Gelatin Prints

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I had some people ask for photos of some of the prints I pulled off myhomemade permanent gelatin plate. I am fighting a bit of a cold, so I’ll keep this short– but I did want to share. These were originally 11″ x 14″, but they have been trimmed down to 4.75″ x 8.25″ to fit in my 2014 planner. I’m planning on adding them in with washi tape to expand my Moleskine. I’ll be using this book for EVERYTHING, so it needs to have a lot of pages! I didn’t go with a larger book because I wanted something that I could easily stick in my purse. This book will calendar my appointments, as well as be a place where I can document my daily activities, my appreciation lists, and work with my word for the year. I’ve tried having separate journals for different purposes, but I didn’t really like that. It only contributed to my scattered lifestyle! I think/hope having one book that records everything will help me feel/be more organized in the upcoming year!

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I got the idea for this Planner Extraordinaire from Roben-Marie Smith and some of her friends. They are facilitating a project they call The Documented Life Project. I don’t scrapbook, but I was immediately drawn to the idea of documenting my daily existence. I love the idea of having a big, chunky book full of receipts, movie ticket stubs, photos, appreciations, journaling, etc. The project is free, so if you’re intrigued, please stop by her site and check out the details. There’s a lively Facebook group that’s full of inspiration! There is an OPTIONAL, budget-friendly ($12), mini-class starting Wednesday, 01 January if you want help setting  up your planner to look like theirs, but it’s not a necessary part of the project. The facilitators will offer prompts and challenges to carry you through the year. I’m really looking forward to the process!

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As promised, here are some pictures of the prints I pulled off my homemade, permanent, gelatin plate. Since I was only making backgrounds for the daily ephemera of my life, I didn’t spend a lot of time on each print. I used a couple of texture tools and a couple of stencils. I used mostly inexpensive craft paints and a few student grade paints. I think I only used one color of my Golden Fluid Acrylics, and then only one time. I rarely cleaned off the plate, so there are some interesting color/texture combinations. I think these are going to suit my purposes wonderfully! Oh — they are overprinted, and they are printed on both sides of the paper. I used a sketch-weight paper, as I didn’t want my book to become too thick or heavy. I don’t plan on art journaling in my planner, so I didn’t need pages that would hold up to wet media.

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See all the messy notes on the desk calendar underneath my gelatin prints? This is why I need a planner so badly!

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A Glorious Experiment!

I haven’t written here in a long time, I know. Since my life has rearranged itself, there just isn’t much left for me to say about art, or even life right now. I do most of my blogging on my coaching blog these days, but I just did the most incredible thing that I’m dying to share — and this seems the most appropriate place to share it.

What did I do??? I made a gelatin printing plate. But not just any gelatin printing plate! I made one that is supposed to be permanent (much like a Gelli Arts printing plate)! Since I made it less than 24 hours ago, I can’t be sure about that, but I think it will be long lasting, at least. I used it for an hour or so, and there was no melting or degrading. It does not need to be stored in the refrigerator, although that’s where mine is right now (I’ll explain why at the end of this post).

I can’t take credit for developing this, although I wish I could! I used a recipe I got off of a YouTube video. She made hers off-camera and talks about it in the video. I thought I’d share some photos and my interpretation of the instructions with my friends. Hope you enjoy this!

The first step is to find a container. I bought an acrylic box frame at Michael’s that measures 11″ x 14″.  I suggest buying a container that you will use only for this, because you need something to store it in. I wanted something bigger than the 8″ x 10″ plate that is available commercially. There is actually an 11″ x 14″ plate available on the market, but I didn’t want to wait for it to get here! I’ve got a planner to prepare for 2014, so I wanted to get started on my prints. Besides, I really like science, so I wanted to make a plate myself!

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Once you have a container, you need to determine the amount of liquid it will hold; you want the liquid between 1/2″ and 3/4″ deep, depending on how big your printing plate is going to be. The larger your plate, the thicker you want it to be, for stability. I learned this the hard way. Trust me! My container seemed to hold eight cups of liquid comfortably. I wasn’t sure because my counters are not level, so it was difficult to gauge how deep the liquid really was. There are two ways to do this. One is to fill your container to the desired level, and then measure the liquid as your pour it out. The other is to measure the liquid as you fill the container. Not sure why, but I always use this method.

