Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's all about the music.

First off, let me say I hope everyone that was in the earthquake zone is ok. My sister is about two hours away from L.A. and she called me at 11: 30 her time to tell me she experienced her first quake. She has only been in CA for six years and all the noticeable quakes in her area have been during the night and she slept through them. She was excited and not really scared.

That being said, the reason for today's post is music. My hubby got a really good CD today and I really like it a lot. The band is Dr. Dog out of West Philadelphia and it has a very retro feel and sound to it. Check them out when you can.

On a local note, we went to a small restaurant this evening and had a couple of sodas (after I was able to hoist my short little body up on a gigantic bar stool) and listened to a set of the band, Acoustic Endeavors. They were really good, if fact, I think I liked them more than the hubby. He likes a truer bluegrass sound, and this is almost a "newgrass" sound. Since this was a non-smoking establishment, I was doubly happy.

One other thing, for years I wore drugstore "readers" and now I wear "progressive" bi-focals. I have a somewhat difficult time finding the area to look out of that isn't blurry. I have been dealing with this for well over a year now. Is this just the way it is, or are my glasses not made correctly? I am extremely farsighted, so much that when I take them off to see if the blurriness is caused by a smudge, I can't see well enough to know. I am thinking about going with Executive Bifocals this time, the line shows, but I've been told the area of viewing is much better. Come on bloggy buddies, let me know what you think. My eye appointment is Friday and I'd love your input.

Well, that's all for this evening, stay safe from storms and quakes and all the other stuff that is out there just waiting for us. We'll talk soon.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Carving Eraser Stamps

Recently, someone asked me about the image that I made my fridge magnet from. I hand carved it from carving block and use it like you would a rubber stamp. I have used my stamps in lots of ways. I have made jewelry from them and I have also made paper castings using them. Here is a picture of some of the stamps that I have done.

After carving them, I like to stamp the image onto paper, color it and apply it to the back side of the stamp, so I can easily locate it. The wooden stamp shown here was a seldom used stamp from which I removed the original red rubber stamp and then glued my stamp to (with E-6000) after stamping the image on the wood. I love the way it looks so professional. This shot shows the carved sides.

There are several really great books and videos on this subject and I like the book Art Stamping Workshop. It really gives lots of instruction and ideas. Carving erasers is probably the best way to get started.

You don't really have to have special tools- exacto's and other easy to handle blades will work, but a carving set, similar to this one will make the job much easier and more fun.

I have carved most of my stamps out of erasers, but I have also used craft foam to make stamps. I like foam stamps, in fact, one of my best paper castings was made on a .99 foam stamp.

Here is a shot of how my stamps look stamped in black and how they look colored in. You are really unlimited in what you can do with eraser stamps. I often forget to reverse my image and am surprised when I stamp it and it's backwards. Also. the "eyeless" stamp was quite a happy accident. I forgot to carve the eyes and mouth, but it gave me the option of changing it to suit my mood.

Lastly, don't be surprised if the stamp looks really funky when you are through with it. It just might. That doesn't mean the image will be bad. I try to ink my stamps while I am carving them, to get a feel of how they will look when complete. I don't try to "clean up" my images too much when I am carving them, as I like the arty look of a stamp that is a little rough looking when it is stamped. What ever your style, you can usually make it come through in a hand carved rubber stamp.

Hand carved artist block and eraser stamps seem to be a bit more fragile that commercially made rubber stamps. In fact, some artists don't like to carve the Artist's Block, because it it so soft. Keep this in mind when you are cleaning them and you will be very happy with the results. It doesn't matter whether you are using potatoes, erasers or artist carving block, hand carved stamps are a blast and can be done by almost all ages. Just remember you are using very, very sharp tools, treat them with respect and you'll get along fine.

So let's get out there and carve some stamps and post them on your blog. I can't wait to see them.

Take care and check back later in the week for a really wild thing that I am working on. I am always trying to recreate the look of dichroic glass without the hassle of a kiln. You might be surprised to see what I have come up with. Talk soon. Ta, Ta.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Art and a Sale...

