show, so I was thrilled when popular Pinole soapmakers Jane and Nadine Robbins-Laurent, of sassafras,were able to participate. They have a faithful following of customers for their handmade soap and bath products, candles, and fused glass jewelry at the Pinole Art Center and the Pinole Farmers Market. I always crack up when I see their slogan: “Life’s Too Short for Crappy Soap!”

sassafras soap

sassafras soap, copyright sassafras

Which leads me to another fabulous craftist – my husband George McRae. George is multi-talented. His main vocation is actingbut on the side he produces handmade soap and beeswax candles for our company, Garden Delights Arts & Craftsunder the name “Bubble Queen Soaps & Scents”.

George's cat soap

George uses only natural ingredients in his soap, and he doesn’t add color or extra scent, using only the ingredients (lavender is my favorite) for fragrance. By far the most popular Bubble Queen soaps are these cats. And for the first time at this show George will offer beeswax candles, handmade from wax produced by his bees (the hive is at a friend’s house in Richmond).

George's beeswax candles

After you’ve cleaned up good with either sassafras’ or Bubble Queen’s soaps, you’ll want to dab on some artisanal botanical perfumes made by Laurie SternLaurie is an award-winning natural perfumer. In her own words: “Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery revives the romance of the golden era of perfume through a blending of perfume’s legacy of romantic scent and gorgeous packaging with a modern sensitivity to organics, health, and ethics.”

Laurie Stern's Fleur de Caramel natural perfume

Laurie Stern’s Fleur de Caramel Parfum

If you want to meet Laurie in person and see her line of perfumes, she will be at the show the second weekend, December 1st and 2nd. Before then she’ll have luscious bath salts and other goodies available.

I hope you enjoyed this olfactory tour. Oh gee, did I mention when and where the show is? We’ll be at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito (cross streets Eureka and Stockton) from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday. And the launch party will be opening day,  this coming Saturday, November 24th, from 5 to 8 p.m. Hope to see you there!

This is my original post with all of the information about the Show.

Meet Some of my Favorite Artists

I told you the other day that my dreams to expand my usual solo Open Studio to include other artisans will finally come true, at the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale starting next week. Here’s a look at the work of a couple of the amazing artists in the show. (And stay tuned, I’ll introduce you to more in my next posts).

How many art shows boast talented mother and daughter artists? Meet Grace Taormina and her daughter Rachel. Grace is a mixed media and fiber artist who teaches a wide variety of art classes in the Bay Area and online at CraftArtEdu, and has published books about rubber stamping and other crafts. This is Grace’s Paper Paste Accordian Book.

Paper Paste Accordian Book

copyright Grace Taormina

Rachel Taormina paints and draws, works in mixed media, and creates upcycled jewelry. This is the home page of her website – showing the amazing variety of her artwork.

Rachel Taormina website

copyright Rachel Taormina

That’s your sneak peek for today! Much more to come, and if you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you can make it to the show — at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday.

Come to meet us at the opening launch party, next Saturday Nov. 24, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

ArtFirst! Pop-Up Holiday Show and Sale

Since 2004 I’ve spruced up my basement studio and invited people in to see my artwork and handmade crafts for my yearly holiday Open Studio and Sale. From the beginning I dreamed of including other artists, but those of you who have come by know how small the space is, and that I filled it to the brim with my own work.

Garden Delights Arts & Crafts open studio

Well, my dream is finally about to come true. ArtFirst!, the art cooperative I started this year, is having a group pop-up art show and sale at the Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, starting the last weekend in November and running through the first weekend in December.

ArtFirst! Holiday Art Show and Sale

We’ll be there from November 24th through December 2nd, from noon to 6:00 pm, open every day except Monday and Tuesday.

The opening launch party will be held on Saturday Nov. 24, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. I hope you can all make it, it’s going to be a blast! Our host at the VS Galleries, Mark Canepa, says he’s going to roll out the red carpet (really), and you’ll be able to meet the artists and enjoy music, wine and yummy snacks.

You won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to see the diverse and unique work of eleven talented local artisans, and to shop local for original and one-of-a-kind handmade gifts for yourself and for family and friends. Some highlights include assemblage art by Beka Brayer, my nature-based arts and crafts, blown glass by Holly Wallace, vintage-inspired loomed beadwork by Julie Long Gallegos, mixed media and fiber arts by Grace Taormina, fused glass jewelry and handmade soap by Jane and Nadine Robbins-Laurent, artisanal botanical perfumes by Laurie Stern, painting by Victoria Veedell, Rachel Taormina and our host Mark Canepa, and much more!

As always I’m eager to show you the many new photographs I’ve taken this year, and I’ve been working hard on my nature-based artwork and crafts. George brewed up a new batch of his wonderful natural soaps and we have a limited edition line of beeswax candles from local beehives.

Hummingbird at Flax Flower

The Gallery is wheelchair accessible and there’s plenty of free parking. It’s about a half mile from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. I hope to see you there!

Follow ArtFirst! on Facebook. And please check out our website.

