Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thank You Cloth Paper Scissors

Here's a tidbit about me that you may not know. I love to buy magazines. When I get home, I flip through them, get all fired up, plan what I'm going to make after being inspired by an article, and then put the magazine down and promptly forget about my intentions. Can you relate to this?

The November/December 2008 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors had a wonderful cover article about decorating small jars to look like snowmen. I have been dying to try to make some myself but didn't have time until this past weekend. I couldn't get this project out of my mind. Maybe it's because I had 15 perfect jars (bought from a garage sale, of course) just sitting here calling out to me.

I'm part of a group of local artists who meet at my house about once a month. It's a very informal, non-structured group. In fact we don't even have an official name so we're known as the No-Name Art Group. Someone will get an idea and suggest it for our next get together. Then everyone else breaths a sigh of relief knowing that they're off the hook and don't have to come up with a project.

I love having the meetings at my house. I know you must be saying to yourself, "Why that Judy must be crazy. Why would she want to have everyone over? First she has to make sure the house is clean and neat (at least a little bit), then she has to gather the materials needed for the day's project."

To be honest, that's one of the best parts of getting together. I get to share my valuable Junque with people who understand my passion for acquiring. If I were a gourmet cook, I'd have elaborate dinner parties so I could share my cooking skills with friends. So what better way for an inveterate garage sale shopper to spread her joy than by sharing her "stuff."

Howie loves when everyone is here. Deep down in the bottom of his heart I know he's thinking, "Maybe we can get rid of some of this stuff." I'm thinking, "Maybe I can get rid of some of this stuff and make room for some new stuff." After all, garage sale season is rapidly approaching. Also, one more thing, if I had to take "stuff" to a meeting being held somewhere else, I'd need an 18-wheeler!

Saturday's project was to decorate bottles to our hearts content. I was worried that we wouldn't have enough jars for all of us and that we'd run out before the afternoon was over. I kept emailing everyone to bring jars since I had only 15 and we were sure to go through those quickly.

What was I thinking? We each were barely able to finish one bottle in the four hours that we were together. Gosh, it looked and sounded so easy in the magazine article. But we did have a lot of fun.

Here's the finished results. Aren't they fab? (Double left click on picture to enlarge)
Projects from left to right: Elizabeth, Roberta, Judy, Doreen, Jan

So, here's a great big thank you to Cloth Paper Scissors for publishing such an inspiring article that even I was compelled stop procrastinating and start creating.

Today's lessons learned:
1. A play date with friends is always fun whether you're 6 or 60
2. You can never have enough Junque
3. Even the bad habit of "some day I"ll get around to it" can be overcome with the proper inspiration.
4. Just because the magazine article highlighted snowmen jars, it doesn't mean that you, too, have to make snowmen jars. We were all sick of Winter and didn't want to think about snow so we let our muse take us wherever she wanted.
5. Since all the "stuff" is still spread out all over the house, I might as well go and decorate some more bottles.

Post Script: In the middle of writing this, I stopped to eat lunch. We had left-over Chinese food from last night (after all, tomorrow is the Chinese New Year.) We had one fortune cookie left so we shared it (this means that Howie got to open it and I got to eat it.) Guess what it said?
"Begin...the rest is easy." Do you think the Universe is sending me a message?

Friday, January 23, 2009

One World-Heart Giveaway

PhotoAnd the winner is .........
Drum roll please.......
Doda from Doda's Creative Wanderings

Congratulations, Doda, as soon as I hear from you I'll mail off your prize.

As a relatively new blogger, I was amazed to discover Lisa Swifka's international event-ONE WORLD-ONE HEART. Not wanting to miss out on this opportunity, I just signed up to be a participant.

If you are not aware of One World-One Heart, please click on the logo on the sidebar for information on how to participate. Basically, the purpose of One World-One Heart is to make it easy to meet new friends, visit new blogs, and expand your horizons. Oh, and as an added bonus, you have the chance to win something wonderful.

