Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Even the Sparrow Knows

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God." Psalm 84:3

A fourth installation in my "Tree of Life" series, but the first one that I did not create the tree from rebar wire. To me, the tree of life is the cross, through the sacrifice Jesus made we can all have eternal life.

Just listed on Ebay, this assemblage is designed to be a blessing to your home, as it reminds you of the safety and peace to be had in living near to God.

I love the effect the image has on the wood. This block is an antique wood bearing I purchased on my weekend trip to the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana. I wish I would have thought to ask the vendor what type of machine it came from.

I've collaged antique text and an image of the sparrow making his nest on a door step inside this old watch crystal. The picture brings to mind the sparrow making his home near God's alter.

A vintage key hole surrounded by antique rusty wire to symbolize the nest, or the home.

A tiny little wheel, measuring a mere 3/4s of an inch in diameter symbolizes Gods presence everywhere, a nod towards the visions of the prophet Ezikiel.

This assemblage has been designed to be a symbol of peace in your home and has also just been listed on Ebay.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

The wood bird was salvaged from an antique wood cuckoo clock and has been collaged with text from an antique German Bible. The stand has been assembled from an antique spindle salvaged from an old spinning wheel and the base from an antique receipt holder.

Just Simply Charming? No, Just Simply Amazing!!

I recently had the good fortune of participating in a charm swap with 24 other artists. We each made 25 charms and sent them to the charm hostess, Ruth Rae , who then redistributed them to each participant. We could choose to have them assembled on a bracelet that Ruth hand made, or sent loose to be assembled however we wished.

Ruth was an amazing swap hostess and went over and beyond the call of duty. Not only did she do an outstanding job organizing the swap, but she created a blog just for the swap called "Just Simply Charming". The blog has instructions from each of the 25 artists with links to each of their web pages and blogs.

Even though I had seen pictures of most of the charms before I received my package in the mail, I wasn't prepared for just how amazing each tiny work of art was. Opening the exquisitly wrapped package from Ruth was like opening a long anticipated birthday present. Pulling each charm out one by one brought oohs and aahs aplenty!

Hands down this was the best swap I've ever participated in. Here is the final creation (Photos from the Simply Charming blog).

I'll say it again, Amazing!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Wearable Week

The days have slipped by and I didn't get my new items posted on Sunday as planned. This week I'm listing it all on Ebay, but don't forget to check out my Etsy shop for more art and plenty of supplies for your own masterpiece!

Each of these art assemblages are created in miniature from antique elements.

The foundation for the first one "Art Cubed" is an antique printers block. The block is cube shaped and allows 3 sides to be visible when worn and can be worn from either front or back side.

I really love the tiny assemblage look of this piece. It looks like it should be hung for gallery display but it is less then a 1" cube!

I've used half of the back of an antique printers block for "Beloved". I sawed the block in half and used the front in a larger assemblage I currently have on my work table.

Another antique tintype portrait, and I stole, er, salvaged the toggle end off a vintage watch fob and wired it on with rusty antique wire. A dangle from an antique rosary completes the piece.

I can't help thinking of the scripture "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" from Song of Solomon when I look at it.

This one, titled "Royal" was created from an antique key hole that I got in a private swap with the talented Cara of Joyful House Farms. She makes the best soaps and lotions!

Yet another antique tintype mini, and the piece is finished with a crown and a hand charm that my good friend Becky, of Bees In My Bonnet gave me. She sells these little goodies, along with her whimsical art, on both ebay and etsy. Be sure to check her out!

I designed this piece to remind the wearer of who they are:

"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;" 1 Peter 2:9

And finally "My Heart Lead To You", a little wooden pencil lead case turned wearable art. It makes me think of school. Wouldn't it be a cute little teacher's gift?

Slide the cap up and tuck a note inside. I just love this, I wore it all day. The little wooden button is perfect as the clasp. Not too chunky on my neck at all.

Well I am leaving with my dear hubby for the weekend. My annual birthday trip to the Parke County Covered Bridge festival with my mom and step-dad.

Yup, Tuesday was my 41st birthday. The good news, every one of the kids thought I was only turning 40 this year. The bad news, nobody in my family seems to know how old I am! (or is that the good news??)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Wearable Art Week

I got inspired to create a few wearable pieces this week. This first piece is created from a 100+ year old leather disk salvaged from an old textile spindle and married to a brass tag with an antique etching and this unique brass and wood button.

I love the organic, earthy feel to the piece. It hints at a bit of your inner hippy but remains sophisticated enough to wear to the office or out on the town.

Just listed in my Etsy shop!

Next is this fun little assemblage necklace made from half an antique brass latch, an antique tintype photo, antique text, and little brass wings. The piece is titled "Free" and is a message of hope based on the scripture from Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery".

For the gambler, check it out on Ebay today!

