Friday, December 30, 2011

More Christmas ReHash

I did a little crafting/painting  for my own BestLovedKids.  Now that gifting is over I can show you two of my favorites.
Each little boy in the family got a velcro on tie made from Sarah Jane Studio's rocket fabric.  I was visiting a Primary in the south of Arkansas when I picked up a  discarded tie from some little boy.  I was amazed to
 see a velcro fastened neck gear that was washable and looked like it was soft and comfortable.  Yes, the tot got his tie back and I searched the web for directions.  I used THIS tutorial from Very Homemade.  Her directions are wonderful but I changed it a little.  Instead of leaving the sides open and seaming the seam that forms the join on the back side of the tie.  I seamed the rocket fabric and the lining faces together all around with an opening to turn it right side out.  I then folded each side to the back and hand stitched it together down the back.  I fell in love with this rocket fabric.  When Sarah Jane introduced her fabric line it was shown with little boys in similar ties and I was hooked.

This set went to a kiddlet in Arizona.  I've had this idea for a long time, and I had the teapot, tray and cups for 2 years.  Finally got an idea of how to paint it.  The tray is from Wal-Mart (they have them all the time for just a couple of bucks).  The teapot came from Pier 1.  They always have plain white dishware.  Lots of other sources carry white dishware by the piece.  The cups and saucers were from Savers.  That's why there are three of each.  They are espresso cups.  You could get similar cups  at Pier 1, also.   I painted the white ware with Pebo Vitrea paint I got from Michaels.  The paint is heat set after drying 24 hrs. and is supposed to be extremely durable.  Tutorial to follow.  Just saying, this paint is sticky.  It behaves different than my usual acrylics and I found designs based on dots or lines worked best. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Reveal

We had the happiest of holidays at the Best Loved House.  The sweetest three year old was very enthused.  We put out reindeer food (rolled oats and a little glitter) and cookies and milk for Santa.  Hung the stocking his daddy had hung as a kid.  His daddy read the Christmas story to him (and to us) using "This Is The Season Beloved of The Year".  This was a great book to use with little ones.  It tells the story with simple words from a Primary song under beautiful pictures by Simon Dewey.  The text from Luke is on the opposite page as well as a brief commentary designed more for adults. You can use what is most appropriate for your family. 

On Christmas morning he was so pleased with his gifts.  I think we could have wrapped up socks and he would have played happily with them.  Santa's gift was this amazing bit of goodness.  Behold, a Jedi in training.

Technology is finally catching up with the movies.  I remember light sabers as flashlights with a translucent, collapsing sleeve that would extend if you "flicked" you light saber.  This one hums, lights up from the handle out like the one in the movies did, and the sound changes if it's touched.

 Much more merriment.  BL BIL arrived with Grandma and niece and nephew.  Big nephew brought his girlfirend and her nephew for dinner so we had 3 little boys 3 - 7, oh, there was a puppy. (Can't leave it home alone on Christmas).  The BIG littles arrived late in the afternoon so we had more presents and visits. 

We loved it all.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cards

The last two years I've designed and painted our family Christmas card.  Be careful what you do for Christmas traditions, your family comes to expect it every year.  A little late, but I got something painted for our card, the cards printed, folded and then addressed.
I always think of something complicated for our card design.  I then rack my brain on how I should do it.  I then give up and do something quick that I end up loving a lot more.  My Christmas mantra should always be "SIMPLE".    Cards mailed - done!  Christmas is coming.

Monday, December 19, 2011

At Last - Chrismas

One of the very few down sides of being an artist crafts-person is that things get pretty busy before Christmas.  Thus, my lack of blogging.  It's now too late to ship so I've closed the shop for a week and I've been able to work on non shop related Christmas for family.  Since some of the recipients read this blog I'll have to wait to post pictures of some cute items but I can show you some Christmas preparations.

 What do you do when when your beautiful 9 year old pre-lit Christmas tree quits lighting?  Last year there was one little string that wouldn't light but this year there were only a few bits that did light.  I love this tree.  It's fat and fluffy, new ones are tall and slim, and it's still in good shape - except for the lights, so. . . I decided to take the non working lights off and just string new lights on like we did in the good old days before pre-lit trees.  I ended up with piles and piles of stripped off lights.  It took me a couple of evenings watching TV and clipping the lights off the branches to get it finished.

Then on to putting the lights up.  I think there can't be too many lights on a tree but don't know how to figure out how many I need.  After shopping 3 stores I found all the white lights sold out.  Plan B, I got 10 strings of 100 lights, plus I knew I had some colored strings in the Christmas boxes.  Not nearly enough.  I bought 10 more boxes, then had to go back and get 3 more.  I've got 2300 mini lights on the tree.  BLHubby thinks it's too much but I feel I was a bit restrained. 

