A Boooo-tiful Little Ornament

I'm feeling the Halloween spirit, so to speak :), and wanted to do a little seasonally inspired crafting today. This ornament is the result! Maybe he's not quite boo-tiful but cute, at least.

This little guy is made from a couple pieces of linen with quilt batting inside. I stitched around the edge, embroidered a wee face and painted rosey cheeks on him with watercolors (that barely show up in the photo). A few buttons, some wire and a bit of hand-lettering later and he's ready to hang from the rafters!

He can also hang from spooky plants and we have one perfect for Halloween in our backyard! I don't know what it is but it has black leaves that always look like they are a drop of rain away from curling up and dying. It also seems to attract more spiders than any other plant in the yard. Creepy!!

Happy October!! 

My Space Bar Doesn't Take me to the Moon!

Not only does my space bar not transport me to the milky way, it always doesn't want to function properly for it's originally intended purpose! This explains why some of my emails and blog posts looksomethinglikethis.

My malfunctioning keyboard inspired this little piece of art and also about 6 hours of research into a new personal computer.

I bumped into the saying on Pinterest somewhere and given my space bar issues, it spoke to me :). I made the space orb out of watercolor paper and paints after being inspired by Eliza Hall's artwork. The hand lettering was done with a white gel pen and "SPACE BAR" was written using my newly acquired embossing kit.

Have you seen the magic embossing videos on Instagram before?? It's crazy - you write with this magic pen, then you sprinkle magic embossing dust over it, shake it off and then hit the letters (or design) with a heat gun and it melts into a raised metallic finish. So cool! Unfortunately, I found the heat gun also wrinkled the paper I used quite a bit. I'll try something sturdier next time.

I'm still practicing hand lettering almost every day. There's plenty more work to be done but it's coming along. One day, I'm sure I'll look back on these early pieces and feel a little embarrassed but I'm okay sharing my learning process with the universe!

And now that I've done a bit of art for the day, I'll be diving back into the PC review rabbit hole for the next few hours :).

A Mix of Art and Science

"Ohhh what a beautiful email! I'm so excited to find this in my inbox. I just can't wait to unwrap this email and see what cool things could be inside!" -  SAID NO ONE EVER :) :).

But receiving real mail in your real mailbox can elicit true happiness! Knowing that someone took the time to find a card, add a sentiment, dig in their junk drawer for a stamp and drive around looking for a blue postal drop-box can only make you feel special. That's why I jumped at the chance to participate in a recent Happy Mail swap.

My partner had listed science as one of her themes and I couldn't think of a better inspiration to mix with art! This is the full package I sent.

I made the envelope out of watercolor paper and painted this design that's intended to represent plant cellulose under a microscope.

I added a couple of science'ey quotes that I wrote using my JV calligraphy skills. The first is an explanation of why the sky is blue from Philip C. Plait. The second is one of my favorite quotes and something I really believe Carl Sagan was right about :).

I also made a little tag and a series of petri dish circles with painted bacteria in them. They are harmless and germ free :).

This is a science-themed banner and a gravity testing kit - in case my partner ever finds herself in a situation where it could come in handy.

 Lastly, some periodic poetry! I made a bunch of letters inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements. They can be combined to make various different words (including a few bad ones :)).

I hope that this mail made by partner happy! It made me happy to create it for her.

Unintended consequence of making happy mail...wanting to go to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. 

Just in Time for Autumn

In the peak of summer, there's really only one thing I'm good at doing and that's complaining about not having air conditioning :). But this August, despite sweating at the sight of the giant pile of bulky wool yarn this project required, I managed to finish knitting a cozy infinity scarf just in time for the chillier fall weather.

This is a pattern by Jared Flood, called Cinder, that uses a reverse cable design. Unlike traditional cables that look whack on the wrong side, reversible cables look great on both sides! The pattern is for a scarf but I used a provisional cast-on and grafted the two ends together using kitchner stitch to make it an infinity scarf.

Here I am trying too hard to look casual while modeling the final project :).

I used Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash in colorway 875 Feather Grey. This merino wool yarn knits up really soft and has the bonus of being washable but it can be a bit annoying to knit with as the twisted fiber is easy to split.

After my awkward photo shoot, I packaged this scarf up and sent it off to my swap partner! I hope some of the heat of summer was stitched into the fibers so it will keep her warm through fall and winter :).

This Post Brought To You By The Letter "B"

I took a modern calligraphy class this week and am starting to feel a bit more confident in the craft...a bit. There are certain letters I gravitate towards because they are loopy and fun and flow well for me. The lowercase letter "b" happens to be one of those (p and w are the others :)).

I've been doing a ton of practicing with ink and nib (see messy photo below as evidence) but wanted to try a new medium today, drawing gum! Drawing gum, also known as masking liquid, is a fluid that you use like ink to "mask" certain areas of your work. It goes on very wet but as it dries, it gets a rubber'ey texture and can be painted over with watercolors. Once your paint dries, you rub or peel the drawing gum away and you're left with whatever surface you started on - plain white in my case.

I used Pebeo drying gum but there are a number of other brands available if you search on Amazon or at your local paper or art supply store.

Here are a few tips I learned in my first day of playing with this new supply:

  1. Be patient! It's tempting to want to watercolor over the drawing gum pretty quickly but if it's not completely dry, it makes a mess. Similarly, don't try peeling off the drying gum until your watercolor is dry otherwise the paint will bleed into the places you don't want it to! 
  2. Mess up the writing (or whatever design you're working on)? Never fear - just let it dry, peel it off and start over with a clean slate! No reason to waste your good watercolor paper!
  3. To remove the drawing gum (once everything is dry), very gently rub it with a pencil eraser. That will help ball it up a bit so you can grab and peel it more easily. 

