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!

Signs of Christmas Everywhere...

The west coast has been hit with some fierce storms the past few days and some parts of Vancouver Island, where I live, are in for a white Christmas.... something that doesn't happen all that often.  I love it when it snows around Christmas... especially those big flakes that drift lazily down and if you stick out your tongue you can catch them!

I have been down with a very bad cold and laryngitis this past week (I sound like a fog horn) and with the medication I am taking, all I want to do is sleep.  I have managed to get a few things done although I have not finished Christmas shopping and at this rate, probably won't!  Guess I'll just cut out pictures of what I was going to get, paste them in a card and take advantage of Boxing Day after Christmas sales.

Every year I make an ornament that I give to friends and special people for their tree or desk.  This year, I made some little angels that make up a choir when I put them all together to photograph them.


They stand about 1 inch tall and are as cute as a bug.  If you are interested in making them, there is a wonderful tutorial by Robyn over at Creations by Curry.

During the latest conflict in the Middle East I was inspired to make some clay peace dove pins with peace in English, Arabic and Hebrew stamped into the clay wings.  It may be wishful thinking but perhaps if enough of us think and show support for peace for the Middle East, it will happen.  While I was at it, I also made a dove scarf pin.  It looks lovely with the black knit scarf I have.  I discovered that it's tough to photograph anything white, so I tacked it to some black corrugated paper in the hopes that it would turn out.  Once it was fired in the oven and sanded, it was so smooth.  It's lovely to just run your finger over the top of it and make wishes!


Here's wishing you a very happy Christmas and lovely holiday season for you and your family!  I'll see you again in the new year...

Merry Christmas...

Sharon XOXOXO

Little Things Come in Big Packages

As I was getting ready today to pack up a "gift of polymer clay" for my dear friend Becky in North Carolina, I realized I hadn't taken any photos of some very cute "little clay things" that are going into the package.  Before I mail it today (late as usual!), I thought I would share some photos with you...

These crochet hooks are for Gramma (my friend's Mom whom I just adore).  Gramma is an avid crocheter and will appreciate these along with the little chocolate "calorie free" stitch markers that go with them.



A bit of background.  Becky and I have been close friends for eons and eons.  Even though we are separated by many, many miles and live on opposite coasts now, we still chat with each other every week. Among the other goodies in the package will be some little red running shoes.  Sorry that the photo below is not great... the shoes are so small that it was hard to get a good photo of them but trust me they are adorable.

 So why the red running shoes?

Well, Becky is a nurse and when she was on the floor she used to wear red tennies.  We used to call her Nurse Becky with the Red Tennies.  She is now in nurse management but the red tennies still hold a lot of significance for her.  They are a reminder for her to listen to and stay true to her heart.  Whenever she is in a quandary, is worried about something or needs to make an important decision we talk about her red tennies!!

Becky can make the little tennies into earrings (she is an avid jewelry maker).  They are less than 1" long and have her initials in them.  Along with them will go the larger shoe that she can make into a pendant or put on a chain.



There are some other surprises but I am staying MUM about them for now... don't want to reveal all the surprises in the package. I'll just sit back and wait for the package to arrive because...

It's hilarious when the package is plunked down on her doorstep.  She never waits for Christmas to open it.  Nope she dives right in, rips open the package and calls me!!  Ah, there is nothing like the beauty and love of chatting and being with old friends who know you "inside out" and "outside in" especially at this time of the year.

Santa is definitely on his way folks...

Have a delicious week,
Sharon


AllSorts of claying around...


I was wandering through Costco around mid week looking for some AllSorts candy for my father in law for Christmas.  He loves licorice, especially Allsorts and at nearly 91, I think he should get to eat all he wants.  I found a very big box of it (kinda Costco style, LOL) and when I got it home it only lasted about 10 minutes before the eldest son of my father in law (my dear hubby) decided that Christmas had come early to the House household.  He just had to sample some of Dad's licorice!!  Out came the candy dish and the nibbling began...

I took one look at that candy dish sitting on the table and a thought popped into my head.  "I bet I could make some of those in clay.  John (my father in law) would never be without Allsorts again!" I chuckled to myself as I dashed off to my art room to see what I could do.


