“Artissima Transitiona” I

“Artissima Transitiona” I

Three years ago, for a number of reasons. my husband and I moved to Los Angeles…Santa Monica to be exact.   Since that time, I  have become involved with the making, study and teaching of artist’s books. I teach bookmaking around Santa Monica and LA County, and am continuously  evolving my own expression of this unique art form. Bookmaking, creating handmade books, unique books, artist’s books, and the book arts overlap as activities. In essence, they employ the form of The Book as an expressive vehicle.

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I have been the principal of my own decorative painting company, ArtiFactory Studio, for many years, primarily in San Francisco, where I resided, also for many years. In this post, I begin to share how I am finding ways to put these two forms together, one, bookmaking, often associated with the small-scale and intimate, and the other, decorative painting, often large-scale, which includes mural painting, glazing, faux finishing, gilding, and a myriad of other ways of “treating” the built environment, IE, the environment created by us humans as the setting for our activities.

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I hope to approach this subject in a series of posts, each showing a slice of what I am doing, and hope to do. I am fascinated with notions of scale, with materials, texture, space and design, as well as with the expressive, provocative,  and multidisciplinary nature of handmade books. In this post,  I will share how I brought techniques and notions specific to the field of decorative painting to the form of The Book in my own work. This process has been part of a greater transition in my life, work, business and career on all fronts.  Hence the post’s title” Artissima Transitiona“. The transition continues…

WEBa1Gilding, or the act of adhering metallic leaf over a surface adds a bit of bling, depth and dimension to an already complex surface on this handmade book cover. The gold rectangle also provides a focal point for the eye to rest on, adding order, focus and coherence to the piece. A piece of board was gilded, then added to the surface collage.

web1Texture can be a huge part of decorative painting. The artist manipulates glazes, paints and other materials over a surface to create both visual and physical texture. Here crumpled tissue paper is adhered to the surface in layers, giving it a satisfying texture, variation of color, and contrast to the look, and feel of the other materials used, which include cloth, hemp cord, beads and paper media.

WEB2The covers of this book are made of boards that have been dragged or “Striéd“, a technique by which paint or glaze is applied to a surface, and a large stiff brush is used to drag through it while it is still wet, leaving a up and down stripe-like pattern/texture.

WEB4Here a “brown paper bag” feeling is created by using humble brown wrapping paper (and bags) to create an earthy  texture on the surface of this book’s covers. Individual pieces of hemp cord are used for the binding, adding to the homespun simplicity and feel.

WEB5This book is created from boards that were originally painted with metallic paint and glaze samples for a client. I loved how these samples looked together, and added the rust, iron and verdigris sample pieces above them.  The rest of the book is made of paper with plant material flowing through it.  It  is bound with linen thread in a  single signature  (gathering of folded pages).

WEBaFinally, here is a book with an accordion spine; a “found” spine…meaning that I happened upon a design brochure, and its size, weight and color worked perfectly the book I developed. The covers are made of paper that has been textured, painted and glazed, then glued onto boards. The contrasting “edge design” is created by the addition of another painted and glazed decorative painting sample, glued on the open edge, then folded over, and glued onto the inside of each cover, giving it more stability, integrity, and visual interest.

I hope you will join me as I journey through this time of creative transition, exploration, and discovery. Although the waters feel uncharted, there are plenty of inspirational and provocative artists, makers and craftspeople to help light the way.  Here’s to diving in!

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Some Kind of Wonderful

Some Kind of Wonderful

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It is wonderful fun to create these “Artissima Lumens

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These (plastic!)  light switch plates become tiny canvasses, ready for adornment (including the tiny metal screws).

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Each one is carefully sanded, primed and base painted with waterborne paint.

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The surface is then ‘textured” with semi-transparent, waterborne glaze.

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The glaze is manipulated over the dry,  base painted surface with tools such as sponges, rags and specialty brushes.

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Because the glaze is semi-sheer, the base paint shows through, but as an altered hue, with added depth and complexity.

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When dry, the glaze treatment provides an evocative  surface to paint, stencil, stamp and further embellish on.

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Next, pattern, imagery more texture and color are added, often with stencils artfully arranged.

