Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Building inventory vacation

So, it has come to this. My list of projects has piled too high.

I need to take a short time off from blogging in order to build inventory. I have a real vacation coming up soon, but I'll be blogging and sharing it with all of you when it does happen. 

For the next week or two, however, I'll be busy sewing, drawing, painting, etc, and I won't be able to follow my schedule. I will try to stop by all my favorite blogs during that time, and if I have something quick to share I'll have a new post. But I won't have my usual schedule. *tear*

image courtesy of the graphics fairy

I hope to have so much to share when I do come back.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Portrait }{ Texture Tuesday

The prompt this week was "people." Could I do a portrait of anyone else?

(maybe the husband but since he's not around lately...)

Sometimes I feel things in black and white, sometimes in color. But she's always beautiful to me.

  • original image
  • BW background copy on normal @20%
  • BW gradient map on overlay @30%
  • Copper gradient map on soft light @25%
  • Kim Klassen's "Portrait" on lighter color @35%
  • Kim Klassen's "warm sun" on multiply @40%
  • Added layer mask to "warm sun" and with opacity @50% removed some of the texture over her face

  • original image
  • BW gradient map on overlay @50%
  • Copper gradient map on overlay @20%
  • Kim Klassen's "silence" on darker @50%
  • Kim Klassen's "stained linen" on multiply @55%
  • Added layer mask to "warm sun" and with opacity @50% removed some of the texture over her face


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Launch }{ Illustration Friday


When I got the prompt for this week's Illustration Friday, the first thing that came to my mind was this David Bowie song. Along with it came a little soldier boy saluting the launch. Don't ask me why, but he was there.

Notice however that I made one big mistake. I didn't mean for the launch to be of a weapon as I don't like what that implies. I much prefer space adventures to wars. But the rocket looks like a weapon. And so it goes.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Time for something sweet (panna cotta)

Would you care for some panna cotta?

We got the recipe in this month's issue of Family Fun magazine (which I love, by the way), and I just had to try it. It came out just as pretty as I thought it would. Then I added some strawberry preserves on top because you just can't satisfy my sweet tooth. Et voila. I think this may become a favorite around here.

What are some of your favorite desserts for summer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spring fairy collage }{ Tutorial Thursdays

I mentioned just a while ago that I love to make mixed media collages. Since they take a bit longer than my usual projects and stretch my creativity a bit more as well, I don't do them as often. They end up taking a lot out of me.

But, they are also so much fun. That's why for today's tutorial I want to share how I made my latest collage  "spring fairy."

N. and I have been taking some walks and collecting flowers for our flower press lately. We're running out of space so I've been thinking what could be done with the flowers. I'm going to share one of the projects this coming Monday on The Caffeine Coquette where I'm a network writer. But I still had some, so I decided to make a small collage.

The issue is that they always start small until a sudden burst of inspiration erupts and I can't stop. I'll spend hours and days working on it, thinking about it while cooking, before bed, while driving... That's what happened today. I ended up working on this piece for four hours.... And that's very quick for my collages, haha! The style here has been influenced by two of my favorite artists: Shona Cole (the background) and especially Julie Nutting (the girl). Enough talking, let's get going.

One piece of caution - this isn't a tutorial for kids necessarily, though I'm sure older kids can easily do this as well. For younger children too, all you need is a bit of adjustment.


  • pre-gessoed canvas (but you can experiment with different surfaces - I often use cardboard or wood scraps) 
  • 3 colors of acrylic paints (I used red, pink, and yellow)
  • old shopping/calling/credit card
  • packing bubbles
  • glossy mail order catalogue
  • scissors
  • glue
  • ribbon
  • buttons
  • yarn
  • pressed flowers

Step 1: Making the background. Drip a little of each paint throughout the canvas.  Of course, the dominant colors will be the ones you use the most of. I put lots of pink and yellow with just a bit of red because I wanted the background a little lighter.

Step 2: Creating texture on the background. There are several ways to create texture on an acrylic background, and this is one of my favorites. While the paint is still wet, take the packing bubbles and press them in several locations on the canvas. Let the paint dry.

