MyStoryART is a delightful, eclectic blog that passionately shares with readers and listeners, wisdom tales and art adventures in mixed media, digital collage, polymer clay, assemblages, jewelry, tutorials, thrifty art tips and techniques. Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Posts from the Past..Chapter 1

Today. with close to 200 blog posts already under my belt,  I thought I would go back into the blog "archives" and pull up a couple older posts you may not have seen when they were first published OR if you are a more recent/new visitor to myStoryART you may not have discovered yet.

First up is a blog post from July 2010 "Feeling Stuck, Bogged Down, Need Some Inspiration?"  That's kinda how I felt this morning when I started this post!!  Once again I had put my thinking cap somewhere and darn it, I couldn't find it. So I took my own advice... and I am back in the groove!

As many of you know, I love stories.  So here's a short, ah... romantic tale...from 2009 that, guaranteed,  will bring a smile to your face ... one you may have missed along the way... The Storm

Hope you have a wonderful week... and I will do this one again... it was fun taking a look back at older posts!!


Chalkboard Labels for the Spice in Your Life

Here is a quick project that I completed on a recent Saturday morning... chalkboard labels for my spice jars.

Originally I purchased a spice jar "spindle" at a garage sale with the idea of using it in my art room.  The spindle doesn't take up much space (and I need lots in my art space) and the bottles are very handy for storing little stuff like seed beads, pins, elastic bands, x-acto knife blades, eyeballs (yes, you read that right...made from clay) and other small things that you use a lot.  I already have one and thought a second one would be handy...after all there are 16 bottles to have fun filling up!!  And then...

I got a new RED KitchenAid mixer... the super duper one that you can make all sorts of wonderful things with especially bread!!

I love baking bread and as hubby says:  "You are probably the only person I will ever know who could burn out a KitchenAid making bread and goodies!"  That's exactly what I did recently to the one I have had for 10 years.  Oh it still works but only at beating speeds... okay for whipped cream...not good for bread kneading.

I decided that perhaps it might be an idea to paint this spindle the same colour as my new machine, put some cute labels on the end and free up some space in the cupboard.  Being an avid cook, I have more herbs and spices than you could possibly imagine... a whole cupboard full of them!!  And yes, in case you are wondering, I use them all.

Thanks to my friend Geraldine, I was able to borrow her 1-1/2" round punch (just the perfect size for the tops of the bottles) to get the job done.  A few minutes on the web produced a plethora of free labels for personalizing and printing.

Interested in doing this kind of project?  Here's what you need:

Avery full Label Sheets #5165,5265™, 5975™, 6465™, 8165™, 8465™ (anyone of these will work)
Clear contact paper
A 1-1/2" round punch

World Label has free templates for different types of labels, many of which you can personalize on your computer and then print off. The chalkboard ones can be found here.

Once I completed filling out the template, I reduced the size of the graphic in my graphics program to make the labels smaller.  You may need to fiddle with this a little bit to get the labels down to 1-1/2" in order to fit on the tops of the bottles.

You can find all sorts of labels there for labeling jars in your pantry.  I save the mason jars from store bought sauces and then fill them up with nuts, dried fruit, rice, quinoa, beans, etc.. and slap a label on the front.  Using clear contact paper on the front of the label means that you can (carefully) clean the bottle when you refill it.  As hubby found out recently... don't let it soak in the washing up water while you check the latest news on your laptop...your label will be ....uhh... toast!!

Have fun with this project.  Your cupboards will definitely pass the "mother in law" test once all your spice jars are done!

Till next time,

The Happy Gardener Reycyles Cookie Tins!

These past couple of weeks have been spent sprucing up my "secret" side garden and the deck off my living room with flowers, flowers and more flowers.  It's just lovely sitting out there with my morning coffee and my Kobo... a little read,a cup of good coffee, some sunshine and this kid is a happy camper!

