Thanks Giving Leaves

A few weeks ago I collected these colorful leaves during one of my walks around the neighborhood.  I was enamored by the assortment of shapes and sizes and the beautiful shades ranging from rust to crimson with spots of sunshine – so warm and alive.


Holding this extra-large leaf made me feel somewhat small.  It was a good reminder that within this large world I am only a very small part…life is about so much more – outside of myself and my own little world.


Okay, on to making some leaves.  I began by splitting open a paper grocery bag, flattening it out and then I painted the inside part of the bag with shades of autumn.


Then I used the real leaves that I collected as templates by tracing around each leaf and cutting out the shapes with scissors. After this I crumpled the leaves up and then flattened them back out to create a more natural texture.  Here’s what they look like placed along my mantle.


I like how this bright spot of red pops amongst the the other items on the mantle.


I also like how the colors of the leaves compliment the star artwork (I made these awhile ago with string and tacks on painted canvas).


Here’s a close-up of the crumpled up texture.  With so much color, I didn’t want to add busy embellishments.


But a week later I changed my mind and added just a touch to one of the leaves.


These words came to me while I was thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday and what it means to me.  It’s a simple thought, but it can be deep and wide…as I sit in silence and focus on each and every blessing. Then I can feel my throat tighten and an urge to swallow the lumps…as I take it all in.  The power of gratitude is immense…


…it makes me want to give, what I have already received…and then some.  I like how “thanks” goes hand in hand with “giving”, making it complete.  “Thanksgiving” is not only my favorite holiday, it’s also one of my favorite words.










Repurposed Bird Stamp

A couple of months ago I received a letter from my Mom, who lives in Hong Kong.  And on the envelope I was delighted to see some bird stamps. I used one of them to make this tiny tree.


This blue birdie went out on a limb, which is something I’ve been thinking about doing more of these days.


On the other limb I placed a single feather (representing hope) and a dangling pearl (representing purity and honesty).  I also like how the feather is leaf shaped (so perfect for this season of shedding leaves).  Sometimes you have to let go of the old to allow space for the new.


For me, trying new things is challenging because I like the familiar and routine.  I find comfort in knowing what to expect.   However, staying in this safe zone all the time can be very limiting.  And I like the idea of living a limitless life.


If you’ve been thinking of going out on the limb more often, I’d be happy to send this tree (shown above) to you as a little visual reminder.  The first one who replies (just leave a comment to this post letting me know) can have it.

Thanks and I hope you have fun trying something new this weekend!









HandCrafted Memories and Decor

What a delightful surprise to see my necklaces on the cover of HandCrafted!  Seeing this made me smile all over because the shells that I used were collected during a family trip to Nantucket.  Whenever I look at (or wear) these necklaces I think of my Bill and Brook.


Here’s a closer look at the necklaces.  For obvious reasons I chose “joy” to express what family togetherness brings me.  And “be” serves as a reminder to self…to “be in the moment”, which happens to be the gateway to joy.


Within this issue of HandCrafted you’ll also see another project of mine which uses more of my Nantucket beach finds.  These pouches could be used as holiday ornaments (once again, to preserve the happy memories).


Also within this issue you’ll see some more necklaces that I created, this time using some old sewing supplies that I found (used to hang the necklace charms) during a family trip to Geneva.


If you don’t have access to bits like the above, you could use some wire (20 gauge) instead. Or maybe you have some wool scraps laying around.  I used some of my old sweaters (after felting them in the wash) to make the necklaces below, which are also in this same issue of HandCrafted.


And while you have the felted wool out, why not make some rustic stars and stockings?  Working with wool feels cozy and right this time of year, and I’ve been itching to make some colorful mini-stockings to snuggle some goodies into for holiday gift giving.


I’ve provided the specific how-to instructions for all five projects within this issue of HandCrafted (Volume 9).  However, if you need help or have any questions beyond what I’ve included, please feel free to contact me.

P.S. Sorry the photos for this post didn’t come out so well.  These past couple days have been dark and rainy  and the sun’s been hiding out.  I think this weekend’s supposed to be brighter though…I have a good feeling about this.










Cups of Love and Joy

I’m not quite ready for Winter to begin yet, but I LOVE the peaceful and frosty-looking, Wintry artwork by Kim Henkel on the cover of the new issue of Somerset Studio (Nov/Dec).


