Category Archives: Art

Politics Brings Haters to Art

Art appreciation is complicated enough. Bring politics into it and… things get really confused and messy.

Could you look at art and appreciate it for the sake of itself? How would your perception change knowing the artist was someone famous, notorious even? How does your art appreciation fare knowing the artist was Hitler?


Of course, that brings up the question – Who is Hitler to you, personally? Were you born before his death? Is your family German, Austrian, Jewish or European at all? What real relevance is there about Hitler for you in a personal way? Is there anything real enough to change the way you look at the art he created at various times in his life?

I admit, other than reading history, Hitler has very little connection to my life. My family are Austrian but I hardly know anyone from that connection and I’ve never travelled to Europe at all, so far. I can remember my Grandmother (on my Father’s side) ranting about “never letting a German into her house”. This was a little shocking to me considering I thought of myself as German (on my Mother’s side of the family). I never forgot her saying that and the conviction she had, or how misled she seemed to me in that moment.

Hitler was an artist, as are/ were many other people who didn’t stand out in history. What matters in art? How much does it matter that the artist was a German politician and later a famous dictator? Is art about politics? Do you still believe in the connection between politics and religion too?

Some questions don’t have easy answers. However, I would not like to see Hitler’s original art defaced or destroyed. It’s part of our history, our culture and something one man left behind of the beauty he found in the world.

A batch of the Führer’s watercolours has just been sold at a controversial auction. But as well as having zero artistic value, most ‘Hitlers’ are probably fake – so why do we continue to collude in this grotesque deception?

Source: Littered with fakes: why the Hitler art trade is such a sick joke

Unusual Pin-Up Photography

The following cheeky pinup photos were taken by Australian photographer Wallyir. I am utterly fascinated and inspired by these photographs made by posing simple wooden artist mannequins, model toys, and other every day objects. Each photos is mesmerizing — and together, the series definitely tells a story!

beginning blank canvas painter and muse at the easel playing up study of a portrait portrait of a muse pinup art photography willyir cast of three wallyir

It seems the photos were taken in 2010 and at least some of them submitted as photography assignments at There we can really see the photographer’s sense of humor:

Lessons Learned

  • Fine tune D.O.F to have back ground still recognizable.
  • Any dust on such a small subject is very noticeable.
  • Lighting need not be very complicated (or expensive) for a good effect.
  • Using a kitchen bench,Freezer Top or Computer desk to stage your photography will result in those areas being needed immediately or life as I know it could cease.

Other similar works by Wallyir:

vintage motorcycle and girl wallyir

rose et noir pinup figure photography

old ladies black and white photography by willyir

This Mom Lets Her 4-Year-Old Finish Her Drawings, And The Results Are Hilarious! ~ Distractify

“At first, artist Mica Angela Hendricks didn’t want her four-year-old daughter near her new sketchbook. She is serious about her art, and she knew little Myla would want to scribble all over the pages. Then, her daughter said the words that changed everything.

“If you can’t share, we’ll have to take it away.”
“She had used her own mother’s words against her, and now Mica had no choice but to indulge Myla. She let her daughter finish one of her sketches, and pretty soon, they had a whole collection of collaborations.”


So Cute, You Want To Hang Them!

There’s no denying the appeal of needle felted animals. The combination of cute animals so-lifelike-it’s-amazing and the fun fit-in-your-hand size makes them absurdly adorable. Not to mention that you can finally afford to have wild animals like raccoons and bears — even rare unicorns — right inside your home!

felted handmade unicorn

But if you’ve been struggling with a way to, I don’t know, make your purchases seem more purposeful, if not practical, than a collection of fuzzy shelf-sitters, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has got a great idea for you: mobiles.

Multi Breed Dog Mobile, Baby Mobile, Dog Mobile, Sheltie, Labradoodle, Beagle, Golden Retriever

felted otters crib mobile

felted spaniel

And if you don’t have a baby now, or even one on the way, don’t worry. Mobiles are for adults too. Remember the swanky mid century modern hanging art sculptures that once were de rigueur? Well, those were mobiles. Revive that hanging art trend for your home or office, say with an “air aquarium” of felted sea folk…

under the sea felt mobile

We highly recommend the Star Wars mobiles. Perfect for the sci-fi nerds and pop culture lovers in your life.

star wars mobile

needle felted yoda mobile

And what could be better for insomniacs than counting handmade felted sheep?

felted wooly sheep lambs mobile for insomniacs

Along with their shop, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has a website and a Facebook page.

