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Studio Snapshot – Accordion Books

This past week I realized I had sold completely out of my little hard covered accordion books with watercolor messages inside. I make these little books out of 80# Strathmore Aquarius watercolor paper. It’s a great weight paper for books, takes watercolor without buckling and folds beautifully.

One accordion book finished and four in the process of being made.

One accordion book finished and four in the process of being made.

These little books are about 3″ tall and 22″ in length. I make them with various messages inside. The covers are some of my paste papers which I paste over book board which is just a little denser than mat board.

This is a detail of the above photo so you can see what the watercolor looks like before I start my embellishment.

This is a detail of the above photo so you can see what the watercolor looks like before I start my embellishment.

Here are the accordion books finished.

Here are the accordion books finished.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

Thank You accordion book.

Thank You accordion book.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

I Love You accordion book.

I Love You accordion book.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

Happy Birthday accordion book.

These little books are a joy to make. Making them makes me feel happy.

Enjoy, Candy


Today’s Bikers

“Today’s Bikers” was taken during the annual Medford Toy Run in early December.

Woodpecker’s Work

I’m guessing the scarred branch is the work of a woodpecker, but don’t know for sure. I spotted it leaning on this oak tree near Agate Lake in Southern, Oregon.

Calligraphy Cut-Out Place Cards

I try to practice calligraphy every day (notice I say try). Writing the alphabet or alphabet sentences every day can become boring. So, I try to come up with different ways to practice. My latest was to make these calligraphy cut-out place cards.

I turned my practice calligraphy into calligraphy cut out place cards.

I turned my practice calligraphy into calligraphy cut-out place cards.

Please note that these are practice pieces and not final works. The ink bled on a number of the names. And this was also my first attempt at this type of paper cutting. I couldn’t find a small knife, so these were done with my box cutter. Even so, I think these have promise.

I thought I'd make a place card for my dad.

This place card will be for my dad, probably for Father’s Day.

While I did my place cards using calligraphy, they could just as easily be made using a font printed on a printer. For my paper, I used scans of my paste papers that I printed on my inkjet printer. Then I did calligraphy on that paper. I think the ink bled because I was printing on top of the inkjet paper. I would suggest not trying to calligraphy on top of inkjet paper.

Place card for Beverly.

Place card for Beverly.

To make a place card, first either calligraph or print a name on a piece of paper. I suggest either heavy text weight paper or a light card stock. Somewhere about half way up the letters I draw a pencil line across the paper, but not on the letters themselves. You can see the pencil line has become the fold line in the photograph below.

Close up showing the cut out of the letters.

Close up showing the cut out of the letters.

Once you have your pencil line, cut around the letters that protrude above the pencil line.

Place card for Jean.

Place card for Jean.

If there is an inside of a letter that’s above the line, cut that out too. If there is an inside of a letter that’s part above and part below the line, cut out just the part that’s above the line. Examples of this are in the “B” of Beverly and the “O” of Popa and the “D” of Candy.

This shows the cut-out for Jean.

This shows the cut-out for Jean.

I found that I liked cutting just outside of the calligraphy so that a little of the paper that the calligraphy is on shows. I tried cutting exactly on the outside of the calligraphy, but it felt a little dead. Leaving just a bit of the color of the paper around the calligraphy seems to add a little pizzaz.

I made 3 different place cards for Paul and the calligraphy bled in all three. This is the least worst of the bunch.

I made 3 different place cards for Paul and the calligraphy bled in all three. This is the least worst of the bunch.

After you have completed the cutting, fold on the pencil line. Fold only the paper that is not the letters. This is a little tricky the first time. Be patient with yourself. It gets easier with practice. Cut the paper to the size you desire and enjoy.

The ink ran on this one too, but I still like it.

The ink ran on this one too, but I still like it.

The next thing I plan to do is to draw on the calligraphy with metallic pens. I might even do some sort of a collage on the names too. This is just the beginning of my playing.

Enjoy, Candy

Anniversary Texture, Sierras in Black ~ September 11 and 14, 2013

Early September is usually pretty active. Not only am I packing and preparing for my Women’s Journaling Annual Retreat, but it is also my birthday and our anniversary too. So this page has whispers of how terrain between Roland and I had smoothed out, the lace-y laser cut paper pattern from the anniversary card Ro gave me (sometimes draping words with a filtered or translucent paper will give you a bit more privacy on a journal page – and I inserted it with photo corners so that I can take it out to read when I want to), the business card from where we dined (disappointingly) and the bitter sweet last evening at home before I take off for the Sierras where the retreat is held.

All that echoes against the opposite page … the first full day at Lake Alpine Resort up in the California Sierras. Both Jean Warren and I arrive a

day or two ahead to finalize locations for different creative processes. This day we took off, up to a nearby duo of glacier formed lakes called Mosquito Lake.

Now I’d mentioned that with this journal, I really wanted to mix things up, right? Well, there we are at the pristine lake, I’m all seated having found the perfect scene I wanted to paint. I get out my materials from my pack, open up my journal ready to watercolor – – and – – as you see, it is a black journal page. I really, seriously considered skipping the page and going on until I found a watercolor page, but at last, decided to stick to my commitment. I worked, rather uncomfortably, with the black page. Using a white Schwans Stabilo pencil,

graphite pencils and some of my wax crayons for the color accents I depicted the lovely, sparkling lake and white cabins before me. The lettering was with white gel pen. I’m mostly pleased with the image – – but even more with the fact that I stuck to my aim of testing out new materials, papers and increasing my open minded attitude. (PS You’ll see in the next pages … I develop a way to cope with my yearning to paint on watercolor paper when the journal page is NOT a watercolor page!)

It remained a perfect day up in the azure sky-ed mountains … one of my favorite places here on earth!

