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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

The Most Fun I've Had

Well, I should say ‘the most art fun I ever had!” And you may well say  ‘but what is it?’

It’s a 3D mixed media piece that I made in a class at am art retreat, probably eight years or so ago now. For three or four glorious years, I attended one or two of these each year. Usually, they were the Art and Soul Retreats in Portland, Oregon, but I also went to LA, Roseville CA, and Seattle. Have you ever been to one? If you get the chance, please consider it. They’re wonderful, creativity-filled get-aways.

I wish I could remember the name of the instructor who taught this class. We brought out own embellishments, but she provided the tins we used as bases. They’re simply old band-aid tins which she got an amazing patina on by placing them in a fire. The fire burns off any paint and then continues to ‘age’ them with what looks like (don’t know if it actually is) rust.

By the way, if you want to treat some old tins in the same way, be sure to put them in the fire with their lids on. This ensures that the lids will still fit after they come out of the fire. If you don’t do this, the lid and the bottom can change shape in different ways and not be able to close anymore. But you also have to punch a hole in the tins so the air can escape as it expands with the heat. This one had two holes already punched in it – one on each side where I added the ribbon.

We stamped on the tins, then added from our own selection of embellishments, maybe also doing a little trading with each other.

The cat face is something I’d made from polymer clay for a necklace, but I didn’t think it worked very well, so saved it for whatever its future might be, and she found a home here. The eyes are painted. If I were making that face today, I'd use glass eyes. (You can find a good selection on

Her ruff is made from seam binding. You just hand stitch (straight stitch) in a zig-zag pattern down the length of the seam binding, going all the way from one edge then back. In the end, just pull on the thread and it gathers in this pretty scalloped pattern. I added tiny pearls on each lobe. And it has some turquoise areas. I think these are probably alcohol ink.

Some of the things I glued on include a glass cabochon in the center of a rusted metal frame stamping and the metal flower from an old piece of jewelry. The ribbon is silk sari ribbon and I’ve added a few drops with pearls on one side where the ribbon attaches to the tin.

The top knob is just an old, small glass knob. I had to drill a hole for it, then I could just add it to the top by putting the nub on the bolt protruding from the knob.

I will freely admit that I was lucky to have such a nice selection of embellishment possibilities. I’m glad I started collecting them many years ago and also grateful to see things with the new eyes which see “treasures” in “trash!” If you haven’t already started your own collection, there’s no time like the present!

This was a one-day class, and I would have been at that retreat for three or four days with three or four classes – and without any chores, errands, or cooking. Heaven!

I enjoyed those retreats so much, but after some years I stopped going because so many of the classes were repeats. Then there was covid. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to attend again soon. They were so special!


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