Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Show & Tell

Today's post is a Show & Tell of art! 

First, I want to share a beautiful Frida Kahlo postcard I received from artist April Cole at the beginning of this month:
Be sure to visit her web site, where she shares her beautiful art all week long, and posts great links to other sites every Friday.

Yesterday, I received an original art canvas from Chris, of Parabolic Muse.  She also sent an adorable little bottle filled with tiny beads, and a book of gold leafing sheets to experiment with.
What a generous and talented blogging friend she is!

I have put my art journaling aside for the most part, in favor of some other creative pursuits.  But I thought I would share the two pages I have done in the past couple of months.

First, when I engaged in the craft stash swap with Janet, she suggested swapping an art journal page as part of our packages.  At first, never having created an art journal page to give to someone else, I panicked and figured I would never be able to do such a thing. 

Almost immediately, though, I got to work and had a great time creating this page for Janet:
I had read Lisa Bebi's article "Stitchy Chix" in Volume 4 of Artists' Cafe: Best of Somerset Studio Art & Design.  She paints magazine images of women with gesso and various colors of acrylic paint.  She then cuts them out, adheres them to cardstock, and adds freeform stitching with a sewing machine.  So that's what I did here, and I really like the effect!
I added a different face, a butterfly headpiece, and used plastic lids and a handcarved swirl stamp to add details to the page.  Then I journaled about the changing of seasons to fall, and added a quotation:
And here is the second journal spread I wanted to share:
I had the blue and green background painted in my journal, but didn't really love the effect.  After I covered it with black Sharpie swirls, lines, circles, and words, I like it quite a bit more!
I was always a fan of Show & Tell back in elementary school, and I think I enjoy the blog version just as much! 

Wishing you an artful week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Discovering the Clover Market

Last Sunday, in addition to finding a Paper Source within an easy drive from my home, I discovered a lovely place called the Clover Market.
The organizers describe the market as "an upscale vintage outdoor market...featuring original art, antiques, vintage jewelry & clothing, artisan crafts, and handmade items."  In other words, my ideal browsing destination!
The vendors all take real care when setting up their booths, in order to make their vignettes interesting and their merchandise accessible to their customers.
Half the fun was checking out how items, as well as prices and other information, were displayed.
One of my first stops was to visit my friend Jen, who in addition to being a full-time high school English teacher, mother of two boys under three, writer of two blogs, and owner of an Etsy store called Babee Crafts, finds time to represent her hand-crafted baby items at markets, shows, and bazaars!
(If I ever find out her secret for juggling all these roles--and doing them all so WELL--while maintaining an admirable level of good humor and a relaxed vibe, I will definitely share it with you!)

Some of the vendors included:
--antiques and vintage items for the home--
--architectural salvage--
--purses and other fabric items--
--paper crafts--

My mother was here for the weekend when I visited the market.  That made my browsing even more fun, because we have always been VERY in-synch shoppers.  We may not love exactly the same things, but we appreciate what the other enjoys.  And we're ALWAYS ready for lunch at the very same time!
Here's my mom looking at some hand-sewn aprons for adults and children.  Whenever I see sewn items like this--aprons, table runners, tote bags, placemats, pillows, you  name it!--I think of how my mother could create an amazing inventory for a market like this.  If we lived closer to one another, I think there would definitely be some mother-daughter craft show appearances in our future!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Paper, Tape, and Clothespins

Paper Source came to Ardmore, Pennsylvania, over a year ago, and I just found out about it last Sunday!

I visited the Paper Source in Alexandria years ago, drooling over rolls upon rolls of gorgeous papers, yummy stationery, and unusual rubber stamps.

Their Suburban Square location is just as dreamy!

Their prices are a little steep, so I held myself back, but came away with a few new items:
Their gorgeous paper sheets cost anywhere from $2.50 to $9 or more.  I steered clear of the super-expensive racks, and shopped in the "under 5" areas!

I also couldn't resist a super-overpriced set of paper tape:
Yes, it was $17.95, but when you've got to have it, you've got to have it!
I discovered that the two thinnest rolls of tape are the same width as a clothespin, so I immediately embellished the pins that hold postcards to a length of string on my inspiration board:
Easiest "how-to" ever:  Just cut a length of paper tape the same length as the clothespin, and stick it one, rubbing well to adhere completely.

What a quick and simple way to completely upgrade the look of things!
(See all those beautiful postcards from my various swap friends?  They've all been blogged about before, so check out the "art swaps" topic link in the left column of my blog to learn more about them!)

Paper Source has a pretty nifty blog, too, which I just discovered this morning, so check it out for all kinds of paper projects and inspiration.

I might be in trouble (but very happy!) with a new Paper Source so nearby!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Seth, at The Altered Page, is celebrating his love of stacks today, and I can't resist the invitation to join in!

I am going to join some of my favorite "bloggy friends," including LaWendula, Quinn Creative, April Cole, and Parabolic Muse, and embrace my love of stacks proudly by sharing some of the stacks around my work space.

