Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DIY Art Tutorial: MatchStick Shield

This was one of the easiest projects. It is similar to putting a puzzle together, calming like that. This turned out to be more of a protective shield for me and it can be decorated with anything when you are done. I chose to leave it as is in my photo above. The only photo not showing is after I used canvas varnish on it. Above is without any clear coat.

  • Nothing to me, supplies were at home. At most, $3-5. 

  • 1 box of 2-inch Diamond Strike-On-Box kitchen matches [250 matches in 1 box]
  • 4 boxes of 1 inch Diamond Strike-On-Box kitchen matches [32 matches in each box]
  • All-purpose clear drying non toxic glue
  • Some sort of clear, protective coat [optional, I used clear varnish for canvases]
  • Anything that can be used as a hanger for the back  
  • Flat cardboard or similar medium for backing


  • Cut the pattern out and lightly glue the 2 pattern sheets side by side to the flat cardboard so you see the pattern.

  • Cut out the entire pattern dried on the cardboard. This way you have the pattern to follow and a hard cardboard backing for your star.

  • Light and burn one matchstick at a time. Hold the matchstick at a slight downward angle, rolling the stick between your fingers to create an even charred tone around the match slightly beyond the tip. Quickly extinguish the flame and place the matchstick on a heatproof surface until it cools. Once you burn a few, you get the idea. This goes quickly.

  • Work in a well-ventilated area and quickly blow out the matchstick to preserve the wooden part of the tip. To conserve matches, light only 25 matches and use those up before burning more as needed while you work. I also used small box matches for the edges instead of cutting the large matchsticks in half.

  • Starting with the center with the clean ends of the match touching the center of the star, place the first six matchsticks onto the guidelines. Let that dry. 

The photos below I use for reference only. My pattern has the printed pattern visible. Much easier. I just forgot to take photos as I worked. I also tweaked this to my own liking.

  • Move onto the "A" area on the pattern. Fill in one entire side of the star. Leave the edges for last. This way you can see what you are creating as you work instead of following the pattern blindly in alphabetic order. 
  • I just brushed glue on each lettered area as I worked on that one area and placed the matches in line. The glue dries clear so you do not have to worry about making a mess or mistake. 
  • Keep looking at the photos to make sure you are placing the matches in the correct direction. The only matches I placed in different directions from the rest is the center. It looked better this way. It gave shadow and a 3-d effect to one major light area.

Below, the photo shows you to reverse the small matches on the out-most edges. I chose not to. It looks better all going in the same direction to me.

  • Keep going until you are done. If you mess up or do not like how something looks, it is easy to remove the matches and fix something. It is only white glue you are using.

  • When you get to the edges, there may be extra cardboard sticking out. This is where small box matches fit perfectly instead of cutting the large matches in half. You will see as you get closer to finishing. This part needs to be last.
  • There may be edges left bare where you have to cut the small matches in half to cover cardboard. I made my own design and just rolled with it at the end.As long as all cardboard is covered and you like it, that is all that matters.
  • Be careful to not get the sticks themselves dirty. This turned out so amazing, it looks astounding on my wall. 

Have fun, enjoy and get creating! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Buffalo Minority Business Owner Launches New Business/Website


WHO:     Yves-Richard Blanc, founder and CEO of YR Blanc & Co. LLC, dba Renovatio DNA Relationship Testing.

WHAT:    Minority owned business focusing on the psychological, scientific and medical need for DNA testing in this region with specific calls to action and a main focus on the health and well being of all involved, especially the children.  

WHERE:  Renovatio DNA Relationship Testing, 1275 Main Street, Suite 120, Buffalo, NY 14209, 716-332-1633

WHEN:    April 2016

Yves-Richard Blanc, entrepreneur and consistent supporter of community, first came to Buffalo in 2004 after hearing Mayor Byron Brown give a speech in New York City about minority business owners and opportunities in Buffalo. 

Yves came to the U.S. at 8 years old from Haiti, his family moving to Montreal, then Brooklyn. Yves attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan studying commercial photography and advertising. For the 30 years, he has worked in sales and management 15 of those years in health care.

Yves- Richard Blanc learned how to set up companies and help them become profitable. Renovatio DNA Relationship Testing is his current endeavor. 

Today, Yves-Richard Blanc is a forerunner in providing not only services needed for Western New York and Buffalo communities, but as a minority business leader creating opportunities for employment, education, health and well being for our families.

Please contact: Yves-Richard Blanc: 
Email: yrblanc@gmail.com
Website: www.whosmydaddy.net
Private Line: 716-800-3999

Renovatio specializes in DNA paternity testing for legal and private use, offering a wide range of DNA relationship tests. 

