Thursday, February 8, 2018

New Hobby and Endeavor

In December, I discovered a new 'art form'.

Ya'll it's SOOO FUN!

Alcohol inks.

My initial introduction to this fun medium was from Pinterest.  Utilizing Sharpie markers and alcohol, one can create AMAZING and unique works of abstract art on tile.  Simply color the tile with different colors of marker, add alcohol to 'blend the colors'. Swirl, smudge, tip, drag the alcohol and inks around on the tile then.....

Set...     It....      On.....       FIRE!!!!  

Amazing things happen when you do this!

(Not to mention who isn't mesmerized watching a flame?)

Unique patterns evolve as the alcohol burns off leaving unique and unusual patterns where the flame spreads.

Sharpie colored tile after being 'fired'.  Love how the colors simply merge and become their own design.  No 2 alike.
As I researched this new technique, I also realized that actual alcohol inks exist.


Then I began watching YouTube videos and tutorials on how to use this new-to-me art medium.

Let's just say..... it was a bit ADDICTIVE!!!

A trip to Michael's was less than productive as I accidentally boutght India Inks instead of Alcohol inks.  Not that the dye based India Inks aren't fun in their own right, but... they aren't the same thing.  They react and move differently on their given substrates.  Who knew, right?

Alcohol inks need to be used on non-porous substrates - like tile, glass, metal, etc. whereas India Inks and Acrylic tend to be used on porous - canvas, art paper, and the like.

You see, when using alcohol inks you want the ink to 'bloom'; expand and grow and move on it's own accord.  Plus when you 'combine' alcohol inks' on the surface of your chosen substrate, they don't 'mingle and mix' creating new colors like other mediums.  The alcohol in them actually 'reacts' and pushes the other ink out -- you then get a unique effect on 'both' colors instead of a brand new color.

Not to mention, when adding alcohol, it can 'take away' the colors to some degree depending on the substrate being utilized.

Fascinating I tell you.

I think that's one of the big draws for me.  It's 'organic' if you will.  It's a bit unpredictable and you don't HAVE to be a skilled artist to utilize this fabulous art medium to produce stunning works of art.

Albeit much of alcohol ink art is abstract - which I'm normally not a HUGE fan of, but in this medium???  I'm literally transfixed by them.  It's just a different quality and appeal.

After discovering this wonderful medium, I purchased a Piñata Exciter Pack (a set of alcohol inks sold by Piñata - a great way to 'test the waters' in this fun art form) to get me started on a new art journey.  Not long after, I was scouring the internet watching YouTube videos, joining Alcohol Ink Communities on-line and.... learning.

Tools of the trade include:  (Note:  You don't need all of these items, but they make working with the inks SO. MUCH. FUN!)  Alcohol Inks (obviously); Alcohol Ink markers; an air compressor (I'm using Techno's from the garage - yes, big; bulky; loud, but... it does the trick); straws; canned air; brushes; a hair dryer; a heat gun; alcohol; pipettes; sharpie markers; gel pens for outlining; photo paper; tiles; glass; yupo or other non porous paper; metallic card stock; felt; cotton balls; q-tips; and any other 'fun' thing that may cause amazing reactions in the alcohol ink as it moves on the substrate.

Fun drops of ink and alcohol - you can see the designs
that are made as the alcohol 'pushes away' the inks as it invades.

Initially I made 'coasters' by dropping the ink on tiles, adding alcohol to make 'circles'.  It was cool watching the alcohol and ink interact and move and develop.

I gave many away as gifts for Christmas.

Swirling the colors around, blending and colliding, then dabbing
with a cotton ball to make bubbles and dots.  A galaxy is born.

Then I began tilting and moving the tiles about to make the inks 'blend' and create swirls, sweeps, and swatches.  Or I used a cotton ball to 'dab' at the inks and alcohol as it mingled causing bubbles and dots to materialize out of the myriad of colors.

Combining drops of ink w/alcohol then adding fire -- what fun designs emerge.
I even inked some wine glasses.  What a beautiful gift this made for a
member of our community who is special to our family.

Eventually I discovered you can use canned air, a straw, or an air compressor to make flowers and cool abstract designs.

I think this is one of my favorite ways of using alcohol inks.

Orange flowers on tile.
'Orange Blossoms'
Abstract - moving the inks around and
adding small details with alcohol and brushes.
I was practicing making 'dots' and
squiggles on this piece.

