March 24, 2010

Just how do you do it?!

The long interval between entries over here can only mean one thing. Actually, it can mean many things, but in this case it’s a combination of me sneaking out of town for a few days and then coming back and becoming completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with looming deadlines, kid activities and the general keeping-of-the-house in some sort of liveable state. I’m doing everything possible to keep up including working further into the night than I like (all the way through American Idol, the evening news and then some.)

Which brings me to my point today at the risk of sounding cheesy…I think you are amazing. I really do. Whether it’s being able to see over the top of your inbox, taking a walk, making dinner or updating one of the blogs I love to read: I am WOWed. No matter what you have going on behind the curtain, you look pretty great from where I’m sitting. And just in case you ever thought for one second that it might be, It’s not all fancy cupcakes and sparkley glitter over here. I’m one step away from the ‘pile of laundry’ blog post. Now back to more of that looming work I’m talking about, that I really can’t talk about, but hope I can talk about soon.
Filed Under: inspiration
March 15, 2010

Five already.

Today’s the day. Nora officially turns five. The quickest five years ever I might add. Nora didn’t manage to nail down exactly what type of cake she wanted before the cake order deadline. However, Nora’s clever mom decided to attempt a Barbie Merliah mermaid cake timed to the release of the new movie. Not that I didn’t get helpful hints in the last few days…

Nora: “Hey Mom, did you now that Barbie in a Mermaid Tale is being released on DVD this week?”

Mom: “Really. Isn’t that interesting.”

Nora: “Yeah. It’s in stores now. I sure hope someone gets that movie for me for my birthday.”

Mom: “Nora. Nora. Nora.”

Nora (shrugging shoulders): “Well, I’m just saying.”

When Nora saw her cake for the first time she called it, “AMAZING” and “the BEST birthday cake ever.” Pretty high praise. Although catching her staring in awe at the cake was even better. I knew she meant every word. Nora didn’t see the imperfections that I did. She thought the cake was perfect and so it was.

In the end, lucky Nora did get her movie (after all those not-so-subtle-hints) and she got to eat her favorite cake too. Another perfectly happy birthday.

Filed Under: kids
March 14, 2010

the Crocorator

From the very depths of our studio swamp, the Crocorator was born. And this weekend, he was finally put to the ultimate test.

We’re talking the annual Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. This is where the cub scout fashions a racing car of his choosing from a kit containing a block of wood, wheels and axles. (In some cases the scout is given two kits when Dad cuts crocodile teeth too deep into the axle joints, but I digress…)

Brendan’s crocodile car design was once again inspired from the pages of Ed Emberley (an all time favorite around here.) After Dad cut the wood to match our scout’s rough sketch, Brendan and I held a creative meeting. My cub scout wanted the eyes to stick up like headlights so we used clay to fashion the eyes and nostrils. After the clay pieces were baked, Brendan attached them with adhesive. Then, I showed him how to use a few different colors of paint to create a leathery gator skin. I loved seeing that spark when Brendan noticed how the layers and different colors of paint added an interesting dimension. He was sooooo proud of the final piece. And while this reptile didn’t end up being the fastest croc in the swamp…

…he did win a trophy for design which was carried around the rest of the day. There’s absolutely nothing like a trophy smile : )
Filed Under: kids, projects
March 10, 2010

Eye-catching Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

We have another big birthday coming up around here. Miss Nora will be turning five in a couple of days. We’ve already sat down together for the official birthday cake consultation. Along with that important decision (that changes daily), we sorted out exactly what kind of treat she will bring to celebrate at preschool. Cupcakes were a nobrainer, but the type of cupcake was another story. It had to be different and in Nora’s wiser-than-age-four voice, “It had to catch the eye” (yeah, she really said that.) This ice cream cone cupcake won in a close battle with caterpillar cupcakes. I found the basic idea for these in a Good Housekeeping article saved from several years back.

After baking up 24 or so vanilla cupcakes, I gathered two types of frosting, Redhots, non-pareils and vanilla wafer cookies. I cut the vanilla wafers in half and then trimmed each half into a triangle shape.

Next, I frosted each cupcake with chocolate icing and added a triangular vanilla wafer for the cone.

Then using a large star decorating tip, I generously piped on the lavender icing for the ice cream.

I finished each cupcake with a Redhot for the cherry and non-pareils for the sprinkles. They turned out so cute and came together way faster than those reindeer. I made a few extra to taste-test after which my client gave her final seal of approval. Nora is *very* excited to come to school tomorrow with her special birthday treats. Now to narrow down that cake.

*find more recipe ideas over
here (one of my favorite blogs.)
Filed Under: baking, kids
March 6, 2010


This weeks topic over at Illustration Friday is Brave. I’ve had this idea in my head for a couple weeks so that prompt finally encouraged me to get it on canvas. Here’s a courageous bird sailing out to sea on the very top of the boat.

