From Indira at DharmaKarmaArtsBlog and ETSY

The Song of the Siren

I must have been a woodworker in my previous life. Just like the heroes of the 40s noir movies who could not resist the allure of those mysterious sultry sirens, a bare wooden box entices me into the trap of drawing on it, painting, coloring and decorating it.

The interest in decorating boxes really became addictive during the six months between my daughter's engagement and her wedding. I wanted to give personally made gifts to the relatives and friends who were attending the wedding. I made dozens of decorative boxes here in the US and packed and transported them all the way to Chennai, India where the wedding was taking place. Everybody adored them and, when I opened my Etsy store, my sister planted the idea of selling them in the store. Even my husband likes them and elsewhere in this blog, I have written about the collage box I made as a gift for his professor here -

When I start on a box, the only thing I know for sure is the basic color that the box is going to be painted--from there, everything is a free form creation. The designs and the decorations on the boxes evolve organically, though the motifs and the patterns are drawn from my Indian heritage. That is why each box is unique in its own way. I am not limited to any particular material, technique or design. I have used my own yoga art as a decoration for the box below

I have decorated with my own hand drawn designs like the one below

On some I have used lively fabrics and sequined ribbons like this one

I have used lovely washi paper and silk ribbons on such as this one

I have incorporated some of my sari art as decorative piece on this box

What can I say? The song of the siren is irresistible. If you are interested in buying any of my boxes, you can go here -

Thank you Indira for sharing your wonderful blog post with us here!

"Mix It Up with Melange" Challenge ~ CHIT-CHAT

Welcome...everyone is invited to join in the challenge. You do not have to be on the team or an Etsy seller to create a piece of art with the week's theme and show it on this blog.

Thanks to Karen the prompt for this week's challenge is CHIT-CHAT. Create a piece of mixed media art using this prompt as inspiration. When you are finished follow these simple rules:

1) Post your finished piece on your blog, website, Flickr page, Etsy or elsewhere INCLUDING a link back to the Melange Team blog.

2) Comment to this blog post INCLUDING the link to where we can find your beautiful piece.

3) Please link to a static page

(What’s a static page? An example of a static link is, whereas an example of a link to the main website is

4) Come back often to check out all the terrific work that will be submitted. :)

Thanks for joining in the fun !

(Here is a great tutorial on CREATING HOT LINKS)

Indira of Dharma Karma Arts is our featured artist with her wonderful interpretation of CHIT-CHAT. Thanks so much !

Image © Dharma Karma Arts

Meet Melange member Liz-Anna of Liz-Anna's Lakeside Studio!

Imagine! Feel the breeze off the lake, the sun on your face and enjoy this wonderful interview of LizAnna by Brenda Lynn of Peace of Mind Studio Thank you Bren for a fun read!

*Where do you call home? Are you married? Do you have children?
I live in the north central interior of British Columbia, Canada on a beautiful lake that is clean enough to drink from. My home is shared with my husband and our schizophrenic rescue cat, Beauty and the Beast. I have three grown children and one grandchild.

*When did  your "artistic life" begin? (Was this an innate necessity for you, or did you happen upon the creative calling at some later point in life?) 
I have always had a desire to create. As a little girl I coveted my mom's precious writing pad and loved the last day of school each year when I could bring home any unused supplies to use as my heart desired. We didn't have a lot of money so nothing was ever wasted.

*Have you had formal art training? (When and where? Do you feel conventional schooling is necessary for one to be a "true artist"?)

I started my family very young and have always lived in small towns or very rural settings so my art education came about through occasional workshops,reading a lot of books and other publications and, of course, just making art.

True artists are born from within and then shaped by life.  A true artist isn't necessarily a good artist, though.   A formal art education is a valuable path to an artist's development but it isn't the only path. I believe it is important to keep learning and growing as an artist using whatever tools your circumstances allow.

*You create beautiful and very tactile natural handmade paper. When did you learn this very ancient art form? What drew you to this process?
 I learned to make paper through an Emily Carr College Outreach program with an instructor from Paper-Ya about 15 years ago.   We made a variety of papers but I especially fell in love with the texture of the paper we made using Japanese Kozo fibre. As soon as the workshop was over I started experimenting with plant fibres I could find locally. I also purchased some good books to expand on what I had learned in the weekend workshop.Now I enjoy sharing what I've learned in my own workshops.

