"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A change of paint

Ain't it funny how the time goes? I started this blog post a week ago, ran out of time, saved it as a draft and here I am just getting back to it. It almost feels like old news now! Anyway, I traded in my art supplies for a roller and some wall paint, and remodeled the kids' bathroom. I thought I'd share it with you. It was time to say goodbye to the palm tree mural that has graced the long right side wall for many years. The walls needed to be repainted, and the kids are getting older - not that they don't enjoy palm trees any more, but it was time for something a bit more sophisticated (or maybe it was just as excuse!)

I painted the walls a soft chalky green (which really doesn't show up well in the photos ... the photo of the shower curtain has probably the best representation. The color is Harbour Town by Benjamin Moore). On the long wall I painted blocks of color and hung black and white prints of photos I've taken on our many family vacations. I let the kids list their most memorable places and use their lists in choosing photos. A nice way to make the space personal! I can always change out the photos whenever it needs refreshing.

I painted the ugly, old orangish oak and plywood cabinets a semi-gloss black and added chrome hardware. Ahhhh ... they look so much better, and set off the white marble vanity, which isn't going anywhere.

I swapped out the old tropical shower curtain and rings for a sleek black and chrome number. I also hung it about 8" higher up the wall which added more drama than I expected.

I, yes, I myself, personally and without assitance, took down the old brass "hollywood" globe vanity lights and wired up these new chrome and glass beauties. And I even did it right the first time! Was a leap of faith to flip that light switch on for the first time, that's for sure.

What's left is the floor (half carpet - what was the builder thinking??? - and half old vinyl), mainly, and a low flush toilet. I am toying with tearing down the tiles in the shower and installing new ones. I am a bit suspicious that there is an insufficient moisture barrier behind those tiles, and better to take them down and find out than to deal with a mold issue down the road. Or, maybe this is just another excuse ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Recipe for Adventure

Here's my little adventure of the week: I wanted to try my hand at needle felting. I don't have an embellisher machine, but I have the little needle puncher and brush mat. The base of this piece is part of a thrift store wool sweater that was shrunk/felted. I have been adding a little bit each day, and I suppose I will keep adding to the piece until it tells me it is done. I hope you can tell that it is a beach scene. I just added the "lines" to separate the water from the sand and sky, and next I'll fill in more water colors to give the ocean depth and (hopefully) dimension. It's been a fun experiment, in spite of the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing!!!

And I made this cake today - we are celebrating the 19th birthday of Pablo, our Guatemalan high school student who is living with us during the school year. The recipe is below ... delish!

Strawberry Fudge Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can strawberry pie filling
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

1 tub chocolate frosting

(note: you can use whatever flavor cake mix and pie filling you want - apple spice is very good! and you can substitute vanilla extract for the almond, or you can omit the extract, if you want)

Mix all ingredients and bake according to directions on cake mix (about 40 minutes for a bundt pan). Let cake cool, melt some frosting in microwave safe bowl for about 15-20 seconds. Drizzle over cake. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spirit Tree

Here's a sneak peek at the piece I've been working on. I need one more yellow bottle cap to finish it. Hopefully it will come my way soon. I am calling this piece "Spirit Tree". It is a 22x28 wrapped canvas - something new for me. It is for the exhibit at Eye of the Eagle in August and therefore is made with saved/recycled materials.
The background texture is built up with tissue paper. The flowers are fabric paper, and the flower centers are bottle caps and wine bottle tops.

The word "Spirit" rests among the roots of the tree. I have had the gulf oil disaster on my mind while I've worked on this piece, even though I started it before that happened, and it has directed much of the path this piece has taken. When it is finished, I'll share the completed piece with you.
On to the next one ... wonder where it will take me? ~Michelle

Friday, May 7, 2010

Going Green, and Orange, and Blue ...

In honor of National Craft Beer Week, this bracelet was chosen to be highlighted in the Going Green section of the Try Handmade website. Thanks to Rebecca for choosing to include me in a terrific article, and a special shout-out to my friend and fellow collector-of-all-things-cool-and-reusable, Tracy, for recommending me to Rebecca. Tracy's blog and etsy shop are definitely worth a visit! I've added some charm bracelets to my etsy shop, and will be adding more items during the day.
And just to prove that I still know how to thread my sewing machine, here is a small round-robin quilt that I am working on with a group of three other ladies. We are going to donate these quilts to the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Inniative (AAQI) for auction when they are finished. The May quilt auction is going on right now - but ends on Monday the 10th, so check it out! New quilts are available each month and all the proceeds go to fund research for a cure.

I was the third person to work on this quilt. It started with the jar of honey, the second person added the bees (which are amazing!) and I added the clovers. I free motion embroidered the clovers and was pleased with how they turned out. I might have to make some more for myself or a future project, so I don't forget how I did it. I love how this quilt is developing.
I am still working on a rather large canvas piece. It is coming along - I just have to figure out what finishing details are needed. It always seems like that is the hardest part!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Five Rounds of Poetry

I survived not only my first "solo" street fairs (as in, no one came with me to help set up or relieve me during the day) but my first back-to-back weekend street fairs. The days couldn't have been much different, the first being cool, cloudy, and threatening rain and the second hot, humid, and sunny. Both went well and I received a lot of nice compliments on my work. The only "new" items I made between sales were poetry bracelets, in the fashion of the one that was published last year in Cloth Paper Scissors. It was a challenge, but a fun one, to create little snippets of poetry to fit into five small circles. The people who stopped by seemed to enjoy them and I did sell a few.
This one was my personal favorite. I loved the blued and teals, and of course anything about the ocean! I thought for sure it would sell, but I still have it. It just might find its way into my etsy shop, which is in serious need of beefing up.

This is the same bracelet, with blue and white ocean-related caps. It is almost as much fun choosing the caps as it is designing the bracelet. In case you are wondering, yes, I did add a clasp before heading to the sale! I just took the photos before that happened.
I'm going to do some straightening of the studio before all the street fair tables and boxes find their way back in there. I am also working on a large canvas piece, which is developing nicely, although I've decided I need to do "something" to the background (which could be tricky since a portion of the foreground has been developed already). I am not sure what that "something" is, but I will share the work when it's complete.
Hope you have an enjoyable May. ~ Michelle