Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Natalie Flemming joins Precision Art Studio Group of Vermont Open Studio Tour Memorial Day Weekend


    I'd like to introduce you to my last guest sitter for the Vermont Open Studio Tour this coming Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th, from 10am-5 pm both days. Her name is Natalie Flemming. She is a student at Essex High School, and is currently enrolled in the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts within the High School.
     Natalie's favorite mediums are acrylics and oils, but through the school will experiment with many different art materials and processes. Aside from painting on traditional canvas, Natalie experimented with "wearable art", and paints canvas sneakers finding it a bit challenging at times, but unique and fun. The painting on the left is a very iconic image of Upper Church Street in Burlington. The brush work is very painterly and loose, and quite lovely. The lower piece on the left is a wonderful pen and ink with a surreal like quality with a central vanishing point.
     Natalie is also painting in a realist style, as seen in the last painting, capturing a lovely bird. I love seeing young artists learn how to use new mediums and try new art techniques and styles. Chelsea, my daughter and I are very happy to welcome Natalie to our band of eclectic artists during this Open Studio Tour. Great work, Natalie!

Monday, May 21, 2012

View Chelsea Lindner's art at Precision Studio during the Vermont Open Studio Tour

     Let me introduce my fifth guest who's work will be represented at the Precision Studio Group during the Vermont Open Studio Tour on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday the 26th and Sunday the 27th, from 10am-5pm. You might recognize the name if you have been at Artists' Mediums art supply store lately- her name is Chelsea Lindner, and she is the manager there, and slated to own the store in a couple of years.
     Chelsea is very media savvy, and a wonderful artist in her own right. She has tried pretty much everything that we have in the store, from block printing, to acrylics, watercolors, inks, mono-printing, sculpture, and the list goes on. Her favorite medium is Oils. The painting on the left is a cold crisp winter morning with poplars (although we affectionately call it "big blue"). It's just one of the many oil on canvases that you will see during your visit to Precision Studios.  Chelsea loves anything from the natural world, and has started plein air painting on site. The painting on the right
is titled "Birches in the Bog". Chelsea is a tenacious painter. She rarely gives up on a piece, but rather will let it rest for a while, and then come back to it and start re-working it until the final painting is realized.
     This is Chelsea in her home up North in Belvidere, painting in her studio. She participated in the First Fall Vermont Open Studio Tour in the Fall of 2011.
     Chelsea has agreed to show art at my studio for the Open Studio Weekend. Her paintings will be on view, however Chelsea will be physically out touring Open Studio herself, working tirelessly to round up new artists and teachers for the upcoming year. She is one of the hardest working people I know! I would also like to congratulate her on putting together a fine 25th Anniversary celebration for the Artists' Mediums store this past weekend. A good time was had by all! Thanks, Chelsea!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fourth guest Jess Polanshek sitting at Precision Studios during Vermont Open Studio Tour

     Jess Polanshek of " Polanshek of the Hills"  is the fourth guest that will be sitting with me during Vermont Crafts Council's 20th Open Studio Tour during Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th,  from 10am-5pm.
     You may have seen Jess behind the counter at Artists' Mediums Art Supply Store in Williston. Along with being media savvy, Jess is very creative. The photo to the left is just one of Jess' creations that you will see during your visit to my studio. Jess is an avid bookbinder with a strong focus on trees. The books are made from various woods, which are sawed, sanded, in some cases, wood-burned, drilled and oiled or covered with some unique bark. Some of the inner pages are hand-torn, and the end papers are usually selected hand-made sheets and coordinate nicely with all of the decorative elements. All of Jess' wooden books contain an element of nature and can be used as journals, sketchbooks, or even a guest book.
       Jess is also a painter, and focuses on the ever-changing brilliance of the natural world, sometimes set within a frame-work of a dream-like surreal quality.
                You may also find Jess' work on  "Society 6" and "Etsy" and

