Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year Fairy - Leslie Brier, Mixed Media Artist

Here at the Brier house we are winding down the Christmas festivities and starting to look ahead to the new year. I love my Christmas decorations, but when it's over, it's over and I actually start looking forward to Grinching the house and going back to a less cluttered existence.

It's kind of sad to have to put everything away, so my answer to the dilemma is the New Year fairy. She can stay on display for the whole month of January, which can be a very dreary month.

I vowed last year that I wouldn't just slap wings and a hat on every image that came along, but as I was working I convinced myself that a wand and a dictionary page ruffle are in a completely different category. I mean, she needed them, right?

This fairy will live in the window at the University Cafe for the month of January. I'm pretty attached to her, though, so if she sells I'll have to make one for myself. Look at her little feet:

They came off of a very pitiful bunny doll with stained ears. I am in love with them. In fact, I am going to go back to the thrift store to get the boy bunny, just so I can steal his tiny little boots!

I'll show you the rest of the cafe window when I have it finished.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Snow! Leslie Brier - snowed-in artist!

It's just beautiful here in Virginia. We had a blizzard that blew in Friday night, and left us with about two feet of snow on the ground by Saturday afternoon. It felt so good to know that we were all safe and sound and had nowhere to go!
Bordeaux loves being outside. She doesn't mind that the snow is up to her shoulders. Everytime she comes in, she is just covered in snow. Merlot prefers to be inside, like me.
This is the Christmas Tree I did for the Festival of Trees. This is an annual event held to benefit Hope House, a women's and children's shelter that helps them to break the cycle of homelessness.
I found some cardinal light covers at a thrift store about a year ago, and decided on a cardinal theme for my tree.

I looked for cardinal ornaments all year. In the beginning, I didn't have much luck. In August, I found a cardinal and poinsetta tree skirt (unused!) at a yard sale. Things started picking up from there. About a week before the tree was due, I hit the mother lode and was able to complete my tree.

My tree was called "Winter in Virginia". Had I known how snowy it was going to be this year, there would have been a lot more white on the tree!
I don't know who bought my tree, but I want to thank that person and everyone who bid on it for their contribution to Hope House. And thank you to the judges for awarding it "Best Small Tree"
Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FCCA Annual Member's Show

The Annual Members Show at the Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts is going on now, and runs through January 8. The downstairs gallery is filled to the brim with an amazing variety of small works, including paintings, photography, jewelry and mixed media

This is "Seed Sower", one of the pieces that I submitted. It is a mixed media art quilt, in a three-dimensional frame. Can you guess what the frame is made of?

The bottom of the quilt is made from an antique seed sack that was attached to a machine called the Cyclone Seed Sower. I would like to do another piece called "Cyclone" that features a boy penny doll.

Here is a closeup of the top. I finally decided to use two of my bakelite bird buttons. I've had them for several years, but hadn't found the right piece to put them in until now.

This is "The Queen". Her face is an antique watch and her body is a ruler. (Get it, ruler?)

This beaded rivoli necklace is also at FCCA. I love making the beaded bezels for the rivoli. It's so satisfying when you have the rivoli snugged in its setting.

I beaded the necklace part, too and finished it with an antique steel-cut button. I am being very brave about digging into my button stash these days.

I apologize for the spacing issues. If anyone wants to let me know how to lay out my pictures and text so that they align properly, I'd be grateful.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thank you! Thank you!

Thanks to everyone who came out to the opening at the University Cafe on Friday night. It was so great to see everybody! And it was fun to spend time with the other members of the Mixed Media Experience, too. I am always amazed at how well our work goes together once a show is hung.
This is my Electrolux Baby. I found the vintage canister vaccuum at a thrift store, or course, and just had to have it. I took out the motor inside (and the wasp nest) and cleaned it all up with soap and a toothbrush.
Then I started adding my own touches to it. I didn't want to do too much to it, because I love the clean lines. The sled runners are original to the vaccuum. Interesting, hmmm?
I cut into the canister with my dremel tool and was able to fit a vintage French-fry maker down inside. At this point in a project, I am usually wondering what wholesome activities the other mothers are engaged in. Baking cookies? Reading stories to their children? I also wonder what the neighbor children say about what Mrs. Brier was doing while they were visiting.
After auditioning a few drivers from my collection, I decided that Sammy would be the new Electrolux Baby! He seems very happy in his new vehicle, don't you think?
Clara was the driver I chose for my rescue vehicle. Her fire engine rig was originally built for the top of the Electrolux piece, but it was a little too unweildy. It fit on top of the roller skate like it was made for it. I love it when a project comes together!