Now to put the ornaments on. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Inspirations

I've been MIA, but busy. I've had the chance to go to the great Pacific Northwest for a bit.  My parents needed a bit of help so I got to watch the leaves turn and fall there.  If you know and love my folks, call me and I'll give you an update. They would love calls also.

Besides beautiful trees I did find some design inspiration.  I couldn't resist ordering this partial set of little cards from a vintage game I found on Etsy.  

I adore graphics and images from the 1930's through 1950 and these are so up my alley.  The game was Animal Rummy, maybe from the '50's.
I scanned my favorites and as I'm posting them I realize they all have the same green background. Foxes are still "hot" so this one is right in style.
Geese were so overdone a few years ago but this one I adore.
This "Wise Owl" is in a tux!  Is that wise? Are formally dressed men smarter?  Love how it is cute but not too sweet.
This squirrel is my very favorite.  I've got some basic drawings in the sketch book inspired by him.  Can't you see some bookends?  Who wouldn't want a sassy squirrel guarding your favorite books.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Improvement Needed

My Esty shop has made me learn a lot of new things. I'm still learning to take photographs.  Confession:  I've never been the one that takes pictures.  I've tried, but I'm usually disappointed in the results.  I know what good photos look like and mine usually are just OK.  The BestLovedHubby, though, has always loved photography.  He credits Photography Club for keeping him in High School.  He had dark room equipment when we married.  Several years ago he got me to agree to buy the Sony DSC-P32 camera I'm using now.  When we bought it I thought we had no use for such a fancy (and what I thought then was expensive) camera.  Now I'm the one that thinks the camera is just not adequate. 
Canon G12

I've been lusting over this Canon G12.  After some research and advice from my photographer friends and the BLMiddle Boy (who takes pictures for a living). This seemed to be a good fit for me rather than an entry level SLR.  But, BL Hubbs and BL Middle Boy like to tell me that "it's the photographer, not the camera that makes good pictures".  My baby brother is proving this by producing fabulous pictures with all kinds of out dated film cameras. Since the coveted G12 is out of the budget for a while - I've been trying to improve my Etsy pics with what I've got.

I posted this new Red Riding Hood and the Wolf set with the following pictures:
I didn't think the pictures showed how really cute this set is.  I haven't been getting as many "hits" or "favorites" as I thought it should get and I thought it was the photos.  So, I've been reading my camera manual and everything I could get my hands on about taking shop pictures.  Here's the 2nd set.
I think it shows better.  I want people to see my darling wolf. Am I improving?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Piece de Resistance

While I painted several signs last weekend (including a giant ear of corn) the one that I worked on the most was a requested replacement for the Kelley Farm main entrance. Their old one had served well but was very faded and warping.  They needed one that would stay up year round and be relevant if they decide to do events in the spring and summer.

The sign also had to be two sided so twice the work.  I left it drying in our kids kitchen.  The weather turned very cold so I was always trying to get paint to dry.  Now it's hung!  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lexington Corn Maze at Kelley Farms

Best Loved Hubby and I traveled again to Kentucky for the opening weekend of the Giant Corn Maze at Kelly Farms. and their pumpkin patch.   I also did some more sign painting.
The maze gets better every year and now that they have been at it for five years there was a lot more to enjoy. The picture above is part of the new Kids Zone.  First thing on the agenda was the back of this hay slide.  I painted a scarecrow sliding down a hay stack.   Kids loved it and (as hoped) lots of pictures were taken with the Kelley Farms name (and posted on their Facebook Page).  In addition to the slide the kids had a 2 acre corn maze of their own that had a winding path instead of a maze you could potentially get lost in.  There is also an area with huge tires partially buried that are for climbing and crawling in and tire swings.

I also repainted their photo face sign (or as me and the BLDIL call it - the Head in the Hole sign).
The old sign had faded badly.  As soon as I finished families were poking their  heads in the holes so they could be photo-ed as pumpkins and scarecrows.

The corn maze itself is 9 acres of fun, cut to resemble the beloved UK men's basketball coach, John Calipari.  Those Kentuckians LOVE their UK basketball and they got national coverage for immortalizing Coach Calipari in corn.

They have more farm fun than ever this year.  The sky walking goats are back.  They have a cute duck race where families man a hand pump to make a rubber duck race down rain gutters.  More games include a climbing wall of hay, plywood and ropes and Kentucky's favorite "Corn in the Hole".  Oh, and food.  Funnel cakes and other food make for a fun way to celebrate fall and bring home some pumpkins.

