my dad has been collecting wasp’s nests for me for the past couple of years and i just happened upon them again a couple of weeks ago. you want to keep them in a plastic bag or glass jar for a good year or so after you “harvest” them, which is why i forgot about them (i didn’t do that with the first batch about three years ago and couldn’t figure out why there were wasps in my studio the following spring!). usually, nine times out of ten, i find perished wasps in the bottom of the baggies or jars after letting them sit.

anyway, these were ready and i decided to start a couple of pieces with them. this one is called “wasp’s gift”. click on any of the images to view enlarged versions, if desired.

wasps-gift-assemblage-alicia-caudle

at the top of this piece is an X. in the elder futhark, that rune is called gebo, which literally translates to “gift”. so, not a terribly creative name, really, but befitting none the less. (more specifically, gebo means gifts, both in the sense of sacrifice and of generosity, indicating balance. all matters in relation to exchanges.) the circles represent gestation and external growth.

the dots and markings on this piece are very textural and not just painted on. you can see peeks of vintage and antique book pages sticking through in a couple of places.

wasps-gift-d3

the wooden “frame” around the wasp nest protrudes from the wooden base. the first photo didn’t make that entirely obvious. it was intentionally cut and assembled roughly to give it a more ancient or primitive look.

wasps-gift-d4

here’s a little close-up of the crescent shaped wasp nest. i loved that nest the most out of my entire collection so was excited to use it here.

“in some african traditions, the wasp is a symbol of evolution, and control over our life circumstances.

some native american indian tribal myths indicate the wasp was the creator of the earth, and was a symbol of order, organization and productivity.

ancient european lore recognizes the wasp as big part of pollination. here the wasp is symbolic of fertility as this genre of earth-based believers honored the wasp for its role in continuation of certain plants and flowers.”

(Quote via What’s Your Sign)

wasps-gift-d2

this piece has been imbued with healing earth energy and the gift of protection for whomever’s home it ends up residing in.

the whole piece measures 10×10″. additional photos and information can be found here:

 

world-tree-spirit-journal

this is another one of my newest spirit journals. its covers are make of bird’s nest paper and the front is adorned with the first (or second?) world tree/tree of live patch i made.

the twig on the spine of this 6×9″ handmade artist book (i actually call them “spirit books”) is elder. a dear lady friend from nova scotia sent me a large bundle of them for my ogham sets as they don’t grow here. in celtic lore, the elder represents cycles: death, rebirth, renewal and regeneration. it’s also a symbol of creativity.

world-tree-elder-branch-spine
the closure is an antler button (via an antler found left in nature) and there are 60 naturally hand-dyed pages.

world-tree-spirit-journal-closure
in this book, the pages were dyed with organic, fair trade coffee. yum!

world-tree-dyed-pages

world-tree-dyed-pages-open

you can view additional photos and details here: http://aliciacaudle.com/art/shop/world-tree-book-alicia-caudle.php

(this book is sold, thank you)

recently i’ve found myself a bit tired of portrait paintings so i’ve been going back to my “roots” of books, nature art, abstract and assemblage. i’m loving it! it’s not that i don’t enjoy painting faces because i do… i just don’t feel the direction in was going was entirely true to myself. i originally took a class to learn faces “right” so i could do them “wrong”, better and intentionally. things were getting a little too rigid for me, so i had to step back from myself a minute.

which brings me to my newest piece, “the only way out is through”. it measures 12×12 and is on gallery wrapped canvas.

ingredients:
acrylic, ink and diamond glaze

this piece is very textural as you will see in the detail images below. you can click on them to view enlarged versions.

the-only-way-out-is-through

the-only-way-out-is-through-d1

the-only-way-out-is-through-d2

the-only-way-out-is-through-d3

the-only-way-out-is-through-d4

the title of this piece was inspired by the line “the best way out is is always through,” written by robert frost in 1914 a servant to servants.