Garden Delights Gift Sale and Open Studio

Wow, I can’t believe it’s Open Studio time again! I’ll be open the first two weekends of December -the 3-4th and 10-11th, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. My studio is clean and I’ve had so much fun setting up my artwork and crafts. I haven’t taken photos of it yet, but this is one from last year, the view when you come in the door:

I have a lot of new things to show this year. I’m really excited to present my new collection of silk scarves.

Silk scarf - sunburst

Along with my framed and unframed prints and art pieces, I have a wide assortment of gifts for all, ranging from decorated boxes and tiles, purses, totes,  baby bibs and onesies, t-shirts, bowties, home decor including fabric vases and bowls, fabric-covered light switch plates, ornaments, pillows, original-design fabric yardage, and more.  I’ve got lots of different kinds of handmade jewelry.  I even have original-design pet collars for dogs and cats, and catnip bags.

There are many gifts for less than $20, and lots are less than $10! Since the weather is good I’ve also got room outside for a sale table and snacks. Come by to chat – never any pressure to buy!

For you out-of-towners, check out my website and online galleries!*

If you’re busy with your own holiday sales or can’t make it, I leave the studio all set up for about a month, and I’m always open by appointment.  If you have any questions or need directions, email me at heidirand[at] or leave a comment here.  Oh yes – I’ve been collecting milkweed seeds (for the monarch butterflies) to give out as long as the supply lasts -free!

Garden Delights Arts and Crafts Open Studio!

I’ve been happily scrambling to get my messy workroom presentable for my holiday Open Studio and Gift Sale.  And amazingly, it was pretty much all in place by the time the first visitor showed up!  My friend Pam always comes on my first day, and gets her pick of the calendars that I print using my images.  She took most of the calendars I had made, I’ll need to do some printing tonight.  There was a lull after she left, so I kept busy taking photographs of the spruced-up studio.

This is the view when you come in the door:

The card rack is to the right.  You can see some of my framed mandala prints hanging to the left above.  The table to the left is in the middle of the room.  This is what’s on that table:

My mixed-media doll “Wings” is in the center.  Pet collars to the left (kitty collars hanging from the Lars stuffed animal).  My fabric-covered light switch plates are displayed in front of the doll.  This is a closeup of the pet collars display:

Just to your left inside the door is a shelving rack:

The top shelf has a night light, a transparency print in a frame and one of my fabric vases.  The second shelf down has a display of ornaments, including glass balls with mandalas and other designs printed on backlight film or transparencies, along with a dusting of glitter, some mandala sachet ornaments with pearl hangers, and my stuffed animal ornaments – some with squeaky toys inside!

In the photo above you can see what’s past the center table along the back wall — a hanging display with several of my purses, t-shirts, scarves, and baby onesies.  To the left, a rack with a fabric vase, my bowties, mixed-media handmade books, my Kaleidoscopes book, some coffee mugs I ordered from my Zazzle store, and a tile box.

Above is a closeup of that rack.  The piece at the bottom is an accordian of watercolor paper, with four of my abstract collages printed on lutradur and mounted.  I strung pearls across the top and bottom.  The bowties are jauntily hung just above that piece, on a jewelry bust.

The table above is to the right just past the card rack.  From left to right: purses, wooden postcards, fabric bowl, buttons, fabric vases, fabric postcards, and some night lights.  I love to use vintage pieces as displays.  On this table I’m using two old silverware boxes, sturdy wooden boxes lined with velvet.

To the back wall again, above is a display of the different kinds of boxes that I make.  First, the blue – I printed my mandala of a blue girl rose onto fabric,  quilted it and placed it into the recessed top of a wooden box.  The box to the left of that is one of my favorite tiles.  It’s a kaleidoscope design in rich deep browns, very craftsman style.  I make most of my own work, but some things I do have printed professionally.  This is one of the tiles that I have Tony at Changeyourart make to use as the tops of wooden boxes that I get at Aftosa.  The two small tiles in front of the blue girl rose box are ones that I made myself using lazertran on tumbled marble tile.  It’s a hard technique to master, and I often end up scrapping my creations, but I love how these mandalas turned out.  To the left of those tiles are some glass slide pins I made using my photos printed on velvet fine art paper or canvas, and encased in microscope slides that I outlined with copper tape.  Behind the brown tile box are two more boxes I made using lazertran.  The front one is a kaleidoscoped photo of a calla lily, and behind that is my kaleidoscope design of a fern arching.  For that box, I encased the top edges with copper metal.  To the left  is another tile box of my Lisianthus Flower design. Finally, the box at the far left is one of my favorite pieces.  I used the double exposure photograph that I took of myself and adhered it to the box using a heat transfer.  I embossed some copper and used the strips at the top and bottom edges.  I also made a dangle from pearls and glass beads, and with metal brads on mesh spelled out “treasure”.  Inside the box, I printed the same double exposure image onto silk and used batting to make it a soft pad on the inside top.

