My First Lino

I finally got over myself last night!  Lino block carving is definitely something to get the hang of.  Here’s a few things I learned on my first go of it.

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Be very, very careful.  I cut myself.  Twice.

Ouch!

2.  “Ink” is different from “paint” – it’s much thicker.

3. It takes a lot more ink than you think it would.

First, Second and Third Tries. Just right the first time, not enough the second and too much ink on the third try.

4. Don’t press too hard with the carving tool, it will dig too deep and make it hard to keep a clean line.

5.  I probably do need that press that I put back on the Hobby Lobby shelf so that the ink will be distributed evenly.

6.  Lino block carving is a great and easy medium for suggesting textures.

6.  I like the folk art look of outlining the shapes in the picture but I think I’ll like better the clean look of one image in the center with negative space all around.

I will be trying again soon!  Stay crafty, my friends.  (Most interesting man in the world)

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So Much to Craft, So Little Time

From Moo-Moo to MAH-velous

Social networking, Etsy, and blogs have really sucked up a lot of my time these days because I keep finding such cool stuff!  Much of it has inspired me to try my hand at whatever it is, and to that end I spent .32¢ short of $100 (!) at Hobby Lobby yesterday, mostly on lino block printing supplies.  If you’re not familiar with lino block printing, you can find a short YouTube video of it here. My inspiration for that comes from Fawne of Moment of Stars.  I haven’t broken out the carving tool just yet,  but I did use a little ready-made stamp in the shape of a baby chick I bought.  I’m planning on home-making some invitations for a baby shower I’m hosting.  I don’t like the way they look just yet, but I’ll post pictures when I do.

Today’s lightening bolt of inspiration came from Marisa, whose blog I stumbled upon through facebook or some other social media I’ve been cruising. Her blog is called New Dress A Day, and you guess it, she’s challenged herself to make one new dress per day for a year.  Now, this part alone isn’t all that inspirational – it’s the budget and materials she uses that inspires me.  With only a budget of $365 ($1 per dress!) she frequents thrift stores and goodwill shops and buys some of the most heinous moo-moos (don’t act like you don’t know what a moo-moo is; but just in case, urban dictionary’s definition:  A rectangular cloth with crude stiching worn by morbidly obese persons) and turns them into chic, vintage-inspired outfits.  I just may have to try my hand at this, too!  Christian Women’s Center, here I come! (And this time my husband won’t get mad at the amount of money I spent on this crafty project!)

 Happy Crafting!

Peddling My Wares

Sunday evening I stayed up late making sure the house was clean and that the next night’s dinner was already cooking in the crock pot (I’ll share the simple, cheap delicious recipe below).  I was up pretty late, but the reward was worth it – when I got home on Monday, I got to put on my ratty pajamas and close myself into my craft room.  Adam came to visit a few times to look in on what I was doing, and he even hooked up one of our old TVs (that was still sitting in the floor of the guest room) and I watched “The Bounty Hunter” with Jennifer Anniston and Gerrard Butler.  (I think Gerard Butler is sexy as hell but he needs to stick to kicking Spartan ass… this movie was not all that great.)

Mr.Owl;8x10 acrylic on stretched canvas; $35

I really, really like the first piece I did last night.  Owls are über popular these days, and I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring of painting one.    As I was painting him, he was looking rather plain so I looked around my craft room to see what I could do to add something special.  Buttons were an obvious choice for the eyes, and thankfully I had two of the same in my large candy dish filled with leftover buttons.  Then I found the big box of quilt binding my grandmother gave me that I’ve never used.  I lined the owl with it, and I love the dimension it gives his ears, feathers and wings.  I had painted him legs, but didn’t like them when I outlining his tail feathers with the binding.  It took a while to paint over them, but then I realized I wanted Mr. Owl to have 3D legs.  Adam and I hemmed and hawed over using pipe cleaners (too kiddish), small-gage wire (too bare-looking), a piece of wheat straw (not malleable) and other things around the house.  When I sat back down at the table, I realized the answer had been there all along.  I took the same yellow binding and simply cut the flat fabric off to leave the rounded edge, then painted it orange.  I then poked holes in the canvas and just pushed the legs through and secured them with hot glue on the back. 

Miss Whale; 8x10; acrylic on stretched canvas; $25

I liked Mr. Owl so much that I popped in the second movie Nana let us borrow, “The Last Song,” (with Miley Cyrus) and sat down to do a second similar piece.  This time I chose a whale.  (BTW, yes I do like Miley Cyrus and have been known to watch Hannah Montana.  The movie was mediocre. I like her better when she’s not acting for adults, I suppose.)

I was really liking the way the whale was looking at first, with the slight gray shading.  I painted in the blue and then started outlining Miss Whale with white binding.  I feel like that took away from the way the blue looked against the shading.  I added the bow (a simple twist of rectangular fabric) and began thinking about the eyes.  One eye didn’t look right, but I don’t think that two eyes do either (especially buttons, with the thread it looks like she got knocked out…) And she’s supposed to be smiling more, which is why I added the rosy cheek at the last minute, to make her look more friendly. 

