Friday, September 30, 2016

Signs of Autumn - Spectrum

And to think I get to walk beneath these colors every day.

A bounty of beauty!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Signs of Autumn: Giant Mushrooms

A family of mushrooms grew overnight in my front yard. They invited me in.

I wonder if this is how baby mushrooms are made.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Signs of Autumn - Idaho Skyline

Instead of tall buildings illuminated with lights, we have colored trees that kiss stormy skies.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Paper Marbling - Shaving Cream Method

Today I did a "Bucket List" craft. My daughters had the opportunity to do some paper marbling at their preschool over 25 years ago. Ever since then, it's been in the back of my mind to try it myself. I got around to it today!

There are lots of ways to marble paper. After a bit of research, I decided to use the shaving cream method because it seemed simple and used food coloring instead of ink or paint. I'll likely try other methods somewhere down the road. This method using a thin liquid paint in a spray bottle is particularly intriguing because of the affects you can get due to the way the color is applied to the foam.

Here's what I did today.

I bought a can of shaving cream at the Dollar Tree. They had several varieties available, so I chose one that didn't appear to have a weird aroma.

I sprayed a good amount on a baking sheet

then flattened it out with a plastic dough scraper.

Next I added some color. I used what I had on hand and found that the little squeeze bottles of food coloring worked much better in this application than the bigger bottle where I needed to pour the color. I could more easily control the amount of food color I squeezed onto the foam.

I tried several methods of incorporating the food coloring into the foam. Each gives a different effect. I'm not sure I have a favorite method yet. Here, I used a hair pick.

Next, I laid a piece of paper down onto the foam, and pressed down on it to remove air bubbles.

I placed the foamy paper on a second baking sheet, messy side up. Then I took a squeegie and wiped the extra foam off the paper using one smooth motion. Voila! The paper is printed. I set it aside to dry on a table covered with a water-resistant cloth.

One of the tutorials I watched said you can place a clean sheet on top of the foamy paper and get a second imprint from the same bit of foam. I tried that a few times, but wasn't very successful in making a good print.

I tried a variety of papers to see which would take the color well. Those that worked best for me were watercolor paper, paper from a sketch pad, and old file folders. Newsprint, printer paper, and kids' coloring sheets didn't work well at all because they were just too thin.

At one point I tried an experiment that only partially worked. I sprayed some foam into a separate container, then added blue and red food coloring, trying to get a pretty purple. I added that purple to the previous cooking sheet full of foam and folded it in. After that, even though I added more white foam on top, all the rest of the prints had a strange purplish tone.

Another experiment was to add a bit of gold or silver acrylic paint onto the foam to see if I could get a bit of a metallic look. That was partially successful.

Were I to try this technique again, I'd periodically remove all the shaving cream from the baking sheet and start over with a clean slate of white foam and fresh food coloring.

Here are examples of my finished marbled paper.

 And some more. This was a heck of a lot of fun for a buck!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Wreath

This floral piece is the final decoration for our living room mantle.

I bought all the supplies for this piece from our local Dollar Tree. The total cost was ten dollars. The finished wreath is approximately 25" in diameter. Comparable wreaths from a store like Pier 1 run from about $30 - $60. Here's how I made mine.

I used a 14" wire wreath frame for the base. I had three garlands of fall leaves, three bunches of golden yellow fronds with long dark green foliage, and three bunches of berries with small bright green foliage. I started by taking all the clusters apart and sorting the pieces.

This area in my Studio has poor lighting, thus all the confusing shadows.

I found that the wire frame wasn't the best choice for this project. It would have worked better with a brown willow wreath base where I could poke the stems into the twigs, or a foam base where I could attach the foliage to the base with floral picks. My Dollar Tree didn't have those in stock, so I used what was available. I wrapped twist-ties around the wire frame to provide more surfaces on which to glue the foliage pieces.

I began by attaching the yellow fronds and long, dark green leaves to the back edge of the wire frame. I used a 30º/60º right triangle to help me get a consistent tilt to these pieces which I glued in place with hot glue.

About 3/4 of the way through this process, I realized I could reinforce the glue by adding more twist-ties to secure the fronds and leaves in place.

Next I sorted out the fall leaves. There were some medium-size leaves that were mostly orange/yellow. There were larger leaves that were mostly reds. And there were small leaves that had two leaves attached to a single stem.

I turned the wreath over, then hot-glued the medium leaves around the perimeter of the wire base, being sure to cover the edge where the dark green leaves and fronds were connected.

I glued the small double leaves to cover the inner edge of the center of the wreath. Then I glued the bright green leaves to the main surface of the wire base, followed by gluing the red leaves. This covered most of the wire frame. (I forgot to take photos during these steps, but you can see the progression in this close-up of the finished wreath).

