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What is washi tape?

Image Source: leboxboutique on Etsy

What is washi tape?

That’s a question I found myself asking after my favorite blogger Alisa Burke featured a guest post by Liz Lamoreux.  Lamoreux’s daughter enjoyed experimenting with washi tape in a journal, like her mom.  But I was left scratching my head, because I didn’t know what washi tape was.

With a little bit of digging and help from SheKnows, I found out that washi-tape is a decorative paper tape made from natural fibers that comes in a mindblowing variety of colors and patterns.  Crafters like to use the stuff in sketchbooks and scrapbooks, but also come up with some pretty ingenious ways of using the tape.  Apparently washi tape is trending right now, and I somehow missed the memo.  Maybe you did too, and this is news to you.

Now that I’m in-the-know, I’m pretty excited to try it out.  My first project?  I’m going to try and make flags for marking my textbooks with, rather than the ridiculously overpriced ones already on the market.

Were you already on the washi tape bandwagon?  Do you consider yourself to be a washi tape master?  Send me your favorite uses for washi tape and I might feature it on my blog in the future.


Repurposed Art Caddy

art caddy

So I dropped by a yardsale the other day and found treasure.  Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly treasure, but at the time it caught my eye and I knew I could do something with it.  I spotted a lazy-susan spice rack for $1.  I had it in my head that we could put pencils or paintbrushes in it.  The outer “shelves” were round, and I wondered if I might be able to fit little paint bottles in that.

So I wandered home, cleaned the kitchen grease out of it and gave it a test run.  Turns out the outside round slots are perfect size for my Liquitex acrylic paint tubes!  I filled ‘er up, putting my paint tubes around the outside, and then painbrushes and other necessities on the inside.  I put foam brushes in the very center, but I could also imagine putting a jar of water in the middle for rinsing my brushes.

So for $1, I repurposed a plastic spice rack into a DIY lazy-susan art caddy.  There you have it folks.  One man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.

TOMS Style Your Sole

Recently the Sustainability Stewards, TERRA, and student government at the College of Idaho worked together to bring us the event TOMS Style Your Sole.  In case you’re unfamiliar, with TOMS, it’s a shoe company dedicated to sustainable materials, and for each pair of shoes they sell, they give a free pair of shoes to barefoot children in developing countries.  So buying a pair of TOMS shoes is not only a way of procuring fashionable, comfortable, eco-friendly shoes, they’re also guaranteeing that you’re helping someone in need.

The idea of the Style Your Sole event is to buy basic, plain white TOMS and then decorate them with your own signature style.  When groups or organizations do this, they’re ensuring that many pairs of shoes will be donated.  This spring the College of Idaho held a Style Your Sole event.  I bought a pair of white TOMS to decorate.  I made it my first art project of the summer to decorate them with my interpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.  Now I have a pair of comfortable shoes that convey my love of art to anyone who sees them.

Nail Polish

I bought ten bottles of nail polish this week.  I know, it’s a bit of a splurge, but after this week I deserve it (and they were on sale for super cheap).  Plus I’ve been waiting a long time to expand my collection, so it’s not like I do this all the time.  I love nail polish, and I have an extensive collection – forty-seven bottles.  Yup, that’s a lot of nail polish.  But as an artist, I find the colors incredibly inspiring.  Having a plethora of color options is important. (You needn’t worry, most of these I’ve collected as gifts through the years. Some of them are quite ancient.)


My collection prior to the new additions.

I think my fascination with nail polish is closely tied to my artistic inclination and visual predominance.  I love nail polish because it’s a socially acceptable form of painting on myself.  It’s a form of decoration that is temporary – I can change it as often as I wish. Having a spectrum of nail polish allows me plenty of options for every occasion.  Every color carries a different mood, and owning many choices allows me to mix and match for even more variety!


I think at this point I own all of the major colors.  Because I’m admittedly a bit OCD I enjoy sorting my collection according to color.  The best challenge is to try to line up every bottle in a color spectrum from one end to the other, fading from one color to the next as smoothly as possible.  It looks pretty neat when I succeed.


This potential for color spectrum inspired a recent project in an art class.  The assignment was to create a color wheel prior to exploring color theory.  Naturally my nail polish collection sprang to mind.  I went home and created a nail polish color wheel for reference, substituting bottles where I didn’t have the right hue.