Now that you know how much liquid you need, it’s time to measure the gelatin. I used Knox Unflavored Gelatin that comes in a box of  little packets. If you can find bulk gelatin, that would probably be more economical. You need two tablespoons of gelatin for every cup of liquid, so I needed 16 tablespoons of gelatin. That was 20 little packets, so you can see that a packet of gelatin is slightly less than a tablespoon. The easiest way for me to do this was to guestimate the number of packets I’d need, open them into a bowl, and then measure out the tablespoons from there. I thought it would be frustrating (at best) to try to measure directly from the packets!

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Now, about the liquid. The liquid needs to be half boiling water, and half liquid glycerin, so that’s four cups of each for my acrylic box frame. The original permanent gelatin plate recipe calls for a mixture of rubbing alcohol and glycerin (which will make it cost significantly less), but many people reported that the alcohol smell was unbearable. Since the plate goes in the fridge to set up, I decided to leave the alcohol out. I didn’t want it to impact the taste of the food in the refrigerator.

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ANYWAY … Note that when using unflavored gelatin, the instructions are slightly different than they are for making Jello. Rather than use the hot water to melt the gelatin, as you do with Jello, you actually sprinkle the gelatin over the room temperature liquid (the glycerin, in this case), and let it sit for a minute. So, I measured out four cups of glycerin into a large bowl. Then, I sprinkled the 16 tablespoons of gelatin on top and let it sit for a three or four minutes, or the time it took to get my water to the boiling point. Then, I measured out the four cups of boiling water and gradually added them to the glycerin/gelatin mixture, stirring for a few minutes until the gelatin was completely dissolved.

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Once the gelatin is dissolved, it’s ready to be poured into the container you are going to store it in. After pouring all eight cups of hot, liquid, gelatin into the box frame, I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to move it to the fridge, so I dipped a little bit out.  Not sure how much, just enough so that I (err, Hubby, actually) could safely move it from the counter top to the fridge. There were some small bubbles on the top of my plate, so I used one of the empty gelatin envelopes to smooth it out. Once it’s in the fridge, it needs to set for five or six hours. When you put it in the fridge, be sure to check how level it is! My refrigerator is apparently terribly un-level, so I had to put something under one end to kind of help level it out. I didn’t choose something thick enough, so my plate was much thinner at one end than it was at the other. This caused problems later on (more on that at toward the end).

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While my gelatin plate was setting up, I prepared a glass plate to sit it on when I used the plate and to use as a kind of cover for it when it wasn’t in use. To this, I simply used the glass out of a picture frame. Because my plate is 11″ x 14″, I bought a picture frame that is 12″ x 16″.  Even though the label for the frame said it has safe, ground, edges, I taped them up anyway. I just used some decorative packing tape to cover the sides so no one would get hurt.

When the plate was ready, I took it out of the refrigerator. It was very firm, but yielding, to the touch. I used a butter knife to go around the edges of the gelatin to loosen it up a bit.

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Then, I covered the acrylic box frame full of set gelatin with the taped up glass, and turned it over. I used the butter knife to gently pull one corner of the gelatin away from the container. After I’d pulled a couple of inches away from the acrylic, it pulled away by itself and plopped down onto the plexi-glass. I picked the gelatin plate up and centered it, then I was ready to go!

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I didn’t take any shots of actually using the plate — I was having too much fun! The homemade permanent gelatin plate works just like a Gelli Arts printing plate, and there are tons of videos on YouTube and probably hundreds of blog posts to inspire you. I’ve heard the paint stays moister, longer, on the homemade plate. I’m not sure why that would be, but I didn’t have any trouble with my paint drying out before I could get a good primary print and a good ghost print.

There was one not-so-minor problem with my homemade gelatin plate. Remember when I said that my fridge isn’t level? Well, one end of my plate ended up being much thinner than the other. When I was washing it in the kitchen sink (from now on, I’ll just spray it with water and clean it with a paper towel), it slithered out of my hands and plopped down into the sink. When it did, it cracked. In two places.

DAMN!

Actually, after my initial panic, I realized it wasn’t that big a deal. I simply chopped the plate up, microwaved it for a few minutes (in 30-second intervals), and poured it back into the acrylic box frame.  Now, I’ve got it in the refrigerator setting up again (which it seems to be doing with no problem). This time I think I leveled it better, too!

I love my plate; I really do! I pulled nine double-sided 11″ x 14″ prints and one single-sided print; actually, all of them were overprints — so a lot of printing was happening. There was no degradation or melting. It was still in great condition.

