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An Update & The App Wars

It’s been 4 months since my last blog post and another 2 months between that and the next! Yeesh. I’m a terrible blogger. Well, life in the interim has been good and bad. I spent the fall quite busy with teaching and a last craft faire or two. My students were amazing and I had such fun teaching them. My needle felting and blown ink classes were especially fun this time around. I had the best groups of women in those class who made absolutely beautiful work. I shared some of the needle felted creations that class made on Facebook, which you can find here, and I’ll shortly be adding the blown ink students’ work.

(If you prefer to skip the rest of the update, you can just jump to the images.)

Unfortunately, after my classes ended, winter got underway, and my depression reared its ugly head for about 3 months straight. It was particularly bad timing too since those 3 months were supposed to be my inventory creation months. Instead, I spent November, December, & most of January escaping into books and in a fog that clung to my mind in heavy banks and drifts, obscuring everything in gloom. I couldn’t do anything creative or productive. It was pretty bad. Finally one morning I woke up and the fog was lifting. It took a couple more days, but my mind finally felt clear again and I have been able to start working again.

I was able to convert my rooms into more of a work area, with new tables and shelves, during those months, so now that I can work again I actually have the space to do it in! I also just devised a daily schedule with blocks of time for creating, updating online, business work, etc. I’m also trying to start walking 3 miles two mornings a week. I just got back from my first walk and other than the fact that I got blisters on the balls of my feet and had to walk the last mile with my toes curled on one foot it was great. My dog really enjoyed it too. Hopefully things will get better from here on out, as soon as I google how to prevent blisters!

One pretty amazing thing did happen to me in November just before my metaphorical ship sunk; two of my iPhoneography photographs won places in The App Wars competition! The App Wars is a competition for mobile photography, but the photographs must be taken with either Hipstamatic or Instagram. The judges for the competition chose 100 of the best images submitted in each app’s category, for a total of 200 winning images. I am a Hipstamatic junkie and practically all of my iPhoneography images are taken with it, so I submitted to that category. To my surprise and honor two of my photos were chosen to represent Hipstamatic in the competition. The images were exhibited at a gallery in San Diego and there was discussion of putting a book out this year as well. So exciting! You can check out all 200 winning images at the online gallery, and here are my images:

A Hipstamatic iPhone photograph of the veins of a leaf

Woman drinking glowing red wine from a glass

Also, it’s time to register for my spring classes! My first class is on the 17th of this month, and it’s a new class: The Haiku Spirit: Exploring Nature Through Poetry. I’ll be teaching it at the Jenkins Arboretum in Devon, PA. I’ll be talking about haiku poetry and how it’s so much more than the syllabic form you learn in elementary school. You’ll also be able to write and share your own haiku. For more information about it check out the haiku class page. Check out the events page or any of the class pages for dates and information on my other classes as well!

I’m off to do some writing now, gotta have at least a couple of my haiku to share during class.
Have a splendid day!
- Joules

Happy Halloween!

Things here have been insanely busy for more than a month while I’ve been teaching and vending, so I haven’t had time to do much of anything by way of updates or even making new art. However, as it was my birthday yesterday and today is Halloween I decided to have a little fun and create a photomanipulation I’ve been considering for a while now. Enjoy!

A self portrait zombified photomanipulation

Isn’t it lovely…er….deliciously creepy? I had a lot of fun making it. Here’s the original image I began with. I was photographing a necklace and chose a Hipstamatic film/lens combination that was too dark for what I was going for, but as soon as I saw it I thought it would make for a great zombie photomanip.

Before I turned into a zombie

The first step is making some basic adjustments. They’re more obvious when the image is viewed on black, but I darkened the brownish halo in the shadows and increased the contrast a tad.

Basic Adjustments

Next step is to get rid of the necklace and the distracting area of light.

Removing the necklace and light spot

Now I begin the zombification process! First, ripping open my mouth.

Tearing the mouth

Zombies need something to chew all those brains with, so I added my teeth back in from another self portrait and manipulated them into looking like I need dental care pronto.  I also made the edges of the flesh look raw by overlaying images of a cut.

Adding teeth

Continuing with the theme that I’d met with a rather unpleasant end before joining the living dead, I added a nasty slash to my chest that seems to be infected with something…serious. I also added a few scratches and nicks to my face.

Slicing and cutting the zombie

I’m very pale skinned and naturally make a better vampire than a zombie, so I gave my skin some greenish tones.

Zombies have green skin

Just the toppings left! I finalized the image with a few overlay textures and voila! Zombie Jules.

Adding the last textures and finishing the photomanip

I hope you enjoyed your Halloween and for those here on the East Coast, I wish you a speedy recovery from Sandy if you were affected.
- Jules

Open For Enrollment!