They provide testing to private individuals, law enforcement and legal representatives to resolve paternity disputes, establish child custody, assist with immigration claims, identify rightful heirs, assist with the adoption process and much more. 

Their mission is to educate donors about their rights and provide them with resources necessary through the DNA collection process by providing excellent family centered service through compassion, competence and in an environment that meets or exceeds the expectations of those we serve and educate.


Up-cycling Glass: Stamp Art Tutorial

I absolutely enjoy experimenting with different mediums of art and creativity. I attempt various tutorials in order to share with others diverse ways to be artistic, Eco-conscious, feasible and most importantly, fun. 

Most supplies necessary to create can be found within your own home. 

For this tutorial, I spent nothing. I used a tall glass container that was leftover from a candle. Before I used this container for up-cycling, it was holding a small bamboo plant that outgrew the container. 

  • Any kind of glue [tacky glue, white glue, modge podge, anything that dries clear, non toxic.]
  • Glass containers [I found that slimmer, upright types of glass are more pleasing to the eye than shorter, rounder containers.] 
  • I used stamps. I collect them and the ones I used are "used" stamps. You can use whatever you want to decorate the glass. 

  • Make sure the container is clean and free of any labels, glue, or residue. 
  • Use an old paintbrush, any type, brush on a small area of glue onto the glass. Use a small, thin amount of glue.
  • Start having fun and attaching the stamps [or whatever you choose to put on there.] 
  • Let the stamps dry for about 10 minutes. Brush on modge podge lightly to put a final semi-gloss coat on all.   
  • Be careful to not use too much glue in both steps depending upon what you are using. Some forms of paper buckle and tear easily.

The stamps were fun to use because it was like putting a puzzle together. Each stamp signifies a different nation, era and important part of history. Last night, I lit one up with a tealight candle and it looks beautiful. 

Right now, this same container is holding all my pens and pencils. 

It still can be used for a starter planter for certain kinds of plants, like bamboo, cactus or a new root. 

You can literally use this for anything because the stamps look that good. 

Have fun, enjoy, create and check out other tutorials I have done below.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Q & A with Janna Willoughby-Lohr of Papercraft Miracles

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a multifaceted artist I have the pleasure of knowing personally and professionally, Janna Willoughby-Lohr. Instead of focusing on her numerous talents, I chose to focus on her main passion, paper. 

Being both a supporter of her work, and a loyal customer, our conversation turned into a Q & A.  Janna can create whatever your heart desires. I own and have gifted several journals created by Janna and my son had his first art publication in her teacup book series. 

Janna is unstoppable, dedicated, knows her work and continues to educate herself in all aspects of the art of paper. Look no further for paper, journal, bookbinding and photo album needs because Papercraft Miracles is beyond impeccable.

Below is our Q & A, along with links to where you can find Janna, her work and events she will be appearing and teaching: 

Sue:  How did you come up with the name Papercraft Miracles? What does that signify? 

Janna:  I was in college and working on my thesis when I came up with the name, Papercraft Miracles.  I wanted a name to encapsulate what I make and why I do it.  I chose Papercraft since I knew I was planning to make all sorts of paper-related things, not just books, and I didn't want to be limited by the name.  I chose Miracles because, lofty as it may be, that is my goal with my work, to change people's attitudes when they experience my art. 

To me, a miracle could be something as small as making someone smile who hasn't in a while or bigger, to change the way they think about life and their place in it.  I hope my work will cause people to open their eyes and hearts in a way they have not before. Change comes first through observation, my goal is to wake people up, to open their eyes.

Sue:  Do you have any formal education in bookbinding and creating various types of papers and crafts associated with Papercraft Miracles? Do you just create what speaks to you or do you follow a set pattern? 

Janna:  I have always been drawn to book arts, even before I knew they were a thing. My mother was a poet as well as a rubber-stamp and collage/mixed-media artist and she was addicted to reading, so I'm sure I picked up a lot of the aesthetic from her work. I have been writing poems since I was five or so and started keeping journals and making collages shortly after that, and have continued with that my whole life. 

When I went to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, (initially for creative writing) I was immediately drawn to create, not just write. The art department offered several classes on book arts including bookbinding, paper-making, printmaking and artist's books and I signed up for any class I could get into! When I first laid my eyes on an artist's book, where the form, design, materials, text, and illustrations all work together to create one bigger idea or concept, I knew I'd found my calling as an artist.

