Month: February 2013

Visual Journal Page 33: My Sweet Tooth

Visual-Journal-Page-33-Sweet-Tooth

It is no secret I have a sweet tooth, and apparently this wasn’t missed by my students either.

I love anything 100% pure sugar, flavored, and dyed. I like skittles, starburst, the kind of candy that guarantees cavities and to pull out your old fillings. My sweet tooth is a thing I struggle with as an adult. I try to eat healthy, not take in too much sugar, and at this point in my life I feel I should be over these types of treats. To the very best of my ability I try to push these sweets out of my mind, and keep them out of my belly.

It is a constant struggle at the grocery store. The carefully placed displays and rows of candy in the check out aisle taunts small children, and full grown Mes. As my healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables are being scanned and placed in bags, my eyes scan the candy trays, looking for my vice.

Over the years I do feel my sweet tooth has slowly begun to subside. If I can stay off skittles for a couple of weeks, the cravings appear less and less. However, it is hard to not consume these tasty treats when they are waiting for you at every corner. I try to keep them out of my grocery list, car, and house, but at school they appear, as if from thin air, to tempt me.

At some point in the three years I spent at my last school my students picked up on my sweet tooth. It began towards the end of my first year when one student would periodically leave skittles on my desk (read about that story here). I suppose I threw such a fit over it, my other students decided they also wanted to be showered with thanks yous, and your are too sweets. Suddenly, every couple of weeks a new sweet would appear on my desk, just as my body finally began to cleanse itself from my last sugar binge, airheads, skittles, and gummies would appear out of nowhere.

In between my surprise treats I was continuously tempted with sugar as my students begged me to buy yet another pack of skittles from them to raise money for the band, soccer, or who knows what. My  guilt would make me consider just a second too long, and before the word no could be uttered my sweet tooth would stop it, and start my tummy grumbling, asking for just a few morsels of sugar.

Despite the fact that my students have made it difficult to overcome the sugar addiction I continue to battle, their little surprise would make my day. I felt like it was their coy way of saying thank you, at least that was how I justified always accepting their gifts. For those moments of appreciation I guess I am okay with people knowing I have a small sweet tooth.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Rubber Cement
  • Scissors
  • Candy wrappers
  • Watercolor
  • White paper
  • Paint brush
  • Masking Tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Skinny sharpie

HOW TO

This page was very easy to make using two techniques I continuously use in my book: whole sheet patterns and wood grain. I love the look of cut out characters, as if they were cut from patterned paper with no shading, highlights, or three dimensionality. I love the look even more when it is paired with objects that look more realistic. After I saved a few gift candy wrappers I decided to incorporate them into a page, and play with the flat/realistic method.

I started by painting a large sheet of white paper with browns, yellows, whites, and oranges. I wanted a variety of color, but I wanted them to flow into each other to create an interesting texture. I loaded up my watercolors with water, to make them flow more easily, and got to painting. Once I was satisfied with the colors I allowed it to dry before I added the grain texture. I used a thin sharpie to draw the lines of the fake wood grain, being sure to stay loose, after all there are no straight lines in nature (except snowflakes). To read more tips about recreating wood grain visit my skittles page here.

Once I was satisfied with my wood grain I cut it smaller to cover 3/4 of my two pages. I carefully glued it down with rubber cement, and used a credit card to force the paper into the seam of the book. I then glued the wrappers with hot glue, rubber cement isn’t strong enough to glue down the plasticky wrappers, and added a piece of masking tape on top. I then added the repeating yummys and words around the wrappers with sharpie.

CHALLENGE

Create a page about your vice.

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February Giveaway: Customizable Letter Painting

W and N Letters

I am excited to announce my second giveaway, one of my very own customizable, handmade letter paintings.

These are my most recent art experiments, and listing on my Etsy shop. These 6″x6″ canvases are covered with patterned paper, then sealed with encaustic wax. To top off the interesting background I paint letters using oil paint. These little paintings are the perfect way to decorate a blank wall,  sit on a shelf or mantle. or pair with another work of art!

N Letter Detail

W-Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These mini works of art are easy to make and only require a handful of materials. It’s a good afternoon project and way to decorate your home! If you love them, but don’t want to make your own, buy one of mine or enter to win one below!