Little Clara was naked when I got her, so I decided she had to have some clothing for her big debut on the fire truck. I found a vintage handkerchief with a holly embroidered on it and went to town. Deck the dolls with altered hankies, fa la la la la la la la la. (Isn't that how it goes?)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Christmastime at the University Cafe

It's just the beginning of the season, but I already feel so Christmas-y! I've been working in my workshop just like one of Santa's elves, getting ready for the Mixed Media Experience show at the University Cafe. I have created a steampunk Christmas scene for the front window.
This piece is called Little Red Wagon. It is made from an antique seed broadcaster an old toy wagon, and some cool vintage tin litho wheels.

Sammy is the driver of the Little Red Wagon. He is an antique compositon baby from the 1930's or 40's.

Next to Sammy is one of my vintage Christmas tin creations. It is made from a vintage baking tin. The holes are not quite as deep as a cupcake pan, and are just big enough to hold vintage Chrismtas treasures.

I am off for a day of pre-holiday junking, so I will post more photos tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salt Shaker Pendants - Now available at LibertyTown!

My salt shaker pendants are now available at the LibertyTown Emporium. They are made from repurposed individual salt shakers, pearls, crystals and vintage jewelry. The bottom unscrews so that you may store a little message or a tiny treasure inside.

This one has a sewing theme, for the quilter, seamstress or fabric artist in your life.

This one features a rhinestone lizard and emerald green Swarovski crystals.

This is a piece of my tiny tea jewelry. The tablecloth is a tiny piece of tatted lace, which I added seed beads and crystals to. The tea table is a vintage sterling silver individual salt shaker. The charms at the bottom are forks, knives and spoons surrounding a little cream pitcher. The overall size is just under 3 inches. Perfect for a pendant, or an ornament. The small round doilies that I bought on Sunday will become tablecloths.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Yard Sale Bounty

I had the good fortune to drive past a sign advertising a Sunday Yard Sale at a time when I didn't have any family members in the car with me to moan and groan about having to stop. This is what I found:
This is an announcement about two women attorneys joining a Washington, D.C. law firm. They are the Misses Emma E. Harris and Alice M. Perazzi. I would love to know what year this was. The photo below was in the same envelope. I wonder if this could be Miss Emma or Miss Alice, or if they just happened to live in the same envelope together. The woman who sold them to me didn't know.
I also found all of this gorgeous tatted lace. The smallest round doilies will be used to make some of my tiny tea jewelry. The tiny perfume bottles will be individually wrapped and tucked into my daughter's Christmas stocking. She loves tiny things as much as I do.
Now this is the part that will make you wish you had been with me: I got everything for $7. I've already had seven dollars' worth of fun photographing it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CD Packaging Design, Leslie Brier, Brier Design

Okay, part of the reason that I posted the poochables last week is because I've been so busy with graphic design that I haven't spent much time in the studio.

Actually, I've spent a little time in the studio, but nothing is quite finshed yet. I'm almost there on three different pieces, so I'll post those soon.

In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to Anthony Ashur, recording artist. He just completed his fifth piano solo cd, titled "In God We Trust". This one features patriotic music including "America the Beautiful", "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "By Dawn's Early Light", a musical paraphrase of the Star Spangled Banner written by Tony.

I've been honored to design all five of his piano solo cd packages. This is the newest cover:

The recording will be available for sale next week. I can't wait for my copy to come! If you'd like to find out more about Tony and his music, visit

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cavalier Love - Leslie Brier, Brier Design

We are enjoying one of the most beautiful shows of fall color that we've had in a long time. I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to our cavalier king charles spaniels, Marilyn Merlot and Brigitte Bordeaux.

They love to go out and run in the leaves. Sometimes they blend in so well that it's hard to see them when I first look out into the yard!

This is Merlot. She's three years old, but already acts like a little old lady. She loves her naps, and loves to cuddle. She is extremely laid back, and doesn't even bark when someone comes to the door. She does bark at the evil squirrels and kitties that sometimes come into her backyard territory however!
This is Bordeaux. She just turned two, but is stil full of puppy energy! She runs everywhere, because walking just takes too darn long. She spends a good part of her day pawing at me and then looking longingly at the treat jar. In the world of dog shows, her white markings would be considered a fault, but I think they are beautiful.