Next step? Cut apart the berries. There were 15 small bunches. I glued twelve of the berry stems onto the yellow fronds, tucked under the medium leaves. I spaced the other three bunches evenly around the wreath center and glued them in place.

While gluing each bunch of berries, I checked for dings. The Styrofoam berries tend to get bunged up. I simply used a marker to color in any of the white that was showing.

Finally, I filled in any places where the wire base was still showing with the few extra medium leaves that I had.

This finished wreath exceeded my own expectations. I think it's beautiful and was pleased that the creative process led me through the difficulties and into some workable solutions. I didn't have a "pattern" or an idea from Pinterest to follow for this craft, so it's a particularly satisfying outcome.

Here it hangs above the mantle to complete this Fall tableau.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dressing the Mantle

The FALL frames are on the left. Here's a close-up of the sparkly pumpkins on the right. I picked the fluffy foliage on my daily walk. I really like those tufts.

I spent several hours in my Studio this morning. Hope to show off my new Autumn wreath tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wreath Makings

I had the pleasure of shopping for more craft supplies today. I've got at least four more projects in the works.

When I got home, I prepped the foliage for an Autumn wreath. If all goes as planned, I'll get to work on it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Signs of Autumn - Burning Again

I caught this image of a burning bush just as the leaves were transitioning from green to red.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Decorating for Autumn

I made a new Fall decoration for our mantle this year!

I started by spray painting some wooden letters with this pretty cranberry color. If I decide to do this project for any of the other seasons, I think I'd use acrylic craft paint and a roller or brush. The spray paint needed 3 or 4 coats, and it just dripped too much.

I bought some inexpensive yet pretty 5" x 7" picture frames at the Dollar Tree. They come with glass. I took off the back and put in some coppery-brown glitter paper (it looks rather gold here). The glitter paper is also from Dollar Tree and comes three 8.5" x 11" sheets in a package.

Then I hot-glued the painted letters onto the glass front. The "A" was just a bit too wide, so I had to trim down the bottom serifs with a saw before I painted it.

I lined the frames up on the mantle, then added some wired ribbon and a crystal vase with tall grass that I picked on my morning walk. I'm really pleased with the result.

I got the idea for this craft from CheapCraftyGirl on YouTube.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Signs of Autumn - Dalia

One of my neighbors has a 5' x 5' planter full of these tall lovely flowers, in many vibrant colors. Here's one for today.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Love-ly Detritus

While on my morning walk, I found this heart-shaped piece of cardboard lying in the street.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Signs of Autumn - Burning Bush

When the temperature dips down near freezing, the green of the burning bush shocks into red.

This is one of my very favorite plants in the Fall.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Phone Holders

A year ago, when I was visiting in Fullerton, California for my high school reunion, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with a gal I've known since we sat next to each other in Kindergarten. We parted ways after that year, but Carolyn and I re-met in high school. I've enjoyed her wit, laughter, and the way she's always challenged me to think about my faith.

Last summer, Carolyn worked for a pool company. She was their on-call employee who was required to have her phone with her at all times. She got in the habit of carrying her phone in a holder around her neck.

The gal who made her phone holders was no longer able to supply them. So I offered to make a couple for her.

Carolyn asked if they might be decorated with something that expressed her faith. It took me until October to pick the patterns and start the stitching.  Due to my family troubles last year, I didn't finish stitching the "Love" and "Bless You" patterns until the end of April this year. I finally made time to complete the phone holders and sent them to her last week.

I enjoyed picking coordinating fabrics for the holders. I used cotton for the backing and flannel for the lining so the phone's screen would be safe from scratches. I was lucky to find some coordinating cording in my stash.

Figuring out the construction was a challenge. The example holder Carolyn lent me was like the "Bless You" holder with the bias binding at the top. However, the example holder was not lined, so I had to figure that part out on my own. I ended up having to fiddle with the lining a lot to make it fit smoothly inside the outer fabric because it was bunching up from too much fabric.

On the "Love" holder, my cross-stitch fabric was too short, so I added a strip of the cotton on the top edge. Then I constructed the holder by first sewing the lining to the outside fabric (right sides together) along the top edge. I understitched that seam so the lining would lie flat. I turned the fabrics wrong sides together, then I sewed the lining to the outside fabrics. This way the lining and outside acted like a single piece of fabric. Following that, I put the front and back right sides together and sewed the sides and bottom. After I was sure the size was correct, I serged that inner seam to make it tidy before turning the holder right side out. This construction method worked much better than the "Bless You" holder.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with the result. The phone holders landed on Carolyn's doorstep yesterday. Sure hope they work for her.

Please send up a little prayer for Carolyn. She had a stroke several months ago which keeps her from working now. She also has other health concerns and deals with chronic pain. Send her all the love you can. I know she'll catch it.