Canadian Vintage Postcards

Old Barrie, OntarioI have been a history fan since the day I first noticed old buildings with the carved and sculpted stonework, the majestic columns and the extras, like gargoyles. My Mother loves antiques. We still have some of the massive pieces of furniture which she told me were called Canadiana, over 100 years old made from trees far older than that even. The wood has become soft to the touch and the colour is lighter than the finished wooden furniture.

Anyway, nothing lasts forever. Isn’t that the sad part of history, architecture and antiques?

This is why I have always enjoyed finding vintage and antique postcards of old Canadian cities, towns and places I have been in the current time. In the old postcards you can see some of what once was and how a building (still standing) looked when it was new. The street views are my favourites. Horses still in the streets, sometimes sharing it with vehicles and sometimes, just horses and buggies. People along the sidewalks, some close enough to see a pattern in their clothes and the trimmings on their hats. Those were real, living people. Not a design someone created to add features to an illustration.

What do you think about when you see an old postcard? Travels? History? Collectibles and antiques? Maybe you see them for the art they are too?

Bed Dolls Will be Seen but not Heard

This bed doll with her poodle skirt comes from Td Creations Crochet on Etsy. I’ve also seen these dolls called boudoir dolls, a fancier sounding name for sure.

The doll is not meant to be a child’s toy. She was a fancy girl, dressed up with her hair in a complicated style and her clothing immaculate. She was a glamour girl.

Once you had made your bed the doll was posed on the bed, likely in the middle of your pillows – a place of honour.

Have you ever had a bed doll? Would you like one?

The nice thing would be creating new fashions for the doll. Though not all of them were meant to be undressed and re-dressed. If you buy or refurbish a doll to become a doll fashionista, make sure her arms and legs bend enough to be redressed in new outfits.

Many bed dolls I have seen online are wearing crocheted outfits. But, the doll my Mother bought me was all dressed in white satin and lace with ribbon flowers.

Repurposed Beanie Babies

Beanie Babies may have lost value as a collectible but they do make nice art. It helps that you can pick up a dozen of them for a quarter these days. I find them in the thrift shop and second hand toy stores. At times they are overstocked and bagged up, 25 cents for the lot of them.

So, what can you do with a lot of Beanie Babies taking up space in your closet, under your bed, or trapped in the attic?

Have some fun with Beanie Baby rogue taxidermy. Take apart the Beanie Babies and recreate them as different, unique creatures.  What a unicorn body looks like with the head of… a lion, a mouse, or a teddy bear and leave it at that. Or, you can turn them into morbid, weird and grotesque creations. Give them four different limbs and half the body of something with wings and the head of something else.

Remake them as something a little practical. Pluck all the stitches out, remove the stuffing then attach all the flat bodies together as a piece of fabric. Create Beanie Baby blankets, pillow cases, purses and hats. Anything you could make from fabric can be made with Beanie Baby pelts. You may decide to stitch the pelts to a fabric backing rather than trying to work at fitting them all together like a jigsaw puzzle.

You can turn individual Beanie Babies into change purses, any sort of small container (even something to hold water if you work out the right liner).  Leave the head, arms and legs attached or take them off and sew the holes shut – either way you can have a colourful small purse. Just attach something to work as a strap. (A lot of Beanie Baby arms and legs could be sewn into a long strap if you can get over the mangling factor).

There are options if you don’t want to unstuff them. Think upholstery. Martha Stewart has made a chair out of upcycled Beanie Babies.

Turn your Beanie Babies into a seasonal wreath decoration. Add some extras like cotton for white beards, little Christmas hats and other bits you can get at craft stores then sew the decorated Beanie Babies to a big metal ring, add lights, some fake pine boughs, etc. Use darker coloured Beanie Babies and add decorations like skulls, witch hats, gravestones to make a Halloween wreath for your front door or a big window. Pick all the red and pink Beanie Babies, add some hearts you can cut out from coloured paper or find cheap at the thrift store and you have a Valentine wreath.

Need to make some extra money? Host a street fair and run games with your Beanie Babies as small prizes. Simple kid games like Pull-the-String are a great way to make a few dollars and give yourself some extra space once the Beanie Babies are gone.

Of course, you can also give them away to children still young enough to enjoy stuffed animals. Take a look at SAFE, Stuffed Animals for Emergencies as another way to donate them. They also work well for people with pets.

Let me know if you find a great way to recycle Beanie Babies.