*We have enjoyed following your Moose Pooh adventures on your new blog. Please share with our readers just exactly what we're referring to, and please do share with us just how you learned this technique of making paper.
It's not as 'icky' as it sounds.  Moose are herbivores and they eat a lot of willow. Almost all of their poo is willow, which is a fibre that I often use in papermaking.Through a process of boiling for several hours in an alkaline solution and thorough rinsing, the impurities are removed leaving just the willow fibre. I then soak the fibres in a bleach solution.

I first got the idea from a Tribal Arts feature on African Matuvi (elephant
dung) paper in Somerset Studio Magazine in 1997. I thought it would be interesting to try the same thing with a large Canadian herbivore and so my moose poo paper was born. Of course I couldn't find anything in my books about making moose poo paper!

*You enjoy working in a variety of mediums, including textile art, stained glass work and even natural soap-making. Share a bit on your other interests and how they help define you/or play a role in your life.
I sometimes wonder if I should be choosing one or two mediums and just work on developing those skills but I can't resist creative play. Usually when I learn a new craft it's for self-fulfillment and to add beauty to my own home or garden, but eventually I want to share what I've learned, so I teach workshops, too.  

I started making soap when my youngest was a baby, from lard and tallow that I rendered from our pigs and cows in my 'back to the land' days, almost 30 years ago. About 10 years ago I started making soap again but from vegetable oils rather than animal products and using only pure natural ingredients.

My textiles are another form of mixed media including a variety of
techniques in each piece.  I use assorted dye methods, batik and other
resists, block printing, silk screening, devore' (burn out on velvet),
marbling, hand painting, embroidery and beading. Sometimes I make dyes from plants to use in both my textiles and handmade papers.

*Do you work outside the home and if so, what do you do?
I have been an administrative assistant in a school for the past 21 years.

*When do you find personal art time? How do you balance both aspects of your life?
Since I have no young children at home, and a very supportive and undemanding husband, I can choose any time outside of my regular job as personal art time. I don't always use my time wisely, though. I also have all the regular school holidays, including the summer, to pursue my art so I really have the best of both worlds. Of course that doesn't stop me from whining and complaining when I have to leave my art project and head to work in the morning.

*You have just recently opened your Etsy shop. What brought you to Etsy/online selling? Do you also show your work in brick and mortar shops?

Etsy kept coming up in articles in some of my favourite art and craft
publications so I had been thinking about it for a while. It was such a bonus to discover an incredibly diverse and talented art community in the process.

I sell my work at regional craft fairs and markets, a local health food
store and occasionally, on consignment. I also participate in local and regional art shows. I teach workshops and sell from my home studio as well.

*What does a typical "art day" look like from the outside? Where do you create? What tools or supplies are always by your side? What, if any, music would we hear in the background. Do you have a view beyond your pallette?
My art day starts before I leave for work in the morning. I have recently started getting up at 5:00 am so I have 3 hours before I leave for work to play in my studio. I putter a bit in the evenings but that isn't my most creative time. Weekends are the best when I can take the momentum of the morning through the whole day. I have eclectic tastes in music so, depending on my mood and what I'm working on, I could be listening to anything from Celtic to Rock.

I am so lucky to have a studio dedicated to my creative pursuits. I like to have all my tools and supplies organized for easy access where they are used the most so my studio is laid out in zones. As much as I enjoy an aesthetically pleasing environment to work in, I do a good job of turning it into a colossal mess within 5 minutes of starting a project. In the spring and summer, I spend as much time outdoors as possible.

*What are your long term goals? (Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years?
I am looking forward to retirement, hopefully within the next 5 years, but I'm not waiting for that elusive 'someday' to do the things I enjoy. My circumstances may dictate whether or not I continue to sell and teach, but I plan to learn new skills and grow as an artist as long as I possibly can

*Tell us something we don't know about LizAnna. Do you sing in the shower or avoid cracks in pavement or hate brussel sprouts? What simple little thing makes you smile?
I have had four last names in my lifetime - my birth name, my adopted name, and two married names.  However, I have always been, and always will be, Liz-Anna. That is why I only use my first name to sign my art.

"Mix It Up with Melange" Challenge ~ ICE CREAM

Welcome...everyone is invited to join in the challenge. You do not have to be on the team or an Etsy seller to create a piece of art with the week's theme and show it on this blog.

Thanks to Elizabeth Johnson the prompt for this week's challenge is ICE CREAM. Create a piece of mixed media art using this prompt as inspiration. When you are finished follow these simple rules:

1) Post your finished piece on your blog, website, Flickr page, Etsy or elsewhere INCLUDING a link back to the Melange Team blog.

