African Mask

African Mask

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

My African Quilt!

Long long time ago, back in the day when ...oh sorry wrong story..ahem..*sheepish grin*
In 2001 I dyed some fabric. Then I stenciled some designs onto it. I painted 6 panels with what was almost African rock drawings..but a bit more... today the only word I can think of. It was a lot of fun. I showed the pieces to my Mom and we discussed how it should go together. Then I put it aside...various things were happening in my life, my son got married, I went on to a sailing school on a Coastal Skipper's course for a month to gain experience on large keel boats. Up till then I'd only sailed small dinghy racers. Suddenly I was offered a trip, from Durban, South Africa to Chesapeake Bay near Washington DC. All I had to do was help sail the boat there. I jumped at it and my life turned upside down...what to do with the house, the car etc..I solved it all by handing the keys to my son and said.."here you go my about taking over..not sure when I'll be back..maybe never....I might like it out there you know"....ha ha he he he ..

Anyway I digress, I'm always doing are some photo's of the quilt and then some close-ups of different sections.
My African quilt in our Aft Cabin.
One of the hand painted blocks.

Another of the blocks.

Still another.. :-)
Notice the tiny loin on the gold square?
This is the lion...

 There are other animals in the other corners.
A Hippo yawning...

An Elephant.
A Giraffe drinking..

A Warthog mom and her babies.
 These are stencils of different homes built around Africa. Some of them are beautifully painted with designs in bright colours.
This is an overall view of the quilt...taken on the boat outside.

An overall view.
This quilt has been everywhere with me..usually it was stuffed into my back pack and dragged around from boat to boat..whichever one I happened to be working on at the time :-) I also often threw it into the washing machine along with other protection and not on the delicate cycle...I decided that it would be a good test to see if my colours lasted..and I'm very happy with the result....:-D
No, I'm not back in circulation yet :-D I wrote this whilst still in Panama and the scheduled it to post today..Just to keep you all on your toes. :-)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

I say "Watercolors" - you say "Water Colours"...

I love encountering examples of different spellings of the same word - just like the [toe-mah-toe] vs. [toe-may-toe] pronunciation differences. :o)

Thank you, first of all, to Sylvie for the warm welcome.

I have enjoyed browsing the posts by other members - you are all so very creative and talented!

My name is Katie, and you can visit my Etsy shop HERE. I'm a stay-at-home mother of two sweet little boys, and I have a wonderful computer-geek husband who loves spending time with his boys while I hide at my art table and paint. We are currently in the middle of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia.

My passion is painting watercolor illustrations - mostly of children, but I don't let that limit me. People frequently comment that watercolors (water colours) are so difficult to work with. I really don't think so - once you have developed a method.

I used to work mostly in acrylic paint, but then I had kids, and there was the huge green acrylic paint stain on my livingroom rug -incident, courtesy of my son trying to paint a yellow balloon green with my paint. Water coloring has the advantage that you can do it virtually anywhere, can interrupt your project at any time (without having to worry about drying out and ruining your paint brushes, or wasting paint), and clean-up is quick and easy!

Water coloring is so much fun, I hope everyone will at least give it a try.

If you are just starting to explore watercolors, I recommend starting with a few small ACEOs, which are 2.5"x3.5" in size. With a pencil and a ruler, draw the outlines for 3 or 4 ACEOs onto a piece of watercolor paper side-by-side with a small white edge around each. In this small size, you don't even have to worry about properly mounting the paper onto a board, you really can just use some painters tape all around the edges to affix it to a flat surface.

One of the advantages of this small size is that you are really just painting a few small doodles - you can work quickly, and actually FINISH your projects. I really hate unfinished projects - who wants to come back to a project months (or years) later, when the spark of imagination has moved on?!

Here are a few of my tricks/methods:
1.) Plan your layout. Use a hard pencil to make fine pencil lines of your subject. Don't bother about too much detail.

2.) Use a very fine, waterproof, acid free black pen to draw the outlines. Do this when you have a steady hand (NOT after a cup of coffee, or after lifting weights). You can add as much or as little detail as you like. Or, just skip this step altogether if you don't want black lines.

3.) Start with the lightest colors, and work your way up the color scale to the dark ones. Watercolor pigments can lift right off your paper and swim over onto other parts... so if you want pure colors, you want to make sure to start with light colors. Green is notorious for lifting back off.

4.) Make sure you let each color dry completely before starting the next! (Unless you are wanting your colors to swim together, which can be very attractive for backgrounds and some parts of the foreground!) I'm an impatient person, so THIS is why I paint several paintings at a time - I work on the next one while letting the other one dry.

5.) Know when to STOP. With watercolors, LESS is often MORE.

