Saturday, October 25, 2008

I'm (sort of) published!

Wow, It is such an amazing feeling to see my work immortalized in "Altered Paper Jewelry" by Jenn Mason. She had approached me through Etsy back in January (I think) about with submitting a piece for her book. Even though I took all the necessary steps, I didn't know if my piece would actually make it into the book. Even when she emailed me about 2 weeks ago about sending a copy of the book, I still didn't really believe that my bracelet would be in the book, and I didn't want to ask if it was. Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I went to the BN today and saw her book on the shelves. I decided to check for my piece, and sure enough, it was in there, with my mini bio and everything! I feel so special! If this isn't validation, I don't know what is.
Go out and get the book, and look on page 109 for my bracelet, and be sure to check the bios!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Polka dotted Pendant Light Project

Disclaimer: The following post was composed after I got off my new full-time job that ends at midnight, so some of what I've typed is probably a little non-sensical. I apologize. I'm just trying to keep up with my posting responsibilities. I hope you get something out of this.

Here's a simple little light project I just did for my dining area. First the before picture below, then the step-by-step follows. Notice the exceptional hideousness of what was there before. I hated this fake candle chandelier thingy from the moment I saw it, but I had to live with it for a while before being able to change it.

Before: Sinfully Ugly Chandelier

And here's what I did to rectify the ugliness. Also notice in the final picture that the walls have been painted, and I've put up some art. Maybe one day I can overcome my perfectionism enough to show a good picture of the whole room, instead of just parts of it. Also let me apologize in advance for my poor camera skills. I try, but I can't always get the PERFECT shot.

I picked up this brand new target lampshade from my favorite goodwill for 79 cents. I loved the rectangular shape, but it was a little boring, being just plain white and all. I wanted to add a little something to it, but without affect its ability to diffuse light while brightening the room a bit. The solution: Polka dots of course!

Step one: cut up a bunch of circles of various sizes. You can use any kind of paper you like, even colored and patterned, but I used white. Cutting the shapes is made easier with the use of hole punchers. I have about 4 of them, in various sizes. I used a lot less circles than I thought I would, so don't punch too much, unless you want a lot, of course.
Step 2: I then decoupaged (Mod Podge) the circles onto the inside of the shades in a random fashion. Again, placement is up to you. It is easier to let the glue dry to the shade just a little bit before going back over the circle with the glue. Tweezers also help in holding and positioning the circles.

Step 3: I then hardwired the shade with my light fixture to the ceiling. The hardwiring portion of this tute is for another day... let's just say that I cannibalized an Ikea ceiling fixture...

Ta-Da! The AFTER: Hideous light fixture is gone!

This same trick can be used on a regular table or floor lamp, so feel free to get creative with your design!

Well folks, the hour is late, and I am tired, so off to bed I go!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Happy Bday to him

Check out the invites I did for my son's 5th birthday party. I am so proud of how his party turned out! I was totally going to do what I always do, which is to schlep something together at the last minute, but thank goodness I went all out. This is a milestone birthday (5), and also, since he's a middler, I wanted him to feel special.
How to do a Character Birthday on a budget:
1. Since he loves Ben10 so much, I did his party with the Ben10 colors of black, white and lime green. I didn't have any actual Ben10 merchandise (damn, they're pricey!) so I did just the colors. I had black, gray and green balloons blown up and taped to the rafters, and taped white, black and green streamers around the ceilings. In addition, I was able to get black plates and white forks, as well as green plastic table cloth. I also made a birthday banner that coordinated with the invites I made.
2. I decorated his cake like an Omnitrix. The cake was almost a disaster because who knew that too much food coloring makes your icing bitter???? Thank goodness no one noticed. I used 2 Box cake mixes for the cake. I was a little scared to frost the cake, but here's a neat trick a cake lady taught me: Freeze the cake overnight. It's easier to frost that way. Okay, my cake wasn't perfect. I think rolled fondant would've been better, but you get the idea. See below.
3. Play theme music from the cartoon (show, character, whatever). I was able to find the theme music online. We really just listened to the music, but another idea would be to do musical chairs to the song(s).
4. Crafts/Activities. I rolled out and taped some paper onto my walls and placed some crayons around for the children to do wall art.
5. Another Craft/Activity we did was to make picture frames out of colorful craft foam sheets. I cut out the middle of half the pack and left the other half as backing. I then had them decorate the 'frames' with precut foam shapes. I went around taking pictures of each child, printed them out at the party, and had them place the pictures into their 'frames', which we stapled together. This doubled as their 'take home'. Grand price: $2 for the 20 frames (thanks dollar tree!)

I spent about $15 on food and about $20 on decorations and plates, etc. for about 10 children. A great time was had by all!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Latest Obsession...Part I

Those that know me know that I'm always off on some new adventure, learning something new to do (as if I didn't have enough on my plate)
I've been obsessed lately with printing by hand, in its many different forms. Screenprinting is holding my attention the most. I started out with stamping, or painting with a stencil, but I find those to be not quite the way to go for me. When I do something, I want it to look as close to "machine made" as possible. Okay, I know that sounds really ridiculous coming from a handcrafter. Let me explain. What I mean is, I want it to look as...oh hell...PERFECT as possible. I want to handmake it without it looking hokey. I want it to look like it came from a store, because ultimately I want it in a store. Okay, as I type this, I think I've stumbled upon my problem. I think deep down I still don't believe that handmade could be as beautiful as not-handmade. Okay, excuse me while I dodge the cyber-tomatoes that are sure to be heading in my direction.

No, I don't really believe that handmade is not as good. I think it's better. I just want handmade to be able to compete with not-handmade. If I make it for sale or personal use, I don't want it to look like I was just messing around and not taking it all I'm sayin'.

Okay, once again, I've taken a major sidebar.

Like I was saying before, I've gotten really into printing by hand. While searching for books on the subject, I came on Lena Corwin's brand new book "Printing by Hand". Finally! Someone's written on the subject in a way that I want to learn about it...with great detail. I had previously bought Lotta Jansdotter's book "Lotta Prints :How to Print with anything, from potatoes to linoleum Now, I love, love, love Lotta! For someone who's so obsessed with perfection that she sometimes can't proceed unless the stars are perfectly aligned, her work is a welcome relief. She has made me feel okay about my crooked line drawings, or not being a great drawer. Her drawings are whimsical, and almost childlike. I love the simplicity of her work.But I gotta tell ya, the book was a lot lacking. It was great as a pictorial, but she really didn't go into detail about the processes. She didn't specify what type of inks to use, or any of that. The book is good for someone new to crafting, but not for a seasoned crafter who's looking for more detail. I bought the book just because I love her work so much. I didn't preview it first...I actually pre-ordered it before it came out.
But back to Lena Corwins book. I have taken quite a few trips to B&N to look thru her book and I find that it addresses most of my questions about printing. The only way it could be better is if she actually tells me the brand of inks and paints she herself uses. But I know that's not gonna happen... I will be adding this one to my collection, but until then, I have a few more trips to B&N.
Next post will be about my plans for this medium. Stay tuned.