heart’s day crafts

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been gathering supplies for Valentine’s Day. While there was one project I couldn’t wait to make, the rest have been patiently waiting for me to work on them. Friday was a quiet, snowy day here and with nothing much to do I began puttering away on a few of the projects. 
While out snowshoeing around the holidays, there were lots of birch trees shedding their bark. Being careful, it peels right off in big chunks. I trimmed a piece to size, traced a heart onto it with a pencil, wrote our initials and heated up the wood burning tool to trace over my writing. Never would I have thought I’d enjoy wood burning, but I do. That is once I got the hang of it.

A quick note on this: the tool itself can be purchased at the craft store with a coupon for under $10. The tip gets VERY hot and the smell of it can set the smoke alarm off in the house. If you have your alarm attached to a security system, it’s best to give them a call and let them know what you are up to, otherwise unexpected visitors with lots of gear may show up at your door.  

While I have nothing against store bought truffles, I’m not a huge fan of the packaging. After all, isn’t all about the packaging. Realtors preach location, location, location. Marketers on the other hand are big on packaging. If it doesn’t look just right, how can it sell? The top of this heart shaped box of chocolates was covered using a brown paper bag and then customized using Valentine’s Day sheet music and a vintage Valentine’s Day card. A little red watercolor paint around the edges and voila! 
The saying on the card, cracks me right up, “Show signs of life and be my Valentine.”

Again, store bought candy, placed in a clear bag with a custom label attached. It’ll make a great lunchtime surprise treat. 
With only a couple of little things left to make, I’m almost ready to celebrate. 

Sneak Peek

It’s almost show time and I’m putting the final touches on things. Once the name plates are printed and the wire to hang them is on the back, they are going to get wrapped up and delivered tomorrow afternoon. 
Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the other pieces that will be unveiled at the opening tomorrow night. This top piece, was a ton of fun to make. It was made through pure intuition and play with lots of color and metal wings. Who doesn’t love metal wings, right?! 

And this one, with it’s Greek, summer flair, is sure to take the chill out of the winter air – or at least that’s what I hope. 
Wish me luck, or to break a leg [but not really], or well, you know what I mean. 

Art in the Making

It was a cold weekend here in New York. A perfect weekend for staying inside and making art. With multiple pieces in works for my opening this Friday night, my studio exploded into the kitchen and onto the island and the table. If the surface was free, it was mine for the taking. 

It was at times beautiful and times a bit chaotic feeling with the multiple themes I was playing around with. Not how my kitchen typically looks and feels. It was in direct conflict with my day-to-day Type A personality, but my inner artist was totally fine. 

I played around a lot with paper and fabric, which are my go-to elements, but I also tried working with wood and metal, which I also really enjoyed. Much more than I would have anticipated. 
In the end, I was able to complete three, almost four, new pieces over the course of a few days. That my friends, is what I call an art marathon. It has left my mind much more full of ideas than I expected. Not at all as drained on ideas as I would have thought. Go figure. 

The rest of the week I’ll be finishing up my big piece and working on one more little one for an upcoming class. Stay tuned for more pictures later in the week. 
In addition, a new project will get kicked off this week. A book. My first. For years and years, I have been wanting to write a book, particularly a children’s book. This year, I wrote about it in my 2013 plan and here it is already. It will be a gift and a self-published book, but nonetheless exciting. 

Special Mail

I remember as a child how special it was to receive mail. Something just for me. A letter, a card, or a small package perhaps. Whatever it was, it was a big deal, especially since it was never a bill or a pile of junk mail to sort through.  It was sent with love and picked out especially for me. 
And yet as I write this, there is mail in the mail box that I could care less about. It could sit there all week [although my husband would never let that happen] before I care to even look.  

This is precisely the reason I love, love, love sending personalized, fun mail that will bring a smile to the recipient, if even for a moment. This card was sent to my childhood friend with lots of wishes for her birthday and the year to come. I hope she had just as much fun opening it as I did making it. 

Mug of Love

Have you seen this project all over Pinterest?  I think I may have liked and repinned multiple versions of this project, before I decided to get off Pinterest and give it a whirl. 
All you need is a blank white porcelain mug, a sharpie and an oven. The local dollar store had plenty of white mugs to choose from. I would advise buying a couple extra in case they don’t quite come out the way you’re hoping they will the first go around. Drawing on a mug is all fun and games until the marker slides right off the edge of the mug. 
Drawing on the inside of the mug was the hardest part. All of a sudden I had old lady hands, that were shakin’ up a storm – lots of self imposed pressure to not screw up my one dollar mug [I had no extras]. 

In the end, I made a his and hers duo, which will make a great Valentine’s Day gift [as long as he doesn’t read this post]. I love tea [yep, true stuff] and he loves cocoa and me, his Coco. How oooey, gooey lovey dovey is that?!
Once the drawing is complete, pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and you have a non-smearing , microwaveable and dishwasher safe, piece of fine quality art. 

Decorations

Can you stand just one more holiday post from me? I pinkie swear that I have taken down all the holiday decorations in the house and that this is the very last of my holiday talk. There’s an ornament class I’ll be teaching this fall, and in my over preparation for it, I thought it would be best to make a few ornaments now, while still in the spirit with snow on the ground. 

This old spoon turned out to be my home run favorite. Loving the non-traditional colors, the use of lace as the hook to hang it by, scrap pieces of paper for the tree and of course glitter. The girl is easily swayed with a little sparkle, but I’m sure you know that by now. 

