Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Artsy Grands

One of the unadvertised benefits of having grandkids is that you get to do art projects together.  Siobhan is very artistic and loves getting into a project - the more glitter, glue, paint and equipment, the better.      Another benefit ?  Sanctioned art purchases -  I get to indulge my weakness for buying  art supplies and share them.   Her mom also keeps her art boxes well stocked so Siobhan plenty has of stuff to work with.

Here she is making a paper bag book.  This was her first embossing adventure - pretty excited to use the heat gun and see the magic of embossing.  A new convert is born.

Now some of her artwork:

Notecards made at school and printed into cards.

Choreographing the growth of plants, using ballet positions

A tote bag she painted with a doily stencil

And a melted crayon self-portrait

But wait, the little guy is also getting in on the action.   

William with good use of color and motion.

And sporting an artiste's 'stash.

Painting au naturel and en plein air with mom.  She keeps him well-supplied with paint and paper for his masterpieces.

 I framed one of his canvases.

These masterpieces will make great book backgrounds.

Total body smock as painting is messy business.

"Look, Mom!  We're making owls!"

Art play with grands is the best art play of all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rigger's Bag Transformation

I've been thinking about a bag for toting art supplies and started reading about people buying this  canvas rigger's bag from Harbor Freight .  The price is certainly right - with a promo code it cost less than $10.00, including shipping !   It's a great bag with lots of pockets and storage space, but it is  boring.  Also thought it could get grungy looking  quickly since I'm not the neatest person on the block.

I started  by ripping out seams to enlarge some of the side pockets.     Then I dyed the bag a dark sage green.   Still pretty boring.   I added some stenciling ,  using some little tester tub of white house paint.   A few white dots with Ranger Enamel Accents - no more boring!

The motivation for finishing this bag?  I'm taking a Joanne Sharpe lettering class tomorrow !  One of the supplies needed is a composition book.   I found this Decompostion Book at Crate and Barrel

and painted the teacups with Inktense  and Farber Castell  watercolor pencils and a tiny bit of water for blending - so fun!

I feel like a kid on the first day of school with my new bag and a  brand-new book.  Also have a bit of first-day jitters - hope I'm not the only kid in the class who can't write!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

DIY Herb Salt

Fall garden clean-up is a sad business, but inspiration Pinterest  struck when I was ready to take in the herb pots.  Last year I discovered how to preserve herbs in frozen olive oil cubes and I did a few more this year.  I saw some pins for cute little jars of herb salt and voila, found my idea for Christmas gifts for The Captain's office staff.

The most difficult part of this was finding the jars.  I searched online and couldn't find anything that I liked.  Then while browsing at Le Roux, a local kitchen store,  I found the perfect little pot-belly jars. They didn't have quite enough, but had some sent down from their Portland store for me.   Sometimes I forget how helpful local brick-and-mortar stores can be!

The recipe for the herb salt is pretty simple and easily altered to personal preferences, herbs available, etc..  I looked at several different recipes and came up with my version:
   4 cups chopped herbs ( I used parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - yes, like the song!)
   3 cups sea salt (I used a combination of kosher and sea salt since that's what I had)

You could add chopped onion and / or garlic or make an Italian flavored one with oregano, basil, parsley or any other combo that speaks to you.

First up - chopping herbs.  You could do this in a food processor, but I like the hands-on chopping better.  Seems somehow therapeutic.

Then mix herbs and salt:

Nest step is to dry the mixture a bit before packing into jars. You could spread it out on cookie sheets and let it air dry for 24 hours or so.  I spread out the salt mixture on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and baked it at 200 degrees for two hours.   An added benefit of this method - the house smelled wonderful!

The salt will be a bit crunchy after baking.  I used a wooden spoon to break up the crusts.

Then, pour the salty goodness into jars- my funnels were too narrow so I used a rolled up piece of printer paper fitted into the jar - perfect.

Here are my sweet little jars full of herb-y, salty goodness.

Added hand-made tags with a wooden bead and some baker's twine and now the jars are properly festive.

I made three batches - it took two batches to fill the jars (twenty-five)  and then another batch for home in one of the empty sea salt jars.

