Tag: Behind the Scenes

Assemblage Supplies – Vintage Wooden Game Pieces

I’m a sucker for supplies. I have more supplies in my studio than I will ever use. And yet I continue to collect more. Because I need them. Really. I do.

Last spring I scored this batch of really cool vintage wooden game pieces.

Assemblage Supplies - Vintage Wooden Game Pieces

Assemblage Supplies – Vintage Wooden Game Pieces

They only cost $5! Yay me!

One year later, they are still sitting in my drawer, waiting to be used. And I will be using them, I can assure you. No, I don’t have a plan. I would make one, but I’m too busy looking for more goodies to add to my stash.

Assemblage Supplies - Vintage Wooden Game Pieces

Assemblage Supplies – Vintage Wooden Game Pieces

The picture above is of my wooden pieces drawer. All my junk is carefully organized so I can find it. All the drawers are labeled, of course! I may be an art supply hoarder, but I’m an orderly one. Just look at all those wonderful pieces, just waiting to be assembled into something awesome!

Where to Find Vintage Wooden Game Pieces to Use in Assemblage Art

  1. Scrounge Around in Antique Shops and Secondhand Shops ⇒ I’ve found some good things in antique shops and even more great stuff in junk shops.
  2. Browse eBay ⇒ There used to be tons of good junk on eBay–and I suppose there still is–but it seems to be getting more expensive as sellers wise up to the fact that we junkers want their stuff.
  3. Visit Farmer’s Markets / Garage Sales / Goodwill Stores ⇒ A step down from antique stores and secondhand shops, farmer’s markets, garage sales, and Goodwill stores have yielded some treasures to me over the years. It’s worth a look!
  4. Steal From Your Kids ⇒ Seriously! Most of the wooden pieces in the drawer above were “liberated” from my children. And they never knew they were missing!

How To Use Wooden Game Pieces in Your Art

You can do lots of things with these little wooden bobs and bits. Below are a few pictures of my work.

Here is some inspiration from my Pinterest board.

Follow Trilby Works’s board Upcycle, Recycle: Wooden Game Pieces on Pinterest.

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Found Object Robot Wall Hangings on My Work Table

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s under construction at Trilby Works today. Some cute wall hanging found object robots. They are mostly done but the dude on the right needs some legs.

Found Object Robot Wall Hangings in Process

Found Object Robot Wall Hangings in Process

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These bots are fun to make. More are on the way!

Mushroom Fairy Houses, On My Work Table Right Now

My father grew up during the 1930’s Great Depression and the subsequent World War II years when it was common practice to collect trash metal for conversion to weaponry, ships, tanks, and planes. His family also saved newspapers, bottles and caps, jars, cans, cooking fats, fabric, rubber, aluminum foil, pots and pans, and even old toys. Some of this recycling spirit and thriftiness rubbed off on me! Today I save metal and plastic lids from bottles and jars, plastic containers, old wooden toy parts, interesting labels and papers, old tools, ribbon and string scraps, vintage books and many other items.

Lately I’ve been putting those plastic containers to good use by using the pieces to assemble my mushroom fairy houses, as in the photo below.

Mushroom Fairy Houses

Mushroom Fairy Houses in progress

I glue the tops and bottoms together and then cover the surfaces with either decoupaged colored tissue papers or textured stucco paint. Doors and windows are made from molded paper clay and decorations are from random bits and bobs in my craft stash.

I love the idea of converting trash into art! Here are some projects made from household trash.

If you want to do this, here’s some inspiration from my Pinterest board.

Follow Trilby Works’s board Upcycle, Recycle: Plastic Jars and Containers on Pinterest.

Kooky Creatures and Maniacal Monsters

I love creatures and monsters and have made a bunch of them in recent years. Some have turned out pretty well, despite my pathetic sewing skills. Here are two of my latest. Both are made from patterns in books.

Striped Sweater Plush Monster

Striped Sweater Plush Monster

Pinky the Plush Horned Monster

Pinky the Plush Horned Monster

Monster Inspiration

Check out my Pinterest board for a smorgasbord of the best hand-made monsters and creatures around!


On My Work Table Right Now

As usual, I have many works in progress in my studio. My latest obsession, fairy houses, are well represented in the cluttered mass, as are some older projects that are still lurking around. Here are a bunch of fairy house doors that I’m painting:

Fairy Doors Being Painted

Fairy Doors Being Painted

My tutorial, “How to Make Fairy House Doors,” is completed and if you would like to learn how to do this you can click here to view the tutorial.

I’ve also branched out into mushrooms. Why? I don’t like to eat them – they disgust me. But I love the shapes and I love that they are associated with fairies, sprites, and pixies in the woods. Below is a mushroom in progress:

Stone Mushroom 1 In Progress 1

Mushroom 1 In Progress

I had some left over epoxy clay from another project and it only stays workable for a short time – what to make? A fairy house, of course! In this case, a miniature one. I simply rolled the clay into a ball, then a log, then narrowed out the top, twisted it a bit for character, and incised a door and two windows. Let it cure and done! Now, should I paint it or not?