We interrupt this post to let you know that there is a sale going on at Jo-Ann's Fabric. There is a 40% off coupon in their store flier which I used to get the book "Pretty Little Things" for $13.46. Thought you might want to know. Lots of other deals. You can also print out the coupon from Jo-Ann's website and take it with you)

now on with the show...

This is the newest piece of jewelry that I have designed. I hadn't posted a picture of me recently and thought you might want see my hair now that I "stopped" coloring. I still have areas that are colored dark to make the silver pop more. Anyway, here I am wearing a piece that I'm calling, "Love Always, Barbara".

For this piece, I repurposed one of DH's old watches and collaged a picture of his sweet mom, when she was about sixteen. This is similar to the collage pendants that Crafty Gal Linda does. I now have a new appreciation for small collages. I hand colored Barb's picture (it was a copy) and added coordinating beads and a little sterling silver piece that I had in my stash. A lot more went into the creation of this ... I'm sort of"glossing over" that. It really wasn't as easy to do as I had previously thought. I'm certainly glad my first one was made using a larger watch. I'm really happy with it.

I made this next piece using a 2"x2" square cut from vinyl floor tile that was left from the laundry room makeover. I stamped my hand carved image on it, sketched in some flowers and used craft foam as a backing. Since the tile and the craft foam were both adhesive backed, when they met they stuck like mad. Be sure and keep that in mind. I trimmed around the edges and coated the front of the piece with self leveling "Paper Glaze". It took about a week for it to cure and turn completely clear, but it is almost as hard as glass and looks great. Worth the wait. I added a magnet to the back and there you go!

That's all for now. I am going to try to be a better blogger and post more pictures. Who knows what I might come up with. We'll see. Talk soon. Take Care.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Storm

It was a dark and stormy....

It's 4:15 and the house is dark....

I run to the deck to get a shot of the trees swirling. . . in the dark???

But, you see, it's afternoon and the house is as dark as if it's evening. The trees swirl clockwise and counter clockwise. The rain is coming in sheets.

I brave the elements trying to get a perfect shot, until I hear a cracking sound and I high-tail it back inside and go to the front of the house.

The sheets of rain are a beautiful reminder of the glory of a summer storm. It was quite a storm. It lasted for about an hour and I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see something on the news about it.

We might see something like this...

That's actually a fairly small branch, about four feet long and gratefully that's all the damage I see. Lots of leaves and light debris littering our street, but nothing more.

On a lighter note, I got the coolest mail this week. During the Mad Tea Party, I won a drawing from our friend Suze, at Pink Crayon Studio. Suze is known, of course, for her dolls and cool art, but also for her mail art. I am so happy to have been the recipient of not only these Mail Art Tags, but this awesome envelope. Check it out.

Thanks again Suze for such a fun giveaway. You are the best.

Well, that all for now, kids. I'll be back soon with more photos and lots of other fun stuff. I might even post my newest picture of my hubby, if he'll let me. Take care and do lots of art!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Say Hello To My Little Friend...

Oops, that phrase usually conjures up images of violence, but not this time. My hubby took this sweet picture. This little critter has been hanging around our house all spring and summer. This is the first rabbit we have seen in our yard in the six years we have been here. My sister says it is because we no longer have predators in our yard. This certainly may be true, as I have seen more birds this year also.

Speaking of birds, the chicks were out yesterday having fun doing polymer clay transfers. We had a blast doing them and as you can see here, this is an art that knows no age, we are quite a diverse group.

Here is a shot of the youngest of our group showing her transfer. I think her name is Mackenzie, but I'm so bad with names. I'm sorry if I have gotten it wrong.

I also did a demo on precious metal clay. I sometimes tend to get a little anxious when I have to address a group, but these gals are my friends and I didn't get that nervous. I don't like to make mistakes, but I flubbed up a little bit and felt my face turning red. I just laughed about it and continued. They all made be feel so comfortable. The thing that surprised me the most was, them taking notes. I really wasn't expecting that. They asked questions and I usually knew the answers. When I didn't, I just said so. No sweat. One thing that was quietly mentioned, was that I made them feel like they could do this. It's important to know that we, regular chickie-doodles, can pick up a butane torch and safely fire a piece of jewelry. When I fired up that bad boy, they gathered around, and I just said, don't be afraid to try this, it's really not hard to do, it just sounds scary.

