Saturday, September 1, 2012

Studio Time

      It's Friday and I am off work.  Nothing too unusual. It's overcast and I feel like doing some art, but I know I must attend to those "necessaries"  first.  I am going to get my oil changed and pay bills then I am not going to let anything keep me from playing this afternoon.  My torn meniscus and general body pain is making me think that I could use some "art therapy".  So, after my work is done, I am heading up to my studio and tuning out the world.

Well, I get upstairs around 2:30 and realize that my studio is such a mess that I couldn't work on a project if I wanted to.  I am blessed to have two work stations so when one gets too cluttered, I just move to the next one. Both were filled with materials from various projects that are in progress. I  had to do some tidying up before attempting anything.

Here's a little problem that I have...  I have not officially been diagnosed with it, but I'm sure I must have ADD.  While I am supposed to be cleaning up my studio, I pick up and begin reading the instructions for my iron that I bought probably a year  ago.  What in the world?  I have managed to use the thing with no problem for the last 12 months.  Why would I feel that their information was so important today when I am trying so hard to squeeze in some "art time"?  Grrr.  I get so frustrated with myself at times!  I ended up throwing away the  information. On to my straightening...

Ah, that is much better!  

Now I can get on to what I came up here for in the first place.
Last month in my Altered Book Consortium (ABC group), one of our members, Diana, taught the technique for the night.  She demonstrated how to make altered calendar journals. I was unable to attend the class, but was very interested in trying my hand at the project after seeing some of the pages that my fellow ABC  friends had created.  You can see some of Diana's work on her blog

I started out by doing backgrounds for each of my pages.  I used glitter crayons, watercolors and acrylics.

I wasn't too worried about what it looked like because most of it is going to be covered up anyway.

Every art room needs a cat-or two

Emery and Henry are my most loyal fans.  They are always thrilled to get to come up into my studio.  Many times I leave them out because there is so much that they can get into, but today I let them in.  Emery was pretty chilled out, but Henry was very attentive to what I was doing.

This is a whole new altered thing for me and I really don't know what I am doing.  

My husband gave me an Ipad a few moths ago and I really was not using it at first, but I found it to be a wonderful tool to have in my art room.   Because of its size, I can consult artist's blogs, surf the net and be working on a project at the same time.  

They say that people with ADD (remember I have never been diagnosed, so don't label me) make the best multi-taskers.

This is the start of my January page
 although I haven't found my letters yet or numbered my days.

This is a work in progress for sure, but I think I am going to enjoy this calendar journaling thing.  If I press on, I might have all 12 months ready for journaling by the new year!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My AA (altered art)-

    When I talk about my altered art and the altered books that I am working on, I often get a few quizzical faces.  I guess I just assume that by now everyone knows what altered art is all about, but we know what kind of trouble we can get into when we start assuming things.   I usually just end up taking some of these items to show them. It's easier than trying to explain it.   Most seem very interested and make comments like, "you are so crafty" or "you are so talented".  

      The truth is, anyone can make altered art.  There is no right way or wrong way to do it. You do not need any formal art training;  just a passion for combining color and texture using different mediums.   The altered art that I create is usually done with items that I have on had. Found objects are even better.  Just search the internet for altered art or altered books and you will find a vast array of websites, blogs and artists.  

WARNING: This activity may become habit forming!

      I am blessed to be in an altered book club which we call our Altered Book Consortium-ABC for short.  We meet once a month to share ideas and materials, but our main focus is our participation in a "round robin".  Each person in our group brings in a book, for which they have chosen a title or theme.  They create a page spread in their book first to start things off and then for the subsequent months, we take turns doing a page in each others book.  When we have all had a chance to do a page in everyones book, that round robin ends.  We create a cover for our own book to finalize our project and then we begin a new round robin.  It gives us the opportunity to see different interpretations of our theme as well as have a handbook so to speak of various artist's techniques.  Having an on-going project encourages us to stay artistically active.

       These are a few of the pages that I have done in the last couple of round robins:

      If doing a round robin interests you, there are many on-line opportunities to participate in one. is a great place to start.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Bit of History...

          I am a native Memphian who grew up in Central Gardens, an area in mid-town formed by Cleveland, Peabody, Mclean and Central.  Many houses in this area, which were built between 1900 and 1912, have been listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. The house that I lived in from the time I was born until I got married, is among such homes. My old homestead (1542 Harbert Avenue) was designed in 1904 by architect, Neander Montgomery Woods. 
             The Central Gardens Association has mounted an exhibit of these homes at ANF Architects (1500 Union Avenue) through August 31.  The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Art Work of Memphis", a nine-volume architectural portfolio that featured churches, homes and commercial buildings as they were a century ago.  There are 41 houses included in the exhibit.  
             Six of the homes showcased in the exhibit will be on tour during the 36th annual Central Gardens Home Tour on Sunday, September 9, 2012 from 1-6 pm.  For more info visit

I took my mother, Betty Calandruccio, to ANF so that she could see the exhibit of the historic homes featured. Just as we walked in the door, there were two homes that they had printed onto note cards.  Our house was one of them!  How cool is that?

Walking just a little further, we found the framed pictures of the featured homes hanging on the wall.  There it was...1542 Harbert.  The photo was taken in 1910 when it was occupied by its first owner, L.T. Kavanaugh.

Mom (88 years young) got a kick out of the seeing the house, that she and dad worked so hard to restore and called home for 28 years, still highlighted after so many years.  When mom and dad purchased the Harbert residence in 1955, it had fallen into ill repair.  My parents were advised to tear down the guest house in the back, which had originally been the horse stable with the servant's quarters upstairs, but mom and dad were determined to save it.  After lots of blood, sweat and tears, the guest house, or back house as we called it, was meticulously  restored. It took years to fully restore the main house, but the end result was worth the effort-1542 Harbert still remains a 
treasured gem.

After leaving the exhibit, mom and I drove past our old residence. We were both flooded with fond memories as we sat and admired her and her timeless beauty.
 Although we are curious as to how the old homestead looks after being gone from there for almost 30 years, we have both said that we probably should not go back in during the Central Gardens Home Tour.  We want to remember her the way she was when we lived and moved amongst her walls.  My brothers, Pete and Jim, who also live in Memphis, seem to share the same sentiment.  My father, Rocco Calandruccio, passed five years ago.  He probably would give us the same advice, but he also would probably have to admit that, viewing her from the outside, she is just as beautiful as the day she was "born".

1542 Harbert-2012

1542 Harbert-1910