Past the boxes is more jewelry.  I have some hanging displays for earrings and bracelets.  Before I began my photo arts work, I used to make jewelry from pearls and beads, and I still love to do that.  The vintage jewelry box at the front right holds my lutradur butterfly earrings.  I take the photos of butterflies that my husband and I raise and release, and print my designs from the photos onto lutradur that I’ve coated with Digital Grounds.

Next a view of the other side of the middle table.  At left, a pile of my tote bags, which I make by printing my images onto fabric and sewing them onto the totes.  I used to make them with iron-ons, but I much prefer the fabric.  Most of them I back with batting and then do some free-motion quilting.  To the right is another vintage jewelry box that I’ve piled with my original design fabric jewelry.  There are fabric bracelets with snaps and buttons, sachet-lets, and my sculptural braided fabric bracelets.

Turn around to see a plush pile of my pillows:

Next, a view of my barely disguised supply shelves.  I don’t really try to turn it into a display, I usually just put some of my work in front of the supplies:

And finally, I covered our washing machine with a delightful vintage fabric, and used it to show off a variety of things:

The soaps that my husband George makes are displayed in front and in the basket at the top left.  He makes the most wonderful soap from natural ingredients using an assortment of molds.  His most popular is the mold of a curled-up sleeping kitty, and close favorites are a butterfly and hummingbird.   He makes a variety of soaps, both cold process and melted.  To the right is a basket of sachets that I make from my fabric, which I fill with heavenly lavender flower buds (and some with rose buds).  The backs of the sachets are gauze, so you can see the flowers.  Behind the sachets is a  basket with catnip bags.  I use the strongest catnip I’ve found, Cosmic brand, and put various fun animals photos printed onto fabric on the front.  When I do Open Studio the cats are forbidden from coming down here, because they’d make a beeline for the catnip bag display and wreck the merchandise (yes, I know this from experience).

Tomorrow if I get a lull I’ll take you on a tour of the art that’s hanging on the walls … Come on by to see it yourself if you’re in the Bay Area!

Saga of an Art Show and Gift Sale

I know it’s early to think about the holidays, not to mention that we’re all preoccupied with what’s going to happen on Election Day and what’s happening to our 401Ks and savings accounts, but what the hell, I have been through weeks of going back and forth about where to hold my December Open Studio, and I just got that settled, so I’m going to post about it!

For the past five years I’ve held an Open Studio twice a year, once in July and again in December.  I have always held it in the studio at our house, which does double duty during the rest of the year as our laundry room.  I love setting up for the Open Studio — it brings out the inner retail-decorator in me.  I clear out all the clutter of my sewing / matting / framing / inkjet tranferring etc., cover my tables with white cloth, and haul out the various fun displays I’ve accrued over the years.  George put up wonderful dragonfly xmas lights around the ceiling years ago, and they really add to the atmosphere.

I take all the things I’ve made, arrange them, re-arrange them, and on and on.  Setting up the studio is fun but actually only a fraction of the work required.  There are so many details — I make innumerable lists and enjoy crossing off each task.  I design and order postcards to mail to my list, draft an email announcement, decide what kind of publicity I want to do, make sure I have change and bags and receipt books and tissue paper, etc.  I print signs with prices, labels for most of the items.  I remind myself how to use the calculator that adds the tax and double-check that the tax rate is correct.

Anyway, that’s a short description about some of the things that go into getting ready for an Open Studio.  Obviously, the location is a primary consideration.  Like I said, we have always had it at my house.  Unfortunately, the crime rate in our neighborhood has steadily risen over the years, and we’ve become a bit nervous about opening the house to anyone who walks by.  For the first few years I spent hours walking around my neighborhood and putting postcards in everyone’s mailbox (or on their porch after someone complained to our postal deliverer, since you’re evidently not allowed to put mail into the box, sigh).  I also put many signs up.  We got a lot of people into the Studio that way.  Lately, I’ve only given postcards to those of my neighbors who I know.  We no longer put up signs or do any widespread publicity.

Having to limit our audience like that just isn’t workable, especially now when it’s harder to get people to consider purchasing art as gifts.  So, time to find another place to have the Open Studio.  I had hoped to use part of the gallery that I worked in for the past year (see “Demise of a Gallery”), but the owner closed it abruptly last month.  I talked with a few people about renting a store/gallery that was vacant, but that was too complicated.  Luckily, a wonderful local supporter of the arts in El Cerrito who owns a framing store/gallery offered to let me set up in her space for the first two weekends of December.  Kathleen Glenn owns the Glenn Custom Framing store, and this past year expanded her offering of local artists’ work.  The store is on 7027 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito.  She’s open Tuesday throughFriday from noon to 6, and suggests calling for her Saturday hours, 510.558-1078. If you need custom framing, Kathleen has an incredible eye and is incredibly generous with her time and advice.   She is the mainstay of the local art group, the El Cerrito Art Association.  So, to wind up a long saga, Garden Delights Arts & Crafts’ annual Holiday Art Show and Gift Sale will be at the Glenn Custom Framing Gallery of Art on December 6-7 and 13-14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  I won’t be there during the week, but Kathleen will hold her normal hours and my work will all be there, Tuesday to Friday, noon to 6 p.m.