Monday, February 28, 2011

Making "actual" not "virtual" friends

The internet is a wonderful resource.  It has been my main mode of communication with family and friends since moving to Orange County.  I met my husband on line when he was still living in Barcelona and I was in the San Francisco Bay Area...  and we created a relationship across the world from one another via the internet.  He talks to his family in Spain on web chats every saturday morning, and his 2 year old nephew thinks he actually lives in the computer.  I love how I can always find a new blog to explore when insomnia strikes.  I can check the weather anywhere in the world while looking for a recipe that will please all the picky palates and food needs of my family. 

But the greatest tool I have found the internet useful for by far, is connecting with new people.  From my husband, to the new friends I had over for tea and art making on Saturday.  I don't talk about it a lot on my blog... but moving has been very lonely for me...  I can't work, so I have no social outlet there.  I am trying to meet with others as much as possible, but all the classes I go to where I would meet like minded people cost money, and like everyone, there is never enough of that to go around these days...  so what is a gal to do?  Yahoo Groups!  I met some people through various groups, and after emailing for a while, invited them over for an art play date and get together tea...  It was a smashing success.  I had only met 2 of the ladies, and by coincidence, some of the ladies knew each other from other yahoo groups and art groups in the area....  I finally feel like I am a part of a community down here.  I have made some great connections, and created new friendships that I hope will lead to many fun gatherings in the future.  I can't believe these are all the photos I took of the day.  I am hoping some of the ladies will, post them soon so I can add them here...  What a fun day. 

We made gratitude journals.  My mom Judi Garcia is a psychic up in the Bay Area.  She came down to play with us, and agreed to guide us through some meditation techniques, and gave us some tools for finding the gift in a negative situation.  We ate, drank, laughed and arted up a storm.  Before we knew it, 8 hours had passed, and it was time to say goodbye.  I was sad it was over so quickly... but very happy with how it turned out, and excited to know that there is another one coming up again in March and I will see everyone then...  So hooray for Virtual friends turned into ACTUAL friends....  I love the internet...!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Repurposed dresser and cup shelf

I have a lovely teacup collection that has been stored in a box in the garage for 5 years.  I have a living room with no furniture in it, and no space in the dining room for a table...  So I had an idea to somehow make a dining room out of the living room...  I could take this $5 dresser I bought at my favorite thrift store, and somehow create a space to display some of my teacups.  and then scrounge around and see what else I could come up with to make a dining room.

I puttied the holes in the dresser top and drawer fronts and had Zack sand the whole things down with a sander.  Then guess what I did?  Yep... painted it white... and spray painted the oxidixed bubbled up silver metal knobs blue...  Joke all you want family members, but it looks very cool now....

I found this oak cupshelf I have had for years in the back of the garage...  pulled it out and painted it white too...  and Ta-Da... a great teacup display and place to store all my tea party goods.  Napkins, teaspoons and strainers, tablecloths and linens, candlesticks and more are stored in the dresser drawers.  Now when I have my OC art sister friends over for art day, I have a place to store all my tea party stuff!  I LOVE the flea market style!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Garden Art

I have been at it again... Dumpster diving for treasures... in the form of plastic bottles, cups and aluminum cans.  I used to volunteer at the Depot's transfer station at the recycling center out in Benicia... I HATED to see the amount of plastic and aluminum that they trucked in every day...  I think plastic food containers should be outlawed...  everywhere.  But since it probably won't be, I am trying to think up more creative ways to use it to brighten up our lives, rather than cause more blight. 

I am also trying to create some art for my garden with no money...  OK, so I splurged on a few cans of spray paint... But a lot of it I got for free at the HazMat facility in Martinez on my last visit there.  You can use left over house paint, acrylic paint, glass paint, whatever you have laying around...  I like the way the spray paint looks.  But be sure to wear a mask if you will be spraying a lot...  It is hard on the lungs... 

I made these flowers by cutting the top of the can off like this
then I trimmed the rough edges off the cans and bottles like this

Using the pattern on the bottom of the plastic bottles, and by creating my own patterns, I cut strips down the side of the can, bent them out, and then cut petal shapes on the tips.

I layed them all out and spray painted them.  Once they were dry, I layered them on top of one another
punched a hole through the middle, ran some wire through and tied it on to a small piece of doweling.
They make a really bright addition to my garden.  I can't stop making them, it's addictive!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Vintage Luggage Redux

I collect old suitcases... Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to find the really cool ones. Once in a while I come across old hard sided train cases and larger luggage pieces at garage sales. They are usually really ugly and beat up and have very little personality. These three pieces were Navy blue, yellow and burgundy. I wanted a matching 3 piece luggage set that I could use for hauling my art stuff around.

Spray paint is the great equalizer. I LOVE spray paint. Gather up your stencils and anything else you can spray a pattern through, scrapbook laser cuts, lace, plastic tablecloths, paper doilies, rubber rug mats... really think outside the box with this...