It's relaxing and mesmerizing all at the same time.

A small piece of metallic card stock.
I simply used my canned air to 'move'
the inks along using blue and silver.
This piece has actually sold.

Not to mention  CRAZY ADDICTING!!!

I also discovered a fun style of printing off coloring pages and using them as my 'template' then adding unique dots, feathers, sweeps, and swirls in alcohol ink to make a unique, fun, whimsical piece of art.  Many people apparently liked this style as I sold 2 pieces the first day I posted them to facebook.  (These pieces are at the bottom of this post.)

SAY WHAT???  <Insert my face in shock and amazement here.>

As a result, I've decided to play my hand at selling the artwork I produce.

This piece was made w/just blue ink and a heat gun.
Very abstract.

Green ink on tile blown with heat gun.  Such an ethereal feel.

Various ink colors dropped.  Alcohol added.
Then fired.  More alcohol to get new effects.
More fire.  Amazing, unique results.

More tiles made w/Sharpies, alcohol, and fire.
Our girls want us to tile our bathroom with
my inked tiles.  A friend suggested I could
market one-of-a-kind tiles for that very purpose.
Who knows?  Maybe one day.

White flowers on a black tile.  

Colorful kitty.
Our girls LOVE this pretty little girl.

This blog post is a 'picture journey' of the evolution of my art.

It includes a spattering of the 'inkings' I've done.

Many of the pieces are available and are a demonstration of the styles of art I tend to 'ink'.

If you are interested in any pieces, reach out and let me know.

Also, follow my page to see what new techniques I learn and develop.  Our girls are encouraging me to 'start a website' for my art.  Who knows.  Maybe I'll do just that.  Keep an eye out for it.

I may also make some prints and notecards of some of my pieces.  Maybe 'series'.  Like 'flowers'; dancers; trees; etc.

It's so fun.  Join me on this artsy journey into alcohol inks.

Purple flower on pink background.
This was a 'mess-up' that I wiped giving the
pink background.  Then started over w/
purple and black for the flower.

Pink Explosion.

Playing w/red and gold
Flowers were fascinating to 'cultivate'.  I have a LONG way to go, but they are tons of fun to create.  You can make so many different kinds of floral designs.  Spikey; soft; bold; wispy - the possibilities seem endless.

Colors on black tile w/white ink
on top to make them 'pop'.
Only black w/a touch of green
for the stem.

I wanted to add 'definition' to this purple flower.
I think I liked it better as a more abstract version.
I like the softer, more rounded look of these purple flowers.

A 'spiky' flower.
This would make a pretty trivet.

More 'ethereal' type floral-like pieces.

Large purple and yellow blooms.
A bit softer edges here.

Probably my favorite flower to date.
I may frame this for our walls.
Soft, abstract flowers.
A challenge from the girls to make
Valentine flowers for their daddy. :-)

Black eyed susans or sunflowers.
I wish I had done a background to this piece
before I started the flowers.  It would have
given it a more 'finished' appeal'.

More 'wispy' looking flowers.  This was one of the
first successful pieces like this.

My favorite multi-flower piece.
So vibrate yet a bit ethereal.
Florals on a tile - this will be a home decor piece that has already been spoken for.
This is possibly one of y favorite pieces that showcases so many different techniques.
Plus it's just so colorful and fun.

One of my personal favorites in terms of abstract art.
More abstract. What do you see?
Beauty and the Beast?
A parrot?

A peacock b/c Charity loves them and wants to make one.
Another attempt. I like this one better.

My 'whimsical pieces based off of printed picture templates.

A whimsical tree - 2/2 so far in a series.  There may be more.
A darling little elephant.
'Bubbles Make Me Happy'
This little guy sold the day I posted him.

I may make more 'critter characters' as I found him so fun to make and he was quite popular.  Plus I had a 'hinted' request made for specific animals.  <smile>

Finally - my Dancer Series.  One has already sold; a request has been made for notecards of all 4; and the suggestion has been made to make prints to sell at a slightly lesser cost.

Hmmmm..... the potential is astonishing.

'Wild Dancer'
'Gentle Dancer'

'Butterfly Dancer'

'Bubble Dancer'
This little lady will be hanging in a precious little girl's bedroom once sealed
as she too sold the first day posted.
 I hope you'll continue to visit my blog to see what new creations I 'ink' and to follow my journey in this fun new endeavor I call a hobby.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Life with Kids is Fun-ny

Imagine if you will.....

