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!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...


WISHING YOU A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY
SEASON FULL OF LOVE AND GOOD CHEER!

A Christmas Gift for You!

I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who have supported me by visiting my blog, leaving wonderful comments and sending me such lovely emails this past year.  It is very much appreciated and I truly treasure your friendship.

Christmas morning is always fun for me.  I enjoy opening all the gifts under the tree but the most fun and what I love most is watching the faces of my family members as they open theirs. 

In my house, there is always much guessing on Christmas Eve as to what the "handmade" gift from me will be this year.  I don't think anyone has guessed correctly yet... it remains a mystery until Christmas morning... 'cause I won't tell or even give any hints!

Guess what? 
Santa left a present
under the tree
JUST FOR YOU
 at myStoryART...

And DRATS... I have to tell you what it is. LOL

A tutorial for a 3-1/2" x 5" Vintage Photo Lantern made from glass and as a bonus for my "twinchie" friends, the tutorial also includes some prints to make a sweet 2" x 2" Christmas lantern.  The little lantern has a flickering flame LED light behind it and the large lantern can have either a candle in a votive holder or two flickering flame LED lights to shine through the photos.  Difficult to photograph but I guarantee... you'll love the effect!!


Twinchie 2" x 2"  Christmas Lantern

3-1/2" x 5" Vintage Photo Glass Lantern

The tutorial photos for the large lantern are different than on the one I made for myself but they are just as lovely.  Here's a preview of them....


If you hurry, you can even make one for Christmas, either as a gift for someone else or yourself! (how novel...LOL)

Download the PDF Tutorial Here

You can save the PDF to your computer.  Please be patient with the download.  It is a BIG pdf file....

Wishing YOU a wonderful Holiday Season!  Merry Christmas everyone and see you in the New Year!

Happy Holidays

Sharon

The 12 Gifts of Christmas

I don't think many of our true loves are waiting with bated breath for a partridge in a pear tree from us this year.  But there is one gift I know... a one size fits all gift... that would thrill almost everyone on your list and mine:  the gift of yourself... your time... your energy... your cheer.  Yes, I know, it would probably be far easier to give everyone two turtle doves and just be done with it.

I don't know about you but on many Christmas' past, I have found myself racing and running around trying to get everything done.  Buy or make the perfect gift for everyone on my list. Be in a frenzy with cleaning the house (after all, MIL is coming).  Make the perfect bird. Have the most beautiful tree.  Be the perfect hostess.  Pick the perfect wine.  Set the perfect table. And on and on it goes... all in good cheer of course.  Oh Martha, get real... PL..EEE...Z !!

The problem with the holiday season is that we try to do too many things at once.  Obligations, promises, should dos, commitments and to do lists abound across the land. 

Now I used to think that if I didn't go to that Christmas play or concert with family or friends, I'd surely be missed.  If I didn't go to that open house, I'd never be forgiven for missing it and I'd not hear the end of it for at least six months.  If I didn't go to the boss' boring and obligatory Christmas party, I'd be dinged on my next performance review for not being a team player.

And then, one day,  it occurred to me... everyone else was likely as scatterbrained as I was at this time of the year.  If I only went to those things I really wanted to go to or did those things that I really wanted to, I might actually enjoy the holiday season instead of feeling frantic that I'd be in everyone's "good books" or get everything done on time.

I wouldn't be missed.  Everyone's focus was as scatterbrained as my own. 

They would just sigh when I said no (in a nice way without fibbing) and call the next person on their list.  And, as for the boss, well perhaps it was high time to look for another one!

By now, you're probably thinking I am going to tell you that I decided to OPT OUT of the holiday season.  Nope.  Didn't.  Not even gonna contemplate it.

I love the holiday music... and I break into humming those old familiar tunes at the oddest moments.
I love the lights... it brightens those dark December nights and fills me with cheer. 
I love the smells... nothing smells as deliciously tempting as Christmas cookies baking or the delectable whiff of an apple pie fresh from the oven. 
I love the warmth... of hugs, kisses, "I love you's" and an egg nog by the fire. 

Nope.  Just decided I was gonna do it differently. 

Oh, one more thing...  Let's not forget all those gifts under the tree. The bright, pretty boxes with bows all aglow that just blew my budget and set me up for a miserable January.  Do you know who is most happy and jumping with joy in January?  I do.  It's those folks at Visa and Mastercard.   Like old King Cole, they sit in their counting house, counting up the interest on all the money they are owed.

No french hens, no doves, no lords a leapin' and definitely no turtle doves for this kid.  I decided, right then and there:  "From here on in, I'm going to give gifts that will last the whole year through.  Gifts that money can't buy.  Here are my 12 Gifts of Christmas...

In the first month of the new year, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Undivided Attention;
In the second month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Love;
In the third month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Simple Pleasures;
In the fourth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Tenderness;
In the fifth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Joy;
In the sixth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Creative Energy;
In the seventh month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of my Enthusiasm;
In the eighth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Surprise;
In the ninth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Wonder;
In the tenth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Peaceful Surroundings;
In the eleventh month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Fun;
In the twelfth month, I'll give my true loves, the gift of Thankfulness and Good Cheer.

As a matter of fact, why wait for Santa?  Why wait until the new year?  Me thinks I'll just start right now.

Have a wonderful week and remember to drop by just before Christmas Eve for a lovely surprise ... a holiday gift from me to you!

Happy Holidays,
Sharon

P.S. Thanks goes to Sarah Breathnach for the inspiration (and a few of her salient sentences, thoughts and words) for this article.

40 Penny Pinching Holiday Gift Ideas, Pt 2

I'd like to thank all of my readers who sent me such delightful emails or left comments last week.  I appreciate the support of my blog and I was really touched by so many kind comments.  It is very gratifying to know that a) what I am writing is read LOL and b) you found the ideas, suggestions and the tiny tutorials in the blog post helpful in getting your projects together. 

Thanks for stopping by today to read "round 2".  This week I had some time to get some photos together!! I sincerely hope you find some inspiration and ideas that you can put together to help $ave you some dollar$ this holiday season.

21. Sew some fun kitchen projects - potholders that double as oven mitts, a 1 yd. apron, a casserole holder, dish liquid bottle apron, hanging hand towel (also great for the bathroom!) even a tablecloth. Quick and easy projects for even the beginning sewer.




 
22. Make Dog Biscuits for a furry friend. My little doggie Shelby reminded me to not to forget all our furry friends who love homemade dog biscuits. He wanted me to tell you:  "Send my mom an email for my two favourites, Cheddar Cheese and Peanut Butter. You can use Christmas cookie cutters to cut them out and bake them in your oven like my mom does!"

Put your finished biscuits, after they are cooled,  in a tin or decorate a zip lock bag for gift giving with the following note: "Like most homemade baked goods, these dog treats are preservative-free. They must be refrigerated or frozen. When refrigerated, the treats will be good for about one week, while they will last indefinitely when frozen."

