Month: May 2014

Sculpture Garden: The Beginning Stages of Transforming a Space

High School Art Sculpture Garden

I’ve said it over and over in my posts, I am incredibly lucky to be at the school I currently teach at. After 3 years of public school teaching, with little to no budget, I am absolutely spoiled at my private school. I have an enormous classroom, a budget that allows me to purchase supplies for interesting and fun projects, and small class sizes.

In addition, we also have a very active parent organization that raises money specifically for the fine arts department. Every year we can put in requests  for “wish list” items. These can be things that don’t fit into our budget, and can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to thousands. I take advantage of this program every year.

The first year I put in for fused glass supplies, and now have an amazing fused glass studio set up. My second year I considered adding to my glass inventory, adding a brazing project, and other new sculpture based equipment I could use. After brainstorming in my classroom for awhile my gaze drifted out the double doors that lead to my very own “sculpture garden”.

The space is wonderful, it is a small patio with a lovely brick wall enclosing it. We have access to a gas line and hose, with a large drain in the center. The pros end about there. A former sculpture teacher managed to clog the drain, and every time is rained the patio turned into a small lake. Dead leaves collected into corners, nothing was pretty about it, besides the brick wall.

I made a decision to put my wish list money towards that space. Although I could beef up my program, this space needed it more. It was planned and built to be utilized, and here it was empty and useless. I decided I would turn it into a aesthetically pleasing, functional space.

I asked for two large, green picnic tables, two planter boxes, and one round planter. I requested funds to purchase plants, soil, and hoses. This was going to be an enjoyable place to create artwork.

I was thrilled when I found out I had been approved, and I immediately put in my orders. Throughout the school year things began to slowly roll in. The picnic tables were in place, I finally found time to put together the planter boxes, and Spring was right around the corner. It was the perfect time to purchase my plants and use a very useful resource, my landscape architect husband.


I had a few requirements for my plants. They had to a: be perennials, I didn’t want to replant every year, b: look pretty, c: feel good to the touch, and d: smell good. I wanted this space to peak the senses. We strolled around our local Pike’s and slowly picked out our plants. We pulled a rosemary for the round planter, an amazing smell, as well as some thyme for the large planters. Creeping Jenny was added for the bright green color and ability to quickly fill up space. Lamb’s ear came next, because it is so fun to touch, along with Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop. Last but not least we picked out beautiful purple cone flowers and yellow coreopsis for their lovely blooms.

IMG_7966The plants, soil, and river rock was loaded up and moved to my outdoor space. The river rock was added to the bottom of every planter, for better drainage, followed by a mix of potting soil and garden soil. Because I was limited on time to get my plants planted I purchased 10 bags of soil from my local plant store. It would have saved me money to purchase soil by the pound from a place, such as The Green Centre. As I continue to add to my garden I hope to find a local stone and soil yard to save money.

After the soil and stone the plants went in last. In order to create a worry free planting I also purchased a hose timer and drip hoses. A normal hose runs from the timer and faucet, to a drip hose, which weaves between the plants. Every 3 days the hose automatically turns on, waters the planters, and shuts off.

My space is slowly transforming into a welcoming area. Students have already begun working at the picnic tables on nice days. After my successful first planting I decided I couldn’t stop there. I put in for even more items on next year’s wish list, and have already been approved to continue to beautify the space. I just put in for two more rectangle planters, four more round planters, a storage bench (for the straw and hay I use in raku and smoke firings), and a storage shed (for my propane and acetylene tanks).

I can’t wait to get the remainder of my “sculpture garden” plans together. I believe with this second order the space will look beautiful and complete. I will continue to post as my outdoor space continues to grow. I can’t wait to shop for more smell, feel, and look good plants. I will be sure to post the plant list as well.

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Visual Journal Page 67: Find Humor in Art


As I have expressed in past posts, I love street art.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to interview a well known, and very talented street artist, Chor Boogie. I loved the way his artwork makes walls come alive, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more about his creations (read the post here).

This visual journal page pre-dates the interview with Boogie. My love for street art had already begun to stir around the time I moved to Atlanta.

While in college I spent some time studying the street art genre, focusing on the more well known artists such as Keith Haring, Banksy, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I loved the images that flashed up on the screen in the large art history auditorium. The artwork found a way to present important messages in a fun, vibrant, and inviting way.

Although I did enjoy my time studying these graffiti artists, the artwork didn’t resonate with me the way other genres did. It wasn’t until my move to the “big city” of Atlanta, that street art began to take hold.

Growing up in the suburbs of Roswell, GA, you aren’t exposed to much street art, except the occasional suburban gang tag. When I made the move to Atlanta, the gang tags did grace many buildings, bridges, and walls; however, interspersed with these negative scribbles were beautiful, planned, and well executed works of art.

