Tag: georgia

Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays![subscribe2]

Back to the Grind: My Summer Off

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So far, 2015 has proven to be a busy year. I feel like I’ve been on the go since the beginning, and a lot of changes and new beginnings have presented themselves in the past 7 months. As the school year wrapped up and summer began, I readied my summer to do list, which included posting regularly to my blog. While 2015 has been an eventful year for me personally, my blogging life has fallen a little flat, and summer was no exception. In between the vacations and projects, I kept pulling up my site, starting a post, before being distracted by something else. Eventually I hit a point where I decided it was okay to take a break. What used to be a passion had suddenly turned into a to do burden. I was no longer putting the time or effort into my posts to make it worthwhile for me to write or my readers to read. But now I find myself back from summer and excited to share my new projects and life stories. I look forward to once again fulfilling my weekly goal of sharing my interests with you!

New Orleans

Lets recap. January started off slow and typical. Winter was cold, snow never coated the ground, the weather was dreary, and I was feeling the gray creeping inside my brain. I was tired, run down, and needed a pick me up. I got just what I needed in the coming months, and the work/sleep/eat routine was broken in February when I took my first trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2015.

It was an experience like no other, in a city like no other. I felt the tremors of the city as soon as we hit the bridges leading into town. There is an underlying sense of excitement and life in every tree, building, plate of food, and person you pass by. The city is full of color and culture. I took in the beautiful, huge, stretching trees that I have come to associate with my childhood and the south. My eyes devoured the architecture, flying beads, and costumes, while my stomach ate up some of the best food I have ever had. I ate my first crawfish out of a bag, sitting on the ground in the park. It was a beautiful city and breath of fresh air, just what I needed to get back on track.

Seattle to San Fran

Not long after our trip to New Orleans, I was once again packing my bags, getting ready for Nick and my long awaited west coast adventure. For 10 days wse spent time on foot, in cars, on bicycles, on buses, and hiking trails from Seattle to San Francisco. My recently relocated cousin gave us a good excuse to go out to Seattle and visit. What began as a long weekend trip turned into an all out tour of the Pacific northwest. This trip was a like no other, and is an experience I will never forget.

Each city was as unique and interesting as the last. In Seattle I discovered a city built on hills, with an underground city hiding underneath. In Portland I found amazing natural beauty nestled directly outside of skyscrapers. In northern California I fulfilled my childhood dream of standing in front of a redwood and we feel asleep to the sound of barking of sea lions. In San Francisco I saw an amazing harmony of cultures coexisting in the bay side city. In ten days we experienced mountains, forests, beaches, and cities. I wore sundresses in the sand, galoshes in torrential downpours, and layers of coats in feet of snow.

This trip was not only a testament to our beautiful country, culture, art, and architecture, but it was also a reminder of how much I love my Nick. We packed into our tiny rental and drove hours from location to location. Perhaps we would have made better time if we didn’t stop every mile on the Pacific Coast Highway for me to snap yet another picture, but Nick noticed every time my eyes lit up in need of another snapshot memory. I never tired of his company, I could have spent another 10, 20, 30 days packed into a car with just him, touring the countryside and cityscapes.

Many of the pictures I took on this trip have already made their way into my encaustic art. Be on the lookout for future posts about my new projects!

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Although it was difficult to leave our vacation bubble and return to the real world, I headed back feeling rejuvenated. I was so inspired by everything I saw, felt, and experienced, and I couldn’t wait to infuse that into my teaching, artwork, and home. With the passing of March came the warming of the air, spring showers, and the coming and going of my busiest time of year at school. Before I knew it, summer was on the cusp, and so was our first dinner club.

As an effort to keep in touch with our dear friends in our growing, busy lives, Nick and I decided to get a group together once a month to eat good food, share recipes, and enjoy each other’s company. The first one was hosted at our house, a crawfish boil in the backyard. It was a taste of New Orleans brought home, the perfect start to the spring and coming of summer.

