Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Creativity Past and Present

I have always been a little bit crazy about  making things, and Christmas time has always brought this out in me in full force.  Some times I was over-the -top in a creating frenzy, so much so that I vowed to spread the fun out year round instead of all during the month of December. I never kept that promise.  Making Christmas crafts is only fun for me at Christmas time.


Over the years I tried different things,  For awhile it was dough ornaments,  hand sculpted out of flour,  salt and water, then bake for hours, painted with acrylics and sprayed or dipped in varethane. I made hundreds, giving them away as gifts and keeping a ton for my own tree.  I tried a different version too, dipping these into paraffin to seal..  I loved the muted look it gave and amazingly they last.  It has been 20 years since I made them.

Along with making doll clothes for my girls, I sewed a few things like this crèche and this holiday girl.

Mary and Joseph are about 12' tall, sheep are about 4 inches.

I also bought myself a scroll saw and started woodcrafting ornaments. Some of them are huge, so I always have a Noble tree to hold the weight.  After cutting out the figures the process of painting and sealing are similar to the dough ornaments. 

It has been years since I last made dough or wood ornaments.  For one thing, you only need so many ornaments. I was reflecting today on that time period in my life. My children were young and would often join me in making the ornaments. I loved our  creative times together but think I, more than that, NEEDED to be creative as an outlet for things going on inside and around me. Simply put, it brought me joy to make something out of little bits of nothing.  

I had a renewal of those joyful feelings today when I spent the whole day making decorative paper cones. I got the idea from a magazine and over the past week I gathered supplies. Some I had in my craft bins, but others I purchased to make these.  I made them to give as gifts, seven in all.  I took loads of pictures along the way in case I decide to do a tutorial.  Do you think I should?  

The cones are about 12" tall from tip to top. 

Today's post is part of my monthly artist blog circle.  Our common theme this month is on reflections.  I thought a lot about what to share because that topic is quite broad.  My decision to share my handmade ornaments with you is all part of my thoughts about creative evolution.  When I was teaching, I had only snatches of time to create.  At times it became a habit to Not create.  But.. I keep coming back to it because it fills me up.  

Tomorrow I will grocery shop and put out the trash. 

Oh!  One more thing...I found this project on Pinterest, just in time. I had a sheet wrapped around the base of my tree.  Now it is decked out with burlap and lace.  How cool is that?.  

Mosey on to Kelli Watcherson's blog here and then keep on going to check out the circle.  Love this creative, smart, fascinating group of women!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Feels Good!

My first sale of an original is on its way to its new owner.  There is something very lovely about having your art appreciated to the extent that someone would purchase it!  I feel like I have arrived.  Woot!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Up to about a month ago, I couldn't have told you what an ATC was.   But ATC's in the art world are as common as  MSP, ESL, SLP and PTA are for teachers.  An ATC stands for Artist Trading Cards.  They are 2 1/2" x 3 1/2 " in size and are little bitty pieces of original art.  The front side is a piece of art, the backside has artist info on it.

I signed up to be part of a group of artists from around the globe who want to trade art.  On a specific day every month we send by snail mail our little treasure to our assigned partner artist.  Each time you have a different person to send to.  This month will be my first time to do this and as I was reading through my Facebook threads tonight , I discovered the first one  to be sent on Monday!  Oops, I forgot it was coming up so fast.

So... I cut up watercolor paper to the right size.  I ended up with 12 little ATC size pieces.  I covered them each with Gesso, an art medium that prepares the surface for paint.  I soon found that it was so much easier to just go ahead and work on several at once.  I had a piece of paper that I had tried a new technique on.  It was a large pink flower torn from a magazine.  I put a piece of corrugated cardboard behind it and then I taken a product called wadding polish (used for cleaning silver) and rubbed it across the flower.  The polish removed the ink form the picture in the raised parts of the cardboard giving the paper a striped effect.   I took strips of this and glued them to the watercolor page.  One side of the magazine page was pink and the other had a blue floral pattern so I ended up with some blue and some pink.  ( I sure wish I had taken photographs along the way.)

My next step was to use spray inks and glimmer mists to add color.

Here is a pix of how they looked at this point.  I had NO IDEA whatsoever what my end product would be, but will let the backgrounds dictate where I end up.

I was kind of excited at this point because they looked so pretty and though I had done them pretty much simultaneously, they were all so different. Kind of amazing that all of them were done from one tear out from a magazine.

I choose the pink one in the back row to work on as my first.
Usually there is a theme for the month's ATCs but for this time there was no theme.  Since it is Christmas time, I am rather into angels.  I also wanted to use the words Fly Girl on the ATC because this group of women are called the  Soaring ATCs.  (longer story)  Anyway, that is how I came to painting my ATC.  This ATC used prepared magazine paper (as described above, acrylics, silver, white and black pens,  button brads, diamond embellishments, and a little WISH tag add-on.  The tiny ATC is really cuter than the picture, but I am sure you are pins and needles to see it, so TA-DA!

In the actual piece the layers show up better.  Anyway is turned out to be a fun project.  I have a pile of others to work on.   My next one is due to send on the 20th.
Here are some of my Works in Progress at this point.

Just little bitty bits of art.  
Any of my readers learn something new today or was I the only one in the dark about ATC's?d