Friday, May 18, 2012

Third guest joins Precision Studio Group during Vermont Open Studio Tour

     Cheryl Wisell of The Mountain Fiber Folk Cooperative will be joining me at my studio for the Vermont Craft Council's 20th Open Studio Tour, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday 10-5.
     Cheryl resides in Montgomery, Vermont and raises sheep with her husband David. Their farm, "Buzz & Honey's Fleecy Flock" will be open this coming weekend, Sunday, May 20th during "A Farm to Yarn Tour". You may find more information about this particular tour at
     Then, after this weekend, she will be sitting at my studio during Memorial Day Weekend to demonstrate spinning yarn with a drop spindle, and a Vermont-made spinning wheel. She will also have samples of her work. The adorable kitten slippers above are knit and then felted. She will explain the process of felting for those who are interested.
     Cheryl also dyes her own yarn, with natural and some synthetic dyes, and sometimes "hand paints" yarn.
The photo above is a whimsical knit hat with some very creative knotting. Cheryl also felts and knits purses- and they are quite lovely. I think one of my favorite things are the felted acorn ornaments with real acorn caps glued on to the felted part of the nut. Very cute, very clever- and what a nice gift to tuck away now and bring out for the holiday.
    You may ask why someone so far away is sitting with me at my studio? Well, Cheryl Wisell is my sister!
And it gives me great pride and pleasure to have her join our group of artists during this Vermont Open Studio Tour! Hope to see you all there!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guest Photographer Ron Russotti joins Precision Art Studio Group

I'd like to introduce my second guest sitting with me for the  Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Tour during the Memorial Day Weekend. Fellow artist and neighbor Ron Russotti will be showing his digital photography. This is a sample of some of the work you will see during your visit to my studio. Ron loves macro photography, as is evident in this photo montage. The photos of blooms and leaves with dew glistening on them are wonderful (I almost said "mouth-watering", but then that would make me a bee!). Ron also loves photographing butterflies of all shapes, colors and sizes and is quite knowledgeable on many species. I am especially fond of the iconic landscapes he chooses. One of my favorite landmarks is the very recognizable Nubble Light House in Maine. But perhaps my all time favorite has to be the image in the upper left of the postcard. If you are an Essex native, you know this iconic scene of the bedazzled tree driving by on Route 15 diagonally across from the Lang Farm and their Nursery. The lighted tree would herald the coming of the Holiday season. It is my understanding that the tree has not been lit in a few years, which makes this image very missed and sought after. In addition to matted photographic prints, Ron will also have cards and magnets of his images, as well as a process known as laminage.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vermont Open Studio Tour guest photographer Chelsea Somerset

     As promised, I am blogging about my guests that are sitting with me during the Vermont Crafts Council Open Studio Tour during Memorial day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-5pm. It is my pleasure to have my own daughter Chelsea Somerset, a student at Essex Jct. High School sit with me and show her photography. The photo on the left is a black and white piece- another one of my favorites- mason jars. This brings back fond memories of my family's baking and canning traditions- which my mother shares with my sister Cheryl, Chelsea, and myself. Having a pickle/relish tray at a large Holiday meal was always a staple, whether it was pickled beets, tongue pickles (watermelon rind), or what we French Canadians called "Catsup" (relish/chutney). I'm sure if you asked Chelsea what memories the photo invoked, her reply would be making her own recipe (with the help of her Mimi) of Sassy Garlic Dill Pickles! Nom, nom!
     The photo on the right took a couple of hours to get right. I remember her setting up her tripod on the porch in February. If you have ever taken a picture of the moon, you know how difficult this is, especially when it is a clear night, and the moon is especially bright. There were many adjustments to be made, and I remember opening the door briefly a few times to make sure she wasn't too cold, and offer her a blanket (it was a frigid night-but crisp and clear).
Her tenacity to get the shot just right reminds me of a friend I know who does wonderful photography of the Northern Lights.
     I think the most exciting pieces for me were the pieces she experimented with different filter settings like the one above (our beloved cat, Kitty). Chelsea used Golden's fairly new Digital Acrylic Grounds to treat art paper and other surfaces that normally aren't great for printing on. This allowed the ink to "set" on surfaces like brown craft paper, clear acetate, mirror board and my personal favorite, tin foil. You can get some really cool effects. Kitty's picture was a glowing edges filter printed on graphite paper treated with clear digital grounds acrylic medium. The look you get is like a silver and black scratch board. Really cool, Chelsea! What fun!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New eggs for Vermont Open Studio Tour Memorial Day Weekend