I am really excited to announce that registration has opened for the autumn dates of four of my courses! I will be teaching iPhoneography, Art Journaling, Blown Ink Artwork, and Needle Felting classes through Main Line School Night, a local continued learning center. I’m really looking forward to the classes and sharing my love of each craft with the students. If you are interested in taking one of my classes you can find more information on the Classes Page, but here’s a brief overview with a few examples for each class.

***UPDATE: The dates for Needle Felting & Blown Ink were reversed and have now been corrected. My sincere apologies for the mistake***

September 2012 :

A red-hued photograph of girl drinking a mysterious bright red liquid from a glowing glass

The Art of iPhone Photography
Saturday, September 29th
Creutzburg Center in Radnor, PA
Click Here To Enroll
Please visit the iPhoneography Class Page for more information!

The best camera is the one you have with you and if you have an iPhone there is no reason to regret leaving your digital camera at home. Even professional photographers and artists are recognizing the iPhone as a useful photographic tool. In this class you will learn how to take stunning nature photographs, pleasing portraits, and many tips and techniques for great photography with your iPhone.


October 2012 :

Art Journaling: Spilling Life Onto The Page
Tuesdays, October 9th, 16th, & 23rd
Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA
Click Here To Enroll
Please visit the Art Journaling Class Page for more information!

Journals have long been a private sanctuary for the expression of one’s truest thoughts and as a wonderful tool for coping with life’s trials. Learn to give your journal new life and spark enthusiasm for creative expression: collage, create, destroy, draw, and paint. Gain tips and techniques for journaling with busy schedules. Prompts and project ideas are provided, but feel free to follow whatever paths your heart and mind long to wander. Life is a multi-sensory experience, now your journaling can be too!


Needle Felting: Accessories & Embellishments
Saturday, October 20th
Creutzburg Center in Radnor, PA
Click Here To Enroll
Please visit the Needle Felting Class Page for more information!

Needle felting is a popular fiber craft in which wool fleece is sculpted, using a special barbed needle to stab it into shape. Using a few simple techniques you can create many different pieces from jewelry, embellishments, décor, and ornaments to toys, wool pets, sculptures, and dolls. You can also appliqué the fleece onto your favorite bag, hat, scarf, and other items. Inthis class you will learn a variety of needle felting techniques, create your very own broach, accessory, sculpture, or appliquéd embellishment and go home with all the materials you need to continue felting!



November 2012 :

Black, teal, and purple ink blown on paper

Blown Ink: Abstract Masterpieces Anyone Can Create
Saturday, October 20th
Creutzburg Center in Radnor, PA
Click Here To Enroll
Please visit the Blown Ink Class Page for more information!

There is an artist in everyone and blown ink is a fun way for anyone to create dynamic and captivating pieces of abstract art. All you have to do is take a deep breath and blow! Have a blast creating twisting forms by blowing ink around on paper and experimenting with resists, colors, canned air, and other techniques. You can even illustrate your blots to create animals, flowers, monsters, and more.

If you have any questions about one of my courses, don’t hesitate to email me. I would love to see you there!

Another exciting thing is that my photograph “The Ritual” appears on the cover of the course catalog with one of my art journal pages on the inside cover. Check it out:

Featuring Image By Julia Grace Arts

Featuring Image By Julia Grace Arts
If you’d like to check out the other courses MLSN offers you can view the full catalog here or browse their website listings.

- Jools

A Flighty Vacation

A month ago when I left for a few days at the Jersey Shore I thought I’d come home, share my vacation photos, and then get to work on my wool sculpture competition piece, but fate laughed at my simple plans and decided to give me the opportunity to participate in my first craft fair the moment I returned. I signed up as a vendor despite the fact I had no inventory, no tent, no… anything! Then I spent the next 3 weeks in an inventory creation frenzy! It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well because I learned many new weaves for my jewelry as well as creating a few of my own variations. I experimented with felting techniques, bought a tent, put together displays and a make your own blown ink greeting card station, and stayed up until 5am on multiple occasions. Everything came together for the day of the fair and while I was stressed out, I did have fun. It was a great learning experience and I met some other nice first time vendors. Unfortunately the fair wasn’t well advertised or attended, but I still made a few sales. My favorite moment was when a family with three small children made blown ink cards! The kids had a blast and so did the dad! I think he might have had the most fun actually. When it was all over I was beat and slept for the rest of the evening and spent the next day scraping my brain back into shape. I am looking forward to implementing all the ideas I have for my next craft fair.

Now that all the craziness from the fair is over I am finally getting the opportunity to share my photographs from vacation! I saw myriad interesting creatures during my visit to the Wetlands Institute’s Wings & Water Festival, Sunset “Cruise”, and the Cape May County Zoo, however this vacation was definitely one for the birds! It started with attending the most impressive raptor show I’ve ever been to. The falconer, Brian Bradley of Skyhunters In Flight, was one the nicest and most caring falconers I’ve had the pleasure to meet. You could tell just how dedicated and caring he was by the way he handled and interacted with his birds and the way he strove to educate, engage, and encourage the audience. He had a wonderful variety of birds and the actual lure chasing demos were amazing!

