Friday, January 13, 2017

Happy 2017

Happy New Year. I am still recovering from the absence of the Iron Craft Challenges. I decided to find other avenues to fill the gap. I have signed up for The Sketchbook Project for 2017. I have two ideas and I might do two different journals. The journals are due March 31, 2017 so I still have plenty of time. The first project is a recreation of some of the hand lettered inspirational quotes from last year. I got through six months of daily quotes. This year, I might finish the project as well. The project would be a re-visit to some of the quotes and recreate them in the journal they send. The second idea is a series of fold out pages that will be large doodles using repetitive patterns. One of the themes for this year is repetitive patterns.

Another Iron Craft void filler is a revisit to swap-bot challenges. In these challenges, you swap out projects based on curated and moderated themes. You can sign up for the ones in which you want to participate. I am looking at the different paper swaps--envelopes, post cards, journals, etc.

The first one that I am participating is a post card challenge called D is for ____ Postcard swap. These challenges aren't always handmade items although I will be doing all handmade projects. For this challenge, I was assigned three partners. I decided to do three separate postcards based on a daisy. Each of the cards is based on a daisy stencil that I have.

The first card is a single daisy on a alcohol background.

The second card is a group of daisies on a plaid background. I used my Copic markers for coloring and the plaid background. The black outline was done with a Sharpie fine tip marker.

The third card is the same group of daisies but everything was colored using alcohol inks. The black outline was done after the inks dried. First, the daisies were stenciled using the inks. Second, the background was filled in by ovespraying the entire card with alcohol inks. Once the card was drying, the stencil was put over the daisies and the black outline was drawn using a fine tip Sharpie.

I hope that my swap partners like them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #26--Infinity Scarf

For our last challenge in 2016 and in general, I wanted to pay homage to Kat (and Susi) who had the forethought to create something spectacular called Iron Craft Challenges. I am happy to say that I have, once again, participated in all 26 challenges this year.

To pay tribute to Kat, I wanted to try and knit. Granted, I needed a project that I could complete in two weeks and I knew I wouldn't be able to properly knit something on needles (believe me, I have tried in the past). I did a quick search on You Tube for Infinity Scarf.  I found this video called Arm Knitting (this like will open another window on You Tube).

I had two skeins of orange bulky yarn that I was hoarding, so I decided to give it a try. The hardest part was keeping the tension consistent throughout the project. I did have to start over several times. I also had difficulty sewing the ends to finish the project.

I lost track of the number of rows and was too lazy to count them so I just "knitted" until I was finished. Granted, my scarf was a lot longer than anticipated but I didn't mind that because I hate feeling like I am choking when wearing a scarf. So my last Iron Craft photo will be me modeling my scarf.

Thank you Kat and Susi for a wonderful platform to share our art (and crafts). I am forever blessed to have met such a supportive group of fellow artisans and crafters. Sending you love and well wishes for  all of your future endeavors and a art/craft-filled 2017.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #25--Leftovers Wreath

For Challenge #25, we were asked to use our stashes to complete the challenge--no new supplies. After making wreaths for the theater and other people, I still had one wreath remaining from a client that had to cancel her order.

I decided to decorate a wreath for the front door of my apartment. So digging through my stash, I decided to use leftover bits and pieces from other projects and threw them together for my wreath. This really is a jumble of ideas, colors and bits and bobs. So, anything that I had left over was free game. After it was said and done, I really like the way it turned out. It reminds me of an old fashioned Christmas tree with years of memories and ornaments all thrown together.

As a matter of point, I usually don't decorate my apartment for the holidays. Because I am so busy decorating for the theater and for clients, I am usually so exhausted by the time it comes to decorating my apartment that I have no energy or desire left.

This year, I decided to be a little selfish and say no to a couple of clients, for whom I didn't enjoy working, and decided to decorate a small area in my apartment. I also had a trip to Tokyo that took me away for 10 days so it was a little easier to say that I was too busy for clients.

