Monday, February 28, 2011

Day Fifty-Seven: Georgia's Birthday Card

I finished my birthday card for Georgia today, and I'm really happy with it. I wish I could be there when she opens it! It is made from felt, and embroidered and beaded, then attached to a deckled-edge blank card with small velcro dots. I inserted a lighter weight paper on the inside for my message to Georgia.
Georgia Rettmer, who turns 80 on March 4, is a very talented artist who, with her daughter Kimberly Rhinehart, started a greeting card company about twenty years ago, called it takes two While Georgia concentrated on her unique style of hand-dyed cut and torn paper, Kimberly wrote the verses to complement her mother's images. Lest anyone think that writing verse is easier than creating images, I beg to differ! I've done a lot of artwork for it takes two, but I've never come up with anything that even comes close to Kimberly's sensitive and beautifully expressive messages. She has a true gift.
It was good to be making a bird for someone else. Part of my intent with the 365 Birds Project is to challenge myself to make as many different kinds of projects as I can think of, and to reach out to a wide audience. This birthday card was the perfect assignment, and knowing it is going to such a talented artist and lovely woman, made it a pleasure to work on from start to finish.
Happy Birthday, Georgia!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day Fifty-Six: A Birthday Bird

I'm designing a birthday card for the mother of a client, who will be turning 80 next month. I love the work of illustrator Salley Mavor, so I thought I'd try making a little felt bird with her art as inspiration. My bird isn't finished yet, but I'm posting the progress on it so far. I have to finish it tomorrow and send it out, to be sure it gets to the 'birthday girl' on time.

Salley Mavor works entirely in fabric, mostly felt, with lots of beading and embroidery, and she illustrates children's books with her beautiful and unique artwork. Be sure to look at her wonderful art at her website, or on her blog at I promise you'll love it too.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Day Fifty-Five: A Rocky Mountain Stroller

Here's my last sketchbook entry; I actually did this at the hospital this past week, but saved it for a post of its own.
Sometimes I like to make up names for my creations, the sillier the better. This one is a Rocky Mountain Red-Headed Stroller, for obvious reasons.
Don't look for it in any field guide, though; you won't find it there.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day Fifty-Four: But Wait! There's More Sketchbook Birds!

OK, this really is my last day on this theme. I'm getting eager to work in color once again. But Giannetti had done some really wonderful birds with a brush and sumi ink, and I wanted to try my hand at that. I couldn't work in such a 'messy' medium at the hospital, but I'm back home now, so I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn't have any sumi ink, or rice paper, so I used some calligraphy ink (too thick, lots of shellac, and probably ruined my brush), and worked in my sketchbook (the paper wasn't absorbant enough and the ink dried too fast). But the immediacy of the process is interesting, if a bit scary, and I love the way the marks skitter across the paper as the ink begins to dry.
More experiments with the proper tools will no doubt appear at a later date.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Day Fifty-Three: Final Sketchbook Birds

This is my third and final (for now) post of birds inspired by Swiss cartoonist P.L. Giovannetti, done at the Avista Adventist Hospital, where Quentin was recuperating from surgery.
I'm delighted to report that he is now back home with his wife Alicia. We're all very happy to leave the hospital.
But it was good to work in my sketchbook during the long hours I spent with Quentin in his hospital room. There is something so elemental, so beautifully simple, about sitting quietly, working on drawings in a sketchbook. I'll miss that part of the past week.
I'd like to think that I'll keep working in a sketchbook here at home, but I know there will be so much else in my studio competing for my attention: my sewing machine, my paints, beads, fabrics, felt, yarn, embroidery threads, decorative papers, the computer, the phone, the dogs who start coming back tomorrow, the list goes on and on. Will I be able to "just" sit and draw with a pencil or pen?
I've posted five more if my hospital drawings here, but I've saved out a few more for 'emergencies', not of the medical but of the avian variety.
Welcome home, Quentin!
Love, Mom

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Day Fifty-Two: More Sketchbook Birds

I did some more work in my sketchbook today at the hospital. Here are four more birds inspired by my Giovannetti book. What a talented artist! (Gio., not me)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day Fifty-One: Birds after Giovannetti