Oh — I forgot to talk about storage. To store, just ease the plate back into the container that you made it in, and sit the plexi-glass on top to keep dust out. That’s it! No refrigeration required!  The only problem I saw (besides the cracking, as explained above) was that when I went to put it back inside the box frame, it seemed that it had spread out a bit. It didn’t fit back into the acrylic box frame! I’m not sure how I’ll handle that. Probably just cut off a bit so that it fits and throw that extra away.

Here’s the basic recipe: Use 2 Tablespoons unflavored gelatin for every cup of liquid you need to fill your container. Each cup of liquid should be half liquid glycerin and have boiling water. 

That’s it!

Let me know if you try this, or if you have any questions. It was a lot of fun to do, and I really enjoyed working on the bigger surface. I think I may make a round one, since I have gelatin and glycerin left over!

 

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Making Your Creative Mark — A Book Review

I recently received a review copy of Eric Maisel’s new book Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goals and I wanted to share with my creative friends. Eric agreed to answer a few questions for me, so be sure to check out his mini-interview at the end of this post. (I also posted some thoughts on this book from a coaching point of view on my other blog.)

One of the things I absolutely loved about this book is that it’s not just full of interesting theory – there is lots of practical advice in it, too. Maisel offers several thinking/writing prompts – including a set of questions at the end of each chapter – to help you interact with the material and make it your own.

Maisel is the author of over 50 books and the father of Creativity Coaching. He understands the creative process – both professionally and personally – and he freely shares what he knows.

Divided into nine sections that Maisel calls “keys” (Mind, Confidence, Passion, Freedom, Stress, Empathy, Relationship, Identity, Societal), the book offers a complete guide for creative and performing artists. Maisel offers advice on dealing with marketplace issues, as well as identity issues, developing a creative practice, and dealing with stress and anxiety (and more!)

Because this book is written to appeal to most any creative, Maisel does not offer specific advice on approaching galleries, finding an agent, etc. Nor does he include information on social networking or creating marketing plans.

What he does talk about, however, more than makes up for what he doesn’t talk about. He goes into the importance of maintaining the right mindset, developing a daily practice, and the importance of the artistic identity. He even includes an “Artistic Plan” that summarizes the book’s content in an easy-to-understand guide that includes daily, monthly, and long-range planning ideas.

I read a lot of books on creativity and this is one of the best, most complete, guides I’ve read in a long time. Typical of the way I read books – I flew through it in about a day and a half. I can’t wait to work my way through it, writing out answers and making hard plans. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me!

As I said at the beginning, I’m thrilled that Eric agreed to answer a few questions for me.

CJL: You’ve written a lot of books for artists – maybe 20 or so. Why this one?

EM: The challenges just don’t go away and there’s so much that needs to be said about how a creative person needs to manage his mind, upgrade his personality, manifest his potential, deal with his particular anxieties and stressors, accept his role in the marketplace, and more. I wanted to provide additional practical tips in all of these areas because each of these challenges can prove so daunting!

CJL: Is there one habit or practice that really makes a difference between getting your creative work done and not getting it done?

EM: Yes, it’s a morning creativity practice, the idea that you get directly to your creative work before your “real day” begins. Most people are too tired by the end of the day to get to their creative work; it’s much smarter to get to it first thing. That way you’ll get a lot of creative work done, you’ll be able to make use of your sleep thinking (the thinking you’ve been doing during the night), and you’ll have the experience of having made some meaning on that day first thing and your day will feel more meaningful. Those are a lot of good reasons to institute a morning creativity practice!

CJL: I know you’re interested in “meaning making.” Can you talk about creativity/art as a meaning making activity?

EM: Creating is one of a score or so of meaning opportunities available to human beings (others are relationships, service, activism, etc.). It isn’t the only way that a person can provoke the psychological experience of meaning but for a creative person it is one of her first choices in that regard. Once you realize that you are obliged to make the shift from seeking meaning or waiting for meaning to arrive to actively making meaning on a daily basis, it follows that you will try to decide what are the best ways for you to make that meaning. For a person with the desire to manifest her potential, use her imagination and her brains, and do something she’s probably loved from childhood, creating amounts to one of her prime meaning opportunities.

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RIP Frankie


As some of you already know, a few weeks ago John and I made the very difficult decision to say good-bye to one of our beloved kitties, Frankie. That decision is never an easy one for anyone to make, but for those of us who are “pet people,” the decision is nothing less than emotionally devastating.

