Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas eve tapas

Here are some shots of the very tasty tapas party we went to Christmas Eve at our neighbour's house. I almost never cook anymore, but this was a fun occasion and i wanted to try some new things. Having Top Chef marathon running in the background all day inspired me!
Here is Z's beautiful table:I made spicy garlic shrimpstuffed mushroomsmanchego stuffed dates wrapped in bacon spicy empanadas
and gazpacho
Z. made several tasty appetizers, like artichoke hearts with a red pepper spread and a egg and potato torta. Plus offered us an array of almonds, sevilla spiced olives, assorted spanish cheeses and grapes. And some cured ham and melted cheese bites.
And for the main course an impressive paella:
D. made a luscious bouche de noel to end the delicious meal

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve Everyone....!

As i make my way out the door to a festive gathering at a neighbour's, i wanted to share a sentiment for the holiday season: DREAM. And dream big. May all the wonderful things you hope for, for you and your family, come true. Either by Santa bringing you something special, or in my case, getting a call about the ulimate career opportunity.
Please have a magical christmas eve and christmas day!
DREAM banner and mirror mosaic bird ornament from Wendy Addison and her fanciful Theatre of Dreams workshop in Port Costa. The perfect additions to my tree.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Deli paper envelopes

I have to thank Phyllis for this cool idea. She took a class with me a while back and learned how to make hand painted deli paper to use in collage. She took this a couple of steps further and made a really artistic envelope for her christmas cards. Gee i really wish she had sent it to me before i sent out my cards in boring plain white envelopes (albeit stamped with blue and silver snowflakes...!)
So i thought i would show you all how it is done. Deli paper is plain thin white paper used to wrap sandwiches at the deli, duh!? You can buy it around here at Smart and Final - try a jumbo store in your neck of the woods, or possible Costco. It is CHEAP - about 1000 sheets for like $8 bucks. I use it to paint with cheap liquid craft paint - it is a lot of fun and absolutly fool proof.
For this project i just used dye ink and some rubber stamps. First i stamped random images in one colour, then another stamp in another colour.
I did about 4 stamps in total. I think Phyllis did 5. My stamps all came from the doller bins at Michaels.
Next take a new piece of deli paper and either paint or use ink pads as i did direct to paper. Just randomly swirl or pounce on the paper. Paint gives a more dramatic effect of course - but i wanted to do this quick and not make a big mess on the computer desk.
My hubby will appreciate that.
Next glue to the two pages together - just use glue stick. Deli paper glues beautifully as i always say. It is great to use inside altered books for that reason.

If you have an envelope template - use that to cut out your envelope shape. if not, just wrap your card with the paper, and glue it where the paper overlaps, being careful not to get glue on your card.
Trim the corners at the bottom and glue the flap shut.
Trim the top and glue shut. The two pages glued together give the envelope a nice weight. And the painting the insides is an added treat for the recipient.
Address the envie right on the paper, or you could use a sticker.Add your return address, a stamp and drop in the mail!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tree topper

The star i made here actually made it to the top of our christmas tree! That was not my intention when i made it. But last year i went all robin's egg blue and bird crazy for our christmas tree. All the ornaments were put in a new robin's egg blue tote in the garage.
So the large gold leaf star i have been using for the past 20 christmases is packed in the GOLD ornament box. Buried under the Burgundy ornament tote. Underneath the Paris themed box. Beside the mercury glass tote marked FRAGILE. The ones that are way to heavy to put on a tree. So anyway this star was just sitting there on the sideboard - and it matches perfectly - so why not set it on top of the tree?
Seriously, i could have 10 trees and not run out of ornaments. I didn't even mention the Noah's ark ornaments - dozens of animals, two of each of course, or the pastel ornaments i had in our first house with the 80's style peach and aqua colour theme. I also had a beaded fruit phase. Oh and the traditional folkloric ornaments that i never plan to use, but buy after christmas when they are on sale and plan to tie onto gifts, but never do because i cannot bear to part with them.
Oh, and the music ornaments. Can't forget those. I have LOTS of those. Drums (hubby is a pro drummer), string instruments, brass and silver wind instruments, and even little keyboards. Usually i add them to the garland that is strung on the banister. I made the little wall hanging last year - it says Little Drummer Boy.
Anyway - the tree is up and looks great in the new blue living room - as i knew it would a year ago when i first started this blog, and started collecting the blue ornaments. And my bird obsession? That has not dissipated one bit.

Thanks again to Rachel Killpack for the star inspiration!