"Gossip"; 18"x24" acrylic on thin canvas; $55 - The colors in the pic are true, but they are much more blended than they look (esp between the white and yellow on the birds)

Then I decided if I was going to put these two up for sale, I may as well put some older stuff up for sale, too.  “Gossip” I painted while at our old house.  I love the tree, the way I tried to paint the wind, and portraying with birds the idea of neighbors standing by a fence to trade gossip.

I remember sitting outside with my huge easel my father made me painting this one.  The leaves started out extremely small, but I didn’t like the way the were looking so I changed them to be oversized.

"Spanish Villa"; 16x20; pastel on thin canvas; $40

“Spanish Villa” was one of my first attempts with a newfound artistic hand.  I had just begun attending the (now-defunct!) Artisan’s Guild of Griffin.  (Side note – someone needs to get this up and running again.  I am contemplating doing it myself but I am worried because I’ve got a lot of stuff being served up to my plate soon that I’m very excited about!)   I used oil pastels, which was really fun, but I remember it being very hard to get the pastels down into the weave of the canvas.  Using my thumb hurt very badly after a while so I used two methods: some places I gently rubbed an eraser over it and I also dipped a clean paintbrush into mineral spirits, which created a stroke effect. 

Let me know if something catches your eye.

The Fabric of My Life

 

  

Nana and me, wearing a dress she made

I wrote this post early last week and was waiting to post until I found a few pictures showing my grandmother’s creations.  I found a few, but unfortunately (or fortunately, if you’re me) I couldn’t find the embarrassing pictures of the middle school formal dances.  Guess you’ll just have to use your imagination.  I’m betting it couldn’t be worse than the real thing.

 I spent this past weekend unpacking and organizing my craft room/office.   Much of what I have in the way of sewing notions, fabric, and sewing machines was given to me by my grandmother.  The same grandmother in whose house we are now living.  My craft room had been her sewing room.

My grandmother stored the majority of her fabrics in big, clear bins.  When I began sewing, she gave me several of these bins.  I decided to use the shelving in my Nana’s old sewing room to store the fabrics and I wanted to organize them by color so I could tell with a glance what I had.  

Come to think of it, Nana made the dress I'm wearing in this picture, too.

As I unpacked each fabric, a different childhood memory unfolded.  A black, gold and red floral pattern (I use the term “floral” loosely here) brought to mind a garment Nana made my mother – bitchin’ shoulder pads and all.  

A  silky solid blue took me back to a middle school dance where I sported a floor-length evening gown and a wrap that I wore like a noose around my neck.  (This blue is a better memory than a cotton blend in a lighter blue, when I looked like I was trying to be Cinderella with braces and barrel curls…thank goodness none of that fabric is left…)

 

My brother and the pajamas he begged for, namely for the puffy ball on the hat

And though I was still in the craft room, a heavy, red plaid flannel took my mind to the living room of that same house almost 10 years ago, when we were having Christmas Eve at Nana and Paw-Paws.  My brother Tana had requested a pajama set and a matching pointed nightcap with a little puffy ball on the end.  

When I finished organizing the fabric of my life, I sat down to sew some curtains for the kitchen.  (The ones my grandmother had sewn in the early 90s were looking a little tired.)  As I pulled out my grandmother’s handed-down sewing machines, I realized I was now sewing in the same room where my grandmother had sewn all of those memorable outfits, on the same sewing machine and serger, using some of the same fabrics. 

I smiled a little smile and sewed the best curtains I’ve ever made.

PS – I pretty much failed my 10-day No-Spend Challenge.  The weekend proved too powerful and I ate out a few times and got so excited about the the Bluebird CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I bought a quarter share.  Then proceeded to the grocery store and loaded up before the challenge was over.  But I did save $40 using my Ingles Advantage card and clipped coupons!  I think I had at least 10 coupons, and that was fun.  Overall the not spending money thing was a challenge to make sure what I was spending money on was really important.

Tidbits

Today was our monthly book club meeting (our second of since formation) at Safehouse Coffee and Tea.  Though only one other person showed up, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Pam about a little bit of everything, including Confederacy of the Dunces. Near the end of our discussion, my cousin, Mike Williamson showed up and sparked the conversation back up by comparing himself to the hilariously anti-social protagonist of the book. 

Pam was new to Safehouse, and even though I have no claim to the successes of Hunt and Amanda Slade’s wonderful establishment, I am extremely proud of all that they have accomplished.  So to all of those who have yet to visit Safehouse, please do yourself a favor and just go look around, even if you don’t like coffee or tea.  As I said tonight to Pam, Safehouse is the hub of everything I would like Griffin to be.  Art, books, the smell of roasting coffee, and an extremely laid-back atmosphere. 

As usual, I am digressing.  Since I’m toying with the idea of beginning a blog for our book club, I’ll spare you a discussion of Confederacy of Dunces – but let’s just say that if you enjoy sarcasm, satire and uncomfortable comedy, you’ll enjoy that book.