So now I have a confession to make.  There weren't any REAL Allsorts left to take a photo of so the photo below is really the FAKE candy made from polymer clay.

Once all the pieces were "cooked", I piled them into the clear candy dish that's been hanging out in my china cabinet for years patiently waiting to be donated or sold at a garage sale LOL and covered the "candy" with resin.  Once everything was dry and touchable, it was time for

The "acid" test.

When eldest son was presented with two candy dishes, one with the real stuff and one with the fake stuff, he chose the fake candy.  He thought it looked more real than the real candy!! Mission Accomplished!!

I think the next time I will do two resin pourings instead of one to get more built up texture on the top but other than that, I am pretty happy with the results.

Oh what a good chuckle we have had with this little project.  It will be interesting to see the look on my father in law's face when he opens this package at Christmas.  And yes, I will buy another big box of the real stuff too... only this time I will smuggle it into the house and hide it!

Have a great week...

Happy Arting,
Sharon

Fun Projects to Make in Just a Few Hours

Where does the time go?  Here it is Black Friday already and I don't even have my shopping list together!!

I had planned and made a promise to myself after my last blog post that I would pull up my "socks" and post more regularly.  The spirit was definitely willing... the body however, not so much!  I've spent the good part of the last three weeks down with a wicked cold, sore throat, laryngitis and ear infection that plunked me firmly on the sidelines covered in Vicks, slurping hot toddies and sleeping round the clock.

Honestly, I can't remember when I felt so miserable and had a "bug" that wandered on its own "merry" (ugh) way through my body in slow motion!! The pain in my ears (and the fact that I could hardly breathe) got so bad one night, I ended up in the Emergency dept. at our local hospital.  All they could do, after a good "look see" was tell me it was going around, give me antibiotics, told me to steam, stay in bed, keep warm and sent me home.  I was back at midnight again... this time with blood seeping from one of my ears as in "ruptured ear drum"!  I will spare you the nitty gritty's but it hasn't been the most pleasant couple of weeks in my life. However, today is the first day that I have felt like myself again (by gosh, I am actually going to live LOL) so I decided to pull a few fun things things I've made out of my art/sewing room to share with you.

First up are some pillow with neat French graphics on them.  Kinda the "in thing" this past year.  I purchased some good pillow inserts at the local fabric store (I was surprised at how expensive they are... even on sale) along with some Osnabruck fabric.  I messed with the graphics to change them slightly to make them larger and darken them up to ready them for fabric transfer with HP T-Shirt Transfer paper. I dug around in my lace stash to find some antique lace (had just enough for two pillows) and decided to make the large, two and a half inch buttons from polymer clay.  And here they are, all finished, gracing the antique chairs and couch in my living room...







You can find some neat French graphics at The Graphics Fairy if you are so inclined to make some for yourself or as a "different" Christmas gift for a friend or family member.

Remember all those Reader's Digest books I inherited?  Well, I found another use for them.  I was visiting an antique store this past summer and saw a book that was all bashed up but decorated with fabric roses.  It looked interesting just randomly sitting on an old side table in the store.  At $25.00 a pop, I decided I could make it myself!!  It sits "nonchalantly" on a table in my living room that is covered with my great grandmother's beautiful lace tablecloth (and was on my wedding table when hubby and I got married).



A couple of years ago I inherited a whole box of fabric flowers and ribbon from my sister in law who was clearing out some of her "stash".  She thought I'd be able to use them so gifted me with the lot.  I sorted out what I wanted and stashed it away in one of my translucent shoe boxes that I keep on the shelves in my sewing room.  I knew that some day a project would come along!  Don't they always???? LOL

So here's how to make one of these books yourself.  You can't be squeamish about bashing a book up to do this. Use a book that has no meaning for you or is so bashed up all ready that you are "recycling" it into art and giving it a second life.

Tear off the cover and the spine.  Take some brown ink (Tim Holtz has some great ink pad colours) and splatter it all over the book... spray it with a fine mist of water to spread the ink around.  I took a page from an old German book, crumpled and inked it,  tore it to size to fit the front page of the book and glued it down.  Once everything was dry, I simply took a wide piece of wired ribbon to tie around the book and hot glued some roses to the top of the book.  That's it!!  A quick and very easy little project.