And finally, a little necklace pendant created from an original antique brass laundry tag, a brass tube bead in the bali style, and a fire polished crystal. The beads swing freely and create a modern serenity to an ordinary "found" object.

Visit my Etsy shop, where you can purchase the necklace already complete for you, or buy a brass laundry tag from my supplies and create your own wearable art number!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

As the year winds down

The last 3 months of the year are upon us, I should say the year is about to wind up, not wind down. October always seems to bring a flurry of activity as we prepare the house for winter and look forward to the holidays.

Included among that end of the year flurry of activities is the Ebay's artist choice awards. I was very blessed in 2005 to be nominated and win 3rd place in a couple of different categories. The honor is even more meaningful in that it is ebay artists choosing & honoring other artists.

The ACA committee began working behind the scenes in June to organize the event and brainstorm ways to bring even more attention to these awards and to the many highly talented ebay artists in general. I was honored to be asked to join that committee back in June and very enthusiastically dived in, but as my personal life began to be disrupted in July I found myself pulled away more and more and eventually decided it was best to let this responsibility go to someone better equipped to participate fully.

One of the tools being utilized this year to raise awareness about the event is the Artists Choice Awards blog. A series of interviews with 2005 winning artists will be posted along with news and information about the 2006 awards. In spite of my leaving the committee, I was surprised a few weeks back to be asked for an interview. I am posting a copy of it here but would strongly encourage you to visit the ACA blog frequently to read the interviews of other ebay artists and keep up to date on the events of this year's awards.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ebay Artists Choice Awards Interview

Hidden Recesses Of Soul
An Interview With Artist Crystal Neubauer
by Loree Harrell

about the eBay Artists' Choice Awards,
selling art on eBay, and her artistic career.



Welcome, Crystal, I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me about your work. First, congratulations on your wins in the Wearable Art and Inspirational categories in the 2005 Artists' Choice Awards! How did it feel to be nominated by other artists and then to win?

Thanks! I feel so completely humbled by the whole thing. I just never expected anything like this. I had only been selling my art on ebay for a short while. I had developed some really good on-line friendships with other artists through some of the ebay groups, so I was really flattered when some of these people nominated me, but then I saw people who I had never heard of or other artists I had admired but didn't have a relationship with, nominate me and it just took me by complete surprise, completely humbling.

Isn't that great, when you know it isn't just that people like you - although that doesn't hurt, of course - but that your art stands up to the competition? How did you get into collage? Tell us a bit about your process and inspirations.

Well my whole journey into collage and mixed media was a real serendipitous route. I really believe it was a God led journey for me.

I married my husband a little over 5 years ago, he brought 4 kids to the marriage and I brought 3. I was working full time and had this huge new family and all of the sudden an auto-imune illness I had been dealing with for some time flared up and it became impossible for me to do it all. I cut back my hours at work to part time and started selling collectibles on ebay to earn some cash, but eventually I was overwhelmed with how long it took to carefully pack and ship these breakable items and I remember just sitting down one day and praying "God there has to be a better way." Not long after that a woman at work that I barely knew walked by my desk and threw a copy of Somerset Studio on it just saying over her shoulder "here you might be interested in this".

I'd have to say that was the understatement of the year! I had always dreamed of being an artist when I was in high school. I went to a private school and I took some fantastic art classes, but those dreams were put on the shelf when I became a teenage mom and wound up graduating early and going right out to work full time at a bank.

Opening that copy of Somerset Studio and seeing collage and mixed media work for the first time was like opening the hidden recesses of my soul. It all just resonated with familiarity to me. The images, the textures, the emotions evoked. I wanted this, I knew I had to be a part of it!

I began selling paper collectibles on ebay instead of breakables and soon I started putting together some really cool ephemera packs and selling them to other artists. The packs were really popular and I was always amazed at the bidding frenzy that would take place at the close of the auction. As I started checking out the buyers to see what they were making with the stuff they bought from me I was drawn in more and more and soon became bold enough to start listing my own work.

At first I sold collages and then started making little paper dolls out of old cabinet photos. Then I discovered the world of art trading cards and the ACEO group and things just took off from there. I was invited to join ZNE and just through the interaction with so many other talented artists I began to explore more and more different media.

I use very little if anything new in my work. I have always been a collector of odd bits and interesting pieces of the past. I scour flea markets, estate sales, and auctions for unique and interesting cast offs that other people tend to turn their noses up at. I just see so much beauty in the worn out and well used items. I love to see new life come from something discarded. I can relate to that with my faith. I was downtrodden, cast out, but have a new life now that was very much saved through faith.

I very rarely know ahead of time what the piece I am making will look like. Sometimes I know the message ahead of time and focus on that through the process, but usually some element will just call to me and I know I have to use it in my work. I pull things out and throw them on my work table that I think I might use and just start fitting things together and moving them around. I usually just know when something fits and when a piece is done.

