Time Capsules

If you are a newsletter subscriber of mine, you know that I start my monthly newsletters with some thoughts. Thoughts on creativity, making art, and being an artist – along with some other info about what is going on around here. Last month I shared the following. I hope you enjoy and you can sign up for my newsletter HERE for more of these :)


Have you ever looked at some of your photos – maybe from a trip to a foreign place – and wondered who the other, random people in that photo might be? The people who passed by, maybe photobombed your image, walked behind your subject? 
In October 2013, right after I moved from Germany to the US, I took the Path to NYC and strolled around Washington Square Park and took this photo: 

Older woman in a park with a marionette of herself that feeds a squirrel. A women next to her taking a photo of the scene

It was just the most charming scene: an elderly woman, with a puppet that looked just like her, feeding a squirrel. 

I remember the woman on the left taking the photos and how we both were just so delighted in this moment. I posted the photo on my blog and the photo went viral. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the photo on the internet in the 7 years that have passed. Then a year later I received a message from Ricky Syers. He is the maker of the marionette and he told me about Doris Diether, the woman he based it off who is seen in the photo holding it. Doris, he told me, is a community activist in the city and the longest serving community board member in Manhattan, with over 50 years of service. He asked me if it would be ok if he used the photo on his website. I took a lot of pleasure in knowing who the puppet maker and the elderly lady in the photo were and I loved following Ricky and seeing his renown grow. 

In and of itself this is a wonderful story to consider when you see this photo (which is still floating around the internet) but… don’t you wonder by now if there is another story? Yes, there is. 

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from a woman saying she happened to come across this photo online and it took her breath away: she recognized the woman on the left in the picture taking a photo. We had a very lovely email exchange and it turned out that this was her mother-in-law Hilla Becher – the well-known photographer from Germany who passed away in 2015. Hearing the name, I realized I knew the photos of Hilla Becher – her water tower series especially came to mind.

I shared the story of Doris and Ricky with her family. I told her how delighted Hilla was taking the photos that day. The daughter-in-law told me, “Sometimes people confuse the seriousness of her subject with her personally. In life she was incredibly curious and joyful.  … [I] had to smile when we saw your photo because it was so like her to go in like that.”

I love thinking that Hilla and I crossed paths and that we not only shared the enchantment in this scene but also a love for industrial buildings. Maybe her work has influenced my love for those scenes too, since I grew up in an area with many of those structures in and around the city of Düsseldorf. 

And that is how the stories of all the people in this photo came full circle. I cannot describe the joy this photo brings me – not only remembering a wonderful day exploring my new surroundings, stumbling upon this bewitching scene, but also how this tiny moment in time – this time capsule – created over the years has brought so much delight to all the people involved. It has been remarkable to have it all come together. I suppose the only way this could become even more full circle would be if the photo Hilla Becher had taken in that very same moment would surface :) 

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Creative Squad Welcomes Robin and Jordan!!!

Hello my friends – today we have some very exciting news to share with you. We have been waiting anxiously to let you know and now is the time: We have 2 NEW Creative Squad members to welcome to the team and introduce today!!! Super huge WELCOME to Robin Seiz and Jordan Hill!

Do you know my Creative Squad? They are my amazing design team of artists who bring you their creations each month. I give them a theme as a way to get their creative juices flowing, and then they make a project using some of my stamp and stencil designs. You can check out their projects each week on Tuesdays, right HERE on the blog.  It is always inspiring to see what they come up with!

Let’s get to know our two newest members:

Robin Seiz is super talented with colors, patterns, and layering and is passionate about mixed media, gardening, and social activism. We are so happy to have her in our group and cannot wait to see her projects each month. Take a peek at her style here.

She writes “I am a self-taught Mixed Media Artist living in the wonderful little artist community of New Hope, Pennsylvania located on the Delaware River. I love the process of creating almost as much as the end result. It’s fun to work on a variety of substrates, use so many tools like gelli plates, stamps, stencils, foamies — you name it. And then to add color in endless mediums makes my heart sing. I gain lots of inspiration from nature; I’m often seen with my camera in a meadow or in my garden. I enjoy supporting other artists through social media, buying their art, taking their classes, or supporting them through Patreon — in short, I think community is important to help us all grow.”


Jordan Hill is amazing at drawing faces and figures in her incredible unique style, and incorporating them into richly layered compositions. She comes to us from St. Petersburg, FL where she enjoys art journaling, mixed media of all sorts, and thrifting. Be sure to check her out here.