     I am busily working on new eggs for the Vermont Craft Council's 20th year of Open Studio Tours during Memorial Day weekend. The eggs to the left are a start to my "Pompeii eggs". Having been to Pompeii, I was struck by the colors of the remaining frescoes that have been unearthed. Vibrant turquoises and earthy reds (also known as "Pompeii Red") were still visible on the market place walls. The large egg in the back is a Rhea egg, which is a emu-sized egg that is cream-colored- giving colors that you dye over it a nice warm cast. The black and red egg to the left is a goose egg. This egg is done by dying the egg red first, then waxing with a fish design. Then the egg is dyed black, and wax is removed. The egg in the foreground is an extra large chicken egg. This dye sequence is a bleach-back sequence. The egg is dyed black first, and the outline is waxed (under very good light because it is difficult to see the lines on a dark egg). The egg is then bleached back to white, and the egg is then dyed light turquoise. Those sections are waxed, then rinsed back and dipped into the final red dye. The regular size chicken egg on the right is done the same way. Red dye first, waxed, black dye next, waxed, bleached back to white, dyed light turquoise, and then a darker turquoise. It's fun to experiment with dye sequences. It gives the eggs a different look. I am hoping to add an Emu and Ostrich egg to this series.....and maybe a tiny pullet.
     In addition to the Ukrainian eggs I do, I am working on egg paintings, prints, cards and magnets. I will also have some recent watercolors and mixed assemblages.
     In the next couple of weeks, I will be blogging about six guest artists who will be sitting with me during the Vermont Open Studio Tour. The studios all over Vermont will be open on Saturday, May 26th, and Sunday, May 27th from 10am-5pm both days. Look for the yellow signs! I hope to see you there!
   For more info, visit website:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I had an "egg-cellent" time this morning at WCAX Channel 3 with Keagan Harsha and Molly Smith in the wee hour of 6:25am (thanks guys- you kept me right on track!). It was a short segment about Ukrainian egg decorating and how they are made. A shout out to Cat for inviting me to the studio! I tried to fit in as much as I could in the time allotted. For those of you who missed it or are intrigued to see the elaborate process from start to finish, you are in luck!

My last Ukrainian egg demonstration for the Easter season will be at Frog Hollow Craft Center on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont on Saturday, March 24th  from 12:00pm-3:00pm. Come down, have a late breakfast or early lunch, do some shopping downtown, and come and see all of the other wonderful artisans who are represented at Frog Hollow with me! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3rd batch of ukrainian eggs done for 2012

I have just finished the third batch of ukrainian chicken eggs. As you can see in the first photo, the fourteen eggs have been waxed and ready to be dipped in their respective dyes. There is a lot of detail on these eggs, as I have been using my extra fine electric kitska to add a large amount of the white of the egg that will remain untouched by each successive dye. It gives the eggs a very lacy impression. The middle photo shows one pullet egg in the batch next to a regular size chicken egg. These are really fun to do, as you have seen in my earlier blogs. The last photo are the finished eggs. I kept most of the eggs three colors plus the white of the egg since the designs were so busy. I'm not sure which colors are my favorite, but I have noticed that people really like the blue and white eggs quite a bit. The next batch on my work bench is a dozen animal and mixed geometric eggs that I will leave partially unfinished for the next egg demonstration- which reminds me to remind all of you-

I will be in Montpelier on Saturday, March 17th, on St. Patrick's day at the Drawing Board Art Supply Store from 12:00pm-2:00pm. The store is fun to browse around in and pick up art supplies and  ukrainian egg decorating kits if you'd like to try decorating some eggs (after I give you some helpful hints, of course). Come down and make a day of it! Montpelier has some great little specialty shops and some great restaurants. It's all good!