Monday, December 15, 2008

That's Clever is back

For those of you who have been filmed for the HGTV show That's Clever, there is good news! The shows are going to start airing again in January. If you are in the 400 series, like me, you can start keeping an eye on the HGTV website for show info.

This is the cute sound guy. Sorry i forget your name! I had a mic clipped to my shirt and they used a boom as well.

I am on show 407, which is scheduled to air on January 15th. I was filmed for this in November 2006! So yeah, i have been waiting a long time. I have read blogs of people who were filmed for the 500 series already - so you still have a while to wait for your shows.

Here are some shots of the wonderful yet grueling experience. Here is the dreamy director, Sergio. The crew were here for 7 hours. It is a 6 minute segment, so they have a lot of unusable footage to cut out. That is probably what took so long! I thought for sure i would be a natural at this, and they would be offering me my own show. Actually i sucked at it! Really! even though i am a pretty good teacher, i just could not get the hang of the three simple rules for TV:

1. Say "I" not "WE". This is especially hard for an instructor who is used to sharing her work with a class. But apparently on TV saying "WE" just looks stupid because you are the only one there.

2. Look at the camera. Not at the cameraman. Really, duh, no brainer, right? Wrong. It is nearly impossible to ignore the big guy holding the camera two feet away. it is POLITE to look him in the eye. But looks stupid on camera. Watch for this when you see the show.

3. Don't make noise while you are talking. it is an instructional show, right? so it is natural to talk about what you are doing. Unless it is noisy, then speak first, then do.

You also have to work hard to be on these shows - i had to prepare 8 separate versions of my project at different stages. So with the prep work and the grueling 7 hour shoot - i have been most anxious to see the show.

Here is the project i made - an altered book keepsake box. The producers wanted something rich in techniques - so i gave them one. Not sure if all of it will make it onto the show, but we did hand painted paper, carved a niche, created a mica window, painted and glazed the box, created a stone like heart, and collaged the cover.

But please - don't anyone watch it. It is sure to be incredibly embarrassing. let me see it first, then i'll let you know if it is ok, and you can wait for the reruns!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Star Bright Star Bright

Or in our case, really elegant aqua and cream stars....
I got the idea for this months altered art project from the cover of Somerset Studio magazine. The Christmas Star that graced the November December issue was done by Rachel Killpack of Murray Utah. it caught my eye because it was done in soft creams and aqua with a touch of sepia - exactly the scheme i am doing for the holidays.
I thought - oh - i'd like to try that. Then when walking through Big Lots a few weeks ago i saw these jumbo metal stars for $5. They were gold or silver and covered with glitter (in case you go looking for them!) I bought 6 of them to share with the girls.
I had some suitable papers at home, but purchased another pack from Micheals - the urban prairie collection by Basic Grey. Typically, my 40% coupon was not accepted - because it was already on sale.

We started by sanding the excess glitter off the stars. Then selected 5 coordinating papers. I created a template to use to cut the diamond shapes. We applied the paper to the metal stars with gel medium and applied a coat on top. It makes them a bit shiny. Rubbing a brown inkpad along the edges makes the paper look a bit rusty - and creates the illusion that they are painted tin.

For the focal point in the center we created ruffled collars using vintage sheet music and a large binder ring. The angels are from a Dover sticker book - attached to cardboard to make them stiff. I finished mine with a bit of vintage ribbon. Shelley's (shown here) and Dorothy's (above) are not quite finished but you can see how lovely they are.

This is a great project to use your favorite coordinating papers. It doesn't have to be for the holidays, you could hang it on the wall and enjoy it all year round!

Circus Circus

The latest altered book pages i completed were in Shelley's book titled "Circus". It is a wonderfully colourful book, filled with whimsical illustrations and fabulous collage. This was the last swap of the season for my group, sadly one member was absent - so i did not get my own book back today, we'll have to swap by mail.
For Shelley's book i wanted to do something interactive, i mean afterall - the circus is so chock full of excitement. My first spread was a Circus Train. This was a very labour intensive spread - but fun to do. First i used sky paper at the top of the page, and a gravel-y looking paper for the bottom. Then i cut out 8 little colourful houses and hand drew windows and doors and shingles and a chimney. Very charming and naif.
Next i had to construct the circus cars to hold the animals. I used some playful scrapbook paper and cut out a simple shape. Added wheels form another paper that sort of looks like rubber. Some of these papers came from a 12x12 pack that included many "realistic" pages.

