Elko Centennial Cowboy Boot Project

GBC Cowboy Boot-1

I was recently invited by the President of Great Basin College (GBC) to paint one of the big cowboy boots that will be put around town to celebrate Elko Nevada’s Centennial this spring. My boot will be in residence in my studio for awhile, as it must be completed for installation by April 1, 2017. It is six feet tall and weighs 110 lbs! It must be completed for installation by April 1.

Here is one article and another in the Elko Daily Free Press explaining the project.

Approximately 20 cowboy boot statues will be painted by local artists and placed around town, sponsored by local businesses and some individual donors. Business sponsors will place their boots in front of their businesses. Other boots will be located near civic landmarks like the courthouse and the post office.

My boot will be placed on the GBC campus.

The hollow fiberglass boot arrived as shown above, primed for painting. I was particularly daunted by the many folds in the upper portion of the boot, which will make it challenging to paint detailed pictures on those parts of the boot. I wish the boot designers had thought of that when they made the mold!

I therefore opted for a less painterly, graphic-oriented design that will be meaningful to the college community for many years to come. The boot will also commemorate GBC’s 50th anniversary, which will also be celebrated this year.

I made two lists of words/phrases that would represent the GBC faculty and students, respectively. My plan is to place one list on each side of the boot uppers, positioning the lettering on the folds of the boot. This approach will make lemonade out of those lemons, using the folds to my advantage.

Boot Lettering Side 1

Boot Lettering Side 2

The pictures above show the proposed layout and sizes of the lettering, before any painting was done on the boot.

Working closely with GBC President Mark Curtis, the boot’s coloring and other design elements were decided. Here is the approximate mock-up of the colored design that was approved.

Boot Design Mock-up

The college’s colors are green and gold, so those colors were chosen for the boot. The clock tower graphic and “WE ARE GBC” will be placed in the area shown, with mirror-image tilting on the opposite side of the boot. The clock tower is a popular landmark on the campus. The GBC 50th anniversary logo will be placed on the top front of the boot. GBC’s 5oth anniversary commemorative coins will be placed in metal bezels like buttons where shown on the base of the boot pull straps. Each side of the coins will be featured on one side of the boot. The inside of the boot top will be the same dark brown as the boot pull straps. There is a triple-diamond design on the toe of the boot that will be outlined in the dark brown with mirrors inset in the diamond shapes.

The waterproof, UV-resistant, adhesive lettering and graphic decals have been commissioned and received from a company that produces such items for outdoor applications such as on vehicles and boats. These are applied with a rub-off technique that should be easy to position and work with.

The required white heel plate containing “ELKO 100”, the college logo, and the sponsor and artist’s names has been made by and received from a local sign shop. It will be screwed on with white-headed screws.

On Feb. 18, I airbrushed the boot uppers with Gamboge acrylic airbrush paint, feathering the paint to enhance the surface ripples. The 3.5-hour painting process made my airbrush finger a bit numb, so I’m taking a little break in my painting effort.

GBC Boot-2A

The next step will be to airbrush the foot part of the boot green. Then I will add the dark brown accents on the sole, heel, toe, pull straps, dividing scrollwork (between the gold and green colors), and inside the boot top.

Watch for progress reports and photos in future blog posts. I am especially grateful to Dr. Mark Curtis and his wife, Margaret, for their excellent input and help with this literally huge project!

Four New Protestant Prayer Beads

4 New Prayer Beads

I recently created the above four sets of Protestant (Anglican) Prayer Beads and am now offering them for sale on my website. The first three are long enough to also be worn as necklaces. The two on the right feature dyed agate pendants, and the one on the right also has dyed green agate Swiss cross Cruciform beads.

Each set is $32.00 plus $7.00 (U.S.) shipping and includes a velour storage bag and 16-page full color booklet by me containing the history and use of Anglican Prayer Beads and sample prayers.

