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!

The 12th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts


On the 12th Day of Christmas it is time for a story!

Christmas isn't Christmas for me without at least one telling of Prince Edward Island author David Weale's children's book... The True Meaning of Crumbfest .



It is the story of a curious mouse named Eckhart, who sets off to discover the truth about that most abundant time of the year, Crumbfest, when bounteous crumbs miraculously appear in the old Prince Edward Island farmhouse in which he lives. It's a heartwarming tale of the magic that happens when the "Outside" and the "Inside" come together.

Thanks, once again, to David for giving me permission a couple of years ago to tell this wonder-full Christmas story.  It's a delightful book... with wonderful illustrations... for both kids and adults that should, in my humble opinion... GRIN... be in every home library.


Before we get to the story though, congratulations for David are in order.  He scored a Canadian literary coup this year.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre chose Weale’s book Doors in the Air for this year’s Toronto Dominion Bank's Grade One Book Giveaway, the largest free-book distribution program for school-aged children in Canada.

All English and French Grade 1 students in Canada will receive a copy of Weale’s book.

That’s more than 500,000 copies in total. A real honour for a wonderful and deserving author.  More here.

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Today would have been my brother Bob's birthday.  He grew up to be a wonderful guy and we really miss him when Christmas rolls around.  When he was little he loved listening to stories and I loved telling or reading them to him.  So snuggle up on a cloud little brother, put a marshmallow on your hot chocolate and start dunking your toast into that chocolatey goodness as you listen...this one is for you too!

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks a million for visiting my blog.  May Christmas bring you the warmth and love of family and friends and may 2015 be healthy and prosperous for you!  See you in the New Year.

Sharon

Just click on the widget below to listen to the story!

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The 11th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

On the 11th Day of Christmas...I am going to show you just how easy it is to create something rather cool from some modeling paste, paint, some twigs, pearl beads and a flower punch.

A few months back, the Coast Collective Gallery had a black and white ball fundraiser.  They asked some of the participating gallery artists to create a picture on a 12 x 12 canvas that could be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the gallery. 

What many people do not know or realize, is that the gallery is now under the auspices of the Society for the Arts in the South Island (SASI)and relies heavily on the participation of many artist volunteers and just a few paid staff (who do a marvelous job and really get a pittance for the hours they put in and what they do!).  So if we want to do anything at all in/at the Gallery, it takes $$$ to bring it into fruition. 

Well I am no painter as most of you know, so I chose to do something a little different with some things I had on hand.  This was the result.

Shinju (The Pearl)
The inspiration came from a pair of beautiful Mikimoto pearls my husband gave me for Christmas one year.  I love those earrings and wear them frequently.  As it happens I was wearing them the day I looked into the mirror while brushing my hair and this vision came to me from the creative vision factory in the sky... chuckle! 

It's somewhat difficult to see but the texture from the modeling paste on the canvas is absolutely marvelous! Just slap it on a canvas and mess with it... old combs, toothbrushes, sticks... whatever is in reach on your art table.  All you need to do once it is dry... leave it for at least 24 hours... is paint it.

The branches are painted black and then a small cherry blossom with a pearl glued in the middle is attached to the branches.  It would make a wonderful gift for someone who likes simplicity in art and loves the dignified beauty of "Japanese stuff"... art, stories, kimonos... like I do!  Give this idea or something similar a try... you can have it done in time for Christmas.

Till tomorrow,

Happy Arting,
Sharon


10th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Day 10 already!  Here's a lovely "French themed" pillow that is very easy to make and would make a great gift for someone on your list.

French themed pillow with polymer clay buttons



Here's what you need:

1. A throw pillow form... you could recover any that you might already have to get a fresh look.

2. A piece of light colored heavier fabric and matching thread.  You'll need to measure your pillow to figure how how much you need.