SUPPLIES:

  • 6″x6″ wood panel (or any size wood panel, I prefer the small square, 1 1/2 inches deep)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Hot glue gun
  • Encaustic medium
  • Hot plate (with temperature gauge)
  • Glass or metal dishes (to melt the wax in on the heat plate)
  • Heat gun
  • Oil paint
  • Paint brush
  • Mineral spirits

HOW TO:

Step one… Cut or rip your scrapbook paper into strips and glue it onto the wood pane using a hot glue gunl. I typically rip the paper because I like the rough edge it creates

Step two… Place the encaustic medium in a glass or metal container on top of the hot plate. Do not allow the wax to heat beyond 200 degrees, if it reaches temperatures beyond this it can release toxic fumes. Make sure you are in a well ventilated area!

Step three… pour the melted wax on the panel, or paint it on with a paint brush. If you use a paint brush keep in mind the wax will ruin it, I have a few brushes I use exclusively for encaustic.

Step four… Use the heat gun to evenly spread the wax, and make it thin enough to be able to see the paper beneath it.

Step five… Paint your letter, number, or symbol using oil paint! You can purchase cardboard cut outs of lettersto trace around at places such as Hobby Lobby.

Step six… Hang on your wall and enjoy!

Hang a letter to reflect each member of your family, or add ampersands, plus signs, and hearts to his and hers letters. These letter paintings are so much fun to make, and are made with a lot of love a little bit of glue. I currently have them listed at my shop for $15.oo per letter.

For my February giveaway I am offering one of my letter paintings. The winner gets to choose the background color and letter, or symbol, of their choice. The customized painting will be shipped to your doorstep free of charge!

In order to participate all you have to do is comment on this post! Next Sunday the winner will be selected at random using the And the Winner Is plugin.

I wish each one of you good luck, I look forward to choosing the winner in one short week! Thanks for participating in my giveaway and supporting my blog!

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Visual Journal Page 32: Molly Jo

Visual-Journal-Page-32-Molly-Jo

I almost didn’t include this page, after all it is a story I am hesitant to share. Although a life was semi-saved that day, I did have a slight lapse in judgement. I forgot my role as teacher for a moment, and I am lucky the situation didn’t spiral out of control to the many horrible scenarios I have since come up with.

It all began with my next door neighbor at school, a nice enough gentleman who taught graphic design, who also had a small hoarding problem. Snacks, sodas, anything food related stacked his desk, lined closet walls, and attracted mice. By this point in the school year a few mice had already been trapped in the sticky traps he would continuously refresh. More than once he, or one of his students, would visit my classroom holding one such trap, with a poor, adorable, baby mouse attached to it.

My heart broke for these poor animals. Yes, they are “vermin”, if given the space and food they will reproduce, spread disease, and are unhealthy in general, but none of these things come to mind when I see such a small helpless animal facing it’s demise. I believe these previous instances fueled my lack of judgement on down the road. And I try to remind myself that it started with one of his students, but I was still the one that made the call, and this is how it went down…

My AP art class was in full swing, about thirty minutes had passed in our hour and a half long class, the second hand of the clock was slowly ticking it’s way down to 3:30. I was working on this and that when I glanced outside and a few of my students, who were supposed to be working on the cement block just outside my room, were gathered around one of his students. I poked my head outside to redirect their attention to their projects when I saw yet another poor helpless mouse stuck on a trap. His students, and mine, were attempting to carefully remove him from the trap, after all only his leg was stuck.

My animal loving side took over my level headed, I could be sued, teacher side, and I allowed them to continue. In fact, I even let it move to my room where they could carefully wash him off after he was unstuck. This may be shocking to you, I allowed my students to handle a wild mouse. But it doesn’t end there.

Once the little mouse was washed and carefully dried, he was placed in a basket, with some of my still life fabric, and a Doritos chip, they were high schoolers after all. In 15 minutes Molly Jo was saved, cleaned, fed, and officially named. I think the name did us all in. You should never name an animal you can’t keep, because the name is the bond.

We couldn’t decide what to do with Molly Jo, until one of my students volunteered to take her home, and promised up and down her parents were the type who wouldn’t care. I’m not sure what was wrong with me that day, but I actually allowed this to happen. Even now, reflecting on the situation I can’t believe I let that happen.

