Waxing and Whining


Summer did not happen the way I had hoped. While the weather here in Seattle was beautiful, I had to put vacation and visits and studio time on hold in order to make sure this year’s Polish Festival Seattle was a success and work on a contract that required more online time than I expected. Both turned out very well, but frankly, left me out of balance.

Before things got to be too much, I was able to get away to the studio of Larry Calkins on Tiger Mountain where I was introduced to encaustic painting with a stylus. Painting with wax is quite fun, with the hot wax and torch firing, but I’ve always put it on the back burner because I didn’t want to invest in all of the tools needed. But working with a stylus is an easy investment and a great way to work on small projects. So this summer, I bought myself a stylus and a few wax sticks and took short breaks in the studio to work on small painting projects. Really small. I also found a worn out puzzle to paint that I’ve had sitting in a corner. As always, paper-cutting finds its way into the work, I can’t help it. I’m looking forward to more of this and to working through all of the ideas in my head I’ve been collecting over the summer. Workshops will be scheduled soon too. Stay tuned!

House inside outside

Encaustic Tools



This set of mandalas were inspired by the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water. Created by folding a single piece of black paper and cutting it sections at a time, the process can be very meditative as well as the result. After the base is cut, the colored pieces are then layered on top.

I plan to do a short demo on this technique in my studio at tomorrow’s open house, The Building’s World Famous Summer Spectacular. The final four “Element Series” pieces will be on display together before “Earth” gets shipped off to a group show in Massachusetts. I’m thinking of having a workshop on this technique if I can generate enough interest… the process takes patience but the results can be so satisfying!Mandalas in progress

Water in progressMandalas in progress_wind and earth




A Recent Commission

I was recently asked to create something as a gift for a new baby girl’s room. Knowing who the new mother was made it an especially fun and special project. Here are a few photos of the process and final piece!

bird family

The initial sketch.

Bird family in progress

Work in progress.

Bird family in progress 2

Almost finished, just needs final touches.

For Baby Matilda_2014

The final piece!

The Call for Blessing

A while back I was given a copy of the book “Polish Customs, Traditions & Folklore” by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab. Each chapter covers a month of the year and covers rituals and celebrations for that time. Many of these customs are alive and well, but many are extinct even in today’s Poland. One of these rituals inspired this piece that I wanted to share with you here.

Wedding Day BlessingHere is the story… The blessings of the parents were a very important part of the wedding day. In some regions, the couple would kneel before the parents and ask for forgiveness and blessings before saying farewell. This was so important that if either parent had died, the wedding party would stop at the cemetery “where the bride or groom would ask for blessings from the deceased parent” while everyone sang:

“Arise, arise from the grave, bless your daughter on her marriage day.”

I don’t have the right keyboard for the accents so this is not completely accurate, but in Polish the song is:

“Powstan, powstan z grobu

poblogoslaw corke do slubu.”

I have more works in progress and look forward to adding more to this series.

What Can I Do For You?

I was looking back at few commissions I did last year. Each are a little different. I created a robin “bird sketch” for a woman to give as a gift to her friend. Another is a sturgeon fish created for a family of the same name. A more traditional “tree of life” was created for a family of six, with four cheerful birds in a tree with a hen and rooster looking on. Commissions are fun to do but can also be a little scary as you always hope it will turn out to everyone’s liking.





Pisanki Workshops 2014!


Made by 2013 workshop participants.

It’s that time of year again and I’m bringing back this fun workshop! “Pisanki” uses a very old decorating method where hot wax is drawn on an egg to create intricate patterns that is then dyed wonderfully vibrant colors. This technique is used in Poland and is most famous with eggs and designs from Ukraine. I am offering two Saturday workshops this year at my studio in West Seattle. Each session is limited to 5 participants.

Source: Ukranian Gift ShopWhen:

  • Saturday, March 22  – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm - FULL
  • Saturday, April 5 – 10:00 am – 2:00 pm - FULL
  • Sunday, April 6 – 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm - FULL


  • 4316 Othello St, Seattle, WA 98136.

All materials will be provided… Eggs, wax, candles, tools, dyes, etc. Depending on how many layers you decide to create, you can expect to finish 2-4 eggs.  Note: Because hot wax and open candle flames are used, this workshop is not suitable for young children. Please contact me if you have an older child who would like to participate.

Fee: $25 per person, payable via PayPal. To reserve a spot, please email me at alisalahti@live.com.

*Cancellation policy: Full refunds provided if 1 week’s notice or greater from class start date provided.  50% refund for less than 1 week’s notice from class start date. If class is cancelled, a full refund will be provided.

New Work and Updated Pages!

Well, I’ve finally made some updates to my gallery pages! WordPress makes it easier than I thought. Although I’m sure I will be continually tweaking, at least I now have a better range of work showing in a more interesting layout than before. I’m excited to introduce a couple of recent new pieces. These made their debut at the Seattle Polish Festival a couple of weeks ago.

The one to the right is inspired by a traditional wycinanki style showing forest (“las”) scenes.  I call it the Mushroom Picker. I’ve been wanting to do a larger than usual piece in

The Mushroom Picker (20" x 30")

The Mushroom Picker (20″ x 30″)

this style. This one is 20″ x 30″ (framed to 32″ x 43″), cut from a single sheet of paper. You can check out my FaceBook page to see images of this work in progress.

The one below is inspired by the layered wycinanki of Poland’s Lowicz region. I wanted to create something bursting with color!  In our back yard, we often see screaming jays with their crested heads searching for something to eat. These bold birds decided to stop by for a visit in my garden scene too.

Thanks for checking them out!

Jays Visit the Garden

Jays in the Garden


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