Rhonda Bell Designs

Rhonda Bell is a mixed-media, fiber, and paper artist living in Austin, Texas. She is editor for All Info about Art Swaps site. A site dedicated to trading and exchanging art. that includes articles on Artist Trading Cards (ATCs), Altered Books, Altered Playing Cards, Art Dolls, Assemblage Art, Art Journals, Collage, Mail Art, Zines, Decos (decorated friendship books), Chunky Books, Greeting Cards, Tags, and other paper crafts.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Art Blog-O-Sphere Up

I've been working on my Art Blog-O-Sphere site which is a directory of art blogs and weblogs. I still have a bunch of work to do but I've got the first page working!

See it at Art Blog-O-Sphere.com

Monday, May 23, 2005

In Memory Of Ronald J. Bell

November 7, 1944 - May 23, 2004

Ronald J Bell


A year ago today my father passed away. This is what I wrote in my journal last year and read at his memorial:

My dad was one of the my best's friends. He was always there for me, treating me with respect, patience, and love. I wasn't always easy to get along with, as my mom and brother will surely attest, especially during my teens and early 20's, but my dad was always there for me and I knew I could turn to him when I needed support no matter what kind of support I needed.

My dad loved to cook and some of my fondest memories of him are in the kitchen or at the grill. He got better at it over the years and could prepare wonderful meals although we might not have guessed it as children when we had his famous "hockey pucks", the biggest and driest hamburgers you ever had. He was so proud of those burgers. I didn't know as a child how truly awful they were!!! He took it well when we joked about it later in life and he had expanded his cooking repertoire.

My dad really loved computers. One of the other early memories I had, besides those "great" burgers, was going to work with him when he was on call working as a computer programmer or operator in the early 70's. Here where these huge computers that my dad was in charge of. He put me in front of an 80-column card punch machine to play with and the transfer of his love of computers was passed on to me.

I am so happy to have had the opportunity to share our love of computers together over all these years. We worked together a couple of times. He could be a demanding boss but also understanding and patient.

I will miss my dad. He was so young, to young to be gone. But I'll always remember his laugh and his smile and his never ending optimism. He was my father and my best friend.


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Art Blog-O-Sphere

Today I worked on my Art Blog-O-Sphere site design. I'm actually please with the layout and colors that I'm using.

There is still a lot more work to be done on it. But now that I have the basic design figured out and most of sections I need to work on, it should flow pretty smoothly.

Hopefully, I'll be able to do an initial release of it by next week.

I had hoped to work on an article on Altered Books for my All Info About Art Swaps site today but didn't get to it. Maybe I'll get to that over the weekend.

More Retreat Phots

Linda F. Sent me copies of her pictures from the retreat. They are here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Studio Back In Order

I've gotten my studio mostly back into place after this past weekend's retreat. All my art supplies are back in their places and I have room on my art table to work on Jeri's Altered Book.

I mostly do collage pieces in Altered Books but have experimented with pockets and cut outs in the past. However, this weekend I learned a lot more about cutting niches and using folds for pockets at the retreat. So I'm working on a spread that has 4 pages folded into pockets. The pockets will hold packets of tea since the theme for the book is about tea.

I still need to find some tea themed paper to use in the spread but I've painted a couple of the pages with Bronze Lumiere paint already.

Here is a picture of the collage spread I did this weekend:

Monday, May 16, 2005

All Info About Art Swaps Site Up

I spent the day working on my All Info About Art Swaps site today.

So far I've got the basics up about art swapping and some information about Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). Over the next few months I plan on updating the sites with information and projects for Altered Books, Altered Playing Cards, Art Dolls, Assemblage Art, Art Journals, Collage, Mail Art, Zines, Decos (decorated friendship books), Chunky Books, Greeting Cards, Tags, and other paper crafts.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Crash - The Movie

Just got back from seeing Crash with Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon and cast of other famous stars who's names I can't remember. It was excellent and had me still thinking about it through dinner at Logan's Roadhouse for Amy's birthday.

The complexities of racism in a large ethnic city of LA is studied in a series of seemingly unrelated people's lives.

Had Amy told me it was by the same person who produced/directed Magnolia with the frogs falling out of the sky and Tom Cruise's slimy character, I might not have gone.

But I was totally clueless about the film yet alone knew who produced/directed it. It was well made.

