Monday, September 29, 2014

creating with a kid

I have my annual You, Me and the Sea Retreat in my studio next week and recently I painted a fun ocean themed mural that will serve as a backdrop for group photos. I filmed the entire process with a plan to share some tips and insight into working large (I'll save that for later this week) but my experience painting with Lucy by my side was too entertaining not to share! 

Creating with a toddler by your side is NOT for the faint of heart and there are times when it is downright insanity and a big test of my patience. But the practice of allowing Lucy to create, play and go wild while I create is teaching me an incredible lesson in learning to go with the flow (both as a mother and as an artist). Painting while a toddler drips paint all over the floor, then wraps you up in paper towels, then runs around with an umbrella is crazy (and not for everyone) but at the end of the day, IT'S SO MUCH FUN and I want to have fun while I make art!

While it would be easy to exclude Lucy from my art making, I made a decision early on that I wanted to include her as much as possible. Because I made this choice, I've had to change the entire way that I go about making art. Sure, I could leave home everyday for my studio and create by myself (and there are days when I do) but I like to invite her to participate in my projects. Sharing art is a little like sharing my heart with her and while it makes no difference if she ends being an artist, I do want to her to grow up knowing the freedom, confidence and pure joy that come with the creative process.

And as challenging as it is to juggle my own creative process with hers, there is nothing I would change. This time is fleeting and precious and I will gladly take the messes, the short attention span and the insanity that comes when creating with a kid!

You can check out more of our family collaborations HERE

or read more about Life With Lucy HERE

Friday, September 26, 2014

fashion friday- leather fold over clutch

A girl can never have too many clutch purses. Recently I created a simple fold over clutch from scrap leather.
I started with a piece of scrap leather. (You can actually purchase scraps of leather from a variety of craft stores or can hunt for untreated leather jackets or purses at thrift stores that can be cut up and used). 

Next I cut the leather to size- for my clutch I used a large rectangle that I folded in half and then folded again.

I used my wood burning tool to add a floral pattern to the portion of the clutch that folds over. And yes, wood burning tools or a pyrography tool will work on leather. I actually used the backside of my piece of leather. 

Keep in mind that using vegetable-tanned leather or suede with an unfinished surface is best.

The last step was to sew the clutch. I simply sewed up both sides and them turned it right side out.

And there you have it... a simple little boho clutch!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

in the studio with sara knighton and a GIVEAWAY

Today I am super excited to introduce my friend Sara Knighton to you! I met Sara on Instagram back when she was living in Hawaii and when she and her husband relocated to Astoria for work, we finally met in person and I am happy to call her a friend. When Sara is not working at local hot spot Blue Scorcher Cafe, she is jugging a screen printing business, weaving on her loom, selling her wares at the Astoria Sunday Market and playing in the ocean. She is one of those people who thrives on making things and loves learning, experimenting and getting lost in the creative process. I recently photographed her studio and today I am sharing a peek into her world! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey with art.

This story has been told thousands of times, but I've been creating and hoarding supplies since I could walk. I used to sneak into my mother's art supplies and make the biggest mess. I joined the United States Coast Guard when I was 17 years old. Let's just say I watched the the film Blue Crush one too many times and really wanted to learn to surf. I learned to surf at Oswald West State Park, Oregon and then I moved to Hawai'i for 7 years where I became a real mermaid. I had ocean on the brain and painted waves and surfers for years. Now, I paint mermaids and weave scarves to keep me warm after a cold water surf session.

I recently visited your studio space and it is so cool! Tell us a little bit about the space.

I am one of the most fortunate people I know. My studio space at the Young's Building is like a dream come true. It sits in downtown Astoria across from the Street 14 Coffee and next to Gimres Shoes. The building was built in the early 1900's and actually survived the 1922 fire that devastated the city of Astoria, where hundreds of people became homeless and suffered over  $15,000,000 in property damage. Young's Building served as dental offices until the1980's when the spaces were converted into the Street 14 Art Studios.  The building is beautiful and offers space to local artists in the healing art, textile, water color and mix media. The space makes me feel special and important. It may sound silly, but when I'm in there, I feel magical. 

What inspires you? What motivates you to create?

The ocean inspires me. American craft motivates me to create. It's that simple. I'm also a mermaid :) 

What is your favorite medium to work in?

Can color be considered a medium? I love color!!! Anything that incorporates color from paint to fiber. Well, I guess if I have to choose my favorite medium, it would be the human body. There is something about using our bodies to express ourselves through fashion, photography, tattoos, and cosmetics that makes me create. Like you Alisa, I believe in making functional art. Lately, I've been playing with textiles, paint and fiber. One day I would love to become a tattoo artist. 

What is a typical day like for you?

