Friday, January 30, 2015

Self Portrait Week 4: The Thinkers

Contemplating the state of the kingdom with the frog prince.

(In honor of last week's State of the Union address)


Photo Lessons I Learned:

Sometimes it's the funniest things that inspire a photo. I was sweeping off my front porch and wiping down the table on which this frog sits. I realized it was "self-portrait day" and didn't have a good idea for a shot. So I sat down at the table to come up with an idea with my head in my hand, and realized the frog was looking back at me with the same expression.

This photo is taken in natural daylight in the afternoon. The waning sun is shining on my face from the right. I used my camera's phone in "selfie" mode, and tried to make position match the frog's. Maybe I should have grabbed my tiara, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Year of Self-Portraits

This year I've given myself a photography assignment: a self-portrait each week. I'm hoping to learn more about my equipment. I'm going to experiment with lighting. I'm expecting to capture different parts of my personality. I plan to play dress-up and to be a little daring. Sometimes these portraits will be simple selfies taken with my phone's camera. Other times I'll work with my big camera, tripod, and lighting tools.

We're into the 3rd week of the year. Here are my first three self-portraits.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3


Photo Lessons I Learned:

When I started this project, I wasn't quite sure of the scope. So the first week I took a simple selfie with my phone's camera. I did try a trick my photo teacher suggested: stand in your front doorway. This way you have natural light, but not too harsh due to the porch ceiling. I need to remember to look into the lens instead of looking at the phone's screen.

The second week, I actually had a breakthrough. Adding a wig or a costume brings out the actress in me! The clothing helps inspire the photo. Again, this was a simple selfie. I did pay attention to having a solid-color background. Unfortunately, this photo was taken in my hallway, which has very bad lighting. I had to brighten it up quite a bit in editing, and that blew out the light tones on my chest wall and nose.

The third week I decided that my self-portraits could be more than selfies, and more than playing dress-up. Throughout the year, the photos can also act as a scrapbook of what was going on in my life that week. For this photo, I set up my DSLR on a tripod, and used a wireless remote to take the photo. It was tricky to line up the remote in my hand with the camera's infrared trigger, and then finish posing while the camera fine-focused and took the picture. I wish I'd used a lower f-stop so that the background would be more out of focus. I find those bits of wall and molding sort of distracting. This week, I also decided to experiment with editing in black and white.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gifts for My Girls - Part 9

My eldest daughter, Jeanne, has long kept a journal. I was just like her at that age. I know how nice it is to have a special journal in which to write. She is also a lover of cats. I decided to combine her two passions into one gift.

I found this simple chart of a cat silhouette on Pinterest. I stitched it on 14 count Fiddler's cloth which is sort of a tweedy brown and beige cross-stitch fabric. I sewed it onto a coordinating cotton print, then used it to cover a simple spiral notebook.

I lined the inside of the front cover with an interesting scrapbook paper.

Next, I collected images of cats from magazines, catalogs, and other print media. I glued them to the corners of pages throughout the journal.

It makes for a whimsical piece that is useful and practical. I like that it's another way to let Jeanne know she has my emotional support.

(Thanks to Jeanne for the photos)


The chart was inspired by this publication:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Gifts for My Girls (& a Friend!) - Part 8

Here's another little craft I saw on Pinterest that caught my eye. A cute and easy (and fast!) Santa gift card holder. I made two of these for Christmas gifts in 2014. One was the size to hold a gift card. Then I made a smaller one that was just big enough for a key.

Start with these pieces:

  • 11" x 6" red card stock for suit
  • 11" x 2.5" black card stock for belt
  • 3" x 3" white (or silver) card stock for buckle
  • 2" x 2" black card stock for middle of buckle
  • 3/4" diameter black card stock circles for buttons
  • 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" red card stock for inside pocket *or* glue dots

For the smaller gift holder I just downsized the pieces proportionally.

Fold the suit and belt as shown. Use double-sticky tape or glue to attach belt, buttons, and buckle.

On the inside you can use double-sticky tape to attach the pocket into which you slip the gift card. Since my gift card was sort of big, I attached it with glue dots. On the smaller gift card holder I also chose to attach the key with a glue dot.

So cute!

Daughter Jeanne got a kick out of her gift.  :)

Thanks to daughter Jodie for help with these photos.