She writes: “I am a Florida based mixed media artist and illustrator who specializes in art journaling. My draw to all things creative started when I was three or four, sitting in my grandmother’s lap and watching her crochet. Though my specialty is art journaling, I’m not a fan of limiting myself to any one medium or craft and I have been known to dabble in fiber arts, bookbinding, digital illustration, or whatever else appeals to me on any given day. Art journaling specifically became a part of my life in 2009, when I discovered it as an offshoot of scrapbooking. I am so honored to be a part of this Creative Squad!”

We are so happy to have both of these talents joining our team. Be sure to check into the blog on Tuesdays for their posts and also check out the Nat’s Creative Squad Instagram HERE.

Are you creating stuff with Nat’s stamps and stencils? Share them with us – via email or use the hashtag #natkalbach so we can check them out. We love to see what you are making too!

Comments (1)

  • Sue Clarke


    Welcome to Robin and Jordan!
    Your use of patterns reminds me of some of Nat’s work (Robin).
    Your people are delightfully strange Jordan…I can’t wait to see more of them.


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Best of Creative JumpStart Vol. 4 – Online Workshop Bundle

Today I’m happy to announce that Best of Creative JumpStart Vol. 4 is now on sale! This is the fourth bundle of mixed media lessons by some of our amazing CJS artist teachers, this bundle includes videos from Creative JumpStart 2018. The CJS2018 theme was: Now We’re Cooking: Mixed Media Art Recipes and our artist teachers were asked to create a lesson inspired by their recipe for creative success.

For only $9.99 you will receive access to download links for 12 inspiring Creative JumpStart lessons from 2018. Here are the awesome teachers and lessons in this bundle:

  • Nat Kalbach 2018: The Secret Ingredient
  • Mystele Kirkeeng 2018: A Recipe for Play
  • Catherine Scanlon 2018: Traced Flower Painting
  • Marsha Valk 2018: Sole Picasso
  • Diana Trout 2018: Spice of Life
  • Sandra Evertson 2018: Hot Glue Cooking
  • Pam Carriker 2018: Mixed Media Angels
  • Birgit Koopsen 2018: A Delicious Little Hors D’oeuvres
  • Rae Missigman 2018: A Recipe for Color and Resist
  • Michelle Ward 2018: Let’s Have Take Out!
  • Gwen Lafleur 2018: Collage Papers
  • Jen Crossley 2018: Metal Etched Book

You can sign up HERE for this nice bundle of CJS18 videos.

And if you haven’t yet, you can still sign up for Best of CJS Vol.1 with videos from 2014 and 2015, Best of CJS Vol. 2 with videos from 2016, and Best of CJS Vol. 3 with videos from 2017. Stay tuned for more  and enjoy Jumping with us again :)

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Stroll Through the Hood – September 2020

Strolls through my hood get me out of my studio, they help me get unstuck and often I get inspired by what I see and get new ideas to create something. It is part of my philosophy about Artful Adventures in Mixed Media – which is the subject of my book. Here are some photos that I gathered in the last couple weeks.

One of the mornings when I took my bike into the park I spied this little fox looking for at the waterfront – with Manhattan in the background. Apparently now that less visitors are frequenting Liberty State Park they are out more and visible. The Park Rangers are aware of them and taking care but it was still a kind of sad and interesting sight at the same time.

Another park another view- this fountain at Lincoln Park has been repainted and repaired and it gives a little bit of a European vibe off :)

A Mural I discovered while biking through a different part of the city. I love taking my bicycle around – you get to see a lot of areas of a city but are still able to hop on and off real quick to snap photos.

The famous Colgate Clock near the former Colgate side – was build in 1924. It used to be at some time the biggest clock in the world and was located on top of the factory building so workers would show up on time. When Colgate left Jersey city the buildings were razed and the clock was more towards the waterfront.

How beautiful are those eggplants. I got them in my CSA box and learned that there are actually read eggplants …wow- that was something I never knew. They were quite delicious :)

Bike ride along a train track. Whenever I am here I feel like I am in a different world.

David never gets old – I love this mural. Makes me want to do a transfer with his photos on some geographic colorful background.

We got a new fire pit and are having a good time using it now that the nights get a bit chillier.

Ghost signs – Individual Fireproof Vaults- still trying to find out what was actually in the building – but the sign on the side is fun.

Pretzel discovered this lady passing through our garden and he has been sitting in front ever since he did. LOL- he either is not amused or he fell in love … I am not sure ;)

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    Wonderful to see your stroll this month. I adore your sitting area with the fire pit. Nice.
    The mural/street art around you is fantastic (especially David Bowie).
    We have fox and many animals here in NH, but they don’t usually have legs as long as that one that you posted.
    Fall is upon us…the trees have started to change. Peace.