Sometimes a piece is finished and I still don't know what it is saying. I will let it sit and just meditate on it for a while. Nine times out of ten I will start to see what it is saying and its like my subconscious knew all along. Elements that I didn't notice I had put together will just have a harmony. The majority of my inspiration is scripture from the Bible, often it is a message that God has been working out in my own life and it comes out in my work.

I find that when a piece is deeply personal and meaningful to me like that, it usually strikes a chord with the viewer. I frequently get e-mails from people telling me that a particular piece or verse really spoke to a situation they were in that week. It feels good to know that. To think that I've touched the life of somebody else in this way.

Wow, Crystal, I think you just finished the interview without me! Show and tell time... right this moment, what is your favorite piece?

Show and tell is a little tough. Whatever piece I'm working on at the moment is usually my favorite! I invest much of myself in so many of these pieces that I get very attached by the time I'm done.

One that really stands out in my mind is a necklace made from an old pair of folding Pince Nez glasses. It had a serendipitous route itself. I started with an old Kodak Jiffy camera and cut the lens out with my jewelers saw. Inside the lense I placed an antique tintype photo. I could see this piece in my mind as a necklace but I couldn't quite bring it together. I struggled with it for months. Then one day I was at this amazing estate sale, a huge old school building filled with piles and piles of antiques and junk and I saw this pair of Pince Nez glasses laying off to the side of a shelf, missing one lens. Just as an after thought I threw it in my basket. The two pieces, the glasses and the camera lens, lay side by side on my work table for a few weeks before it hit me that the camera lens was the exact same size as the missing glasses lens, the piece just exploded from there. There are times when I feel like my assemblages just put themselves together, I'm just the hands. This was one of those times. I wore that necklace for quite some time before I was able to sell it and when I did let it go I made a special altered tin to ship it off in. I couldn't bear to just put it in a shipping box!

I just looked at your Me page, and spent a little time with your blog - still laughing about the teeth. You clearly put heart and soul into everything you touch, and you communicate that depth well in your words and your art. Tell me, if you had a magic wand, and could grant one wish for your kids - collectively or individually - what would it be?

Well that's a loaded question! lol!

Collectively I think my one wish for the kids would be that they would develop roots and attachments with each other in this blended family. When my husband and I were married we had these grand ideas of bringing our two families together as one big happy family, and all would be well. That we would fill a gap in each other's kids lives, Brady Bunch style. Of course there were lots and lots of jokes about us being the Brady Bunch, but in reality its been more like Brady Bunch behind the scenes. You know, Cindy and Bobby hiding in the dog house in the backyard, getting high between takes. Okay, that is pretty candid, but it's reality. Kids from divorced homes have a lot of pain and baggage. Time heals many wounds and over time they are starting to develop a trust level in this family, but we're not quite there yet.

Individually its my hearts desire to see each of them find their true purpose in life. To recognize their own unique gifts and talents and to embrace them. God creates each of us with a specific purpose based on these talents and gifts. To find that purpose and live it out early on, wow, what a blessing!

... and Bingo just about sums that up. Thank you, Crystal, I have thoroughly enjoyed our time.

eBay seller's i.d.

Crystal's blog

On flickr

On zne

On etsy

Loree Harrell is the author of Body Speaking Words and a working artist and writer. She occasionally lists new work on eBay under the i.d. otw_studios. Harrell was a 2005 ACA winner: 2nd in Large Abstract; 3rd in Small Abstract; and an honorable mention in Best New eBay Talent. Her complete original and print portfolio resides at:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

And The Winner Is....

Wow! Can you believe it's October already? I know it sounds like a cliche, but really, where does the time go?

First things first, Congratulations to Patti V Crump, the winner of my charm swap drawing. Patti is a talented artist and a genuinely warm & caring person. I am so thrilled that she won!

Here is a sample of Pattis gorgeous art:

I absolutely love the colors she has used for this spread! Be sure to check it out on Patti's Blog and then have a look at her auctions on ebay. Congratulations again Patti! (And a special thanks to my wonderful hubby, who drew the name out of the hat for me!)

I have been having a blast with transitioning my store from ebay to Etsy. I have met some wildly talented artists and made new friends in the short time I've been there.

I am always tickled to death to hear about what other artists make from the items they pick up in my store. Even more tickled to SEE PICTURES of these items. Its a full circle experience. They tell me they get inspired by the unique and unusual finds in my store and then I in turn get fired up and inspired by seeing what they make.

Here is a great example. This is a beautiful piece of wearable art by Carrie made from one of the antique lenses she bought from my shop:

This is a bracelet whose band is as gorgeous as the focal point. You can check it out on Carrie's Blog, Jonesbaby. Be sure to stop in to her Etsy store, JustJonesinJewelry, while you're at it!

That's all for now, but stay tuned, I'll be announcing another drawing very soon!