January 31, 2010

De-Muddling

Maybe it’s that time of year or the weather or something, but I’ve recently caught myself starting to google, half-seriously, “What should I do now?” If only I could bing the Internet to provide a personalized step-by-step artistic path…what to prioritize and/or what to let go. Cold, dreary weather is a creative drain. Fortunately, I was able to snap out of it this weekend to organize my studio. In the process, I realized a thing or two.

I’m pretty sure that one of the best cures for a muddled and disorganized head, is a neat and organized work space. Messiness is distracting.

I marvel at design, craft and sewing books that manage to keep a single focus from beginning to end with beautifully, illustrated step-by-steps along the way. This is not possible in actual life.

I believe in being prepared for any occasion. However, it’s also important to be able to see what you already have.

I sorted through overflowing fabric bins and let go of uninspiring pieces. Extra stuff adds weight rather than inspiration.

Now the challenge is to keep things in place while I let go of January. Hello to a clearer, warmer (fingers crossed) and brighter February.
January 26, 2010

Smart Marks

I have to tell you about the brand new ‘art just for fun’ that has arrived over in my etsy shop. It’s a set of wisely affordable owl bookmarks that I designed using the owls I painted back when.

For the background, I scanned the wise entry from a really old dictionary. Then, I placed the owls in miniature in sequence on top of the entry with a shadow effect (all done in Photoshop.) Wise and Wiser are on the front of the bookmark while Wisest has the back all to herself.

The bookmarks have been offset print (front and back) on a heavy coated stock with rounded edges for extra charm. When they came back from the printer, I hand punched each top and added a cord. These bookmarks are available in sets of four. They’re perfect to stick in a card (Valentines maybe?) or enclose with a gifted book. Or maybe you’ll want a couple for yourself to mark various places…wise cookbooks, wiser craft magazines or the wisest decadent novel.

I’ve also made individual 8″ x 10″ owl prints available if a larger, frameable version is preferred. Fly over to my etsy shop to check out the goods. And as always, thank you for stopping by to see what I’ve been up to and for supporting my artistic journey. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of you! I am so grateful for a community that never fails to inspire. Thank you.
January 24, 2010

How to score points with an 8-year-old

If you asked me to explain Pokemon in 100 words or less it would go something like this: errrr…little alien-like creatures with different powers…ahhhh…expensive trading cards that 7-8 year old boys can’t get enough of…some cards having lots of power while others not so much…errrr…battling?…hmmmm. How’s that? Yes, my understanding of the world of Pokemon is rather deficient. I did learn just a tiny bit more when I went to research this popular yellow guy for my son’s birthday cake. For example, did you know that Pikachus’ can shoot electric from their cheeks? me neither.

Here’s the plan I came up with to use the majority of two round cakes to build Pikachu. The small striped triangle on cake number two is the only piece not used. It can be thrown to any kitchen intruders to keep them at bay while you’re decorating the cake.

I decorate our cakes with butter cream icing mainly for the taste even though fondant would probably be easier. This guy is all icing except for the red cheeks and mouth which happen to be strawberry fruit rollups.

The cake ended up being a huge hit with this 7-year-old turned 8. Besides my getting to know that happy little yellow Pikachu better, I even earned a few cool points upping my evolutionary Mom status. Yeah…I’m trying to sound all pokemonish. My apologies to the diehards…I did say “a few” cool points.
Filed Under: baking, kids
January 20, 2010

A nice reminder to have aRound

“The grass is greener on the other side of the fence” is a timeless proverb. Trying to keep up with the Jones’ can leave your head spinning. The phrase happens to be permanently stuck in my head after years of hearing my mom repeat whenever I chose to whine about whatever bugged me about me at the time. Of course I knew the true meaning was that the grass might seem greener for other people, but seldom was greener when you came right down to it.

I’ve been wanting to paint a circular canvas for awhile. When this idea popped into my head, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to break out of the box : ) I chose a 16″ round canvas and started the piece by adhering ripped map pieces along with flowery and grid (fence-like) decorative paper.

I wanted my choices including canvas shape and materials to work with the whimsical nature of the idea. Raffia was a given for the grass. I also happened to have those cool wooden sticks (kids building sticks from back when). And have I mentioned my latest obsession? Much like half of the crafting universe… it’s GLITTER! (check out the Martha Stewart vintage line…ahhhhhhh.) The point here is to think creatively when on a mixed media adventure. Sure a fence is simple enough to paint or make with paper…but what about a painted fence from actual wood…hmmmm.

This process shot is a behind-the-scenes as to how I work. A little paint and then a little adhering (with gel medium), then more paint and more adhering, etc. I build up the layers plunging right through that awkward-i hate-this-piece moment that happens at right about the halfway point with every painting I do.

In the end, I’m very happy with how this painting turned out. I’d keep it if I had more wall space. Until I figure out how to get more of that, I’ve listed the original over in my etsy shop. No prints will be made of this one. It’s a circular one-of-a kind.

*bonus points* if you can answer why most paintings are square or rectangular. I really wanna know because circles seem more fun!
January 13, 2010

Fabric coupon holder tutorial: Buy 1/Make 1 Free

Introducing my fresh, new, handmade coupon holder/organizer created with supplies I already had on hand. Now brace yourself. Below is “the before” that I actually purchased a long time ago…

Admittedly, it was embarrassing to pull this out of my purse. Nothing to do with the coupons themselves (pleeeze!), but just look. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I purchased a cow coupon holder, but apparently it was the most appealing fabric (to me) at the time…hmmmm. Along with the questionable fabric, it is showing signs of heavy wear. The point of the before: I based my new and improved coupon holder on the old by taking the cow apart to see how he was made…an inexpensive way to get a pattern for anything you might want to replicate.