    Your strolls through the hood are always SO interesting. The objects you choose to photograph
    are inspirational and unusual. Your perspective, both visual and thoughtful, are thought provoking
    and not ‘just ordinary’. You give us a small glimpse of your personal life without invading your
    I specially liked the mural of David Bowie and the last photo toward the city was AWESOME.

    Your strools are never LOOONG enough!
    Thanks much, Vivian


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In My Dreams – Emilie Murphy

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we are with Emilie Murphy and a page from her art journal, in hopes of ensuring sweet dreams. She is using my Mini Motifs and my Wabi Sabi stamp sets along with our theme: In My Dreams – A lot of folks are having crazy dreams these days. What visions do you see at night? Are you sleeping at all? Let us get a peek into your nocturnal adventures through your art.

Hi there! Hope you are doing well.

I was wondering how l could talk to you about what’s in my dreams. The first idea I had was to let you enter in to my dreams through a Dreamcatcher. In Native American culture, Dreamcatchers symbolize the entry point of dreams. It’s believed that they trap nightmares in their web. I just love this idea. I have few at my home where one is hanging on my bedroom door nob.

In this tumultuous time where we are currently living in, I think, that symbols and other culture referrals can ease our fear if we simply dare to get interested in them.

Let me guide you through my process about how I made this art journal page and let you in to my dreams. For this project, I decided to work on a piece of 8.5 x 11 inches cardboard (Kraft color). I like to reuse some material I get when I order art supplies. Since it’s a journal page, you can work on whatever surface you like.

I first applied a coat of  “mineral” acrylic paint in order to get a non-porous surface. I chose an off-white color because I didn’t want something too bright. I also wanted more of a vintage look.  I let it dry completely.

Then, I used some infusion pigment powders to color my background. I sprinkled a little powder on the top of my cardboard and brushed the powder from top to bottom with gel medium to make some strips. I started with “Lemoncello” infusion powder.

I did the same thing with “Magenta” infusion powder.

The reason why I used gel medium is because it avoids smearing the color or moving it again and makes this layer permanent.

I started to build my Dreamcatcher by stamping the center with the Arts & Craft Mini Motif stamp with “cobalt blue”archival ink.

Tip: I used a gridded acrylic block to be able to stamp the motif and make an even circle. I first practiced on simple printer paper. If you are not satisfied with your stamping, you can wipe it off with some alcohol as I used gel medium that makes the surface non-porous and protects your layer background.

The next two pictures are showing you the step-by-step instructions on how I built my Dreamcatcher.

Step 1: I drew a circle and stamped it with Nat’s Neato stamp from the Wabi Sabi set around my circle.

Step 2: I drew another circle to join the Neato stamping and made an inner ring.

Step 3: I doodled a zigzag inside the inner ring and drew an outer ring joining the opposite side of the Neato stamping.

Step 4: I drew some loops to look like “thread or string.”

Step 5: I finished the web of the Dreamcatcher

Step 6: I had some outside embellishment stamping with the Craftsman Mini Motif stamp and drew some loops to attach them to the outer ring.

Step 7: I painted the inner and outer rings with some “minerals” acrylic paint (same I used for the background). I colored my dreamcatcher with some posca pens.

Step 8: I traced again the lines that faded away with my micron pen over the paint.

The structure of Dreamcatcher is now done.

At that point, the background needed some texture. I stamped the Funky stamp from the Wabi Sabi set with “Sunshine Yellow” and “Milky Way Magenta” inks to match the colors of the infusions powders. As you can see, the stamping is not bright and crisp because I wanted a subtle effect. To achieve this, I first stamped on some scrap paper and then I stamped on the background with the rest of the ink remaining on my stamp.

The next steps show you how I made the feathers.

Step 9: I used some pieces of scrap paper I had made for my cards project in June to cut some kind of “feather” shapes.

Step 10: I stitched the center of each feather with my sewing machine. This step is optional. You can also just draw a line with a marker. Then I stamped with the white portion ink of my Moonlight duo inkpad, the Gnarly stamp from the Wabi Sabi set, to add a design to my feathers.

Step 11: I used a Paper Distresser tool to give texture to the edges of the feathers.

Step 12: I drew some lines and dots between the feathers with a posca pen to represent strings and beads.

My Dreamcatcher is finally done!

Next, I wrote down my quote.

To finish up my page, I first stamped the corners with the Jugendstil Mini Motif stamp.  I then created a border by stamping all around the edges with the Neato stamp with “Deep Space Blue” Moonlight Duo Ink pad.

Below are some close up pictures.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and got inspired to create your own Dreamcatcher.

Personally, I had a lot of fun playing with Nat’s Mini Motif and Wabi Sabi stamps sets. It shows you how versatile these stamps sets can be. Just let your imagination and creativity go!