Gift card holder inspired by Stamp With Heather:

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gifts for My Girls - Part 7

Middle daughter, Julie, has a new kitten named Fawkes. He's quite a busy, dapper fellow who likes to dress up in sweaters, hats, and ties. So I decided to give my grandkitty a little gift of a bow tie using some inspiration I found on Pinterest.

I found a nice tie at a thrift shop in colors that I thought would show off well against Fawkes' fur. So I carefully removed all the stitching and interfacing from the tie, pressed it, and used the fabric. You can check out the link at the bottom of the page to get the dimensions. But even after making the tie, I still had this much fabric left!

It was a press, fold, pin, pinch, wrap, sew kind of project. Then I added a ribbon to tie around his neck.

My childhood doggie modeled it for me before I sent off the package.

Ready for a close up?

Here's Fawkes lookin' all snappy in his new duds.

(Thanks to Julie and Jodie for the photographs!)


Inspired by a pattern I saw on Chic Sprinkles

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jodie's Christmas Cards

While Jodie was home over Thanksgiving break, she was feeling pretty stressed out. It was right before finals and she was completing the first edition of the new student magazine for which she is the editor. So she asked me to help her de-stress by crafting with her.

She found a cute idea for a Christmas card on Pinterest. She had brought along her chalks and a silver Sharpie. I supplied the black construction paper. We sat in my Studio on night after dinner and went to town.

It took a few tries to figure out the proper shape for the light bulbs. Then it took more than a few more attempts to come up with a good technique to make the bulbs look like they are glowing. I was inspired to grab some cotton swabs to smear the chalk line instead of using our fingers. It worked really well.

We got into a rhythm of outlining with chalk, smearing,

adding the bulb caps,

then drawing on the wire.

We talked and laughed and de-stressed in general. As each card was finished, we used double-sided tape to adhere a 4 x 6 index card to the back on which she wrote her personal messages. We separated the stacked cards with pieces of scrap paper to keep the chalk from getting where we didn't want it to go.

The process ended up taking much more time than we'd anticipated. I finally had to call it quits when my eyes wouldn't stay open any more. Jodie finished the cards up when she got back to Corvallis. I received this one in the mail.


We were inspired by artwork from Buggy and Buddy:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Kaylee's Bib

When my niece Tonya had her baby in October, I was lucky enough to get to visit with her and hold baby Kaylee. I stitched this little bib and took it along as a Welcome to the World gift.

Cute little faces, yes?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gifts for My Girls - Part 6

Feeling like I had a little crafting mojo back after finishing the felt penguin, I moved on to making some hot air balloon stationery for youngest daughter, Jodie. She writes the most kind and wonderful notes for friends, co-workers and mentors. I was pretty sure she'd appreciate some hand-decorated cards. I was inspired to make this from an idea I found on Pinterest.

I started with a simple watercolor wash. It doesn't show up well in the photos, but these watercolors have a pearlized or opalescent quality. They shimmer a bit.

Then I found some fabrics that looked like they could work as a hot air balloon bladder. I had to audition a number of fabrics to find some with the correct scale. I ironed a fusible web to the back of the fabric, cut out the balloon shape, then ironed the balloon shape to the front of the card.

I used a bit of burlap to create the basket. Then I outlined the balloon and "tied" it to the basket with a marker. I stacked the notecards and wrapped them with a pretty coordinating ribbon.

Jodie opened them on Christmas and said they were too nice to use. She said she may frame them instead. Ahhhh!


Balloon stationery inspired by Crafting Chicks:

Friday, January 2, 2015

Gifts for My Girls - Part 5

During the summer and into the fall, my attention was focused on renovating our home, I didn't get much crafting (or blogging!) done. But in September I did take a little time out to make another felt ornament.

This time, a penguin for daughter #2, Julie. It was inspired by a penguin I saw on Pinterest. I used some brighter colors than the original to make him a stand-out.

He's got the sweetest fact, don't you think?


My inspiration is from Edge of Clarity Etsy shop:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gifts for My Girls - Part 4

This sweet little project was on my "Must Try" list since I first saw it on designer JCasa's blog several  years ago. The designer promised that the project would only take "only minutes." But I must have spent 16 hours just thinking about it. You can find the directions here.

Jodie and I finally picked out some fabrics together. I love the batik look!

If I had followed the simple directions completely, they would have only taken about a half hour. But I missed one step and had to do a little handwork, so they took slightly more time.

I love the results. Colorful. Compact. Useful. Classy.