The fabric I used was a sample upholstery square purchased at a yard sale over the summer. If you can get your hands on these, they are perfect for smallish projects. If you can’t find them by chance at yard sales, befriend an interior designer or upholstery shop for last season’s samples.

materials:
heavy fabric (1- 9″ x 11″ piece; 2- 2-1/2″ x 4″ pieces)
3/4″ wide Velcro (2- 9″ pieces)
1/2″ wide double fold bias tape in a coordinating color (approx. 47 inches total)
sewing machine
iron

(as usual please refer to pictures if my nontechnical sewing language becomes confusing.)
directions:
1. Attach two 9″ pieces of 3/4″ wide Velcro to the 9″ x 11″ piece of fabric. The Velcro will go on the 9″ top and bottom with the sticky on the good side of the fabric and the fuzzy on the back side of the fabric. (I used iron on Velcro and followed package directions. I also sewed the Velcro to make sure it was extra secure.) After the Velcro is attached, place this piece aside for a moment.

2. Cut two 2 1/2″ x 4″ rectangles from fabric for the sides of the coupon holder. Sew double fold bias tape to the 4″ top and bottom of each.

3. Starting from the bottom right corner of the Velcroed fabric, sew double fold bias tape (approx. 31″ long) to the edge sandwiching in your first side.

3+. See how the sides are getting sandwiched? The top and bottom of the side pieces remain unstitched…only the sides of the sides will be attached to the Velcro rectangle. Sides attach at bottom of Velcroed main piece and then 5 inches in from there.

4. Continue to sew the bias tape up the right side of the main piece, across the top and then back down the left side sandwiching in the second side like the right. The only edge that will not have bias tape is the sticky Velcro-edged front.

And that’s it. You should now have a coupon holder that looks sort of like this one and opens and closes like so. Moooove over cow coupon organizer (oh come on…how could I resist??! : )
Filed Under: projects, sewing
January 12, 2010

Proof…

… that I haven’t been goofing off. Unless, like my husband, you don’t see the “work factor” involved in sewing together two-sided pages, adding brads and glitter, gluing feathers and finally stringing sequins, dice and beads from 25 early bird mouths for chunky/fat book participation. But I bet you do. And it was on my “to do” list…right after ‘grocery shop’ and ‘schedule yearly doctor checkups for the kids’ (btw anything written on a “to do” list is most definitely a job/work that must be completed. ) This is all in prep for February’s much anticipated art retreat.

If you don’t know what a chunky/fat book is (like I didn’t two years ago), it’s a collaborative project that brings together a little bit of each participating artist into a 4″ x 4″ *typical* book spiral bound by the organizer of the event. Pages include lots of embellishments and unique touches so no two finished books are exactly alike.


There they are. whew. All 25 pages shipped off yesterday to our kind organizer down in Florida. I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished project. Okay back to more work (really…it’s on the list.)
Filed Under: Uncategorized
January 7, 2010

Filling up on inspiration

When I start a painting or a series of work, I almost always use an inspiration box before I begin the piece itself. For me, an inspiration box is an empty plastic container that I fill with any papers, clippings and embellishments that even remotely relate to the piece(s) I have in mind. I never end up using every item in an inspiration box for a piece, but the exercise helps me zero in on suitable elements without being overwhelmed (and believe me my stash of stuff can be quite overwhelming.) Pictured above is the beginnings of my latest piece, “A New Day” if you’re recognizing inspiration.

The other place that needs to be constantly refilled with inspiration is the artist herself. I try to make it a point to kick myself out of my studio on a regular basis which is how our family began 2010. We visited a new-to-us-museum for a sensory-filled day that started with the age of the dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs that were juxtaposed with modern glass art in a room nearby. If you look carefully you’ll notice similarities (a rib cage pattern to the right and a cloudy blue sky at the bottom.) See how one can play off the other? Not saying that this artist was dinosaur-inspired, but he/she certainly could have been. The more I look, the more dinosaur shapes I see.

The industrialized shape, texture and color of a replicated railroad station proceeded those organic places we visited. There’s lots to gain from these types of displays too. I am especially fond of the curved “ALL ABOARD” signage.

Floor number two brought us pure eye candy…the vibrant world of Barbie. (A sea foam green and hot pink inspired painting is in my very near future.)

After a full day of exploration, we ended in the world of Egypt where I found this comforting proverb. My 2010 is already feeling more inspired. Lucky too…based on daily coffee spillage. How do you find inspiration?
Filed Under: inspiration
January 2, 2010

Happy New Day

I’ve been thinking about beginnings and endings a lot lately. Freebie calendars with the new months of 2010 have been popping up in the mailbox for weeks making me think about all of those days. Days that have shaped and formed who we are, but how we still determine who we will be in the days ahead. I thought about new year resolutions…starts and hiccups to becoming who we want to be. My whimsical translation? A broken shell of old days resulting in a renewal of sorts…a fresh beginning.

While I did intend for this piece to be new years appropriate, I think it’s even more important to remember that fresh beginnings can happen any day. Taking on a whole year and placing all of that resolution weight on January 1st is too overwhelming. If we don’t get it right today, there’s always tomorrow.

*prints available in my etsy shop.

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