Thank goodness the mouse made it home, thank goodness her parents actually didn’t care. I found out the next day she didn’t take Molly Jo home in a car, like I thought, Molly Jo actually went home on the BUS with her! How did I let that happen. My student told me she released Molly Jo into the wild, where she would run happy and free. At least I participated in saving an innocent life, until the truth came out and I found out Molly Jo actually died due to the poison in the sticky substance on the sticky trap. It was all for nothing, I risked my students, and my career, for nothing.

I don’t know what humanitarian cloud came over me to allow each one of these things to happen, but someone must’ve been watching my back because no one was hurt, the mouse made it home on the bus, and the parents actually didn’t care. It was a miracle. Now, in order to justify the situation I convince myself that Molly Jo is out there running free and she was a critical part of a bonding experience in my AP class, or at least that is what I tell myself.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber Cement
  • Scissors
  • Magazine images
  • Pencil
  • White paper
  • Watercolors
  • Paint brush
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

My goal with this journal was to focus more on drawing and painting, and rely less on magazine images. It was a very good goal, I felt my images were more original in a way, because the majority of the page was made by me. However, because of that it had been awhile since I used magazine images and drawn images together, which I decided to change with this visual journal page.

I started with the background, remember it is always easier to move from the back forward. I began my hunt for sky and grass in my stack of magazines and after ripping out a few pages I decided I didn’t have the patience to fill the entire page with magazine collage, and at this point I was overusing that technique. Instead I chose to rip a few sky pieces and few ground pieces into strips and spread them out on the page. When I found an image with tall grass I decided to overlap it on top of my drawn image to help tie everything together.

Next I worked on the basket. I decided to paint an entire sheet of paper with browns and yellows, and once dry add lines with sharpie. I made sure I stayed nice and loose with the paint and the lines to keep it looking organic. I then cut the paper into strips and wove them together to create the front of the basket, wove another section to create the right side of the basket, and taped them together on the back. I used the same technique for the fabric. I painted a red plaid pattern on a sheet of paper, and cut it into large triangle shapes. I then glued them to the backside of the basket, and folded the edges over to make it look like it was sitting inside the basket.

Last but not least I painted little Molly Jo with watercolor, outlined her in sharpie to help her stand out, and nestled her in the basket. I glued everything down, and added elongated sharpie words on the left side page.

CHALLENGE

Create a page about a regret or a misstep in judgement.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and for supporting my blog! I can’t do it without you! Share, subscribe, comment, and keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming end of February giveaway!

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DIY Spice Rack: Reorganizing My Kitchen

DIY Spice Rack Detail 2

I love my cute, unique, 1940’s home. It has interesting doorways, built ins, beautiful hardwoods, and a lot of charm. It’s the perfect first time home for Nick and me, but despite everything I love about it, it does have it’s downsides.

As soon as we moved into our house we outgrew the kitchen. We both enjoy cooking, and as a result of our hobby and recent wedding, we had acquired a great deal of kitchenware. Our cabinets immediately filled up, and items began spilling over into garage storage.

Kitchen storage and organization has been a battle since day one, and I recently decided it was time to reorganize our impractical spice cabinet, and try rearranging things. First we tried moving our mugs to our spice rack and our spices from the narrow cabinet next to the oven to the more spacious top shelf of our glasses cabinet. This arrangement lasted a week before I decided it wasn’t going to work.

After a lot of brainstorming I decided I should make my own spice rack, or spice shelf, for easy access to my spices, and as an unconventional way to decorate. A stainless steel shelf was already installed in the kitchen when we moved in, and my goal was to find a match to the shelf, lower the original one by a few inches, and add a new one above it. Based on a hunch I checked Ikea to see if the original shelf was from there, and I was lucky enough to find it, three years after the original shelf was purchased. As soon as I returned home from Ikea the spices were cleared out of the cabinet and I got to work.

DIY Spice Rack-Cabinet Before and After

I consolidated the spices into small jars, only $3.99 for a set of four from Ikea. In addition I found small oil containers, which I decided to use to store olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsalmic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. These containers were an added bonus, and convenience while I cook.

DIY Spice Rack-Before and After

Unfortunately the oil containers didn’t have a stopper, so I fashioned my own out of wine corks. The end result of rearranging are my spices on display on my brand new shelf, and our wine glasses and medicine stored on the top shelf of the glasses cabinet, which allowed more space in one of our lower cabinets.