Today at the hospital I had some time to work in my sketchbook.
I've just gotten from the most wonderful book, Birds Without Words, published in 1961 by a Swiss cartoonist named P.L. Giovannetti. It's just that, page after page of wonderful pen and ink, brush and ink, and pencil drawings of birds--no words--in a truly dazzling array of techniques. Giovannetti was a virtuoso in capturing gesture, character, expression and movement in so many clever ways.
I did ten drawings inspired by his work, and picked out six of them for tonight's post. (The others I will keep for 'emergency' posts when I need a bird.)
We googled Giovannetti, but couldn't find much about him. But we had a lot of fun looking at his drawings and I loved trying out some of his techniques. It was a good thing to do while keeping Alicia and Quentin company.
And it was good to see Quentin up and walking a bit. Warms this Mom's heart.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Day Fifty: At the Hospital

Today I spent the whole day at the Avista Adventist Hospital, where Quentin underwent major surgery . Avista was founded by the Seventh Day Adventists, and there is beautiful, spiritual words and artwork everywhere. Despite it being a busy, modern hospital, I had a great sense of peace and healing there. I especially knew we were all in good hands when I saw their logo: a Dove with outstretched wings against a Cross. Birds seem to be watching over me this year.

Tonight, Quentin is resting comfortably, Alicia is staying overnight, and I'm back home for the evening. Thank you Mother/Father/ Spirit, for being there with the doctors, the nurses, and the three of us.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day Forty-Nine: A Paper Bird

I wanted to make a three dimensional paper bird tonight, but I couldn't find one in any of my books, so I googled "Pop up Bird", and found this design at a site for children called Enchanted Learning, It said this craft was appropriate for second and third graders, so I thought, "Hey, I can do this."
It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, but it's a clever design and I think the beautiful papers from Paper Source make it shine. Check out their website, it's to die for.
I ran into difficulty when I tried to attach a string to hang the bird. I punched hole after hole, and still the bird dipped and swayed, listed and tilted from side to side and up and down. I had so many holes that I decided to add even more holes and make them a design element in the piece. Still the bird wouldn't hang the way I wanted it to, so I taped it to the mirror and propped it up in the corner, and took this shot before it nose-dived again.
I'm sure I must have made these birds when I was a kid, but I don't remember, so it was fun to do something that felt brand new.

Pablo Picasso famously said: "All children are artists, the problem is how to remain an artist when one grows up."
The problem indeed.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Day Forty-Eight: A Giraffe and a Kiwi

Where does it say that I have to create the bird? Oh, right at the top of this page. So I guess I can't count this Kiwi Egg Cozy (now there's a "must-have" for you), because it was made by someone in New Zealand. It was given to my former landlords, Tom and Susan, when they stayed at a B&B 'down-under' in January. Tom re-gifted it to me this afternoon, when I stopped by to pick up some mail. He'd seen the Bird Blog, and he thought this critter would make a good post. I agree. So here he is, posing in front of his homeland, and, more importantly, keeping an egg nice and cozy.
I know, I didn't make this bird. BUT--and there's always a but as you now know from following this blog--I did spend the morning in creative pursuits: I helped Quentin and Alicia complete this Giraffe. In fact, I practically made the whole thing while they played with their iPod in case you're from another planet and don't know what an iPod is--look it up, Alien.
Where was I? Oh, the Kiwi Egg Cozy. This is what we're going to do: We'll put Giraffe and Kiwi in a paper bag, shake them up, and voila--today's Bird.
Any objections, leave me a comment below.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Day Forty-Seven: Batik Bird is Appliqued, Quilted, Beaded, and Finished

Today I discovered beading. Where were you for the first sixty-three years of my life?

Is it possible to love too much? Well, of course it is; it's called obsession, and it's always provided fertile ground for poets, songwriters, and salesmen. Romantic love, power, fame, money, even chocolate....but, beading? Yes, beading. To this artist, who has always drawn with a pencil or pen, there is something quite mystical about making a line with hundreds of tiny, glittering dots. Like reaching up to the stars, tracing one's finger across the sky, and creating a line that wasn't there before. And all this using the wrong needles and the wrong threads and some cheap beads picked up at Michael's. A day spent with snarled thread, broken needles, pricked finger tips, and, yes, sheer delight.

Tomorrow I'm off to my local bead shop to get the right tools, some advice from the experts, and, of course, more beads. Where it will all end, I dare not speculate. But I'm already thinking about making a completely beaded bird. In my mind's eye, it is already complete, and when this happens it means I won't rest 'til the image is brought to life.