Rating: Full Price Movie (out of a rating system of Full Price Movie, Matinee, Rental, Wait for TV, and Don't Bother)

Happy Birthday Amy!

Today is Amy's 37th birthday. Last night we celebrated with cake and ice cream.

Now we are off to a movie and dinner at Logan's Roadhouse.

Altered Book Workshop by Bev Brazelton

One of the books I got to take a look at this weekend was Altered Book Workshop by Bev Brazelton.

The book has excellent step-by-step directions along with photographs that show you how to alter books into great pieces of art.

Highly recommended!!

Joan's Sculpey Moon Faces

Joan showed us how to make little faces out of a ball of sculpey polymer clay and a toothpick.

She made it look so easy, but I'm not sure I could do it!!!

Kate's Encaustic Wax Demo

Kate showed us how to do use bee's wax and crayons along with an iron to do encaustic wax.

Her first example was with glossy paper and a stamped image. Over that you apply the wax with melted crayon with an iron. It makes an incredible looking piece of art that can then be cut and used on a greeting card or in an altered book.

Her second example was with craft paper and a stamped image. The craft paper absorbs more of the wax, so you have to use more. The craft paper gives it more of a vintage look but is just as lovely as the glossy paper type.

Kate said to make sure you use a craft iron that doesn't have steam holes or a non-stick surface when doing encaustic wax.

Tulips For Dad

On the Sunday morning of last year's retreat my father passed away in Salado, Texas of a heart attack. His name was Ronald James Bell and I miss him more than I can every describe. So today was a bit hard for me because it reminded me of him and his passsing.

However, it was comforting to be with some of the women who were there to support me last year especially Gayle, Kristi, Amy, and Tobey. They helped clean up last year in record time so I could get to Salado to be with my family. And they supported me in one of my darkest and saddest hours.

In memory of my father, Tobey bought this flowers for me for this year's retreat:

What a lovely gesture that I got to enjoy all weekend. And now I have that at home in a vase to remind me of all the love I've had/have in my life, especially from my father.

Gayle’s Decoupage Workshop

Gayle brought all the supplies including paper mache and wooden boxes, modge podge, foam paintbrushes, pre-cut images, decorated papers, and paints to make decoupage boxes.

Gayle’s instructions, choices of papers, and choices of images made it easy for me to make a lovely box. Of course, it doesn’t compare to one of her original boxes!!!

I have always admired Gayle’s boxes. She has such a good sense of design and color. So her boxes always turn are so gorgeous!!! I'm always excited to get a "Gayle Box". And I'm not the only person who thinks so. All my friends enjoy receiving them just as much as I do. Gayle has made several Frida Kahlo boxes for me that I just love and I have on display in my home.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Shrink Plastic Puzzle Piece Earrings and Bracelet

The make and take project I brought to the retreat was for Shrink Plastic Puzzle Piece Earrings and Bracelet:

1. Cut Out Puzzle Pieces From Shrink Plastic
2. Trace puzzle shape onto shrink plastic
3. Color puzzle pieces with Galaxy Marker or rubber stamp an image on rough side of shrink plastic
4. For earrings, punch hole in top of each puzzle piece making sure to get as close to the top edge as possible. For bracelet, punch hole in top and bottom of puzzle pieces.
5. Using an embossing gun, heat the puzzle pieces until they are fully shrunk and flat. Use a toothpick to hold down each piece so that the heat gun doesn’t blow them away.
6. Let puzzle pieces cool completely.
7. For earrings, attach the puzzle pieces through the hole to the ear wires using a pair of pliers to open and close the loops. For bracelet, use jump rings to attach puzzle pices and clasp.

Altered Book Workshop

Jeri and the gang from AAWA lead a workshop on altered books today at the Artist's Muse retreat. They had lots of examples of books they had worked in:

Here's Jeri with Jean Marie and Sherry, deciding on books to alter:

Kate showed how to make niches in books. She showed us a book in progress that had a niche cut out from the edge the size of box of matches that she is going to use for a drawer. She also showed us a book with a niche that had a class bottle in
the niche:

Linda told us about using a saw to cut your book into different shapes. She also showed us how to do a book with in a book:

Cher showed us how to fold pages to make pockets and other hidden place in our books:

Susan showed us her sample book. She uses it to try different techniques. What a great why to try stuff out before doing it in someone else's book in a round robin!!