Here's what I'm giving away. This 7-inch ornament can be worn as a pendant or a pin. Or it can be hung on the wall to bring a smile to your face.

In case you are wondering what you have to do to win, the rules are quite simple.

1. Please leave a comment on this post, and this post only, before midnight Eastern Standard Time on February 11, 2009. The drawing will be held on February 12, 2009.

2. You must make sure that there is a way for me to contact you. Please do not leave an anonymous comment with no way for me to contact you.

3. You do not need to have a blog to enter and you can live anywhere in the world. I can't wait to see where all the entrants live.

This isn't a rule, but it's a great idea. Click on the logo above or on the sidebar and you'll find a list of blogs to visit and see what is being given away by the other participants. I'll bet you find blogs that you'll want to revisit again and again.

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Continuing Saga of the Intrepid Curtain Embellisher

Allow me to continue to amuse and amaze you with my adventures embellishing the plain white curtain (see blog post dated January 6, 2009 ).

But, before I do this, I would like to go on record as having developed a new art craze.
I am sure you are quite familiar with the world of mixed-media and altered art. One month, everyone is altering cigar boxes and everywhere you turn, there are articles and posts showcasing these charming, altered boxes. Three months later, we're all decorating corsets. You can't turn around without being hit in the head with a corset (perish the thought). And so it goes, from altered books to embellished sneakers.

But, have you ever seen anyone alter a curtain? I'll bet not. I know I'm on the cutting edge of a new trend. Remember, you saw it first here. Before long, I'm sure there will be articles in Somerset and Cloth, Paper, Scissors on how to alter plain white curtains. Workshops will be held at various venues on how to embellish the plain white curtain. Before you know it, many people will claim to have created this art form. But I will have the satisfaction of knowing that it all started with me. LOL

I digress. Back to the saga of the now blue sun printed curtain. As I mentioned, I was still not particularly thrilled with the results of my day's labor of love (or maybe that should read my day's frustration).

I proceeded to spend the next day, working on the curtain. You may have heard the saying, "less is more." Well, my saying is "more is never enough." With this in mind, I set about to try to salvage my project.

The first thing I did was to try to add texture and depth to the curtain by using fabric inkpads and a brayer wrapped with rubber bands.

I was totally unimpressed with this step. Next, I tried using rubber stamps. After using both bold stamps and alphabet stamps, I began to like my results.

Feeling encouraged, I decided to make some fabric birds and butterflies to add to the curtain.

I found some interesting fibers and attached them to the curtain hoping they looked like branches. Then I pinned the birds and butterflies to the curtain. Here's a close up of the top half of the curtain.

But, standing back, I think that the bottom half of the curtain still looks a little sparse. What do you think? I'm thinking maybe some flowers would be a nice addition.

One of these days, I'll get to it.

However, I'm still very pleased with the way this altered curtain has turned out so far. (Now don't forget that you first read about altered curtains here.)

The Dolls of 2008

A year ago, after an amazingly successful Twelve Days of Christmas swap in which I participated, I jokingly said, "Next time, why don't we have an Eight Days of Chanukah swap?" I, of course, promptly forgot about this idea until August when I was gently reminded about my suggestion. Hence, the first ever (that I know of) Eight Days of Chanukah Swap was launched. What a fun swap!

I decided to make a doll for each of the seven participants.

The first doll I finished was a mermaid for Joanne Thieme Huffman. Being a fan of Joanne's blog (see side bar for a link to her blog), I know she frequently uses mermaid images in her art. I decided to crochet her doll and then embellish her with some doo dads. Originally her hair was a mustard-green colored fringe, but I sprayed it with Color Mists which I had gotten from Aileen (Outside the Margins), and got just the perfect blue/green/gold color I wanted.

When last seen, Ms. Mermaid was swimming in Lake Michigan.