I’ve laid in a new supply of beads and pendants lately, so watch for more prayer bead creations to be made soon!

Open Studio 11/19/16

I opened my Lamoille, NV, studio to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on 11/19/16 and had a great turnout and abundant sales, thank the Lord! Attendees could do their Christmas shopping from my full inventory of creations, including my artwork, note cards, jewelry, decorative multi-dose pillboxes, Protestant prayer beads, sun catchers, and SteedBeads™ (jingling necklaces for horses and model horses).

A friend brought a group of women from her church, and one of those women brought treats to add to my cookies and hot cider refreshments. Another member of that group brought her viola and treated us to Bach background music during her stay. She even went out to our paddocks and serenaded the horses, who considered it a very interesting experience.

Horse Serenade

I had my encaustic (melted wax) tools set up and hot, and demonstrated their use, making tiny landscapes for attendees to take home as souvenirs of the event. Several attendees tried their hands at making melted wax art, inspiring them to do more of such art at home or for their youth groups.

Encaustic Miniatures
Just a sample of the dozens of melted wax miniatures available.

I was so pleased with this event that I will likely make it an annual affair. Many thanks to all who participated and helped out!

Mirrored Splash Pillboxes

Splash Pillboxes

Water marbling lately has been intriguing me, as I could imagine its use on the glass tops of my decorative multi-day pillboxes. The above eight 7- and 14-dose pillboxes are the result of my experimentation, which I will detail in this post.

Traditional water marbling on paper is typically done by creating a gel layer, dripping colored ink or paint onto it, swirling the colors to mix them, dipping paper onto the surface of the liquid, and letting the paper dry.

Other methods employing plain water, instead of the gel, came to my attention via various YouTube videos and other sources. The first method I noticed was floating nail polish on water and dipping fingernails into the paint to color them with marbled effects. I have a ton of various color nail polishes in my stash, so I tried this first.

For my test surfaces, I cut eight mirrored tops for two sizes of pillboxes. I was worried that the paint might fully cover the mirrored surface, so I cut circles, ovals, and rectangles out of clear adhesive-backed shelf liner and stuck them onto the mirrors to mask out areas of the mirrors. I also adhered long strips of clear packing tape lengthwise to the back sides of the mirrors and folded over the ends of the tape to use as handles during the dipping process.

I thought it would be easiest to submerge two of the mirrors in a basin of 3-inch deep water, float the paint on top of the water, and then simply lift the mirrors up to adhere the paint design to them. Unfortunately, while I was floating the nail polish on top of the water, the shelf liner masks detached from the mirrors and floated to the top of the water. Also, some of the drops of nail polish sank like bullets, rather than float. When I finally got some nail polish to float on the surface and pulled the mirrors upward with their tape handles, the nail polish stuck great to the handles, but almost entirely slid off the surface of the mirrors. I gave up on the nail polish idea at this point and cleaned up the mess I’d made!

Next, I tried diluting acrylic paints to float on the water surface, but they didn’t float. More cleanup ensued.

Undaunted, I decided to try my Pebeo Fantasy enamels. I used a pipette to apply the paint to the water surface. These paints did float, but they came out of the pipette in spaghetti-like strings. Some stayed in string-like form, and some spread over the water’s surface. I used three different colors (black, silver, and gold) and stirred them a bit with a wooden skewer, but held off on the stirring when I noticed the paint was covering most of the water’s surface.

I proceeded to dip the mirrors face down into the water. The paint stuck to the mirrors and dragged most of the rest of the paint down with them as the mirrors were submerged fully and then quickly pulled vertically out of the water by one of their two handles. The design was captured on the mirrored surface, but the paint had wrapped around to the mirrors’ backsides, and many water droplets still sat on top of the design. I set the pieces aside to dry on silicone racks. I was afraid to touch the mirrors when the paints were still wet.

After cleaning up the basin’s water and stirring together three more paint colors (black, silver, and blue) on the water’s surface, I dipped three more mirrors in the same manner as before, adding more paint between dippings.