Thanks to Jeri, Cher, Linda, Kate, and Susan everyone learned lots about Altered Books and got to look at some great examples!

Jeri's Birthday Gift

I'm so excited because I get to see Jeri open one her 60 birthday gifts, one a day until her 60th birthday. Cher brought all 60 of them as presents from the AAWA group. Jeri gets to open one a day.

Here is Jeri opening one of the gifts:

They are square bamboo beads. Awesome!!

Artist's Muse Retreat - Day 1

The art retreat is going wonderful!!! Arrived at Stonehaven around 1 PM after running errands in San Marcos. Here is a picture of the fron of the ranch house:

Gayle came at 1 PM to help me get set up. Thanks, Gayle!!! We got the tables set up in the dinner room. The group from my online An Affair With Art group around 4PM. And the art creating began:

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Retreat This Weekend

My second annual Artist's Muse Art Get-together retreat is happening this weekend at Stonehaven Ranch in San Marcos, Texas. There is going to be about 20 women spending the weekend together making art!!!

Here is the invitation I sent out:

Come spend a weekend with other women artists in a nurturing environment in the beautiful Texas Hill Country to connect with your creativity and create art.

This mostly unstructured, informal weekend is an opportunity for you to get away from the “real” world to have time to play, create, and make new artist friends. Whether you are into artist trading cards, greeting cards, altered books, collage and other types of paper crafts, assemblage art, or other altered art, you can have fun making mixed media art.

Tables will be set up where you can bring your art supplies to work on projects. Bring everything you need including rubber stamps, collage paper, card stock, inkpads, embellishments, scissors, glue, etc.

An art supply table will be set up for you to bring art supplies to share with other women. Feel free to bring those items you no longer care to have but would like to share with other women in the group.

If you would like to supply a Make and Take project please sign up. A Make and Take project is an art project that can be easily completed in 30 minutes or less. You provide a sample of the completed project, the directions, and the supplies to complete the project (in a large ziplock bag). Ideas include greeting cards, artist trading cards, minuture books, etc.

If you would like to volunteer to lead a 2 hour workshop on a more involved art project please let me know. Please provide a title, description, and supply list of the workshop. I will send out the supply list to the participants the week before the retreat so that those women who want to participate can have their supplies available.

Accommodations are on a 171-acre ranch with a swimming pool and hot tub. Sleeping is dormitory style in single beds with shared bathrooms. The facility is completely equipped with towels, bed linens and a laundry room.

Vegetarian meals will be provided and include dinner on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings; breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and lunch on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Please let me know if you have any special dietary needs.

Call For Workshop Proposals - The Artist's Muse

The Artist's Muse is currently seeking workshop proposals for an art retreat near Austin, Texas on September 21 - 25, 2006. Classes will be conducted on Friday, September 22; Saturday, September 23; and Sunday, September 24, 2006. Evening events are still being planned but may include a vendor night where instructors and students may sell their art or art related supplies.

The purpose of the retreat is to give mixed media artists a place where they can get in touch with their creativity, learn new techniques, and create art in a nurturing environment while connecting with other artists for the purpose of building community.

We are looking for experienced mixed-media, paper, and fiber art instructors to teach day long workshops. If you have experience with presenting a workshop that fits our purpose please submit your workshop proposal with the following information:

What Students Will Learn/Get Out of Your Workshop:
Materials Instructor Will Provide:
Student Supply List:
Minimum Number of Students:
Maximum Number of Students:

Each instructor will receive $90 per student per day with the instructor being responsible for their own travel/lodging. It is expected that each instructor will provide some of the supplies needed for the workshop as part of this fee.

Food and lodging is available at the retreat facility. A shared hotel room with food should be around $230 for instructors for the entire stay. A private hotel room with food should be around $300 for instructors for the entire stay. However, if you would rather stay off facility the nearest hotels in Austin, Texas it are about a 35 - 45 minute drive away.

Please return proposal by email to teach@TheArtistsMuse.com.

Rhonda Bell
The Artist's Muse

Monday, May 09, 2005

Web Site Updated

Today I worked on The Artist's Muse web site. Right now I just have the bare bone facts up about the upcoming retreat on September 21 - 25, 2006.

I've been getting a lot of response to the call for proposals for workshop instructors.

