Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blue Ribbons

The above images show a shrine, its miniature book, and the interior of the book, dedicated to the Goddess, and then an interior page and the cover of a full-size book and its cover celebrating the quilt artists of Gee's Bend, Alabama.
For more information, check out my gallery pages at http://www.fragileindustries.com/galleryshrines2goddess.html
I'm happy to announce that each of these projects recieved blue ribbons for first place in their respective categories in the arts competitions at the Ventura County Fair last month. Who knew?

Fun in Minneapolis? You betcha!

[Images to come, I will post pictures of my Minnesota work and trip in a few days.]

Last May, I found myself in that hotbed of sin, that what-happens-here-stays-here city, that home of Norwegian Farmers' Sons, Minneapolis, Minnesota (say it all together in the local patois: Meen-eh-soh-tah). And all -- or mostly -- for my ART. Did I have fun? You betcha, gosh darn it.

All right, we can all put on our "Fargo" accents, but really, it's darn nice there. I arrived in May, which I had been advised is the, er, most tolerable month for this California beach girl. One month earlier and you're still at risk for scraping frost off the windshield and the odd tornado, one month later and it's already lethally humid, hot, and the sky is black with mosquitos. I do not get along with mosquitos -- the skin has barely closed over the supporating, oozing sores decorating my legs after a mosquito swarm attack two months ago in Sunny So. Cal. I am THAT allergic to the little bloodsucking bastards. And cold? I like a cold ocean fog, I left my windows open all winter to the dismay of my mother, but that's mid-coast California. I remember one short visit to Sioux Falls, SD, in March, crossing a parking lot without a hat, and my ears fell off. They made a "ping" sound, rather like glass wind chimes, when they hit the asphalt. So there I was in May, when, according to my friend who has a farm downstate, "it looks like Heaven, the Heaven they told you about in Sunday School." He was right.

With that in mind, I scheduled for May14-21 a week of book art tutorials ending in a weekend intensive class on bookbinding. Time to stop pussy-footing around. I don't know that what I do is Capital A Art -- that's such a loaded word. But while art depends on inspiration, the judgment of others, the fickle winds of trend, the craft of what I do requires training. Primarily, I make altered books. Yes, I love my shrines and other assemblages, but there's something about pages that turn. About a 3-D bulk I can carve and embellish in any way one would any other form, but with all those echoes of story telling, and every sheet of paper a new canvas. Book making, book binding, paper making -- these are all trainable skills that will impact whatever I do. Learning those skills under the auspices of a Book Art center seems the right approach. I don't want to work for a library conservancy organization repairing important 15th Century incunabula (earliest examples of printed text in book form) although that might have its attractions. I want to learn these learnable skills and go from there.

I contacted the few major book arts centers in San Francisco, Manhattan, Minnesota, and the University of Alabama ("they call Alabama the Crimson Tide, they call me Deacon Woo" -- Steely Dan) and Iowa. No response from Manhattan. Of course. San Francisco replied that they had many course offerings, and I should simply come to town when something of interest was offered. Very egalitarian, very San Francisco. U of A and Iowa both sent form letters that set out their University offerings and no more. I already knew I didn't want another fucking degree -- I wanted to know what they knew without the 3-year investment in time and tuition and beauracratic BS. Minneapolis, blessed Minneapolis, home of People Pleasing People, sent back a personal e-mail, signed by an ascertainalby real person, asking, "What do you want to know? We'll teach you."

Better than 3 wishes from a genie. Imagine that -- an exchange of knowlege, the knowledge I seek, no more, no less, no BS. It only took the entire continent and the miracles of the internet. Said ascertainably real person received my effusive reply, and I set up a full week at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. Real person (aka: Jeff Rathemel) arranged for four separate book artists to teach me for several hours a day and the rest of the day I got to play in their fully stocked studio, applying what I've learned. I was humbled. And excited. For me, this was the golden ticket to the Willy Wonka factory, the key to the FAO Schwartz toy store.