Friday, March 9, 2012

2nd batch of ukrainian eggs done

   Just finished the 2nd batch of ukrainian chicken eggs with the extra fine kitska tip. There's a lot of detail on those eggs- very lacy looking. I chose 2-3 colors and the white of the egg to keep the design from being overwhelming (well, more overwhelming than they already are). You'll notice there are 19 total. Why 19, you ask? Because one had cracks in the base that wasn't noticeable until dipped into it's second color. I guess it's true what they say, "Don't count all your eggs until they're safely out of the dye bath and on your varnish drying board." And even then, you still have to get them to your galleries in one piece!
   Which brings me to my next point....the first of my ukrainian egg demonstrations is happening this weekend, Saturday, March 10th, from 11:00am-2:00pm at Art on Main in Bristol. Come visit me at the gallery, have a little lunch at the Bobcat Cafe, do a little shopping at the gallery and downtown, visit my other favorite shop, Honey's all good!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Detail with extra fine kitska tip

Wow! It's fun to get out the extra fine tip for your electric kitska and really go nuts on some chicken eggs. Look at the detail you can achieve! It's nice when you are trying to carefully wax in small triangles and draw netting that is really fine without blowing the corner of a tight triangle or running the lines together and blurring everything. It is easier to use your extra fine tip with an egg that is relatively smooth on the surface, like a pullet, chicken or duck egg. It's a little trickier on a goose egg with some of the small bumpy surface area- but you can achieve it by taking it slowly, allowing the wax to come out in a nice solid bead. Be patient! It's worth it!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Clutch of Goose eggs finished!

Remember the earlier posting for the first waxing on goose eggs? Well, here they are! All finished! I took them off the varnish drying rack to take a photo of them for this post, but they will need one more good spray of Golden's Solvent-based Archival Varnish (which I get at Artists' Mediums because they are so close!) Note the egg in the foreground- a blue chicken! I did a whole series of chicken eggs based on blue chickens. It makes me giggle everytime I see them. It reminds me of the Poultry barn at the Champlain Valley Fair in August. I love chickens and like to see all the different varieties that are shown. And you guessed it- my favorite are the pastel-colored chickens that are pink, purple and blue. Giggle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ukrainian egg demonstrations for 2012

The dates for my ukrainian egg demonstrations are now set in stone. These demos are all free and open to the public courteousy of these fine establishments:

Art On Main Gallery, Bristol, Vt
Saturday, March 10th, 11:00am-2:00pm

The Drawing Board, Montpeilier, VT
Saturday, March 17th, 12:00pm-2:00pm

Frog Hollow Gallery, Burlington, VT
Saturday, March 24th, 12:00pm-3:00pm

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First waxing on goose eggs

Here it is, February, and I am busily getting ready for Easter and Ukrainian egg demos. As you can see, I've started a clutch of goose eggs that will eventually travel to Frog Hollow Craft Gallery in Burlington for Easter. The designs have been drawn on lightly with pencil and then waxed over. The initial dark waxed lines you see will be white on the final unwaxing of the egg (the wax masks the color underneath and saves it during several different color dye baths). It's really fun to try wrapping a design around something bigger than a chicken egg. Goose eggs are excellent to etch with as well because of their sturdy shells. I have been busy photographing my designs into a binder as I go. It's slow going, but will be helpful for people to come to my studio and be able to pick out designs and colors for custom eggs. Once photographed, I also have lovely egg images that I can make prints and cards out of.  I have also taken the steps to illustrate my designs and several variations in the same binder. These end up being pattern sheets for classes I will give. Once I figure a design out, I will work it several different ways, and can end up with a 2-dimensional pen and ink illustration that is very graphic and will lend itself to paintings, borders and possibly some designs to silk screen onto various surfaces (that's another story/adventure for later). Way to use an image until you've rung the life out of it!