Not to forget those Kitty Lovers among us ... here's a recipe for Catnip Cookies...

* 1 cup of all-purpose flour
* 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour
* 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
* 2-4 tablespoons of catnip (you can buy it in a pet store)
* 1/3 cup of milk
* 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
* 1 tablespoon of molasses
* 1 egg

 Directions
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, wheat germ and catnip).
3. Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl (egg, milk, vegetable oil, and molasses.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and work it into a dough
5. Lightly flour the counter or other work surface
6. Remove a portion of dough and use a rolling pin to uniformly flatten the dough to a thickness between
1/8 of an inch and 1/4 of an inch.
7. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares using a rolling pizza cutter or a cookie cutter of your choice.
8. Place the cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
9. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are crisp and lightly browned.

This recipe will make approximately 50 medium-sized cat treats. Once the treats have cooled, gently remove them and place the cookies into several small freezer bags. Extend the life of these treats, store them inside the freezer in several small freezer bags. As needed remove a bag from the freezer and leave it out for several hours to thaw. Once the treats are thawed, transfer into a tightly closed container and store inside the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

From: All Natural Cat Treat Recipes: Cook Up a Batch of Delicious Homemade Cookies for Kitties at
http://www.suite101.com/content/all-natural-cat-treat-recipes-a63543#ixzz17a5CA8uY

23. Easy Fleecey Wearables... baby mitts, adult mitts, balaklava, cape, fleecey muffler scarf and more. Bundle up and stay warm this winter with these quick and easy to sew projects.


24. Purchase a large loaf pan and include a Tea Bread Mix along with the recipe to "finish it up and bake".

If you would like to do this project, you will need 4 medium sized ziploc bags. a basic Tea Bread Mix recipe
and recipes for making various types of delicious teabreads and large loaf pans. Each pan will hold two Tea Bread mixes. They make a great gift for people who appreciate home baking but don't have the time (or inclination or talent) to do it themselves. Click here for the basic Make-a-Mix recipe to fill 4 medium sized ziploc bags with the basic ingredients. The recipes for including with your make a mix basic ingredients baggie are : Apple Nut Cinammon Quick Bread; Banana Nut Cream Cheese Quick Bread.

Two of these mixes, along with the recipes to "finish them" nestled in a loaf pan and wrapped in cellophane with a curly bow on top make a lovely gift. They take less than 10 minutes to put together and pop into the oven. These recipes have been "taste tested" by my family and passed with flying colours!!

25. Make an Altered Lunch Box.  Take your lunch to school or work in style.  A fun project to make for children, teens and maybe even yourself! You can purchase "new" lunch boxes to alter at Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

26. Sew an Art Tote for a friend or an Activity Bag (just add a few pockets on the outside to hold crayons, etc.) for a child or teen. You may even want to add some supplies to the tote... watercolour paper, drawing paper, acrylics, watercolor paint, paint brushes, crayons, markers, and colouring books are just a few suggestions.  It's an easy, quick  project for even the novice sewer.  Here's a photo of the activity bag I made from some leftover jean fabric (you could recycle some jeans!) and less than a yard of purchased materials.  This is for my "rick rack loving" granddaughter and will be stuffed with art supplies:



27. A Dishtowel Angel is a fun, little project for the kitchen.  All you need is a dish towel, washcloth and potholder.  Everyone needs a kitchen angel!!! 


28. No Sew Doggie Bed - here's a no sew doggie bed made with fleece material and stuffed with polyfill. Sweet for small dogs. Tutorial and photos posted by LilFiney on the Craftster website.  Hope she doesn't mind that I have included one of her photographs to show you.  I didn't have a way to get in touch with her to ask permission.  If anyone knows her and how to get in touch with her, please let me know.

If you are into recycling or have a dog who loves to dig out the polyfill stuffing (like mine does!), here's another idea.  My little Shelby loves his soft, cuddly bed that I made from a recycled mattress protector, polyfill from an extra pillow and some fleece with velour hearts on it.  He loves to have lots of his treasured "toys" in bed with him (he's had the little teddy bear since he was a puppy.  He loves that little bear... he treats it very gently and even talks to it LOL)  This simple design is perfect for him.

I simply cut the single bed mattress protector in half, sewed the edges leaving an opening at the top to stuff it.  Once it was stuffed, I sewed across the opening and "tuffed" it with quilting thread (thread a large darning needle with double quilting thread, insert the needle so that it goes all the way through the stuffed bag from one side to the other.  Take a stitch. Bring it back up and tie a double knot.  Repeat this in regular intervals over the whole  bag (on a 36" square bag, a tuft every 6 inches or so)  This will keep the polyfill from bunching up.  Now make a cover for this inner bag.  Measure the bag.  Double the material and cut it to size to fit the inner bag.  Sew both edges and part of each side on the top.  You could make an outer cover with a hidden zipper at one end (this is the way I did it) or attach velcro on the seam allowances.  Takes no time at all to make and is easy to keep clean.  Just unzip the cover and throw it in the washing machine.

29.  Make a cute Spool Baby.  A bit of whimsy for the tree or as a "trinket" to attach to a gift 

30. Polymer clay buttons. Watch a video here to make some simple buttons for that sweater you knit for your sister, friend or grandchild.  Sewers always appreciate buttons for their creations.  Make some fancier ones for a friend or relative in their favourite colour.  Attach them to a card and voila... a lovely little stocking stuffer gift.

31. Enchanted Evening Kit - You can often find fancy cut glass bowls in thrift stores for pennies.  Add some floating candles and a few pretty silk flowers for decoration.  Add a split of champagne and two glasses and voila you have a lovely floating candles kit for a romantic evening during the Holiday season. 

32. Luxury Bath Kit -  purchase some votive candle holders at your local thrift store (they usually have tons of them for pennies on the dollar).  Couple it with a candle, bath salts, bubble bath, dreamy custom mix CD, a couple of chocolates, a fluffy bath towel and a romantic paperback book.

33. Vintage gift tags. Cover both sides of some ATC sized matboard (2-1/2" x 3-1/2") with dictionary or old ad paper. Using distress ink, ink the edges. Glue a vintage image to the front. Punch a hole in the top and
add a piece of ribbon. A set of six for a friend who loves vintage makes a fun gift!  Here's a photo of some I made (at the bottom of the photo) along with some ornies for the tree (at the top) to match.


34. Bamboo Tile Book Thong- You can leave the bamboo tile as is or paint it. Once dry, glue a printed
image to the front of a bamboo tile. Let dry. Seal it with several coats of gloss acrylic (Triple Thick, available at Michaels works well). Let dry. Cut approx. 30 inches of waxed linen cord. Thread it through the holes in the bamboo tile and even it up at the ends. Tie a knot. Now thread a couple of beads through both ends of the cord. Tie a knot to hold them in place. A couple of inches from the end of the cord, make a knot. Add a few more beads and knot. Your book thong is ready to place in a book or journal for gift-giving.  Here's a photo of some I made, although I used wire in the bamboo tile and attached the waxed linen thread to the loop on the wire.