First let me tell you about those flower boxes.  They are the best thing since sliced bread for putting over a railing.  They are adjustable to the width of the railing but the best thing is that they have a leveling piece on the bottom of them that allows them to remain upright... no sagging, no danger they will fall over or off.  They also have a reservoir in the bottom of them so that in warm weather your plants won't be suffering from thirst.  They are more expensive than most planter boxes but worth every penny.  Called "fence and railing planters", they are available from LeeValley.

Recycled Cookie Tin Project

One fine sunny day, in the early days of spring, I was cleaning up and clearing out "stuff" that had been lingering forgotten in my downstairs pantry.  I came across some old cookie tins I had been saving for a couple of years.  They were the big ones from Costco that had once held some very delicious Christmas cookies.  I couldn't remember why I was saving them so they were earmarked for the recycling bin.

As I was about to place them in the bin and send them to recycling heaven, it hit me.  Of course, use them to plant flowers in this summer!  But boy the first thing they would need would be a paint job and some sprucing up.  They were okay as cookie tins but pretty ugly for fleurs!!

Over to the hardware store I went to buy some primer paint and some hot red and yellow spray paint for the second coat. Well it was a bit too nippy outside to do any painting so I had to put the project on hold till it warmed up some outside.  But in the meantime...

I went looking for vintage flower seed packet graphics and found  a whole collection of Seed Catalogues at the Smithsonian digital collection.

I found a bunch I liked, re-sized them in my graphics program to fit the sides of the cookie tins and printed them off.  Because they will be outside all summer, I decided to ModgePodge them with a couple of coats to protect them from inclement weather.

Fast forward to a warm spring day.  Out the door into the backyard I went with a big cardboard box, my primer paint and the tins.  Put the tins in the box to paint as spray paint goes all over.  Even being as careful as I was with both the primer and finish coat of red, I ended up with some rather pretty but unusual colored grass!!

Take your time painting inside and out.  Get into all the crevices with the primer.  Let it dry thoroughly... best to wait overnight.  The next day you can start with the your chosen finish colour for the outside of the tin.  You really don't need to do the inside.

Once your tins are thoroughly dry, you can modge podge your graphics to the sides of the tin.  Do all four sides as you may be turning the plants around for even blooming. Punch a bunch of holes in the bottom of the tin. Take a kitchen garbage bag and cut it to fit inside the tin, fill it with dirt and then your plants.

I made three of them... two red ones for the bench in my secret garden and one yellow one that sits on the table at our front door...

Happy Gardening,


Fun Projects - Messenger Bag/Tutorial

Well my friend Karen recently "lightly and gently" scolded me for not posting more often! "it doesn't have to be a long post you know... you do some cool projects we all want to see."

Okay, my friend, I promise I will do a series of small posts over the summer.  And the first one is the "I need to grab my wallet and go to the store" messenger bag project I just completed a couple of days ago.

I don't know about you, but I ABSOLUTELY do not like having to haul my big tote bag (with everything but the kitchen sink in it...) to the grocery store or the beach.  So one day last week with a couple of hours to play in my sewing room, I decided to make a small kid sized messenger bag that fits my sunglasses, my wallet and keys. Here are the 5 things I like about it:

1. strap is wide and fits either over my shoulder and diagonally across my body
2. was made from left over fabric in my stash
3. has a little inner pocket to tuck my car/house keys in
4. washable
5. lined with iron on fleece to give it shape and body

 Here's a photo of the finished project:

I made the "body" out of jean fabric, lined it with the outer fabric and used another piece of fabric for the strap.  It's a great way to use up those scraps of fabric from other projects.

Here are the fabric size cutting instructions I used for my bag:

Flap - 1 - print fabric - 9.5" x 8"
Flap Lining - 1 - jean fabric - 9.5 x 8"

Body - 1 - jean fabric - 12" x 17"
Body Lining - 1 - print fabric - 12" x 17" 

Strap - 1 - print fabric - 40" long x 4.5" wide

Iron on fleece - for strap - 40" long x 4" wide
               - for flap - 1 piece - 9.5" x 8"
               - for body - 1 piece - 12" x 17"

You can find excellent picture sewing instructions for a kids messenger bag here. 