If you have read (or watched) The Hunger Games, you will enjoy The Beanie Baby Hunger Games.

Sharks in Art

Sharks in art.  I am a Shark Collector in the way of collecting shark art online. I used to have a shark art book. Now I don’t. But, each great shark image or shark post (including the cause of shark conversation) I post to Sharks. Above is a shark done in text art. It’s not the only text or ASCII art shark I’ve seen. Tonight I’m creating a post to display a whole gallery of ASCII art sharks.

This pixel art shark comes from Sixteen Colors.

This was in an email from my Mother.

Like-Like Baby Dolls: Cute or Creepy?

Have you ever seen a reborn baby doll? They are dolls that look like real babies and are created/ bought by women and treated like real babies. Dressed up, taken for walks in the park, have birthday parties, given a car seat of their own and so on. I’m sure not every woman who keeps a reborn doll is going as far as taking them out in public. But, it’s those who do who have stirred up controversy or at least gotten people talking.

If you had always wanted a baby but didn’t have one (or had lost one) would you consider a reborn doll? On the plus side the doll won’t need diaper changes, it won’t wake up for a midnight feeding, no squirming around while you dress the doll up, and it won’t ever grow up and become a teenager (if you count that as a good thing).

I have my own Raggedy Ann rag doll, made by my Mother when I was a kid. I still dress up Raggedy Ann a few times. I like to keep her around, give her a spot in my bedroom where she can see and be seen. But that’s where she stays. I don’t take her to bed with me – even when I was a kid I wasn’t bringing dolls into bed with me.  It is nice to keep her though. I do like giving her something new to wear. It’s pretty easy, and cheap enough, to find second hand clothes at the thrift shop. Just about anything in the baby sizes will fit her. But, she does have a thick neck for the length of her body. Of course, she’s all doll, not a baby (reborn) doll.

Is is weird for a grown woman to keep dolls? In general I would say no. It could be a bit much if the dolls are taking over, like an obsession.  However, anything which becomes an obsession isn’t good.

Are the reborn dolls creepy? I’ve looked at lots of photos of reborn dolls since deciding to write about them. Some are a bit creepy, the skin is a bit too real – like a baby just born, still on the purple/ blue side. A bit too much reality, especially when they only look like that such a short time.  Some of the dolls have really adorable faces, cute and soft, a very romantic version of a baby. No doubt there must be some percentage of people who will find that creepy. I don’t.

In the end it is up to the beholder. Would you make a reborn doll? The process is interesting. The designing of the clothes is fun, if you want to make them yourself.

Repurpose Old Books

Maybe your books were damaged beyond repair. Maybe the second hand book store wasn’t interested in books you took to trade because they already have a lot of the same book. Maybe you’ve got a lot of  books with outdated information. However you come across books which no longer have a real use as books, like old phone books, there’s a way to repurpose them and turn them into book art.

Artists and crafts people and all round generally creative and thrifty people have turned old books into everything from chairs, shelving, birdhouses, sculptures and fashion accessories.  The book art sculpture is appealing to me. I love the ideas for folding pages into new shapes. I also like how the whole book can be use in a new way. Not just repurposed, but completely re-imagined.  In all, an old book can be given a new purpose.

At times it is a bit sad to see the title of an old hard cover book, now repurposed into someone’s handbag, all the pages scooped out like a Halloween jack-o-lantern. But, I cheer myself up by looking for another copy of the same book for sale on eBay or at the book stores I can see what else the author wrote and if they are still around writing new books to come.  So even though that one book is no longer available for a good read, there are more out there for the finding.

Sometimes I see a lot of book art and I like to look at it, I’m glad to have seen it… once. What happens to it beyond that? What purpose was it given beyond the one time interest in seeing it? I think this is the mistake a lot of people make with book art. It’s not really upcycling or repurposing in a real way if it isn’t practical as well as creative. A lot of book art doesn’t seem to have a real future ahead of it. If you consider buying something wouldn’t you want to still need it a week, a year, or longer? It’s too sad to see book art which may be fascinating or beautiful in the moment but will just become clutter to be gotten rid of  somewhere down the road.

What to do with Broken Books | Bookish Things

Plucking A Picasso From A Thrift Shop

Another thrift store find; this time a signed Picasso. Purchased for $14, the man sold the Picasso print designed to advertise a 1958 Easter exhibition of his ceramic work in Vallauris, France, for $7,000.