6.) Enjoy yourself, experiment (use some table salt for interesting backgrounds, let some paint flow together, explore different subjects), and HAVE FUN! There isn't really one "right way" to paint with watercolors. I'm self-taught, and learned through experimenting. There are also lots of library books and "how to" websites out there.

I like to paint things in little sets of 2, 3, or 4 paintings. The "Hair Time" paintings (my current best-seller in my Etsy shop) came into being as one of these sets.

7.) Protect your art by either spraying it with a non-yellowing fixative, and/or storing it in an acid free plastic sleeve. Make sure to sign, date, and label your art with pencil on the back. It's easy to keep track at first, but after you have painted 600+ paintings, you really can't remember when you painted something. It's also important for the purpose of collectors - they want to know when your painting was painted!

8.) Don't be afraid of failure. If you look on eBay, ACEOs of all skill levels are being sold. I don't love every single ACEO I paint. If I dislike one, I don't spray it with fixative, but wait a few weeks, and sometimes rework it, or change it completely by adding other media. I try very hard NOT to outright throw a project away. Years later, one of these imperfect projects may become your favorite.

If you want to sell your art, you can either sell the original, you can sell prints (or both). I have found that you get much better prints from taking a well-lit (daylight) photo of your painting than if you try scanning. Scanners really do not like watercolors. They don't pick up light blues and other pale colors, and they make color edges look more pronounced.

What is your favorite medium for your art? What is your favorite subject?

Welcome to Mossy Rock Designs!

Just in Time! That's what it is. She emailed me last night...and we are setting sail today..finally..:-D So here we have our newest member of the blog.
Have you seen her ART? Great Water colours! Water colours is the hardest medium to conquer ..I should know because I'm an artist and I'm still trying to get it right...

There you have it....some more interesting stuff is going to be posted for your entertainment. :-D
now what picture can I post here..hmmmmmmm.......
My favourite of her pictures is the Chamelion ...I love it..I think I'll post a picture of an African Lizard...they grow to about 12 inches long.

Lovely pretty lizard. ;-)
Welcome!  we're looking forward to your blogs.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Attempts at Making Clutches

Okay... I never said I was a sewer, but I love to take on new projects and making handbags is something I've been trying to learn. The one clutch is double sided with beautiful shades of blue on one side and orange on the other. The other is made with some of my favorite fabric, Seminole fabric. It has a matching coin purse inside. I think they're nice. What do you think?

- Kamilah

Friday, 13 May 2011


In this household we raise fish, earthworms, the roof, thorny issues....
But I am in my lofty tower sewing, painting, singing and having conversations with my African Inguni dog about colour and fabric choices.

The household meets in the evening for sundowners, dinner and discussion. We go over productivity. We compare the mouthbrooding of 300 fish spawn with the almost but not quite completed belt or handbag to be listed on Etsy. Someone suggests offering free fishlings with every belt. Others think a handbag full of tilapia mossambica might be a big draw card. I am stuck with the question of shipping.

The next day I return to my eyrie and begin to sew a wall hanging in warm African tones. The motifs are fish. Delicious chocolate, bronze, raisin, truffle, papaya are the fabrics that come to mind. The colours are edible. The fish are edible. The question returns; if my partner raises fish am I a fishwife?

A bit of Africa on the far side of the earth.

My brothers and I don't get to see each other very often because we live in different sections of the globe, different time zones, and one of them is a whole day ahead of me. Anyway one year when his birthday came around I decided to have some fun and so I painted him his own special had an African theme to it of course.
I sent it to him along with a 'T' shirt that I'd bought...yeah I know..should have painted the 'T' shirt as well, but the one I got for him was very nice.

So it's just a bit of fun to make you all smile ;-D
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

WELCOME! to Africa Pintail.

We have a new addition to our family. Welcome welcome welcome Africa Pintail. This creative lady lives in South Africa. So she has immediate African inspiration all around her...well most of the time. If you live in a city, they are like most city's around the world.....buildings, roads, traffic...not my cup of tea :-D
I think I speak for all of us when I say that we're happy to have you aboard and hope that you have FUN fun fun posting here.
I wondered if your shop name was after the Pin-Tailed Whydah? Such a beautiful African bird. I've put a link to African birds on the blog, under the heading "Extremely Interesting Links". :-D
Click HERE to listen to one singing.... at least I hope flash player needs I haven't seen it yet.
See you soon.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Starting a business as a jewelry designer comes with a risk that you won't find in any textbooks on "How to Start a Business" or "How to Write a Business Plan". The risk I'm talking about is falling in LOVE... falling in LOVE with every piece you create. I believe every jewelry artist, creator of wearable art, and creators of art in general whether wearable or not is always in that all too well known space. What space you might ask? Let me take you there: You've selected the right colors and chosen the right patterns; measured and prepped; counted and strung, or weaved, or whatever; tied your last knot, or crimp, or... are you there yet? If you create other art you know the routine all too well also. The irony is... you should be falling in LOVE with everything you create. That's a sign that you're doing something right. Keep it up and everything else will fall into place.