Step 3: Making the girl. There are several mini steps here.

  • draw a girl figure.
  • Cut out the different parts that you want to have different patterns.
  • Trace those parts on different patterns from the glossy mail order catalogue. I used different colors and patterns for the dress and print for the fairy's skin.
  • Cut out the catalogue parts on the inside of the lines you traced.

Step 4: Putting the girl together. Once you have all the parts, putting the girl together works like a puzzle. You just glue each part where it's supposed to go on the canvas. I suggest trying it in different places and perspectives before actually using glue.

Step 5: Adding other elements to the girl. I painted her cheeks with a tiny little bit of pink watered down paint. For a sash, I used ribbon and a button. Then came the hair... I originally thought of cutting the hair out of the magazine, but decided it would look better with long green yarn.

Step 6: Adding the final elements to the background. I added some of our pressed flowers and leaves to the canvas (now dry).

This last step is the one part I should have slept on before finishing. I would have done the arrangement differently given the chance. But... in the interest of sharing it with you guys, here is the result as it stands now.

It's going on top of N.'s shelves in her play area.

If you want to try this with younger children (and I see no reason not to!), I suggest letting them do the background, the bubble wrapping press, and the gluing of the different elements. The result may come out super funky, but that's even better! All you have to do in preparation is to cut the different elements making sure they are big and simple enough for the child to put together. Also, have a hair drier handy to dry the acrylic quickly once the spread the paint on the canvas.

I hope you all like today's tutorial, long winded as it is. Can you tell I just love collages?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Handbag }{ WIP Wednesday

True to the name of today's theme, this project is certainly not finished. (how does the time pass so fast every day?)

If you remember it from this post, my mother-in-law sent me some awesome fabric from Japan, and I was dying to get started with some sewing project.  Well, Ta-da!

Yeah, I know right now it's nothing but some fabric cut out. But soon this will be a handbag and a very cute one I think! Think of today's post as Handbag part I, or to be continued. I definitely want to share it once it's finished.

Do your work-in-progress projects ever look like what they're supposed to? 

What's your favorite type of bag or purse?

Freedom }{ Texture Tuesday

It's Texture Tuesday again.

It's one of my favorite posts of the week along with WIP wednesdays, tutorial thursdays, free for all fridays, and illustration friday (yah, I know that means every theme I post is one of my favorites - it's just how it goes).

This week's prompt was open for us to choose - just use one of Kim's textures on a photo we like. Freedom of choice.

So with Fourth of July coming up and all, I decided to do a tribute to freedom. I can't think of things freer than animals in the wild. And yes, I know that a marina is not "the wild" exactly... But he's not in a cage, right? Here's to freedom in a modern setting with a textured old look.

  • original photo with minor adjustments
  • make background copy BW on normal @26%
  • sepia tint copy on normal @100%
  • gradient map BW on multiply @32%
  • solid navy blue layer on exclusion @20%
  • Kim Klassen's "mayzee" on linear burn @50%
  • Kim Klassen's "just cause" on soft light @50%
How would you represent freedom?


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Swept }{ Illustration Friday

The Illustration Friday prompt this week was "swept" and this is all I could think of. 

The husband came back for the weekend, and so tonight was the first time I sat down to draw something. 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Oh the possibilities! (aka new fabric)

When I got home from a meeting today, there was a package waiting for me at the door... from Japan!

It was from my mother in law, and look what she sent me:

Lovely fabric (and a lot of it too) that I can't wait to turn into something cute. I really love Japanese fabric and had mentioned it and asked her to keep an eye out for pretty patterns. I had no idea she'd send me so much so soon.