But for now, I will enjoy my Batik Bird and her very simple beading, and thank her for the new joy she has brought into my life.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day Forty-Six: Batik Bird Phase Three

I'm beginning to get a feel for how long it takes to do a bigger project. This is the third day I've worked on Batik Bird, and it still isn't done. But today I did the quilting and the binding, and I feel I've made progress. I have a lot of other things to do every day besides make birds: my paying job of freelance illustrator comes immediately to mind. But my favorite part of each day is that time when I get to sit down and work on my bird.
Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, I'll evaluate this Batik Bird and decide what embellishments I want to add: embroidery, beading, metallics, whatever. Or, maybe I'll decide it's done, and start a new bird.
When you are almost done with a piece of artwork, it's always good to walk away for a bit, then return to it with fresh eyes. What appears muddled and uncertain at bedtime, with the dawn becomes clear.
I'm also posting this existing bird, from the 2006 calendar, to keep the count up to date. Peggy

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day Forty-Five: Batik Bird Phase Two (Detail)

I've made progress on Batik Bird, but nothing that shows a lot, so I've just posted this detail of the piece. The applique is done, but I still have the embroidery and other embellishments, plus the quilting to do. Those will have to wait til tomorrow.
For you left-brainers who are keeping a bird count, I'm also posting another existing bird illustration: Birdhouse Neighborhood. This appeared in Tide-mark's The 2005 Herbal Calendar, and was also used Sparrow & Jacobs for refrigerator magnets. I never know where my art is going to turn up next.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Day Forty-Five: Batik Bird Phase One

Today's project is simply too large in scope to complete in one day, so....I'm changing the rules a bit and allowing for some projects to 'count' for more than one day. OK, I know what you're saying. How are there going to be 365 birds, if I do this? Well, for you nit-pickers, I'm posting an existing bird, too. OK?
Back to my batik bird. Batik fabrics on the bolt at quilt shops did not exist during my prior hey-day of sewing, more than two decades ago, but they are everywhere now, and they are gorgeous. I'm very excited about this wall hanging, which I plan to applique, stitch, bead, quilt, and otherwise embellish--tomorrow, to post tomorrow night. Maybe.
I've been kind of rushing through birds lately, and I want to take more time with this. So, I'm giving myself an extra day.
Here's a bird for tonight, for those of you who are counting.....done for an article for The Herb Quarterly, about Halloween herbs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day Forty-Four: An iPod Case

This iPod case is loosely based on Day One's Bluebird. It was made for Grace, who chose the colors, and I think it's fun. I ran into design difficulties trying to line it with a piece of woven fabric. I'll have to figure out how to do that another day. Also, I think it could use more detail in the wings and feet. But it's getting late, and I promised her that I'd finish it tonight for the day's Bird.
I like the idea of making little pouches that can be worn around the neck to safeguard important stuff. I'd like to do some research on amulets, and maybe make a series of them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day Forty-Three: A Valentine Bird

Today's Bird is a variation of Day Thirty-One's Cute Bird, made in reds and pinks for my little neighbor Grace. The pattern is based on one by the Japanese design team Aranzi Aronzo , and the book is called "The Cute Book."

Happy Valentine's Day, Grace!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day Forty-Two's "Bird"

All right, I want to make this clear before all of you start writing me letters--or, more correctly, posting comments. I am very aware of the fact that a Bat is not a Bird, but a Mammal. But when I came across this utterly charming pattern in Sewing Tiny Toys: Create Your Own Bean Bag and Plush Toys, by Carolyn Vosburg Hall, I knew I had to make it for The 365 Day Bird Project.
Vosburg Hall has been writing sewing books since the 1970's, an earlier heyday for craftinistas, including me, though, of course, that word did not yet exist. But somehow I missed her books altogether, so when I recently became a devotee of "Stuffies and Softies," I was delighted find someone who'd been doing this all along. This book was published in 1999, at the height of the Beany Baby craze, and to my mind is every bit as fun as any of the current titles on making little critters. It has lovely photos of Vosburg Hall's grandchildren happily playing with her stuffed animals. This emphasis on toys for children is something that has shifted in the past few years. Now the focus seems to be on adults making softies for themselves or for adult friends. All the kids are playing with their hand-held digital devices!
You can see a bibliography of Carolyn Vosburg Hall's work at Her books are widely available at used books sites like, or, you might get lucky like I did, and find one at a used book store.
And for folks who can get their library books back on time--alas, I'm not one of them--her books are most certainly at your local public library.
The book I have has parrots, storks, penguins and owls that you might see here later on. For now, my little bat is hanging upside down on my bulletin board, enjoying his exclusive mammalian status among an ever-growing avian population.