CharlestonBefore I could even start my summer countdown, school was over. I began my first weekend of summer in one of my favorite southern cities, Charleston. It marked the beginning of my much needed extended vacation, a very busy wedding season for Nick and I, and the addition of a sister-in-law to my seemingly ever growing family. We celebrated Nick’s brother marrying his perfect match, and spent the weekend piled into a house on the beach with his parents, 5 siblings, significant others, and extended family.

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We were reunited with Nick’s sister, brother-in-law, and our two nieces in the house on Folley beach. After a year in Italy, it was wonderful to see their faces again, hear about their traveling adventures, and witness the hyperactivity of toddlers. It also gave me the chance to give Kyla her birthday teapot, designed to fit her two year birthday theme, Carnivale, a traditional celebration in Italy. Be on the look out for a more extensive post about this tea set in the future.

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I was very spoiled to be able to enjoy three weeks of my summer in Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head has been a part of me since I can remember. Every summer our family of five braved the five plus hour drive to the small, tennis shoe shaped island off the coast of South Carolina. We learned to crawl, walk, and ride bikes on the sandy beach. I realized my first nugget of independence as my parents allowed the kids to ride the bike trails unsupervised.

This summer was spent between two houses, which felt like a living metaphor. The old and the new, the coming and the going. My parents closed on a new property in Hilton Head in the spring. A beautiful house, only one street away from the original house, but many steps closer to the beach. Although my parents are keeping the partnerships of both houses intact, there was something monumental about heading to the new property. All the kids are grown up, my sister already has one of her own learning to run on the beach just like we did. The old house will always hold the memories of my siblings and I growing up, but I know this new house will soon hold the memories of our kids growing up.

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After Hilton Head, another wedding was celebrated in another amazing southern location, Asheville, North Carolina. As I headed home I began planning a bridal shower for another future sister-in-law, Sarah, and getting information about her bachelorette party, to be held at the end of summer. A couples shower cook out was hosted at my house, full of crafty projects and decor I can’t wait to share. Be on the lookout for these how tos coming soon. Since January I have gained two more sisters. I am incredibly lucky my brother-in-laws know how to pick girls I click with, I couldn’t ask for better family.

Aruba Scenes

The next wedding location of the season required an international voyage to Aruba. Nick was honored as Jared’s best man as he married his other half, Ashley. Not only did we get to see some of our best friends commit their lives to each other, but we got to do it in an unbelievable location. For five days we sat next to turquoise waters, tanned alongside iguanas, and ate fresh-caught-daily seafood.

5 Year Wedding Anniversary

A few days after Jared and Ashley tied the knot, Nick and I celebrated five years married. Aruba was the perfect location for our anniversary celebration, and our last full day on the island, we spent together, crammed on a 1980’s dirt bike touring the island. I can’t believe we have been a couple for 10 years, with 5 years of marriage under our belts. I’ve never regretted picking him, I’m not sure I had a choice in the matter, it felt right from day one. As I’ve said before, and as I will say again, I think we have at least another 75 years together in us.

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The end of summer is bittersweet. I begin to realize I am losing a portion of my freedom for another nine months, but I am also ready to see my kiddos, and ready for my birthday, which always seems to mark my last weekend of summer. Year 28 of my life was closed out with a drive in movie, lots of junk food, and lots of attention and love from my family and hub. School was about to start again, and it was time to wrap my head around the coming work, and get ready for another great year.

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In addition to all of our trips and busy schedules, we also found out we were pregnant with our first baby in March. Now I find myself back to school, almost 7 months pregnant, planning a nursery, and prepping for our baby boy. I can’t wait to see his sweet face in flesh and color, and discover which features he decided to model after his dad and which ones he modeled after me. With the coming of baby also brings a lot of home projects, which will also be coming soon to my how tos.

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I hope you enjoyed the recap of the last 7 months, and I promise to stay on top of my postings as things continue to get busier. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help spread the word about easy craft projects, art making techniques, and visual journaling by sharing it with others! Thanks for stopping by.