You're doing household chores.

In typical 'squirrel' fashion, you head toward the bedroom to put something away when you see the overflowing bin of plastic grocery sacks.  You make a slight detour to begin putting said bags in the empty tissue boxes you save whenever the tissues run out.  (This was a FABULOUS tip I received from my good friend Heather.  Putting recycled grocery sacks into tissue boxes to toss in the car, camper, wherever.  BRILLIANT!)

This is a simple task.

One that requires very little thought processes.  Just grab a bag; shake it out; stuff it in the box.

Repeat until the box is full.

I actually had saved up several boxes so was hopeful I'd be able to deplete my bag stash.

As I monotonously went through this process bag after bag, I came across some that needed to just. be. tossed.

You know the ones - the handle was ripped while toting the groceries in.

The bagger at the store filled the bag WAY to full and the bottom exploded leaving a tube more than a bag.

Yeah, I chuckled wondering why these bags ever made it to the 'storage' space, but... it happens.

Then, I came across a bag -- a rather nice, thick bag that we had gotten when we were in California.   The bags there were thicker, more sturdy.  I had been saving and using them for more 'industrious' purposes.

These bags (there are only a few) are not kept in the boxes with the rest.  They are 'special'. LOL!

As I started to shake out this particular bag to put it aside for it's one-day-more-important-purpose, I noted it was knotted at the top.


Upon further investigation, I also discovered a small 'bump' in it.  What felt like a toy.  Maybe the girls had used this bag to transport their toys for one of our car trips?

I needled away at the knot and untied the bag to retrieve the toy.

I pulled the handles apart and peered in.

Much to my surprise, I did NOT find a ball or small toy.

No indeed.

To my HORROR I gazed upon a small. dead. mouse.

Apparently this particular 'special, thick, nice bag' had been used to dispose of a tiny mouse that our cat, Silas, had - at some previous point in time - killed.

However, instead of disposing of this wonderful little trinket, some child living in our home, just tossed it up with all the other plastic bags awaiting the day mom would come along and put them all in the tidy boxes.

This.... was..... that..... day.

My assumption is the mouse was bagged.  The little package was simply left in whatever room the   mouse was originally found - most likely the girls' room as that's where our cat likes to take his tiny, caught, treasures.  At a later date, someone else (who knows, maybe even the same child who had since FORGOT about the mouse they put in the bag) found that bag upon cleaning and just tossed it up with all the other bags to be recycled and used again.

Giving ME the joy of opening a bag to a dead, stiff, not-smelling-so-good mouse.

Yes, life with kids is never boring.

Always something new and fun -- or at least funny (after you get over the initial gasp, gag, and shock anyway.)

Yet, I wouldn't change it for the world - although, I am hoping to not repeat this particular scenario again any time soon.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Newest addition

In a quirky twist of fate, we added a new member to our Mini Mountain Menagerie.

While getting my hair cut a week or so back, my hair dresser mentioned she and her husband are fostering an adorable 10 mo old German Shepherd and wondered if we knew anyone who might want to adopt him.

She showed us the pictures and.....

Not THE picture she showed me, but still a cute photo of this awesome pup.
I.... Fell..... In..... Love!

This precious guy is a dreamboat.

Kuno is his name.

He was purchased by a family with children when he was a young pup.

He was a GREAT dog.

Loving and loyal to his owners and home.

He adored the children.  Was gentle with them.  Protective of them and their dwelling.

HIS home.

Apparently too much so for the grown-ups preferences.

He would bark and posture when anyone would come to the door.

Well - that IS what guard dogs do, after all.

The family was uncomfortable with his protectiveness so they relinquished him to the Front Range GSD Rescue.

My hair dresser and her husband are fosters for this group as well as raising 5 of their own german shepherds.

I half jokingly told Techno I wanted him.

He was THAT cute.

I love how he tilts his head when he's curious.  Which is often.
As we left, I nudged him more about the desire to get this dog.

We know Apollos is 'on his last legs' so to speak due to his age.  He's dwindling before our very eyes.  

(Granted we thought the same thing 2 years ago when he began having seizures and we got Titus, but....
 he's now 11 and losing weight despite eating and I don't foresee him making it another 2 years.  
Watch him prove us wrong.  Ha.)