35. Make some Homemade Vanilla Extract. Immerse a few whole vanilla beans in vodka in a tall bottle with a tag saying, "Don't open until Spring." Homemade vanilla extract is worth the wait.

36. Make a set of luxurious cotton damask napkins. A yard and three quarters of 45" tablecloth damask will make 6 - 20"x20" dinner napkins. For something special... look on e-Bay for some deals on retro or vintage fabric. Neatly hemmed, starched, folded and tied with a pretty ribbon this gift will delight a hostess who loves vintage linens. Here's a link to napkin folds you can do to make your package even more special (include the instructions with your gift)

37. Collage a small hat box and fill it with Christmas and herbal teas, tea cups, pretty napkins and some home baked Christmas cookies.

38. Go through your art supplies and fill a  decorated box with "goodies" for an art friend.  Every artist or crafter I know loves "rifling" through a treasure box of goodies!

39. Pull out your beads and make a necklace, earrings and bracelet . Lots of ideas and instructions at Fire
Mountain Gems  or Artbeads

40. Holiday Breakfast Treat Basket.  Fill small jars with "Lemon Curd". Add a "make a mix" jar of breakfast scones and a recipe for Mock Devonshire Cream. Yummy!! According to my SIL, Christmas morning at our house (we spend Christmas with my SIL and BIL each year) wouldn't be the same if we didn't have curd, apple, cream cheese scones and my version of devonshire cream. She waits all year for this delightfully scrumpcious treat!

Spray paint a basket red, tuck in a few Christmas napkins, some shiny red apples and 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese along with the ready make a mix, the finished curd and the recipe for the devonshire cream.  The only thing that the recipient will have to purchase is whipping cream (that just won't keep in a basket unrefrigerated!).  Wrap the basket in clear cellophane and tie it with a big red bow! Send me an email for the recipes.


There you have it - 40 ideas to keep you busy and save you some pennies this holiday season!  But more importantly... there is nothing like a gift made by a friend or relative that says "I love you" or "I value our friendship" more loudly than the time and effort that goes into making or putting together a gift you know they will enjoy.
 
I hope these blog posts have given you some ideas of homemade with love gifts for your friends and family.  Gosh, I am really on a roll.  There are still lots more ideas floating around in my head LOL.  For example, a set of fun MOO cards (small artistic business cards) like the one below for a friend with her "particulars" on the back

or maybe some cute fridge magnets like these



Oh well, guess all those ideas will just be added to the list for next year. LOL

I'll be out most of the day on Friday and Saturday at a Christmas lunch with my claymates but will answer any emails as soon as I can.

Have fun making holiday gifts this week,
Sharon

40 Penny Pinching Christmas Gift Ideas, Part 1

Are you feeling pinched for pennies as the season of gift giving approaches?  With unemployment figures high, budgets squeezed tight, feeling cash poor and personal credit card debt at an all time high, Christmas can be a very stressful time for many when it comes to putting presents under the tree.

Over the next two weeks, I will post 40 Penny Pinching ideas for Christmas gifts.  Over the years, I have made just about every one of these ideas at one time or other. I've tried to include a little bit of everything for all levels of "artistic talent".  For the most part, the emphasis is on EASY and QUICK.  I could kick myself now that I often forgot to take pictures of my "creations" but many of the links I am including have photos and for the rest I guess you'll just have to use your imagination!  LOL

Here are the first 20 ...

1. Create a custom mix CD of songs or music. You can even include a recorded greeting. If you don't have media creation software, you can download a free copy of Audacity, an audio sound editor and recorder, to create your files and then burn to a CD on your computer. Your can find documentation and support by clicking on the Help button on their site. If you have never used this software or something similar before, please read the documentation before you begin your project.  It will save you a lot of headaches!  Once you get the hang of it, it will be easy as pie.


2. Homemade Baked Goods - find some pretty tins, paper doilies, cellophane, and satin ribbon then make a batch of brownies, shortbread, or other favourite cookie to put in the tin.  Wrap the tin in cellophane with a big satin bow on top!

3. Herbal Olive Oil Bottles - purchase some interesting bottles with cork tops (Ikea, Pier 1, Michaels etc.) and some herb sprigs at your local grocery store ( rosemary, basil, thyme, dill or mint). Purchase some extra virgin olive oil, add the sprig herb of your choice to the bottle and fill with the oil. Pop the cork back in the bottle. cut a small strip of paper to put round the cork rim and seal it by dripping a small wax birthday candle around the rim.  Not completely foolproof but it works to transport it!  Create a tag to put around the bottle naming the type of "herb oil" it is and pop it into a bottle gift bag for giving.

4. Crochet hats, slippers, scarfs, may even a tea cosy - lots of free patterns on the Internet. Here's a place to start

5. Make some polymer clay snowman or "cookie" ornaments for the tree. Here's a "how to" video at UTube


6. Decorate empty "foodstuff" jars with vintage perfume labels. Fill them with bath salts, bubble bath, cotton balls, cotton tips, bath bombs, little soaps, etc.. Paint the lids. Add some pretty ribbon around the neck of the bottle Click here to see a "Vintage Decorator Bed and Bath Kit" I designed for DigiScrap Station that is available for purchase.


7. Make some Homemade soap bars. Click here for some basic "recipes"

8. No sew fleece blankets. Decide how big you want the blanket. Purchase two pieces of fleece fabric at your local fabric store (one piece for the front and one for the back). Cut to size.  Pin both pieces wrong sides together so that they are lined up. Cut a border of 2-1/2 inch "fringe" all around through both pieces of fabric. Tie the top and bottom parts of the fringe together and voila, you have a finished blanket.

9. Make a bundle of all occasion blank greeting cards tied with a pretty bow. - birthdays and other special days in the year (Mother's Day, Father's day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, etc.). Purchase some card blanks at your local art store along with some double sided tape. Print copyright free images on Epson Premium Presentation Paper (C13S041257) or other good quality, matte brochure paper . Cut out and tape neatly to the front of the the card blank. Leave the inside of the card blank. If you draw well, you can also draw directly onto these cards or use a drawing that you have scanned into your computer and print copies of it on the presentation paper.

10. Make a lovely Cookie Bouquet. Here's a tutorial to show you how to.

11. Not into cookies. How about a Christmas Candy Wreath? Here's a UTube tutorial.

12. Scout around second hand or thrift stores for a tabletop artificial Christmas tree. Decorate it with German Paper Stars or other small ornaments (i.e. little Christmas balls, silk flowers, etc.).  A lovely gift to bring some Christmas cheer to a senior citizen's room!