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Encaustic Mixed Media: Wine Corks, Playing Cards, Scrabble Tiles, and Letters

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

Recently, I was asked by a family friend do do a commissioned work of art for her husband’s sixtieth birthday. I was flattered, and excited for the prospect of a new project. It all began with a very large bag of corks from wine Buddy and Margaret (lovingly called Uncle Buddy and Aunt Margaret, as they have been a part of my family since my parents were in high school) had enjoyed over the last 30 years. She mentioned she liked my mixed media pieces, and hoped I could incorporate the corks into the work of art. It was easy having a client like Aunt Margaret, because she appreciates art, is open minded, and has amazing ideas that helped me work towards the final piece.

When the first package of corks arrived, ideas immediately began buzzing. We discussed prices and sizes, and settled on a large, 36″x48″ panel as the base. I decided I would use the corks, and I wanted every inch of the panel covered with them. They would create the base texture for the overall piece. Since I was working so heavily with corks, I opted for a wine theme, to bridge the material with the imagery.

While I was planning out a rough design, Aunt Margaret began discussing the project with family members. As they talked about the future creation, stories of Uncle Buddy began to be swapped, sand volcanoes on the beach, the endless search for sharks teeth, his love for all things boards games and card tricks. As the family reminisced Aunt Margaret decided she wanted a type of “Buddy search,” a bigger image filled with all things Buddy hidden in the layers and objects. Soon after, I received another package filled with sharks teeth, newspaper clippings of Uncle Buddy’s high school football career, and beautiful letters written between Aunt Margaret and Uncle Buddy, while he was in the military.

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As we threw ideas back and forth, it began to take form in my mind, and become a reality on the wood panel. I started by cutting corks in half, and gluing them to the panel to create a pattern in the background. I used whole corks to form the wine bottles, to create a sense of depth between the bottles and background. I cut wine corks in strips to go under the wine bottles, and define a tabletop space. At the very bottom I cut wine corks into circular sections to create a wave like pattern, reminiscent of the beach, and Hilton Head Island where they have spent much of their time.

To reference Uncle Buddy’s interest in cards and scrabble, I incorporate both into the piece. I decided to make it appear as though scrabble tiles where pouring out of the sideways wine bottle, spilling over a card game. I also used the tiles in the background, and spelled out each name in their family: Buddy, Margaret, Andrew, and Aaron. I’m still not sure this is a part they have discovered yet, but I enjoyed every minute of creating this personal scavenger hunt.

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Once the base layer was complete, I added thin, art paper over top. I knew from the beginning I would cover the entire piece with encaustic wax. When the encaustic is melted onto certain types of paper, it create a semi-transparent look. I often play with encaustic and collage, and I was excited to have the additional elements of the corks, tiles, and cards added. I used different types of paper to distinguish the different areas, tacked it down with hot glue, then began painting the many layers of melted encaustic wax.

Wine Corks Stage 4

As I layered the wax, I also began incorporating copies of the letters and newspaper clippings. Although Aunt Margaret encouraged me to use the originals, I couldn’t bear to essentially ruin these family memories. I made high quality color copies, to maintain the ink color, and match them as close to the originals as possible. I scattered the envelopes and letters along the top, bottom, and behind the wine bottles. I also decided to layer the wine bottles with ripped up sections of the letters to tone down the dark green and create an interesting pattern with the mix of handwriting.

Once I finally achieved a fairly smooth, wax surface, and was satisfied with the placement of the letters, I began painting. I added wine glasses, olives, and shadows to help define the sections further. A number of times I added something, only to remove it the next day. The piece transitioned from light, to a dark background, from one to two to three wine glasses, it was continuously changing and I couldn’t seem to find my stopping point.

After seeking out second opinions from my wonderful husband and mom, I decided to add dark shadows to certain areas to create more contrast. I finally began to strike a balance in the piece, I was finally seeing the end.

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I emphasized the separation between the table and the background with a harder, dark line. The shadows under the wine bottles were emphasized, as well as around the letters.

Detail, Letter and Scratching

I also began scratching into the surface of the wax to create crosshatched shadows.

