Sunday, April 27, 2014


I didn't wake up wanting to paint.  I woke up and wanted to get dressed and have some coffee as a precursor to contemplating whether or not I should run to the store before predicted bad weather was to hit.

Severe weather.  Rain, hail, wind, tornadoes.  It was a decision to weigh carefully.

I got online, checked email, the weather forecast, and browsed through Pinterest.   Introductory painting tutorials that other crafty folks had pinned caught my eye, something they've never done before.

Painting.   I should paint.  I'll run my errand, and have the entire afternoon to paint.

I have to tell you: I don't paint.  Aside from mock ups and modeling of art projects for my kindergartners, the only brushes I use regularly are for my foundation, blush, eye shadow and face powder.  I have a stiff bristled brush for glue, and several sponge "brushes" for Mod Podge projects in the crafty nook, along with canvases too, canvases that I use for layered collages, not for painting.

The thought of painting has intimidated me for years, partly because I was regularly exposed to fine art, acknowledging those artists as true masters, not mere doodlers, and partly because paint is a medium I haven't enjoyed the feel of.  It's squishy, wet, messy, cold.  I like paper, scissors, yarn, glass, solder, and other textiles.  Yet today, none of my usual fear or aversion argued with I want to paint.

I laid out some sheet music, brushes, acrylic pastels, and the glass lid from one of my ribbon jars.

Recalling paintings done by friends and family, I thought back to a large canvas that my grandmother had painted for her dining room decades ago: red, white, and black, long strokes from top to bottom without a recognizable form. Circles are simple.  Start with circles.  So I did.  Round and round, trying each style of brush, dabbing, tracing, swirling, pressing.

Pink, blue, lilac, black, white.  Circles.  Nothing intimidating.  Look at how the music notes still peek through.  And so I continued:

Spots, polka dots, doughnuts.  Circles.  I enjoy painting.  Why have I waited so long to try this?

Not five minutes into the blue painting, I received news that my grandmother had passed away sometime yesterday... my grandmother, who had been known to paint.  Not regularly, mind you, but off and on, when the mood hit her.  When she was inspired.  When she just had to paint, and had the perfect spot for some artwork, like the nook in her dining room.

I certainly have quite a few more tears left to cry, but I know she's okay.

I know that she was here.

She told me to paint.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Antler sheds, eggs, and a glittery bottlebrush star are displayed above candy dishes filled with jelly beans and chocolates in our home this year.  






Happy Easter!

(Anyone ~else~ glad to be able to wear white shoes and sandals again?)

Friday, April 18, 2014

OWOA Winner!

I have had such a wonderful time visiting the other artists who participated in this year's Our World Our Art online event, hosted by Lisa Swifka!

The winner for my two soldered charms is:

Shaiha, email me at michaelek1(at)yahoo(dot)com with your snail mail address and I'll send the charms off to their new home!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our World Our Art 2014

Hello Our World Our Art participants, and welcome to my blog, Twigs and Tulle!  I'm so glad you're visiting, and I'm looking forward to exploring your art and blogs in return.

(click on the photo above to be taken to Lisa Swifka's lovely blog, A Whimsical Bohemian for more OWOA information)

I'm your host, Michaele (pronounced My-kul, "like the boy's name") Sommerville, and I've been creating and crafting since I was a little girl.

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I didn't consider myself fueled by artistic passion however, until my thirties, when I fell in love with a soldier and we began our military family life together.  Living in new states and having the opportunity to soak in the flavor of each locale made me realize just how much I gravitated toward the art featured in museums, shop windows, art fairs, antique stores and craft bazaars.  It's a trait I'd never recognized in myself before because prior to our first duty station, I had been constantly surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who all "did something" in addition to their day jobs.  Where was this artistry-rich environment?  Alaska.

