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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #20--Cross Stitch Fail

This was what it was supposed
to look like.
For this Challenge, we were tasked with attempting a craft that was new for us. I have always wanted to try my hand at cross stitch. For me, this should have been a match made in heaven for someone with OCD. Counting stitches, duplicating bottom left to top right under bottom right to top left. The repetition should have been comforting and relaxing--but it wasn't.

For some reason, I just couldn't get my head wrapped around it. Maybe I should have started with a larger hole Aida cloth but I used the cloth that was in the package. The biggest frustration was separating the strands of thread. I only needed three strands and it took me forever to separate the strands of thread. What I should have done was take a length of 6 strand thread, cut it, and then separate it. Instead, I tried to separate an entire bobbin of thread which was a complete disaster.

I finally got the hang of one color but when it came time to add the second of five colors, I got totally discombobulated. Somehow, two colors of thread sharing the same holes sent my OCD mind reeling. What I really should have done was to stick to a single color.

This is my unmitigated disaster

I might try this project again but start with a plastic canvas or an 6 or 8 count cloth. I haven't totally given up yet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #19--Leopard Print Coloring Book

For Challenge #19 we were asked to prepare something based on current fashion trends. I had some leftover coloring book blanks that I needed to work on so I decided to do the covers in velvet and leopard print papers.

One of the difficulties with accordion books is that it is difficult to know from which side to open the book. To alleviate this problem, I decided to give the covers a standard quarter binding appearance so that it would resemble a regular book. The title of the binding refers to the dimensions of the covering material. The spine material (in this case, the velvet paper) covers one quarter of the surface. The decorative paper (the leopard print paper) then covers the remaining three quarters of the surface. I chose the velvet paper for the spine material because it has a nice feel against the hand.

To finish the book, I simply mounted the pages to the inside front and back covers. The fly sheet/end sheet is left blank so you can write something special for the recipient.

Overall, I like the book and especially like the matte surface of the velvet paper against the slight sheen of the decorative paper.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #18--Leftover Stained Glass

Challenge #18 was a UFO challenge--Unfinished Object Challenge. I had so many options but I decided to do something with the leftover paper stained glass pieces that I had from challenge #17.

To be able to assemble a stained glass project, there needs to be seven identical cutouts made of the same design. One design is done in black (to resemble the lead lines) and one design for each of the colors used. So in essence, if I am careful, I can obtain six pieces from each set of patterns (if I cut out an additional black design). In other words, if I cut out six individual black pieces, and one pattern for each of the six colors, I will have six total pieces by alternating the color patterns for each individual piece.

By using each of the pieces, I have the unused colored outlines. The color palette chosen for these pieces are usually two color groups divided into a light, medium and dark shade of the same color. So, I decided to mount three of the color outlines using the purple family.

Here I mounted the dark color on bottom, the light shade in the middle and the medium shade on top. I staggered them so it gives the design a shadow effect. I then mounted them on white paper.

I made a paper mat with black paper. The frame is 18 by 18 which is the outer dimension of the paper mat. I usually make paper mats at home to decide how I want to mat a project. Once I have decided, I then take it to a framer to cut the real mats if I am selling or giving the piece away. If I keep it for myself, I will usually just keep the paper mat.

All that is left is to put it in a frame.

I always find it hard to take a picture of a framed item.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #17--Paper Stained Glass

For Challenge #17 we were asked to contribute to the State Fair. I decided to do category 697--Paper Cutting. The basis of the entry is a paper stained glass project. These are stained glass patterns found in the Moorish castles in Spain. They are are a mix of Christian and Muslim iconography.

I have re-created them in paper. Each piece must be cut out and then must be glued in place like a jigsaw puzzle. I am using traditional color palettes of the Mediterranean.

Hopefully, between the two entries I will be awarded a ribbon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #16--H is for Horse

For Challenge #16 we were given the theme "H". I really struggled with this challenge and was succumbing to the heat wave that has hit New York City. Finally, with no ideas of a project, I decided to do a Google Search for "H Crafts" and voila--the first entry was horse.

After having an idea, I need to do a quick project so I went to my comfort zone and did a cutout.  I still haven't glued down the image because I still don't know quite how I want to finish it. I might cut out a duplicate and mount the second layer on top with spacers between the layers to give it some dimension.

For now, this will have to do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #15--Cool Water Sea Horse

For Challenge #15 we were prompted with the word "Cool." When I think of cool, there are two thoughts that come to mind--snow/snowflakes and water. I decided to work with the second option. So I thought that I would do a cut out of a sea horse in a sea of cool water.

To begin, I started with the cut out. This is another in my series of Paper Stained Glass. I designed this particular pattern using an image from shutterstock. I tweeked the image a little and added the "lead lines" to the background.

Step One
The second step is to design the stained glass panels. I thought about adding color to the sea horse using the background colors or even adding a contrasting color. In the end, I decided that to keep the sea horse with just the background paper (white) showing through.

The third step is to apply the first color. To be able to add color to the background, you must cut the identical pattern for each separate color. After cutting the pieces, you glue them to the background paper similar to fitting a jigsaw puzzle. You will know immediately if your cutting is offline.

First color
 You keep on cutting and adding colors.

Second color
Third color
Fourth color
The colors in the background were supposed to replicate the color of the water from the surface to the deep sea blue.

I then double matted the artwork and placed it in a frame.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #14--Faeries

The title of Challenge #14 was Copy Cat. I really struggled with this challenge because I just wasn't finding any inspiration that truly inspired me. As I was reading through my weekly feed, Susi from our very own Just Crafty Enough blogged about the British Invasion. In her stockpile of goodies, she showed some woodcut fairies and some paper fairies and I said--I can do that.

I found an image from Dover Productions and set out to cut my own. The beauty of doing it yourself that you can pick your own colors (classic black--above) or a salmon colored fairy.

Or you can cut a smaller one out of a pastel purple.

You can see the two different sizes below.

Or you can cut it even smaller out of a pink card stock. Although, it does look like she is about to eat a corn dog.

Medium vs Smaller.

So thanks Susi for the inspiration.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Iron Craft 2016 Challenge #13--Picnic Napkins

BBQ Napkins

For Challenge #13 we were challenged with the theme Stars and Stripes in deference to the 4th of July holiday in the United States. Along with this holiday is the always present BBQ and picnic so I decided to make some quick napkins.

Years ago, I was in the fabric district in Manhattan and came across some fat quarters of some lightweight duck cloth. I don't know if that is the real name but it is the name that I always knew it by. I had never seen it in stripes so I bought some and put it in my stash.

For me, it was a very easy material to work with (I think it was the lightest weight available, possibly 7 oz) and it is like working with a cotton canvas. I simply steamed a seam allowance and pivoted on the corners. I should have mitered the corners or cut away some of the bulk but since these were for friends and were being used for a picnic I decided not to get too fussy with it. I simply sewed a running stitch so I don't know how long they will last but it will be an easy repair should I need to fix it. Maybe a zigzag stitch next time?

They were a big hit.
Don't look too closely at the sewing.