Holiday gifts made before last minute panic - what a new, exciting concept!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Ocean-Themed Notebooks

We had new floors installed in the upstairs rooms of our house.  This meant that I had to clear everything out of my studio and trust me ,  there was a whole lot of everything!  What a perfect time to get rid of things that really don't work with my style,  and all things I bought of the "everyone else is using this and thinks it's the best thing ever" variety,  but have never used.    I went through all the drawers, all the boxes, all the bottles of glue, mediums, and paint and guess what?  It turns out that I am :

One of my more startling discoveries was the drawer full  overflowing with journals and notebooks. Big ones, small ones, folding ones, fold-out ones -you name it, I most likely have it.   I may need a 12-step program: "Hello, my name is Deborah and I have a journal obsession.  It has been zero days since I added to my stash of 67 journals".   67?  67?  OK, so many are thrifted or yard sale finds but clearly this is out of hand.

I rediscovered these journals I bought from Pick Your Plum.  I'm in a kraft paper phase and the handles just sealed the deal.

(This is actually the back, since I again forgot to take a "before" shot!)

I knew what I wanted for these - something simple that wouldn't cover all that kraft paper goodness, with beachy-colors and stamping.

I swiped on gesso and then some paint - some with acrylics, some watercolors.  This sea star was one of those $1.00 stamps from Michael's, embossed with white powder to make the image sharper on the texture from the gesso.

Two colors of embossing powders and some scraps from my stash of paper scraps.

More of those inexpensive ocean stamps.

Couldn't resist at least one birdie.

The notebook came with kraft paper covered pens.  I painted them with Distress Inks to coordinate with the covers.

It's a bit of a pain to pry the cover off the bottle of stain, but not a big deal.  Then just dip and paint.  

The kraft paper takes up the stain unevenly, giving the pens a nice marbled look.

I've done a major clean-out of my supplies (one full 33 gallon trash bag to the Salvation Army, making the day for some lucky crafters) .  My goal is to  focus future purchases on things I really love and know I will use.  But then there is this:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3rd Annual Turning Coins Into Art Supplies

Time to turn in the year's accumulation of coins.  I consider this my "mad money",  ear-marked for art supplies.  It's not like I don't buy plenty of stuff throughout the year, but cashing in my coins has turned into an annual birthday - month event.  It feels more celebratory than just whipping out the plastic.

I could sort all these coins into those little paper tubes, but I don't.   Coin Star is so much easier, plus there is the added fun of dumping the coins into the slot and watching the total add up.

Amazing - over one thousand coins and nearly one hundred dollars - sweet!

I always spend my mad-money at Absolutely Everything In Topsfield,  Massachusetts.  Honestly, they do have absolutely everything in the store.   I go with a list and they always have what I want and  lots of things I didn't even know I wanted.   Don't  get me wrong; I am a regular at Michael's and Joanne's , but we all know they can't carry every brand and product for paper arts since for some reason they also have other non- artsy departments to stock!   (We don't have any independent art stores nearby or I'd be shopping there as well).

So here is my haul:

I'm anxious to try the Dylusions Sprays .  Notice the new Distress Stain spray on the top right .  I know some people have tried dumping the stain into a mister to make the spray.    I popped the top off one and painted with the stain- don't believe what you read that it's impossible to get the top off!  But I did want to try the spray and it came with two free stains, so how could I pass up such a deal?   I'm hoping to use the Tim Holtz elastics as journal closures- stay tuned.

I love the Time Holtz architecture-style designs.  These little ones are just the right size for tags.  Don't you just love the TH dots stencil?

I've never used sticky back canvas and am excited to give it a try.

I stumbled onto this wall in the AE classroom - beautiful artwork by some of the talented artists who've taught classes there:

A close-up of this gorgeous piece by the talented Fnnabair:

But wait; there's more - I signed up for a class at AE - The Artful Lettering Book Tour with Joanne Sharpe!  Holy guacamole!  I've drooled over her book, The Art of Whimsical Lettering.   Of course, I'm intimidated since I'm not sure I have any talent in lettering, whimsical or otherwise, but I'm hoping to learn some techniques to buff up my printing.   Whoopeee!

*** HaPpY BirThDaY to me***


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