After the metal clay demo we worked on making our polymer clay pieces and I think everyone had time to make and bake at least two items. I like it when you can take something home with you. Here is another one of the finished pieces. This is the one Mackenzie's mom made and it really turned out nicely.

Well, that's all for now. I think there is an artist in all of us. We are all creative, even if we don't realize it. It's not just making a necklace or painting a picture, or sewing an apron. Even when you decide what to wear in the morning, you are an artist - a fashion designer. When you choose your food from the grocery store, you are an artist - a chef... the list goes on and on. I think we are all too hard on ourselves and we need to know that art doesn't need to be perfect. What is perfect anyway?

Just remember to try to be true to yourself and to love, and to try to make a place in your busy day for art.

Ta, Ta for now. Talk soon.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to save $20.00 (long post, sorry)

My sweet hubby and I went to the mall today. At the risk of sounding like an old codger, has anyone else noticed that things are so different these days? One store where we made a purchase, pretty much insisted that in order to complete the transaction they had to have our name and address. We really didn't think to give a fake address, but we at least had a post office box address to give. I don't really like giving out my address to total strangers, but we actually had to. Weird. Huh?

In another store, we were attempting to pay a charge of almost $12.00 with a $20.00 bill. There was not enough money in the drawer (on a Friday, at the mall?) to give us change, so the clerk tries to get change for the $20 from another register. In an attempt to make the transaction easier, we say don't worry about it--here, use this instead and hand her $12.00. By that time she has handed us three ones from the original twenty and now has our twenty and our ten and two ones. Then she tries to give us back all the ones. Then she takes back all the ones. Then she counts out the coins we are due and hands them to us. Hmmm... where is the original $20 that we gave her. She thinks she has given it to us and "honey's and sweetie's" us into thinking that everything is ok. I told her I didn't think she gave us the twenty and her solution is to take our telephone number and call us tonight when she checks out the register, and if she is twenty dollars over, she will call us.

Hubs and I walk away very slowly, feeling like we had just been scammed.

Now this is a very respectable anchor store and the cosmetic counter is the exclusive type that you only pay for your purchase there, and all the clerks wear these official looking white lab coats. I really didn't think we were being intentionally cheated, I think the clerk just got confused, between chatting us up so sweetly and having to look into the electric blue eyes of my extremely handsome husband, and by the fluttering of all the money that was changing hands.

We stop before we leave the store and have a little discussion. We finally decide that we really don't think the $20 was handed back to us. So he waits for me while I go back and have them call a manager and check out the register, now, not at closing time. I did it in a very calm manner and was my usual sweet self. It did take about 10 minutes for the manager to get there and for them to count the cash in the drawer and compare it to the register slip. Then I could see that there was a little concern because the drawer was coming up more than $20.00 wrong. They were very gracious and apologetic about the mistake and I got the money back. Pays to stay on top of things.

Then we went to Starbucks to get my favorite blended coffee and after about three minutes in line, I realized I didn't have the patience for this and decided to join hubby and partake in a new icy beverage at the Taco Bell. It's called Frutista Freeze and comes in mango/strawberry and strawberry. We got one of each on the advice of a friend who thinks they are wonderful.

Yikes...... If you want to assault your system with something sickening sweet and sticky and almost too cold to hold, and then if you like dealing with a straw that has a little shovel on the end of it, this is the drink for you. At our house, we will stick with the orange flavored slushies that we get from Sheetz on a regular basis. Only a bit of brain freeze, just a slight "sugar knot" in the tummy and a regular straw. My kind of treat.

Well, that was our trip to the mall today. DH did get some really nice shirts on sale and I got a beautiful handbag and even a quick trip to Michael's. The great thing about today was that he and I were together and that made it a beautiful day.