3. A piece of wide, heavier lace to go across the top of the pillow if desired.

4. Avery T-shirt transfer paper for inkjet printers.  Just follow the directions on the package for applying the graphic to your material.  DO NOT try and print with a laser printer.  You will muck up your printer (and perhaps even ruin it) as the transfer paper will melt in your printer from the heat.

5. You can find French (and other) themed graphics at the Graphics Fairy. There are some wonderful graphics there.  Just remember to reverse it before you print it onto to the transfer paper !!  I don't know how many times I have forgotten to do that in the past...

6. Large buttons.  I made the buttons out of polymer clay ... they are quite large... about 2" in diameter... but you could use any large buttons you may have in your button box... and to add to the pillow's charm, they don't have to match!!

Measure the circumference of your pillow form from top to bottom and all around.  Add 1" seam allowance.  Now measure the width and add 1" seam allowance on both sides.  Using these measurements, cut this piece out.

On the right side of the material, transfer your graphic to the top of the material leaving enough room for the lace and generous seam allowance ABOVE it.

Place the lace between the graphic and seam allowance. Sew down. 

Fold the material right sides together.  Stitch one end and the top of the material.  Turn inside out.  Insert your pillow. Add the buttons on top of the lace catching the pillow insert as you do so.  This will help anchor the bigger, heavier buttons. Stitch the remaining end by hand.    That's it... DONE!!  Wrap it up and put it under the tree....

Happy sewing,
Sharon



9th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Everybody loves chocolate right???? Today's offering is chocolate too.. only the kind that doesn't contribute to a muffin top!  These are knitting and crochet stitch markers made from polymer clay that are a last minute addition to a friend's Christmas grab bag... I made a couple extra for me too!!  I am forever losing my place when I either knit or crochet...no wonder some of the bed socks I made for my sister recently look so gigantic  She's gonna get them for Christmas anyway...GRIN


Just a reminder to those of you in town who haven't taken in the show over at the Coast Collective.  It ends this Sunday... so this weekend is your last chance to see some wonderful "stuff"...

See you tomorrow,

Sharon

The 8th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today I am going to show you one of the polymer clay compacts I made as a gift to myself!!  I love purple and mokume gane.  This is a technique in polymer clay where many layers (in this case about 30) of clay are stacked together and then shaved off in very thin pieces and applied as a sheet to things like compacts, bowls, earrings, pendants, brooches, etc.. This is then buffed and buffed and buffed until it glows with colour!!  Isn't this gorgeous???



Till tomorrow,

Sharon

7th day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today I am going to share one of my favourite recipes, especially at Christmas.  Hubby's eyes light up and the lip smacking starts when I mention that I am going to make Portuguese Sweet Bread.  It's a lovely braided loaf and the smell of it baking makes your mouth water.

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/73/dd/f6/73ddf6dd8c4b87c6c3c62cf51cefffb4.jpg

I am a devoted bread baker... I love the smell in the kitchen each week when I bake bread.  Baking bread smells like home for me and the taste is so much better than what you can get in the store and I dare say sometimes at our local baker.  There are a couple of tricks that make a good loaf...

1. the correct temperature for the water (I always use a thermometer to check it),
2. a warm kitchen (my disaster this past week reminded me of this... when I took my bread out of the oven after rising, as soon as it hit the cold air, those lovely loaves collapsed... poof... they were as flat as a pancake)
3. a warm oven for rising the bread. Heat the oven to 400 degrees for exactly one minute, then turn it off.  It will create a lovely warm spot for your bread to rise.
4. Knead the bread to within an inch of its life (GRIN) I have a professional KitchenAid mixer that does a fantastic job for me... it kneads while I clean up. However, go gently with braid... it doesn't require the same amount of kneading as other breads.

So, get out your baking sheets and let's make  

Portuguese Sweet Bread braid...

  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely chopped, mixed candied fruit
  • 1 cup (250 mL) raisins, seedless
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) port or brandy
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon rind
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated orange rind
  • 2 pkg active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) water, lukewarm
  • 7 cups (1.75L) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) milk, lukewarm
  • 1 cup (250 mL) toasted and chopped almonds or walnuts
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
Topping
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) halved candied cherries
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) corn syrup
Preparation

In small bowl, mix together candied fruit, raisins, port and lemon and orange rinds; cover and set aside, stirring occasionally.

In bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the sugar, the water and 1 cup (250 mL) of the flour until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place for 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

In large bowl, beat together butter, salt and remaining sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 cup (250 mL) of the flour; beat in milk.

Stir down yeast mixture; beat into egg mixture until blended. With wooden spoon, mix in fruit mixture and nuts. Stir in as much of the remaining flour, 1 cup (250 mL) at a time, as needed to make soft sticky dough.

Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently for 2 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup (125 mL) more flour if needed. Transfer to large greased bowl; brush top with butter. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough; divide in half. Cut one half in three even pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll out each third into strip about 16 inches (40 cm) long. Place 3 strips side by side on parchment paper-lined (or silicone baking mat) cookie sheet. Press together at 1 end; braid strips together.  Repeat to make second braid.

Brush dough with egg. Decoratively arrange cherries over top, pressing into dough. I like to add slivered almonds as well.  Cover lightly and let rise in warm draft-free spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Bake loaves in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven (middle rack) for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Transfer to rack and let cool. These loaves can be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 weeks.  Thaw and reheat for 10 minutes.  Brush corn syrup over loaves.  This will make the loaves beautifully shiny and taste absolutely heavenly.

This recipe was found many, many moons ago in Canadian Living Magazine.

So now make yourself a cup of tea or a lovely latte and enjoy a piece of this scrumptious bread while it is still warm...till tomorrow,

Enjoy,

Sharon


6th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Halfway through today!  I went back and forth on what I would show you today and finally decided on showing you some of my snow buddy polymer clay ornaments that are available at the Coast Collective Gallery during the Gifts and Wishes show.  They come with their own little gingerbread house (if you want to keep it in the box) and are all about 2-1/2 inches high.  Don't you think they have the sweetest little faces?




Till tomorrow, happy crafting....

Sharon

5th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Well here we are at day 5 already!! 

Today's offering is a bit naughty but nice...a red hot corset (with a touch of black lace of course) lingerie bag for a friend's bedroom or bathroom!  They really are PRECIOUS!




If you hop over to Patterns by Junie, you can find the pattern along with a pattern for boxer short trash bags for the car.  Guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of anyone who gets one!

See you tomorrow,

Sharon


4th Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

This is going to be a very short post this morning.  A busy day ahead and slightly tired from dancing the night away at a Christmas party last night!!

So without further adieu, here is today's bit of fun...


This Betty Boop Small Messenger Bag is a Christmas gift for my best gal pal who rides a motorcycle.  She's gonna love it!  With the magic of HP transfer paper and a graphic of your choice, you could make all sorts of lovely, personalized bags for your best pals.  Earlier this year, I posted a tutorial for a messenger bag you can sew in a couple of hours. You can find it here.

See you tomorrow...

Sharon

3rd Day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Welcome to day 3 of Christmas Gifts and Crafts.

Mrs. Santa called this morning and suggested that I show you a photo of her and Santa.  Perhaps the Christmas Pig and Her Helpful Elf too???

These ornaments are made from polymer clay over glass.  They can stand on their own or you can hang them on a tree.  Available at the Coast Collective Gallery in the Gifts and Wishes show, they are all handsculpted by me, antiqued and are one of a kind. But hurry over if you want one of them, they sell quickly!

  

Christmas Pigs on a Christmas tree bring luck for the whole upcoming year!!

All puckered up waiting for a Christmas smooch!!

Well there you have it for today!  See you tomorrow.

Sharon


2nd day of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today is a fun day filled with sweet little handsculpted, one of a kind,  polymer clay puppies from my PuppyPal collection.

A popular item with dog lovers, kids and grandparents  these are just some of them that are available at the Coast Collective Gallery during the Gifts and Wishes show.  They are approximately 2-1/2" high and come boxed with their own little doghouse.

