January 25, 2013

Same flower, new season

Once again appreciating the contrast of Queen Anne's Lace against a blue blue sky. Just like I did two summers ago. Just as lovely in the winter I think.

January 23, 2013

Sweet & simple sign

Every now and then I experience a bit of graphic design inspiration while working on my most frequent chore, signs for displays.

The very best posters communicate with a minimum of words. I think this image does most of the work here. Using my 20-month-old daughter's new favorite word: "Niiiice."

January 21, 2013

At long last new kitchen curtains!

This blog tells no lies. I must confess. Let me find it. Here it is! In a post dated March 10, 2010 I go on enthusiastically about finally finding the perfect fabric for my kitchen curtains. And, to add to my embarrassment,  I just re-read the comments and discover myself enthusing about patching and painting the ceilings, painting the walls, and even mention painting the cabinets and trim!

Well, dearest blog friends, not quite 3 years later and I have finally finished the curtains. That paint swatch for Rhapsody by Behr is still taped to the wall. I recently visited a friend's house and saw her freshly painted light teal room and said "That's the color I want in my kitchen! Email the name of it to me." She did and I looked at the paint swatch and saw it was the very same shade! So, if I haven't changed my mind in three years it is a pretty safe bet I want to paint that color.

Before: gold & brick red plaid, now sadly faded

After: teal and red and green and poppies and dogwood blooms, how lovely

A few comments on sewing these. They're basically hemmed squares, so not particularly difficult. In fact, I think the originals may have been cloth napkins. Or maybe not since they have fringe. Anyway, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to teach myself mitered corners. Well, I did that for about 3 squares (I had to do 12 total) and was disappointed with the slowness of the process and stopped working on them all together for several months.

Then I had the epiphany that this was a classic case of perfect being the enemy of good. Especially since said corners were to be on the back of curtains and therefore never ever seen or noticed. So out with perfect (mitered corners) and in with the good (folded over corners that my machine handled just fine). And now it is done. Perfect!

As an update on the rest: I am totally itching to paint the walls. I have giving up any desire to paint the cabinets and trim. That's the level of nice I will accomplish 20 years from now if we're still in the same house and decide to spend money on brand new cabinets.

January 18, 2013

January 16, 2013

Christmas gift crafted: clothesline photo frames!

So my mom clipped this from a catalog and passed it along to me with the comment "we could make this." I instantly thought "Oh good! A crafty gift idea I can use for Christmas!" I find some frames, some already owned and some thrifted. My husband and I talk through the hardware and the wires and he gets to work (love his willingness to go along with my craziness!). I buy the black spray paint. I buy some tiny black clothespins.

And then I visit my mom. What does she have hanging on a wall?! A black frame with wires for clipping photos on! She went out and bought one before I could give her one!

Fortunately there are others near and dear to me who would also appreciate such an object so I went forward with my crafting all the same.

January 14, 2013

Christmas gifts from the kitchen: bread of the month club

This year I gifted my in-laws with membership to "bread of the month club." So every month of 2013 they will receive a fresh loaf of bread baked by yours truly. I have seen a lot of fun "of-the-month" clubs advertised in catalogs and online however, I think the homemade touch is especially nice. Plus, you get to show your love all year long.

So take a moment to think about what you might be good at and who might appreciate the fruits of your labor. Then give the unexpected, homemade, and loving gift of a membership!

January 11, 2013

chase away the gray with some color

I came across this photo while writing for this blog. I don't believe I shared it before. And if I did, it is worth repeating during these gray days. Each individual flower is a separate ceramic sculpture. They were so very striking gathered together in a circle on a cement outdoor patio at the UICA this past ArtPrize. An unexpected garden blooming. I just looked it up. It is titled Flora Metamorphicae 2012 and the pieces were actually created by 6 different artists.

January 9, 2013

Christmas gift crafted: birch tree accessories!

My dear sister-in-law has purchased an awesome condo. You know – along the river, in the heart of downtown, converted from an old furniture factory, exposed brick, don't you wish you lived there, cool type condo. I would almost be jealous except for how much I love my quaint brick bungalow and my walkable neighborhood.

Anyway, one wall of her place is done in a sweet birch tree wallpaper. You honest to goodness feel like you're in a forest. It is striking and very well done and perfect in the place she put it. So when I started thinking Christmas crafts I started thinking birch tree! I sent out an email plea at work for supplies and happily was able to find someone who was willing to let me pick through her nice stack of birch wood and branches.

Here's a list of what I came up with (as in totally invented, I am so proud of my craftiness):
1. Fridge magnets with cute fabric designs, these are about the size of a quarter
2. Drink coasters, sealed and finished with felt bottoms
3. Christmas ornaments: flat with baubles
4. Christmas ornaments: 3D stack of tree slices with beads and buttons

January 7, 2013

Christmas gift crafted: chalkboard ornaments!

I found this idea on Whip Up from a guest post by blogger Curly Birds over a year ago. I was originally aiming for the little people shapes as shown. And I had the thought to throw in pets too – little dogs and cats. But then I could not find the flat wooden people and decided to go with flat round discs instead, which made things simpler anyway.

Each one is painted with chalkboard paint and served double-duty this season as gift tags! Every family also got a box of colored chalk along with their individual ornaments to inspire future creativity.

My 4-year-old daughter helped me paint them this past Septembert. My only regret was that we did not paint them on a better surface – perhaps wax paper. Our generous application of paint made little puddles that ended up sticking to the newspaper. When everything was dry, we'd have little shreds of newspaper to pick off! The ornaments were unfinished so they soaked up the paint. I think we did 2 coats on each side.

I am hoping to keep up a similar craft in the future that can involve my little ones. I like the idea of them experience the joy of creating and giving and not just receiving.

January 4, 2013

snow & brown & brick

My little one wanted to go outside this morning. On went the snowpants, coat, boots, hat, mittens. Repeat for me. And in my hand, my camera. I find taking photos to be refreshing for me creatively. I will confess I had thought "what will I see in my yard that I have not seen before?" But the camera went with me all the same.

And of course I was not disappointed! My artist eyes always find something to appreciate!

January 2, 2013

Christmas gift crafted: summertime wreath

After I had floated the idea of wreath creation for Christmas gifts with my sisters and mom, our family decided the adults would draw names for a gift exchange. My mother threatened to rig it so I got her name and she got her wreath! When I drew her name I was suspicious but she claims she did not do anything dishonest and I believe her.

Regardless, her request had been for a summertime wreath. In fact she sent me this link to a summer wreath by the blogger Miss Kopy Kat:

Summer wreath by Miss Kopy Kat

At one point I read the instructions in regards to how the rope was wound and attached. Then a month passed, Christmas neared, and I holed up in the basement art room to work on this beast. In the meantime, any thought to how it looked flew out of my mind.

Since I mostly used what I had on hand – including a thrifted wreath base and some seashells owned by myself and my mom – mine turned out a bit differently. My wreath base was twisted grapevine and so when I wrapped the first round of rope (which ran just a bit short), there were spots that seemed thicker than others. Also, I wasn't satisfied with the width of the wreath itself so I decided to go around the wreath a second time. In the end my husband bought three 100-foot rolls of twisted sisal rope from Lowe's and I used two and a half or so.

The seashells and coral treasures I had are smaller in scale. I chose a sand dollar as the star of the show. And I couldn't help but start out symmetrical in my arranging! I loosened up a bit as I went. Since my seashells were smaller, I made sure to glue some kind of along the inside ring so they would show as well. The finishing touch was a few arranged up top as well. Tah-dah!