First, I spent the day with Susan Hensel, a renowned book artist for what was supposed to be three one-on-one hours about off-beat book bindings and using found objects in said bindings and books, with an eye to altered art and altered books. It ended up being more like six blissful hours. This is my jumping-off-point, because I incorporate all sorts of weirdness into my books, but I want to work intelligently in 3-D -- flat stuff is just a matter of eye and color and glue. Try to work in a computer motherboard, or driftwood, or a primitive fertility carving, or rusty metal, then I need help. We went to her studio for this because this obviously involves STUFF which requires storage and transport and hell, Mohammed has to go to the mountain. As previously noted, I am currently crippled with STUFF. Seeing how a Real Artist Deals With Stuff was inspirational. She demonstrated the basics of adhesives, different effects of same, and how to build textures and architectural elements from her own work and ideas for my own. Not only that, she offered insightful advice after looking at my work thus far. The key words of wisdome were that the entire work, its shape, its format, its materials and content, everything about it can carry the message. Holding that idea in mind throughout will keep me from falling into the ordinary and help me tell the story in every conceivable way -- and prompt new, inventive ideas.

The next day, with a brilliant bookbinder and renowned book conservationist Jana Pullman: Coptic Binding. This is one of the most ancient book forms: a stitching of pages into book form that is more of a weaving art than simple page assembly -- so beautiful in its result along the spine that to cover it seems a crime. One practical advantage of coptic binding is that the pages lay flat at any point in the book. No swirling pages, a perfect flat relationship from left to right. I love that. Hands free. For a business-related application, think of wedding guest books -- how frustrating to inscribe one's good wishes for the happy (ha-ha: it's marriage, how can that ever happen, never mind me, sorry, the cynic escapes) couple while wrestling with preceding or following pages. Or any number of other applications. It is lovely, a braided macrame (forgive me, I mean that nicely) spine. It is also mind-numbingly hard to learn just from the how-to book examples -- you really need a hands-on instructor. And again, I got to play with it for hours afterward in the Book Center Studio. I made three, count 'em, three, different examples and styles.

Next was papermaking with Jeff. I have a confession. About 8 years ago, I was asked for my Christmas list. I held my breath till I turned blue, kicked my tiny heels and threatened a full public hissy fit meltdown unless I got a papermaking kit. My duly intimidated spouse came through and got me the standard, $30 hobby kit for papermaking. I was as excited as I could be. The thing gathered dust untill well after the divorce and last year I finally broke down and used it. The result was three pages of grey pulpy flat material that disintegrated upon any attempt to manipulate it, nothing stressful, just folding. I love paper. Obviously, half my garage is devoted to amazing examples of the paper maker's art. Maybe I just go for cheap showmanship, but I love paper with inclusions -- flowers, leaves, legible chunks of the original junk paper source material. When I first moved into my loft in SF, in '93, I decorated the huge walls with the biggest examples of this amazing stuff I could find at Flax Arts (the motherlode of amazing paper). I thought these 3x4 foot pieces stood by themselves as art pieces, maybe with the mere addition of a swath of threads, stitched randomly, or a single dried rose. I approach beautiful paper with reverence. The real practice of this requires overalls, boots and blenders and beaters, a great deal of mudpie mess, and I'm jazzed. Great fun, and the end result was resilient, gorgeous and something I can do at home on a smaller scale and with less mess. I'm jazzed.

The next day was Paper decorating, again with Jeff. He set me up in a playroom (oops, studio) below ground in the wonderful MCBA building with every conceivable mode of embellishment of that utilitarian object, the blank page. Marbling, paste paper, dying, resist, guilding, and a variety of goo -- mostly Japanese from walnuts, tree bark, and sea weeds -- and utensils ranging from string, combs, dipping vats and buckets, to small scale drills. I ended up with reams of gorgeous papers I can't wait to use and skills I hope to use again. He knew I loved an organic feel, and the Japanese techniques in particular result in effects I couldn't have imagined previously.

Next, I got to experiment with Japanese stab binding and other entry-level decorative bindings. Back story: as a complete innocent in the ancient world of binding I decided to make a book in '94 and pulled a design out of my head that was in essence a Japanese Stab binding. I spent days (and nights of creative dreaming) diagramming the threading. I was, it turned out, reinventing the wheel. This is the sort of gathering of pages that can use gorgeous fibers in a simple but neatly contoured web that never should be covered. It ain't rocket science, and there are oodles of variants that I can now, thanks to some learned instruction and thumb-piercing experimentation, execute. I bought a book with diagrams of the variations, which would have saved me from a lot of anxiety in '94.