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Finally, the whole surface is varnished, sealed with a clear coat of acrylic (again, waterborne), to add sheen and durability.

Some kind of wonderful experience…this process, and the satisfaction in creating “Artissima Lumens“!

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

Contemplating Work – Three Year Round Up

In the spirit of the process of the necessity of the…well…updating, overhauling, revamping, refurbishing, and just re-ing the online presence of ArtiFactory Studio, and Artissima ventures….and, about to add/subtract/move around work from my site, I thought I would share some of the work completed since my last site update (yikes, was it really three years ago?), and look at some of the media, processes, forms and approaches that are part of the wide world of decorative painting.

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I created a line of hand-painted light switch plates which I call, “Artissima Lumens“, which though small, do take a lot of work and focus to complete! Sanding the plastic or wooden surface, as well as screws/hardware, priming it, base painting it, and then…the embellishment, adornment, decoration (hmm…not a good word in art school!), whatever you want to call it. This can include hand painting images, gradating color, stenciling  a design, pattern, image or scene, adding layers of semi-transparent glaze, and most often, a combination of some, many, or even all of these!

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Mid-Century design, style, decor and imagery can be rich fodder for decorative painting on the wall, as evidenced by these bedroom accent walls. The dawn of the atomic age, coupled with star-bursts, floral imagery, and geometric shapes and patterns can be inspirational. These treatments, based on a sketch (above with mirror), made by, and a re-imagined image, (immediately above), found by the Client constitute a creative collaboration that bore Mid-C fruit in both a guest and master bedroom.

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There is nothing quite like custom,  hand painted imagery on a wall, or ceiling.  Above, the Fightin’Irish and Michigan State logos find a home in the room of a young boy, with an avid avian interest. Custom-designed stenciled and hand-painted birds fly across his ceiling and desk wall, and perch above the entrance to his bath.

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Stenciling, and the art of repeated pattern is an effective and beautiful way to create a border. Especially effective in a room, such as this bath, with no crown molding.  The bright color ties the room together with the strong artwork displayed there, and connects to the vibrant colors seen throughout the rest of the house.

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Exterior  decorative painting on the wall, any wall, can go a long way towards brightening up an area that is often dark, and shrouded in fog, as many decks, patios, yards and porches are in the vast and often overcast Sunset District neighborhood of San Francisco. The painting of a colorful wall mural on the rough textured shingled siding of this deck not only brightened the area, and extended the adjoining living space to the outdoors, it also gave the inhabitants a colorful “garden” to look at through their kitchen window.  Doing dishes is going to be a lot more fun now in that house!

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“MINDS HEARTS HANDS VOICES” is the motto for  Cathedral School for Boys in San Francisco. The painting of the motto so that is can be seen through the front windows communicated the basic approach and philosophy of the school. Samples of blue hues, and font styles were presented to the Headmaster and Development Director, who chose which to use. The intent was to keep the image and the message clean, clear and simple, albeit elegant, and let the words do the talking!

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House numbers  for HGTV Curb Appeal, “It’s All in the Details” episode were created with customized, hand-cut stencils, based on a font chosen by the host, John Gidding. Gradated shading using highlight and shadow was added to give the illusion of depth.

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The Flying Cranes project at The Briggs Residence (a historic residence in the West Adams District of Los Angeles) was the brainchild of architect Kaitlin Drisko, of Drisko Studio Architects, who wanted to transform the living room TV cabinet into a work of art . In conjunction with the Owner, and Owner’s rep Paul Davidson, designs and imagery for both the interior and exterior were developed collaboratively.  The exterior sides of the cabinet doors are gilded with composition gold leaf, or schlag metal, then painted with the cranes composition.

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The interior of the doors are stippled with  layers of gold, blue and red paint hues, then stenciled with a custom motif adapted especially for the project. When open, the articulated doors frame the TV screen.  The piece is designed to be a focal point in the room whether the doors are open or closed, the television on or off.

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It is fascinating to look back over a three year span of work, and contemplate all the uses of decorative painting.  It is a form that marries function and beauty, usefulness and aesthetics, craft, visual art, architecture and design.  Playing at once subtly and powerfully through our visual landscape, decorative painting makes its mark!