Detail, Glass with Olives

I darkened the shadows around the wine glasses to help the white highlights pop. As I painted in the glasses and olives, I opted for a semi-transparent look. I left the olives with see through centers, and a more sketchy feel. I love the play between the background and foreground.

Wine bottle details

The wine bottles finally began to pop, the letters stood out against the background, and your eye was drawn around the piece. It finally felt complete.

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

I was very pleased with the end result and excited it was going to a family I already love so much, to be hung in their living room. I know they will look at it and appreciate it every day.

Wine Corks Ready to Ship

The most stressful part came when it was time to package and ship this very large, heavy, and delicate piece from Atlanta, GA to Denver, CO. Layer after layer of foam and tape was applied before my signature twine, card, and encaustic info was added on top. It shipped out in a very pieced together looking box, but it was enough to keep it safe to its final destination

Uncle Buddy and the Final Piece

Happy sixtieth Uncle Buddy!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my most recent commissioned work of art! Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others and on your social networking site of choice. Thanks for stopping by![subscribe2]

Handmade Ceramics: Wood Grain Mugs and Vases

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In the spring of last year a new, local shop reached out to me about including my pottery in their store. I was excited about a new opportunity to sell my artwork, but tentative about the required year long commitment, and monthly rent. Despite my concerns I decided to jump in with both feet, and commit to Crafted Westside.

Since I signed my contract I have been hard at work, creating, producing, and filling my space at Crafted. The store has been a huge success, and after a short 5 months of being open, they have already expanded into the space next door. I’m looking forward to the  upcoming holiday season, and am keeping my fingers crossed that I will set my personal best sales months.

One of my favorite things about my commitment to Crafted is it has pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have had to develop new designs, techniques, and products. I have had to chart what is selling, and what is collecting dust and taking up space on my shelves. I have had the opportunity to experiment, and experienced a great deal of trial and error.

A few weeks ago, while brainstorming new ideas, I decided I want to try my hand at hand building with slabs. Up to this point all of my products had been thrown on the pottery wheel, and I needed a change of pace. I went to my local ceramic store, perused their shelves, and fell in love with a wood grain stamp. An idea immediately hit me, I would hand build a few sets of mugs and vases, using slabs, and this beautiful patter.

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Keeping with the look and feel of my pottery, I decided to keep the exterior simple, with the white body of the clay, and a quick layer of clear on top. For the interior I used blues and greens, to stick with the earthy feel of the wood. I also decided to experiment with gloss and matte finishes. Rather than coat the entire exterior with clear, I left a section at the bottom unglazed.

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I was really excited about my finished products. They have been delivered to Crafted Westside, and are sitting on the shelves, waiting to find a happy home. I hope they do well, so I can continue to play around with my beautiful new stamp.

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In addition to my wood grain pieces, I also made a set of hydrangea inspired vases. Check out Crafted’s website here to look at more products!

IMG_8148Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog and read about my latest works of art. Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others on your social networking site of choice! Thanks for stopping by.

T.G.I. Friday’s Summer of Fridays Tour: Artists and Crafters Feature

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I am so excited to share a recent feature of mine in T.G.I. Friday’s new campaign, local and handmade.

In an effort to rebrand their company, T.G.I. Friday’s has been busy meeting artists, crafters, musicians, and all people artsy across the US. To keep with the theme they recruited photographers from Instagram to document these “makers of America.”

Through the Atlanta based, all things handmade shop, Crafted Westside, I was brought to the attention of the tour and photographer, Daniel Davis. I meet with him one morning at Crafted, and enjoyed talking about his last 3 month adventure traveling down the East Coast, meeting a variety of crafters. He took amazing photographs of my work, and included a wonderful write up on the TGIF, “Summer of Fridays,” blog.

mug TGIF

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Thank you to Daniel Davis and TGIF for giving me this amazing opportunity! The stories and photographs are art in themselves. Thanks for checking out my blog. Help me spread the word about it by sharing with others! I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for stopping by.tumblr_nav6yrtlkJ1tx0d9wo2_1280