After returning home, I began gathering more items for the yard sale.  We have much more stuff that we do not use than I thought.  A quick raid of the kitchen turned up a crock pot, blender and toaster oven that were all replaced by newer model wedding gifts, a set of white dishes, service for four (I’m still hunting down 3 of the bowls, but I’m confident they will be located before Saturday), an electric coffee grinder, many wine glasses, and more.

Here’s a quick list as a teaser to get you to show up to our yard sale and find something you know you need:

 A husband (No, I’m not selling my man.  It’s that pillow thing that has arms that allows you to sit up in bed to read or watch t.v.); a knitted Georgia blanket (it’s huge!); magazines out the wazzo – a year’s subscription worth of Real Simple and many wedding magazines; books – mostly paperback easy reads; blankets, curtains, placemats; tablecloths; two large lamps (sans shades); many purses, shoes, clothing items (in good condition and mostly name-brand) and jewelry; white, gold-rimmed china (plates and saucers only); a vacuum with 3 bags; an old set of golf clubs; chairs that were in the process of being recovered; venetian blinds; a coffee table; an old upholstered chair (very pretty but needs cleaning; many mason jars; and more.

If all of that isn’t enough to entice you, maybe this is:  I think we’re up to about 10 families/households throwing in items.  I know of these other items: a washer and dryer set, a stove/range, a dishwasher, a couch and chair; much women’s and men’s nice clothing (young people’s clothing – not the old nightgown-ish stuff no one would actually want…) seasonal items and more. 

It’s ridiculous the amount of stuff we have.  And hey, if you don’t really need anything, stop by anyway and make us feel good that people actually showed up. 

Neighborhood Yard Sale
136 Milner Avenue, Griffin
Saturday, June 19 8 a.m. til the last item sells (the last person there just may get a bunch of free stuff)

Payin’ it Forward, Craftily

Here’s a “stimulus package” for all of you crafters like me, who, if not prodded to do something crafty your creativity stagnates and you get blocked. It’s called the “Crafty Pay-It-Forward” game and it’s been all over facebook and personal blogs. Now it’s my turn because I will soon be receiving a lovely hand-knitted pair of socks from Lily. Just like the movie, now I have to “pay it forward” by making other people some nifty stuff.

So this is how it works – the first five people who comment on this blog posting, no matter if I know you or live near you, will receive something hand-made with love by me sometime within the next 365 days. The catch is that, like me, you will have to re-post the rules of this crafty game on your blog or facebook and do the same thing within a year of receiving my gift.

Let the game begin!

Virtually Successful

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even blogs make it easy to stay in touch, to “meet” new contacts and possibly even find a few job opportunities and prospects. As much as these sites have us “keeping in touch,” it’s also keeping us tied to our computers, phones and keyboards instead of actually getting out and being around one another. What good does it do you to have 1,693 Facebook friends, 436 Twitter followers and over 124 LinkedIn connections if you hardly ever see these people in real life?

 I enjoy cyber stalking on Facebook just as much as the next person, and my husband, Adam, constantly pokes fun at me after fun or funny experiences asking me if I am “twittering” about it. However, I have yet to figure out how to duplicate the success of people who “land their dream job” or “make millions off their blog” that I hear about on msn.com or other similar homepages. I just don’t think it’s gonna happen for me.

I feel that I am pretty well-versed in new technology, but I have just enough of my father’s Dale Gribble conspiracy-fearing personality that I sometimes prefer to do things the old-fashioned way. Meeting people and filing my taxes fall under that category. (Until I married Adam, I filed my taxes on paper because I didn’t trust Turbo-tax or the internet with something as important as paying the IRS their dues.)

With that being said, I’ll finally make it to my point: I want to start a young professionals networking group. I think it’s definitely time the 20-40 age group of professionals get involved in the community and have a place where they don’t feel like they’re the youngest and most inexperienced person in the room (like I do when I’ve visited Rotary, Kiwanis, American Business Women’s Association meetings.) And yes, maybe go grab a few drinks together when they get off work to relax.

This brings me to my second point: there’s probably a lot of professionals in that age group right now that don’t exactly have their dream job, if they have a job at all. This could be a place for those people to come and socialize, network, make new contacts and possibly find job leads. Or a place for those who are unemployed to get together and begin a business venture. In short, a place where even unemployed or “under-employed” (working at a crappier job than you’re qualified for) could go to feel productive again.

I think right now is the perfect time for starting your own business. No one is hiring, so create your own job.As long as you don’t have to invest a ton of capital and you’re a little creative, right now is the perfect chance to try anything. Personally I have a few business ideas bouncing around in my head and would probably make the plunge if I had a like-minded business partner or the encouragement of a group.

It’s just my two cents, but I think the only thing that is going to drag us out of this horrible economy right now is entrepreneurship – local startup businesses hiring other local people. Grassroots employment