Now I must get my list ready and get out to those sales today... Hope all my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving and happy hunting in the Black Friday sales...

Cheers,
Sharon





A Be-Witched Tutorial

When I was a kid, I loved Halloween.  The thought of dressing up and going out "after dark" with my neighborhood friends to gather candy from the families in our neighborhood was just down right exciting.  The moment that the calendar slipped into October, I started planning my outfit!!

This year, the "magic spookiness" of Halloween and the fun of "dressing up" wandered over to touch my imagination again.  But first a little background....

This school year, I have volunteered to be the school crossing guard twice a day for the elementary school close to our home.  The street is a dangerous spot for little ones.  Too many cars speed along it.  Some drivers seem to not pay any attention to the posted school zone speed restrictions.  Other drivers are so wrapped up chatting on their cell phones while driving (even though it is illegal to do so in British Columbia) that they even go through the red light!

Because we have so much rain in the winter (and it can become so downright miserable some days that I threaten to pack up and move to Arizona on the next available flight... giggle...), our little school has had a hard time attracting anyone to man the light and cross walk at the school during the winter months.  So much so that the school has not had a crossing guard for over two and a half years.

Of course I only found out about this fact when chatting with the woman in charge of crossing guards for our district.  If I felt so strongly about it she said, perhaps I should volunteer to take it over! Well there was such a tug on my heart strings and seeing that I had practically talked myself into it anyway, I decided that in spite of the arthritis that has taken up residence in my body and does not like rainy weather one little bit, I'd do it.  After all, it is on my way home from the pool where I swim each morning.

Fortunately, living on the wet coast, I've got great rain gear and over the past couple of weeks doing this discovered that the trick to standing out in rainy weather is to dress in layers and as warmly as one can under all that outer gear.  Hoodies are great under a jacket.  Rain jackets with wide hood brims that shield the rain from dripping onto your face and into your eyes really work. Two way zippers in jackets are great! Ski underwear makes a difference.  Rain pants keep you dry.  The rain may be pelting down in sheets yet I am as snug as a bug in a rug!!  If it starts to pelt down hard, I can use an umbrella between trips of escorting kids across the street. Who would have thought I would enjoy this... not me for sure!!  BUT...

BOY it is worth it!  Parents are so appreciative and friendly.  Many of them have expressed how grateful they are to have someone there now even though they may walk their kids to school.  Some of parents of older kids who walk to school by themselves have expressed how relieved they are to have someone looking out after their son or daughter.

Many of the children always remember to say thank you.  I have received little "thank you" gifts from the younger tykes like a candy, chocolate bar, homemade cards, box of raisins, little drawings.  They are so proud when they present their special little gift to me.  It melts my heart.  Every day I am blessed with smiles or laughs from some of their "worldly" observations or remarks!!

Of course, since the calendar flipped to October, the "chat on the street" has all been about "Whatcha gonna be on Halloween?"  Angels, princesses, vampires, zombies, Red Riding Hood, Elvis, Darth Vader, a baby and  peanut butter (that should be an interesting costume!) are just some of the ideas being tossed around.  I am keeping "mum" about my costume... even though some of them are begging me to tell them!

So, if you promise not to tell them, here's a peek at one part of my costume... and how to make one for yourself in just a couple of fun, creative hours...

 Front Close Up

 Batty Witch Hat


 Back of Hat

What you need to make your own witches hat:

3 large pieces of black poster board
black polymer clay (optional)
small piece of black boa (optional)
fish line (optional)
Modge Podge or glue
Glue gun
1 yard of netting in the colour of your choice
a bunch of black flowers
5 or 6 large silk leaves
black poster paint
2-1/2 inch wide black wired ribbon
sparkly pipe cleaners
black shoe laces
thread in colour of netting
bat print out
glue gun

To make the hat. 

This video on uTube will show you how to make a witches hat better than I could describe it.  It's easy and doesn't take long.  The only thing I would change is to double the brims (make two instead of one and glue them together) to strengthen the brim up.  Even though the flowers and ribbon are not heavy, they will weigh it down.