Decorative Painting: Leaving Our Mark

Decorative Painting; Leaving Our Mark

Encompassing a seemingly unlimited pantheon of forms, functions, mediums and media, the discipline of decorative painting goes everywhere.

A chosen vase provides colorways, pattern, and a touch of whimsy to the wall detailing over a living room fireplace for a creative client’s new home.

Custom stenciled butterflies flutter over the curved wall of the Dress for Success boutique. Architect: Justin Martinkovic of Martinkovic Milford.

Move over Nike  “swoosh”, Top 1 Oil‘s in town…and it’s all painted. Interior designer: Kelly Berg of Arte Styling.

Ceilings beg a variety of adornments…painted beams being one of them. Woodworker: Larry McCanse, Palmer Creek Hand-Hewn Wood Products.

Softly blended glaze colors tease out architectural nuances. Interior Designer: Anne Norton-Dingwall:   AND Interior Design Studio.

It takes a brave and bold client to live with strong color…a real treat to create with custom tinted, blended glazes.

Glazed stripes layered over a glazed wall create depth and character in The Polished Lounge nail salon.

The high ceiling and walls of a narrow powder room are dramatized by layers of glaze creating visual texture.

Glaze and paint create the effect of  marble and stone on a living room fireplace.

Once white latex, these tub cabinets have been transformed into wood…known in the business as “faux bois“, literally “fake wood”.

In the same bathroom, the closet door and cabinetry are also faux bois…inspired by the door to the room, which is “real” wood.

This cabinet sits at the top of a staircase, and serves as a focal point when ascending the stairs, or just passing by and looking up. It’s faux bois application matches that of the staircase banisters.

The wonder of decorative painting, and its myriad of applications is that it is are never-ending. Continually changing and evolving, and showing up in any and every nook and cranny, or open interior or exterior space, the glorious enhancement, beautification, communication and transformation of the built environment continues, and will continue, as long as humankind is willing and able to leave its mark.

E-LUMEN-8 your life

E-LUMEN-8

Your Life…

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor. They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

The plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”, readying the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Gold, silver, copper and bronze metallic media add luminescence, glow, and glimmer which  catch the light and animate the surface.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic , contemporary or celebratory.

The necessary hardware or screws are treated as part of the whole, and treated to each successive application.  They become part of the visual composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with  water-borne varnish. The “Lumen” is now is ready to eLUMENate its chosen light switch, and give the user a jolt of light energy.

Experience shows that we can become more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive through interaction with our visual surroundings.  Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings, and thus both our interior and exterior landscape.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

BELIEVE

CREATE SUCCESS

 HAVE GRATITUDE

Lumens for Humans II

Lumens for Humans II

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.  What we surround ourselves with can make us feel more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor.

They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

The unadorned plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”.  This readies  the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are then manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture. Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our surroundings and our state of mind.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro, contemporary or even mysterious.  The tiny pieces function as both art and decor;  frame and focus.

The necessary hardware is treated as part of the whole, and receives each successive application.  It becomes part of the total composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with layers of water-borne varnish. The “LUMEN” is now is ready to enhance, beautify and transform the deceptively simple act of eLUMENation.

“Artissima Lumens”  can be designed to integrate with murals, wallpaper, artworks, and anything else which is part of the wall, or “built environment“.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

Shine on…Believe, Create, Succeed, Have Gratitude…

Here’s to YOUR e-LUMEN-ated Life

Lumens for Humans

Lumens for Humans

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor.

They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

Typically, the plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”.  This readies  the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.

The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment. Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings.What we surround ourselves with can make us feel more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic or contemporary.

“Artissima Lumens”  can be designed to work with other art works.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

Success

Gratitude

E-LUMEN-Eight

E-LUMEN-Eight

In an increasingly technological world, there is a corresponding need for work created by hand.  As humans, we respond to useful objects of wonder and beauty.

“Artissima Lumens”  are hand-adorned light switch plates created custom, one at a time  as art, celebration and decor. They are created of water-borne primers, paints, semi-transparent glazes, stencils, metallic media, and varnish.

Typically, the plain plastic, or wooden plate is sanded to create texture or “tooth”, readying the surface to receive the primer which creates a bondable surface for the painted base coat.  The surface is thus  prepared for more intricate layers of adornment.