13. Make some homemade Truffles. Here's one of my favourite recipes. I use dark chocolate instead of semi sweet.  Making your own candied orange peel to add to it is easy and delicious. Package your truffles in a small, decorated box for gift giving.


14. Make some "faux" vintage typewriter jewellery for a friend that will cost you pennies! Here's a tutorial and kit I wrote, along with digital images of all the keys.   Available for purchase from DigiScrapStation.

15. Give the gift of your time! Create some babysitting coupons for new parents. How about a "gift certificate" for "cooking lessons" or an "art day" with a friend, relative or grandchildren. An invitation to a special "tea party afternoon" for friends in January to chase away the January doldrums!!

16. Put together a Sunday Breakfast basket - Find a basket you are no longer using and fill it with gourmet oatmeal, baby food jars with a couple jars of  homemade jam, pancake mix, pancake syrup,and a small gift certificate from your local bakery.

17. Make some Hot Chocolate Cones  Fill clear, disposable frosting bags with hot chocolate. Add a marshmallow and sprinkle crushed peppermint candy on top. Tie with some curly ribbon and put it in a Christmas mug. 

If you can't find disposable frosting bags, make your own with some cellophane.  Just roll doubled cellophane into a small cone, tape together and fill.  Don't want to have to buy a Christmas mug?  The next time you purchase a take out coffee, ask the barista for an empty large cup.  They are usually pretty accommodating at "gifting" you with one.  Cover it with Christmas paper or paint it, adding some Christmas collage images to dress it up.


18.Share a favourite, more exotic recipe (i.e. Indian, Thai, Chinese, Greek, Jamaican, etc.) and make a spice sampler to go along with it. Purchase bulk spices, make the mix and bag in either tight closing small plastic bags or small baby food jars with a label (need a label? You might like these red rooster labels I designed for DigiScrap Station). You could also make some little spice/herb bags of meat rubs or marinade mixes. You could also package up the "fixings" for your favourite barbecue sauce and include the recipe.  Search the Internet for recipes if you don't have any.  I'd suggest trying them out first to see if you like it!  I made Jamaican jerk seasoning for my brother in law a couple of years ago and he loved it!!

P.S.  Using the Red Rooster Label Add on Kit, I've recycled empty foodstuff jars into practical containers for my cupboards as well as given them as gifts.  The bulk food aisle is a great place to shop to fill these containers.  A gift that was really appreciated by a friend were five recycled spaghetti sauce jars with new red rooster labels indicating the contents... a jar of pecans, one of almonds, one of walnuts, one of cashews, one of peanuts.  I put them all in a basket, tied a bow around the handle and the tag read: "From one nutty friend to another!"  She loved that gift and still talks about it....

19. Tile Trivets. Purchase some "end of the line" fancy ceramic tiles and a piece of cork sheet flooring at your local flooring store. Trace the size of the tile around the cork. Cut out and glue to the bottom of the tile with a good carpenters glue.  Purchase a package of small plastic "feet" protectors and stick one to each corner of the trivet on the bottom of the tile. Voila... a lovely trivet for your table or counter.

20. Make a pair of hand warmers. Youngsters and teens waiting for the school bus on a cold winter day will appreciate these to tuck inside their mitts.  Dad will too!! Here are a couple of ways to make them..

Cut two pieces of flannelette 3-1/2" x 4". Wrong sides together, and with a 1/4 inch seam, sew around all sides to make a small bag but leaving an opening on the top large enough to turn the bag to the right side. Clip the corners diagonally (make sure that you don't cut through the sewn thread). Turn. Fill the bag with rice (using a funnel helps keep the rice from going everywhere). Fold the seam allowance on the top to the inside and sew securely across the top to close the bag. To heat the rice kernels in your little bag, just pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute.  Toasty warm hands...

Method 2 - a recycling project!
Does your dryer eat socks like mine does? Use those stray socks to make a handwarmer. Cut the top off the sock. Turn inside out and sew the bottom together securely. Sew the top of the socks leaving a small opening (large enough for a small funnel to go through.) Using the funnel, fill the sock with rice. On the outside, sew the opening closed and you're done!  Just pop into the microwave to heat them up.

P.S.  Some people use ceramic pie weights in their handwarmers.  Personally they might be okay for adults but I would be careful using them in handwarmers for kidlets.  Heating them in the microwave could make them too hot for little hands and end up burning their delicate skin.

Hope this has given you some ideas to get going on this week!  Stop by again next week for another 20 ideas that you can make before Christmas arrives!!

Have a wonderful week,
Sharon

Steampunk Altoid Tins...

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of doing a demo for my claying guild, the Vancouver Island Polymer Clay Guild on covering altoid tins and giving them some ideas around "steampunking" them.

Originally we had planned to make Christmas ornaments/little gifts so I had brought along some samples of *stuff* I have been working on.  Well, the moment they saw one of the altoid tins I had made as a "gift box" for a gift card I am giving a friend for Christmas, the ornaments were completely forgotten.  Silence in the room.  Here are a couple of photos of  the tin I showed them...(my friend likes bling... so I added some "jewels" to this tin)




"Do you want to do Steampunk Altoid tins instead?" I asked innocently.  GRIN. 

Head nodding enthusiasm, with a few Yippes thrown in for good measure, erupted in our friend Barb's lovely art studio!  And it just so happened LOL that our claying friend Barb has a formidable stash of altoid tins she was willing to share with us tucked away in one of her art table drawers. 

Claying in Barb's studio is FUN!  After the summer break, she graciously made her studio available for us to clay in once a month.  We aren't a big group so there is lots of room to spread out.  And Barb has everything... and I do mean that!  Stamps, texture plates, clay, paint, Pearl Ex... you name it... Barb has it in abundance.  What fun it is to have permission to "paw" through her stuff to see what you can discover!  She has to be one of the most giving, fun and sharing women I know.

I spent most of my time showing some of the "newer" clayers some little tricks in preparing their clay, texturizing it and covering their tins while Barb and Deb, the more experienced clayers in our little group, just charged ahead.  We used Pearl Ex to add colour to the black clay and emphasize the patterns in the clay. And Barb, bless her, just 'happened to have' some gears that she shared with everyone. 

Our claying friend Janet had to leave early so I don't have a photo of her tin but here's a photo of Barb, Deb and Irene's finished products... which doesn't do them justice at all!  All they need now is a coat of Future floor wax to finish them off and give them some sheen and to glue the "gears" down. Conversely, you can use "Triple Thick" to give them a wet, glossy finish if that is more to your liking.

It's hard photographing "metallics" so that they show up in all their glory... but didn't they do a *great* job???  This was Irene's first *big* claying project and she was absolutely thrilled with the results. 


I usually make my little tins with small feet and a "drawer" pull and they end up looking like little jewel cases.  There are lots of ideas for finishing the inside... you can glue in paper and make a little collage or just leave it plain.  You can use fabric and polyfill on the inside for a lovely, soft padded effect. 