Have a great rest of the week! See you next month! – Emilie

Thank you Emilie! I love the idea of dreamcatchers and what a great art journal page with so many subtle details in there. Beautiful!!!

Give it a try: you can find all my Rubber Stamps in my Online Shop and here are some of the other supplies Emilie used:

Play along with our monthly themes and weekly projects! Working on something yourself that you’d like to share?  Email or tag me #natkalbach how you used my stencils and stamps – I would love to share your projects in my next  “n*Spiration From Around the Globe“.

Comments (1)

  • Sue Clarke


    LOVE love LOVE this Emilie!!!
    The colors you choose and the dreamcatcher design.
    I have several myself and they work (or at least look very pretty).


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People Are Scared – Art Journal

I recently found a vintage book of a collection of prayers by Robert Castle – Prayers from a burned-out city – 1968. Castle was a Reverend at St. John’s Church in my neighborhood in the 60s and very involved in the Civil Right’s Movement of that time. His prayers feel so unbelievably timely. I wrote one of them down on my spread:

People are scared

A whole lot of people are scared, Lord, just plain scared.

You know why?

The “Man” has got a lot of people thinking scared- brainwashed into thinking they can’t do anything to change things

like changing schools, jobs, houses,

the cops, City Hall, and just lots of things.

Making people think they are nobody and powerless is the work of the devil, Lord.

That’s what we call the “Man” lots of times, Lord – the devil.

I’m praying real hard and loud that we are all somebody. You’re in us, aint you, Lord? I can just feel yo in me. Lots of time I get in your way but I feel you.

And I feel you getting to me and saying:

No more being scared.

The Lord ain’t scared – never has been – never will be.

No more scared.

I got the power, Lord –

I got you and I’m someboday.

Oh Lord,

I’m somebody so damned special and important, that I’m on my way.

I’m on my way up to the “devil man, ” Lord,

and I’m going to wrestle him down like you did.


You remember!

And I’m going to win the “Man” like you won the devil.

The angels are going to come and minister to me. Bless those angels, Lord.


I painted the building as study for a later painting using spraypaints, acrylic paints, and acrylic markers. The building is on the same street as the Church and the former home of Reverend Castle and I thought of how he must have passed this house many times walking around, maybe thinking about his prayers and sermons. 

Here’s a closer look at some of the details.

I added journaling and then painted over it to have only bits and pieces come through. I used my Broadway Fan foam stamps and my Triangle Love rubber stamps.

Here are some of the supplies I used:

Comments (4)

  • Sue Clarke


    Nat, I love the prayer and your painting.
    Thanks so much for sharing.


  • ARHuelsenbeck


    Thank you so much for posting this prayer and your thoughts about Rev. Castle. Very inspiring and hopeful–exactly what I need today. Thank you.


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A Look Back – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 20 – Fluorescent Colors

A Look Back – This time I’m looking at a color family that maybe has a bit of a bad reputation… but that can be so fun to use and definitely has the power to POP: Fluorescents! Love em or hate em, you can’t deny their ability to grab your attention. Below are some old posts and projects that use fluorescent colors in small amounts and large, creating different moods and effects.

A Look Back is a blog series to show you some projects and posts that you may have missed – sometimes going WAY back in the archive. I think it will be fun to revisit a few ideas that we haven’t seen for a while. I’m excited to see how a little look back might inspire something new in the future :)

First up is an art journal page from this post way back in 2014. I used an array of super hot reds for this one, including Liquitex Fluorescent Red soft body paint to create an intense backdrop for my Elephant Parade stencil.


Next up is a super fun project I did back in 2015 with this nifty cardboard water tower I found from a maker in Brooklyn. I just love the form of these old water towers that you see all over the place in NYC. They make me very happy lol. I used fluorescent orange spray paint along with my Elephant March and What’s the Point stencils to give this charming little object even more personality.


Sometimes you just need a touch of fluorescent as I’ve done here in this 2016 art journal spread. I used a Liquitex Fluorescent Red marker to draw on some marks and symbols. Just some energy coming through a busy background.


How bold can you go? I went super bold in this art journal page back in 2016 when I used fluorescent spray paints and my Art Deco Wallpaper and Circuit stencils for my background. Sometimes you have to go all in with fluorescents and just see what happens.


A hint of pink may be the answer… Fluorescent Pink of course! In this Creative Ice Breaker video from 2016 I use just a little Golden Fluorescent Pink paint with my Amsterdam stencil for a very active page. You can almost feel the elephants running around in this spread.

I hope you enjoyed this look back at… fluorescent colors and are maybe inspired to try adding some to your artwork.

Here are some of the supplies I used:

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