I started with white, and layered the stencil down, spritzing the white over the suitcase in random patterns. Then I added pale green, aqua, pink and yellow. The colors seemed a little muted, so I then used a bright royal blue metallic and purple spritzed lightly to make the stencils really pop. The secret to this is the layers. You really need to keep layering one stencil over another to get the depth. If you don't like something, let it dry for a bit, and then spry over it again. Using metallic silver or pearl paint will give you a cool damask effect.

So drag out those old suitcases from the garage, go to the hazardous waste materials restore in your area and pick up spray paint for free, and go to town with all the cool colors and designs and see what you come up with!

The train case in the front left was painted by my daughter Kayleigh.  It started life as a black textured leather case.  She went for a more goth rock kind of look... she keeps her makeup in it.  Next time you see one of these at a yard sale or thrift store, POUNCE on it...  they are very cool when done up.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What would you do.....

with a plethora of frames like this...?  I love them ALL...  I can't get rid of them....  I was going to paint them all gold back in the day... that day has passed.... then I was going to paint them white...  and still might...  then I thought to paint them all black as a base coat, and then paint them with colors and sand it off so the black shows through... which I could also do with the white. 

Here is my delimma....  I have no artwork hanging in my house, no photos, nothing... I hung a couple of pictures I like, but they don't go with the house...  it is a ranch style house with a hideous wallpaper of blue and gray marble texture in the dining room and kitchen wall...  All my stuff is green, paintings with green, furniture that is shades of sage and celery green... and lots of white frames... (I had pale yellow walls at my old house and it looked GREAT!) so this blue gray thing just ain't workin' for me...  I have one large wall that I thought I could hang the frames on temporarily until I figure out what to do with them, thus killing the proverbial two birds with one stone.  Getting the frames out of storage while putting something on the walls... but I am unsure...  I would love some advice people...  I have posted a previous post on the 15th about the wine and glass cabinet I made in the dining room, and you can see the ugly wallpaper behind it...  I need serious decorating help from all you artistical and decorational types... I am good at making the stuff, and merchandising a store, but not when it comes to my home...  why is that?  Maybe because it is a rental, and I am stuck with this wallpaper as it is... and I really don't like it... maybe I am just feeling stuck in general when it comes to decorating.  I am loving the clean uncluttered feel of everything... Having not much stuff to begin with really gives you a clean slate... but it does make it hard when you try to do something with very little... Am I overthinking this? 

So far I have come up with 2 possibilities...  paint them all black and fill them with family photos in black and white and hang them in a grouping on the wall to create a gallery wall... the other is to paint them the soft aqua blue color I am in love with right now, and hang them all on the wall empty, and just appreciate all the lovely detail on them....  Anyone wanna give me an opinion?

Repurposed Sideboard and shelf unit = china wine and glass cabinet

I got rid of a great china cabinet on Craigslist before I moved, and now have no space to store my china and favorite pieces.  My mom  was visiting a couple weeks ago, and was scrounging through my garage for things to help me decorate, when she saw this sideboard and shelf unit I had buried in the back of the garage.  I said, "Hey mom, what if we put that on top of the sideboard in the kitchen and use it for glasses and wine and stuff?"  She measures, and then she and my stepdad brought it in, cleaned it up and did this with it!  How great is that?  A garage sale sideboard we bought for $40 and had shoved in the garage, along with a bookshelf my neighbor gave me when he moved a couple years ago...  2 unrelated pieces, that when put together, made a very functional and cool looking piece in my dining room!  I am stoked!  Now I am on a mission to see what else I can make with what I already have lying around!  Check back soon for more thrifting and repurposing ideas.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Repurposed Tackle Box

I picked up this tackle box a couple weeks ago at a church rummage sale for $5  It was full of gas powered remote control car parts.  This little case had seen a lot of use.  I spray painted it white, and then painted the drawers with flat black.  Now it is a perfect traveling case for all the art retreats and classes I plan on attending in the future.  It holds all my necessary supplies and is compact and portable.  So remember next time you see something at a yard sale that you might not usually buy (I always pass by the "guy" stuff) think of it from another perspective.  What could I do with that...?  It could be an art kit for your kids holding all their crayons, pencils, stickers and such.  It could be a jewelry making supplies case...  or embellishments for scrapbooking.  The possibilities are endless, if you think outside the box.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

upcycled garden art

How cute are these?  I met this lady at Swan Day in Martinez last year.  She made all these things from stuff she diverted from landfill... Old broken and chipped plates, soda bottles, water bottles, aluminum cans and golf clubs...  I am going to make some to add color to my backyard.  I will be posting the results, what I learned while making them, and the actual how to's of doing it step by step in an upcoming post. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Thrifty Valentines Day Treats

I have to check my blog archives. I may have posted this before... I took an old heart shaped box and deconstructed it, covered it with a world map tissue paper and filled it with candy for my husband. I saved the box from a couple of years ago and just reused it again. He didn't care that it was reused and regifted. The contents were new...