There are lots of practical uses for these covered altoid tins and its use can determine how you finish it.   Here are a few ideas that come to mind:

* A little sewing kit with a pin cushion, thread, tiny scissors, etc. inside.
* A "fancy tin" to store your loose change for parking meters, parking garages or a quick cup of java at the takeout window! The tins tuck nicely into your purse (or your hubby's jacket pocket) and you'll never say *$%@#& again when you dump out all of your pocketbook change to "pay" and discover that all you have are pennies, nickels or dimes!
* A gift card box... they are the perfect size.
* A key or small trinket box for little stuff.
* A place to store your IPod earbuds, batteries and the "memory" cards for your digital camera.
*You can even make one of these tins into a portable media storage tin with the addition of a "memory stick"
* An ATC card holder (I am currently working on one to hold a number of my favourite steampunk ATC's)

You can also finish the top of the tin in a number of ways.  Here's another one I did adding a piece of embossed copper foil that I antiqued to the top...



What are some ideas you have for finishing these tins either with clay or without?  Has this blog post inspired you to cover a tin for yourself or as a gift for Christmas? I'm sure all my readers would love to hear your ideas or see a photo.  Leave a comment and let us know where we could see your "creation".   If you don't have a blog, send me a photo, I'll publish it here for the world to see.

Till next week,
Sharon
 

Christmas is in the Air...

This has been a particularly busy last couple of weeks... and quite a week past.  On Monday, on my way home from running errands, my car was rear ended causing about $5,000.00 in damage.  I was not hurt but it's a real pain in the *you know what* to have to deal with it.  It was raining and there were so many accidents that day that we can't even get the car in for repair until the end of this month! 

Wednesday, things picked up considerably... I entered a local TV contest and won two tickets to the Leonard Cohen concert here in Victoria on November 30.  I was absolutely thrilled and my hubby, who just loves L.C. was over the moon.  The tickets were rather expensive for us right now, so much to our regret we had decided to pass.  A lovely, unexpected gift! 

Friday brought a *birthday party* for our little pooch, Mr. Shelby, who turned 10!  It was hilarious how his head went back and forth, side to side, when we sang him Happy Birthday. He got so excited and was jumping all over the place like a puppy.  He knew those extra yummy treats were coming....
But alas!  It was raining outside and his lovely, fluffy Bichon*hairdo* went all curly before we could get a photo of him.  Like he cared!  All he wanted to do after a trip outside was curl up on the "studio" couch in his afghan and take in the warmth of the fireplace! 
 


Friday also blessed us with a pretty blanket of swirling snow overnight.  Boy did that wind howl through the pine trees in our backyard!  I woke up in the middle of the night and looked outside... those giant Douglas fir tree tops were swaying pretty darn good.  It has always amazed me at how the first snowfall makes things look so fresh.... I love it!!  The cold plays havoc with my arthritis... my hips were just pounding in spite of having taken some medication... but once I got up this morning and got moving, things improved.

The past couple of weeks has seen Christmas breaking out all over my studio!  Little clay angels, the snowbabies I love to make, swirlie suckers, tiny peppermint candy and ribbon candy ornies as well as some tiny presents with bows.  Here are some photos...





 Of course I didn't stop there... had to make a few little gifts!  Here is a photo of a pretty poinsetta pin....



And some shawl pins.  These were fun to make... I like making odd shapes!  I attached them to a fuzzy collar so you can see how fun and funky they look in use!  I love the watercolor effect I achieved for the one on the right.  Don't ask me how it happened... it just did!!  You never know what you will get when you smusch clay together!


Hope this nudges you towards some Christmas creations and sends some inspiration your way this week.   There is nothing like a handmade gift for your friends and family for Christmas that says "I love you" more loudly!!!

A wonderful Thanksgiving to all my American readers this coming week!

Sharon

Haunted Halloween House... and a Fun, Ghostly Tale

Happy Halloween everyone!  This week I have a fun, ghost story from the Pacific Northwest by one of my favourite "storytellers" Margaret Read McDonald AND a preview photo of the "Haunted Halloween House" I made in polymer clay and set into a frame.


What a lot of fun it was making this house!  Our friends, Scott and Sandy, are great Halloween fans and go all out with decorating their yard.  It was a source of inspiration for me when putting this polymer clay house with its embellishments together.  

According to hubby, the pumpkins look downright REAL and he loves the bats swooping across the sky.  I was a little disappointed in the moon... UNTIL... I turned the lights off.  Made from "glow in the dark" clay, I was amazed at how long you could see the moon in the dark!  The windows are made from a transparency with alcohol ink dribbled on it and then backed with silver paper.  The rough frame was made from paper mache clay and then painted with metallic paints.

Of course, every haunted house deserves a spooky ghost story to go along with it.  With that in mind, here is a wonderful "true" short tale from the Pacific Northwest.

The Femme Fatale of Rosario Resort
Orcas Island, Washington

Rosario Resort on Orcas Island occupies the former mansion of Robert Moran. In 1939 the mansion changed owners and a flamboyant lady by the name of Alice Rheem took residence. Rumour has it that her husband bought the remote property as a useful place to ensconce Alice and her drinking habit. She became a familiar figure on the island, riding around on a motor scooter, often after one drink too many, sometimes dressed only in her red nightgown. And she was known to have a proclivity for handsome young soldiers, bringing them back to the mansion whenever her husband was away. Alice eventually died in the mansion, supposedly a victim of too much drink. But she seems not to have left quite yet.

As recently as 1986 Alice was causing havoc. A tired housekeeping employee bedded down in an empty room in the mansion one night rather than drive home. Just as she was dropping off to sleep, she noticed a shadow pass across the wall. Turning on the light, she saw nothing. But the shadow moved again and something touched her hand. She waited and seeing nothing was about to trun off the light and go back to bed when she felt fingers caressing her hand. The girl bolted from the hotel, tossing the key to the desk clerk. "There's something in that room!" He shrugged, put the key back on the hook, and noticed that it was midnight.

As it happened, a trio of entertainers had been staying in the room next to her that night. They complained as they dropped off their key in the morning. "How long will that woman be staying next to us?" The desk clerk assured them that she had already left at midnight, the night before. But the entertainers had been kept awake all night, they said, by her carousing. Just before midnight they'd seen the light under the door go on and off three times. then the bed began to creak and the moans of passionate lovemaking started up. they were kept awake all night. The key to the room still hung on its hook and the desk clerk hadn't given it to anyone else. The hotel staff suspect that Alice was at work.

From the book "Ghost Stories of the Pacific Northwest" by Margaret Read McDonald
(Source: Seattle Weekly writer Kathryn Robinson)

Happy Halloween!  Have fun and stay safe...