Once your hat is finished and dry, you are ready to start adding the embellishments,  Drape the netting over the top of the hat.  Using a needle and thread, loosely gather it together at the bottom of the netting and baste it loosely with large stitches all around the brim of the hat. Tighten it up so that it fits around wide part of the hat at the bottom. Hot glue it in place to the brim.

Paint the large silk leaves black.  When dry, hot glue them in place to the brim in the front.  Save one or two leaves for the back of the hat.

Make a large bow (click for a good tutorial on uTube if you need to find out how) for the front of your hat.  Hot glue it in place on the brim and close to the top part of the hat.

Cut down the flowers and hot glue randomly to the front of the hat burying them in the bow.

Click on the bat print out in the instructions above to go to a website where you can get a paper bat print out.

Print out as many paper bats from the template as you would like on your hat.  Cut them out.  Trace the cut out on left over poster board and cut out more bats.  Place a pipe cleaner on one of the backs (hot glue it).  Modge Podge (or glue) the bat cut outs to the front.  Staple over the now hidden pipe cleaner for good measure!  Twist the pipe cleaner in a random shape and hot glue to the hat.

Repeat this same sequence for the back of the hat with any left-overs of ribbon, leaves, bats, etc...

*OTHER IDEAS*

If you have some black boa "furry stuff", you could spice these bats up once you have them cut out by adding a little piece in the middle of the bat for the body, glue some tiny button eyes to the boa.  You can then hot glue these furry little bats to the bow.

Additionally you could make some bats out of black polymer clay to nestle in the bow (just hot glue them in) or for your Halloween window.  Using the print out as a template, cut out bats from conditioned polymer clay. Bake as per manufacturer's instructions (about 15 minutes in a 275 degree oven). If you are going to add them to your window, just poke a tiny hole in the middle of the bat's wing (at the top) before curing your clay.  When cool,  finish the bats with the boa and tiny eyes as above.  String fish line through the top of the bat wing and hang in your window.

Finishing Your Hat

Poke two holes in the top of the brim (one on each side) to add the shoe strings.  Thread them through the holes and tie a knot. These will help keep the hat on your head when tied in a bow beneath your chin.  You're done.  Now try on your creation and listen to the oohs and ahhs from friends and family!! 

Enjoy!!  Happy Be-Witching on Halloween,

Sharon




 

Fun with Beads... Polymer Clay and otherwise...

I had some fun this past week making an eyeglass holder necklace for my sunglasses.  It seems that I am always taking my sunglasses off and popping them on my head.  I promptly orget about them and then I bend over... and off they fly!!  So after the ten millionth time that this has happened, I decided to make some colourful beads, combine them with some seed beads I have had kicking around forever and see what I could come up with.   Here is the result:


Judging from the compliments I've received this past week, they are a hit with lots of my friends and neighbours!!  And since, they work so well with my sunglasses, I decided to make a (more subdued) strand from seed beads and little pearl beads for a friend who has a birthday coming up.


Last week I promised to upload the other necklace that I made with the European bead (otherwise known as Pandora beads) style...



And I have saved the best for last.  Here is the watch band that I made with "circus" colour beads I "cooked up".   I just love it... and according to my hubby... it is so ME!


It's been a busy week playing with clay....  I've been having way too much fun.... LOL!!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend,

Sharon

A Passion for Purple...

I love purple and I love green.  These two colours find their way into a lot of my creations.  Mind you, I am rather fond of the combinations you can get in what I call "circus colours" too... greens, reds, purples, oranges, yellows.

This past week I had fun creating in both of these palettes in polymer clay.  I have been experimenting with making large (over an inch in diameter) hollow polymer clay beads.  I like that big, chunky look but an oversize bead made entirely from clay would end up being quite heavy.  So I decided to experiment.

I dug around in my stash and came up with some small Styrofoam balls and covered them in clay.  As the clay baked, the Styrofoam held the shape long enough so that the bead didn't collapse.  When the bead was "cured", the Styrofoam ball  had shrunk down to just a tiny ball inside.  It makes for a stunning focal bead!!  Cut the Styrofoam ball in half and you can make a half bead as well.  Give an "organic" shape to some larger flat discs, cut out graduating sizes of smaller discs and you have the makings of an interesting necklace...