    A little Maltese just waiting to put a smile on someone's face!

He ain't nothin' but a hound dog just waiting to be welcomed into a new home!

Modeled after my little Shelby, this Bichon Frise is as cute as a button!

Here's a sweet little Havanese pup who just wants to cuddle up with you!

See you again tomorrow,

Sharon

12 Days of Christmas Gifts and Crafts

Today is the kick off for my 12 days of Christmas gifts and crafts from my sewing and craft room.  Each day, for the next 12 days I will be posting something I have made either for the Gifts and Wishes show at the Coast Collective Gallery (on now until the 21st of December and available for sale there) or as gifts for friends and family.  I hope it gives you some ideas for some last minute Christmas gifts and/or offers inspiration for some fun sewing/crafting time during the holidays.

Don't you just love cupcakes?  This is a little housewarming gift for some friends in  North Carolina who are moving into their new house just before Christmas. 

These potholder/hot pad cupcakes are super easy to put together and hardly take any time at all to make.  If you'd like the pattern, just leave a comment below (and then send me an email... sharonhouse at mystoryart.com) and I will send it to you.

See you tomorrow,

Sharon

Get creative with old denim jeans...

I've been having some fun this past week... in all my spare time (what a hoot that is!)...hanging out in my sewing room surrounded by old jeans and bits of fabric!!  I wanted to do something different for a couple friends for Christmas this year and came up with the idea of making some jean aprons.  I only had one pair that I had been saving... the other ones were too far gone to make anything out of... so I paid a trip to the thrift store and bought a couple pair to play with.

They are pretty easy to make... just take some left over material from other projects, old jeans that aren't totally clapped out (grin), some patience, a good iron, a sewing machine,bits of this and that (i.e. buttons, ribbon, old doilies, you get the picture) some more patience and time...  I am rather pleased with how they have turned out so far.  I even made one for the grandson of one of my pool buddies (unfortunately I didn't take a photo of it... just plain forgot!.

This apron has a light blue striped material around the edges and some red polka dot ribbon for "braces".  I raided my button jars and sewed a bunch of red and white buttons on the pocket! Salvage the labels off the jeans... you can use them for decoration too!



This one was a fun one to make with some bandana fabric I bought last summer for another project (which is now not going to happen because it's been confiscated for these aprons... oh well...)  If you want to tackle one like this just make sure you have a good sharp jeans needle in your machine!


This next one is a "shortie"... great for wearing around a barbeque... maybe hubby will get this one under the tree!




And just to show you something you can make with jean "scraps"... here's a table runner... and yes it is straight... it's just the angle that the photo was taken at that makes it look out of "whack"!


Here's another apron... this one with some green polka dot material around the edges, a piece of an old doily and some rick rack...


If you are interested in finding out how to make these... just leave me a comment.  If there is enough interest, I'll write up a small tutorial.

Happy Sewing...

Sharon

Sidney Fine Arts Show...2014

A quick update...am packing to go off to the U.S. of A. to a storytelling festival in the morning but wanted to touch base with you all before I left.

Just got back from the Sidney Fine Arts Show... oh wow... fabulous art...fantastic artists... wonderful show! There are a little over 400 pieces of art accepted out of the 1100 that were submitted for adjudication.  If you live in our area, take it in...it's a great way to spend a couple hours putting some colour in your life on what the weatherlady is saying is going to be a rather dull and rainy weekend.

As promised awhile back on Facebook when I let you know that my pieces got into the show, below are the photos of my two pieces.  Both of the pieces got fabulous placement and here's crossing my fingers that they go to a nice home with people who love them as much as I loved making them...