this piece can also be found here: http://aliciacaudle.com/art/shop/the-only-way-out-is-through-alicia-caudle.php

(oops, i already posted the hawthorn spirit journal a couple of weeks ago so this title is inaccurate. sorry!)

within the past couple weeks, i’ve completed a couple more spirit journals. i’m kind of obsessed, but anyone that’s known me since i started this blog 7? 8? years ago? …knows that’s i’ve always been book obsessed.

this one is entitled “faery writing and forest runes” (because books need titles, you know). all of the twigs were found on the forest floor in the oregon rain forest and taken with both permission and gratitude.

the front is adorned with western red cedar and douglas fir twigs that were been nibbled by tiny forest creatures whilst the branch was still living and covered in bark. i call these twigs forest runes and like to think of the markings as faery writing because that feels more magical than a bug or a worm in a lot of ways. if you listen carefully, you can hear their messages.

faery writing and forest runes, spirit book by alicia caudle

here is a close-up/more detailed shot of the stunning little twigs. they are just as i found them, except that i oiled them a bit with some organic coconut oil to bring out their gorgeous hues:

detail of faery writing and forest runes twigs, handmade spirit book, alicia caudle

the energies these trees carry and the messages they convey to us are: strength, virility, presence, and knowing (western ted cedar), determination, purpose, achievement, and reaching new heights (fir — i do know that doug fir is not actually a fir). on the spine is a gorgeous curving piece of pacific madrone which teaches us individuality, adaptation, and how to step into our unique, individual greatness.

the covers are made from a thick luscious paper called bird’s nest paper that was handmade in thailand, with some thick natural cotton weave between the layers to add to its rustic and ancient feel. the spine of the book has yet another twig (the madrone as mentioned above) and it love the way they meander as it grow, as well as the stunning reddish hue of their wood (can you read the faery writing on that one?).

madrone-twig-book-spine

the tree of life, or world tree symbol on the back is actually a lined pocket where you can stick your notes or pen. i made this using reclaimed, naturally dyed fabric and natural hemp twine.

world-tree-back-book-pocket
the pages themselves are hand-dyed with organic coffee and the front edges have been tattered a bit to give a deckle edged look, which is one of my favorite things to do.

handmade-deckle-edged-paperthis book is available in my new but not quite fully complete website, here: http://aliciacaudle.com/art/shop/faery-writing-forest-runes-journal-alicia-caudle.php

thanks for allowing me to share another one of my spirit books. xx

i’ve been on a book-making kick lately (and shaman rattles, but that’s another story) and finally completed a new spirit journal last week. it’s been a busy time of adventures, company in town, drum circles and shamanic clients, so i’m only now finding the time to post it. (thanks to my husband picking our son up from school instead of me having to do it!)

due to the lack of finding a more creative alternative, i am simply calling this spirit journal “the hawthorn journal” (though i do affectionately think of it as a faery journal — i’ll explain momentarily).

hawthorn branch journal, faery journal, spirit journal, handmade artist book

the cover was very carefully constructed of fallen hawthorn branches we’d been drying in the garage for the past year or so. hawthorn representing abundance and duality in the celtic tree ogham and is also often referred to as “the faery tree”. if you are unfamiliar with hawthorns, they are in fact quite thorny and potentially brutal. one day, about six years ago, my son literally caught his ear lobe on a branch and half-pierced it. they’re sharp! thankfully i suffered not even a scratch (hawthorn and i are great allies).

hawthorn branch journal, faery journal, spirit journal, handmade artist book

instead of my typical two-strand tie closure, i opted to do a wrap-around closure with a holey stone on a piece of gorgeous silk ribbon that i purchased from lisa jurist’s etsy shop (you can find it here — alert —  you will want to buy a LOT!). holey stones are stones that have natural holes in them from water. they are also often referred to as hag stones or faery stones (yep, another reference to those beautiful fae spirits!), and they are very protective, just like the hawthorn.