Stacks have always been my organizing approach of choice.  When I was teaching, I had piles of files, and now that I'm home with the girls and art-making, it really isn't much different.

Here are some favorite stacks around my art space right now:
I have a hard time keeping up with all of my magazines, and I have several from many months past still in my "read me" pile.  You will see all manner of Stampington and Company publications, as well as Cloth Paper Scissors, Self, Country Living, Parents, Whole Living, Woman's Day, and even a Buddhist magazine called Tricycle I picked up at Borders' going-out-of-business sale.
Just in case my magazines don't give me enough reading material, I have stacks of books next to my work table to offer me inspiration, and, frankly, procrastination.  Whenever I manage to find enough space to store them upright, I go on another book-buying binge and end up with more stacked on their sides.  I'm pretty sure the book case is a tower of disaster-waiting-to-happen, and I should really re-think the fact that my kids' books are on the bottom two shelves, next to their bin of musical instruments.  One false move, and that would be quite an avalanche!
Here's a paper stack for you:  It's a file folder that is beyond-filled, mainly with pages and images I've cut out from catalogs and magazines to use on art journal pages and for other projects.

Here are some more stacks of favorite artful supplies:
Above is a stack from my file labeled "postcards," spread around for show on the sofa cushions.
And here, similarly, are items in my "stamps" file, spread out for a little eye candy.
This file is helpfully named "ephemera", and has all manner of bits of paper for use with art journals, mail art, collages, and anything else I might choose to work on.

Here's a little peek at some of its contents:
Be sure to check out Seth's page for a list of Paper Stack Project participants, and if you love stacks like we do, then join in the fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Uses for Old Things

Every change of season means a trip to my kids’ closets to clear out all the clothing that no longer fits them or suits the weather.  Many of Katy’s things go directly to Bayla’s closet, while most of Bayla’s things get bagged up for a trip to Goodwill.

When I got my sewing machine, I started holding back some of the clothes from the donation bag to use as scraps for sewing projects.  I found a book called Sewing Bits & Pieces by Sandi Henderson, and it is giving me plenty of ideas for using all the scraps from the girls’ old clothing.  Not only do I have fun playing around with fabrics, but I end up with little projects that are mementos of the girls’ younger years.
One super-simple project turned an old tank top of Bayla’s into a little set of fabric gift tags.
In this project, Sandi has the crafter lay a piece of plastic wrap between a piece of card stock and the fabric scrap.  By ironing this “sandwich,” the fabric adheres to the paper.  At that point, I could cut out my shapes and add crazy, free-form stitching around the edges.  I added eyelets and embroidery floss to some, but not yet to all, of the tags.
The project was fun, but once I added the machine stitching, I kind of felt as though the plastic wrap part of the process was a little unnecessary.  But it’s fun to try out a new technique, even if it doesn’t turn out to be one I’m likely to come back to again and again.

As a second little scrappy project, I used Sandi’s strawberry-shaped templates to turn a baby onesie and a summer halter top into refrigerator magnets.
I didn’t follow Sandi’s directions exactly for this project, as she had readers layering double-sided adhesive, stiff interacting, and fabric, then clipping around the perimeter in order to fold the edges down to the back and later cover them with a piece of felt. 
Instead, I simply put some interfacing between two scraps of fabric, ironed them together, and cut out the shape, gluing felt and a magnet in place to the back.  You can see the white interfacing when you turn the magnet to the side, but with the light-colored fabric, it doesn’t really show much.  I just know I would have been dissatisfied with the folded-down edges in the book’s directions.

So now I have some cute tags and magnets that help me remember some of the little-girl clothes my children have already outgrown!
What artful things have YOU done to preserve or “recycle” your children’s outgrown things?

If you are interested, you can check out a post here where I re-used old jeans to make some fun projects.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yard Sale Loot!

The first crisp breaths of the coming autumn brought us out to enjoy Garage Sale Days in the nearby town of Media, Pennsylvania, this morning.  My mother is in town for the weekend from Kentucky, so we piled into the  mini-van with the girls to meander from yard to yard, looking to find our own personal treasure among other folks' trash.
Even though I'm not Catholic, I couldn't pass up a handful of religious charms in a box marked "free."
The green beads and turtles on this necklace caught my eye for a dollar.  I don't know if I will re-purpose them in another piece, or just enjoy how they look now.  I have very few specific plans for the things I bought today!
These Chinese chops are each two-ended, so I now have symbols for good omen, harmony, peace, wisdom, love, success, strength, and longevity.  They came in a wooden box with a tiny red ink pad, and a book entitled, The Art of Chinese Chops.  Not a bad find for 50 cents!
I bought a book of Robert Louis Stevenson verses with these fabulous illustrations by Alice and Martin Provensen, from the 1950s.

I also bought a special World War II: 40 Years Later issue of Life magazine from 1985.  It has some great photos that may make their way into my projects.

An edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer from September 1953 has some great old advertisements and other illustrations, focused on the Delaware Valley, where I live. 
This mermaid illustration was the first thing I saw when I opened up the magazine, and it won me over!
My husband picked up a headset for his phone, and we picked up LOTS of little trinkets for the girls.  Along with a quilted fabric bag for Bayla to carry to preschool next week, here was my younger daughter's stash:
(I couldn't get my older daughter's new playthings in one spot long enough for a photo!)

Yard sales can be a little harrowing with preschoolers in tow:  they want to touch EVERYTHING, and the concept of "breakable" is pretty much lost on them.  (At one point, I was lecturing the whole, "Look with your eyes; don't touch with your hands," at the very same time I was reaching out to handle just about every item on a table of interest.  No wonder accusations of hypocrisy are thrown around by the time our kids reach their teenage years!)  But the girls were remarkably fun and easy to take around (especially with Daddy and Grandma's hands to share the effort).

And it was such a great excuse to spend the morning outside in the fresh, almost-autumn air.  Plus, to be able to share it with my mother, whom I do not see NEARLY enough to suit me, was the greatest treat of all!

What is YOUR favorite thing about hitting yard sales in the autumn season?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happiness Project: Resolution Area #2

You can click here to read my post about why I am pursuing a Happiness Project.
You can click here to read my post about my first set of resolutions.
You can click here to read how I did with my first set of resolutions.
When I first considered a second set of resolutions, I wanted to do something related to diet and exercise.  As I looked over a number of articles I had saved over the years, as well as articles in the August 2011 issues of various magazines, I discovered a more over-arching theme that "gets at" my goals for this month:  detoxifying my body.

Please note:  There will be NO juice fasts, and NO enemas or colonics for me this month (whew, that's a relief!).

Every single resource I came across recommends drinking lots and lots of water--for better skin, healthier organs, and longer life.  I picked up a book at Borders in its final days called Secrets of Longevity:  Dr. Mao's 8-Week Program.  Dr. Mao recommends a whopping 64 ounces of water per day.  I recently bought a BPA-free plastic bottle from Target that holds 24 ounces, and I am currently drinking at least 48 ounces per day.  I am going to work up to filling it three times a day from just two. 

I've never had any problem drinking lots of water; I don't have to add juice or fruit slices, or fool myself into getting more of it than I can easily bear.  Once I start exercising, I think getting that additional 16 ounces won't be any problem at all.

Which brings me to...exercise!  It makes every articles that gets published --"Ways to Beat Stress," "Ways to Lose Weight," "Ways to Live Longer," "Ways to Detoxify Your Body," etc, etc, etc.

I have never been able to incorporate exercise into my life on a regular basis.  I was the kid who got a doctor's note excusing me from physical activity at church camp because I had just had oral surgery.

I even got my required high school PE credit by taking bowling by correspondence.  I kid you not--my dad took me bowling and signed off on my scores, and it fulfilled my PE requirement so I didn't have to take gym class. 

Now, I find myself looking wistfully at the folks I see through fitness club windows, sweating it out on treadmills and StairMasters, and I've often wished I was among the joggers I see on weekday afternoons and weekend mid-mornings. 

My first plan was to join a local YMCA and use the mornings when my girls are now in preschool to finally get some exercise.  I was taken aback to discover that an individual membership costs $744 for a year.

Then Christina, my closest friend since high school (you can see her picture here from our 20-year reunion), told me about the Couch to 5K program.  When we talked about it, she was in week 4 and could jog for five minutes at a stretch--which was five minutes longer than she had ever been able to jog before!  I have printed out the program (which you can find here), and week after next, when both girls are in preschool, I'm going to get started. 

If this "exercise thing" sticks, then I might reconsider a YMCA membership when the weather turns cold, and I have to contend with snowy sidewalks and icy roads.

For the last part of this month's "detoxify my body" resolution, I am going to look into my current household and personal health care products to assess how many toxins they are introducing into my home and my body.  Then I am going to investigate some more natural, organic house and body care products that will reduce all the chemicals I'm being exposed to on a daily basis.

I want to find out what safe, organic brands I have access to in markets nearby, and how much I am willing to pay to make the switch to less toxic ingredients.  This will include makeup, hair care, skin care, cleaning products, and laundry detergents. 

I've read so many additional ideas for detoxifying, and I will likely incorporate them in the future, but I don't want to try to do so much at once that I end up doing nothing.

I was pleased to see deep breathing on several lists of detoxifying strategies because it is both fun and gratifying to have resolutions from the past carry over into my current efforts!

I have also determined that food will form an entire resolution of its own.  I've already gotten plenty of ideas for incorporating healthier, less toxic, and potentially more interesting foods into my diet.  I may begin to play around with some of these ideas this month, but a concerted effort will have to wait for a future set of resolutions!

Have you tried any organic, non-toxic beauty and household products that you could recommend to help me get started on that part of my resolution?