Remember how I said earlier that I had been doing a lot of calligraphy practice lately? This is the reason why my fingernails will be black for the next week: 

Learning new things can sure be messy!! 

ATC With an Identity Crisis

Is it an ATC? Is it a junk journal? It couldn't decide what it wanted to be so I slapped a label on it and we're just going to call it "art." It does meet the standard ATC size guidelines of 2.5" x 3.5"!

This was made for this month's ATC swap on Craftster. I was partially inspired by my partner's "book" theme and partially inspired by the recent junk journal swap I participated in. It's made from vintage postcards and random piece of paper from my pile-o-junk.

It's bound using coptic stitch binding and bakers twine. I really would like to get some of the fancy waxed linen thread that you're supposed to use for book binding...because I need MORE craft supplies :).

I'm hoping my partner can use this ATC/junk-journal craft for future art or doodling! 

Thank You For Being a Friend, Toucan

Jake and I are trying to drop a few pounds after some early summer excesses. To stay motivated, we've made a competition out of it - winner gets to pick the location of our next vacation so the stakes are high! He wants to do the Kentucky Bourbon Trail while I am dreaming of a lazy beach vacation - maybe in Key West.

Those Floridian dreams must have been on my mind when I took a mosaic class at Seattle Mosaic Arts last week. I don't know if they have toucans there but from all the episodes of Golden Girls I used to watch, I know they have plenty of light pink and mint green!

I got to do the fun parts of the mosaic - designing, nipping the glass and piecing it all together - while Seattle Mosaic Arts did all the messy cementing and grouting work. The design was inspired by this cute art print that proved to have just the right amount of detail for mosaic'ing.

I plan to hang the final piece on the wall in my office as a pop of sun-inspired color. It should help in the dreary winter months here in Seattle!

Now, here's hoping my new toucan brings me lots of luck in the weight loss battle! I wonder why I'm craving Fruit Loops ;)??

How Big of a Bill Murray Fan Are You?

I've been swapping in Craftster's ongoing Artist Trading Card (ATC) exchange this month. Everyone has such inspiring themes to share - it's proving to be great motivation to make messes in my craft room! These are the first couple cards I've made based on my partner's themes of Bill Murray and Foxes. 

If you're an uber-fan, you may recognize this bizarre quote from one of Bill Murray's movies. Any guesses?? Spoiler below :). 

If you guessed What About Bob? you are officially an uber-fan of Bill Murray!! 

I think What About Bob? is one of the most hilarious movies of all time and the dinner scene absolutely kills me, this quote in particular. I'm giggling just typing the words! It's so ridiculous! I mean, of course it's hand-shucked! HA! I thought it would be a fun way represent the Bill Murray theme. 

For the Fox theme, I found a picture of a really cool black line tattoo on Pinterest and drew a similar design on the card. I then filled it in with watercolors to pump up the vibrancy. 

Both cards are done on hot-press watercolor paper - it has a much smoother surface so it's good when you're also using pens or colored pencils in the piece. They are standard ATC size of 2.5" x 3.5".

I'm planning to swap in next month's ATC exchange too. I feel so much better when I'm making things and this is an easy swap to keep my artsy-fartsy side motivated. Plus, I'm getting to start my own collection of ATCs from other crafters! 

A New Found Love for Junk

When it comes to anything but craft supplies, I'm a serial thrower-away'er. If it sits on the table for more than a few minutes without finding a permanent home, into the trash it goes! This helps to keep the house clean of clutter but sometimes backfires (like when I throw away stuff we actually need :)).

Well, that's never going to be an issue again because I'm transitioning from a junk tosser to a junk hoarder, thanks to a Junk Journal swap I recently participated in on Craftster. The challenge was to make a blank journal from junk that our partners could fill up however they want!

Junk journals are just what they sound like, journals made from pages of junk!! I stockpiled crap from the mailbox, magazine bins, ephemera collections and scrap piles, made signatures out of them and used coptic binding to make them into a book, of sorts.

Some pages I left as they were for the future owner to embellish as they wish. Others, I painted with gesso or acrylics and decorated with washi tape, burlap, lace and other bits and bobs for my partner to build on however they saw fit. I tried to stick with a red and white theme throughout to bring some symmetry to the otherwise completely random assortment of junk.

I added envelopes and little pockets (like the burlap pocket below) to tuck stuff away in later.

My partner likes ATCs so I put some blank cards throughout the journal that she could alter later.

I used old grocery bags for the cover that I had soaked, crinkled up, dried and then ironed for a junky looking texture. I glued the paper to thin cardboard to make the front, back and spine of the journal. I added a piece of twill tape as another tuck spot and slid in a gessoed bingo card that my partner can decorate as she wishes.

This was such a fun swap and a great excuse to make a HUGE mess in my craft room. And since my craft room is already destroyed, I figure I might as well make a couple more junk journals!! 

No Prob-llama Felt Badge

I made this little fellow for a recent felt badge swap that I organized on Craftster. My partner likes whimsical animals and llamas just seem full of silliness and whimsy to me!

He's stitched on wool felt with 2 strands of various DMC flosses. The design was inspired by an adorable illustration by Lamai McCartan.

I was also inspired by these adorable guys that I had the chance to meet on a recent visit to Pasado's Safe Haven. Aren't they full of personality?!

Happy 4th of July to anyone celebrating in the states! I'm mostly celebrating having a day off from work :).