Monthly Archives: May 2016

This month’s bricolage roundup.

I mostly think of myself as a horribly lazy person who keeps terrible hours, sleeps a lot and wastes huge swathes of time every day.Suzanne Forbes May Bricolage Collage

But sometimes I think of myself as a highly effective person whose productivity is just really weirdly distributed.

Here are the various bricolage projects I did this month, in between building the workshop, unpacking my mixed media materials, teaching a new class, starting a new painting, and drawing.

These flies are what I call “Uplift Projects”, after David Brin’s “Uplift” series.

They’re commercially produced decorative items I bought somewhere for almost nothing and am “improving” (according to my weird personal lights). I got these awesome glitter flies for 90% off at Cost Plus after Halloween. WIP Uplift Fly on the left, completed one, with beading, Swarovski crystals, more shades of glitter and micropearls on the right.

Mixed Media Suzanne Forbes 2016Mixed Media Suzanne Forbes 2016

 

 

This decoupage table originally came from Ross.

Insect and roses Decoupage Table Suzanne Forbes 2016I made them give me 10% off because it had a chipped corner. I repaired the corner with epoxy clay and spraypainted the whole thing with matt fuchsia acrylic from Dupli-Color, the German spray paint company that has a special line for graffiti artists.

Then I cut out all these amazing German decoupage pieces.

Insect and roses Decoupage Table Suzanne Forbes 2016Insect and roses Decoupage Table Suzanne Forbes 2016These are reproductions of the decoupage elements that have been produced here since the Victorian era.decoupage stag beetles

I used acrylic varnish to attach them in my weird little bug-infested way, painted the trim on the table with artist’s acrylic, and covered the decoupage with twelve coats of acrylic varnish. That actually was a pain in the ass. But worth it, I think. I’ve had the Alphonse Mucha coaster you see on top of the table since I was fourteen years old.

This dresser is a piece I got on Amazon.de through their repacking program.

dresser by Suzanne Forbes 2016You can often buy things that are brand new and perfectly good but have been returned and repacked at the warehouse for a fraction (20% in this case) of the original cost. It was stuffed all higgledy-piggledy into the box but all the (many, many) pieces were there, so I carefully assembled it.

Then I stained it with ten coats of Hazelnuss dunkelbraun stain (the equivalent of  the exploding-on-Pinterest General Finishes Java Gel stain). Ten coats may sound like a lot but with water-based gel stain, the coats go on and dry so fast it’s really no hardship.

perry gargano knobThe knobs are ones I’ve been collecting for years, like the brass verdigris tentacles from Perry Gargano for Anthropologie. (Of course I got mine all on clearance!). I’d learned from my research before we moved that German apartments have ZERO closets or built-in storage. BlueBayer Bat knobsSo I planned for buying a lot of furniture, and even splurged on four bat skull knobs from Blue Bayer on Etsy two weeks before we left.

 

Buying handmade items directly from an artist is the one time I’m happy to pay full price.

ombre table Suzanne ForbesI’ve had this table for almost twenty years- I got it at the Berkeley flea market.

It’s been spray-painted black, then pink, then black again. But this is the first time I tried making it ombré. I’m pretty thrilled with the results.

I used a deep sapphire blue, a dark forest green, and a pale celadon, all gloss finish from Dupli-Color. I built a sorta cheapass spray booth on the balcony out of boxes to paint it in.

ombre table1

 

Don’t spray paint indoors, dude. You don’t want to get what we used to call Technicolor Phlegm.

shadowbox Suzanne Forbes 2016I made this little shadow box out of some ribbon roses I made for my first wedding, hoarded velvet leaves and a frame I got at the Berkeley Flea, also like 20 years ago.

I got this plaster deer head from a German eBay dealer who specializes in vintage hunting lodge taxidermy.

deerhead

Taxidermy is so cheap here, Williamsburg craft beer bar owners would lose their minds. My dealer has been very kind about accepting my “Best Offers” for the most weird, kinda messed up pieces he lists.

I repaired the big chunk of missing plaster with epoxy clay, and repainted it. I left the rest of the damage ’cause I like it. deerheadebay

Now I’m waiting til the next time our handyman James comes over with his magic SuperStudFinder, which can detect metal and electrical wiring in the walls. Our walls have a LOT of janky old wiring in them so I like to check before I drill a great big hole for an anchor.

