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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.

wow, i hadn’t realized how long it had been since i’d blogged.  lots and lots going on around here with arting, gardening, fence building, more arting, travel, parties, remodeling, yard sales and adventures.  thinking about it all makes my head spin, but it’s been fun indeed!

space needle

during the first weekend in may, my friend katie and i had a grand time renting a car and driving up to bellevue for seth apter‘s book signing for the pulse of mixed media (that’s the travel part).  it was such a wonderful time meeting seth, donna watson, leslie avon miller et al.  i got lots of pics, but this is my favorite of seth with one of his gorgeous books:

seth apter

(okay, so this is pissing me off.  the pic is of proper orientation on my computer, but on my blog it’s sideways.  wtf?  then i go to rotate, and it’s STILL sideways!  i’m going to have a fit… is seth on his side here for you, or vertical as he should be?)

oh wait, i got it now — thank you photoshop (still looks right on my stupid windows 7 computer)!  (i’m embarrassed — i’m a graphic designer but i swear it’s my computer, not me!  i can rotate a dang photo!!  see….)

seth apter

yes, i got to meet the wonderful mister seth apter AND see his gorgeous, gorgeous book.  here is a close up so you can see it too:

seth apter's hand book

copyright seth apter

(i got to touch it though!)  isn’t it just stunning!!

after the book signing (which we were late to due to a dumb bridge lift, two wrong turns, a time warp and a half, a lost cane and it already being over a 4 hour drive), about a dozen or so of us went to lunch and it was both fab and fun to meet so many wonderful artists and get to chat a bit.  everyone was so nice!  i’m used to meeting snobby art people, not nice ones, so it was such a grand treat!

from there, katie and i cruised to seattle.  first stop, a shop we were told was cool but wasn’t, save for a really fantastic “not for sale” display in the back:

ye olde curiosity shop display

here is a secret: i really want a pickled pig, a two faced cat and a bat wet specimen.  those are on my list.  and siamese twin anything.  stuffed or jarred — i would love it, and hold it, and maybe/maybe not pet it.  but i digress.

after much ado, we got to our hotel.  bad long story that ended in good.  we were moved to this room with the most amazing view of the space needle (which we didn’t even notice until about an hour after we got there, shhhhh).

view of the space needle and our hotel in seattle

the photographic magic was a fluke, thank you cell phone and reflective window.  you get to see our room and the view in unison.  apparently they rent this room for $450/night.  we didn’t pay half that.  🙂

after a night of drunken giggles, a salami sandwich hotel room picnic, the making of a really ridiculously hilarious video i refuse to share and street walking in our PJs, we were on an return home adventure (next time we’re spending at least two nights!).  we stopped at lots of antique shops, but this was our favorite.  at first i thought we were going to get lost in this land of prettiness and narrow winding roads:

country road

we returned to our ever-loving and adoring husbands (intoxicated due to our being many hours late), ready to BBQ us up some grub.  fun times!  i think you should probably mosey on over to katie’s blog though as i’m sure she has included many more details than i have, such as the novelty condom machine, the peep hole and other such entertaining tales.  (the condom machine was funny, really — they had tattoo ones, glow ones, etc.  we just thought it was funny.  we don’t get out much.)  if she hasn’t posted about it yet, she will soon so check back.

i always love fellow artists’ blog posts when they share images of their collections, shots of where they create, photos of the places they dwell, etc.  i don’t do that often, so today i will share a little piece of what my sister claims to appear to be “creepy explosions” and “creepy corners” all over my house.  she’s a weirdo (and is always begging me to make her some art so i suppose she’s a secret lover of creepy too??).

this summer we were supposed to remodel our detached garage and morph it into the studio of bliss and divinity (which was put off from the summer previous), but that didn’t happen.  soon this will happen but i’ve given up my dream of a new studio for myself.  instead it’s going to be a safe and cozy place for kiddos with aspergers and autism to come, hang out, express themselves and make some really cool art.  i have the windows picked out and a plan for a mini loft and wood stove (we’ll see how that turns out — i giggle while i type as the husby will likely roll his gorgeous brown eyes and walk away when i announce such things to him as my plan).  i don’t suppose the kids really NEED a loft, but it would be fun.  my point, which seems not to be a point at all, is that i now have WAY too much stuff as i thought i would be moving my art goodness to a space 4 times larger than what i have but it’s now not happening.  i should have some giveaways!

a shelf in my studio

anyway, i enjoy filling my space with many hoards of various bits.  this big compartment box sits to my left while i’m at my main desk (there are four desks in here).  these are the things that i use most often so they must be readily available.  figure one: compartment hoards.

a collection of curious items
this is my favorite multi-level box of goodies.  i have buttons from the mid 1800s, lots of completely random rusty and metal items, bugs and bones and things i have no clue what they are.  just stuff i love.

collection of goodies for art

below is part of my charlotte and charlie collection, some of my brushes and tools and other odd things.  this is a fairly old pic — i was using a VERY large canvas and a piece of plaid wrapping paper for a makeshift curtain for a bit there as you can see.  it’s all better now and i feel so grown up with real life curtains.  🙂

a collection of frozen charlottes

one of my other obsessions is boxes of old watch vials, filled with watch parts.  i have a few, but this is one of my favorites.

watch parts, watch vials

i have an ever-growing collection of bugs and bones, too.  oh, and a chicken fetus.  i’m not sure where some of this went which is super sad.  i started packing some of it up for the new studio but since that isn’t happening now, i’m going to have to go unpack.  it will be like a pre-holiday celebration, i bet!

bugs and bones to use in my art

this is to the left of my sewing area — a wonderful and gorgeous wing book from my sweet friend kerinny ninny, some of my favorite doll heads, cards from my pal debrina in new zealand and a host of other things.


