Bye Bye 2013, Hello 2014!!

Happy New Years 2014

Wow… what a year 2013 has been!!!  As is true for many of you, I am sure, the beginning of the new year is a time of reflection on the year that is now ending. It is also a time when we send new dreams and hopes into the universe.

2013 saw some big changes for me. It is the year that I FINALLY gave myself permission to let go of my job and embrace being an artist full time. For many years my hubby gave me permission but I never felt life would go on if I quit doing what I hated doing in a job I disliked. But the universe has its way of pushing you towards the direction you need to be in order to fulfill your desires, you just need to have your eyes open and be willing to jump.

And jump I did.

On July 1 2013 I left the workplace and entered my studio as a full time, I am going to make it, just try and stop me, oh lordy what have I done, artist.

And to force myself to be productive I rented a space in an artisan mall in Fort Smith Arkansas for a year. Now I had an obligation and nothing says get your ass into gear like an obligation. I also reopened my Etsy store, redid my websites and jumped onto the social bandwagon.

Today marks the end of 6 complete months.

Its always fun to look back and see exactly what I did so here goes.

  • In 2013 I sold  6 gourds through Etsy and 14 through my boutique at BrickCity Emporium for an amazing 20 sold gourds.
  • Two of my gourds went international, one to Australia and one to Canada
  • I wrote two tutorials, Making a Gourd Drum and Making a Gourd Vase with a Dreamcatcher. I have sold several copies of both and I recently had the “Making a Gourd Drum” printed.
  • I held 4 Gourd Classes at the Local College that were well attended and we had a ton of fun. From these classes I discovered a new source for gourds and made several new friends
  • I wrote 27 blog posts on GourdGoddess.com where I shared my techniques and gave reviews of product.
  • I started Email Marketing, Build my Facebook Social Network and played around with Twitter (Which I don’t really get yet but I am working on it.)
  • I participated in only two, very small art shows.

And that is just the gourd side of my Artist Life.  I talk about my pottery half and living the artists life on my other blog at YellowCottageStudios.com

A quick Pictorial of 2013

Gourd Drum Photo 2Thunderbird Gourdturtle-Gourd ArtGourd Drum - FlowersFall LeavesGourd Art Wall decor with Eagle head.

So that was my 2013!!

Going through and really looking at your accomplishments like this is a great boost to your ego and gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment. I suggest you all sit down and do the same. I think you might be surprised at just how successful you can be.

 

Happy New Years all my friends. Here’s to the FUTURE!!

 

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Razertip Woodburner – Review

I get asked quite often about the equipment I use so I thought I would do a quick review on The RAZERTIP WoodBurner that I use.

Razertip WoodBurner

Dual Pen

When I first got involved in gourds I was really taken with the woodburning part so I ran out to the local Hobby shop and picked up a $15.00 fixed tip woodburner, since I really did not know any better.

I plugged it in and tried desperately to replicate some of the fine lines and details I saw in the gourd art world. It took me about 10 minutes (it may have been 10 seconds but I gave it a fair shot)  to figure out that this was not the tool to use. It was sporatic and the line was thick and thin and I kept having to wait for the tip to heat up.

But I really wanted to burn!!

At a Gourd Festival I went to I was introduced to the Razertip Woodburner and went home with one! I bought the Dual Burner, where you can have two pens, however I really don’t use the second one all that often. There is also a single burner unit as shown above!

With the Dual Burner, both pens are not HOT at the same time. You choose which pen will be the hot one as explained below. There is basically no waiting for these tips to heat up, its extremely fast so switching between one pen and another, whether you do it with the press of a button with the Dual Pen unit, or change pens on the single burner requires very little down time!

Razertip SS-D10

This is my unit!! Well used as you can see!

 

OPERATION IS SIMPLE

The button to the far left is the on/off switch.

The middle dial is the variable heat dial. Generally I have it set between 7 and 8 for my skewers but I do adjust accordingly. I have one pen that burns cooler than the others so I adjust it up for that.

The A/B Switch is what switches between the left and right pens.

 

One of the things I learned first was that the pens stay nice and hot most of the time which allowed me to burn with a much smoother line. The pens don’t get near as hot to hold as the hobby ones either. The cushion not only keeps it cool but it is comfortable to grip. The cords that connect the pen to the unit are long enough so they don’t get in the way. The pens are just the right diameter to comfortably roll in your fingers are you guide them around a curve. 

Razertip, located in Canada, has been in business for 28 years and they make a fine product. Their pens are warrantied for 1 year, even if you break it. After a year you can have the pen retipped for next to nothing. With all the heating and expanding and the pressure we tend to put on the tips they will break. That is why I have two skewers (Pen 1 and 2 below). About once a year I will break a tip. For a while I sent it to the place that I bought my unit from but last year I sent it directly to Razertip and they fixed me right up. Here is the info on Retipping your Pen

Razertip Pens

These are my pens in order of favorite use!