This is a small table in the foyer that I decided to decorate. I covered the wall in a holiday table cloth as a backdrop. I had a Christmas Tree Vintage Ornament set that I brought out (right front). I also decided to use my vintage silver tinsel tree (right back) that I decorated with battery operated lights and faceted metal ornaments from Target, I also used a pink bottle brush tree (left back) that was left over from a previous project. The miniature artificial tree (left front) is from Michaels and is draped with ribbon and vintage mercury ornaments and miniature wood ornaments from Mexico. The wreath is a natural wreath from Target. The stockings are from my collection of stockings that I use for decorating. Each year, I limit my purchases to two new stockings. Mainly, I use them to decorate for clients so they become useful each year. At last count, I had 117 different stockings and will use about 75 stockings each year. The wooden bowl is a handmade bowl that a friend made and gave to me this year as a gift. I decided to make it the centerpiece of the tableau.

I wish the best for you and yours during this holiday season. May the season bring you  light, happiness and joy and I hope you have a spectacular 2017.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #24--Lights, Lights, Lights

For Challenge #24, we were asked to create with lights. Being in the middle of my decorating season, I decided to share some of my ideas using lights. These were all designed during this two week period.

Project #1--The Octopus Wreath
This is a throwback to a project that I used to do with younger kids. Originally, we would use a piece of cardboard, wrap it in ribbon and the use tubed icing to put candies on the wreath form. I would always use Lifesavers (either mint or the colorful regular candies). Here is a grown up version that I have used in offices before. This is a Styrofoam form with a flat back (you can also use an extruded Styrofoam form). The first step was to wrap the form with battery operated lights. The second step was to wrap the form and lights in the ribbon of your choice. This isn't totally necessary but I don't like the Styrofoam peeking through the candies. Rather than gluing the candies, I secure the candies with large ball topped quilter's pins. I hang it in a public place so that people can unpin a piece of candy and eat it. I have done a similar wreath at Halloween and used snack sized candy bars.

When in the mood, just flip the switch on the back of the wreath and it lights up. These are red lights under a plaid ribbon.

Project #2--A Vase of Ornaments

This is such an easy idea and is loosely based on Kat's photo/project that accompanied this challenge. Rather than make a wreath of ornaments, I simply took a tall vase and filled it with various sizes of ornaments. This is winter tableau so I used blues, whites, silvers and clear ornaments. I placed some of the smaller ornaments in the bottom and then alternated threading the lights and larger ornaments until the vase was full. The ribbon the top of the vase is decorative but also holds the battery pack in place on the back on the vase.

When you are read, just flip the switch. These are actually twinkling lights which really reflect off the mirrored ornaments.

Project #3--Lighted Packages

View 1 (from the right)

This is another easy project to fill that space that just needs a bit of color or light. I like to use this technique on high shelves or book cases to draw the eye up high or around to specific areas of the room. This is a high shelf that is about 8 feet off the ground. This is a huge room so I wanted to carry the eyes all around. The colors are duplicate from other parts of the room. I simply wrapped empty boxes with reflective paper and decorated the boxes with repeated ornaments and different ribbons. Since there is such little ribbon needed and a basic style wrapping paper, you can use big colors as shown here.

Once the boxes are in place, drape lights above, around and through the boxes to create interest. This is string of lights that is plugged in. The cord is tape down on the back side of the shelf so that it doesn't show.
View 2 (from the front)
When you are ready, just plug in the lights.
View 3 (with lights)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #23--Hand Turkey Competition

For this challenge, we were asked to complete something for the holidays. I was planning on doing another project but something else came into play--a competition at work. First of all, we take our competitions at the theater VERY seriously. We have been down a little at the theater because of the election and the announcement that our show is closing in January. So, one of the actors decided to sponsor a Hand Turkey Competition. I decided to enter and share as part of Challenge #23.

I knew that I wanted to do but I just had to work out the logistics of how to actually make it work. I knew that I wanted to do a stain glass turkey. I knew that I wanted to do a double hand turkey. What I had difficulty trying to figure out was how to make the hand translucent so that color could pass through. Also, I needed to figure out how to allow light to show through.

Problem #1. Translucency

I started by drawing my hands to make the feathers of the turkey. So I traced around my hand.

My fat hands.

I then took this image to my copier and reduced the size.

Original on left; reduced on right
I then cut the smaller hands out of white card stock and glued it on top of the original image. I traced my thumbs on black card stock and mounted the thumb cut out on top of the white reduced hand image.