If you want to add an inner pocket, there are also instructions at the site for measurements and how to do it.

The pictorial is especially helpful if you need some assistance in learning how to attach the lining and strap to the bag.  It is easy as pie once you "get it" but it can drive you to drink (chuckle) if you don't know how... it is not an intuitive assembly!!

If you want to add a magnetic snap to the bag, do it before you assemble it!!  I forgot and then decided to just leave it off altogether rather than mess it up!

To strengthen the strap and allow it to "lie" nicely, top-stitch it on both sides and sew a couple of "lines" through the length of the strap.

So there you have it... use up your stash...make one for yourself, one for a friend, a neighbour, a favourite sister or niece and while you are at it why not make one for each of your kids, your grandkids, the neighbour kids, their friends... Just kidding...

Happy Sewing,

Character Faces & Dolls in Polymer Clay

Well  it's hard to believe that it has been so long since I last posted!!  It has now been well over six months since my hip operation and I am glad to report that I am coming along just fine. I still can't walk very far or stand for any length of time but I am back to my early morning swims and trips to the gym, as well as dutifully (chuckle) going shopping  spending hubby's money and for the last couple of months teaching myself how to sculpt character faces in polymer clay.

I remember hearing somewhere along the way that it takes about 40 tries until you get it.  Yep... whoever said that was right!!  I have created some absolutely hideous looking faces and heads over the last few months.  I decided right at the beginning of this adventure that I would keep making them and smushing them up until I got one that looked like it wasn't from outer space.  Took about 25 tries and in the end the clay was so absolutely filthy from so much handling that I tossed it out too!

But today, after much trial and error, a bucketful of frustrating moments, a few choice words here and there and hours and hours and hours of practice,  I am absolutely tickled to share with you the fruit of my "labour"!

Meet Sister Mary Catherine, the music teacher and Samson, the music room cat.

Her music stand was easy to make to scale.  A couple of pieces of cardboard, some paint, a dowel and clay and she was in "business".  Her music book is made from some black leather I salvaged from the cover of an old encyclopaedia and some mini music sheets sewn together.

And Samson, the cat... well he's just being a lazy ole cat, lying there being lulled to sleep by the sweet voices in the children's choir the sister is leading in song.

At just 10" high, I think her personality shines through beautifully.  She has the sweetest face.  I discovered that I like to do older faces  They just have more personality.

It has been quite an adventure in costume making!  I scoured the Internet looking for doll patterns for nuns habits and came up empty.  Finally I decided that the only way she would be completed is if I figured out how to make her habit myself.  Well, if there is one thing I am good at, it's research!!  And, being a non-Catholic, what interesting information I stumbled upon along the way. 

Did you know that a nun's belt has five knots in it?  There is a knot for the five wounds of Jesus at his Crucifixion (both hands and feet and his side). 

In Mary Catherine's habit, there are seven pleats across the front for the seven virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope, charity (or love).  In a real nun's habit, there are 7 more pleats across the front for the 7 deadly sins (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride)for a total of 14.

She has a set of little keys hanging from her belt as well as her crucifix which hangs around her neck. A gold ring, which signifies her marriage to God, is on her right hand (as some married Europeans do).  Some nuns wear their ring on their left hand (as some married North Americans do).

Her rosary (or prayer beads) with the cross tucks into her belt by her side and has 6 black beads (our Father beads) and 53 little pearl beads (Hail Mary beads)for a total of 59 beads.  If you are interested in finding out more about the rosary and how it is used in the Catholic faith, there is an excellent article here.

So I hope you have enjoyed being introduced to Sister Mary Catherine and now... on to my next project... an old fart and his "new" older gal friend.  This one is gonna take awhile!!

Wishing you an arty week,