Sharon

P.S.   I decided to extend the time to get the  "Halloween Hilda" ATC Tutorial  under Current Free Trade Downloads to November 5.  If you would like this ATC tutorial package, Get it NOW as it will be retired on Nov. 5 and no longer available!!  Click on Current Free Trade Downloads link under the header at the top of this page to read how you can get this tutorial.

Sidney Fine Arts Show Juried Art Entry - "How the Cow Comes Home"

Our Internet connection was down this morning so I apologize for posting this much later than I wanted and promised to...

Today, allow me to introduce you to "How the Cow Comes Home"... a whimsical, ceramic/polymer clay cow that simply stole my heart while I was creating her.




Photos often don't do justice to some art work and this is certainly the case with "How the Cow Comes Home".  It is difficult to see the subtle shading on this piece of fun loving art.

As many of you know, I don't plan my work.  I just get the idea, begin the project and allow the piece to tell me what it needs and wants until it is complete.  My job is simply to carry out wishes.  I certainly had a barrel of laughs with this piece... she was quite the fussy gal as she came into being. LOL.  With a "life purpose" of spreading warmth, joy, and laughter, this little cow snuggled right down into my heart and skipped gleefully through my soul every day I worked on her.

After another polymer clay piece, "If Pigs Could Fly"  I created earlier this year sold at the Sooke Fine Arts Festival, my friend Cindy wrote me an email and asked, "Okay, so what are you going to do next?"  I was still basking in the sale of my sweet Pig and hadn't really given it much thought.  Off the top of my head and laughing, I wrote back "Oh cows I guess! LOL"  and promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, our doorbell rang.  There was the postman with a package for me from Cindy.  I opened it up and burst out laughing.  Inside the package was a plain vanilla ceramic bisque cow (and a very tiny little pig).  I took it out of its packaging and set it on the kitchen table.  The first thing that popped into my head was "I want a personality."  "Okay, you've got it.  But not this week."  I said. Work on her began the following week.

When I "do" art, the storytelling side of my personality emerges.  Just about every piece I do has a story attached to it.  The story that forms and takes shape during the creation process is one I either "feel" or can articulate in actual words.  And so it was with "How the Cow Comes Home".  A "fable" was emerging and guiding the process!  It began like this:

"Once, there was a chocolate milk brown cow named Gertrude who lived in the mountains of Switzerland. In the winter, she lived with her family in a small village at the foot of a mountain. It was a quaint little town well known across the world for the tasty cheeses and chocolate produced by the farmers from her family's milk."

And, as "Gertrude" began to take on a personality, the story began to grow.  What fun I was having doing two things that I love both at the same time... art and storytelling.  I found myself becoming very curious about cows.  I had never really thought much about how cows ... certainly not as an adult.
 
If you have been following my blog for any time, you will know that when I was young, my grandpa had a dairy farm.  As a child, I remember feeling very intimidated by the size and strength of those cows in that enormous barn out behind the farmhouse .   They were BIG!
 
My grandpa was proud of his herd and each one of them (there were about 20) had a name.  According to my grandfather, each of them also had their own distinct personality.  I remember him and my grandmother talking about them as if they were their children... which, in a sense, they were.  Those cows were at the center of their livelihood.
 
As this whimsical little cow progressed,  "she" began to take on a personality.  I could hardly wait to get up in the morning to work on her.  Some of "her" ideas about how she wanted to become really did make me wonder some days!  Especially the morning when I got up and decided that I had to find the perfect compass to put on her head as sort of a brim to shield her eyes and to make sure she could find her way home.  Hubby roared laughing when I told him that little tidbit at the breakfast table. 
 
 "You're just having too much fun with this cow." he said with a big grin on his face.  "and  I'm having a great time just waiting to hear what comes next."

Fast foward... Adjudication time! When I unwrapped her at the "art centre" and brought her into the jurors room, I just told her to "go WOW those judges with your wonderful personality." Well, as you all know, she did.  She was accepted for the show.


The weekend of the show, the cold I had been nursing took a turn for the worse. I felt absolutely rotten and slept most of the time. It really ticked me off that I couldn't go out and enjoy looking at all the art on display. Phooey!!!

Fortunately, hubby and I had made it to the Artists Reception before the show actually started. Both of my pieces had received great placement. They were the first pieces you saw when you walked through one of the doors. I was delighted with the way they had been showcased.

They looked so wonderfully whimsical and fun in their spot. I felt so proud of them! I hung out around them for a few minutes to judge the reaction of other attendees discovering them. Onlookers laughed or smiled when they spotted them.

One older gentleman just couldn't help himself... he had to play with the teapot. I watched as he surreptiously moved towards to the teapot. Out shot his hand. He flicked the coil beneath the little bird with his finger. He burst out laughing as the bird began to move and sway!  I loved witnessing that moment. The pieces were "doing their job" ... spreading some joy and fun around. 
I was surprised when I didn't receive a phone call over the weekend telling me that one or the other had sold. I had been sure that the cow would sell. Who could possibly resist that cute, whimsical bundle of laughter and fun? 

I was a tad bit disappointed.  On the other hand, I feel it is an honour to make it into a show and 98% of the time, it's okay with me either way if a piece sells or it doesn't.

Being accepted into a show is a thrilling experience. It tells me that the jurors deem my piece "sell worthy" for this particular show.  After all, isn't this what the show's sponsor as well as the artist wants to do?  But it's also a way of spreading some enjoyment around.  There are bound to be some people who like what I have done.  The bottom line:  If my piece sells, it is a bonus. If it doesn't, that okay for me too.

Some people have asked me how I can be so okay with a piece not being accepted or selling.   Here's my answer:  I have never put a piece into a show that I didn't love in the first place. 

If it doesn't sell, it is not a reflection on the piece.  Affordability, size and "does it fit into my lifestyle?" are just some factors I believe are often considered by buyers.  But I also believe that a piece of art is a very subjective to the buyer.  If you fall in love with a piece, you will move heaven and earth to get it if you must.  That's certainly been my experience with art I have purchased.

But you know,  the best thing is that if  a piece of my art doesn't sell,  I get to keep it and perhaps show it again.  It all depends on the "rules" of any given show.  I recognize that juried art shows can't accept every piece that is submitted.  They often turn away pieces that I would consider beautiful pieces of art.  Art can be so subjective!!  Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder.

I firmly attest to the idea that attitude is everything when it comes to artists selling their art.  It  definitely determines your altitude.  The way I look at it is this: 33-1/3% of people who see my art will love it.  33-1/3% will stand in judgment and find everything they can wrong about it or simply not like it.  33-1/3% will not care one way or the other.  My attitude is... who do I want to hang out with and who do I want my art to be purchased by?  The answer is self explanatory. 

My heart was light.  Off we went to Sidney to pick up my pieces.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the cow had sold. I was delighted! You are about to read what I consider to be the best and most special part of this whole experience... getting to meet my buyer.