Much to my surprise, Techno wasn't AGAINST the idea of another dog.  I won't go so far as to say he was FOR it, but.... NOT being against it is quite a stride forward.

German Shepherds are one of Elijah's favorite breeds of dogs so that was a huge 'advantage' toward Kuno.  Plus, it would be another dog for 4H dog training.  Not to mention, german shepherds are highly intelligent dogs so we could potentially train Kuno to be a D.A.D - Diabetic Alert Dog!!!

Bonus.... Bonus.... and... Bonus!

I contacted my hairdresser and she put me in touch with her husband

We went to their house and visited Kuno last weekend.
He's just so stinking cute.
We told the kids we were taking Titus to meet a new trainer - as it would be difficult to explain why we were taking Titus to Fort Collins -- that's not something we've EVER done.

They bought it..... hook, line, and sinker.

Little did they know, we were going to determine if this beautiful dog was a good match for our family.
Fortunately.... he was a PERFECT fit.
Once we were there, it initially seemed as though the 'trainer' was just showing us his training style.  Demonstrating with his own dogs to show what he was capable of doing with our dog. Then, he began talking about what to expect once Kuno was in our home.  I overheard Bethany whisper to Elijah, "Are we buying this dog?"

I believe Kuno knows he COULD take Titus out if he wanted to.... fortunately he doesn't seem to WANT to.
Titus holds his own, though.  He's just at a bit of a disadvantage size wise and breed wise.  LOL!
We talked more; answered questions; learned Kuno is already crate trained, housebroken, does well on a lead, has never run off even off-leash, and demonstrated he understands the commands for sit and down; we assured the foster family we were committed to raising Kuno for the long haul; that we were prepared for his guard dog nature as Titus is very similar; then we asked the kids if they wanted to bring Kuno home and welcome him into our 'pack'?

Without hesitation, they all bellowed, "YES!"

Even Bethany had a HUGE smile on her face, answering brightly and predominately in the affirmative.  (For any who know Bethany well at all, realize she is a CAT person all. the. way!  For her to enthusiastically root for getting this pup..... well, that spoke volumes.)

Titus also approved.
This was taken after Kuno came home and joined our pack, but they got along fine at Kuno's foster home as well.

The two dogs got along and played tentatively together.  Both were a bit timid with each other, but there was NO aggression between them.

Now that they are home - they rough house quite often, but still... no knock-down-drag-out fights.

Techno and I headed back to For Collins the next day to bring him home.  We needed to prep the house for his crate and belongings.

He's officially 'OURS'.

The kids are ecstatic.

He's already attended his first 4H dog training class.
He did quite well after some initial 'barking' at all the other dogs
to show his protectiveness of our family when we walked in the door.
Now.... introducing him to our current 9 year old cat and our new 3 mo old kitten.... well.... that's proving to be a bit more interesting as he's never even SEEN a cat before now.

His crate is set up in our living room so he has a 'safe space' to go as he adapts to being part of the Williams' Mini-Mountain-Menagerie.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Change of Season Chores

I know all households have the 'change of season' chores, but our mini-mountain menagerie has brought all sorts of new-to-us chores to our list.

Before moving to the 'wild west' our change of season chores entailed bringing out the winter clothes, making sure the furnace was serviced, putting plastic on windows (this didn't happen all that often), and being sure the snow blower was ready to fire up when needed.

Now that we live in the mountains of the west and have added 29 animals to our family.... these chores have multiplied.

We still have to swap out summer and winter clothing; get out the winter boots; unpack the heavy coats; and gather up the gloves and hats -- but we also have to do a whole. lot. more.

We put plastic on all the windows in the office and craft camper - that was accomplished back in late Sept early Oct -- in the office, anyway.  I may not do the windows in the craft camper as I am not out there THAT often in the winter.

We have to get all the propane stoves serviced or cleaned AND we have to light all the pilot lights.  (Some  will most likely need to be 're-lit' multiple times throughout the winter as the strong winds often blow them out at the most inopportune times.)

We also still get the snow blower ready to run -- we just need to do this earlier than we'd ever have to do back east.

In addition we have to consider all our new animal friends.  Those we choose to have and those that just like to visit.  :-)  Much of our winter preparedness is to protect our animals from some of the visiting critters that like to hang out on our property.