I was too busy painting to get some good pictures but hope to show you the masterpiece - their main farm sign - as soon as pictures are posted.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Three Little Pigs are back in the store:

I'm still amazed that the BLHubby has such a specific idea of how the story should go.

He still thinks that I don't have the story correct.  He wants it to be VERY moralistic.  Be a hard worker and build a good brick house and you will be safe from the Big Bad Wolf.

And BLHubbs is really unsure about the girls.
In this set the piggies are sisters.  Why not?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Design Inspiration - More Scherenschnitte

I just love saying shear-n-SNIT- a. Though Scherenschnitte as practiced by an artist like Pamela Dalton makes work that is more folk or traditional in style there are artists that have made this very current.  Here's my wish list on Etsy.
Can We Shall We Valentines Laser Cut
This is done by the famous Robert Ryan or Mister Rob in London.  He sells prints or laser cut versions of his original paper cuts.
Paper Cuts by Joe
This guy isn't that famous, yet. So his work is actually cut out by him.   He's got some over the top listings in his Etsy shop and lots of fun designs that are within reach.  I love that he suggests that this would be a great first anniversary gift as the traditional thing to get for your first anniversary is paper.

Get to Bed art print by Rural Pearl

I love the images Angie Pickman, aka Rural Pearl does even if they're prints of her paper cuts.  Lots of bird images that are sweet but a little edgy.

There is also an Etsy artist, Cindy Ferguson, I love who doesn't list a lot in her shop but has a blog where she GIVES you templates and tells you now to make some wonderful papercuts of your own.
Print with line from hymn "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
I don't have time for another medium but I could get into cutting paper.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A New Kid in Town - Tuxedo Edition

This addition to the Noah's Ark animals has been living in my sketch book for a while and now it's in the shop.

I have two  categories of animals - Small and Large. The small ones are all cut from one inch soft wood boards.  One inch stock is not really one inch thick but a little thinner. It's cut one inch thick from the log and then sanded or surfaced and as a result it's not quite one inch.

The Large animals are cut from two or more pieces of wood and then glued together.  The pieces are not the same, the animal has a left side and a right so it looks like it's been carved and is "3-D".  

Both are shaped by sanding and with a dremel tool to add more dimensionality.  The painting finishes the realistic effect.  This penguin is a "Small" animal.  I've got a few more small animals living in my sketch book and hopefully will get them made and into the shop soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Design Inspiration - Scherenschnitte

I indulged in a picture book from Amazon that I'd been drooling over and it arrived in all it's splendor today.
Brother Sun,Sister Moon

Being a life long Mormon from an all Mormon family that goes back five or seven generations I've spent a lot of my life pretty ignorant of rituals and writings of other religions.  You have to live under a rock though, not to have heard of Francis of Assisi, or, St. Francis if you are Catholic. Born about 800 years ago he is said to have been the first to have a Christmas Nativity Scene, (His was live) so I can thank him for my love for Nativity Scenes.  Near the end of his life (in 1226) he wrote a song of praise commonly called the "Canticle to the Sun".  Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved ) who if we made Saints in the literary world she would be a big one, has "reimagined" the text of this prayer. It's paired with the jaw dropping illustrations of Pamela Dalton and the whole makes me glad to be alive.  Pamela Dalton is a Scherenschnitte (pronounced shear-n-SNIT- a) artist.  Scherenschnitte is the art of papercutting started by the German/Swiss in the 16th century and brought to American in the 18th century where the Pennsylvania Dutch made it their own. If you accordion folded a piece of paper and cut out paper dolls holding hands you've done a rudimentary bit of Scherenschnitte.  But  nothing like Ms. Dalton.
“We praise you for our Brother Sun, who in his radiant dawning every day reminds us that it was you who brought forth light.”
 She hand sketches the design and then cuts it out of one whole piece of paper.  Sometimes she folds it to create mirror images.  She then stains the paper with coffee and colors it with watercolors.  The process makes the paper curl up so she irons it several times in the process.  It's then mounted on black so the image stands out.
“For this life and the life to come, we sing our praise to you. O Lord, the Father and Mother of all creation. Give us, we pray, the grace to honor you this day
and forever more.”
The whole book is beautiful, and tender.  St. Francis (I guess a non Catholic can call him that) praises God for "Sister Wind" and  even "Sister Death".  He thanks God for people who forgive each other! Throughout, Dalton's illustrations show sweet German peasant children and lots of forest creatures.

Available in November
As if this wasn't enough - while looking for info on Pamela Dalton I discovered this! The wish list just keeps getting longer.