Paints, semi-sheer glaze or other media are manipulated across the surface to create visual interest and an interplay of color and texture.

Gold, silver, copper and bronze metallic media add luminescence, glow, and glimmer which  catch the light and animate the surface.

Stenciled or hand-painted pattern and imagery establish a composition which can become playful, elegant, whimsical, retro,  nostalgic or contemporary.

The obligatory hardware or screws are treated as part of the whole, and treated to each successive application.  They become part of the visual composition, as does the aperture for the switch itself.

When at last complete, the work is sealed and protected with  water-borne varnish. The “Lumen” is now is ready to iLUMENate its chosen light switch, and give the user a jolt of light energy.

Experience shows that we can become more calm, energetic, stimulated, peaceful and alive through interaction with our visual surroundings.  Color, texture, pattern and imagery can enhance, beautify, communicate, and  transform our feelings and surroundings, and thus both our interior and exterior landscape.

If YOU are interested in ordering or commissioning an “Artissima Lumen” please email: debra@artifactorystudio.com

Believe

Create Success

Have Gratitude

Ceilings: No Limits for 2011!

Ceilings:  No Limits for 2011!

As we  enter the new year, let’s take a minute to consider not limitations, but possibilities!

The ceiling, or  “fifth wall”,  imposes limitations of height, size and shape upon the room it covers.  A defining factor of any interior space, the color and treatment of a room’s ceiling can profoundly affect its ambiance.

Whether you wish to warm up or cool down your interior spaces this year, create more spaciousness or intimacy, or add formality or whimsy, try taking a  fresh look at your ceilings, and pondering their creative  potential.   Consider the ceiling a blank canvass with unlimited possibilities.  After all, the ceiling is our interior sky…and you know the old adage…”the sky’s the limit!”

Here are a few ideas to get you going…

Some folks like it hot…hot color, that is.  Like washes of strong hues on all the walls , and gradated color glazed on the stairway ceiling to express the warmth of a luminous sunset!

The gradated sunset colors overhead flow from yellow to orange to red to violet, as we climb the stairs and turn left into the second floor hallway.  Adjacent is a yellow and black deco bathroom, with a  glazed ceiling that matches the walls.

The theme of sunset also inspired this ceiling treatment.  The young girl who lives here requested a purple sunset cloud and sky treatment.   Five glazes in hues of blue, purple, plum, pink and fuchsia are blended in several layers over a ceiling surface  that curves down to meet the wall’s crown molding.

This kitchen tray ceiling seems made for a multi-color glaze treatment that enhances and accentuates it, adds warmth, depth and interest, and reflects the copper accents throughout the room. The folks  who cook here also appreciate the appetite-stimulating effect of the treatment’s tones of coppery-orange.

Baths and powder rooms are ideal for imaginative, mood-setting ceiling treatments.  The only rules: prepare the surface to be treated properly, and protect it with the appropriate varnish upon completion.  On the recessed ceiling of this bath, blue and pearl glazes are blended together to create a dreamy evening sky punctuated by stenciled silver stars.

The light fixture was the inspiration for the ceiling design in this colorful entry.  The stencil  based on it is set off by sponged and stippled glazes which wrap the entire room.  Mysterious decorative shadows are cast by the light shining through the ornate fixture, adding to the effect!

How about a little gleam and glimmer?  Three successive applications of gold and silver glazes lend depth, shimmer and texture to the entry ceiling of this designer showcase home.  The treatment adds elegance and glamor, and doesn’t compete with the light fixture.

This octagonal domed breakfast room is treated to successive applications of custom metallic gold and silver glazes which  create an effect of both subtlety and richness. If metallic finishes are  applied with a light touch in the right room, they add a bit of magic, and don’t overwhelm the space.

In another domed breakfast room,  the ceiling’s architectural details  are brought out by the application of three soft-colored glazes, applied and blended with sea sponges.  The treatment also warms up this fanciful room, one of many jewels in a magnificent Spanish Revival home.

Two young brothers inhabit this room where rockets zoom, and stars and planets glow from the ceiling above.  Two glaze colors are color washed over the ceiling’s surface, and custom stencils based on the boy’s bedding design are used create a fantasy tableau of outer space.