Accompanied by an art show volunteer, hubby and I went into the hall to pick up the teapot. As we stopped in front of the display area, a voice behind me said, "What a pleasure it is to meet the artist of these wonderful pieces." I turned around and there was a gentleman with a huge smile on his face. He extended his hand, introduced himself and told me that he wanted to meet the artist who had created the cow.  He had purchased it and was going to take it home with him.

I was delighted. Rarely does one get the opportunity of meeting the buyer of a piece in an art show. This was a very special treat. As we chatted, I discovered that he was a volunteer at the show and wanted to meet me to tell me how much he enjoyed this whimsical little cow. "Every time I look at her, I smile" he said. "I knew that I just had to buy her and take her home with me. I just love the whimsey about her."
It was such a wonderful experience to see and hear how much he appreciated what I had done and how excited he was to have the piece as his own. I was deeply touched by his words.

I let him know that it was a rare treat to meet the buyer and one of the things I liked to do was to send a personal thank you note to the purchaser of any of my pieces. I also told him that I usually wrote the "back story" on all of my pieces once they were done and I would love to to share it with him when it was complete. He was interested in receiving it so gave me his phone number and an email address to get in touch with him.. It was truly a lovely conversation and I was thrilled to bits to have had the opportunity of meeting him.

First thing the next day, I wrote him an email thanking him again for purchasing "How the Cow Comes Home" .  As well, I shared with him some of my more personal thoughts about the piece and the experience of creating it.  I promised, once again, to send him the background story when it is finished.

Yesterday morning, I opened up my email and there was a reply to my email from him. Only two words can describe it... beautiful and deeply touching. As I read it, tears welled up in my eyes.
In his email he told me that he had fallen in love with her the first time he saw her during the jurying process. When he saw her in the show, he was not only delighted but knew that he just had to have her. He wanted me to know that she will be treasured and for what he believes I created her for - to provide a sense of joy, fun and comfort in her presence. "And thus the reason that I wanted to meet you. I thought that these qualities in Whimsey (her new name) must be a reflection of her creator. That appears to be the case."

What a gracious and lovely thing to say.  How delighted I am that "little cow" has melted his heart.  I understand.  I felt the same way about her.  Now if that isn't special, I don't know what is! SMILE

"Gertrude" will be christened with her new name as I finish editing the story to send to him. I'll share the fable and the interesting "cow facts" I gathered (curiosity got the better of me!) with you story lovers out there when it is finished.
Thanks for stopping by today and sharing in my good fortune.

Wishing you an artful week,
Sharon.

Sidney Fine Arts Show Juried Art Entry - the "Tweet T" Teapot

Well I think I have FINALLY beat the cold that has been plauging me the last couple of weeks into total submission. LOL. 

When my head cleared up, I realized that I had promised to post photos of the two polymer clay submissions that made it into the Sidney Fine Arts show earlier this month.  Better late, than never...  let's start with "Tweet T" and the fun story about her trip to the art show.  Here's a photo of this whimsical steampunk style teapot...


I happen to love tea pots!  Don't ask my why... I just do.  I really enjoyed creating this clay teapot.  What fun it was to see it "come to life" with all of the different textures, the faux screws, charms, vintage clay button replicas, and the clock with clay wings... just some of the "decorations" that found their way on to this creation.  But somehow it felt incomplete and I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  So I did what I usually do when I run up against the "incomplete feeling barrier"... I just set it aside for a couple of weeks.

One afternoon when I was making a pot of tea, the whistle on the kettle sounded and I knew instantly what was needed to finish the teapot.  The image of a blackbird sitting on the end of a branch "tweeting" away was so clear in my mind I actually shuttered on the spot.  LOL.  The thought that followed it actually made me chuckle out loud ...  "Tweet T"... a fun pun!  Needless to say, I finished the teapot that afternoon.

When No. 1 son came to visit in July, he couldn't keep his eyes off "Tweet T".  He fell in love with that teapot... there was something about it that just spoke to him.  A least a dozen times he made comments about it until finally:  "Boy I sure love that piece." popped out of his mouth.  "Be a nice Christmas present." said he.  Hint, hint, nudge, nudge.  When I told him it was destined for the Sidney Show in October, he was visibly disappointed. 

A day or so before he left to go home, we were chatting over a cup of tea about some of my art .  He wants his mama to be famous LOL and wondered if he could do anything to promote my work in the town where he lives.  Once again, he mentioned how much he liked that teapot and said: "Well, you could make something like that for me for Christmas if you'd like."  Well, I was okay with that and said, "Sure, just as long as I have time to get it done."

Fast foward.  Out it went to Sidney for jurying and it got accepted for the show.  When I told No. 1 son about both pieces being accepted, he was happy for me but said: "Well, don't take this the wrong way Mom but I hope Tweet T comes home with you." 

Well I should have known right then and there that there wasn't a chance of it selling and going to someone else..  How dense was I anyway?  GRIN.  He put his name on that teapot and with that kind of energy around it, it was destined not to sell!  And sure enough that is exactly what happened. 

When I went to pick it up after the show, it all became crystal clear.  As I was checking in, I said to the volunteer, "Well that's going to make our eldest son happy.  He really covets that teapot."  DUH!  As it came out of my mouth, I looked at hubby and we both started to laugh.  It was just TOO funny!

No. 1 son doesn't know that it didn't sell.  He asked the wrong question when we chatted about the show WHEW I didn't have to fib!  Imagine his surprise when he opens his Christmas present this year... the look on his face will be priceless.  What a lovely thing to be able to do for such a thoughtful, kind young man.

Tune in tomorrow for the tale of "How the Cow Comes Home" and see a photo.  I have a very special story to tell about the lovely gentleman who bought her at the show that deserves a post all of its own...

See you tomorrow...

Sharon

Halloween Hilda - FREE ATC Download

Hi Everyone...

Well, round two of my cold has shown up.  Just when I thought I had it beat, it has come back with a vengence!!  Tissues are flying everywhere and all I want to do is SLEEP!!  But no cold will stop me from sending a little gift your way....

Halloween Hilda 
the #2 ATC in the Instant 3D Hilda Series 

Here's the sample ATC I made:


The package comes with a ready to print sheet of all the pieces to cut out and put together  plus four embellishments, two bats and two word art banners, "Happy Hallowe'en" and "BOO Day".  Not to worry, detailled instructions on how to put it all together plus a supply list are included.
To find out how to get this fun, fun, fun Halloween ATC, click here.

Well, back to my bed for another round of sleep... if I am a little bit slower than usual getting this Hilda ATC tutorial package out to you, I'm sure you'll understand!  I did want you to have it before BOO season is in full swing.

Have a great week,

Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 7

Here we are at Day 7... my this week went by quickly!  Hope you have enjoyed all the Halloween images this week.

Check back tomorrow when I will be posting photos of my entries that were accepted into the Sidney Fine Arts Show which began this week in Sidney-by-the-Sea, B.C. and my absolute delight discovering my "babies" at the Artists Reception yesterday.