Sue:  How long have you been creating paper, books, and related materials? 

Janna:  I started officially learning the craft in 2000 and continued taking courses throughout college until 2004 when I graduated. I have been making paper and books commercially and honing my craft ever since.

Sue:  If you had to choose one favorite thing about your business and craft, what would that be? 

Janna:  Hmmmm . . . my favorite thing about my business is that I get to make special things for my clients that they treasure for a long time and I get to make a living doing it. My favorite things about the art itself are tactile aspects, how everything feels. How different papers are smooth or rough, and how fabrics or leather are soft or embroidered, how it feels to open and close my books or running my fingers through paper pulp. 

It is a Zen art form that requires you to leave the past in the past and let the future come later and just be in the moment making art. And I love that. 

Sue:  Are your products Eco-friendly and if so, please elaborate. 

Janna:  Most of my products are Eco-friendly! For my books, I typically use handmade papers or cotton fabrics for the covers and most of my interior pages are made with some kind of recycled paper. My handmade paper is made using different materials and recycled office paper is one of them. I also make paper by cooking parts of plants that I grow in my garden. 

When the blooming season is over, I trim leaves and stems of certain plants and turn them into paper, and collect the spent flowers to put into the paper as inclusions and I use some plants to make natural dyes for the paper. I not only use things from nature to make my art, I grow plants and flowers to do so, which helps the bees, the birds and us too! 

Sue:  What kind of business exactly do you do? 

Janna:  I create handmade paper, books, invitations and paper crafts for special occasions or everyday use. 

Sue:  Do you teach others how to create books and/or related artwork through tutorials and courses? 

Janna:  Yes! I teach several different workshops at The Western New York Book Arts Center including a monthly Open Bookbinding Studio where other book artists or those interested in learning more, can come and get help and expertise from me in completing a project they are working on and/or use the tools and equipment there. I also teach workshops in schools. I am currently teaching a 9-week session at the Journey's End Refugee School as part of Western New York Book Arts Center Printing Partners program. I do birthday parties too! 

Sue:  What initially sparked you to begin bookbinding? 

Janna:  I made my first book as part of a school project about pandas in 5th grade. My mom had some special handmade bamboo paper that we used for the cover, we typed the text using her Smith Corona electric typewriter, and then we stitched it all together. I still have it, believe it or not. After that, I always had a journal and I loved to collage on my journals and when bookbinding courses became available to me, I jumped at the chance. 

Sue:  What products do you offer? 

Janna:  I mainly sell handmade journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, photo albums, and pop-up books as well as artist's books and gifts/trinkets. In addition, I do book design and layout, graphic design and consulting. 

Sue:  If you had to create one thing that you never have before, what would that be?

Janna:  I would love to create a gigantic pop-up book! They are usually my toughest challenges, getting them to hang right and be evenly spaced, so a great big one would be a fun challenge. 

While I was in college, I knew I wanted to be an artist but I also knew that I did not want to be a starving artist. I was frustrated with the lack of business/marketing classes available to art majors and vice versa, so I decided to create my own major to suit my goals in life. 

I met with the Integrative Studies board and they helped me to refine my goals. The major I created was called Entrepreneurial Creative Business Arts where I learned to be an artist and an entrepreneur at once. Having many lofty goals at a young age was great but it has taken me several tries to really get things in order to do Papercraft Miracles full time. 

I'm glad I waited until now to really throw my all into my business because I learned so many useful skills in the 12 years since I graduated college, not just artistic skills and business/marketing skills, but I've learned a lot about working with people, which is ultimately what success in any business is about. 

Running my own business from home allows me to stay home with our little boy, a dream I never thought would be possible. I owe so much to my amazing husband as well. He is my number one supporter.

After years of knowing Janna, it was interesting to find out things I did not know. It was tough to put a conversation into 10 questions, but this was fun and enlightening. 

I believe you will, as I have, fall head over heels with the pure excitement, positive energy, wonderment, intelligence and devotion to art and life itself that is indeed, Janna Willoughby-Lohr.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jackdaw with The Ruffians "Black & Tans" [Slainte!]

Artwork © David Moore

Every St. Patrick's Day I put this out, a fine Celtic Rock Band, my dear brothers, all of them, in rare performance with The Ruffians and two, I recorded, engineered and edited/mixed this at one Irish Feis in South Buffalo managing so many boards I am shocked it turned out good. This includes the most mind-blowing version of "Black and Tans" at 3:00 with Danny from The Ruffians playing bones.

Be safe, enjoy, and Slainte!

Audio © Susan Marie and Jackdaw