Did I mention that I have the best mother in law ever?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Swan mask }{ Tutorial Thursday

Today's tutorial was inspired by Angelina Ballerina, one of the few cartoons N. actually watches once in a blue moon. (we gave up the tv years ago, but that's a story for another post)

At the end of each episode of Angelina, she narrates a short segment called "Little Stars" where they show young girls in ballet classes doing all sorts of activities. In one particular segment they were showing the little ballerinas making costumes and playing in character for a short while. N. was fascinated by the costumes - and one of them I figured I could actually make! This is my version of the mask they had for the swans in the "Little Stars" Swan Lake.


  • paper or styrofoam plates
  • ribbon or elastic
  • markers
  • orange and white construction paper
  • scissors or craft knife
  • glue
  • feathers (or any embellishment you want to add, we kept ours simple)
How to make it

Step 1: cut the plate across where your nose will be.

Step 2: cut a small triangle to fit over the bridge of your nose.

Step 3: draw and cut the eyes.

Step 4: cut a medium triangle of orange construction paper and fold 1/8" of its base. Make a half cone shape and glue the folded part over the nose triangle on the plate. 

Step 5: trace the outside of the plate on the white construction paper. Cut the paper about 1/2" below the shape you traced (so you'll have paper to glue on the plate). Cut triangular shapes of different sizes and directions around the line you made on the paper. These will be the swan "feathers."

Step 6: Glue the paper under the line all the way around the edge of the plate. At this point, make one small hole on each side of the swan mask to hold the elastic or ribbon.

Step 7: using a black marker define the edges of the eyes, then using a pink or red marker make swirly "eyelashes" or any shape to make the eyes stronger and more interesting.

Step 8: glue feathers (or other embellishments) to the paper feathers on top of the head. warning: the feathers I used to do this made a mess in my workspace! Even after vacuuming I'm still finding little pieces everywhere. They're taking over my craft area. *sigh*

Step 9: add a piece of ribbon to each side of the mask ti-eying it through the holes made in step 7. These will secure the mask on the wearer's head. I prefer using ribbon because then I can adjust the size depending on who's wearing it, but elastic works wonderfully too.

Here's the finished mask.

We had a lot of fun pretending to be swans and "dancing ballet" around the living room today.

Have you ever been inspired by a show your kids watch? Where do you find your inspiration?
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Goals and headbands, but not together }{ WIP Wednesdays

I'm sure many of you have read tips and advice for achieving success in your endeavors, right? Or am I the only one who seems to notice these things popping up everywhere?

Well, I do appreciate them and try to follow the ones that make sense to me and my context. One of these, probably the most common, suggests (actually it's more like commands) that we must make short term goals that lead to long term goals. They must be realistic and measurable goals with a deadline. That way you can keep yourself accountable to them - another well repeated tip.

Where am I going with this? I need to refocus my time on my goals. This blog is part of the picture, so this isn't a "I'm spending less time on this" kind of post. In fact, I use my blog to keep me accountable to my dreams. I have much respect for the written word, and once I write it down it's like a contract with myself. I don't want to write down exactly what I'm working on this summer because I think it may be too premature. But soon.

I need to rethink my strategies and stop being afraid of failure. I have this sign hanging on top of my craft space that says "a man is not finished when he's defeated; a man is finished when he quits." I need to take these words to heart.

I have less time now to work on my goals, what with the husband gone. Still, that does not mean I'm finished with them. I just need to adjust my strategy.

Enough rambling. 

I've been working on headbands for N. because I love them and think little girls look adorable with them. I learned how to make this particular one from a tutorial on No Biggie, a blog I love. The only modification I made was to keep the squares open when making the scalloped edges, it just worked better for me with the materials I chose. 

As you can see, N. refused to make normal faces today.  She wanted nothing to do with the camera today. I love this child.

How do you work towards your goals? How do you stay focused?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Words }{ Texture Tuesday

This week's Texture Tuesday prompt was "words." Oh boy, oh boy! Of course I had to do something with books. It doesn't matter that photos of books have been overdone to the point of boredom. I never get tired of them.

You see, I love books. In fact, I love the printed word - magazines, books, even newspapers. In my collages (one day I'll share those) I always add some printed words element somewhere. 