2) Comment to this blog post INCLUDING the link to where we can find your beautiful piece.

3) Please link to a static page

(What’s a static page? An example of a static link is, whereas an example of a link to the main website is

4) Come back often to check out all the terrific work that will be submitted. :)

Thanks for joining in the fun !

(Here is a great tutorial on CREATING HOT LINKS)

Risa Tritabaugh is our featured artist with her wonderful interpretation of ICE CREAM. Thanks so much !

Image © Risa Tritabaugh

Mixed Media: Inkjet Printing on Silk

I recently committed to writing new posts for this wonderful Melange Team Etsy blog. I love Melange and I want it to thrive and grow, and prosper would be nice too! It is a wonderfully supportive group of artists and I am proud to be a member. While I ponder about what to write in future blogs, I am posting this tutorial of mine from one of my previous blogs. My blog is at  and is called Sanctuaries, Dreams and Shadows. I am sure I will be pulling articles from there from time to time, but this isn't my personal space here and I will be looking for ideas involving or relating to this team as well as member tutorials. I may even be asking some of you to do as I did here and walk the reader through your process. I want to know what inspires you too, where you find your muse. So since my life is my art and my art is my life - here I am.

I love this new piece and the new media available now with the use of one's inkjet printer. This is a vintage photo printed on silk with my inkjet printer. You run it through the printer just like regular paper. It is available with other fabrics like cotton which I have also used, but I prefer the feel and the luxury of the silk. I want to share this technique with everyone because it is actually quite simple and one does not have to be an artist to create this work.

I started with an 8"x 8" canvas but really a simple piece of wooden board would also work. I prefer something with relatively deep sides. Find a piece of interesting fabric, I loved the French script this fabric featured plus the beautiful natural palette. You may want some special embellishments as I chose these paper flowers, but you could use anything you wish - maybe a piece of vintage jewelry. Most of my embellishments can be found wherever scrap-booking supplies are sold. I chose a vintage photo but it could also be a contemporary one - anything you wish to use. I added some crushed velvet ribbon to wrap around the sides to complete the look, but that is not  necessary - it is all up to you. You are the creator!

Most importantly you will need the fabric you
wish to print on. In this case I used fabric from InkJetPrinting by Jacquard in  silk, they also offer it in cotton sheets. The package contains 10 - 8 1/2" x 11" sheets with instructions. The sheets are paper-backed so they go easily through your printer. The printed fabric then attaches to the background fabric with an iron-on fusible bonding material like Stitch-Witchery. So choose the photo from your computer you wish to use. In my case that can be difficult since I have over 4000 images in my iPhoto Library, choosing one can be a bit of a problem! Load one sheet of the paper backed silk or cotton fabric in your printer fabric side up or image copying side to the fabric, just like you would any other sheet of paper, and print it out. It can be black and white (or sepia) as my example or full color, again your choice. The instructions say to peel the paper backing from the fabric before attaching it but in this particular instance I left the backing on because I thought it gave it more stability. It still remains translucent as you can see. Iron the background fabric to get rid of any wrinkles. I  then fused the fabric in the size I wanted (after trimming it with scissors) to the fabric background by ironing it together with the StitchWitchery bonding material. That would have been enough but I wanted the look of the machine zigzag stitching around the image so I machine sewed it on also.  Iron it all out again.

Apply a good layer of a matte polymer medium or decoupage finish medium, I prefer Royalcoat, to the accepting surface of the canvas or other substrate. Carefully lay down your sewn fabric over the canvas being sure to place the image where you want it - usually centered - and smooth out all the air bubbles or pooled medium. Repeat the smoothing out as long as necessary. Don't worry about the sides of the piece yet. Let the image side dry overnight. Then trim the sides to have just enough fabric to be able to wrap around to the back. Apply the polymer medium to the sides and wrap just like wrapping a present. I prefer to do one side at a time and let it dry before moving on. I actually used small nails pounded right into the wooden canvas stretcher bar on the back or sides at the corners to hold the fabric corners in place. After it is all dry apply a coat or two of the polymer medium to the entire piece letting it dry between coats. Finally it is time to add your embellishments and the ribbon. I used Crafter's Pick The Ultimate glue from Michael's to attach all the embellishments - even metal. When that is dry you may want to add one more coat of the sealer polymer medium to everything including the embellishments to secure it all.

There you have it! If you have the right materials anyone can create this artwork! With this medium anyone can be an artist!

To order the Jacquard InkJet Printing fabrics go to
and search the above words.

Maureen Kavaney Tillman