So far, Aisling D'Art and Jane E Ward have agreed to teach all three days.

I'll be adding the names of instructors to the web site at http://www.theartistsmuse.com/tam/artists.asp.

The Artist's Way

Amy picked up Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron for me while she was at Half Price Books selling all our old unwanted books.

I'm looking foward to going through it. I've gotten so much out of doing the morning pages, going on my artist's dates, and meeting with my AW group. We just got done working through The Artist's Way .

I had the great opportunity to attend an Artist's Way weekend retreat with Julia Cameron back in January at Omega at the Crossings (http://www.thecrossingsaustin.com/) right before our 12 week group started.

In August, we are starting Walking In The World. Can't wait!!

Garage All Clear

Yesterday, Amy and I spent the day cleaning out the garage. We took two car loads of stuff to Goodwill and another car load to Half Price Books (made $50!!)

Now the cars fit back in the garage!! Yeah!!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

HP Treasure Map

Yesterday, I attended an all day workshop and one of the activities we did was to create a treasure map. I did mine on my vision of Higher Power:

Friday, May 06, 2005

Small Canvas Trades

This year at ArtFest (http://www.teeshamoore.com/artfest2005.htm) a group of artists traded 6x6 inch canvas portraits of themselves. I didn't participate but got to see the wonderful results at Show and Tell night on Saturday of the event.

A Yahoo! group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smallcanvastrades/) was formed afterwards to let more Small Canvas Trades (as they are called) to continue. The first one has a nature theme. Here are the trades I did:

I'll be shipping them out on Monday. The hard part will be deciding which ones to send. I want to keep all of them but have decided I'll only keep one.

Hey Mom! Look! I'm Knitting!

I took my first knitting class last night at Hill Country Weavers (http://www.hillcountryweavers.com/). I just knew I'd be the only person in the class who couldn't get it. Mom taught me how to crotchet when I was a kid and I've taught myself more from books. But I could never teach myself knitting.

Last month I went into Hill Country Weavers to buy some yarn to finish a scarf I was crocheting that I started from yarn I bought in Seattle from the Yarn Gallery of Seattle (http://www.members.tripod.com/yarn_gallery/). Yummy!!! What an awesome selection both stores have!!!

Here is a picture of my knitting for a scarf I'm making for class:

Yes, Mom! I can knit!!!


Getting Started

Okay, Aisling (http://www.aisling.net/) gave me the final nudge I needed to start producing my own blog. She just put together a writer's blog group and she is planning putting together an artist's blog group. Check it out at http://www.aisling.net/blog.htm

I've been planning on starting my blog sooner than this but have been wrapped up in getting my art retreat set up for next September. I've secured the facility and have started seeking workshop proposals from instructors.

One day I'll have my ArtBlogOSphere(http://www.artblogosphere.com) web site up and running. The plan is for it to be a directory of art related blogs. I've been collecting art blogs to include but you have any I should include let me know. I'm going to use my computer programming experience to produce the site.

I'm so excited about the retreat. I've been wanting to produce something like this for a couple of years. I even had one planned for last October in Salado, TX but after my dad died in May of last year and I had to go back to work full-time (my dad and I did web application consulting together), I lost my motivation.

I've been hosting smaller 20 people art retreats out at Stonehaven Ranch in San Marcos, Texas for the last 2 years. The second one is next weekend. These retreats are about building community among women artists. The women come out for the weekend and just make art together. Last year I taught a couple of workshops and had Sarah Hickman (http://www.sarahickman.com) come out and teach a creativity workshop that include her playing some of her songs. It was an awesome weekend (except for the fact that Sunday morning I was devastated with the news of my dad's death).

This year I've been so busy that I'm not even teaching a workshop. Instead, I'm making it even more about building community among women artists then last year. This year I asked all the women who are attending to either bring make&take projects for everyone, teach a 2-hour workshop, and/or donate art supplies (or money for art supplies). We are going to have a workshops on making clay masks and on altered books. I'm really looking forward to the weekend. Some of the women who are coming I have never met before in person but are on my AnAffairWithArt Yahoo! Group list. How exciting!!!

I still plan on hosting the smaller more intimate retreat next year in May if I can get the dates at Stonehaven. Or maybe I should consider June since Art and Soul will be in Dallas in May. Will see.

If anyone is interested in attending and/or teaching at the September 2006 retreat, go to: