Monday, January 31, 2011

Going to a Macro Party

I'm joining Tracy at Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures for her Macro Party.  Macro is a setting on your camera (look for the flower) used for up close and personal photography.  I am no expert but do love playing with my new camera. The best macro shots are going to be outside in natural light. I didn't have that luxury tonight but was not going to let that stop me.  I used my standard flash and Picnik editing software.  I cropped the image to remove some of the shadows in the picture from the flash. The standard camera flash will always bounce off of just one area of your picture. It usually overexposes that area and leaves shadows elsewhere. I also sharpened the image in Picnik to show the detail in this photo. Wondering what the heck this is?
It is the spongy green moss in my studio centerpiece.  I thought this would be a fun texture to shoot plus I could actually use the jar as my tripod. I just balanced the camera on the lid!  There's some improvising for you. If you are wondering why the flash is not reflecting in the jar....I am borrowing my sister in law's speedlite flash attachment. I did not use it for the macro shot since I was aiming straight into the jar. I did use it here. The speedlite allows you to point the flash at various angles. So, you can get the light you need but aim it upward, in this case, to avoid the flash bouncing off the glass. A standard flash on your camera, pops up and aims straight towards the subject. That is why you get that large white circle on standard flash shots. I have so much to learn but getting better at pointing out my own flaws. That is progress! I know all bloggers would like to improve their photos and learn new tricks. I'd love to hear your comments and suggestions on anything discussed here. I hope you will stop by Tracy's party for more tips and sample photos.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Secret Closet

Ok, I have a confession. My studio looks so clean and organized because many of my art supplies live in the office just across the hall.  Here's a shot taken tonight from the office doorway into the studio.  Yes, the garden gate is on the wall!  She's not decorated yet though. I have family in town right now so no studio time this week.
Here's a shot of my half of the office from the doorway.  It is still a bit messy today. I had to empty the closet this week to install organizers. Up until this morning, the room was filled with containers, art supplies, school projects - anything that lived in the closet. I keep my sewing machine, cricket and paint supplies here. This was my original craft space. Now it is a secondary work space for me when I am sewing, painting or custom cutting paper.
There is still a small pile on Shelby's crate but I think you can see it has come together this evening. The closet has double glass doors which means you can only access one side at a time.The right side is mostly paper, ribbon, stamps, ink and a variety of chipboard, cardboard, canvas, etc. that I use for crafts.
The left side holds wreath making supplies, paper clay, my storage cabinet for smalls, glues, punches, a few Xmas supplies and my storage totes.  It also has a small table or work surface.  Having this closet allows me to store most of my pretty vintage supplies in the studio and then keep my everyday items here. That's my secret.  Once the drapes are in and the gate is decorated. I will give you a full studio tour and show you some of the supplies I've collected.  Now you know the truth.  I am definitely not that neat and organized! I just have lots of room to spread out and hide all my goodies! I hope you have a great week. I'll be working, caring for my son who has a bit of a fever and hoping to squeeze in some more time with my brother and sister in law who are in town.

I will also be joining Tracy for her Macro party on Tuesday.  She has a new party where you share photography. This week the theme is macro or close ups. Share a picture that you've taken. Ask for advice and lend advice. Great tool for bloggers and great way to meet new friends.  See you there!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Surprises in my mailbox