Inside this issue you’ll also see my cup collages.  Here’s a look at the blue one.


Just a touch of floral mesh fabric and hand stitched knots gives the tabletop some dimension and a lady-like feel.


Doesn’t the word “savor” just make you want to slow down?  I like taking it slow and easy and prefer not to rush.


Here’s a look at a cup that I drew and painted in faint lines and very soft colors.



Here’s a better view of the “love” message on the side.  Behind this message you can see a spot of my next cup collage…


…here’s a better view of it.  This piece is about “drinking in the joy”, and to me the color of joy is yellow…sunny yellow, which is why I chose to use this cheerful color as the base for my cup.


And here’s a closeup of the area where I used more floral mesh fabric along with some melted beeswax for texture and subtle dimension.  By the way, the floral mesh fabric is from an old curtain that used to hang in Brook’s room (a good example of why I like to save things!)


Again, I added a message…something that always seems to happen during the process.  I’m not sure why, but the words always just seem come.


I suppose that when the words are good-natured and optimistic, I’m happy to let them just flow.  Sending more loving and joyful thoughts into the world is perfectly fine with me.


If you’d like to learn how to create these cups, I’ve included the specific how-to instructions within my article.  Here’s a link to the Somerset Studio issue again.

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend and see you again next week…and thanks for stopping by!













A Quench of Color

This time of year everything is bursting with color around the neighborhood. Here’s a look at my favorite spot, which is just down the road from my home. I think I’ve shown you this special place before, but each year it seems to look a little different, so here it is again…looking sort of the same, but never exactly the same.  Nature always delights.



The reflection is so amazing it practically takes my breath away.  Everything about this place moves me.


Trees glowing gold with sunshine…


…and earth covered in shades of kumquats and cranberries.


Seeing these vibrant colors somehow quenches a thirst, a thirst I didn’t even know I had.  Maybe I should include these refreshing shades of Fall in my next works?  And you, what colors have you been thirsting for these days?






Painted Paper Birds

For whatever reason birds have been on my brain lately.  So I decided to use them as my muse for some watercolor painting play.  I began by drawing a quick sketch.


And then I colored in the birds with watercolor paint.  Next I added some stitching details using my sewing machine, and then I used scissors to cut out each bird shape.  The coloring and cutting part reminded me of how I used to play with paper dolls growing up.  I used to do this for hours…did you?


Once the birdies were done I moved on to making a home for them…in this case it was in the form of a collage on canvas.


This big birdie faces both the sun and her little loved one.


Behind the birdie the days keep ticking by.


But no matter how quickly time flies by, this birdie’s eyes are focused on the sun…and the bright spots in life.


Each new day is a gift.  So “rise and shine”, and greet it with glee.  This thought keeps me grounded.  This thought keeps me grateful.





A Tin and a Poem

A while ago I created this pretty little display using a coffee tin and some artificial blooms that I had around. I like surrounding myself with low maintenance things (no watering necessary).

Here’s a look at the tin.

And here’s a poem that I wrote.


To me, the idea of emerging requires a sort of letting go…a lightening of the load.  With a lighter load, it should be easier to emerge or take flight.  So I’ve been working on letting the little things go, a little at a time.  And it’s been working.  I feel lighter and more free…and this feels fantastic!

Wishing you all lighter, brighter days as well.


Letter Birdie and Bookmark

With the weather cooling down a bit I recently felt the itch to get my hands back into needle felting.  And in usual fashion, I started off by felting a little birdie.  There’s something very soothing about making something cute and familiar.  I like how the mind doesn’t have to think so much, and can freely wander in whichever way.

Here’s a look at the birdie that I made using Brook’s letter (from my previous post) for the wings.  The letter image was transferred onto cotton fabric using gel medium.


Here’s the same birdie from another angle…


…and here’s a close up.  You can see how fuzzy the face is and the word “soar” is highlighted with subtle sparkles.


Below is a look at a bookmark that I made using Brook’s letter (also transferred onto cotton fabric).


Underneath the bookmark you can see a portion of a bookmark sleeve sewn from parchment paper.