Aside from being a reminder that real art can indeed be found in thrift shops, there’s this tip on the value of numbered linocuts from Lisa Florman, an associate history professor at Ohio State University who has authored a book on Picasso:

There’s certainly some collectors who really place a premium on a single-digit number because it indicates the artist’s greater involvement with the actual printing, so those particular prints can fetch a higher price.

Coffee Pot Cozies Can Be Practical and Pretty Too

We’re coming up for another Earth Day/ Earth Week. I’m glad to see the awareness for the environment and our planet continued. When it began I wondered if the whole thing would just be one more fad, soon forgotten. So far it seems to be something people are giving importance to and listening, even thinking about still.

One Earth issue which I’ve been thinking about lately are all those disposable coffee and tea paper cups we use. Most people writing about this will jump on the bandwagon for the “paper cups are evil” campaign. I’m looking at it from a different point of view.

I know paper comes from trees which (in my opinion) should be classified as a non-renewable resource because we need more trees giving us oxygen rather than more trees giving us paper products. If possible the trees should be left alone to grow in the wild and we should only use trees from tree farms – even harvesting farm trees should be scheduled.

Anyway, I’m also looking at the paper cup issue as someone who does not drive a car to work and around town. This means, anything I need to use during my day has to be carried around by me all day long. A china mug is not practical, they break. A plastic mug I would not feel safe trusting for more than one use before I run it through a good wash at home. (Some people might work in a place with a kitchen available to them, I don’t). In this way the paper cups are the practical option. Unless someone has a better plan which I haven’t found yet.

So what does all this have to do with art and/ or collectibles? Everything. Change brings new art forms, new appreciation for old art forms too. Think about coffee pot and mug cozies and paper cup sleeves. Yes, we had tea pot cozies for a few generations. Not many people did much for their coffee mugs. Now there are so many arty, cute and beautiful coffee mug cozies. Then there are the sleeves to fit over your paper cup. The paper sleeves offered at coffee shops are just the beginning. I may buy a fresh paper cup each time but I do bring along my own coffee cup sleeve. I bought one last year. At the time it was the first I had seen of them and I bought it for practical reasons, it’s not pretty but it works.

Most of the coffee I drink during the day is coffee I make myself, at home. I use a French press and a very large china mug. Too often I get busy and forget to actually get my coffee. When you use a French press you first wait for your water to boil and then you pour the water over  your coffee and wait for it to brew. That’s two steps of just waiting. I almost never just sit and babysit my coffee during that time. The kettle I use to boil the water keeps it hot for a pretty long time. But, my French press doesn’t have anything to insulate the hot water. It can get lukewarm in half an hour and I have been known to forget I made coffee until more than an hour later even. Well, once it’s cold it just isn’t the same. I usually drink some of it anyway. It’s never the best cup of the day.

The coffee pot warmer in this photo comes from Sunny Decor on Etsy. This particular item is no longer available in the shop. I bought it! So I’m doing my part for Earth Day and supporting a (fairly new) art form.

Old Fashioned Pressed Flowers as Art

These pressed flowers come from a shop on Etsy: Forever Flowers by Amy. They’re gorgeous, with vibrant colours. My Mother and I pressed flowers when I was a kid. I haven’t done much of it since then. Usually, it’s for a special occasion and I’m using flowers someone sent me, or those I collected at the time.

Right now it’s still Winter, not the time of year to gather flowers and leaves for pressing flowers. But, maybe the weather out there today has put flowers on my mind.

Use a very heavy book (my personal favourite is an old dictionary) and wax paper to squish your flowers flat. The book pages can get stained if you don’t protect them. Wax paper works but you shouldn’t use it again for the flowers you press with the warm iron.

Drying the flowers in the book first helps preserve them longer in the wax paper. Moisture is what will cause them to rot after all.  My Mother used to place flowers between sheets of wax paper and then iron them. Don’t use steam.

Make sure the wax side is on the flowers to seal them inside. I did see double sided wax paper but usually it seems to be waxed on one side and not the other. The iron does not need to be at a very hot setting. Try touching it to the wax paper and see how it looks. A setting too hot can make the wax look white when it dries.

Pose your flowers as you want them to be preserved, before you iron them. You might decorate with wax crayons, just draw something on a layer of the wax paper before you iron it. Try adding glitter, feathers, finely ground coffee, a bit of sand – anything that lies flat enough to not cause the wax paper to rip when you iron over it all.

You can turn your wax pressed flowers into something useful, like a bookmark. Add a cardboard backing or something else stiff that will give them a bit of durability.