This little lady was from a set of six vintage ornaments found at a local antique shop. She sits on top of a former cardboard ribbon spool. The base has a couple of different types of ribbon and the top is reinforced with cardboard and music sheet paper.

The face on this little one makes me smile. The ornament would be perfect for a new baby or small child in the family. Old and new ephemera, bakers twine, a wooden spool and one  little pearl were the perfect ingredients for this ornament. 
The options are endless really and if time allowed, a few more would have been made, but I’ll save that for another afternoon and unless its the holidays, you have my Girl Scouts promise I won’t be posting pictures. 
In fact, I’m off to finish making a Valentine’s Day treat that I’ll share later in the week. 

Pretty as a Picture

The snow has been falling since last night. A steady snow with big fat flakes that’s covered everything in sight. We’ve decided not to plow or dig ourselves out for a while and instead be snowed in by the fire reading, napping and doing a little bit of this and that. It’s truly as pretty as a picture outside.

I’m not sure about you, but I am wiped out from the holidays. It’s all I can do to move from the bed to the couch and back again. Exhausting work I tell you. After a couple of days of napping though my old friend, Guilt [that’s right, with a capital G], showed up and convinced me to do something a little more productive. 
All those pretty cards we received throughout the season are hanging in the kitchen. Little do they know, in years past, cards just like them were tossed. Oh the Guilt. Family, friends and loved ones take the time to send these cards and then there they go in the trash.  

Not this year! They have been saved from the recycle bin and in the nick of time. Each card was loving cut out into tags using a gift tag shaped hole punch so they can adorn a gift for next year and live to see another holiday. 

And that’s about all the productivity this girl can handle for today. 

Past, Present and Future

An odd time of year to be showing pictures of a boat, at least here in the northeast, but with the flurry of activity lately, I completely forgot to share my latest mixed media collage piece. It was made months ago in preparation for my husband’s birthday and then squirreled away for safe keeping. I was so excited to pull it out of hiding a couple of weeks ago for his special day. 

 He loved it. And I adore the fact that he values home made gifts as much as I do. At times it’s quite the competition to see who can out do the other one [I win at least half the time].

From what I’m told, he was a water baby from the very start. Much of his childhood and favorite memories were spent by the water, making this piece not only a reminder of his early years, but the love we share for being waterside whether it be a beautiful river, lake or the sea and the dream of living by a beautiful body of water some day.

I incorporated ephemera from trips we’ve taken by the seaside and the Thousand Islands, which are always a favorite time for us. Maps, paper place mats from restaurants, tour guide books and ticket stubs tend to be my go-to supplies for projects like these. It gives the piece additional meaning and provides a better home for ephemera versus the box they would otherwise be spending a lifetime in where they are not appreciated or even remembered.

How do you honor your past, present and future in your artwork or even your life? 

Giving

Way back when, I started collecting acorns and acorn caps specifically for this project. These little gifts from nature are just so sweet in my eyes and when I saw felted acorns a few years back, well, I was smitten. After learning how to wet felt earlier this year and then needle felt, I couldn’t wait to tackle this project. Finding just the right colors of roving, took all year, but this week I was finally ready to make them with detailed directions from this tutorial

If you have never needle felted, quite simply, you need to try it. Besides the immediate gratification of making something right before your eyes, it is a stress reliever like no other. Stabbing the roving again and again into little balls with a sharp needle, wipes out the stress from the day. Guaranteed. Once these little balls are formed, its time to shock them in hot water and then using a little dish soap, roll them around in your hand. It’s a bit similar to rolling meatballs. Once they have hardened and taken on a more firm shape, they are shocked again in cold water and left out to dry.

I will warn you this process is just that, a process. To make three dozen of these little guys took a solid two hours as well. As I worked with the roving, Arte jumped in and helped out for a solid two hours working with the acorn tops drilling holes, cutting thread and then threading them (I plan on using them as ornaments). We both agree though, it was totally worth the process.

The little balls set out for a day, drying and then were hot glued to the tops. A process that took another hour. Again, totally worth it and something I plan on doing again. I’d like to make another few dozen to sit in glass bowls.  

The vibrant colors and the purity of the white ones, make them ideal for accompanying gift tags, place card settings for holiday meals and to hang on the tree. My aunt has a tradition with her girlfriends – each year for their holiday exchange, each woman gives everyone their favorite thing from that year. And this my friends, is mine. Everyone on my list is getting at least one [sshhhh…don’t tell]. 

Cuppa

My love of tea and just about all things British runs deep, as you maybe noticing. [wink], and because it’s a part of my daily routine, it also becomes a source of project ideas. When sipping tea, what better accompaniment than cork coasters in the shape of tea bags with little sayings on them?! 

These coasters are going to make great stocking stuffers and hostess gifts this holiday season. To make a set of your own, you’ll need: a roll of thin cork with an adhesive backing, a fine tip permanent marker, a pair of good scissors and a few sheets of felt — all of which can be found at the craft store. Using cardboard I made a template of the shape I wanted to use. Holding the template up to the sheet of cork, I trimmed out each coaster to ensure they are all the same.

Once you’ve cut out all the coasters, one by one, peel off the sticky sheet on the back, place the cork on a sheet of felt and trim it out. It was much, much easier to adhere it to the felt and trim it out versus trying to cut the felt to be the exact same size. 

Freehand, I drew each outline and design onto the cork. The ability to draw escapes me, so have no fear, if I can do this, so can you.

My fingers are crossed that the rest of my holiday making goes as smoothly. There is almost always one project that doesn’t go quite the way I think it will. 
What kind of projects are you working on this season?