As I created the reference shot and sketched my initial color wheel, I was intrigued by the wide variety of bottle shapes/styles.  Some where round while others square, rectangular or triangular.  Some had sharp angles while others gently curved with smooth planar transitions.  Some bottles were stubby while others were tall.  There were white caps, black caps, gray caps and chrome caps.  The caps varied in height and circumference, some completely vertical while others widened toward the base.  Our schema of a nail polish bottle tends to be pretty simple, but when you start to analyze their designs you realize how different each brand is!


In my nail polish color wheel I incorporated these bottle design differences, making them different shapes and sizes.  The innermost bottles, the primary colors, I left without caps so that their “polish” might spill inward and run together.  The secondary color bottles I included caps on, and made their caps slightly darker than those on the tertiary bottles, to subtly define the different tiers.

 Because the focus of the project was on color, not value, I limited my use of shading, and instead gave the bottles faint highlights of white paint and shadows of black paint.  I kept the lines crisp and clean, so as to barely hint at a glossy glass bottle.


A nail polish inspired color wheel. Unfortunately my camera was unable to faithfully capture the darker colors. The blue-green, blue-violet, and red-violet don't show well in this photo.

Design Motif

I’ve been wanting to blog for quite some time now, but spring term is already kicking my butt!  Only now, on a Friday, do I finally have enough time to share some creative thoughts.

This term I’m taking Introduction to Design, and this week we finished our first project.  The assignment was to design a square motif solely in black and white, and then repeat it approximately twenty times to create an overall design.  Afterwards we critiqued each other’s projects based on the concepts we’ve been learning, like balance, ground reversal, proximity, transparency etc.

I settled upon a geometric design based upon a grid pattern.  I chose this because it would be easier to replicate with accuracy than to precisely draw organic forms.  Each square was 3.5 x 3.5 inches, and designed so as to interlock seamlessly.  The design is very fine and detailed, and I nearly went crazy trying to finish it on time.  I probably spent 8-10 hours on the entire project, and boy did my fingers and knuckles feel it!  I’m pleased with the result, and look forward to modifying it our next project.  I’m not sure how I feel about one upward “hook” that seems to stick out without having a balancing downward pull elsewhere.  In class we concluded that since the elbow shaped segment does not continue on the other side of its intersecting line, the mind perceives it as separate.  I also wonder if I should have included more black shapes to balance the black and white grounds, or if the predominantly white ground creates a pleasing sense of space.  My professor was most pleased with the “meandering” effect of the interlocking lines, for they pull the eye across the image.

For the project I’ve been using a black Sakura PIGMA Micron 01 tip archival pen as well as a black Prismacolor Premier double-ended art marker (P.S. I’m in love with Prismascolor products).  I was pleased with both.  The Micron lays down a wonderfully fine line, while the Prismacolor Premier worked excellently for filling in larger spaces quickly.  My only concern with the Premier was its ink flow.  I had to work quickly and run parallel to my lines but not exactly against them because the ink had a tendency to bleed.  I’m not sure if this was caused by the pen itself or the illustration board I was working on.  Nevertheless, I was able to compensate for the bleed-effect and get a satisfactory result.  I would rather have an easy flow and adjust my marks than have a dry pen that required multiple layers for a solid fill.  Overall I recommend both of these products, and look forward to putting them through the paces in future projects.  By the way, I am not advertising for anyone, but instead providing honest feedback from one artist to another.  I understand that the quality of an artist’s products can be an important factor in his or her creations, and knowing what quality products to use can prevent needless stress and/or accidents.

TeeFury Shirts

One the subject of t-shirt designs, I’d like to share another website with some amazing stuff.  TeeFury sells limited edition t-shirts.  Every day a new design is available for 24 hours only, or until it sells out if that happens first.  That means every day brings a new design, so check it out!  Each shirt is only $9, so it’s pretty reasonable. You can follow TeeFury on Facebook, too, for regular updates.  I like the stuff at TeeFury because it often features figures from cult-classic pop culture.  Lots of stuff to appeal to movie lovers, gamers, and geeks (Star Wars, Mario, and LOLcats anyone?). ❤

Fullbleed Design

I wanted to share some neat products under the name FULLBLEED:  They sell prints, t-shirts, pins and such with some really imaginative designs.  Even if you don’t buy anything I think you will enjoy browsing.  Be sure to check out all the different tabs for the full variety of creativity.

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