I arrived a few minutes after the show started, but I still got to see this sweet barn owl for a few moments before he went back into his box. Barn owls are one of my all time favorite owls.

Falconer with a barn owl

This little bird, an American Kestrel Falcon, did not like the falconer’s baseball cap! I caught him doing the funky chicken in protest. He continued to throw a fit until the cap was removed from sight.

A Kestrel Falcon throwing a fit

This beautiful guy is a Gyrfalcon. He looks a bit like a juvenile Peregrine in my opinion. Actually, the falconer had an 8 week old Gyrfalcon/Peregrine Hybrid who was the sweetest thing. He hadn’t fledged yet, but was about to, and didn’t have any jesses (tethers) on, so he was rushed back into his box when he showed some inclination to fly.

An adult male gyr falcon

This is an Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest owl species in the world. They look similar to the Great Horned Owls that live around here.

Close up portrait of an eagle owl

The first part of the lure demo consisted of a Harris Hawk catching a rabbit lure. The best part was when the falconer selected a girl from the crowd to be the one to run the lure across the field as the hawk came in for the kill. What fun! The girl got away quickly after the hawk caught the lure, whether on instruction or not I’m unsure, however if it had been me I would have dragged my feet and stared at the hawk up close for as long as possible.

A harris hawk catching a rabbit lure

The next part of the lure demo was the Gyrfalcon catching a bird lure, which is spun around instead of pulled. Here you can see his jesses trailing as he flies.

A gyrfalcon with jesses in the sky

It’s was so amazing to watch this guy catch his lure mid-air as it spun around and around!

An adult male gyrfalcon grabbing a lure in flight

Unfortunately, he flew into those power lines shortly after. Thankfully he wasn’t hurt and went for another flight and caught the lure for a second time, but he wasn’t very happy. He got some nice treats from the falconer to make it a positive experience again.

Gyyfalcon getting meat from falconer

Like dogs, birds don’t sweat, so they pant to try to cool down. The falconer keeps a spray bottle of water around to help cool the birds down with a shower when they are panting. The falcon just finished getting his shower in this shot, though it looks a lot like he is mantling over prey instead!

A gyrfalcon mantling and panting

In addition to the humans who appeared to watch the show, a whole murder of crows and gulls amassed almost as soon as the show began. They were not very polite and harassed the raptors mercilessly during the flight demo.  There were at least 30 screaming and cawing.

Seagulls and crows harassing raptors

Speaking of Seagulls, I saw lots of gulls and other neat sea birds while on a sunset cruise around the bay including some Osprey on their far away, tall nesting platforms. These two Herring Gulls were much closer. They sat on the pilings in the harbor and peered at us strange flightless creatures as we boarded our boat.

Herring seagulls on pilings

While waiting for the boat to pull out of the harbor I scanned the water looking for Diamond Back Terrapins. They’re were once hunted and eaten to near extinction and remain a protected species in a number of states including Maryland. They’re also the Maryland state reptile. The Wetlands Institute has a conservation program and they release a number of juvenile terrapins bred in their program each year. I was finally able to participate in the release a few years ago, so I really wanted to see one in the wild. To my delight, this fellow popped his head out of the water for a few moments not too far from our boat!

A terrapin poking its head up from the water

Another rare sighting was of the Black Skimmer, but it went by fairly far away and so quickly in the opposite direction the boat was moving that it just looks like a blur in the photographs. I did however capture this Common Tern flying past the boat.

A common tern flying

A decidedly less rare sighting is the Laughing Gull. They’re practically a constant in the sky. I still think they’re pretty neat though and this gal flew by a couple of times so I could take her picture.

A laughing gull soaring in the sky

The sunset ended up blocked out by some storm clouds rolling in, but the water was really gorgeous. It shone with wonderful pale shades of blue and teal.

Rolling Ocean Water

I really enjoyed watching the patterns created by the wake from our boat and others that passed.

Gentle waves from the boat in the bay

My zoo visit was filled with birds as well. They were about the only somewhat active creatures around since it was midday and very hot while I was there. The rest of the animals were practically all asleep, like this lion. His expression about sums up what I thought of the heat.

An adult male lion panting

The bobcat was also not thrilled by the heat and stayed in the shade.

A yawning bobcat

Ironically, the only active big cats were the Snow Leopards. This is probably because there were two cubs with boundless energy in with the mother, who looked tolerant and tired. The cubs are the third litter bred at this zoo! I saw the first litter 3 years ago as well. They’re the most adorable bundles of fur. I’m glad the zoo is helping conserve this species. They’re too magnificent to lose.