My mixed media piece - Just my Type 2 - Thanks to a couple of art buddies for their spare letters that I put to good use!  The top background is a page from an old Eaton's catalogue from 1902, some letter blocks I made a number of years ago for another project, an old typewriter ribbon tin that I made and an antique pencil sharpener.  The bottom background paper is some that I made and then printed with the sage old typewriter practice piece... The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog... a sentence that has every letter of the alphabet in it.  The ruler on the right is a very lifelike digital copy mounted on heavy bookboard of a ruler that I have but am not quite ready to part with yet!!It's a bit hard to see but the middle piece is on the front of the canvas while the rest is recessed.  Was a fun piece to make... but likely one of the last mixed media pieces I will be creating for some time as I move more and more towards sculpture.


My little, handsculpted polymer clay people

Meet... Mabel & Jake - Two lovely seniors who recently met in a seniors retirement home who have decided that, "Takin' a Chance at Love Again" suits them just fine!



And yes, I actually made the bench all by myself... no help from hubby... just figured it out.

These little guys aren't very big... they look much bigger in the photos than they actually are... they are about 10 inches high standing up... half that sitting down.  They were definitely a labour of love from "manufacturing from scratch" original slopers to design and make their clothes to creating their accessories (i.e. Jakes Birkenstocks, Mabel's purse and matching shoes) and making sure they had some age spots on their faces and hands.  The little box on the bench has four tiny cupcakes (for afternoon tea of course).

When our granddaughter saw them for the first time, she squealed with delight "Oh Gramma, Mabel has pearl earrings and she even has nail polish on her fingers!"  Granddaughter approved sculpture!

Just before the show, I added a small hankie to Mabel's hand that isn't in the photo. I kept on feeling that there was something missing and then it occurred to me... Mabel needed a hankie!! All in all, the entire project took close to 80 hours to complete and I loved every minute of it!

Gotta run for now and finish packing...

Have an artsy week,
Sharon  



Introducing the Whimsy Pumpkin Gals...

What a great summer we had in Victoria! The weather was spectacular and I got to spend a fair amount of time in one of my favourite places... the beach.

Hubby and I also had a lovely week up in the Okanogan (Canada's wine country in the interior of British Columbia) sampling all the wines and having a very delicious experience in the five star restaurants attached to the wineries.

In September, we ducked down south of the border to Portland for a stay at the Kennedy School hotel for few days and then over the Oregon shore visiting Cannon Beach, Seaside and Fort Stevens.  How lovely it is at Fort Stevens with its miles and miles of white sand. The drive back up through Washington state is one that I always enjoy. Yep it was a good summer all around.

I was anxious to get home... I missed messing around in my art room and I had a big box of goodies from Blick that I brought back with me that I could hardly wait to get into.  Nothing like a couple of weeks away from creating (and a trip to the art store) to get my juices going again.  And.. with Halloween around the corner, the idea for the Pumpkin Gals popped into my head one morning while I was at the pool (I do my version of water aerobics every morning for an hour or so at the crack of dawn).  What fun it has been coming up with these two beauties!





I chuckle every time I look at them... and now that they are finished I am a bit sad... the juice, the fun is always in the getting ready to create phase and in the creating itself!!

Now I just know you are going to ask...what are they made of?  It's polymer clay sculpted over very large glass Christmas bulbs.  The bat and the cat are also made of polymer clay. The bat is attached to a pipe cleaner so that it moves when you touch it.  The cat just lounges around and looks smugly cool!  They are free standing but can also be hung on a Halloween tree or in a window.  I just chuckle every time I look at those false eyelashes!

Halloween is just around the corner... what are you going to create???

Till next time, have an artsy week,
Sharon

Posts from the Past..Chapter 1

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

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

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

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

Cheers,
Sharon

Chalkboard Labels for the Spice in Your Life

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next time,
Sharon

The Happy Gardener Reycyles Cookie Tins!

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



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

Recycled Cookie Tin Project

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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





Happy Gardening,

Sharon

Fun Projects - Messenger Bag/Tutorial

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

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

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

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

 Here's a photo of the finished project:






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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Sewing,
Sharon



Character Faces & Dolls in Polymer Clay

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

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


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

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


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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you an arty week,

Sharon