We don’t have children so my kitties are my babies. I love them; I care for them and I nurture them. I try to teach them acceptable behavior. I comfort them when they’re frightened and I cuddle them when they’re cold. They bring so much joy in to my life, so much laughter. Next to my family, they are the beings I love most in this world.

Friday afternoon, I went to the vet’s office to pick up Frankie’s ashes. They’ve been ready for a few days, but I just didn’t have it in me to go pick them up. Don’t get me wrong — I knew the vet staff would be wonderful. They allowed us all the time we needed to spend with our beloved Frankie before we said good-bye, and all the time we needed afterward. They were kind and genuinely compassionate toward us. You could tell they were animal lovers too, and they were personally pained by what happened that afternoon. Even with their support, I just wasn’t ready for it to be final.

Frankie (named after Old Blue Eyes, himself — Frank Sinatra) came into our lives several years ago. When we first met him, he belonged to our next door neighbors. He used to sit in the living room window with another cat, Zale, and watch John and I go by. We’d talk to the cats as we walked to our apartment. Little did we know that both cats — and a bird — would eventually live with us!

Our neighbors got evicted. They didn’t have any where to go, so they asked us to take care of their animals until they could get settled somewhere. We brought all three into our home, committed to taking care of them until their people could return for them. For several weeks, they — the ex-neighbors — left food and litter on our doorsteps. That dwindled down and then finally stopped.

Frankie, Zale, and Tweeter Pete were ours.

Zale went outside one day and never came home; Tweeter died of natural causes a couple of years later. Frankie had a hard time adjusting to life in our family. We had several other cats around our house (we fed the neighborhood strays), and he was unsure of his position with them. One by one, Frankie made friends with the others — or ran them off! At any rate, we eventually settled into a comfortable little family with three kitties (Frankie, Nana, and B’Orange). We said good-bye to B’Orange a couple of years ago, and we adopted Gracie a few months later. The dynamics of the family changed, but Frankie stayed steady.

Despite his initial trouble adjusting, he became the sweetest, most lovable cat I’ve ever known. When he first came to live with us, Frankie and I used to dance. I’d hold him close, sing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs and sway to the music. Frankie would snuggle into my neck and purr so loudly it tickled my ear. He eventually grew tired of that game, but I never did.

When he was a young adult cat, he loved high places. It was not unusual to see him sitting on top of the six-foot high bookshelf behind the sofa — or scheming on how to get up there! In later years, he couldn’t quite make the leap, so he was content to sit on the bed, curled up on the heating pad, or on the back of the couch, calmly surveying his kingdom.

He was picky about the cat food he ate, but not about the people food he ate! He loved French fries, guacamole, and he’d even nibble on the lettuce John pulled off his tacos. He thought he ought to have dinner with John and I. Some how, we developed the habit of feeding Frankie a plate of deli turkey or ham when we sat down to dinner. Sometimes, he even got a bite of what we were eating: fish, potatoes, lemon mustard chicken!

Frankie grew up to be quite a lover — and not just of fine people food! In his later years, he would crawl up in bed with us as we were trying to get to sleep. He would sit on my chest or in the space between our pillows and take turns “nosing us”. I’d say “Find Daddy” and that sweet ol’ kitty would climb all over John and rub his wet nose all over John’s and purr. If John tried to hide under a blanket, Frankie would try to find him. He would sit on my chest while I was getting ready to sleep, and he would do the same to me. He sure did love his people!

Frankie also loved being out-of-doors. When we lived in the desert, he absolutely couldn’t go outside unsupervised — there were just too many dangers. But sometimes, one of us would take him out into the fenced backyard and let him wander around. Our backyard was all gravel, with three small bushes and a couple of trees. The first thing Frankie would do when he got outside was roll around on the warm sidewalk. Then, he’d head straight for the bushes! He’d stick his nose in the bush and just sniff. There were sometimes birds landing in the bushes (not when the cat was outside, though!) and I’m sure Frankie was taking in the bird smells. When we moved to our current house, we would let him out in the backyard here. Again with the bushes! He’d walk straight over and stick his head in. Eventually, we let him out the front door, and he loved that. He’d go to the house next door and nose around at the food the neighbors left for the strays. He was picky about what he ate at our house — but not so picky about what the neighbors offered.