The more I thought about ‘brave” I came to the realization that putting yourself out there is one thing. However, the true test of bravery is the ability to keep your spirits and your head held high even when those unexplored waters turn rough.

Prints of “Brave bird” are now available for sale in my etsy shop.
March 5, 2010

Adventures in print

I am honored once again to be included in the latest issue of one of my very favorite magazines, Cloth Paper Scissors.

My article is about the making of a mixed media series featuring superheroes or to be more exact: Women superheroes. I had so much fun creating these pieces. They made me feel like that 7-year-old girl who…

adored/idolized Wonder Woman. I recall crafting WW bracelets and tiaras out of paper and wearing them everywhere. I *believed* if I spun around really, really fast in a circle, I’d actually become her. Needless to say, I never could spin fast enough. However, seeing these pieces in print inspired by my idol was pretty satisfying just the same.

I had a limited number of magnets printed up of “I Wear my Cape.” They’re for sale over in my etsy shop. These look especially cool on a black or stainless steel fridge. The juxtaposition of the 50’s housewife in her apron and heels with a modern mixed treatment framed on a steel fridge…totally love that.
Now getting back to my little world of capes, tiaras and a bird or two…I have to paint today. It’s been over a week and my hands are starting to twitch. Time to save my world with dioxazine purple and quinacridone gold.
March 4, 2010

Art & Soul in Vegas?!

I realize that retreating in Vegas (with two fabulous girlfriends) sounds slightly suspicious. If you happen to be sitting there with a smirk muttering “yeah right” (like practically ever person who listened to me try to explain VegasArtRetreat) here’s posted proof that art was indeed made.

Mind you, the art came after breakfast. We LOVED this particular Paris buffet so much that we dined here every single morning. I can’t think of any breakfast favs that couldn’t be found on one of the many bountiful buffet lines along with the delightful waitress and new friend, Debbie. After a delicious breakfast topped off with a made-to-order crepe we were pretty much (minus girl scout cookie breaks) set until dinner.

Day one class was “Perching Pixies” taught by the fabulous Stephanie Rubiano. Stephanie’s wry sense of humor was a good match for the three of us as she showed us the ways of a jewelers saw and bench block. I happened to be extremely skilled in securing my bench block to the table. In fact, it took all four of us to get it off the conference room table at the end of the day.

Here we are with the freed bench block and one of my favorite instructors : )

I completed my little Nora pixie (now a sturdy wooden cutout) in class. Isn’t she a cutie sitting in great Aunt Ev’s china tea cup? Heather freaked out *quite a bit* that I had the nerve to glue a pixie to one of great-Aunt-Ev’s-china-teacups, but what’s the point of having heirlooms all stashed away? Pointless I say. Besides I have 11 more…plenty for a proper tea.

Day two was “Gridlocked” with Lisa Kaus. I loved this class and Lisa…an organized, professional and helpful instructor. This piece, painted and built on a wooden block surface, is all about my family of five and the sweetness of home. I had so much fun attaching little bits of this and that including an original doorknob from our house.

On day three, we explored the feminine icon with Katie Kendrick. Katie is the warmest soul and a patient teacher. I painted this forlorn gal, who refuses to give up on love. I’m not quite sure were she came from…I kept thinking how she looked a little KellyRaeRobertsish (another artist whom I deeply admire.) Whatever the case, this girl doesn’t feel completely mine, which isn’t necessarily the point when taking classes. By repeating what’s learned in a class, eventually art that’s unique to the artist will surface. The whole point of classes and workshops is taking in new techniques, being open to experimentation and not stressing so much about the end result. Plenty of time for stressing back in Kansas (or Cincinnati.)

On the very last retreat day, we made dolls from clay with Jan Harris (Judy Wise’s stand-in.) Judy couldn’t attend due to health issues and even though she was deeply missed, Jan did a great job of instructing the class. For whatever reason, Heather and I chose to make extremely large dolls (see doll head in oven compared to rest of the class! yikes.) The Vegas air (bigger is better, more is more) must have been starting to rub off or something. Here we were, all intent on getting these girls done, so what do we do? Well…make the biggest versions possible of course. Completely logical. The right brain had clearly taken over.

Here’s an in progress shot…mine is the doll on the left. And as you may have guessed she did NOT get finished that day, but hopefully very soon. I’ll be sure to post the end results when she’s complete. This was such a fun class…kindof makes me want to get a pasta machine and toaster oven all my own to devote entirely to clay. hmmmmmmmm.

So that wraps up my five incredible and inspirational days with proof that art can be made in this sleep deprived city. The fun part, involving stomach-hurting-laughter, was a given with Heather and Claire. I’m soooo looking forward to the next “retreat”…right after I recover from this one. ; )

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