For example: These earrings, they took a couple of hours to make but every minute was filled with excitement to see the finished product. They also took me to that "place" and I've decided that I want to share my LOVE for them with someone else who's feeling the LOVE.

Monday, 9 May 2011

WELCOME to Kamicoo Designs.

Yet another wonderful creator of things bright and beautiful has asked to be our latest Guest Blogger!!! YAY! We are happy about this, yes siree :-D
We're looking forward to reading your posts. So go for it and enjoy yourself. If you have any questions please feel free to ask me via my email :-D
Cheerio for now.
Join us do..come on in. :-)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Inspiration from Africa.

I make blocks for people who sew. Sounds weird doesn't it. ha ha.. Blocks you think, what type of blocks?..can't be wood blocks....:-)  Well they are squares of fabric, 7.5 inches square and 9.5 inches square.. "Oh squares! well why didn't you say so in the first place?"...
"I know, I used to say that..but I've learned that in sewing circles, they are called blocks".
"Ahhhh okay..and so?"

At first I hand dyed the fabric and then hand painted sea creatures on them. Then someone said "Not everyone likes sea creatures you know"...hmmmmm Okay, I put on my thinking cap and eventually it stopped sleeping, struggled awake and gave me an idea. Let me try and paint African Wild animals and see what reaction I get to those. So far the reaction has been fairly good, and of course, I'm hoping for it to improve. haha.

Have a look at these then: The left hand column is from the range called "Late Afternoon". And the right hand column is from the range called  "After the Rains".
Elephant..there is one more.. :-)
leopard...looking at you. :-)
Lioness and cub...
The cub needs to have her nap.....shhhhh
Hey Dude, you want some grass?
The wild life have had a hard time with poachers in the last decade...but there are some dedicated people out there trying to keep them safe. In South Africa, there is one guy, Ian Merrifield and his wife running a charitable organisation called Daktari Wildlife Orphanage and a Bush School where he teaches children the importance of the wild animals to their culture and way of life. This is very important work.

Now why did I mention that? One of my brothers used to be a Game Ranger in Zimbabwe. He was always watching for poachers. The are the bane of the Rangers existence. My son and I used to go and stay with him. I felt so privileged you know, to be "behind the scenes" as it were...But in all the times I did stay with Kevin, I never saw a cat in the wild...not because there were none, but because they hid away..:-p not fair...I'm just going to have to go back to have a good look one of these days :-D

 :-D That's the range at the moment....If there are any requests I shall seriously consider them....leave a comment :-)
Have a great day!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Peek Into AfrikaByDesign's Creations

Have you ever had one of those times in life that seems to be in constant flux, unearthing both joy and difficulty at every step along the way? I have just come out of “that year” and now am beginning a new season, fresh, alive, and kicking!

So let me explain. Africa is a part of many parts of me. The continent holds my first memories, my adolescence, my first adventures all by myself, and my work with refugees. I grew up with the mindset that my purpose was to help. My social work translation ended up leading me to heartache, burnout, anger, and utter exhaustion. I left this life over a year ago.

My year of rest has let me see that I will most likely never go back to direct social work. Africa has yet to leave me, though. I remembered a trunk full of cloth I collected along my journeys and the idea for my Etsy store, AfrikaByDesign, was born. Each piece literally has some story or memory of a person behind it. I have always had a good eye for beautiful design, even when I was caught up in trying to save the world. This past year has allowed me to recognize just how much I love creating.

The throw pillow slip cover above is made from genuine African wax print and part of a light blue Indian punjabi. A previous client of mine from Congo gave me the wax print as a thank you gift after I invited her to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. I never wear orange, but I adore this color especially in interior design (at one point my whole bedroom was painted a similar hue!). I like mixing African and Indian material in my work because it reflects one of the cultural juxtapositions of Dar es Salaam. People who have no experience of Africa are often surprised to hear things like this or of Arab influences and German enclaves.

My work is a true reflection of my experiences and my particular taste for vibrant color and patterns. Through creating pieces for AfrikaByDesign I have gained hope that I’ll soon find a much better place where I can help others while remaining authentic to my nature. This is the ideal best of both worlds that I wish for everyone. I’m so joyful to be on this journey and hope some of it finds its way into your hands!