All of the forgoing served as the intro for the two-day marathon class of Bookbinding II, again with the patient and pellucidly clear instruction of Jana Pullman. Along with one other student, we invaded the technical areas of things that look like what we call regular books: stitching on linen, that lovely bit of embroidery between the spine's leather or bookcloth and the paper, especially the arcane piece that peeks over the back of the gathered pages into a lovely roll. I got to use huge scary slicing machines, wield mallets and hammers to get the spine into the proper symmetry, and choose all the materials for the case. The end result was one of the prettiest and most accomplished pieces I've ever made.

So..... that's why I went to Minneapolis, mostly. It got me out of a funk in a big way. It got me inspired with many thundering plans for new projects. It reaffirmed that as unlikely as it seems, this retired attorney turned beach bum really can call herself at least a lower-case "a" artist. It left me with a lingering affection for the Midwest, and a gratitude for the legendary Midwest Nice.

When not covered in ink and book glue and exhaustion, I managed to spare a few minutes, but not enough, to see some of the rest of the town. I took in a Broadway-caliber play at the Guthrie Theater and enjoyed both the performance and the astonishing structure of the theater itself. After some initial missteps, I stayed in a top-notch hotel steps from both the Book Center and the bridge which collapsed tragically a few months later. I crossed and recrossed the mighty Mississippi on foot and by car. I saw a church where my grandfather preached in the 1930's, and the house my mother lived in for those years. I drank some locally-brewed ales, lagers, and other hops-based beverages, including a Heiffenweizen (sp?) with lemon that changed my mind about how much beer one could imbibe just for flavor, not the high (although that followed logically as I stumbled the short way back to the hotel). I had a long and pleasant evening in an Indian restaurant after changing my take-out order to delicious eat-in, talking with the owner for hours about the American experience, philosophy, social mores and where to buy really lovely ties. (His secret: purchase the silk overseas and know a good local seamstress.)

After the Seven Days of Books, I spent three days on a farm downstate with friends, one was my very oldest friend of nearly 40 years, the other my newest friend, his wife, who performed, all unkowingly, a healing she could only guess. They are working artists, teachers, farmers and personal muses. I love them both dearly and hope they come to California to visit so I can partially return the favor. I came to know their friends, their barn, crops, dogs, chickens, turkeys and other livestock, and was shown a raffish outbuilding they sincerely wanted me to inhabit for my own Midwestern retreat.

There's more of this song to sing, of How Our Heroine Becomes Repeatedly Lost en route from airport, and The Blood-Curdling Tale Of The Internet Bargain Lodging (bloody Q-Tip encrusted into carpet, etc.). Another time.

Bottom line: Minneapolis and Minnesota nurtured, taught and healed me. May in Minnesota cured me of lifelong afflictions of guilt, ennui, and lack of motivation. Were it not for brutal weather and insects, I'd move here in a minute. Fuck Lourdes, come to Minneapolis. Gee, it's nice.

Long Time Gone, Good Time to be Back

Why have I been gone, why am I back? It's a story of STUFF, moving, and artistic paralysis and rebirth. Mainly, it's about restoring order from chaos, and getting back in the groove. I have new comissions to fulfill, and finally, ten months after my most recent move, I have a workspace almost ready for their fulfillment.

This is my story of STUFF. I've been engaged, with varying degrees of intensity, in the process of dealing with STUFF since I moved from San Francisco to here in Ventura in 2004. I moved here literally with the shirt on my back and nothing else. My first order of business the next day was to buy a few low-cost changes of t-shirts and undies at Target. Through the kindness of friends, my cat and car arrived before the week was out. I should have known when I was well off. Within a month, virtually everything contained in a three-bed, two-bath house complete with huge and full basement and garage arrived in a giant Bekins truck and took up temporary residence in a storage locker. I had packed some myself, the rest was done by my ex, and although he did an excellent job, I didn't know, for example, if the box marked "XMAS" meant wrapping paper, ornament, holiday dishes, lights or that giant wicker reindeer. And so on, through "Kitchen", "Books" and "Clothes." Not his fault, but the sheer volume of STUFF prevented a careful catalog or editing.

A few months later, I moved the whole mess into a medium-size condo, and once I had placed the furniture, and opened the boxes obviously containing the necessities of life, I stacked the mystery boxes to the sides of the garage and explored them only to the extent that internal storage and deep depression permitted. Once I had enough clearance for my VW Beetle, a certain paralysis took hold. My former manic enthusiasms were painfully demonstrated by the sheer number of boxes labeled "Fragile: Cakestands" or "Eggbeaters" or whatever other collection frenzy I had embarked upon during my years in San Francisco. Just reading the notations brought on blue fugue states Instead, I indulged in a new buying spree for art supplies, and since I make, among other things, assemblage from "found objects" (translation: anything and everything, dirty, tattered and rusty preferred) I had free reign to collect STUFF that defied easy categorization. I kept up with most of it in the craft room/studio, with shelves, a closet and a huge wardrobe crammed with boxes labeled "Doll Heads, Medium" and "Game Pieces" and, in desperation, "All Kinds of Metal Shit." Still, eventually, inevitably, it got away from me over the next two years, despite occasional efforts to organize. Piles of STUFF nearly prevented any movement at all in the room. Still, my creativity thrived, and I established my website (PLUG: http://www.fragileindustries.com/) this blog, and produced objects that pleased me and my clients.

When I knew I was moving into two rooms and a bath in my mother's immaculate house which she had organized with a Virgo's OCD intensity, I made a herculean push and succeeded fairly well in sorting all non-art/craft possessions into "Keep & Move In" "Sell" "Donate," a carefully disciplined "Store" category and an amazing tottering pile of "Toss". I packed up new boxes, neatly labeled, or simply opened and closed the existing ones and moved them into the appropriate class. I placed ads in the paper, called any charity that made pick ups, and bagged the "Toss" and made midnight runs to the dumpster behind Ralph's. It was grueling and took the entire month Then came the day before the move and I realized I had 24 hours to tackle the art/craft STUFF. I swallowed my secret emergency stash of three hits of speed (overlooked in my sobriety housecleaning, found during the bathroom clearance and hoarded for just this contingency). Starting at the door of the craft room, I filled a box with what came to hand, scribbled "ARTS" on the side, slapped on tape, toted it downstairs and repeated the process. By that time the next day, with no sleep, two pizza deliveries, and a run to Target for a car full of more big-ass plastic tubs, I had reached the back wall and the movers were ringing the doorbell. The "ARTS" stack dwarfed all others. Mom had promised me the use of her small but immaculate office for a studio, so now I had three empty rooms and half a garage to fill at my destination. Practicing the familial talent for denial that has served me so well, I said, "I'll think about that tomorrow," and spent six months sorting, shelving and dealing with everything BUT the "ARTS," which ended up filling, floor to ceiling, the half of Mom's immaculate garage not taken up with her big ass Mafia car.

It has now been eight months since I've done my arts except for educational excursions with supplied materials. I have made half-hearted stabs at unpacking, with the unhappy result that the living room AND the garage AND the craft room were filled with boxes, opened and abandoned in despair. There was no easy starting point. There was no starting point at all.
After my trip to Minnesota for my book art tutorials, I was newly energized. In late May, I began. The pace was glacial, and some days I only had ten minutes before my back was screaming, or panic, hyperventilation and nausea set in. Some days were better, and slowly, generic "CRAFTS" became piles of categories, reorganization of which were required sometimes as new sub-categories emerged, or a newly decanted mystery box revealed a fundamental flaw in the system.

In the meantime, the office-studio-to-be was remodeled: the very '80's padded brocade came off the walls, requiring resurfacing before the repainting could be done; existing shelving and cabinetry was cleaned and reinforced; new book shelving installed, twelve (12) tall plastic drawer units purchased, file cabinet refurbished and filled with folders; and computer desk delivered and "EASY NO-TOOL ASSEMBLY" accomplished with a great deal of profanity and perspiration. All of this awaited the "two-weeks-promised-but-two-months-in-practice" purchase and installation of the Pergo floor (Thanks, Lowe's, grrrrrrr...) to replace the carpet, destroyed by my mother's late cat.

Several of the category piles have been sorted to a fine anality and are in place: paper (oh, yeah, it sounds easy, but if you Google "paper storage" or "paper organization" for crafters, you'll see how obsessive an enterprise this is); jewelry and beading supplies, ribbon and fibers and lace oh my, "fasteners" (I know what it means, never mind), some books, some scrapbooks, some of the "All Kinds of Metal Shit," all stamps and ink and stamping accouterments, and my entire collection of collage images equaled only by the Library of Congress. Still to go: general office supplies, adhesives, computer-related miscellany, cloth, knitting, "All Kinds of Wood Shit", game pieces and decks of cards (tarot, playing, Beatle and Diana Rigg Avenger Cards, among others), and the remainder of the unfinished categories mentioned above.

All of this has been slowly driving my poor mother around the bend. She grew up with clutter and in reaction makes Felix Unger look like a piker in the neat department, and although she has one or two beloved collections (jewelry, lamps, vases), she would be happy in a single well-lit room with one spoon and one bowl. Her mother's clutter gene skipped to my generation, so we are each other's karmic punishment for our respective schools of OCD. I cannot harness her abilities to conquer this insanity, however, because a) she takes one look at it and runs shrieking from the room, erupting in hives, b) her preferred solution is to grab kerosene and light a match, and c) she's on an oxygen tank, for god's sake. I may be certifiable, but I'm not a monster.

Now I have gotten my ass in high organizational gear, and I'm actually having fun. The garage is empty but for the Mafia Car and a new "donate" pile which will disappear on Thursday to benefit the battered women's shelter. My labeling machine is my new best friend, and better descriptions appear on the drawers than "Miscellaneous Smelly Crap" (that referred to some mildewy yardage purchased at a garage sale for a song, now washed, ironed, folded and Febreezed into submission). I still have my idiosyncratic poetic bent in description, but I know the drawer next to "Beads" (color sorted!) which I have marked "Sparkletown!" holds sequins and rhinestones. By size and color.

I am now at the stage I call "sorting pepper from fly shit." For example, I have far too many buttons to simply have a "Button" drawer. No, they must be sorted into those with holes and those with shanks, by color, source material (cloth? wood? plastic? metal? shell?) and "interesting" from "plain." I sit in front of HGTV by the hour surrounded by those wonderfully useful plastic hardware/fish hook/etc bins making decision after decision, feeling hugely competent and accomplished. This flush of success has its drawbacks. Last night I had a single endless dream of sorting, what I don't know. It was very boring. This morning, diving back into the button process, I was nearing the end when a button of wood and leather with both silver and gold accents came up. I screamed "FUCK YOU!" at the defenseless thing, startling my mother from her paper and coffee across the table. We giggled, my giggles began to verge into hysteria, and I knew it was time for a calm, restorative walk on the beach.

Which did the trick of taking my mind off of things. Mostly because I discovered a dead and rotting body half-buried in the sand. Really, no lie. But that's another story. I'll get to that later. First, back to the buttons.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Be An Artist! Make Big Money!

I have a new customer. She actually found my website via Google. That search engine optimization stuff must do some good, tiresome as it is.

She wants an altered book. Because I prefer to work with the recipient in mind (that's why I subtitle my site "participatory altered art," a term I made up my own self) I asked her to toss out a few themes or images that had personal meaning. She sent back pages of information, a blessing and a curse. I work best under limitations. So I'm noodling around for a theme.

I have no idea what to charge. My books tend to be massive, lengthy undertakings. The best limitation here would be brevity for the sake of both of us. A necessary limitation is that I will have my studio packed and moving for the next ____________ (fill in the blank with a now uncertain period of time). I'm going to separate out a selection of materials and work within those constraints, too. Perhaps I should title this "Working Outside The Box", if that wasn't such a cliche. "Out of The Suitcase?"

Pictures as it progresses.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Wedding Shrine from start to finish in photos - part one

Here's the ugly duckling I chose for the base of the shrine. Ghastly, isn't it? There was a method to my madness. The creative couple's ceremony and celebration had elements of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indian themes, with, as the bride told me, "a little 19th Century American." The shape of the piece echoed classic American cabinetry, a Duncan Phyfe curve to the top with the simple molding of the trim and base. The doors, however, were quite tropical with their carved relief palm trees, echoing the Indian and Pacific influences.
Paint and collage would easily eliminate the unfortunate leopard spots. I also liked the duality of the base -- symbolic of the union of two individuals -- two doors, two drawers for the bride and groom singly, and I would remove the interior shelf to create a unified space for the unity of the two as a couple.
Here is the couple's invitation (names redacted). Isn't it lovely? It gave me the pallette for the colors of the work, all warm shades. Originally, I intended to add teal as a single cool element for visual relief from all the warmth but the abundance of blue in the collage materials (see post below) would supply that contrast. I mixed my paints and set to work to transform this ugly ducking into a swan, an object that could become as personal and special as their celebration.

The bride wanted a partially finished shrine, so that they and their guests could together create the final product. In the post below, I show how that was done. After their wedding, the couple will send me pictures of the finished shrine in all its glory, and I will follow up here to show what evolved from the ugly beginnings.

Wedding Shrine -- from start to finish in pictures part 2

As usual, Blogger is not cooperating in loading pictures. I seem to have reached my limit. I will try to create a separate post showing the very start of this project. These are the photos of the finished stages.

I selected the embellishments, below, for my clients, in keeping with the wedding theme. These will be applied by the couple and their guests at the wedding celebration. There are 20-30 lengths of various fibers and ribbons to coordinate with the colors, some pressed flowers in self-stick dimensional resin, large blown glass beads in shades of red and gold and gold wire to attach them for drawer pulls and door knobs, metal tags with the couple's initials, and with words like "celebrate", "dream", "joy", poetry magnet words suited to love and romance, ceramic tiles, a small bottle, more beads, charms with the moon and stars, two small metal frames, chinese coins and metal charms, brass rings which can be tied to the ribbons. The couple can add personal objects with special meaning to these embellishments. I enclosed a package of Glue Dots for easy application. Here are about 30-40 small eye bolts I spray painted gold. They will be put on the back of the piece in whatever arrangement my clients wish, and then the ribbon and fibers can be threaded through them and tied on.
I collected many Asian and Indian images of couples, gods and goddesses, and fertility symbols and altered them in Photoshop and created collages. This is one such page.
Then I tore them into individual pieces or small groupings and ran them through a Xyron machine, which applies adhesive to the back and places them on paper, so they are easy to peel and stick - resulting in collage by the group effort.
Here is the front of the shrine, ready for further embellishment. I layed down layers of gesso, various shades of red and pink, transparent glazes in red and gold, and gold leaf detail on edges and to bring out the palm tree carvings.
Here is the side of the shrine. Each side was painted, freehand and with foam stamps, to replicate the background of the wedding invitation, with gold leaf on the outlines of some of the elements.
This is an old temple image of the Buddha on the back of the shrine, altered with paint and gold leaf, and with additional Buddha images added in a circular collage. The eye bolts for the ribbons will go here, if and where the couple desires.
Here is the interior of the shrine, with an image of an Indian god and goddess couple flying on the back of the bird god Garuda, placed over an abstract acrylic base, and further altered with watercolor, pen, and whatever else I could think of. More of the collage images can go around the image, on the sides and shelf, and inside the drawers.

I can't wait to see how this ends up -- it will be a treasured keepsake of their celebration, made with loving hands.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Wedding Shrine - quick update

But first, some Fine Whine:

I have to admit, I really don't like Blogger's format. I have another blog about the rest of my life (yes, I have one, such as it is), hosted by Typepad, and the options are endless, the format easy and intuitive. I opened this on Blogger, as an experiment, and I'm not happy with the result. Especially when posting photos. They just seem to appear wherever they want. Compared to Typepad, Blogger blows.

And now, back to our regular programming:

I spent a day or so laying on the gesso to cover all the ugliness and leopard spots. Then I mixed paint to match the invitation -- I opened it in Photoshop, did the eyedropper thingy, and made a sort of paint-chip pallette of the shades of red, lighter red, pale pink, pale yellow and bronze to check against. I need a cool color in there for contrast, can't have it entirely made of warm shades, so I'll probably work in my favorite dark teal as a small accent.

Yesterday, I laid down the background color, same as the background color on the invitation, which appears like a light red -- not pink exactly, just over the line into red. My carefully mixed acrylic, which matched the pallette shade exactly on my paint chip chart, went on smoothly. Unfortunately, it looked like I had poured a bottle of Pepto-Bismol over it. Precisely that shade of obnoxious pink. How could it look red on the invitation? I told myself not to get despondent, it will dry darker, and I'm planning to use a transparent bright red glaze over all the tints of red. I've put on the darker red today on some areas, and it appeared to be what the first shade should have been. After it dried and a second coat of both colors, I'm more optimistic. Once I apply some detail work tonight -- the swirly, fringy shape of the darker red on the top half of the invitation is going down the sides of the srhine over the paler red -- I'll glaze it first thing tomorrow and it should be, as Goldilocks said, "just right." In the meantime I'm working on the collage to go inside, and some reinforcement for the back panel, which will be covered with ribbons.

Here's the invitation, with the lettering Photoshopped out.

Or maybe not. I can't get the picture to load. Right format, all according to the instructions.... and nada. I really don't like Blogger. I really, really don't.