Next up was Connie William's doll. Connie happened to mention that her favorite colors were black, white, and red. Immediately I thought of making her a Pierrot doll. Amazingly, I had the perfect head and arms to use for this project. More amazing was that I knew where I had put them! I used a wonderful product called Apoxie Sculpt to attach the head to the base. I first fell in love with this two-part, putty-like product in Linda and Opie O'Brien's "Who's Your DaDa" class at Art and Soul '08. (More about Art and Soul in another post.) I used antique white buttons for the hair and a small piece of window shade for the collar.

Being a Chanukah swap, I decided to make Jewish Grandmother dolls for Sandee Hyde, Fran Saperstein, and Kara Klein.

Here they are waiting at Newark Airport for their planes to leave so that they can spend Chanukah with their families. Being good Jewish grandmothers, their shopping bags are filled with food and, of course, they are bringing lots of presents. These are the first stuffed, cloth dolls I've ever made. I must admit, I think I have a new addiction.

I bought a copy of Knitted Babes because I liked the whimsical knit dolls on the cover. When making a doll for Joyce Vance, I immediately went to this book for inspiration and knitting directions since Joyce is the queen of knitting. This doll took on an identity of her own and became a ballerina. Joyce's daughter, Ellie, is a ballerina. I guess my subconscious was at work here.

I could have spent the next month, knitting clothes for this doll. I think my inner child was just screaming to get out.

Last, but certainly not least, was the doll I made for Amber Dawn. I know Amber makes wonderful jewelry. When thinking about jewelry and gems, I thought about gypsies. I don't want to be accused of being politically incorrect, but Gypsy Girl had a velvet bag with her that was filled with jewels of an unknown origin. She arrived at Amber's home hoping to trade the jewels for a place to stay. The biggest challenge I had when making Gypsy Girl was her clothing. Not having any patterns for doll clothing, I had to remake the dress several times until I figured out how to get the top of the dress to fit her.

What a great swap. I had fun making the gifts I sent out, and I certainly loved the gifts that I received.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What's Behind the Curtain?

No, it isn't the Wizard of Oz. Guess again.

Hiding behind this boring white curtain is part of my every-growing fabric stash.

Let me explain. Years ago, this was my son's bedroom, and he used these shelves to store his games, books, record albums etc. Now it's the room my grandson sleeps in when he visits. Not one to let a nice set of empty shelves go uncluttered, I began storing fabric on them. At first, it was just a few pieces. Then I added a few more pieces. The next thing I knew, those shelves were overflowing with fabric. I just can't imagine how that happened!

Howie, who is usually not a neat freak, began muttering about the "room looking a mess (not the word he actually used)." I, on the other hand, thought the stacked fabrics looked colorful and inspiring. So we went back and forth about it. (Let me add, it was a rather loud and emotional type of back and forth.) Having been married for over 40 years, we've learned how to pull each others strings as well as how to rewind the string ever so nicely.

In the interest of marital peace, I decided to make a simple curtain to cover the shelves. That was easy. But I really didn't like the way the stark white curtain looked.

I wondered what could I do about this plain, white curtain. It occurred to me that I could dye that big, plain piece of white fabric. I had everything I needed and set about mixing the dye and letting the fabric soak. But then tragedy struck. Drum roll please. As I pulled my rubber gloves off, I noticed my right hand had turned blue.

How could this have happened? I had checked the gloves to make sure there were no holes in them before I started. You know what they say, "Some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue."

Here's how the curtain look after it was dyed a lovely shade of blue.

I really liked the way fabric looked. But I'm not one "to leave well enough alone" as the saying goes. So I decided to try out the Setacolor Soleil sun printing fabric that I had in the house for a few years. This was back in August, and it was a beautiful, sunny, windless day. Perfect for sun printing.

This is a picture of some of the items I placed on the curtain after I had applied the Setacolor Soleil paint.

I was hoping to get some interesting shadowy images. . As with many of my artistic experiments, I was sorely disappointed. Here you can see how it turned out.

Here are the three things that I learned while doing this project. Perhaps this information will save you from screwing up like I did.

First of all, never try to sun print a huge piece of fabric. It was very unwieldy and I kept kneeling on my painted sections as I tried to reach the unpainted areas.