Not too long ago Atlanta began hosting a Living Walls Conference, which promoted street art through murals. Suddenly amazing, vibrant murals were finding their way to every street tunnel, and concrete, roadside wall. As I made my drives from here to there, I was continuously distracted by the beautiful shapes, colors, and messages.

The words “never give up” greet me on my way from East Lake to Decatur, Edgewood, Candler Park, and Downtown. Friendly bubbles and bulbous shapes make me smile as I had to Edgewood shopping center. A long mural depicting local flora, fauna, and waterways educates me as I go about my day.

However, as much as I love my neighborhood murals, my favorite examples of street art are the more illegal works, which appear over night.

Something about the ridiculous images that find their ways on the walls, the hurried feel to them, and the conversations that emerge peak my curiosity. I especially love witnessing the conversations between works of art. “Don’t stop art” is added to a stop sign, a few days later a “b” is added in front of “art”, spelling out “Don’t stop bart”, with a picture of Bart Simpson skateboarding accompanying it. Another nearby stop sign became littered with phrases such as “stop eating meat” to “stop eating “plants”, to “stop, it’s hammer time”. I looked forward to driving past one wall where a stenciled bunny rabbit was added, who was suddenly being chased by a pack of foxes, and later had carrots flying around.

One day, while making my way to my local Target, I discovered one of my all time favorite works of art. It immediately made me laugh out loud as I turned the corner, and suddenly discovered two Tom Sellecks staring back at me.

Two splashes of yellow were quickly added to a bridge before a two black Tom Selleck stencils were added on top. I loved the crisp stencil over the dripping yellow spray paint. It was beautiful, funny, and added a moment of happiness to a bleak overpass.

It reminded me that not all art has to be serious. It is just as important to have light hearted moments. Artwork is about pulling a feeling out of the viewer, and I felt a lot as I passed by the spray painted Tom Selleck. I felt my smile spread across my face, and the laughter move from my belly to my lips. I felt my day get just a little bit better as Tom’s mustache smile and dark eyes watched me head on my way.


  • Visual journal
  • Rubber cement
  • White paper
  • colored pencils
  •  Magazines
  • Yellow watercolor
  • Water
  • Sharpie


To create this visual journal page I used a range of materials to create more of a patchwork feel. I wanted a mix of crisp lines, with sketchy scribbles, and paint drips.

I started the the background first. I ripped up sections of blue, green, and gray to create the sky, trees, asphalt of the road, and grass. Next, I began drawing out the bridge using pencil on a separate sheet of paper. I opted to draw the bridge out, and fill it in with colored pencil, rather than use more magazine pages, to make it pop against the background.

After the bridge was drawn, and filled in with colored pencil, I carefully cut between the bars on top using an Xacto knife. The bridge was glued on top of the background using rubber cement.

To replicate the yellow spray paint splatters I mixed water with watercolor, and placed a blob of the mixture on a separate sheet of paper. I carefully blew the blew of watercolor at an angle, until it splattered. I repeated, let the two splatters dry, then cut them out and glued them on the bridge.

To imitate the stenciled Tom Selleck I found a silhouette image of his face online, printed it out, then traced it onto the yellow splatters. I filled in the tracing with sharpie. Finally, I added the words under the bridge “find humor in art”, because sometimes you need a little comic relief.

I have never been satisfied with the way I wrote the words under the bridge. I wish I had centered it, wrote them bigger, or even tried them smaller, and off to the side. One day I may even choose to simply cover them up. Before you commit to writing in sharpie on your book, sketch it out first!


Create a visual journal page that incorporates magazine images, colored pencil, sharpie, and watercolor. Have fun!

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Visual Journal Page 66: Just a Plane Ride Away


My very first roommate was my best friend from eighth grade, Elly. I don’t even remember how we met. I felt like we spontaneously began hanging out, and something clicked. All of the sudden we were at each others houses every weekend, she was coming over after school, and we would talk for hours on the phone. It felt like I had known her forever, I could tell her anything, and everything was funny, no matter how stupid it was.

Our friendship continued to grow as we entered high school and faced the many challenges of being angsty teens.

We whispered about our crushes, we gushed over first kisses and boyfriends, and we got into and out of trouble together. We prepared for homecomings and proms, we experienced first loves and heartbreaks, we had endless and ridiculous inside jokes. She was my El and I was her Whittr, and for a long period of time we were inseparable.

As we entered our senior year of high school we opened to a new chapter. We discovered new, lifelong friends, new boys to crush on, and had many new experiences, but through it all we experienced it together, even if it was through secondhand story telling. We applied to colleges, eagerly awaited acceptances and denials, and soon we found out we would both be attending the University of Georgia in the fall.