I think that’s all my bricolage this month.

Oh, and I decorated the frame for the octopus!Octopus Mixed Media Suzanne Forbes May 2016

Our Drawing Adventure

Me and Daria had an adventure day in Kreuzberg.

Photo by Daria Rhein drawings_of_Suzanne_Forbes_and-Daria_Rhein_May_28_2016

Photo by Daria Rhein

We had Tibetan food at Little Tibet, and ice cream down Yorckstrasse- i had jogurt-maracuja (passion fruit) and lemon-basil-strawberry; Daria had kokonuss and the darkest dark chocolate sorbet I’ve ever seen.skatepark by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016

Scooter stunt in Berlin by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016Then we went to the Park am Gleisdreieck and walked along, seeing the last of the lilacs and many wildflowers I know from New England, like Queen Anne’s lace, goldenrod and blue lupine. Goldenrod is considered an invasive species here, and Daria was surprised to learn you can make dye from it.

There were vast bushes of wild roses. I was startled to see actual poppies growing wild here as well, unlike the US where they are policed up.

We saw a unicorn. We saw glades of birches growing in the old railroad tracks and Daria hugged them. I did not know birches were so identified with Moscow; I think of them as a New England thing! We looked up another tree and learned it was Quaking Aspen.Rollergirl by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016

After 18 years of silver-grey California foliage, I am so glad to be among the flora of my childhood again. There were people wandering about everywhere, in the muggy Berlin semi-sun. It was so relaxed.

Eventually we came to this skatepark, where there was a cafe in what looked like an air-traffic control tower. We got Fritz-Kola (tagline: For the night from Thursday to Sunday. Much much caffeine.) and Wostok (tagline: To Friendship and Space Travel!). I had rhubarb and Daria had plum-cardamom!

skater by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016 BerinWe made some drawings, and we came up with a new art motto:
NO ART SHAME!!

Daria has a new portfolio site up. It is beautiful and full of gorgeous things. She is the kind of versatile art talent you meet only a few times in a lifetime.

I LOVE BERLIN!

Saturday Night on the U7.

This is another U-Bahn drawing that took several rides to finish.Saturday night on the U7 by Suzanne Forbes May 28 2016

I did a lot of drawings with really intense perspective over the last month or two as I got ready to teach my first class on the subject.

I don’t want to ask my students to do anything I wouldn’t do myself! I don’t know where the big guy and the skinny guy were going, because I got off before they did. But pre-gaming with a beer or bottle on the train is totally normal in Berlin, and not just on Saturday night!

Maypole!

Maypole_by_Suzanne_Forbes_May_28_2016I glimpsed this little girl dancing around the subway pole, surrounded by tall black-clad guys, at the beginning of May.

Then I carefully reconstructed the scene over a series of short U-Bahn rides. Since you never know which model of train you’ll get, or if there will be a seat in the correct position, detailed U-Bahn drawings tend to take a few rides!

Giant Octopus finished at last!

This is the biggest thing I’ve ever embroidered.Embroidered Octopus Suzanne Forbes 2016

Embroidered_Octopus Suzanne Forbes 2016I started it a few years ago, when I had just begun embroidering again as an adult. I had trouble keeping the fabric from wrinkling on such a big hoop and wasn’t sure how to finish it. But now I am much more expert and confident, and have lots more colors of thread!

It’s amazing how much embroidering is like painting.

Embroidered_Octopus Suzanne Forbes 2016Just like with every canvas I paint, I made sure to leave a few small areas of the original blank surface. Here’s a peek at the back, for the curious. It is a mess, as usual.

WIP, Quinn in Berlin

Quinn by Suzanne Forbes WIP May 2016This is a very intense month.

I’ve been working on a lot of things, but laggy about sharing them. At the beginning of May I started this portrait of our friend Quinn Norton and her companion. I haven’t had a minute to do any more work on it, but luckily they come to Berlin quite often and we’ll pick it up again on the next visit.

I chose to do the sitting in our library because its earth-tone palette better suited Quinn’s dark copper hair.

Quinn_by_Suzanne_Forbes WIP May 2016

Quinn Norton by Suzanne Forbes ,WIP, May 2016

It will be a ravishing jewel-colored picture when finished!

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