First Dirt and a Butane Torch

New intention to start each day working in art journals with my coffee. MUCH more relaxing than reading email!

MOST times, I do not finish an art journal page in one sitting. The good part of this is that there is always something to jump in and work on – like a coloring book – sorta.

Thought I would share two pages that were started in March, and which I have just finished.

Gardening season starts for me on the day I first get my hands into DIRT!! That always coincides with my first purchase of the most expensive potting mix in the known Universe (and the best), Fertilome Potting Mix.

It’s not really dirt because it contains no soil, but it is semi-moist, black, crumbly, and everything you want dirt to be. I use it fresh in all my containers every year, and empty last years’ pots into my flower beds.

This year, the gallery needed something pretty at the entrance long before I could do any planting in the garden, so I bought my first bag of Fertilome in March.

Nights were still very cold, so I needed to do planters that could be carried into the gallery at night.

I came up with the idea of planting small containers to fit inside the big resin urns, so the whole thing could be easily carried inside. Another benefit is that the planted pots can be changed out when they stop flowering, get leggy, or whatever.

I thought the idea was good enough for its own page in my garden journal.

I also spelled Alyssum wrong – Dang!

The Bead Fest in Santa Fe is always fun. I go with friends and then have Santa Fe’s best cheeseburger for lunch (now that I am an aspiring vegetarian, I may have to make changes to that part.).

I always find a few things I did not find at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show in February. This time some nicely shaped Turquoise beads – the real stuff that costs a LOT – and some enameled copper leaves for a project. I bought them because I do not know how to do copper enameling.

So, at lunch, my buddy Michelle, who has just had knee surgery, tells me she is too tired to go to the workshop she has scheduled on Sunday morning at 8am.

“Why don’t you go in my place,” she says.

“Because it’s at 8 in the morning,” I reply.

“You know those enameled leaves you just bought?” she adds, “Well, that’s what the workshop is about. You could make your own.”

“But I am afraid of torches,” I whine.

“Seriously?” says Michelle.

SO, fear of torches notwithstanding, 8 am on Sunday finds me racing around the Drury Hotel in Santa Fe, frantically searching for the workshop supposedly in the “O’Keeffe Room”. Everybody has a different idea of where the “O’Keeffe” Room happens to be, it seems.

I finally found it and I am SO glad I did.

Kieu Pham Gray ( is a great teacher who has since become a long distance friend, and I learned to use a torch and to make enameled leaves – among other things. Check Kieu’s website for her class calendar. She teaches all over the country and maybe near you. If you have a chance to take a class, don’t pass it up.

I love enameling with a torch and with a little tiny kiln. My favorite thing  is using graphite pencil and glass enamels to make illustrated pieces.

I know I am supposed to be cutting down on my different media, but I am a Multipotentialist, remember? And besides, it can tuck right into the fused glass medium. Sorta. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

SO, I guess this post goes to prove that any kind of day can make a good art journal page – even if it takes three months to get the page done!



  1. Multipotentialist. Love this word. You probably wrote about it already on your blog, however, it is very appropriate for me this morning. Love your art journal pages, always.

  2. Multipotentialist–so much better than jack of all trades.

  3. Enameling so so magical. I keep threatening to figure out an area for that in my studio.

  4. If it helps, Zeb – my enameling workspace is only about 18×24. Includes torch, cookie sheet, fire brick, tripod, a little washing dish for the copper and one of those tiny beehive kilns, and a couple sifters. Takes less space than anything else I do.

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