Next i had to find the animals. What better source than the stack of National Geographic magazines on the floor of my studio. The pickings were slim. I found a good tiger, and the head of a rhino, but for the most part the scale was off. I found all these on google images instead.
For the cages i thought about cutting out black card stock, but my knife skills are not great. So how about using a black sharpie? When the three pens i tried had all dried up, i decided to print some basic gates on transparency paper. Glued to the train cars, the animals look right at home. Please i am not condoning the caging of wild anumals! This is merely a historical look at circus trains from the early part of the 20th century.

A bit of gold dimensional paint and some wooden boards for the train tracks - and we're done.
For the second spread, i found a cute illustration of a circus dog show. This was even more hard work that the train! I wanted to make some of the elements move, so i printed out two copies of the picture and cut out three of the dogs and the ball. I figured the best way to make it all work was to do a pop up. it took a while to figure out where to make the folds so that everything would be visible and still allow the mechanisms to move. The ball and the dog on it have brads to allow them to rotate. Two other dogs have red gingham pull-tabs that allow the dogs to either "jump" through the hoop, or "jump" over the barrel.
I made good use of another one of those "realistic" papers - i cut all the edges of the hay to make it look fluffy. Or spikey, whatever real hay looks like. A couple of pieces of eyelash yarn glued to the bottom of the pages reinforces the three dimensional qualities.
The background is done with strips of red and blue stars and dots, with a strand of gold stars like garland across the tent.
This was a really fun altered book to work in. And it was great meeting with the group today. We'll start up again in January. Anyone want to join us?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Creative Entrepreneur Workshop

I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with 9 fascinating women in San Anselmo last weekend. It was taught, or perhaps facilitated is a better word, by Lisa Sonora Beam, the creative force behind the new book, A Creative Entrepreneur. FYI - the book is full size, over 100 pages. This was a pamphlett we used in the class.
I would have shared this sooner, except that in my haste to rush to two parties Saturday night, i left behind my supplies case, including my digital camera. Hubby picked it up for me this afternoon so I can proud to share what i made.
We started by dumping a bag of assorted papers each of us had brought to the class on the large table. As Lisa said, we did not bring junk - we all brought really cool papers. The first project was to gather up whatever caught our eye. It was interesting to see how palettes would develop. Mine was very neutral - with touches of orange and gold. Once a dozen or so papers were selected and arranged, and tied with ribbon or yarn, we created the first of many journals. The lesson was to just "DO IT". Not to over-think it. Just dive in and get started, and before you know it, you have something completed. This was one of many simple messages throughout the day.
Next we did introductions and talked about each person's goals and interests. Overall the theme was to "get back to art" or to find oneself through art. Be more spontaneous, and in my case - see if there is money to be made!
Here we took a striped file folder, tore it into 4 pieces and each made two mini journals. One i made into a girlie girl book with lots of pink and purple, adding some rub-ons and stickers. The other became more masculine with greens and browns and some ledger paper.
The next mini journal idea was to create some very simple books with solid color card stock, and brightly hued paper. We used 8 1/2" by 11" paper - just torn in half. These can be made fast and easy, and given as gifts. We used a long reach stapler to bind these, with some ribbon for an added touch.
The next idea that Lisa shared was to make journals with cards you have collected. These can be christmas or birthday cards, or the cards you buy that you have NO INTENTION of ever giving away! (i have hundreds of these!!) Lisa showed us several examples - where she used the blank side of the paper to add journaling - thoughts about the sender, what she was thinking about that person, etc. Here i made one with some cards i made on nice italian card stock, with a image from a sheet of vintage French postcards. I used 4 cards, some flipped backwards, interleaved with some light handmade paper and tissue. The bird needs to be cut out and attached to the cover.
These long and narrow journals were made primarily from scrapbook paper i brought from home. Do you have nice paper you don't know what to do with, but you just Love It? Take the 12x12 sheets and fold them in half lengthwise. Glue them back to back, and staple together.
For this one i used a transparancy sheet with bird cages - it makes a great cover. Looks "store bought" if you know what i mean. The twin birds on the inside are one of those pages from inside the Somerset Studio magazine.
Here is one more long and tall journal, with a vintage mid century modern feel. Just wanted to use this cool paper, that never seems to be the right thing for an altered book project - so it works best just standing on its own.
I heard about this workshop from the Decor8 blog. She often shares the work of artists who have turned their talents into a business. Check it out.
The mini journal workshop will be offered again in January, along with some other more in depth classes - please check them out at Lisa's website.
Thanks Lisa for a great class, and it was nice meeting all the ladies who participated, and reconnecting with some friends and former students. I just touched on the lessons from the class, but Lisa had many meaningful ideas and tips for an artist who wants more. I would highly recommend taking a class with her.