Both of my girls are great companions for me. They sit at my feet when I'm at the computer, and nap nearby when I'm in the studio. And a game of fetch is always a good remedy for artist's block. They have brought so much joy to our family.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Matchbox Shrines

Virginia is so beautiful this time of year. The leaves are really beginning to change now, and should be at their peak in a week or so. I like to change the inside of the house, too.
Here is the table inside my front door. The gargoyle on the left came from the dollar store. He looks more menacing when perched on a vintage candy dish under a dome. I change the items under the dome from season to season.
Last Saturday, Terry Pitzel showed our FCCA Altered Arts group how to make Halloween matchbox shrines. I couldn't stop with just one! All my nieces and nephews are getting these from me this year. The older kids will get confetti, and little pins and rings in their matchboxes. The little ones will get stickers.I wanted to make a more durable one to use as a decoration. I used Claudine Hellmuth's sticky-back canvas to wrap the matchbox. I cut a strip and painted it with "dab of yellow" and stamped the fence image.

Then I scrubbed on some "altered orange" with a dry brush. The canvas picks up the brush strokes really nicely. I mixed some "classic teal" with the "dab of yellow" and put in highlights around the fence and at the bottom.

I used the "altered orange" on a circle stamp for the moon image. Then, I used multi-medium to glue on a piece of bat-shaped confetti. I painted the inside of the box, and used an extra piece of the canvas for lining. The sticker inside says, "Happy Halloween".

I punched two small holes in the top of the inside of the box. and threaded some copper wire through the holes for a handle. Then, I added ribbon scraps to the handle.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween Altered Frame

October is here, and I'm ready for it. I lthink I like my Halloween decorations even more than the Christmas decorations that I have. This year I decided to make a decoration of my own, by altering a cabinet card and a picture frame. Here is the "before" photo:

I found this at a yard sale for $1.00. My husband couldn't believe that I wanted it. I added a few embellishments from the Halloween aisle at the drug store, and filled in the areas underneath to blend everything together.

Once I had everything in position, I painted everything with black gesso and then with black acrylic paint to unify the elements.

It was looking a little creepy, but not believable enough, so I went over all the high spots with interference gold to make them stand out.

I used Photoshopto altere an image from a Victorian cabinet card, adding in a bat brooch, and emphasizing the bat-like collar that the woman in the picture was wearing.

I removed the original velvet from the frame and replaced it with a collage of antique onion-skin paper that had spider webs embossed in it. This is the final result. Woo! Scary kids!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The ABCs of Ephemera Altered Book Project

I am excited to say that my altered book "The ABC's of Ephemera, A Visual Lexicon of Personal Symbols" is A) complete! and B) being shown at ArtSpace gallery in Richmond from Sept 25 - November 1.

As I started this book with the theme "personal symbols" in mind, I realized that certain images crop up in my work over and over again. I decided to use ephemera as a unifying element. As I wrote down the items that I like to use, I realized that the stuff that I collect runs the gamut from A to Z. Thus, the alphabet book concept was born.

This is the G-H page. Hands, hearts, gears, games... get it?

I tore apart an old 45 record album holder, and a vintage coin book and then reassembled them into a new book form and altered that. The spaces originally intended for coins gave me places to put little objects. This one is from the I-J page - insects, jewelry, ink.

Special thanks go to my partners in crime from the Mixed Media Experience, Terry, Darlene and Carol for getting the ball rolling on this project!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back from the Tides Inn

My friend Marty and I set up shop at the art show at the amazing Tides Inn this weekend. It's only a two-hour drive from Fredericksburg, but once you are there, it seems like you're a million miles away. Was it all a dream? We had fantastic weather and lots of boaters were out on the water enjoying the beautiful day. This was the view that we had from the room where the art show was set up.I concentrated less on jewelry at this show, and brought some of my collages, journals, greeting cards and glove form hands. I did bring my Relic Babies jewelry and the Crystal Cupcakes. I sold the Relic Babies with mixed emotions. I get so attached to each one!

We had a some time to explore on Friday. The town of Irvington is a quaint shopping village with a quirky design within walking distance of the Inn. Even the town dentist has a sense of humor!Friday night's dinner was at the Trick Dog cafe, which had come highly recommended. The barbeque was fantastic. Inside, you can pet the trick dog for good luck. He got an enthusiastic petting from me.

Now it's back to the real world. Something tells me it won't be long until I find myself in the town of Irvington again.