What a treat it was this past week to receive several unexpected gifts in the mail from new friends.  I'm so blessed to have met so many wonderful women through this blog.  This first little "happy" is from my sweet friend Becky Shander.  I love the tag, the scrabble tile charm and this adorable heart pin cushion that had been previously posted on her blog.  Do you know what I love best though? ....having a little something from Becky in the studio with me to inspire me and create with me.  Thank you, Becky xoxo
Another sweet, sweet friend, Cindy Adkins, also surprised me this week with two little packages in the mail. If you know Cindy then you know she is extremely generous and giving. She is also the Queen Bee of paper arts that rarely sleeps and cranks out one amazing piece after another. Well, Cindy decided to send a little something for the new studio.  These gorgeous tags arrived this week with sweet sentiments about using the new studio to have fun and create.  Of course, one had to have a rooster and something rusty! Thank you, Cindy. xoxo
These sweet gifts have me thinking today about blogging and the friendships that form between the women here.Most of us will never meet in person. Is it possible to form a friendship through blog posts, comments and email? Absolutely! Before computers, telephones and telegrams, there was only letter writing - a lost art form. Neighbors, friends and family could only stay in touch with a handwritten note. The best part about this time period is that people made an effort to express themselves and to write well. The effort you put into your letter or postcard was a reflection of how you felt about this person. For me, blogging is very much like a high tech form of letter writing and you are each my pen pals.

A well written letter is one that flows and is so full of the writer's personality that you feel like they are sitting right there next to you. It is their voice you hear in your head while you read.  For me, that is what reading your blog posts and comments feels like.  Like reading a great letter from a close friend.  And, guess what?  Opening my computer to find emails and comments waiting is like opening the mailbox and finding an envelope with my name on it. It gives me a little thrill.  Just like these sweet gifts and notes in the mail did this week. I may never have the pleasure of meeting each and every one of you in person. Blogging and emailing may be the only way we ever communicate, but I dare anyone to discount the friendships we share.  I love the time that you spend here and that I spend visiting you...thank you for your friendship. xoxo

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Etsy purchases!

I have a very talented blog friend, Petite Michelle Louise.  This week I ordered a few little items from her Etsy shop to have in my new studio.  I've long admired her handy work. This vintage devotional scapular featuring Mary was made from a prayer card.  It is even more beautiful in person.  On the back is a tattered vintage handmade heart representing "the sacred heart."
Isn't it gorgeous? I also ordered this lovely handmade pincushion from the shop. I was so excited to receive it so quickly in the mail.  The images she uses in her work are so beautiful.
I also visited another favorite blog friend this week on Etsy, Anything Goes Here.  Joan is an avid estate sale hunter and has the best vintage goodies in her shop for decorating or altering. I love browsing but today I made a few purchases.
Aren't these vintage bag handles great? I think they will be fun to use to hang artwork around the house and perhaps for special gifts and packages.  I also ordered these old whisk brooms.
I've been looking for a few of these to alter. I never seem to have any luck around here but Joan had three! I can't wait to alter these.  Joan has some other great items in her shop.  I hope you will stop by and do a little browsing yourself for your home or artwork.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by today. I love your comments and follows.  I've received some really sweet gifts in the mail this week too and will share those in my next post.  I'm at home today decorating my garden gate inspiration board and having closet organizers installed.  I keep the studio so clean because I keep my supplies in a closet in our office which is very close by. I can't wait to get everything put away! The house is full of clutter at the moment. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Come meet the Bassets

Meet Shelby (red/white) and Zoey (tri-color) our Basset Hound girls.  We've had Bassets for the past 12 years. This is our second bonded pair and both are rescues. These two can usually be found either roaming the fenced backyard via their doggy door or sleeping on the couch. Contrary to popular belief, Bassets needs exercise and these two enjoying doing the "Basset 500" around our house and yard.  Bassets are the sweetest dogs ever and great family pets! They will let you squeeze them until their heads pop off. I've never met another animal that likes to cuddle so much.
This is Shelby. She came to us as a foster with heartworms. We knew there was no way we could let someone adopt her after caring for this sick dog for two months.  We are failed foster parents!  Shelby sleeps with us every night.  If we try to ignore her, she howls and growls and carries on vocally in a way only Bassets know how.  The backyard is her domain. She's a lizard hunter and sometimes uses the large grasses in the backyard to scratch her back. You'll see her slowly circling them in almost a trance...we call it her therapy. lol
Here's Zoey. She was a rescue from a longtime breeding and show home where the owner became very ill. Zoey unfortunately spent her first seven months in a backyard with very little contact with people. We stepped in when she was seven months old to rescue her.  She spent the first night in our backyard. Slowly she came in the house and began to establish trust. Now, two years later, she is a loving family dog.  She still does not trust men but otherwise has adapted completely.  She is a total clown and never misses a meal.  She's my morning alarm clock.
Here they are this morning on a trail walk near our house. We have numerous state parks nearby and these girls love to walk on the trails. There was plenty of horse and deer scent to follow today.  Zoey even tried to roll in a bit of "deer" to bring it home with us.  I'm guessing after a long walk today, we might see them here in these positions tonight...
This is a daily occurrence at our house!  I hope you enjoyed meeting the girls. Can't wait to see all your pets at
Debbie Doos Pet "Partay"   Come on by and meet your favorite bloggers furry friends.  Be back soon with a project and a gate update!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My 9 year old's wedding dress