It was a no brainer, we had to live together, we were destined to be at UGA together. After all we had already closed out middle school and gone through the entirety of high school side by side, adding college to that list seemed natural. We spent the entire summer planning our dorm room. Comforters, rugs, curtains, posters, a refrigerator, futon, and everything in between was purchased, packed, and ready to make the move to Athens, GA.

For five years, post high school, Elly and I were roommates. We moved from a tiny dorm room, to a tiny apartment, to an adorable house. We lived with four different girls in five years, but the two of us were always consistent. We went through roommate drama, long term boyfriend break ups, new boys, new friends, and a lot of growing up together.

Suddenly the tiny, former, silly middle school girls were about to graduate from college and enter into the real world. Suddenly, topics of conversation were being directed towards our career, paying bills, future engagements, and marriages. Long gone were our giggling talks of which boy we wanted to say hi to in the hall, here we were college graduates, soon-to-be workforce members, discussing the real possibilities of our grown up lives.

It felt like the past ten years had flown by in a blink. One minute we were whispering in our basement, the next we were standing in our empty house in Athens, GA ready to move to the big city of Atlanta. For the first time in five years we were going our separate ways, living with different people. Shortly after our “separation” Elly began throwing the word “LA” around. We already had two friends out there, and Elly was ready to pursue her dream of acting.

I brushed it off, yes it would happen eventually, but I assumed it wasn’t in the near future. A few months passed with no new updates, and suddenly Elly announced she would be leaving. Come spring she would be making her way to Los Angeles. I was excited for her. She was finally going after her dream, finally putting her drama degree to use. I wished her all the happiness and prosperity in the world.

We made a point to hang out often in the last few weeks, and before we knew it the day before her departure had arrived. We agreed to meet at a pizza place in Buckhead, I was sad, but knew her move was for the best. I don’t think I realized how sad I was until our final goodbye. I couldn’t hold it in any longer, tears streamed down my face. It finally hit me, she was actually moving, she was about to be 3,000 miles away. After over ten years of friendship and five years of living in close quarters, she was putting a lot of distance between us.

It was a happy, sad goodbye. Elly was about to start an adventure and get on with the rest of her life. I knew I would visit her and she would be back when her budget allowed, but she was still leaving. There would be no more spontaneous brunches at “The Biscuit”, no hang outs in the park. Now our hangouts had to be pre-planned and budgeted.

Despite the distance and time that has passed I am happy to report we talk regularly. Some days it feels like she is right down the street, rather than across the country. In a sense our conversations have become more meaningful, as we update each other on big events in our lives, rather than small, daily occurrences. I feel just as close to her on the other side of the country as I did when she was just across the hall.  Although it feels like she lives in a different world, she is in fact only a short plane ride away.


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Magazines
  • Blue watercolor
  • Book page
  • Paint brush and water
  • Sharpie
  • Maps


As the day approached for Elly’s departure I began to plan out her page. I couldn’t let her leave without acknowledging her in my book, creating a memorial to our friendship and this first big step away from each other. After some thought I decided it needed to be a reminder to me that even though she is far away, we can still visit each other.

I found two maps, one of California and one of Georgia. I decided to cut them in circle shapes, with our respectable cities in the center. The circular shape hinted towards the feeling of us being in separate worlds. To further push that idea I added rings around the “planet” shapes. The first set of rings were cut from a larger North America map. The next set of rings were cut from a blue and green page from a magazine. I added a few other green pieces behind the Los Angeles world and blue splatters behind the Atlanta world.

To finish off the page I glued down an airplane cut out and added the words with sharpie. If I could do this page over again I would put the LA words in a different space, they are a little too hard to read in the crease of the book.


Create a page about a move that somehow impacted you.

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Crafty Projects: Personalized Garden Markers

Basil Plant Marker

As I was digging through the dirt, planting my annual vegetable garden, I had an epiphany.

The plastic, difficult to read, identifiers that come with my plants always disappear from my plants’ sides almost immediately. I needed a more permanent and artsy solution to marking the many veggies and herbs in my garden. I suddenly remembered flipping through page after page on Etsy, trying to find the perfect garden markers last season, to no avail.

I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands, and make my own.

I bought a new bag of beautiful, white clay, and ran a chunk through my slab roller in my classroom. I considered the size and shape I wanted, and cut a template out of a manila folder. I didn’t want the design to be overwhelming, I wanted the them to be clean and simple. The final size was approximately 1″ wide and 6″ long, with a pointed tip to easily guide the plant identifier into the ground.

As soon as I had my slab rolled out I got to work, mindlessly tracing the template, setting it aside, and cutting out the next one. Once I had a nice stack, I began stamping the letters into the damp clay. I decided just having the plant name was too simple. I brainstormed what I could pair with the name, urban farm, veggie garden, or even better, the scientific name of each plant.