A couple of evenings before we said good-bye to Frankie, I gathered all the cats around me and read them a story about Cat Heaven. All of the cats listened with rapt attention. I’m sure it was just the sound of my voice, but they seemed to be paying attention. I explained what was about to happen and why it had to happen. Frankie curled up against me and purred. It was almost as though he was affirming our decision to let him go. It was still a hard thing to do, but easier somehow, because of his acceptance. The day it we took him to the vet, I got his carrier out of the closet and put it out in the living room. Frankie went right over to it and jumped in.

Our little family is different now. The two girl cats have adjusted quicker than I expected them to. It’s me who’s having trouble adjusting. I miss his wet nose sliming all over mine. I miss his almost creepy kind of intelligence and the intense looks I used to get from him. But mostly, I just miss his presence in our family.

RIP Frankie. I hope you’re enjoying Cat Heaven. I can just picture you sliming G-D or one of the angels on the nose!

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Progress …

Several days ago, I posted that I was working on getting my studio straightened up so that I can use it for coaching office space. I am pleased to say that it is coming along nicely! In fact, I can finally see the surface of my desk! It had gotten cluttered enough that I didn’t even like sitting at it to work. It should be clear tomorrow afternoon — and then I can get back to work! Good thing, too, because I have an art festival coming up in the beginning of November (Red Dirt in Redlands) that I need to start preparing for.  Then, there’s Art on State Street (also in Redlands) later in the month. Stay tuned for more details!

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I have an important doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I’m meeting with the rheumatologist to get test results. A couple of months ago, she tentatively diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia, pending tests to rule out some other things. I’m not sure what I’m hoping to find out tomorrow, but I know I want answers. I’m tired of living, not just with the pain and fatigue, but with the uncertainty. I know from my experience with another chronic condition, that having a name to put with my symptoms can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with those symptoms. A name is not only informative, it’s affirmative, especially with something that seems to be all in my head.

I’ve already taken steps toward dealing with the tentative diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and I’m feeling much better these days. I’m hoping to continue to feel better, no matter what the doctor says.

As a student of the Law of Attraction, it would be tempting to try to ignore the symptoms and hope that by focusing my energy somewhere more positive, they’d go away. In fact, I’ve been publicly criticized for my attention to my symptoms and for trying to find answers. Here’s the way I see it — The pain is sometimes severe enough that ignoring it is simply not an option. With a diagnosis, I have a direction for the changes I need to make. And, without so much uncertainty, this won’t be at the forefront of my mind. I’m actually, by pursuing medical treatment, taking the path of least resistance. I’m actually paying less attention to it than I was before I started seeing a doctor about it. Sometimes days go by that I don’t think about the pain (since there’s less of it because of the changes I’ve been making) or wonder what’s going on with my body. For days at a time, I’m able to feel good and enjoy the feelings.

To me, that’s progress!

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I’m pleased to announce that I’ve decided to join with several other Blogtoberfest participants by hosting a giveaway. I’ll be collecting comments and on 31 October, I’ll use an online random number generator to draw a name. The prize will be a package of my handmade Simple Sayings Motivational Cards. Multiple entries are accepted, but only one comment per post will count as an entry.

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More Than a Little Bummed

Yesterday was a delightful day. John and I got up early enough to go have breakfast at one of our local hangouts. I always enjoy eating out, but I particularly enjoy breakfast out. It feels like such a luxury. When I was a child growing up, we occasionally went out to dinner, but the only…

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So Many Books … So Little Time

Like many readers I know, I’ve usually got several books going at a time. I don’t read a lot of fiction these days, so I don’t have trouble keeping the plot points and characters in the right place (although I have had that happen!). Currently on my nightstand: Man’s Search For Meaning, by Viktor E….

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On Spiritual Experiences

At my coach’s suggestion, I just started reading  Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You by Deepak Chopra. I’m actually not a big Chopra fan (not that there’s anything wrong with him), so I was surprised that on page three, still in the introduction, I had to stop and capture…

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More Money Thoughts

Yesterday, I typed up a quick post on money, simply because that’s what was on my mind and I needed a blog topic. Today, I’ll continue that trend, because it’s still on my mind. I know my money stories don’t serve me, but I’m not sure how to tell new money stories. Actually, I know…

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Thoughts on Money

I’ve come to realize that I have a problem with money. I’m not talking about making a budget or saving money (although neither of those are my strong suits), but rather my relationship with money. It seems that I have “money stories” that don’t serve me. I grew up in a home where money seemed…

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