hawthorn branch journal, faery journal, spirit journal, handmade artist book

detail of some of the twigs, which have been attached to my very favorite paper in the world called bird’s nest paper. see the thorns? i think this would deter people from looking at your private writings.

book binding, binding style

the binding is just one of my typical “i don’t really know how to properly bind so i just make up my own methods” types that incorporates more of that gorgeous brown silk ribbon. it’s a bit rough and primitive, just the way i like it. i see that i accidentally shot this photo before the cover was actually affixed to the book, but you get the idea. that gap? it doesn’t exist anymore. oh, and that stunning burlap type paper is actually 1940s wallpaper. i love the rough but natural feel and the tight weave of it.

hawthorn branch journal, faery journal, spirit journal, handmade artist book, hand-dyed pages

each of the pages were hand-dyed using organic coffees and teas, and then i deckled each of the edges myself. (it is called “deckle”, right? spell check always hates that word for some reason.) i always love the look and feel of things that appear old and handed down through the generations. i pretend one of my old witchy german great grandmothers or scottish shaman great grandmothers made this to be handed down to me. well, not really to me, but to you… since i just listed it in my etsy shop. you can take a look at it here. the description is much more thorough and informative, especially if you’re interested in learning more about trees and rocks and their metaphysical/magical/other uses and characteristics. you can peek at it here >>

(sold, thank you)

i though i was done with this, but now i’ve decided it’s a work in progress as i see a few things i’d like to add to. as artists, it’s always that way though, isn’t it?

this is my first huge painting 30″x30″. it is inspired by nature and shamanic transition or spirit blankets which i always see as patchwork pieces that tell stories in addition to serving their intended purpose.

(you can click on the images to view enlarged versions)

abstract patchwork shamanic transition blanket paiting, nature inspired abstract

after i painted and photographed this, i decided to try to find some photos that depicted my mental image and quiet inspiration.

green leaves against a blue sky…

abstract leaves

leaves in nature

tiny spring shoots sprouting up through rocks…

abstract sprouts growing through rocks

sprouts growing though rocks

autumn leaves floating in dark waters…

dark water abstract painting

leaf floating on the water

stacks of rocks (which always mesmerize me, large or small)…

abstract stack of rocks

rocks in the desert

abstract shadows and mist on a summer morning…

abstract shadows on grass

shadows and mist in the grass

it was lovely to be able to find so many photos that depicted my simple visions (thank goodness for free wallpaper websites, ha!).

i was going to list it for sale but think i’ll probably end up hanging it in my dining room (following some serious wall re-organization) as i haven’t the slightest idea how i’d package or ship such a large piece.❤

here is another nature-inspired piece i recently completed. it’s entitled “in the forest with the sidhe”. the forest is where i feel most at home, and love gazing at light of the full moon between the branches and boughs when i’m able to spend nights in the forest (soon that will be every night as our property hunt has now resumed — i’ll share about that soon as it’s quite exciting indeed!).

forest-at-night

this piece measures 12″x24″ and is available, despite my sweet husby saying he wants us to keep it (apparently he hasn’t noticed how much art we already have adorning our walls — i can’t think of anywhere it’d fit other than perhaps inside our bedroom closet, the silly man). it’s made of vintage and antique papers collaged onto canvas, acrylic paint and both alcohol and india inks. it was painted up-side-down and was quite fun indeed. one of my fellow shamanic practitioner friends asked that i teach a class on how to paint a forest but i think i’ll just do a video. it’s really quite simple.

lastly, i think i’m going to create a secondary blog for just my shamanic inspired art and musings, and keep this space for assemblage, altered bits product announcements, zine stuff if i start that up again, etc. i’ll keep you posted. i know not all of you are interested in hearing about soul retrieval and energy healing, crystals and psychopomp work, power animal retrieval or past life discovery so i shall not force it upon you. xx

it’s been so long since i’ve blogged that it took a few to even remember how to create a new post. that’s pretty sad (i say whilst giggling at myself). after this long i don’t expect many people to even realize this blog even exists anymore.