I repeated this process using three different colors together (black, silver, and pinkish red)  on three more mirrors and set all the tops out on silicone drying mats to dry over night.

The next morning, I discovered what I had left to do with these creations. Some of the adhesive masks had curled upward on one edge during the dipping process, so when I pulled them off the glass, one edge of the masked area did not have a clean edge. I pulled the packing tape cleanly off the backs of the mirrors and wished I had used that type of tape for my other masks. The enamel had dried in drips on the back side of the mirrors, so I scraped off the high points with an Exacto knife. Then I cleaned off all the edges of the mirrors, right down to the glass.

Next, I tackled the mirrored surfaces of each piece. I used the Exacto knife and mineral spirits on a Q-tip to clean up the ragged edges and centers of the masked areas. The silver enamel, which I had used on all the mirrors, had spread to leave a thin film on most of the other parts of the mirrors, so I used the Exacto knife and mineral spirits to painstakingly clean off many of the larger areas of thin silver paint to expose the mirrored surface. This was fairly time consuming!

When this work was done, the pieces looked much better, but they still lacked the “wow” factor I strive for in my works. I set them aside to cure for several days while I found and glued on dichoric glass or resin cabochons to enhance each design.

After that glue had cured for a day or so, I strategically added complementary colored glitter to the surface of each mirror and topped that off with a layer of self-doming clear jewelry-quality resin. That layer was needed to float the glitter, protect the enamel layer, and add considerable depth and sparkle to each piece.

When the resin had cured for a few days, I glued the mirrors onto their pillbox bases and let the glue cure for 24 hours. The results had the dazzling beauty I was hoping for, especially when viewed in direct sunlight.

Cross Mirrored Splash Pillbox

I’ve posted these “splash” pillboxes for sale on my website. Just put “splash” in the website’s search box, and you’ll see them all. Given the above-described considerable effort put into their creation, their prices are a real bargain!

I learned a lot via these experiments. I’ll definitely be applying what I’ve learned to future experiments with water marbling, so be on the lookout for more works along these lines. Please leave a comment to tell me what you think of these.

10 New Protestant Prayer Beads

10 Prayer Beads

Ten new sets of Anglican prayer beads are now available on my website. Two of these Protestant prayer beads are necklace length, and four feature agate pendants from China. From left to right, here are links to more info on their respective product pages:

23 Decorative Pillboxes Showcase New Techniques

23 New Pillboxes

I went hog wild recently increasing my inventory of mirrored and aurora pillboxes in a variety of configurations. My small and large septagon pillboxes are especially in demand, as are my enameled and mirrored pillboxes and my new 7- and 8-dose rectangular pillboxes. I therefore created 23 new pillboxes now for sale on my website.

New embellishment techniques abound in this batch of creations. A  square piece of mirror containing a daub of enamel with a dichroic glass cabochon in its center was coated in a layer of clear resin to form an eye-like embellishment in the Aqua Eye Large 7-dose Strip Pillbox below. I also made the two clear resin cabochons containing aqua glitter and stars.

Aqua Eye Pillbox

I embedded a Zentangle-like purple tissue doily (cut from a bouquet wrapper) in clear resin on the blue stained glass top of the Blue Buttercup Large Septagon Pillbox shown below. I also created its central resin cabochon containing seed beads and a bit of blue acrylic paint stretched with toothpicks into a free-form star shape.

Blue Buttercup Pillbox

I resin coated a glittered fabric peacock feather (cut from a piece of wired ribbon) to embellish the green Peacock 7-dose Rectangle Pillbox shown below. The peacock feather required several layers of resin on both sides, with painstaking drip trimming in between, but the result is fabulous in hand. I have two more of these lovely transparent peacock feather embellishments in production, so watch for them to appear on future pillboxes.