Some of you I will see at the library tomorrow, but for the rest of you' ins, have a great weekend. Try to stay cool and stay out of trouble. Talk soon. Ta, Ta.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"You're Fired!!"

Got you, didn't I? No, it's not "The Donald", it is...

...the new PMC (precious metal clay) piece after firing it with the butane torch. I mentioned in a previous post that I am doing a PMC demo at the library this Saturday. I have only worked with metal clay three times and am not certified to teach the method, but I can explain the basics. This was the first time I had used the syringe clay. It was much softer than I expected , which I thought would give me more control, but not really. This little organic filigree was all I could come up with, as it is a "one time" syringe and I knew I had to use it pretty quickly.

If you like working with pottery clay to make miniatures you will like PMC. I took a class at a local bead shop several years ago and I found out that I like the end results of the clay. I like the firing and the polishing of the pieces, I just don't much like the properties of the clay. A somewhat expensive lesson, as the pieces I made broke and I had to return them to the folks that taught the class to fix. Hmm....
I never did get those pieces back.

Anyway, we will also be doing polymer clay transfers at the meeting Saturday, since my demo will be so brief. When I did my first polymer clay session at the library last October, I was a nervous wreck. I think I hid it fairly well, but I am not much of a public speaker and combine that with having to show folks how to do something made me quite anxious. Hopefully, I will do better this time.

Well, that's all for now. I think we will make a quick trip to the mall and then we will probably go and do our recycling . That's always fun. No, seriously, I like to go recycle. You feel like you are doing your part and you get to see what other people recycle and when no one is around you can sneak and break something and not feel bad.

I am a Big Brother fan, so I will be watching Big Brother 10 tonight at 8:00 p.m. and DH is all excited about watching RUSH perform on the Colbert Report tonight at 11:30 p.m. It will be the first time in over 3 decades they have performed live on American television. I hope you watch and enjoy.

Well, that's all for now. I'll be back soon with lots of art, a clean studio (hopefully) and my always insightful and unsolicited opinions. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Before and After

Wow, it's done. It looks so good. We almost forgot to take an after picture, before I started filling it up again with all my stuff. In addition to being our laundry area, this room holds some of the spill over from my studio. After the "flood", DH said if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right!

He replaced the shelves, the outlets, the baseboard, the drainage pipe for the washer, patched holes, replaced wallboards, added trim, took out an old heater, and primed and painted everything. He put tiles in the window sill and in front of the door that leads outside .
He replaced the wobbly garment hanger with sturdy shelf and rod. I can't even remember all the stuff he has done. It's been almost three weeks and he's done. Thank you so much, hubby...you're the best!

While he went to play music this morning, I decided I would start reorganizing while I did some of the piled up laundry. One problem, the washer wouldn't spin. After wringing a load of whites by hand and getting them in the dryer, I was sorta at a standstill...so

Since I have a PMC (Precious Metal Clay) demo to do at the library next Saturday, I got out my supplies and practiced a bit on that. Here is a sneak peek:

We are also going to be working with polymer clay at the meeting so, I played around and made this awesome transfer. I couldn't go wrong using this subject:

I did a transfer using a black and white photo copy that I copied and colored in with colored pencils. This was stored away after I did it and is at least 5 year old. Proof that photo copies don't have to be "fresh" to transfer. I used translucent clay, which always burns in my oven, so after soaking and removing all the paper from the transfer, I "accented it" ( covered up the scorch marks) with metallic paint and sealed it. I'm quite pleased with the result.

So that's what's been happening today. Hopefully, Monday we can order parts for the washer and get it fixed. DH was able to fool it into thinking it could spin, enough for a couple more loads. I know he must be tired from all this and I will try to make sure he has a nice evening. In the meantime remember, our friend, Roseanne Roseannadanna, said it best " It just goes to show ya', it's always something".

That's all for now. Have a great evening.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Makeup review.

Hello, just one quick post here. Everything turned out ok with the computer, after all. We were able to fix it at a reasonable cost, so that' s really good.