though i’ve been quiet in wordpress land, i’ve been quite busy with art and shamanic work. i had started my learning in the native american/lakota traditions but veered onto the path of celtic and nordic shamanism once i received the call to start working with my ancestors. what a magical and wildly beautiful ride it’s been! a life balanced between family, art and healing couldn’t be more perfect for me. i’ve been blessed with an amazing teacher and mentor and am now offering services in soul retrieval, deposession, destiny tracking, green energy healing, illumination healing, curse unraveling, and a host of other things… but i digress. i’m also starting quarterly handmade book and spirit journal workshops which is partially how this came to fruition.

nature spirit journal
after months of the pieces sitting in my studio, i finally completed it. while taking photos of it i realized how much i miss blogging and reading everyone’s posts and viewing their photos so i’m jumping back in again.

nat2
this is newest nature spirit journal is made from fig twigs, a natural piece of coral i found on the beach in hawaii, hemp twine, bird’s nest and other natural handmade papers, recycled brown paper pages and recycled sari silk.

nat3

also, a small celtic knotwork piece on the front.

nat4

complete with classic tie closure like i always do.

nat5

the binding colors were inspired by the colors of the seasonal cycle of an oak, which is one of my favorite trees. (all of these recycled silk ribbons came from mudhound studio on etsy — lisa’s shop is amazing!)

nat6

the inside covers and flaps have some gorgeous handmade paper with natural leaves and other nature bits. it’s so yummy and delicate.

nat7

the inside pages are a recycled earthy brown color… and of course there is a gorgeous drilled stone at on the bottom of the attached silk bookmark.

i’ve just listed it up for sale in my etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/258914663/handmade-nature-spirit-journal-art

 

i forgot that i already scheduled a blog post for today so this is #2… ah well.

for those who know me, my deep adoration for poison bottles and specimen vials is pretty obvious. it’s a year-round, deep and passionate love, but during this time of year i think a lot more people share my penchant for such things. as such, i’ve just created and posted two new digital collage sheets for the altered bits site (click to enlarge):

poison and alchemy labels digital collage sheet

you can find these and 7 other new digital collage sheets here: http://alteredbits.com/digital-collage-sheets.php

do you want to know how i create some of the aforementioned poison, alchemy and specimen labels i use in a lot of my assemblages and books? then read on!

free wax topped-poison and specimen bottle tutorial

this is an extremely easy process and it’s both fun and super cool looking. use them in a cabinet of curiosities or oddities assemblage or book, or just display them on a shelf. once my stupid over-priced epson printer is fixed (their warranty service is not my friend today — one would think for $2600 you’d get more than a year of coverage) i’ll be making lots more with the new labels i created. [cross your fingers my husband can fix printers — he’s super handy and has recently fixed a stove (twice), a washing machine, a toilet, a sink, a car bumper that decided to fall off, a rototiller, a few musical devices, a broken deadbolt and some other stuff — he’s pretty amazing so a printer should be a cake walk… but i digress…]

okay… to start, you will need this stuff or similar alternatives:

  • a bottle of any sort, filled with your specimen(s), or whatever you’re using (there are usually lots of little bottles on the Altered Bits site).
  • natural beeswax and something to melt it in
  • acrylic paint (burnt umber is used above)
  • a paintbrush
  • a baby wipe or other moist wiping device
  • some sort of scraper – can be a carving tool, a super-sharp pencil, a thick needle, an awl, etc.

once your bottle is filled and corked (or capped if that’s what you’d doing), melt some beeswax. when thoroughly melted, dip the top of your bottle into the wax to cover it, and let it cool. keep dipping the top into the wax and let it solidify between dips until you feel it’s built up enough. i typically dip about four or five times for small bottles, more for larger. Set aside and let it dry/harden for about ten minutes.

with your carving tool (or needle or whatever you’ve opted to use), carve some random scratch marks into the wax. pierce it, puncture it, and carve it to give it an old or aged look. remove all little waxy remnants.

now whip out your paint and paintbrush. paint it all over the wax, taking extra care to get it into the grooves and divots in the wax. now wipe the paint off of the smooth parts of wax –– the paint will stay “pooled” in the scratches, cracks and divots and look really quite cool.

you’re done!