Day Forty-One: A Turquoise Felt Bird

I didn't post a Bird yesterday because I'd loaned my digital camera to a friend, and couldn't take a photo. OK, that's just half the story: I didn't finish the bird, either, because I knew I wouldn't be posting it. BUT, I did finish it this morning, and I am uploading it now that I have my camera back.
My friend Julia gave me the idea of doing some Cirque du Soleil type birds, so maybe that was what was influencing me to do this fanciful felt bird. I love to embroider, and sometime I'd like to do a really elaborate bird incorporating embroidery and beading, maybe using glittery, metallic threads and Swaroski crystals.
Julia and I are going to be doing a collaborative project on the Cirque du Soleil theme at a later date.
Watch this space.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day Forty: A Birdhouse Garden

Today the studio was in an uproar because I was having new shelving installed and all my art supplies were in a jumble on my bed all day. This evening, I'm trying to put everything back together, but I'm just not in the mood to try to do a bird as well. So, once again, I'm posting an existing image, this one from The 2009 Herbal Calendar, a project I do every year for Tide-Mark Press. It was the cover image for the calendar that year, and it was based on an actual birdhouse made by my friend and colleague Theresa Loe, Check out her blog. It will bring a bit of sunshine into your day, especially if, like me, you live in a part of the world where this winter has been just too cold, too snowy, and way too long.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day Thirty-Nine: Inspired by Adam Rhine

Yesterday I found a beautiful book at the Bookworm, my favorite used bookstore in Boulder. Not only is it a fabulous place to buy books, but it is also a good place to get rid of books, which, if you are a bibliophile like me, is very important, since my bookcases are always bulging. You don't get money for your used books, but you get credit towards books in the store, which essentially means one thing: acquiring more books guilt-free! Get this: They still keep track of everybody's account on index cards: yes, index cards, handwritten, with amounts added on or scratched off with a pencil. I love this place! When I googled them for this Post, I was disappointed to see that they are in the process of creating a website,, but I guess progress is inevitable. And soon you out-of-towners will be able to access them. I do hope they'll keep the index cards.

Where was I? Oh, yes, I found this wonderful book of gorgeous Hebrew illuminations, by artist/calligrapher Adam Rhine, published in 2006 by Sounds True here in Boulder Rhine's work is exquisite, heartfelt, and illuminates sacred text, so I hesitated to paint a bird using his style as inspiration. But then I read this on the back cover: "Adam Rhine began his artistic life as a doodler. Choosing to become an artist at age eleven, he soon mastered the covert art of doodling in school, a practice that he has perfected as an adult." And I thought, this guy is my kind of artist, and I don't think he'll mind.
Adam, here's my first bird. I'll try to do another one sometime that is more 'serious' and less 'cartooney', but this one was a lot of fun.
From one covert doodler to another.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day Thirty-Eight: A Valentine Bird

I know it's only February 8, but I thought I'd start designing a bird for Valentine's Day. This is my first idea. I've got a way to go!
I'm re-reading Charleen Kinser's seminal book on sewn sculpture, "Sewing Sculpture,"published in 1977 but still so relevant today. It's available used at, my favorite place to buy inexpensively priced used books. Kinser's book is well-written and and elegantly designed. It contains an intriguing photograph, a delicate drawing, a well-executed diagram, or little gem of wisdom on every page. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in improving their design skills.
Kinser reminds me that "There are numerous frustrations built into this craft. You may as well develop the ability to laugh at yourself; your predicaments are bound to amuse someone."
Thanks, Charleen.
Back to the drawing board.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Thirty-Seven: A Watercolor Doodle

I stayed up late tonight working on an illustration assignment I'd been putting off for a whole week. I got all the sketches done, and will send them to the client tomorrow morning. Boy, does that feel good! Why, oh why do I procrastinate so much?

Tonight's bird was done at the last minute, with masking fluid, watercolor, and my Pigma brush pen, this time in grey. Quick, easy, and gets the job done.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 36: Road Runner

This bird started out as a swan, enjoyed a brief stint as an ostrich, and ultimately--quite unexpectedly--became a road runner. The technique is flat needle-felting. It's usually done with wool rovings on a wool ground. But I ran out of rovings, and I wasn't finished, so I added some wool yarn scraps that I had leftover from a knitting project. This turned out to be a good move, since I think the yarns give it a lot more interest.