Mini Fairy House

Mini Fairy House

I’ve also been having loads of fun on Pinterest (who doesn’t?) with my board, Fairy Houses in the Garden. Here’s a peek:



Please follow me on Pinterest if you like what you see here!

Behind the Scenes at Trilby Works: My Fluffy Black Cat

We have a bunch of cats, most of which take turns prowling through the studio to see what can be knocked over, broken, smashed, peed on, or stolen and batted around. My constant companion, however, is Smoke, a small, fluffy black cat with an evil temper and dagger-sharp claws. She hates everyone in the house, except for me, who she loves occasionally and tolerates frequently. She has the silkiest fur of any cat I’ve ever met but she can stand only limited petting. I bribe her onto my lap with a box of treats and she’ll stay for a while, long enough for me to get my hands on her. Then she jumps onto the back of my chair, her favorite hang out spot. It’s a rolling chair so she needs to anchor herself up there with her claws, much to the detriment of the fabric, which you can see in the photo below.

My Cat Smoky

My Cat Smoky

For some reason I love this little cat immensely, in an inverse proportion to the sweetness of her personality. She came to me at about three weeks of age, all the way from a high-kill shelter in Georgia, along with her three sisters and her mama, delivered by a dedicated volunteer who rescued and drove a bunch of cats up here to Delaware, probably about a 12-hour drive. My family nursed the felines back to health and our rescue group (Andy’s Friends) was able to adopt out all of them except for Smoky, who I kept for her silky fur.

Which she rarely allows me to touch.

How I Organized My Art Studio And Fell In Love With It All Over Again

All summer I’ve been dragging myself past my art studio, ignoring the call of a score of uncompleted projects, stacks of unpaid bills and family paperwork, unpacked orders from my shop, and a thick layer of dust covering the entire mess. When September rolled around, family members headed back to school, and I took advantage of my few hours of free time to sit, breathe, walk, and contemplate my myriad faults. One of those being my inability to complete anything in my studio for the entire previous year. I’m one of those people who is incapable of creating in a messy space so before I could finish any of my art, I knew I would have to clean up my wreck of a room.

When stuck in a rut, clean, tidy, and organize. This is something I learned since becoming a parent. For me, a spotless, orderly space is a happy space. So I commenced the “Big Spring Clean Up.” Yes, it’s fall. But I should have done this last spring.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned about organizing my studio and keeping it clean.

Finish up old projects.

Nothing is more draining than walking into your studio to be faced with a bunch of half-finished projects. And nothing is more energizing than completing a project that has been hanging around your studio for months on end. If you can’t finish the project in a timely fashion, put it away, out of sight, in a bin marked “projects to complete” or some such. Give yourself permission to move on to new work.

Below is a photo of some projects that I either did not finish or lost interest in. I swept the entire mess into a plastic storage bin from Target and shoved it into an armoire, out of sight. I labelled it “Works in Progress,” which is more positive than “Unfinished Projects.”

Works In Progress Bin Full Of Stuff

Works In Progress Bin Full Of Stuff

I was so relieved to have those odds and ends off my work table! Which brings me to my next tip…

Clear off all horizontal surfaces.

Commit to keeping half of them clear. The other half can hold current work. Once the unfinished work starts to spill over onto your “clear” areas, it’s time to finish some stuff up. Again, if you can’t complete something in a few weeks, put it away and take it out another day. Sometimes a little distance from your work is just what you need to figure out what that piece needs to finish it off.

Clear Horizontal Surfaces

Clear Horizontal Surfaces

Having a clear work surface gives your creative energy freedom to roam and innovate.

Group like with like.

Put all your glues together, put all your paints together, put all your tools together, etc. Find appropriate sized bins or other storage to contain these items and then label them. My labeler is one of my favorite tools!

In the photo below, you see my office supply drawer, which I have actually moved out of the studio and into an antique secretary in another room of the house. This drawer is accessible to the whole family and frees up some space in my studio, a win-win for everyone. I organized it using dollar store bins, a cheap and easy way to create order.

Organized office supply drawer

Organized office supply drawer – group like with like

Use your vertical space. Peg board is wonderful for hanging not only tools, but ribbon, paper towels, paint, etc. Hang storage containers on walls to corral small parts. Add shelves to store paint, rags, brushes, and other supplies, even your finished artwork.

Pull Out Drawers For Small Parts Storage

Pull Out Drawers For Small Parts Storage

Akro-Mils Small Parts Storage Cabinet

Akro-Mils Small Parts Storage Cabinet

Create work zones.