The reason for this post is to give my review on my new makeup. Since December, I have been wearing mineral makeup and was out of my Bare Minerals and ready to try something else. A version by Maybelline was useless, it felt like it had sand in it and it didn't work for me at all.

I decided to go to Merle Norman, and see what was new and I am so glad that I did. Their mineral line is wonderful. I am really happy with it. The foundation is priced the same as Bare Minerals but the size is 14 grams versus 2 grams. Yes, I said 14 vs 2. Their primer was twice as large as Bare Minerals for about the same cost. Of course, I already had the brushes needed for this type makeup, so I saved some money there.

I have always been crazy about makeup and the passage of time certainly hasn't changed that. I just have to be more conscious of how I apply my products now. Less is best for me at this stage in the game, which I am not used to. Also included with my purchases, was a freebie that has a wonderful eye shadow called Crystal Eyes, in the color Gilty Pleasure. It is a glimmery shade that gives lots of reflection but does not look like glitter or the frosted eye shadows of days gone by. I like it.

So my advice is this. Don't waste your money on drug store versions of mineral makeup. Go to Merle Norman if you can. You get more for your money and the quality of the product equals or exceeds Bare Minerals. I think you will be glad you did.

Was it a tornado?

Wow, what a storm we had this evening! It rained in sheets and sheets with the lightening flashing and flashing. I was able to turn my computer off before the lightening hit, but DH wasn't so lucky. While we were watching out the front door, we heard (and almost felt) the lightening hit. We thought it hit the umbrella on the deck, but didn't see anything. We were running late to do errands, so off we go.

Here is one of the areas of "high wind" damage we saw while we were out.

Wow, it looked like a tornado had come through. We saw several streets that looked like this. There was a lot of damage from the wind at the local Lowe's and the tree lined areas of the surrounding mini mall. This wind followed a definite path and did quite a lot of damage.

When we got back the cable was out...and still out... and still out. Hmmm, wonder if it is us and not the cable. Sure enough, that lightening strike we heard, apparently got our router, modem and hubby's computer.

So, in addition to working 12-15 hours per day on the laundry room, now he has to replace his computer and the router and the modem.

We're feeling a little blue, but we did not get any damage to our house, and we still have power, unlike approx. 10,000 in our area who do not. We have plenty of food and coffee and all the necessary items, so we can't complain too much.

Hopefully, the next pictures I post will be of the new laundry room. Hubs has worked so hard, down in the basement, by himself most of the time, he deserves an "Atta Boy" and a pat on the back. I'm very blessed to have such a great husband. He's a keeper. (almost 20 years now)

Well, that's all for now. Stay safe. We'll talk soon.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

She's at it again...

I just won't let the distraction of home repairs stop me. I needed to hem some jeans, so I cleaned off my table and made room enough for my machine. After that sewing project, I was itching for something else, but nothing was begging to be done. I decided I would do my next favorite thing and read your blogs. My friend Diann showed some lovely quilts she and her hubs had seen recently. I don't quilt, but I do like to applique, and have been wanting to sew on paper, so I put the two together and came up with this.

I cut a sheet of watercolor paper in half (making this 6" x 9") and covered it with a bright fabric that I had cut the shape of the head out of. I didn't make a paper template, but cut everything freehand. I didn't have any spray adhesive, so I used Yes! paste to adhere the main pieces. Not the best for this, but it did work. I then cut out a mouth and basic eye shapes, and zig-zagged them down. I cut the hair from some silver brocade left from my my pirate project, and after sewing down all my pieces, I couched the details using a thin craft cord that I normally used in beading. To finish the eyes, after several experiments, I decided to cut craft foam circles and drew pupils on them. I covered the back of the picture with a piece of adhesive-backed craft foam in gray. I would rate this project fairly easy, but time consuming, as I worked about 6 hours on it.