Plant Markers

I love the long, complex names. Vowels and consonants come together in ways I never thought possible. Words spread before me that I could never hope to be able to pronounce. These complex titles were an almost comedic addition to the simpler, layman’s words, such as basil, tomato, and peas.

After stamping stake after stake, I carefully carried the stack into my kiln room to dry out. Once they were bone dry I painted the fronts with dark brown underglaze, and wiped it off. The glaze settled into the low areas of the stamped letters, and the sponge wiped away all traces of the glaze around the words.

After they were fired the veggie stakes were a clean, bright white, with a nice contrast against the dark letters. I eagerly piled my finished products into a box, and hauled them home. As soon as I walked in my door, I continued straight out the back door, and to my garden.

Plant Garden Stakes

I was very pleased to see how easily they slid into the dirt, and how well they stood on their own. I love the bright white against the brown dirt and green plants. The stakes themselves are a matte finish, which means over time they will absorb some natural color. I already love the green stripe that appeared on my basil marker. I can’t wait to see how they transform in the coming years.

Urban Farm Sign

I recently added these garden markers to my Etsy shop, Sweet Celadon. A 1-2 week waiting period is needed to make them. However, if you live in the Atlanta area you can pick them upanytime at the amazing shop, Crafted Westside.

Plant Marker

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Etsy Shop of the Month: Handmade Leather Toiletry Bag via Lifetime Leather Co. (closed)

giveaway ty bowman copy

With Father’s Day right around the corner, I thought what better way to prepare than to host a giveaway of a Lifetime Leather Co. product? The wonderful Ty Bowman has generously agreed to giveaway one of his most popular products, the standard size, Cognac Leather Toiletry Case, complete with a monogram personalization. To find out how to enter read below!

My wonderful husband, Nick, just turned 28. After 9 years together, and almost 4 years of marriage, I often have to get creative with my gift giving. Many of the things he has on his wish list are items I either know nothing about (a new bumper for the truck, bed extender, or new wheels) or can’t afford (like a new bumper, bed extender, or new wheels). In moments like these I turn to the internet and begin looking around, hoping something will strike me.

It was just one of those instances that brought me to Lifetime Leather Co. on Etsy. I had already “favorited” a few items I liked for his birthday, when I came across these beautiful toiletry bags. Nick currently keeps his hair clippers, electric razor, and various other knick knacks in an old, beat up, black (but now it is really gray), toiletry bag. After having to look at that thing since we started dating, I decided it was time for a change. I selected the leather bag I wanted, typed in the NJP initials for the front and NP for the side, and placed my order.


I had already had a lot of contact with Ty. Ordering a personalized gift last minute made me nervous about the necessary delivery date before Nick’s birthday. He ensured me time and time again it would arrive by April 12th, 2 days before the big day, and he was true to his word. On April 12th the package arrived. I snuck it in the house and opened it up.


It truly is a work of art. The leather is a far higher quality than I was expecting. The color is dark and beautiful. The leather is soft and thick. The zipper has an understated, classic look. The bag feels durable, the inside is washable. I was tempted to keep if for myself, if only I hadn’t had Nick’s initials stitched into the side. The best adjective that comes to mind when I think about the leather is creamy. It feels creamy. Weird? Perhaps, but creamy certainly sounds nice. Everything about it was perfect.


Nick likes to joke that with every nice gift I give him, I am attempting to class him up. This bag certainly helps in that secret (not-so-secret) pursuit of mine. On his future business trips, vacations, or other outings, that require his toiletry bag to come along, he will look like one dapper fellow.

This bag is the perfect gift for any father, husband, son, or person of the male or female gender. I don’t doubt this item can withstand a lot of use, I think the beautiful leather will only get better with time. Enter below for a chance to win a personalized toiletry bag of your very own! The contest will end next Wednesday, 5/14/14.

Ty Bowman giveaway

To enter all you have to do is follow Ty on his Instagram here. Comment in a separate comment with the username you are following his Instagram under.

For a second entry all you have to do is visit Ty Bowman’s Etsy shop, Lifetime Leather Co., and like his shop. Comment below with the username you liked his shop under.

For a third entry visit one of my Etsy shops (Sweet Celadon or Whitney Panetta), like your favorite item, and comment below with a link to the item you liked.

The contest will close at midnight on 5/14/14. The winner will be randomly selected using the plugin, And the Winner Is… The winner will be notified via e-mail, and will have 24 hours to confirm. If they do not confirm in the required time frame, a new winner will be selected and contacted. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and enter my giveaway! Help me spread the word about my blog and all these amazing Etsy shops by sharing with others.