Have you been moved to create a fun and fabulous ceiling treatment, color choice, texture or application? If you feel so inspired, share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all in this thing called Life, together.

All the best for 2011!

Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

Featured Work: A Niche Greater then the Sum of its Parts

The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “niche” as:

  • a recess in a wall especially for a statue b: something (as a sheltered or private space) that resembles a recess in a wall
  • a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted
  • a habitat supplying the factors necessary for the existence of an organism or species
  • the ecological role of an organism in a community especially in regard to food consumption
  • a specialized market

What is the connective tissue between the various definitions above? It seems to me that the term “niche” indicates a unique space specific to an individual, species or thing.

Those of us in the fields of decorative painting, carpentry, wood working, design, architecture and building most likely have designed, created, built, painted or adorned a niche or two at one point or another.

Those of us in our own businesses, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, creative-preneurs, creators, and those of us training, schooling, learning, job-searching,  job creating , or job holding,  have at least one thing in common: we want, need, or are compelled to “find our niche“, our “place” in our respective fields, professions, markets, companies, schools, programs, jobs, or careers. We are moved to find that  elusive (and sometimes colorful!)  unique space which seems to defines us authentically,  in our worlds of work, family, society, and community.

Abby Kerr, copywriter,  blogger, niche marketer, and owner of Abby Kerr Ink says of her work: “It’s about nichifying your offerings to meet your right people right where they are.” .  Within the “niche” business model, the proposition of uniqueness in gifts, talents, voice, sensibilities, skills, and offerings would seem to be a given.

So it is with Clients, who wish to express themselves by making something even more unique of their architectural niche space, at home.

Beloved Clients of mine purchased a “dream” retirement home…well, a house they planned to transform with color, design, furnishings, and decorative painting INTO their dream home, with the skilled assistance of various vendors.

Their realtor suggested a mural application for the hitherto unadorned wine bar niche, and the game was on!

Niche before "niche-y" adornment

My Clients had spent decades living in Southern California, and were enchanted by the Sonoma Wine Country in which their new house was situated.  They were  thrilled about making the Wine Country a theme in their new home.

We chatted about vineyard scenes, and determined we didn’t want a “prototypical” one.  We looked at photos, colors, applications and mock-ups.  We determined that a softly rendered scene of lines of vines gently receding to meet misty hills under a golden sky would be best.  I applied the mural with semi-transparent washes of glaze, as opposed to opaque paints, (an unusual approach) to the back wall of the niche, and glazed its side walls and ceiling in layers of red wine-y colors.  Involved with the whole process from start to finish, my Clients were delighted with the outcome. which reflected THEM, and the unique place they were at in their lives, right at that moment.

"Niche-y" adornment reflects Them

The entire wall into which the “niche-y” Wine Bar niche was placed was treated in concert with its “niche-y” focal point, the Vineyard mural.  The walls were painted a strong red, mitigated by an application of three deeper  red “wine-y” hued glazes applied simultaneously.  An original “adage” penned by the Clients was lettered in “grapey” purple, and sparkling metallic colors.  The built-in cabinetry and bottle storage were base painted and wood grained (treated with “faux bois”) in tones of “sweet rosy brown” , which worked beautifully with the bar’s countertop.

The Niche is part of the Whole

My Clients were pleased with a result which reflected Them, and their unique take on where they felt themselves to be, right at that moment.  The process of developing a “niche-y” design of artful applications in their Wine Bar niche, and throughout their new home during a time of transition helped them through that transition, and eased their way into a new phase of life. You might say that they “niched” their new home to reflect the people they had become, and created a “niche” of the entire house which would  support them in their adaptation to retirement, containing and expressing both the effects of their “old” life, and expressing their excitement about the new.

In this way, “nich-ing” can not only become an expression of our deepest selves, our uniqueness, offerings and worth, it can also help us to embrace our lives and experiences as they are now, and move more confidently, and happily, into the future.

When have you used your art or craft to create or enhance a niche, for yourself, or for others?  What was the quality of the process and its outcome?  If you feel so inspired, please share your unique, “niche-y” experience with us. We love to hear from you. Remember, we are all  in this thing called Life, together.