These first two photos show a book that fates back to when my grandparents were still engaged. But this copy isn't my grandmothers - I ended up hunting for one of my own when I was a teenager. Still, my grandmother read this story when she was in her late adolescence/early twenties, my mother read it when she was a teenager, and so did I. My mother liked it so much that she named my little sister after the main character in the story. The story itself isn't anything great, too sugary as my mother used to say, but still... At this point I feel like it's part of our history. 

  • background with minor adjustments
  • Kim Klassen's "Trust" on linear burn @25%
  • Kim Klassen's "Sweettart" on color @20%

  • original image with minor adjustments
  • convert background copy to BW on normal @26%
  • add solid white layer and use clipping mask to background copy. With opacity of brush on 65%, add some black on portions of the flowers.
  • Kim Klassen's "Portrait" on darker color @30%
  • Kim Klassen's "Stained Linen" on darker color @25%
  • add layer mask to the this last layer and with brush opacity on 65%, remove some of the texture from the flowers 

Speaking of history, this last photo shows an interesting book. It's a collection of short stories compiled by a 16th century French writer (Pierre Boaistuau) who said they were true accounts of amazing events, and guess what? Romeo and Juliet is in there somewhere... yep, before Shakespeare, but we knew that. His incredible ability is not always in what he wrote, but in how he wrote it. Boaistuau himself did quite a bit of plagiarizing, incurring the wrath of many during his lifetime.

  • original with minor adjustments
  • Kim Klassen's "Just Cause" on linear burn @ 40%
  • Kim Klassen's "Warm Sun" on soft light @50%


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Life changes

And he's gone.

My husband has left to start his new job, at first only a few hours drive away. But by the end of summer, he'll have crossed the country alone.

7 months. We can do this. Easy peasy.

This time apart is just a bump on the road (or the fence).

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ballerina soccer

Sometimes I just have to smile.

Last summer was the World Cup in South Africa, and of course I had to watch every game Brazil played until that horrible disaster against the Dutch. N. picked up a few phrases like "where's the goal?" and "ole, ole, ole, ole, Brazil, Brazil." We had fun.

But you see, she's a girly girl to her core and I never thought I'd be playing soccer with her. Then again, she's a toddler and soccer involves a whole lot of running.

So we've been "playing" in the house - really it's just running after the ball and tapping it with our feet. (I put an air mattress against the wall to minimize damage)

What you can't see in this first picture is that, true to herself, she plays soccer wearing ballet shoes. I can't help but smile.

What's made you smile lately? Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paper flower card }{ Tutorial Thursday

And I'm back with a card tutorial!

Are you sick of them yet? They are just so easy, quick, and you can use them for so many occasions, even just a simple hello to an old friend.

Back in April, I made some paper flowers based on a Creative Jewish Mom tutorial. I wasn't very happy with how I used them, but I loved the flowers themselves. So I let some ideas brew in my head of how to use them. This is one of those ideas.

  • cardstock in two coordinating colors
  • green patterned paper
  • red and light pink tissue paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • buttons
  • permanent marker or pen
How to make it:

Step 1: Choose a card stock backing for your card and then a coordinating top panel. I choose a simple blue backing with some sparkling off white for the top panel to get some glitz in there.

Step 2: Cut the top panel on all sides slightly so that the backing shows, then glue them together. My backing was 4.5 wide by 6.5 long, and I cut my top panel down to 4 by 6.

Step 3: Cut the green patterned paper the same width of the top panel, and about 2 inches long. Cut the top in narrow strips (about 1.5 inches)  to make it look like grass. Glue it to the top panel.

Step 4: Draw the stem on the top panel.

Step 5: Make the flower with tissue paper following the tutorial on Creative Jewish Mom. The only change I made was that I didn't secure the petals together with paper brads. Instead I glued them down on the card and on top of one another.

Step 6: Glue a button on the center of the flower.

You can add whatever sentiment you want to the card or leave it as is.

Here's another one I made with a paper flower:

I really like how the flowers pop out of the cards and create some dimension.

How would you use the paper flowers? 
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