Let me tell you a story of stones and shells and seed pods…


 This is a chest we have in our living room. It is against a wall that you see when you walk into the home from the front door, and because the floor plan of this part of the house is open, you can see it from everywhere. 


I have to thank Seth for his challenge on his blog, "Living With Art" for these photographs to happen." Seth made me look at this arrangement with new eyes.  To find my own connections and make me wonder why different things have found a place here.

This arrangement is featured on his new post, as well as many other corners and walls and displays from amazing artists that will inspire you and make you want you to visit again and again.

After I took my first photograph that you will see on his blog I had to take more, to give you a closer look.


Before, I used to put my collections in my studio on shelves to inspire me when I worked.  

But my studio had become more and more crowded and soon I wanted to spread out to the rest of the house.  

This is where my love for science and art are entwined.




Here there are things from the ocean and the desert…

 from my own findings or gifts from friends or family. 

Things from far far away and objects from my own gardens.

Some made from my own hands.


Each object begs for examination, each carved or molded surface, each smooth stone and piece of rough wood. They all call to be noticed. Some things here are very simple and some have intricate patterns.






 My arrangement here speaks of my love for old and new, 

for handmade and nature made objects.


When I walk by,

I have to touch and examine… 

a seashell, 

a waterworn stone, 

a seedpod. 



my world 

are all in front of me

to know, 

to love.


Let me tell you a story 

of stones and shells 

and seed pods…


Birthday Traditions ~ September 3, 2013

When I made this journal, I wanted to challenge myself. I was feeling like I’d become kind of ‘cookie-cutter’ with my journal page designs in my ole’ big Canson 10 x 14 inch journal. I chose to make the shape and size different as well as mix in un-predictable papers. So already, just four pages into this new journal I’m feeling “bothered” that some of the paper is watercolor paper and some is mere writing paper. My watercolor paintings ripple the pages and I have to use less and less water. I notice I’m feeling “squeezed” into this smaller 8 1/4 x 8 1/2 inch page format. I’m wondering why I decided to be innovative!!!? But I need to remember – – that stretching one’s self is never comfortable. And it is through these feelings that we get new experiences and creative
stimulation. Ok? Ok!

Notice what a fun element the back side of the Paper Clay insert has become on these following pages? And even what is pages ahead, like that yellow glowing area showing through the hole on the right page, has an effect upon the page design. I’m often surprised with the serendipity and how wonderfully it works out!

But with all that aside, on these two pages, I celebrate my birthday. Roland gifted me with my favorite dessert, the Marion-berry Cobbler from the Standingstone Brewery in Ashland and it of course, landed on my journal page. It was a time of confusion and crazy unplanned mishaps … between visitors dropping in to a disappointing dinner out to cancellations for my Women’s Journaling Retreat … one of the cheery-est memories I could pluck from that time is my favorite cut-outs from birthday cards. For two years in a row now, my dear “Aunt Karen” has won out as my most favorite card! See the little kitten in the back pocket of a pair of jeans? That’s it! This page always makes me smile!

Confetti Grapes by Susan Frank

Colorful grapevine interpreted from a vine at an Oregon Vineyard. It was a sunny day with lots of color, so I took some liberties with the color in this piece. 

Juried Into Rogue Valley Biennial

Good news!  My watercolor painting “Hang Up and Pet Me” will be showing in the Rogue Valley Biennial!

Hang Up & Pet Me

The biennial is a juried exhibition at the Rogue Gallery & Art Center in Medford, OR.  The exhibition opens this week with reception this coming Friday, February 20th from 5pm to 8pm.  The gallery is located at 40 S. Bartlett Street, Medford, OR 97501.  The hours are as follows:

10am – 5pm, Tuesday – Friday
11am – 3pm, Saturday
5pm – 8pm, every third Friday

I’m excited to be in a local juried exhibition.  The show is open to artists of two and three dimensional media.  As stated on the exhibition page, the 2015 Rogue Valley Biennial “features work that presents interpretations of our world today or a commentary on contemporary issues”.

I think my painting of a person busy talking on a cell phone while ignoring their cat provides a humorous take on contemporary issues.

Jurors for the exhibition are Janet Higgins and Keith Johnson.

The Rogue Valley Biennial will continue through April 1oth, 2015.  I invite you to stop by and visit!

The post Juried Into Rogue Valley Biennial appeared first on Dancing Clouds Gallery -The Artistry of Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Studio Snapshot – Chocolate Hershey Kisses Mice

A few weeks ago I showed how to make chocolate mice from Hershey’s Kisses. Since then, I made over 100 mice. I shared on Valentine’s Day to an entire dining room of people. Needless to say, the mice were a big hit.

The mice are gathering together, getting ready for Valentine's Day.

The mice are gathering together, getting ready for Valentine’s Day.

Since posting the DIY instructions, I found purple Hershey’s Kisses and couldn’t help but add them to my mice. The purple kisses are a dark chocolate, the pink and silver and red are milk chocolate and the gold are milk chocolate with almond.

The mice seemed to gravitate towards all things chocolate.

The mice seemed to gravitate towards all things chocolate.

The chocolate strawberries were delicious.

The chocolate strawberries were delicious.

This mouse is checking out the chocolate mouse. I must say it way ever so good!

This mouse is checking out the chocolate mousse. I must say it way ever so good!

For instructions to make your own mice, see my blog post: DIY – Chocolate Mice From Hershey’s Kisses.

Enjoy, Candy

P.S. My friends, Elizabeth and Kay tried making these and added a little something more to their mice. They added a pin for the nose and wire for whiskers. I was going to try this too, but I had some other friends tell me it would make the chocolate inedible, which they didn’t like at all.