Second, the sun moves. Yup, one minute I was working in a nice, sunny spot and the next minute, the fabric was in the shade and I had to move the fabric which was a pain in the neck. I know this is basic science and I probably learned it in third grade, but for some reason I forgot to anticipate this phenomenon.

Third, trying to be clever, I had cut out cardboard birds and scattered them over the fabric anticipating I'd get some nice bird shadows and outlines. Well, this did not work out at all. I realized that my birds should have been much bigger. Can you see them? No. Neither could I.

Well, to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the final results of my sun-dying project. But I'm not one to give up.

To be continued......

Saturday, January 3, 2009

True Confession

In an effort to maintain my reputation as an honest and ethical blogger (even if I live in NJ--the land of political corruption and personal mayhem), the following two posts actually appeared in another blog I started several months ago but abandoned. So, if they look familiar, you're not losing your mind.

One person's junk is another person's Junque

I am sure that anyone who lives in NJ will agree with me that living in NJ has its drawbacks. High taxes, massive traffic jams, toxic air, organized crime (think The Sorpanos), disorganized crime, and, of course, ever-present corrupt politics.

However, NJ has two things going for it which makes living here worthwhile. First, we have fabulous pizza. Second, we have great garage sales. Not every garage sale is a winner, but at least twice a season I hit the mother load of junque. It's like finding the mixed-media artist's Holy Grail.

Many people who live in my area have lived here for 50 plus years and have certainly accumulated their fare share of stuff. Now they're moving on to retirement communities or moving up (hopefully) to their final resting place. So what does their family do with their accumulated stuff? Why have a garage sale.

Last Fall, I saw an ad for a garage sale which advertised that they were selling the contents of a dressmaker's estate. You can imagine how my heart skipped a beat just thinking about the potential for finding buttons, fabric, notions and who knows what else.

I could barely contain my excitement. I was up bright and early the day of the sale and set out with the same feeling of anticipation that children have on the morning of their birthday.

I'm fairly selective since I have quite a large stash of fabric and sewing notions. No polyester for me! Even so, I was mentally calculating that I had amassed about $75 worth of Junque. Imagine my delight when the woman running the sale asked for $30. I think that many times the family running the garage sale just want to get rid of everything. This was obviously the case in this instance.

Now aren't you just dying to see what I got for my $30?


OK, let's see, we have buttons, tape measures, crochet thread, a display box, rick rack, and some great picture hooks.


Kitschy 1950's magnets, key chains (does anyone know any postal workers?) yellow fringe and lapel pins.


Tiny appliqued flower, buttons to cover with fabric and beads.

Four afghans and a beautiful hand quilted quilt. More about why I'm buying afghans on another day.

Fabric galore.

Even more fabric.

I hope you'll agree that this is quite a haul for $30. Now who wants to move to NJ? I know of a few beautiful houses in my neighborhood which are for sale.

Succumbing to Peer Pressure

I can't believe that I've succumbed to peer pressure and have started a blog! I tried to be strong and resist the urge to blog, but, alas, I've failed.
I've been trying to figure out why I feel the need to have my own blog. The only answer that I can come up with is that this is the best way to keep in touch with all the wonderful art friends I've made during the past few years. As an added bonus, perhaps I'll even make some new friends. Since I discovered Google Reader, I find that I can easily keep up with everyone's blogs. It is much more efficient to go to just one site to get my daily fix of blog news rather than to go to each blog individually to see if it has been updated. If you haven't signed up for Google Reader or another similar service, I strongly recommend that you do so. In fact, it's been so easy to read blogs, that I've explored literally hundreds of blogs over the past few months. I know you're thinking that I must be exaggerating, but, unfortunately, I'm not. I'm one of those undisciplined people who can sit down at the computer at 9 AM and the next thing I know I've spent three hours aimlessly wandering in cyberspace.
My goal is to write a humorous and informative blog that will amuse and inspire everyone who visits here.