Here's that so "ugly she's cute" witch again from Day 1... LOL!  See you tomorrow!

Right click to download image.

Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 6

SPOOKY!  I loved dressing up as a witch when I was a kid... it sure made my mom happy... that was one easy costume! I always insisted on being the Good Witch... half the time I would give my candy away to little kids we met along the way who didn't have very much in their bags... and then cry when I got home because I hardly had any candy left and my siblings had lots.  My mother, bless her, always gave me 1/2 the pan of rice cripy squares, which I adored and my siblings had to share the rest.  Hmmm... was there a secret method to my generosity after all??

Right click to download the image.
One day to go...

Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 5

Although I can't put my finger on it, I have always found this very old vintage image to be somewhat fascinating... even though it sends chills up my back.  I am not into gargoyles or skeletons... they have scared me since I was a little kid.!
I've included it just to show how brave I am *GRIN* (it's the 13th today!... who me, superstitious???) and for those of you who like this type of Halloween image.


Right click to save to your computer.

Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 4

Now here's a little cutie on Day 4 who would just love to be included on a Halloween "inchie" or "Twinchie" you could trade with a friend!


Right click to save to your computer.  Remember these images are for your personal use only.

Hope you are enjoying these images and having fun creating some neat Halloween art this week.

Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 3

Happy Turkey Day to all my Canadian readers!!  I can hardly wait for the turkey sandwiches... what about you??? LOL

Here's your image for today.  Now these must be Scottish witches!  Look at that pumpkin head in a kilt (showing off his cute knees) playing the fiddle!  I wonder if he is trying to romance one of those beauties round the cauldron?

Right click on the image to save to your computer.

Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images - DAY 2

Here's your image for today... a friendly witch!  This would make a sweet image for a Halloween party invitiation or a postcard to a friend.

Just right click to save to your computer.


Cheers,
Sharon

A Week's Worth of Free Images

Hi everyone!  This week I have been down with a very bad cold with lots of chest congestion!  I am on the mend now but decided to do this week what I had planned for next week... to post seven days of Halloween images for you to play with and enjoy. 

As best I can determine, all are in the public domain and can be used in your artwork.  But please, do not sell or use these images for other purposes (i.e. collage sheets, CD's, collections, etc.).  That's a no-no!!! GRIN

Here's how it works.  Every day this week, a new image will appear.  All you need to do is drop by my blog each day to pick up that day's image and have fun creating some funky Halloween art! 

So let's start with one of my favourites... just right click to copy it to your computer. 

DAY 1


Drop by tomorrow for a new image and hey... tell your friends!

Cheers,
Sharon

My Favourite Top Ten Background Paper Techniques

Before I get into my blog post today, I received some absolutely wonderful news this week I would like to share with you.

BOTH of my entries into the Sidney Fine Arts show were accepted! I was thrilled to bits. To have two pieces chosen out of over 1,200 pieces of art submitted by 512 artists for adjudication and to be among the 388 pieces of art chosen for the show nearly knocked me off my chair. LOL

It was quite funny when I received the letter.  We were on our way out to go pick up my large apple order at the farm where I usually buy them so stopped to pick up our mail.   Aha... an envelope from the Sidney Fine Arts show announcing the results of the adjudication was among the magazines and letters I picked up.  I hopped back into the car.  I felt the envelope.  It was "fat"... ahh... good sign!   I opened the letter, taking it out of the envelope folded in half.

When I looked down at it, I immediately saw "Tweet T" had been accepted for the October show.

"Whoopee" I yelped "Tweet T got in."

Hubby glanced over as I unfolded the letter.  I was so excited at getting the news that Tweet T had made it, I wasn't really looking or paying attention as I unfolded the acceptance letter.
"Look again sweetie!" he said. "They accepted the cow too!"

WHOOOO HOOO!

I guess I don't have to tell you how excited I was.  What a high!  Hubby and I  were bouncing around in our car seats CELEBRATING like... well... remember when you were a teenager and made out in a car...    Need I say more?  We had that car rocking and I am sure that any neighbour who happened to glance out their windows at the time were mighty curious as to what might be going on!  LOL

It certainly has been a fantastic year for me in my art submissions to some of the top Fine Arts shows here on Vancouver Island.  I am just thrilled that these fun, whimsical pieces that are just a joy for me to create are finding favour with the judges and the public.

The pieces I submitted were "How the Cow Comes Home", a whimsical steampunk cow and "Tweet T", a steampunk tea pot with a blackbird in the spout! I will post photos of them once the show begins in a couple of weeks.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that they are both purchased by folks who fall in love with them and want to give them a special spot of their own in their home! (Chuckle)

My Top Ten Background Techniques

Last month in my Art Techniques group, I was the hostess for the Monthly Art Technique (MAT). A number of  ladies in the group tried out my "Magic Paper" technique and made some absolutely stunning background papers. Here's a photo of the magic paper I made and used on a card and a card box to match.



Looking around for an idea for this week's blog post, I decided that I would share with you some of my favourite background paper techniques. It was difficult picking out just ten! I have a notebook with nearly 100 techniques that I have gathered over the years.

To keep this post shorter, I decided to put the techniques along with the "how to" instructions in a PDF file. Some of the techniques may be familiar to you, some may be new or a different "twist" to one you know and some you may have forgotten you even knew!  Here is the list of techniques with some photos to give you an idea of the finished product.

1. Magic Paper Technique


2. Coffee (Tea) Stained Paper and Tags
You can read about some of the paper effects you can achieve with this technique by looking at the different tags.


3. Framable Abstract Art with Perfect Pearls
I looked all over the place for my sample of this but I'll be darned if I can find it to photograph it.  Of course it will turn up once I have posted this article.  LOL.  If and when it does, I will post it here.  But I can tell you that this is a fun technique that produces some absolutely wonderful designs.

4. Dreamy Blended Oil Pastel background


5. Faux Leather Paper with Gold Accents




6. Sparkling Midnight Black Background
This technique is really difficult to photograph, so just imagine what it would look like... it shimmers and sparkles in the light!

7. Delicious Deli /Watercolor Paper Backgrounds
The paper around this little vase was made with watercolor paper, then slightly crumpled and hammered flat!



8. Peaks and Valleys Paper/Canvas


9. Embossed Patent leather paper
This technique does not photograph all that well by itself. Just imagine shiny, embossed paper and you'll get the idea.

10. Blender Pen Transfers

For the PDF download trade instructions for these 10 techniques, click here.

So get ready to stock up on some creative papers!  Get out your cardstock, paint, heat gun, hair dryer, watercolour sprays, grocery bags, paper creaser, texture plates to name just a few of the supples you have stashed and tucked away and have some fun making background papers. 

Hope you have fun with these techniques!

Wishing you an artsy fartsy time creating,

Sharon