These are the pens I own and I put them in order of my favorites.

1. Large Skew – I use this pen the very most!!  It is a work horse. When I outline an element on my gourd this tip burns through the skin like butter. I use the very tip when needing small little lines like feathers or leaves,

2. Small Skew– I use this when I break my Large Skew or when I am making tight curves.

3.Medium Spear– I bought this to make really straight lines but I could live without it. The skews work just as good for me. Razertip calls this a cutting tip.

4.Writing Pen – I use this for shading. I shade using a stipple or squiggle and this pen works great for that.

This post shows me using this tip to shade.

5.Bent Shader – This is my newest pen and it is supposed to be an “all in one” with a skewer and when you turn is flat side down, as a shader. I have not gotten the hang of this one yet.

6. Gourd Cutter– This one is called a gourd cutter because it is long and skinny which will go right through a gourd. Its at the bottom of my list because I don’t use it that often. I originally bought it to cut the tops of gourds off but found my saw worked better for that however I have used it to cut-out small sections of my gourd with some success

Here is post showing what I have burned using just these tips.

A lovely smooth even outline

A lovely smooth even outline

Here is an example of starting an outlined design. I sketch in the line I want to burn using a pencil. For me I find that it is very important that the line I draw is exactly what I want and dark enough for me to see. When you start burning you no longer see “the big picture” but you are focused on the small area you are working on. So it is important that the drawing be correct.

See what a lovely fine line the skewer makes!!

See what a lovely fine line the skewer makes!!

I have tried to make it easy for you to locate and buy these products so they are all linked to Amazon. The seller of these products is Treeline USA. I have purchased from Treeline and they are awesome to work with. They also have a super selection of carving burrs…. but that is another post.

 

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Are you ready to create an AMAZING Life or Business in 2014?

I have been a creative being all my life and have been working with gourds for over 7 years. Most of my artwork, whether it was gourds, pottery, digital art or jewelry, piled up all around me and my home. I was giving stuff to family and friends and occasionally selling a piece or two at local craft shows. Can you relate?

Create an Amazing 2014One day I realized that if I really wanted to continue working as an artist I needed to buckle down and try a little harder to sell my work. This would give me the capital to buy more gourds, clay, paint,  tools, beads, feathers… well you know… all that really cool stuff.

About 1 1/2 years ago I came across an artist blogger in Australia. She wrote some pretty amazing stuff and reading about what she did gave me a virtual “kick in the butt”. I joined her Amazing Biz and Life Academy, learned everything she had to share (which was a ton), and jumped head first into the life of ……

FULL TIME ARTIST!!

Most of you are artists. Maybe you are just learning your craft and wondering what to do with your new pieces, or perhaps you are already selling your art. if you have ever thought of having a business, whether full time or part time, it can be really hard trying to figure stuff out like websites, facebook, newsletters, selling and staying on track with what is important to do.  That is what the Academy taught me!

But 1 1/2 years ago,  what I really wanted was her Biz and Life Workbooks, which is now being offered separately from the Academy if you don’t want to join it.

Every year my Australian mentor comes out with a two workbooks and calendars to guide you into making the up-coming year the very best it can be. I used this workbook last year to get my butt in gear and it was an amazing year.

Are you ready for 2014 to be your most incredible year yet, in life or in business?

Just released is the 2014 version of the “Create Your Amazing Year Workbook, Planner & Calendar“. I wanted you to know about it because it worked for me! It helped me in my business and in my life. This is the 5th year and it has worked miracles in thousands of lives.

Amazing Biz and Life Workbooks

The workbooks are in PDF format and are written so that you can fill it out on your computer or tablet if you prefer not to print it out. If you do want to print it out and put it into a binder, it is colorful and playful.

Both workbooks start out by looking back at 2013, celebrating and releasing it. As Leonie says…

“Let’s celebrate + release 2013. And clear the pathway for the miracles to come.”

OH YEAH!!! That’s exactly what I need… how about you?

But its not really miracles we are creating because when you envision what your future will actually look like the powerful law of attraction will step in and open the paths to make this happen. VERY POWERFUL STUFF.

For me, the very first question in the Biz Edition “What are your business accomplishments over the past year?” really opened my eyes to what I actually had accomplished!! Things I had really forgotten about but were so very important to where I am today.

A BIG PAT ON THE BACK FOR ME!!

The “life” workbook starts out by asking “What beautiful lessons did you learn during 2013?” And for 2014 it will guide you through exactly what you want 2014 to look like.

So if you are ready to make 2014 YOUR YEAR, then I recommend these workbooks. The cost for these powerful Workbooks with the Calendar are pretty inexpensive at $9.95.