A breeding adult female snow leopard

A snow leopard cub

Over by the pond, a Peacock relaxed in the shade while a Green Heron stalked some fish.

A male peacock by a pond

A green heron fishing

While waiting fruitlessly for the river otters to wake up, I saw this well camouflaged, little sparrow flitting around in the leaf litter looking for crumbs.

A sparrow camouflaged in the leaf litter

The zoo also has a pair of Bald Eagles, who sat far above us and peered down, probably making rude comments to themselves and snickering at the tourists.

Two bald eagles in a zoo

This Snowy Owl, who has probably been at the zoo as long as I’ve been alive, also has a penchant for glaring at the passers-by. Perhaps he grew weary of being called Hedwig and asked about Hogwarts acceptance letters.

A snowy owl glaring

Another colorful character of the avian variety is a favorite of mine, the toucan! He was having his lunch when I arrived and it’s quite the feat. He would pick up each piece and toss it in the air so he could get it down his gullet. Quite a lot of work for such tiny tidbits!

Toucan tossing and catching its food

He would pause to look at me and the other people going by with their clicky-clacky cameras every so often.

Portrait of a Toucan

Eventually he gave me this disdainful look, which seems to imply something to the effect of “Hey punk, my beak is bigger than your lens, so back off!” I let him get back to his lunch after that.

A toucan looking directly into the camera

And with that I will leave you. I hope you enjoyed the pictures! It’s practically a miracle I got them up since my computer was full of gremlins who did nothing but cause crashes today. Hopefully I can appease them with offerings of extra wattage so my next post won’t take so long.

Toodle pip!
- Jooli

Jo Anne L Johns - Saturday: August 18th, 2012 - 3:14 pm

Hi Friends :o) Check out these awesome pictures my daughter took. While down on the Jersey shore we went to a Raptor Educational Demonstration that was fantastic and took a boat ride on the back bay. The photos of birds and animals are amazing!

The Making Of Maxey

I’m heading to the ocean side today to visit the Wetlands Institute for their Wings And Water Festival. They’re revamping the programs this year, so I’m hoping to take some nice photographs and see some amazing creatures. Before I leave I wanted to share the promised work in progress snap shots for Maxey and talk a little about how I created her.

I started by felting together the rough body and head form in a white core wool fiber. It looks a bit like a duck in this state! Quack.

The start of needle felted border collie pet portrait


Next, I added and shaped the back legs. I could have turned her into a tyrannosaurs if  I’d wanted to. I love how flexible wool sculpting is.

Adding and shaping the back legs of border collie needle felted sculpture


This photo is actually from a wolf I am working on, but I wanted to show how I add the legs. I first felted long cylinders of wool that were loose at one end. Then I attach them to the body, then felt them into shape, adding more fleece for the thicker thighs and shoulders.

Attaching two cylinders for legs on a wool sculpture dog pet portrait


Here you can see all the legs shaped and Maxey can finally stand up properly.

Raw needle felt dog body


Here is the other side. There is absolutely no wire used. I do however have a glass marble tucked in the rear as a counter balance. This allows her to stand with one raised paw. I am looking for something better than a marble to use though. I need something small and heavy (and heavy is relative terms, something 6 grams and up will work). The smaller the better so it won’t interfere with the needling and it can’t be lead. Any ideas?

Raw needle felt dog body with raised paw


Next I refined the head shape, added ears, tail, tongue, nose, and eye sockets with sewn in seed bead eyes. I also began blocking in the coloring and added her special freckles.

Border Collie sculpture with colored head


Here is a close up of her sweet little face. I love her freckle pattern.

Coloring and shaping the head of my needle felted pet portrait


Here you can see I’ve blocked in the rest of the body coloring

The coloring for my wool sculpture needle felted dog pet portrait


Another view of the blocked in coloring.

Blocking in the fur colors for the needle felted border collie


Now begins the really hard part, the furring! This was my first time creating a long-haired animal. I learned a lot, though at times it was really frustrating. I think I need to take some dog grooming lessons so I can trim fur better next time! 

Adding needle felted fur to a wool dog sculpture


I start out with super long poofy fur, that I felt into the body form one little section at a time.

Needle felted fur on a dog sculpture before trimming


Then I would trim the fur and brush it with a carding brush (aka a cat’s brush). Wash, Rinse, Repeat until she has all her fur. I felt very sturdy bodies and felt the fur in as firmly as I possibly can because I want it to stay in even with handling and play, however I don’t recommend my clients brush my wool sculptures once they are finished since if you do it for a long time the piece will eventually go bald.

Trimming Needle felted fur on a dog sculpture


Eventually, she was completely furred and finished! Voila!

Needle felted border collie


If you haven’t seen them already, make sure you check out her finished detail shots and the “Maxey & The Lamb” series here!

Have a wonderful weekend everybody.
- Joules

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