I'm not a full time artisan or crafter.  I'm a wife, mother, and kindergarten teacher, having taught four, five and six year olds for close to twenty years in Alaska, New Mexico and Kansas.  I've been a single mom and have held down the fort while my husband deployed, and have dealt with the ins and outs of public education long enough to recognize my need for emotional and creative balance, and a sanctuary away from politics, debate and stress. Crocheting was my first creative outlet as a child, and cross stitch soon followed.  Putting up bulletin boards and regularly using glitter, paint and play dough with my kindergartners probably enables me to add (large-scale) scrapbooking, painting, sculpture and altered art to my creative repertoire, but those projects have always been compartmentalized in my mind as work-related.  Changing out of work clothes and into a tee and yoga pants so I can sit criss-cross-applesauce in front of my craft room's drawers, tubs, shelves and bins is something I look forward to most afternoons when I'm home from school.

"Handmade" has always meant love, effort, and caring to me.  Watching my family and friends as they cooked, baked, sewed, spun, wove, assembled, knitted, composed and crocheted, I could see the investment of time, resources, and sentiment that was lovingly and generously poured into each gift.  When I taught in Alaska, the school staff was full of quilters (or the spouses of quilters), so each wedding, birth or retirement was marked by the collaboration of colleagues to create a beautiful quilt as a memento.  Can you imagine receiving a quilt where each block was created by a fellow educator?  It was a remarkable place that supported and nurtured not only young children, but the creative pursuits of their teachers.

When my friends and colleagues began introducing me to their favorite hobbies and talents, I became intrigued by the tools, the processes, and the end results.  With their indulgence and encouragement, I'm now fully aware that while I'm no quilter, scrapbooker or candle maker, I DO love to crochet, make collaged paper items, combine ephemera, fabric and other textures, add pops of color, decorate for the holidays and special events, write and read blogs, and create charms and ornaments with glass and solder.  I don't feel stress when I'm in my crafty nook, partly because I don't pass through its door when I'm exhausted or upset, and partly because the materials I use and the techniques I choose to learn aren't mandated to me by anyone.  My creative space is where I can heed my own inner voice and create items I enjoy and can share with others away from the constraints I feel within my formal profession, though let's be honest: teachers love jewelry!

Charm-making has become the one passion that makes it possible to combine almost all of the crafting that I like to do into one piece of wearable and/or displayable art.

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Using various papers, hole punches, adhesives, and ephemera, I create mini-collages that I then encase behind glass and solder or adhere to dominoes and seal with Mod Podge.

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After being introduced to soldering several years ago, I finally decided to equip myself with the tools necessary so I could solder whenever the inclination struck, which frankly, has been often.  Fun factoid:  solder is so hot it feels cold when it hits your skin.  I didn't learn ~that~ from a book or video!  I look forward to working on larger projects when the summer begins and I'm away from the classroom for weeks at a time.  Until then, my charms are available via my Etsy Shop.

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I keep my soldering wand, block of sal ammoniac, flux, solder, and a jeweler's "extra-hands tool" on an old baking sheet.  Pliers, jump rings, beads, pins and small clamps are always nearby.  Off to the right of my worktable is a larger vise for securing bigger/heavier ornaments.  Being hands-free to solder helps immensely!

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I've used 3 inch by 3 inch glass, 1 by 3, 2 by 2, and 1 by 1 "inchies" for my ornaments and charms, so I was excited when I stumbled across half-inch by inch-and-three-quarter "sticks" with which to work recently.

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I wanted to use my favorite color, red, for my giveaway charm, but also wanted to share layered hearts with you.  As I played with paper, the solution hit me:  make ~two~ charms!

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Visitors who leave a comment with a current email address will have the chance to win both the heart and the red-with-white-polka-dots charms... one winner, two pendants.  I'll draw the winner's name on April 18 and contact him/her via a blog post here at Twigs and Tulle AND email.

Many thanks to Lisa Swifka for creating and hosting this wonderful web event, and encouraging us to reach out in friendship within this creative community.  It's time for me to brew some coffee, add some cookies to a plate, and put my feet up as I visit all of you.  I feel like I'm indulging in my very own art retreat from the comfort of my crafty nook!