Peacock Pillbox

I was able to salvage the glitter-filled cross embellishment on the Brown Sparkle Cross 8-dose Pillbox below, but it was one of my “interesting idea, but I’ll never try that again” experiments. It was created by outlining the cross shape with silicone caulk on clear acetate, letting it cure, and then filling the resultant mold with resin and adding glitter and spangles. Unfortunately, when I unmolded the resin, the edges of the resin cross were rough, because the resin seeped into the rounded edges of the caulk. I was able to trim the edges of the resin with an Exacto knife to salvage the piece, but they are still a little rough. I like the contrast in textures on this creation, though.

Brown Sparkle Cross Pillbox

I achieved a far more successful molding technique for the embellished top of the Aqua Lilac Spatter Small Septagon Pillbox below. I used two-part Epoxy molding compound to create a mold in the septagonal shape required for the pillbox top. I then filled the mold with clear resin and added the glittery fiber- and sequin-like embellishments to the resin. Easy peasy! I will be reusing this mold for future pillbox tops in a variety of designs. I especially like that the embellishments are viewable in the box’s central well when the box is turned over for use.

Aqua Lilac Spatter Small Septagon Pillbox

The Mirrored Aqua Planet Large Septagon Pillbox pictured below features an enameled mirror top. I used a toothpick to draw the enamel toward its central glass cabochon, enhancing the 3D look of the “planet.” I enameled the back side of the glass cabochon before gluing it to the mirror to achieve the central swirled enamel effect. The cabochon was then firmly seated in a protective layer of clear resin, to which I added purple and aqua glitter. The mirrored area is very hard to photograph effectively, but this pillbox is exceptionally dazzling in hand. The central well on the underside of the box contains one of my aqua heart-and-glitter-filled domed resin cabochons for a surprise when the box is turned over for use.

Mirored Aqua Planet Large Septagon Pillbox

I created five more of my Aurora small septagon pillbox tops in this batch. (Aurora tops are cut from rainbow-effect DVDs as explained in my previous blog post on The Best Way to Cut a CD or DVD.) Unfortunately, I did not cut two of these perfectly enough, which I did not discover until I tried to glue the embellished tops to their base boxes. The tops were warped on one corner because I impatiently tried to cut the DVDs when they were too cool to cut smoothly. I tried adding a layer of resin to the back sides of these tops in the hope that the resin’s self-leveling quality would result in a flat surface. No such luck. The two otherwise beautiful creations pictured below are now destined to become awesome Christmas ornaments for my upcoming ornament exchanges. I’ve heard that a true artist can always find ways to solve artistic problems!

Aurora Ornaments

If you would like one or both of these absolutely dazzling ornaments for your tree or your own ornament exchanges this December, contact me. I’d be willing to part with them for $5.00 each plus $7.00 for USPS Priority Mail shipping of one or both of these little treasures. (Free delivery to my local customers.) The flower in the upper ornament is iridescent dichroic glass, and you can see daylight through its resin-filled center hole. The rhinestoned 3D metal filigreed cabochon in the center of the lower aqua ornament appears to be floating in air, suspended at its base in the clear resin. The back sides are resin-coated rainbowed silver, as shown below. I’ll be drilling a small hole in each of them and attaching a monofilament hanging loop.

Ornament Backs

I predict that the pillboxes in this batch will sell quickly, so if any of them appeal to you, head over to my website pronto and snap them up!




The Best Way to Cut a CD or DVD

160119 Blue Aurora Dicro CD S Sept

To use compact disks (CDs) or DVDs as tops on my “aurora” decorative pill organizers, as shown above, I had to experiment with various ways to cut the CDs to shape. Internet research suggested:

  • Scoring them with an Exacto knife and then bending them to crack along the score line
  • Cutting them with Dremel tools (recommended for intricate shapes)
  • Cutting them with a belt saw using a special plastic-cutting saw blade
  • Using a hot knife to cut them
  • Heating them in boiling water or an oven or using a heat gun, and then cutting them with scissors

I tried using a jig saw, but the resultant cracking and crazing badly damaged the CD.  It was too hard to use a Dremel tool to cut straight lines. Scoring the CDs didn’t work at all and greatly dulled my Exacto knife blades. I even tried smoothing the cut edges using my glass grinder, but that was an epic fail.