The rabbits need to be moved this year because our current hutch is located in an area that results in heavy drifting.  Digging a trench in a 5ft drift each morning to be able to feed and water the bunnies gets old... fast.  Not to mention, our hutch is leaking like a sieve.

Our rabbit hutch than I assembled 2 years ago with old wood shipping crates.
It's leaking and the snow drifts in front of it tremendously,
so the rabbits have been moved to the garage.
Moving the rabbits before the first BIG snowfall was high on our priority list.  We managed to do this mid-November -- what a chore and adventure.  Our garage has rabbits E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E!!!!

Then there's the rabbits we need to process.  It's best to do THAT task while the weather is still 'slightly' warmer.  The colder it gets, the harder it is.  One's hands get quite frozen as you butcher rabbits hour after hour.  (This has yet to be done, but I do keep selling a couple rabbits here and there AND have a phone number for someone who will most likely help us.)

Then there's the camper to winterize -- although, fortunately that has already been accomplished as Techno feared frozen pipes when our first snow fall was predicted back in September.

The ONLY picture I could find of our camper.  Weird.
Speaking of snow, the perimeter of the property needs trimmed to avoid drifting along the roads from tall grass from our yard.  Always a joy to compete this task on 3 acres of land.

The dog run needs to be set up in preparation for the drifting that WILL occur as the snow begins to fall.  Leads need to be tied out as it won't take long and the drifts will be so tall the dogs can just walk over the fencing.  (This was an easy accomplishment, but we now will need a third with the addition of Kuno to our pack.)

In addition to the tie outs for drifting, I wanted to extend Titus' little 'dog shelter' and make a 'front' for it so snow wouldn't simply drift right into the opening making it rather useless in terms of a warm place to get out of the snow/rain/wind.  I managed to finally accomplish this by adding a pallet and some old scraps of wood we had around the yard.  Now the shelter is bigger and has a front wall with just a small opening along one side of the house for the dogs to fit through.  Hopefully this will keep the snow mostly out and allow a place for Titus to huddle when the weather turns snowy.  (Not that we don't bring him into the house, we do.  He simply tends to prefer being outside as his thick fur results in him overheating when he stays inside too long.)

It ain't pretty, but so far it's functional.  Maybe next summer we'll paint it along with lots of other structures that could use some sprucing up.
Our 'make shift' dog shelter for Titus.  Made completely from recycled wood/pallets we had around the yard.

The opening near the wall of the house is where the dogs can enter their new expanded hut.
Hopefully this will keep snow from drifting inside the shelter making it less than useful.
Inside the dog shelter.  Where the beds are located,
 Titus dug a nice 'hole' to keep himself cool in the summer.
Then there's the chicken coop and run.  First a good deep clean to prepare for the cold months is always in order as deep cleaning in the winter just. ain't. happenin'!  Putting down bedding in the coop and nest boxes to help keep the temps a bit warmer is useful too.  Getting the heat lamps and water heaters set and ready has to happen along with timers for lights and warmers to save on the electric bill a bit.  (Some of this is done, some is still in process -- like getting timers and the heat lamp set up.  Plus with the extended warm weather we've had, I think we'll go ahead and do another deep clean of the coop.)

Finally, I'm attempting yet another plan for keeping the run a bit less snow filled.  Last year I tried to put tarps along the far side of the dog run to help prevent some of the drifting INTO the chicken run and the area directly in front of the run door.  That backfired, however, and the drifts were in fact worse.  Mostly as a result of the tarps being partially torn off due to the wind generating strange drift formations.

This year, my plan was to 'wrap' the chicken run with the tarps which would allow for a lot more points of attachment.  Not to mention, the wind will be blowing against them so hopefully they will simply plaster themselves more solidly to the run structure.  (Nice dream, eh?)  I finally accomplished this just recently since we've had such a mild fall.  Prayerfully, this will keep the run from 'filling' with snow and allow the chickens to roam a bit more outside the coop throughout the cold winter months.

The side of the chicken run w/the door.  I wrapped the door separately so it still opens easily.
The back/end of the chicken run.  Hopefully this holds up through our harsh, windy winters.
Can't be any worse than last year, anyway.
Phew!  Living in the mountains and owning animals adds a lot to ones 'change-of-season-chore-
list' but... I wouldn't have it any other way.

We still love our mountain home and adding the animals has simply made for a more interesting adventure.