My daughter, Kara, often takes a notebook or sketch pad in the car with us when we are running errands.  A few Saturdays ago, while we were driving about town, she announced that she had just drawn a picture of her future wedding dress.  My heart melted...
Blame it on the marathon episodes of TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" that the two of us watch while curled up in my bed.  She's taken note and has decided on something simple yet elegant. 
Needless to say, this became an instant keepsake. I asked her if I could have it which she quickly agreed to. I'm using a high resolution scan of her picture to create a piece of artwork.  It is still a work in progress but I wanted to share it with you tonight.  Her original sketch will be carefully hidden in a special handmade envelope and placed on the back of this piece.
I'm sure I'll include a little note inside to my special girl about how she made my heart  melt the day she drew me a picture of her wedding dress.  Who knows, maybe we'll cry over it together someday as we plan her real wedding.  Linking this post to:

Monday, January 17, 2011

Easy Valentine Tag Tutorials

I spent the afternoon crafting with my daughter Kara and her friend, Sydney. These are two talented girls who know their way around the studio already.  Before I made it home from work at noon, they had already been busy making brown paper bag books.  So, I asked them if they'd like to use the sewing machine.  Here's what you'll need to follow along:  shipping tag, book page, old lace/fabric, small Valentine image, ribbon and buttons.  
Measure and cut your book page (I used dictionary page) to cover almost entire shipping tag. If you cut it too large, just turn over and trim with scissors. Now is a good time to distress the edges with an ink pad or sponge if that's your plan. Use brown, red, black...whatever you like.
Next cut some lace trim about 1/4 to 1/2 wider on each side than the shipping tag. This will make it easier, in my opinion, to sew and allows for any shifting of the material. I like things perfectly "imperfect" so I am fine if my material shifts a bit and if my sewing lines are not straight.  When done machine or hand sewing, trim the edges. On these tags I flipped over and trimmed to the size of the tag. Sometimes a little extra lace hanging over the tag is fun too. I went ahead and added some crinkled seam binding to the top as well at this point.
Time to add layers. I cut a piece of plain batting with some pinking shears. I then found some red lace and machine sewed the layers together. Hand sewing or embroidery stitches would be fine too.  Notice I left the strings for a shabby feel.
The only thing left to do was to add some buttons and  this adorable piece of German paper scrap that I purchased from Julie Collings Etsy shop.  Julie is also responsible for the most adorable crinkled seam binding you've ever seen...
I know you can't take it and you are headed to her shop now. You probably won't even read the rest of this post. Note to self...don't give them links until the end next time. So, that is one tag down with easy instructions. Just takes a few minutes to make an assembly line of materials and create several.  But, we weren't done! The girls were having fun using the sewing machine and had requested to do some hand sewing too.  So, I came up with another tag for them to watch me make then copy -
This tag starts with the same base - a shipping tag (I distressed mine this time) with a vintage book page adhered with glue.  I picked red lace this time and machine sewed on, making two runs around the lace with black thread. Notice it is far from perfect. I like that!  We then cut a heart from cotton batting and sewed it to the tag using a red heart button and black embroidery thread.  A cotton hanky was torn into small pieces and stamped with "xoxo.". This small piece was sewn on by hand using black embroidery floss which is nice and thick. That's my tag above but wait until you see Kara and Sydney's with their own spin.
They both like things grungy and distressed. I wonder where they get that from? lol  Today though, they certainly did more distressing then me. I think theirs turned out even better than mine! I love how prim they look.  Here they are busy working in the studio.
It was nice to make a mess in there! It has looked way to neat and organized. I was long overdue for a project day. So, go make some tags for teachers, your hubby, your girlfriends and tie them on to a bag of favorite candy or homemade treats.  Thanks for stopping by during your busy day. Remember that I love your comments and follows.  I hope to see you again soon! Linking this post to:

