Popsicle Pen

Quick and easy to make….

When I discover that I haven’t brought my calligraphy tools to a workshop and I want to make marks or write on a project, I make a pen. It only takes a few minutes and my workshop tool box usually has scissors, masking tape and popsicle sticks(aka paint stirrers).


an empty soda can

a popsicle stick (or pencil)


masking tape

Be careful as aluminum is very sharp and makes a nasty cut.

l. Use scissors to cut off both round ends of the can.

2. Make a cut lengthwise through the metal tube.


3. Fold one end of the can over about 1” and cut it off.


4. Cut the folded strip in half. You’ll have two folded strips about 1” wide and 1.5” tall.


5. Cut out the lower right corner opposite the fold leaving the folded can area about as wide as the popsicle stick.


6. Insert the popsicle stick and tape it in place. Be sure the tape also adheres to the wood so the aluminum pen won’t fall off.


7. Trim the nib into a pen shape.


Thats all folks! Your popsicle pen is ready for service.. Use it with almost any art fluid. Thicker fluids such as acrylic paint or tempera paint may require thinning with water. Experiment with pen angles to see what kinds of strokes you enjoy making most.



Tohono Chul

Tohono Chul Park

a Tucson “Gem”

One of my very favorite places to go in Tucson is Tohono Chul Park. It’s a lovely nature preserve in the northwest sector of the city. There are gentle paths to follow, with a wide variety of Sonoran Desert plants well marked and interesting outdoor art along the way. I always enjoy going there to sketch or to meet a friend for lunch at their bistro and I usually take a little time to browse in one of their two gift shops.

My favorite place in the park is their art gallery where they have a number of shows each year. Most have a theme related to nature and the southwest. They have just mounted a new exhibit “Paper: From All Sides”. The grand opening is January 24 at 5:30 and the show promises to give us some unique insights into the ways artists use paper.

I am very honored to have one of my recent pieces, “Daniella’s Fleet” included in the exhibit. If you are going to be in Tucson this time of year, do stop by and check out the show. It will be open through April 21.

daniellafleet1blog “Daniella’s Fleet” is an unconventional nature journal made from encaustic covered origami sampans made from assorted scrap papers. The sampans contain objects found outdoors on Whidbey Island.

Several years ago I studied with Daniella Wolff on Whidbey Island. She had started making origami sampans and showed me how to fold them. When I got home I made many little boats and painted them in bright colors with gouache. The rainbow fleet made me smile. I had no intention of using them as an art piece. I thought they would make fun little gifts for friends.

While I was on Whidbey Island, I assembled a little bag of “findings” that I had gathered on daily walks along the beaches and wooded paths on the island. I thought about doing a nature journal using the found objects as inspiration. And then I realized that the lovely little objects belonged in the boats and the fleet of paper boats would make a unique journal! Since Daniella is an encaustic artist, and I had studied encaustic art with her, it seemed appropriate to use encaustic to encase and preserve the work.

But I still had a problem. I was at a loss about how to frame this funky little fleet. I tried making a river, a lake and an ocean but on each background the boats seemed out of place. So I set everything aside and hoped that some day I’d find a solution.

Recently I realized that the fleet didn’t need a background or a frame. It had it’s unique identity as a dimensional object. It could be displayed as sculpture or an artists’ book – not a framed painting. And so I mounted “Daniella’s Fleet” on transparent plexi. Now the fleet can sit on a table top or hang on the wall!