In my studio I have a computer. Nearby, I keep my bills, my printer and paper, my blank disks and DVD sleeves, calculator, shipping labels, scale, label maker, office supplies, etc. I have a painting zone with my paints, painting mediums, sealers, gloves, glitter, alcohol inks, daubers, brushes, etc. I have a tool bench where I do “dirty” work such as drilling, sawing, metal cutting, gluing, and clay work. Beside the tool bench I hung a pegboard with my screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters, hammers, rasps, etc. They are in convenient and easy reach when I need them. An inventory and shipping zone is located near the computer and is stocked with packing tape, mailing boxes, tissue paper, and other supplies.

Work Table With Pegboard

Work Table With Pegboard

Use it and replace it.

Get into the habit of putting away your tools just after using them. Always complete the action. Don’t pile stuff up to put it away later. Get the tool off the wall, use the tool, and then put the tool back. This habit will go a long way toward keeping not only your studio but your entire house clean.

Purge unused supplies.

If you’re like me, the idea of getting rid of any of your carefully collected art supplies gives you heart palpitations. Don’t worry! I am not suggesting you actually throw anything away. But if you have genres of art that you are no longer creating in, you may be able to pass the supplies along to someone else – perhaps to a preschool or a neighbor. If you absolutely cannot part with anything (and I put myself in this category) do put the unneeded supplies in storage until the day you find a renewed interest in that type of artwork. For example, I went through a beading phase and amassed a huge hoard of beautiful beads. But now I am totally through with beading and I doubt I’ll ever go back to it. But who knows, perhaps my daughter may want to make a necklace someday. So I packed up the beads and put them in our crawl space in plastic storage boxes. They are available if I need them but out of the way of my daily creating. I could also sell them on eBay or Etsy if I wanted to make a little money back. (To buy more supplies, of course.)

Items that you can part with can be donated to your children’s art stash or to preschools and elementary schools. Or just drop it off at Goodwill!

Inspiration Board

If you need some inspiration to get you started, please look over my Pinterest board, “The Organized Art Studio,” for lots of clever ideas.


Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House: Roof and Deck

Since my last post, I’ve made some good progress on my fairy house. I was able to make the roof from an armature of plastic lids, taped and glued, with small pieces of wood for shingles, and some wood sticks and twigs for additional support.

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 05

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 05

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 06

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 06

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 07

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 07

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 08

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 08

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 09

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 09

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 10

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 10

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 11

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 11

Beach Pebble Stacked Stone Fairy House in Progress

Here’s what’s on my worktable: I’m creating fairy houses from stone. This one is created from rounded beach pebbles that I picked up on the Jersey shore. For a base I used a small flat slab of stone that I found in the back yard. I used glue to hold the stacked stones in place as I built the walls then I backed the walls with premixed grout for added stability. I wanted a dry stacked look which you see on old stone walls in my area sometimes.

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 1

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 1

I used about three different types of glue: Liquid Nails, E-6000, and some Craft Goop. So far the E-6000 is my favorite.

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 2

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 2

The above two shots are of the front of the house. I managed to make an arched doorway. The first one I made fell apart so I ended up making it flat on the table on a piece of waxed paper and then attaching it to the walls. I have no idea how I’ll make the door yet.

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 3

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 3

The side of the house is kind of narrow (above). You might be able to see some glue oozing through that has dried. I’m not sure how I’ll cover this up yet.

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 4

Stacked Stone Fairy House in progress 4

The back of the house has a window. I don’t know yet if I’ll frame it out or not.

Now for the roof…

A Batch of Oddballs in the Making

For many artists, thinking up ideas can be hard. This is not one of my problems. My head is brimming full of ideas and I only wish that I had the time and energy to bring them to life. Which brings me to another point.

Executing those ideas and creating the artwork can be a challenge. Even though this is usually the fun part. My time in the studio is constricted by family constraints and life commitments, as I’m sure is the case for most people.

Completing the entire cycle of an art piece, from idea through execution, to photographing the art and posting it online for sale, can be EXCRUCIATING! Usually this cycle takes me months, if not years. Pathetic, I know.

Case in point: the Oddballs below. I started these a few years ago. Here’s what they look like in progress. I make the armatures from household trash, including wine bottle corks, red plastic lids from my husband’s creamer bottles, and white candy stirring sticks for legs.

Oddballs in the Making, A Behind the Scenes Studio Shot from TrilbyWorks.com

Oddballs in the Making, A Behind the Scenes Studio Shot from TrilbyWorks.com

These freaky little guys have now gotten some layers of clay for their bodies, paint to cover them up, and felty capes to dress them. Done! But then they sat. And sat. And sat.

So now it’s 2014 and I am on a mission to get my inventory photographed and posted online for sale. I’ve pulled these guys out of storage, dusted them off, and am trying to get some good images of them.

Wish me luck!

My question to you: how do you stay focused and motivated enough to bring your art projects to completion? What parts of the process do you get hung up on. For me it’s the photography. I’m still trying to get it right!

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