(in the above specimen bottle i was going for a wormy-type effect but the green is a little NOT what i was going for. the strands that kinda look like gross tape worms are strands of hot glue i dried on parchment or wax paper and shoved inside — the green is natural food coloring but one of these days i’ll provide some way better coloring ideas. i made this about three… or five years ago and i’m smarter now.)❤

you can find a PDF tutorial of this here, complete with at least one typo (scroll to the bottom of the page): http://alteredbits.com/art-tutorials.php  i’ll actually be adding a couple more “waxen” tutorials (waxen book and waxen dolls) in the coming months as well as recipes for natural dyes, assemblage projects and other fun stuff.

weekly palette #6, rock circles

the weekly palette | art and design contest | alteredbits.wordpress.com

as a reminder, the winner will be announced on the last sunday of every month.

this month’s prize is a stack of 4×6 papers… some vintage and antique book pages and sheet music, handmade papers, printed papers, etc.

 

lines

here are the “rules” if you missed the first posts:

  • create something using some or all of the colors in the weekly palette (at least three is preferred).
  • “something” = anything.  if you make it, it counts. an assemblage, something altered, a painting, a collage, an art journal page, a book/book cover, a dress, a pair of mittens, jewelry, digital art, a newly refinished piece of furniture, a craft item — anything.  any medium. i just want to see people get creative.
  • email a photo (or two) of your piece with the email subject “weekly palette” to hi (at) altered bits (dot) com but in proper email format with no spaces.  include your name, blog or website address and whatever else you want.
  • IF YOU’RE SUBMITTING SOMETHING PERSONAL, SUCH AS AN ART JOURNAL PAGE THAT YOU DON’T WANT POSTED, PLEASE INDICATE SO.  i’m kind of a mind-reader, but not always spot-on.
  • check back on the last sunday of the month to see if you’ve won as i’ll post the winner’s name, blog or web address, and submission photo (unless they’ve requested it not be posted).
  • feel free to enter every week for additional chances to win at the end of the month.  one submission = one entry.
  • have fun creating!

weekly palette #5, antique doll head

the weekly palette | art and design contest | alteredbits.wordpress.com

as a reminder, the winner will be announced on the last sunday of every month.

this month’s prize is a stack of 4×6 papers… some vintage and antique book pages and sheet music, handmade papers, printed papers, etc.

 

lines

here are the “rules” if you missed the first posts:

  • create something using some or all of the colors in the weekly palette (at least three is preferred).
  • “something” = anything.  if you make it, it counts. an assemblage, something altered, a painting, a collage, an art journal page, a book/book cover, a dress, a pair of mittens, jewelry, digital art, a newly refinished piece of furniture, a craft item — anything.  any medium. i just want to see people get creative.
  • email a photo (or two) of your piece with the email subject “weekly palette” to hi (at) altered bits (dot) com but in proper email format with no spaces.  include your name, blog or website address and whatever else you want.
  • IF YOU’RE SUBMITTING SOMETHING PERSONAL, SUCH AS AN ART JOURNAL PAGE THAT YOU DON’T WANT POSTED, PLEASE INDICATE SO.  i’m kind of a mind-reader, but not always spot-on.
  • check back on the last sunday of the month to see if you’ve won as i’ll post the winner’s name, blog or web address, and submission photo (unless they’ve requested it not be posted).
  • feel free to enter every week for additional chances to win at the end of the month.  one submission = one entry.
  • have fun creating!

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