I specifically chose to cut out and to use this portion of Brook’s letter because in this part of the letter she talks about a very special moment that she had while at camp.  Brook was challenged with a very difficult and scary task: to climb a very high rock climbing wall with difficult angles and hard to reach hand holds. When it was her time to go, she was terrified (of heights, of falling, of failing in front of her peers).  But she forced herself to work through it and she didn’t give up.  It took her the entire day to complete the challenge and afterwards she was both thrilled and exhausted.  It was a hard lesson in perseverance and in building self confidence.  Anyway, I made this bookmark for Brook as a reminder to her that she can do whatever she puts her mind to.  Now whenever she feels doubt, she can see in her own words how she conquered her fears.


Here’s a look at the top embellishment (pretty beaded dangles and a ribbon tail attached to bookmark with a safety pin).


This fall I plan to spend more time creating.  Taking breaks throughout the summer left me feeling a little empty inside (I guess I missed my creativity time), so now it’s time to replenish.  For me, fall is a time of personal renewal, which is sort of contrary to what happens outside (with the lessening light and falling leaves).  As the outdoors sheds, I get a chance to grow more on the inside…it’s a more than fair trade off don’t you think?




Letters Home

Brook’s Summer camp ended about a month ago and we’ve been using these last couple of weeks to gently transition into the new school year. Letting go of Summer isn’t easy.

Before letting go completely, I thought I’d show you a project that I just finished using Brook’s letters from camp. She has been going to the same camp for seven years now and every year our only communication from her is through letters. You can imagine how important these letters are to us. When we get one in the mail, Bill and I wait to read each letter together (confession: sometimes I can’t wait for Bill so I sneak a peak, but I mostly wait). It takes a lot for me to be this patient.

Here’s a look at the originals (one is a letter and one is a birthday card).

And here’s a look at what I made with them.


I made these house shaped ornaments using white sponges (purchased from Whole Foods) as the base.


I used a portion of Brook’s letter to make this one.


And I used a portion of her handmade birthday card to make this one.  Inside the card Brook included a photo of the two of us along with some loving words (which I’ve saved for a possible future project).  The house base is covered with the letter envelope (inside of envelope showing) along with a small strip cut from the card.  I wanted to highlight the letter “M” for Mom, and I added the number 45 to represent my 45th birthday.


Here’s a closer look at both.


And of course I had to include the date on the backs.


If you’d like to make something similar, please keep in mind that I made color photocopies of Brook’s letter and card, and I also shrunk the size.  While at the copy machine I made a couple of inverted image copies to be used as gel medium image transfers. I hope to get to these next week and will post the project details if they turn out any good.

BTW, I’m planning to hang the two houses on our Christmas tree.  I’ve already been thinking about making Christmas ornaments.  So I guess saying goodbye to Summer isn’t so hard after all!









Hearts, Hugs and Sunshine

With Summer coming to a close, this is the perfect time for me to share a beach finds project with you. If you’re like me, you have a collection of carefully selected beach beauties on hand.  Here’s a look at what you can create with them.


Here’s a close look at one that’s focused around a heart.


And this one has a heart in it also.


This next one looks like a heart to me too.  Although it’s missing part of the top curve, my eye and mind sees it as complete.


Very often I like to include details that look like visual hugs…I think this adds a cozy feel.  Below are some examples of what I mean.

Wire wrapped rock.


Circle around a shell.


Wire wrapped around “cherish” stick and string wrapped around a reed with a feather sticking out.


And here’s a closer look at my favorite example of a visual hug (sunshine yellow thread wrapped around a feather seen on the right hand side of the canvas), which I did while thinking of my Bill and Brook.



I feel grateful that no matter where I am or what season it happens to be, I’m always surrounded by sunshine, as long as I’m around (or even when I’m just thinking of) my Bill and Brook. They are my light, my joy…my sunshine.  As we move into the direction of shorter days, may the brilliant, beautiful light of your loved ones fill you with peace and joy as well.

If you’d like to know more about the artwork shown above, please refer to my article in the current issue of Somerset Studio.  And of course, please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about the making process…I’m always happy to help.

As a side note, it seems that my blog had been hacked and I think it hasn’t been functioning properly since the beginning of Summer.  However, it’s all been fixed (thanks to Bill) so if you’re a subscriber, or you like to just drop by occasionally, you’ll be able to do so more easily again.