Acid-etched emu, goose and brown eggs

Here's a cool process for those who don't want to work with dyes, but love the natural color of various egg shells. These eggs are acid-etched with vinegar. This process will get you as close to an etched egg with a dremel without the hazardous dust and mess,  using the acid to do the work for you. You start by drawing your design on the egg with pencil as you would normally start a ukrainian egg. The design should not be too elaborate, fine or fussy, otherwise the lines will look a bit blurry. You want a somewhat open design where the contrast between light and dark is great. The more open the design, the more striking the egg will be. I find that using a medium kitska tip makes the lines bolder and less likely to float off the egg (this is why you want less fine lines or you will have trouble with the wax filling up tiny spaces you were planning on leaving open). One tip I can give you is to wax around the emptying hole and incorporate it into you design. The egg will already be weak from the acid bath, especially near the blow hole. It lessens the chance of breakage in the unwaxing process. When you are finished waxing, sink the egg with a light weight (a filled small soda bottle) into the vinegar bath. I find that it takes less than 10 minutes for a brown egg, and up to 1/2 hour for a goose egg. An emu takes longer. I usually take a soft old toothbrush after the first vinegar bath for the emu and gently scrub off some of the shell color and assess if I want it lighter. It will then go back into the acid bath a couple more times with gentle scrubbing in between. Once I am satisfied, I thoroughly rinse the egg with cold water and spray with Simple Green cleaning spray to neutralize the acid, and rinse again. I will allow the egg to rest at least a day. I will then wax the entire egg so that when the wax melts, it melts all over the egg and is uniform in color. If you don't wax the entire thing, you may find that your egg looks blotchy in color, some dark areas mixed with some matt lighter areas. You are then free to spray with varnish. I like gloss varnish best, but you could use a matt vanish to retain a more natural look. Either way, you want to varnish to give the egg a little more stability (remember that it will be more fragile than usual) and to keep oils from your hands from discoloring the shell during handling. Just a note: seek out organic eggs, or eggs from your local farmer, since those shells will tend to be stronger than eggs with thin shells that are fed antibiotics. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Decorated Rhea and chicken eggs

This was a fun series to do! The tall egg in the middle is called a Rhea egg. It comes in as a light cream-colored egg with a shiny enameled shell. It is very much like an ostrich egg which needs some special preparation in order to dye the shell. I usually fill a bowl with vinegar and water and gently rub the surface with a soft wash cloth until the shiny enamel disappears and leaves a matt surface. I rinse with clean water and dry and let it rest. Once you have the enamel off, you are free to proceed with your regular batik method. The color sequence here was the white of the egg, then dipped in diluted turquoise, then turquoise full strength, a bleach dip, cold water rinse, then final color, red. Or, you can also do light turqoise, spray with "simple green", rinse with cold water, let rest, dye red, then cold water rinse, and final color, full strength turquoise. The smaller eggs made festive Christmas ornaments. The large Rhea egg is now at Frog Hollow Craft Center in Burlington.

Decorated Green/blue pullet eggs

Wow! Were these pullet eggs ever fun to decorate! Thanks to my sister, Cheryl and her friend who has these wonderful chickens! These pullet eggs came to me with a beautful green/blue cast. I used my extra-fine tip on my electric kitska (which I almost never get to use) and used the back ground color as the line color and then dipped them in a diluted turqoise dye, then turquoise full strength, and final color was brick. They were a big hit! I glued on metal findings and made them into ornaments. I can't wait to do more of these!