I get up super early, but then I realize it's sunny outside and eventually get to my studio. I work full time at the Blue Scorcher Bakery and Cafe in Astoria, Oregon. So typically I'm juggling art in between the bakery, ocean and my dog. You can always see what I'm up to on Instagram @maidenofthepacific. 

I know that you juggle a lot of different projects. How do you organize your creative schedule?

What is organization and a creative schedule? Hehe. I'm kind of a creative hot mess when it come to my schedule. Sometimes when I juggle my projects, a few of them stay up in the air for a while. They eventually fall down and I finish them. I have a crazy quilt from 2004 I need to finish. Sometimes I use a check list, but my biggest reminder is my husband telling me to finish the project on the dinning room table!

What are you working on right now?

I'm building my mini screenprinting business called Maidens of the Pacific (www.maidensofthepacific.comwhere I offer screenprinted hoodies, t-shirt and tanks. all apperal is made in the USA and printed by me in Astoria, Oregon. I've been weaving at home and printing at my studio. I love infinity scarves and have been working on my own design. 

Today Sara is giving away one of her screen printed hoodies! 

To enter to win leave a comment- 
The ocean is Sara's greatest inspiration...tell me where you get your inspiration from. 
I'll randomly draw a name and announce the winner at the bottom of this post in a couple of days!

In addition, Sara is also offering 15% off anything in her shop. Use code foreveramaiden

To see more of Sara's work head on over to her site-


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

getting creative with paper towels

When you spend a most of your life creating on a tight budget, you quickly learn to utilize cheap materials or everyday things. One of the best little secrets I discovered years ago (though I am sure many of you also know) is how useful paper towels can be in mixed media projects- specifically Viva paper towels (and no Viva is not paying me to mention them)

Back in college painting classes, Viva paper towels were always on the class supply lists because they are super absorbent, almost like a fabric rag. After years of wiping paint on them I realized that once covered in paint, they become saturated with vibrant color, they also become quite durable and can be used in all kinds of projects! Instead of tossing my used paper towels in the trash I began saving them to use in collage, paper and sewing projects.

Not only can you wipe your brush on paper towels but you paint them like any other surface. Again, the Viva brand it will take paint just like, if not better than a piece of mixed media paper or fabric. This means you can use all of your favorite painting techniques on paper towels- even layering lots of messy color.

They absorb ink sprays really well!

In addition to ink sprays, you can also use fabric dye and dying techniques on heavy duty paper towels.

You can use pens to draw and doodle, just keep in mind the surface is not smooth like paper so you have to work around and accept the textured surface. 

Stamps and stencils also work really well.

A roll of paper towels is also a great supply to have on hand for kids to paint on. Simply roll out a foot or two and let kids go to town painting!

I'll use my favorite techniques to create a stockpile of paper towels that I can grab when I am working on mixed media projects. I use them much like you would use colorful fabric or paper- for collage or decoupage projects, for backgrounds in paintings and my sew with!

Yes, you can sew with paper towels! I like using them to make art quilts, art journal pages or any paper sewing projects (like tags, cards and scrapbook pages). You can use them in just about any mixed media project that gets stitched.

So there you have it- paper towels, an economical alternative for all those mixed media projects!

Looking for some creative ways to use that cardboard roll once you have used up all those paper towels? Head on over to my post HERE

Monday, September 22, 2014

a pottery play date

I mentioned a couple weeks back that I am busy working on a series of pottery posts and I am excited to begin sharing them! In weeks and months ahead I have some fun pottery tutorials and clay inspiration coming your way.

For those of you new to my blog (or my background), my parents are potters and I've spent my entire life around clay.  I was introduced to clay long before painting and spent a great deal of time dabbling in pottery as a kid. Growing up my mom and dad ran a successful pottery business from their home studio- I spent my childhood watching my dad throw pots on the wheel and my mom run a wholesale tile business. My brother and I spent weekends and summers at craft shows and art galleries so it's really no surprise I grew up to be an artist!

While my dad taught me how to throw on the wheel, it never really stuck, I always preferred sculpting and hand building and then I fell in love with painting and it was all over for me! But now that Lucy is getting older we've wanted to get her playing on the wheel or at least witness the process. Recently we planned a family play date where we all took turns, with my dad's help, playing on the wheel. Throwing on the wheel is hard and it take tons of time and patience to actually make something but the process is exhilarating! Needless to say we had a BLAST! It took a while for Lucy to warm up to it all (ironic that the kid who loves dirt, mud, sand and paint wasn't excited about getting clay on her hands) but with a little encouragement she finally jumped right in. Here is a peek into our creative session:

                                               pottery from Alisa Burke on Vimeo.

Normally I don't laugh at my crying child but the fact that she was so upset by the clay on her hands was just hilarious- especially because she spent the previous day painting with her hands. 

Much better :)


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