It is, as you have probably guessed, another version in the series of "that face" that I do. I always incorporate some of my own features into these faces, that way, I don't become bogged down, thinking about colors of eyes, hair, etc. I am always so eager to start a project, that I don't spend a great amount of time on the preliminaries, I just jump right in. If I think too much, I sometimes change my mind and don't continue.

I have another project that I did and will post it later. It is a departure from my usual work and I sewed down lace and a vintage image onto it. It is so not me, that I can't decide if I like it.

Well, that's all for now. Hope you like this new piece. If you have any favorite sites on applique, or couching, please let me know. I really had fun doing this and need more inspiration.

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday. It's almost time to get back to the old grind. Enjoy what's left of the weekend and don't forget to be creative!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!!!

Happy Fourth of July.

Freedom is a marvelous thing.

Let us never take it for granted.

Have a great weekend and don't over indulge on all those favorite picnic foods.

Talk soon. Until then, stay healthy, happy and creative.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Clearwater, Blackwater, Swampwater...

Yes, this seems to be the correct order of the water that came up through my laundry room floor drain.

Saturday, while attending the most wonderful parties, I thought I would engage in some multi-tasking. I did a load of laundry down in the basement while I was upstairs on the computer. When I went down to put the clothes in the dryer, there was a small bit of water in the floor, so I wiped it up with a towel and put in a load of towels. When I went down to check on them, I found the basement was flooded, so I interrupted the washing machine in mid-cycle.

This same thing had happened several years ago and soaked my basement carpet to the point where we had to cut away about half of the carpet (it was carpet that the previous owners had put in the rec room when they replaced carpeting upstairs). This is the reason that the basement wasn't a total loss. The water didn't soak much of the carpet this time.

I'm glad I had decided to put all my boxes of vintage photos, art supplies, fabric, etc. up off the floor when I moved everything for the carpet installers several weeks ago. Whew, nothing was ruined this time at all. I soaked up the water (wring, wring, wring) and got the floors dry while DH went to locate a rotating snake thingy to poke through the drain.

I still had a machine full of soaking wet clean towels and now a basement full of soaking wet yucky and very smelly towels. (glad I still had old towels). When DH came back, he realized that the snake's end piece was too large to fit our drain. After trying several things, having the drain back up two more times in the floor, and deciding that the towels had to be spun, instead of wrung by hand, we hooked the machine back up and let the water drain out the window. Well, at least I was able to dry all the towels.

My kitchen sink in on the same drain, so no sink or dishwasher Saturday or Sunday-- and that meant eating unhealthy fast foods and junk so that I would not have to cook and mess up a lot of dishes. I think we might still be paying for that.

Normally, I would not show a picture of my house looking like this, but this time I know you will understand.

The bright side is this... Monday a.m. early, DH got the proper sized snake and together we got the drain spanking clean. After we got the drain working, DH looked around at the laundry room and decided that it must be the next project. We had been talking last week about painting it, but were not sure when, etc., Now with everything moved around, we realized how badly it needed work. So that's what the project is this week.

As usual, my hubby is doing a great job. He is a carpenter by trade and won't fix stuff "just a little", which is probably what I would do. So, wallboard is being replaced and old iron pipe is being replaced and the useless recessed heater has been taken out and the wall will be fixed, and new baseboard and sealant everywhere, so IF it happens again, the water will be contained to the laundry room.

I'll be doing art, just not as much as usual. I was able to make a nice birthday card for a close friend of ours. I used ArtEmboss craft foil and personalized it with her name and maybe I will put a picture of us on the inside. Her birthday is Thursday, but she just might be getting it late.

Here is a shot of it, the brilliance of the metal does not photograph well, but the embossing is pretty neat.

One last thing. I want to say hello to all my new friends I met through this weekend's tea parties. I had a blast going to different blogs and seeing their take on the Mad Tea Party. I hope that I didn't miss anyone's blogs. I tried to comment of all that I visited and I even won a giveaway at one of the parties. Thanks again, Suze.

So folks, that's all for now. You know what we will be doing for the next few days. Keep checking back, I will try to post progress reports when I can. Take care and keep making art!!

See you soon. Hugs and kisses to all.