One hour into the project, I was hating needle-felting, but two hours later I wasn't hating it quite as much. Pushing through the resistance to an unfamiliar process can be a worthy experience, and it can yield some interesting results.


Update: Sleepy Owl Wearable Cell Phone Pouch

Cell Phones have tiny little paws with which they scamper to the farthest corner of the house or burrow into the innermost depths of a purse or backpack.
Then they ring.
Hence the need for the Wearable Cell Phone Pouch.
Design inspiration for the Sleepy Owl comes from Lily Cook,, as featured in Vol. 4, Issue 1 of Stuffed Fashionistas will want one in every color.

Thanks, Lucy. Give me a ring sometime.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day Thirty-Five: Sleepy Owl Cell Phone Pouch

Today's bird comes courtesy of Lily Cook,, whose adorable owls I saw in my issue of Stuffed, which I mentioned previously (Day Thirty-Two).

OK, I haven't made it into a pouch yet, but I did finish the bird part, so I hope that counts as today's bird. I'll post the completed pouch tomorrow (and no, I won't count it as Day Thirty-Six's bird. I'll have to make a new bird, maybe while I'm watching the Super Bowl.)

Now this sleepy artist is going to bed.

Good night.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Day Thirty-Four: A Wrecked Wren Rescue

It's amazing how a good night's sleep improves one's outlook on life. Last night, I was sure that the 365 Bird Project was doomed to failure, but this morning, I looked at Wrecked Wren, and decided that he was worth rescuing. His name is now Berkeley, since he was inspired by Jessica Brown's Oakley (see Day Thirty-Two) and I was thinking about universities in California. He's posed here with his friend Bessie, who is eyeing him for possible snack value. Fortunately, she's decided he has none whatsoever, and has now gone back to sleep. Berkeley, on the other hand, is so grateful that he was rescued from the scrap heap and all his stuffing replaced that he's ready to soar.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day Thirty-Three: A Bad Bird Day

I spent the whole morning working on a failed flamingo, and all evening on a wrecked wren, so I'm forced once again to put up a previously painted bird, this time two Baltimore Orioles. I know this is cheating, but it's almost ten o-clock, and I can't stay up another minute.

Could the fact that I'm taking care of eight dogs and a cat this week have anything to do with it? Not to mention the fact that I have an illustration assignment that I was supposed to start on Monday and haven't even looked at yet, and tomorrow's Friday.

More dogs arriving in the morning.

All in all, a real muddle.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day Thirty-Two: Oakley

Quentin and Alicia came over tonight for a birthday dinner for Alicia, and brought me the newest Stuffed magazine from Somerset Studios, I never cease to be amazed at all the fabulously creative people out there; for example, Jessica Brown,, whose adorable stuffie "Oakley" inspired this sketch. I may never get to make my own Oakley, or so many of the other birds I see in this and other publications, but at least I can make a sketch for future reference.
On a related topic, I'd started a very complicated bird this morning to make as a present for Alicia, but seriously underestimated the time it would take to complete it. (It's that time-management issue, again!) This brought up the subject at dinner of "Does it 'count' as today's bird it I start it but don't finish it?" We decided that in keeping with the spirit of the 365 Bird Project, I need to complete one bird every day, even if I'm working on a more complicated one that may take several days. The bird only 'counts' if it is done. BUT, it's OK to do just a very simple bird, like my sketch of Oakley, for today's bird.

So Alicia's birthday bird, which is sitting on the work table not even half done, will have to wait for its own post later. Sorry, Alicia, and Happy Birthday!


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day Thirty-One: A Cute Bird

Today's bird comes from the very talented Japanese design team, Aranzi Aronzo, who describe their style as kawaii, meaning "Japanese cute." Their characters are enormously popular in Japan, and they have been major players in the Stuffies and Softies movement that has captivated crafters worldwide. Their books are now available in English--my bird came from their The Cute Book-- though you hardly need words to follow their patterns and create your own felt "mascots." Each mascot comes with his or her own story, and is photographed in a variety of interesting settings. My bird ended up in the fruit bowl on the dining room table, then struck a pose beside the teapot on the bookcase.
Felt Mascots get around.
Very cute.