Don’t bother setting New Years resolutions that get forgotten by February. Make 2014 the year you bloom.

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Painting fall colored leaves on a gourd.

This is the time of year when I always feel drawn to do a traditional Fall Leaf gourd. I had this gourd sitting in my collection for many many years without a clue on what to do with it. This year the message came through loud and clear.

“I want to be a gourd bowl for someones thanksgiving table!!”

Its a rather large gourd and I envisioned it beautifully adorned with bright fall leaves and a fall flower arraignment in the bowl.

To begin I drew overlapping oak leaves all over it. Because of the amount of leaves and because I had them all overlapping and twisting and turning, just like in nature, I would draw some and then burn them in using my Razertip wood burner and the large skew, which is my “go to” blade for just about everything.

I did not cut the top out before doing this because I was uncertain at this point what I wanted to do. When I work I do not preplan anything. I will start with an idea and let it grow from there.

 

Draw and woodburn your leaves

Draw and woodburn your leaves

Once I got all the leaves burned in I used the drill bit shown below, Its a Carbide Filligree Bur that I got from Arizona Gourds. I had never used it for cutting the top of a gourd off but because I was following a curvy line around the leaves I thought it might work better than a saw and it did. It worked beautifully. This bur is very aggressive so if you get one practice and get a feel for it first but I can see that it will become a go to bur for me on future projects.

Carbide Filligree Bur

Carbide Filligree Bur

 

Of course, now I got to clean the inside! I sanded the cut lip nice and smooth as well.

When painting the leaves I begin by using Classic Yellow Gourd Paint.  Most of my paint is Gourd Master but during this project I had to order more and opted to try the Memories paint. I can assure you they are exactly the same and work just as beautifully. For those of you new to gourds, Gourd Master Ink Paints are Private Labeled Ink Dyes that are non-toxic and archival. They are the same as Memories Ink Dye which I bought from Blue Whale Art.

I prefer the Ink Dyes over the Transparent Acrylics. These dyes are waterbased and don’t dry until you heat set them so they are easy to work with especially when blending. They are also transparent so you can still see all the wonderful moddling in the gourds.

 

OK… back to painting the leaves… the yellow is a wonderful blending color. The colors I am using in the above picture are Classic Yellow, Cherry Red and Classic Green.  Using a cotton swab I “scribble” the yellow on the inside of the leaf, rarely taking it to the edge. This is just a quick “fill it in with color”, then I dot the red and the green around the edges and sometimes up the stem,

PaintLeaves-09-resized

PaintLeaves-10-resized

Using a clean cotton swab I push and pull the colors around. I may “push” the yellow into the red a little which gives me a beautiful orange. Since I don’t go all the way into the red it also leaves the edges a brilliant red color.   I do the same for the green. If you overdue it grab some more yellow and paint around, It will brighten it right up.

Green and Red combined go almost brown.

I generally do one leaf at a time, heat setting in between leaves so that I don’t accidentally  mess up what I had already done.

PaintLeaves-08-resized

See the leaves in the above picture. They are a little “dotty”?  I tried spraying a bit of rubbing alcohol on it. Looks cool, huh?

When drawing and painting leaves, remember that nothing about leaves are perfect. They have torn edges, bugs, brown spots.  The leaves may turn, the stems are never straight. Keep your leaves organic that way. You don’t need a perfectly straight leaf, unless that is part of your design.

I drew up my own leaf templates which I will share with you here.

Oak Leaves Template

Maple Leaves Template

Please feel free to use these for your own personal projects but not to teach your own classes or publish in a book. I picked leaves and drew them up so the artwork is all mine!!

Finished Piece

Finished Thanksgiving Leaf Bowl

Finished Thanksgiving Leaf Bowl

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Fall Came early during the Fall Leaf Painting Class in Poteau OK

Here is southeast Oklahoma, the leaves are just beginning to turn. By next weekend I would say, the entire area will be brilliant with glowing shades of red, yellows, oranges and green. It lasts several weeks, and its one of my favorite times here.

Seeing all these colors are inspirational to gourd artists and a very traditional method of decorating them is painting fall leaves all over them!!

Just last week I held a class at the local community college where 13 folks painted oak or maple leaves all over gourds. Although I brought in a sample each student painted their gourds in their very own style, which I encourage. We had a ball and I hope they will cherish and display their new vase every fall.

Collage of Fall Gourd Painting class

 

As you can see, each one turned out completely different and each one is very beautiful.

We used my Gourd Master Paints and some of the students brought their craft wood burners to outline their leaves while others used a permanent ink pen and some used black ink dye and a small thin paint brush.  Some painted their background a crisp black, which really brings out the colorful leaves while some dyed their gourd background a lighter brown so the moddling of the gourd showed through.

It was a great time!!

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