After considerable trial and error, I’ve decided that the best method of cutting CDs (for my purposes), is to heat portions of them with a heat gun and then cut them with a scissors. I’ll detail that process here.


To begin, I created an appropriately sized 7-sided template on my computer and included on it a circle the same diameter as the center hole in a CD or DVD. I printed the template on white card stock and cut out the shape shown at left.

I then centered the template on the printed side of the CD by lining up the circle on the template with the hole of the CD. I then used a silver leafing marker to trace around the edge of the template onto the printed side of the CD. You could use a Sharpie marker if you don’t care what the printed side of the CD looks like for your project.

To keep my hands clean and heat safe, I donned nitrile gloves and a hot mitt on my left hand. My left hand got the most heat, but my right hand still needed a bit of protection from the heat, as I used it to rotate the disk held in my mitted hand.

Heating 1

I positioned my heat gun on its stand on a heat-safe silicone mat, pointing to my left. Then, holding the CD in my hot-mitted left hand, I waved in front of the heat gun the printed side of the area of the CD to be cut. Five to six seconds is a good time to start with. If you overheat the sidk, it can begin to delaminate, so caution is advised.

Using a titanium bladed scissors, I made my first cut, making sure to cut just inside of my marked line. (Any sharp scissors will probably work.) If the CD becomes hard to cut, stop cutting, reheat the area, and begin cutting again. When the CD is the right temperature, the scissors will easily cut it. If the CD is too cool when you are cutting it, the cut edge can become curled or dented, so take your time with this step, and be careful as you cut.

Cut 1  Cut 2

I then heated the next section, cut that piece off of the CD, and continued in that manner around the 7-sided shape.Cut 3

I was using Memorex DVDs in the pictures above, which have a silver printed side to better suit my purposes. My pillbox base boxes are transparent, so the printed side of a CD top will show through the bottoms of the pillbox compartments. Therefore, I needed to make sure the printed (and subsequently glued) side of the CD is devoid of distracting printed words or colors. To achieve that end, I used the silver leafing pen to color over any printing or colors on the printed sides of my trimmed CDs, as shown below.

Touch Up

The Memorex DVDs did unexpectedly delaminate, which I discovered when I looked closely at the pieces I had cut off of the DVDs, as shown below.


Sometimes the rainbow film stuck to one side, and other times it tore and stuck to both sides, as in the two pieces shown lower right in the above picture. Fortunately, the pieces I plan to use for my pillbox tops incorporate the center hole of the CD, which clamps the top and bottom plastic layers of the CD together well, so delamination hopefully will not be an issue. Some other brands of CDs/DVDs do not delaminate like this, especially those that have color printing on them, so experimentation will offer solutions to this potential problem.

You can see traces of my silver leafing pen markings on the clear plastic pieces above. The silver leafing pen marks remove easily with an alcohol swab.

I made some of these cut-off pieces into lovely earrings by adding resin to both sides. I hope to incorporate some of these pieces into future creations, as well, as this process is quickly creating a surplus of cut-off pieces that are beautiful in their own right.

Cutting the CD to shape and covering any printing on the printed side with silver leafing ink are just the first two steps in creating an aurora pillbox like the one shown in the first picture of this blog post. I typically next add Pebeo Fantasy enamels as desired to parts of the rainbow side of the pillbox top and let them cure. I particularly need to do this to cover any manufacturer marks or wording near the center hole of the CD, if present. If possible, I like to retain the clear central portion of the CD so I can “float” cabochons on the top and bottom of the CD, back to back.