Your opinion please on my quirky decor pieces

Did a little shopping at my favorite local antique store this weekend, Hidden Treasures, in Oviedo.  I was searching for something to place above the french doors in the studio.  I have plenty of small collections but the only large items were crates. I big puffy heart crates but they are a little big for up there, even standing on their sides. It's a small ledge. I found some very interesting pieces including this...twine or spool holder?
It is metal and stamped made in the USA.  The dealer had labeled it "industrial spool holder" and had placed it in a grouping with several vintage paper cutters. It just needs one more spool of twine, string or jute.
I brought home one of the small paper cutters.  The two basically make a wrapping station which I thought was really cute. The brown craft paper comes over the top red bar, under the black blade then lift to cut.  It works great.
This cutter is marked, "Bulman Made."  The company is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is still making cutters today.  I found a few on Ebay which indicate to me that I paid a very good price.  I won't use these daily which is a good thing since they will be out of my reach without a step ladder.  Ready for the terrible picture of where I placed them? I was too excited last night not to snap a photo -
They look great from both sides (porch and studio) and don't draw your attention away from the room. I think they are the perfect sizes and shapes up there.  Plus, they fit on the small ledge which is a bit of a challenge. I added some larger spools sitting on stacked books.  I like the industrial feel and the fact that they serve a purpose in the studio.  What do you think? I had initially thought about a crate on its side with a rooster inside, some books, etc. but now I"m liking these unique pieces. They really seem to match the feel of the room. Would love your opinion...have a great week! I'm linking this post up to a few parties this week. Join us!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let there be light...and drapes!

We are getting there! This afternoon we had four recessed can lights and two pendant lights installed in my newly converted studio space...WOW! I can see in here! Took these pictures tonight with flash. Double click to enlarge. Now, I'll be able to finish a few projects and work on organizing and decorating more in the evenings. What a treat to finally have these installed, especially during daylight savings!  I love the glass pendants with their super cute chains. I also put out some vintage yardsticks. The left side of the room is done for now. Tomorrow, I start the right side. Remember this?
She's getting a coat of Rustoleum Autumn Brown tomorrow. It is a multi colored, textured spray paint. I did a test run today and loved it. It looks like rust! Thanks to Erin at Like Grandma's for sharing this wonderful paint in some terrific projects! You have me hooked. Speaking of hooks,  I bought some hooks to hang her too. So, I'll be patching my holes and hopefully have her up by tomorrow night. We'll see! 
Here's some fabric that I've picked for drapes in the studio and adjacent dining room. The best part about the drapes though is the trim!

(Insert squeal here!) The jacquard tape is going between the two solids. The drapes will flank the french doors in the studio and cover the full 12 ft of wall. They will just be panels and not able to close. The light color solid will be in top with the darker color from the door knobs down or so.  I can't wait!  The multi brush fringe will be used with the multicolor tapestry looking fabric and the brown tweed for my dining room.  The rooms are adjacent and open to each other so I needed the colors to compliment. I'm very excited to finally have some nice window coverings in both these rooms. The old palm tree can go once I have some fabric up to help warm up the room and more importantly give it some height.  Enjoying this labor of love. Still filling it with treasures.  How about you? What are you working on this weekend? I'd love to hear and see.  Leave me a comment. I love them!
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