I've also wanted to try out making some large, layered beads and some European beads with the large holes in the centers.  However.... I tried at least five times to upload the photo and it just doesn't seem to want to!  So perhaps next week, the 'Net won't be quite so temperamental and you will get to see it along with a watch band I made.

Till then, have a fun week,

Sharon


A Mixed Media Bunny tutorial

Happy Easter everyone! 

Last week I promised to show you the bunny I was hoping to work on this week for Easter.  Since it turned out to be so darn cute and easy to make (less than an hour), I decided I would post the pattern and write up a little "how to" for you as a little gift from the Easter bunnikin!

So let's get started... and take a peek at what she will look like once she's finished.  She is about 8" tall and is a "stand up" bunny that you could put on a windowsill, a table or tucked away in a niche.  She's a real cutie!!


Here's what you'll need for supplies

piece of heavy cardboard 8-1/2" x 11"
Modge Podge or other white glue
Brown ink pad and a piece of polyester batting
about a yard of 1" pink wire edged ribbon
a cluster of small silk roses
something "fluffy" for her tail - I can never remember the name of that furry, fluffy stuff :)
box cutter
scissors
bunny pattern
white paint or piece of decorative paper

Cover one side of your cardboard with decorative paper.  Alternatively, you could also paint it white.

Here's the bunny pattern.  Just click on the link to download it to your computer.  Print it out, glue it to the other side of your cardboard and then cut it out.  Using the box cutter to lightly go round the bunny will make it easier to cut out with the scissors.  

Ink the edges with your brown ink and a piece of polyester batting.  The batting will create a softer outline.  Glue a small piece of the white fluffy stuff to her tail.

Make a stand for the back of your bunny from the leftover cardboard and glue it to the back.

Tie the ribbon round her neck. In the knot (before you make the bow), place the cluster of roses, knot it and then tie a bow.  That's it!  You're done.  Stand back and admire your cute bunny!

Hoppy Easter... may the Easter bunny bring you lots of chocolate!!

Cheers,
Sharon

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...

Hopping right down the bunny trail...

I woke up the other day with that song going through my head.   I figure it was my inner art calendar just taking a gander at the date and giving me a "heads up"... in the event I wanted to play and make something for Easter! 

Earlier this year I had decided that I wanted to make some little bunny earrings and a necklace for my granddaughter for Easter. Being just seven, I think she'll get a big kick out of wearing them "out and about".  So gramma got out her clay "stuff" and away she went. 

It was pretty easy and quick to make these lop eared bunnies... a couple balls of white clay for the head and the ears, a smidgen of pink for the nose and ears, some fishing line for whiskers, little flowers for the head and two black seed beads for the eyes.  "Cooked" them for 30 minutes and when they were cooled glazed them with Future to give them a nice shine.

So before I package them up to get sent off in the mail, I thought I'd share a photo of them with you...

The necklace was put together with some small white beads and larger pink pearls I have had in my stash forever. However, it was not before I managed to let the beading wire slip from my fingers as I was putting it together and spilled most of the beads onto the floor.  Hubby heard me screech "Oh NO!" and, bless him,  came to help rescue beads as they scattered across the room on the hardwood floor.


Do you have any projects planned for Easter?  Would love to hear what they are...

Till next week, when I will show you some pretty cool polymer clay beads I made this week and what I did with them.  I have another project with "bunnies" that I want to do... and if I get it done, I'll show it to you as well.

Happy arting,
Sharon

Cute as a Button.... and a challenge

The other day I needed a change of pace so I did something that I haven't done in a number of years.... cross stitch!


This little piece, done on 32 count linen,  was inspired by something I saw in a "button" store on a "let's go poking around" day with my friend Karen the last time she was in Victoria.  We both love buttons and we both have large stashes of them waiting to be used for "something".  Many of them are vintage... some have "stories" behind them and some are just ones we have seen along the way that we like!