oooh, and my leather-bound handmade books!  the goddess book is such a treasure to me.  it was given to me by my hear friend jo archer in england.  the ones below were gifts from my mother and father in law from their trip to russia.  i love them all!  they have inspired a new obsessive collection of leather bound books.   remember brain boy?  yeah, that’s him in the vase.  i need to get my arse in gear and finish that piece!

hand made leather books, doll head

this is the wall just outside my studio which i can mostly see from my main desk/work space.  there you can find art by many amazing artists: kim palmer, lisa jurist, kc willis, joanna pierotti, lisa sarsfield and this chick named alicia caudle i once met.

there is no way i could make the time to post all of the amazing pieces of art i have in my home but i will highlight five of my favorites this round, and do another five sometime soon.

this is one of my dearest, sweetest, most favorite pieces ever.  it’s called “three bird house” and was created by kerin gale, my sweet and wonderful friend.  i bought this from her when we very first met and we’ve been friends ever since.  i will refrain from sharing the whole nightmare story about it but here is the quicky (a testament to how amazing keriny is!): it arrived with the top shattered.  i sent it back and poof (poof = a year and a half, haha)!  she fixed it and you could never ever tell it was broken.  love that girl!

art by kerin gale

copyright kerin gale

this was a wedding present from our dear friend kevin who is an amazing and intricate collage artist and painter.  this is huge and is one of the first things you see when you enter our abode.  click to enlarge — there is SO much going on in there!  sorry about the glare.

art by kevin

copyright kevin

this, of course, is a seth apter original entitled “melt”.  i saw it on his blog last year and had to snatch it right up.  i will own more seth art one of these days!

art by seth apter

copyright seth apter

this is the only michael deMeng piece i own too, though i hope to remedy that one of these days… when i’m not poor and starving.  🙂

art by michael demeng

copyright michael deMeng

this gorgeous piece is one of my all time favorites too — miss joanne archer sent it to me very recently and i LOVE it.  it’s titled “the harbour” and is hanging in my living room in a very prominent place so i can see it every day and share it with all who come to visit.

art by jo archer

copyright joanne archer

i got a new cell phone a couple of weeks ago and i’m obsessed with playing with all of the filters and effects on the camera.  sepia is one of my favorites.  this is the wall of my living room that i see while perched on the couch — just look up and to my right and this is what i see.  the piece over the shelf and the other to the right are both by the amazing and talented lisa jurist.  if you click to enlarge, you will see a sweet clothes pin doll that miss debrina made me too.  and of course my ever-growing bottle collection.  i got many of these from jo archer’s shop maud and mabel on etsy.  go shop there — she has stuff to die for!

living room wall

a creepy corner?  nopes.  just another little collection of goodness.

new curiosity box

i am in love with african porcupine quills and have them all over my house.  such purdy little things they are, but sharp!  (yes, that is a raccoon penis bone next to them.)

a collection of goodness

i should have gotten more shots of my vintage and antique medical tools.  i have three surgery sets and more than just the four vaginal speculums i’ve shown.  sorry to appear so narrow minded in the medical world.  sheesh.  this shelf is just inside the front door but i am thinking it may possibly make a bigger impact if i move it to the bathroom.  is that too creepy and weird?

vintage medical things

now i’m obsessed with this photo filter.  lovely!  i collect daguerreotypes… well, this is a new thing.  i have only two at the moment but you have to start somewhere, right!?  i like this handsome gent.

i collect ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, tintypes, etc.

what do you collect?  have any “creepy corners” to share?  i want to see them.  🙂

i have so been wonder woman this week!  started back to the home school “thing” (just part time — wednesday will be full time again), completed projects for four web design clients, shipped out heaps of orders, got orders for three commissioned pieces, sold more art than i ever have in one week, got five pieces off to the gallery (including the previously posted crow girl painting) for next month’s show, invented the best gluten free blackberry cinnamon biscuits on earth, started two new books, went away for a couple of days and scored a crap load of divine things at the flea market.  phew!  i need a nap.  i’ve been shite at communication and such though and haven’t even gotten to read miss katie’s follow-up to “the creativity condom” though am doing that NOW (okay, just read it and you must too!  she is a wealth of knowledge on copyright and protecting your art, etc.).  check it out here if interested (there are even alicia-bits in the post!) >>

here is the whole pile, sans the two turn of the century boats i got for my husby (one postcard, one original drawing):

first, three fabulous tintypes (maybe so i don’t scare you off too fast).  i love all of their rosy cheeks:

antique tintype photo of man

antique tintype of baby

antique tintype of two ladies, sisters
the most fantastical antique medical tools (click to enlarge, if desired):

vintage speculum, vaginal speculum, antique medial tool

antique medical tools, surgery, vintage

six GORGEOUS vintage bathing suit photos (if you found these and i didn’t, i would be so very envious!  i think i’ll keep half and sell the other half to share the happiness):

vintage bathing beauties, 1920s erotica, bathing suit photos, antique
some other random photos and goodies (love the key!):

vintage carte de viste, antique key

antique baby cabinet card, post mortem(she looks a bit like a post-mortem photo)

antique photo of girl dancing
and as if the medical tools were not the jackpot, i found this gorgeous taxidermy piece — a lovely pheasant.  he seems to have a great personality.  love that cocky look in his eye…

taxidermy pheasant(nope, we haven’t painted yet — we’re slow!)

taxidermy pheasant

of course i REALLY want to keep all of it, but i’m trying not to be like that anymore, else i shall end up on the hoarders show.  (OH, i forgot to photograph the 3 poison bottles i got too.  whoops!!  will add those next time!)

speculum, anyone?   (i actually found a home for it on a shelf, but am going to try to force myself to part with it)

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