DIY Spice Rack-Oil Holders

DIY Spice Rack-Kitchen

I am very pleased with our new arrangement, and I think it makes the space with the shelves look more complete. Our cooking lives are easier, and I have a new addition to our kitchen to admire. This project only took one day and a few tools to complete. It was worth every penny and minute I spent on it!

If you are struggling with organization in your kitchen, or any room in your house, try to think outside of the box. Not everything has to be hidden in a closet or cabinet, think of ways to display items on shelves to allow space elsewhere. I love the decorative quality my multicolor spices have!

I hope you enjoyed my spice rack organization suggestions! Please help me spread the word about my blog by liking, e-mailing, sharing, subscribing, and of course commenting! I would love to hear about your kitchen organization nightmares and solutions. Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Visual Journal Page 31: If it’s Old and Peely

Visual-Journal-Page-31-If-it's-Old-and-Peely

I love anything and everything old and peely, and over the years I have slowly added piece after piece of old and peely to my home. Recently, it has even found it’s way into my artwork (click here to see my recent mixed media paintings!).

There is something intriguing about the layers of paint, partially revealing it’s past through the cracks and disintegrating layers.  The hint of original stain peeks through the next layer of white, then blue, and another layer of white. The history tantalizes my imagination as I wonder who had this table before I did, and what creative burst made them add yet another layer of paint, and a new life to this piece before it was passed onto it’s next owner.

Antique stores are my favorite places to waste time. I love to peruse booth after booth, peeking beneath piles of history and into hidden corners. I love to imagine how this table and that chair would look in my house, and immediately wipe the image as soon as I see the price.

When I finally choose a new piece of furniture, it means it is very special. I carefully picked it out, considered what uniqueness and aesthetic it would bring into my house, and finally gave into the feeling in my gut that this is the one.

Luckily, being in my mid twenties I have only upgraded my homes. I have moved from a tiny apartment, to a small house, to another tiny apartment, and finally into my lovely, historic 1940’s home. I have yet to find myself in a position where I no longer need a piece of furniture, and I dread when that moment comes.

Each piece of furniture is so special, and serves an important decorative and imaginative role in my living space. What will happen when I realize a piece is no longer needed? I can’t imagine my treasures scattered on my lawn, being picked over by people who may not have the same enthusiasm for furniture as I. I suppose this fear will require that I continue to upgrade into beautifully spacious, yet still historic, homes.

As much as I love my antique stores and my genuine antique items, I have to admit I am a sucker for all things peely, whether or not it has the word “old” attached to it. I have my fair share of new furniture, with that antique feel carefully manufactured into every piece. I have even created my own new/antique with my layered and sanded down paint projects. In fact, I have hopes to create a faux antique dining room table this summer.

The truth is new, old, antique, or not, of it’s peeling or cracked it will find a place in my heart. I suppose I can hope that I will add a layer of history to each piece of furniture I own. And when the day comes when I finally find myself giving up these pieces that I so love, I can only hope that the new owner’s will add another new layer of stories for the next owner to ponder upon.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Magazine images
  • Sharpie

HOW TO

While wasting time one day flipping through an Anthropologie magazine, looking at the clothes and home decor I desperately wanted, but can’t afford, I suddenly found myself ripping out pages. I loved the background used to advertise the products, and decided I would make a visual journal page out of it.

I ripped out stairs, doorways, cupboards, walls, and floors. When I was finally finished destroying my catalog I realized all of the images shared a common theme, old and peely. The layers of colors, cracked plaster, and rough texture was so appealing to me, and I imagined myself living in a house, surrounded by the layers.

I decided I had to take these images and construct this seemingly abandoned, yet beautiful space. I ripped up the images with floors, and carefully glued them down. I then added the walls, molding, doorway, cabinet, and ladder. Last but never least, I wrote the words with sharpie, and my old, peely room was complete.

CHALLENGE

Create your ideal space in your visual journal using images found in magazines. It can be inside, or out, old, or new, it’s up to you!

Thanks for reading my post! I hope you found inspiration to start your own visual journal today! Please help my spread the word about my blog my sharing with others, subscribing, and of course commenting!

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