In doing so, this would allow the light to pass through the hands of the white image. I then went to Power Point and created a box with intersecting lines to create the stained glass background. I superimposed the scanned hand turkey image on the background. I used the send to back feature so that the hand turkey images would appear behind the background lines.

The second step was to cut out all of the white parts of the image (I forgot to take a picture of the result).

The third step was to glue tissue to the back of the cut out. I glued each piece in place and then cut/tore away following the black (lead) lines. I realized about half way through that it was easier to tear the tissue while the glue was still wet. The result was that the tissue would feather along the glue line and sped up the process. I originally was waiting for the glue to dry and then cutting with a scalpel. The technique ultimately used was to score the wet paper with the scalpel and then tear away/guide the paper while the glue was still wet.

In process (front of piece)
During the process, I got a little careless with the glue and the scalpel and wasn't entirely happy with the piece. I needed a way to clean up the piece so that it would become presentable. I decided to place the cutout within a folded piece of white tissue. This would help to conceal the problems and hide the mistakes. I then took a piece of black card stock and cut another smaller thumb cut out to act as the turkey body. I cut out a yellow triangle for the beak and added some googly eyes on top of the white tissue.

Problem #2--How to add light.
I took a clear acrylic box frame to present the final piece. The box frame comes with a white cardboard insert that keeps the image flat against the front of the frame. I cut out a rectangle from the front of the insert. I taped a piece of aluminum foil to the inside to reflect light. Then I fed white holiday lights through the back of the cardboard insert (where the mounting holes are located) and taped the lights to the aluminum foil. I used a set of battery operated lights. I then taped the battery pack to the back of the frame/cardboard insert.

Here is the final piece with the lights in the background. I am very happy with the way that this turned out. It has been well received and the judging will be on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #22--The Letter I (Literally)

For Challenge #22, we were supposed to inspired by the letter I. Unfortunately, I couldn't get inspired. I looked and looked and looked but nothing jumped out at me. At first, I though about indigo which would have been fun but I couldn't decide on anything. Then, I thought about doing something with Indian Corn especially since Thanksgiving is coming soon. Maybe a tablescape or something. But no--to early for Indian corn, although there were plenty of pumpkins still around. Then I thought about insects but I had already done that for an Iron Craft Challenge. My final hope was Iguana. I searched for images but just couple find anything that tripped-my-trigger. In a final last ditch effort, I decided to just cut an I--literally.

Ultimately, this is my fourth attempt. I kept cutting some of the connectors because I was rushing. This is cut out of black card stock. Right now, I simply having it resting on a piece of white paper. Below, I have it resting on a piece of scrap orange paper.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #21--Paper Cut Sugar Skulls

Challenge 21 was designed to bring out our best Halloween. I had so many ideas and I finally just had to commit to a project and then just do it. I have been tossing this idea out for a while but just didn't find the right images. I visited my friends over at shutterstock for some inspiration. I found these images from the artist Dmitry (amid999) and decided to commit them to paper. I still don't know how I will use these cutouts but I have several ideas now that I know they can be done.

The first image is my favorite because it can be used as is. In other words, there are no hanging/unattached pieces. Each of these pieces is about 11 inches tall and 8.5 inches wide. I always try to cut new pieces in larger sizes so I can get a feel for the image. Afterwards, I try and miniaturize the image to see how small I can get it before it starts losing details.

I like this image but it has two floating areas. The black eye sockets have to be glued down because they are not connected to anything else. Also the center dot of the daisy in the forehead is a floater as well. In future editions, I will probably just not use the dot on the daisy and will connect the eye sockets with a horizontal connector to the flames. Also, you will notice the error that I made in the daisy. I forgot to cut out the left most petal. The daisy is supposed to be symmetrical.

This is my second most favorite image. I think that I like the fatter border on the skulls. This has a limited number of floaters. Just the dots in the forehead cross have to be glued down. I probably could not use them but it does look empty without them.

I  like this image too mainly because it uses one of the most common themes of sugar skulls--the use of hearts. The only floaters on this one are the eye sockets and I could easily use a vertical connect to connect them to the sun cutout.

I think that I will redesign these and cut them out to show you what I meant about the connectors. I would like to try and miniaturize these and try and turn them into cupcake toppers.