I’ve found a few links with some variation in the idea and extra tips I haven’t heard or thought of before:

Stick Legs

When I first spotted the thumbnail photo for this ebay listing for a James Wallace Pondelicek nude, I thought that the lines were illustrated legs…

Turns out, the “lines” are not drawn upon the photo, but thin pieces of vegetation on the beach

The photo, titled The Bather, is rare hand signed original double-weight sepia gelatin silver photograph, circa 1924. Taken along the shores of Lake Michigan, this vintage nude was used as the cover for James Pondelicek sampler catalog.

Metallic Fashion Forward

The cover, and other pages, which graced the Coilhouse, issue 03, are from of a series called Avatars photographed by Gustavo Lopez Mañas, featuring the wearable metal work of Manuel Albarran.

A stunning collaboration, these photos; but today I’m all about Manuel Albarran’s works.

Called “Metal Couture” by some, but described by the artist as “Heavy Couture,” it might prompt the knee-jerk response of dubbing his work “Heavy Metal Couture” — but full or partial metal jackets aside, I first fell in love with the artist’s work from this photo (via) in which the metal piece on the face is more reminiscent of some quack medical device — or something from a future society. Steampunk-esque. The fact that the model’s hair is coiled like brains only further emphasizes the look.

In a November 2010 interview with Dazed, the artist said he’d most like to collaborate with Guillermo Del Toro and Ridley Scott. Which makes sense as Manuel Albarran’s main goals are to use his fashion work to further not only his art exhibitions but his film projects.

More images here.

Literary Art, Puns, And Bookmarks

Continuing my interview with Robin Blum, founder of In My Book® — the bookmark and greeting cards in one

Happy Ending In My Book Bookmark & Greeting Card

How do you go about getting the art for the bookmarks and cards?

I am fortunate to work with illustrator (and Brooklyn neighbor) Meredith Hamilton. I found her on a wonderful listing of artists for hire called The I Spot. I love the New Yorker-y style of her pen and ink illustrations and feel that they are perfectly suited to the slightly irreverant nature of the cards.

How do you select the images? How tied to literary themes — and puns — are they?

There are presently fifteen styles of In My Book. When we first worked together in 1999, I gave the text of the greetings to Meredith and we brainstormed what type of images would work. In My Book, you’re a classic ended up with marble busts of distinguished and scholarly types, reading books of course; you’re a mystery clearly called for one of the great wonders of world (Stonehenge) and you’re some dish was teamed up with a red-hot mamma having fun cooking up a storm. More styles are presently in the works and will be available in Spring of 2012.

Are there any designs that seem most popular? Any trends in terms of the art, or it is mainly a matter of book genres?

The most popular styles are the ones that seem to suit the greatest number of people. Who wouldn’t be flattered by the notion of being ‘rare’ or ‘a classic’?? Publishers Weekly says: “Multi-tasking as both bookmark and greeting card…illustrated with charming pen-and-ink drawings by artist Meredith Hamilton, these sentimental greetings make endearing enclosures especially when the present is a book.”

How often do you add new designs? And when you add new ones, do you discontinue any older ones?

The line began with twelve styles in 2000 and added three more styles in 2003. Next year three additional styles will be added, so there will be a total of eighteen styles. Although obviously some sell better than others, I have chosen not to discontinue the older ones. This is different than most greeting card companies who base their inventory on sales; I tend to think that book readers are more or less traditional and that “you’re a character”, “you’re a hero”, “you’re the last word” will never go out of style.

I think so too, Robin.

The cards have sold for $3.95 (including envelope) since the company started in 2000; buy them now and get a jump on holiday gift giving –and the upcoming price increase in 2012!

My Rosary: Modern Piece With Period Style

I spotted this piece at a thrift shop on Sunday. The “Madonna” appears to be a contemporary image created from an scan of an antique photo which was digitally enhanced, colored then printed. The “My Rosary” seems to be text from an old piece of paper. Together they were simply matted (with an especially nicely beveled cut window for the text) and placed in an old metal oval frame painted black. All together, it has the appearance of a period piece.

Of Howdy Bears, Mermaids & Punk Rock Grrls

While writing my unorthodox review of The Runaways (2010), I found Cherie Currie’s chainsaw art site.

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the original Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb girl and a chainsaw, I do not think of cute country bears…

Or toucans painted on tables, for that matter.

But she did put a mosaic tile mermaid in her pool, along with a turtle, and I think that’s really cool.