I have a particular fondness for the old pearl and "bakelite" buttons...  the tinier, the better.  The two tiny pearlized buttons in the photo below (top right hand side) are actually from an old Edwardian vintage lawn dress that was literally falling apart from age (it was about 100 years old).  Every button in the piece is different.


This piece looks big in the picture but in actual fact it is quite small.  The squares themselves are less than an inch.  To give you some perspective... the large button at the bottom is about an inch.

I haven't quite decided how I will eventually frame it... guess I need to take a trip down to the framing store once I get the piece stretched and let the muse decide!!

I really enjoyed the change of pace of doing something different. Cross stitch is such exacting work and you really do have to concentrate on what you are doing.  Discover that you are one stitch off and out comes the "stitch ripper"!

I used to love to cross stitch and do hardanger (a "white work" form of Norwegian stitchery).     I even won many a blue ribbon at the State Fair in Raleigh, N.C. for some of my pieces that still adorn the walls of our house.

 Just doing this "button" piece, renewed my enthusiasm for cross stitch again and prompted me to get my "rear in gear" and finish off a couple of pieces that have languished in my cross stitch box for more years than I can remember!

Here's a photo of the Santa that I finally finished... look how tiny those stitches are!  Thank heavens for magnifiers LOL  Once it is framed, it will look great with the hardanger "Christmas House" I did a number of years ago.  I'll take a photo of the Christmas House soon and show it to you.  It is one of my treasured pieces.  I'm just not sure how well it will show up in a photo as it is "white on white".


What "unfinished" projects do you have tucked away in a bag shoved into the back of your closet or a shoe box that hasn't been opened in a long, long time?
  • Mitts that you started that need another one to make a pair? 
  •  Polymer beads that need to be sanded, polished and strung?  
  • What about that dress you started last spring that never got finished?  
  • Or the scrapbook page that needs a few finishing touches?
  • What about that book on your shelf you keep meaning to alter?

I challenge you to make this the week to "rescue" an unfinished project from its hiding spot and lead it to the "finishing" line.  Let me know what you re-discover and how you make out!!

Art on my friends,
Sharon

Maxine and me...

And a Happy St. Paddy's Day to You...

I love the Maxine cartoons!  Maxine just tickles my funny bone and  her antics are good for the soul.  Today I thought I'd share a couple of my St. Paddy day favourites with you.  Enjoy!!



Cheers,
Sharon

Little Row Houses

It's been quite awhile since my last post.  Thanks to all of you who have inquired as to whether I am still alive.  YES, I am and thanks for asking!!

The silence on the blog has not been due to my incarceration, institutionalization, hospitalization or expiration. Nor was it an extended holiday in some place hot and sweaty, drinking margaritas a la Jimmy Buffet although that obviously would have been preferable to the other options I have just mentioned.  Nope, just lots of stuff going on in my life... some good, some not so good... taking up tons of my time dealing with it.  At the end of the day... blogging has just not been where my head is at.  I'm also taking a semi break from art right now, patiently waiting for my "mojo" to blossom once again!  Spring is coming... that should help!  I am not a winter person... my arthritis does not like it when it is cold and rainy and I get cranky and ornery!  LOL

This past week though I couldn't resist signing up for a swap for some little row houses in one of my mixed media groups. I love those little houses and decided I'd put a morning aside this weekend and get busy to make some.  Joining a swap put the fire under my feet to get them done.

I always admire the pretty little houses that lots of ladies make but personally I like to make grungy ones!!  There's just something about vintage papers, ink and old images that appeals to me and the messier my desk gets, the better!  Go figure....  It felt good to play with paper and ink again.  I didn't realize just how much I had to choose from in my stash.  Collecting it bit by bit sure adds up after awhile.

Here are a couple of photos of the finished houses.  One of the "rules" is that each house contain a number.  I tried to find different ways of including the number that wasn't what you would expect.




It was a fun morning making those little houses.  I am sure I will be just delighted when the houses from the other participants in the swap begin to arrive.  I have already decided that I am going to make a little accordion book with pockets to store them in... and perhaps make a few more houses while I am at it. 

Wishing you all an artful week...

Sharon