But before I can do that, I need to put clear shipping tape over the hole on the printed side of the CD, position a cabochon on the tape in the center hole, and pour a layer of jewelry quality resin (adding glitter or other occlusions to the resin, as desired) over the full surface of the rainbow side of the CD. This protects the enamel and rainbow layers and also firmly seats the cabochon in the hole. After the resin has cured, I’ll remove the tape and glue a cabochon to the underside of the cabochon that already in the center hole. I’ll then glue the printed side of the CD to the plastic pillbox base box and let the glue cure. Then I’ll turn the pillbox over and pour resin into the central well, surrounding the base of the second cabochon to firmly seat it.

Given all these steps, my aurora pillboxes are priced a bit higher than my other small septagon pillboxes. However, I think you’ll agree that their sublime dazzle is worth the extra effort it takes to make them. If any currently are available, you can check them out on my website.

The five new aurora small septagon pillboxe tops shown in this tutorial are currently in production, and I expect the completed pillboxes to be available in a few weeks, along with several other new pillbox creations. To be notified of my future pillbox creations, sign up for my new product emails and indicate your interest in my pillboxes.

10 Protestant Prayer Beads

10 Prayer Beads Photo

God called on me to create ten new sets of Anglican (Protestant) prayer beads, and I said to myself, “Amen!” My subsequent creations, pictured above, feature a variety of colors and components. Two have lovely agate pendants, and four are necklace length. Three sets have the ever-popular blue and white colors, one is all white, one is all black, and one combines lovely red jasper with healing hematite.

Inspiration Prayer Beads Photo

Of special note is the unique necklace-length inspirational set shown above that has meaningful words printed on both sides of its brass Week beads. Each of the four sets of seven Week beads features one of these words: Lead, Inspire, Power, and Change. The Resurrection/Listening bead says “Inspire.” This format may be useful to those who, like me, use each set of Week beads for a different type of prayer.

The spacer beads are bone-shaped amethyst, which is traditionally worn to guard against drunkenness, fears, and self-deception. This “power stone” is used to increase positive spiritual feelings, overcome fears and cravings, relieve headaches, and focus energy during the healing process. Thus, in this prayer bead necklace, amethyst is the perfect stone to combine with the inspirational Week beads’ words.

I have enough of these inspirational word beads left to make one similar set of prayer beads, so if you’d like these beads combined into a custom set of prayer beads for your personal use, contact me.

I’ve posted all of the above prayer beads on my website, so if any of them appeal to you, snap them up soon!

Flaming Blue Moon Weekly Pill Organizer

Flaming Blue Moon Pillbox

I recently received a custom order for an enameled and resined mirrored 7-dose rectangular pillbox, so I made up two for the customer to choose from. The enamel paints are so difficult to control, that this is my typical practice for this type of custom pillbox order. The customer was very happy with her choice, so I’ve added the second Flaming Blue Moon pillbox to my readymade pillbox inventory on my website. Note the beautiful dichroic glass cabochon and the mirrored background peeking out on the corners of this box for bits of extra bling. See the picture below for the configuration of the pill compartments on the underside of this beautiful box.

Transparent Orange 7-dose

Patriotic Rhythm Beads

Patriotic Rhythm Beads

Just in time for Independence Day, I created the above three sets of SteedBeads™ Rhythm Beads to add to the readymade SteedBeads section of my website. The faux leather tassels add a showy flair, and the “FAITH” and “TRUST” dangles on the more neutral set reflect a heartfelt love of our country and horses. The picture below shows full views of these special creations. All feature faceted transparent acrylic tube beads and my new larger extra-loud chromed brass bells. Snap one of these up today, and it will be in your hands in time for that July 4th parade. You can also order a custom set of SteedBeads Rhythm Beads to suit your personal needs. I typically can complete a custom set in just a day or two. And don’t forget to add Mane and Saddle Dangles to complement your look and add a bit of extra jingle.

160623 3 RB