And here is something my daughter and I made after seeing this on a blog somewhere. We bought Jolly Rancher flavored candy canes after christmas for like 10 cents a box, layed them in a heart shape and filled them with melted chocolate chips.  We put the melted chocolate in a ziploc bag, cut off the corner and squeezed it into the heart.  She held the heart together while I squeezed.  Then we added a lolipop stick and some colorful sprinkles and made valentines giveaways for all her friends. The kids loved them, being in Jr. High, food and candy are more appreciated than cards. It was easy and so cheap. A great way to repurpose leftover holiday candy. Another thing I do is buy after christmas candy like hersheys kisses and peanut butter cups. I sort out the colors, red, green gold and silver and use the gold and silver for New Years, the red for Valentines Day and the green for St. Patricks day. If you think ahead, you can really plan it so your party favors and little giftie treats cost almost nothing...

The handmade truffles recipe follows here:

Liquor Truffles

8 oz chocolate (I use the large dark chocolate bars from Trader Joe's)
1 cube of butter at room temperature
1/2 cup liquor (I used Macadamia Nut, but you can use Amaretto, Frangelico or Kaluah)
1 pound of chocolate for coating

Melt 8 oz of chocolate in double boiler.  If you don't have one, a metal bowl floated in a pot of boiling water will work just as well.  Remove from heat.  Be careful not to let ANY water come in contact with the chocolate or it will sieze up and glob together.

Vigorously beat butter in to melted chocolate until light and fluffy (mine never got light and fluffy, but well mixed and it was still ok)

Continue beating slowly and add liquor slowly to chocolate mixture.

Chill for 1-3 hours.  I did one hour in the freezer.

Dig a melon baller into the frozen mixture, creating balls and place in a bowl or on a wax paper lined baking sheet and re-freeze.  Melt rest of chocolate, and coat frozen truffle balls with melted chocolate.  I use 2 bamboo skewers.  I stab one into the top of the truffle, dip it, tap off the excess chocolate, and then set on the wax paper lined baking sheet, using the other skewer to hold it in place while I twist the other one out of the truffle..  You must work quickly and leave most of them in the freezer until ready to dip.  If you don't tap off the excess, you will have a large "foot" underneath your truffle where the excess chocolate will pool.  When ready to decorate, dip top into more melted chocolate (I used white) and then dip immediately into sprinkles.  Or cover skewer hole in top with a candy conversation heart or other festive decoration.  Place in paper candy cups, available in the treat aisle or at Michaels in the baking section.  These truffles are3 really yummy, but for adult consumption only.  I will post a non-alcoholic recipe later this week that is great for easter treats.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Playing Card ATC's

Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) are very popular at art retreats as trades. I know a lot of artists who trade these cards religiously. It is really cool, to have a little piece of art created by an artist you admire.

I like to use old playing cards as the base for my ATC's. Collect images from your stash that are the right proportion to use on a playing card. I use the decorated side of the card as the back, and put a sticker with my name, the date and if a series, the series number. On the face side of the card, I lightly sand the plastic coating off and gesso the card. I use white, clear or black gesso, depending on my mood that day. Then I use paint, ink, stamps etc to color the background. Sometimes I use a magazine image or patterned paper as the background. Then I collage the rest of the images on the background, finishing with some text cut from an old book.

These can be glued to the front of a handmade card and used to make a lovely greeting card. They can also be used in small frames for home decor. Try a few for yourself and discover how addicting they can be.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

One World One Heart

UPDATE****  The winners of my giveaway are...  Just Jenn  Designs, Bliss Angels and Electra.  I have notified all the winners by email.  Congratulations, and thanks so much to everyone who liked my stuff enough to enter my drawing, and a big thanks to those who are now following me.  I love having visitors, and plan on visiting all the blogs of the people who stopped by in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks again to everyone!

I am late to post this, but I am participating in the One World One Heart blog giveaway.  You can read about it here.  I have participated in  years past, and it is a great event.   I have met some really amazing people over the years through it.  Since this is the last one, I would like to be a part of it.  I will be giving away 3 prizes from the studio...

A journal made with recycled clothing, ribbons and notebooks.

A soldered glass pendant

A fused glass heart made with dichroic glass (much prettier in person)

All you have to do is post something in the comments section of this post.  Names will be drawn randomly and posted on the morning of the 18th, since the event ends on the 17th of February.

I am a mixed media artist living in Orange County California.  I recently moved from the San Francisco Bay Area, and I am still in transition.  I blog about art, travel, kid crafts, reuse crafts, decorating, and thoughtful musings about life in general.  Poke around my blog a bit and see what I am about.  Thanks so much for taking the time to visit!  I look forward to meeting many of you through your blogs in the coming weeks and months.  (I have found it takes a while to really "visit" all the blogs on here during the event)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Spa box made with recycled goods

This beautiful spa box was created with all reused materials. I started out with a pretty box that I could recover with beautiful gift wrap. It had stationery in it, and a cool removable lining that would hold all the spa materials perfectly. I deconstructed the box, and recovered it carefully with gift wrap glued down with soft gel medium. I like gel medium, but you can use wallpaper paste, or glue sticks. Liquid glues cause the gift wrap to bubble... Gel medium is perfect, doesn't wrinkle or bubble. I used a credit card to burnish it down well to the surfaces, and then used heavy gel medium to glue the box back together.

Take some used dryer sheets. Make sure all the softener is off the sheets. I run them through the washer once after using them to dry. This gets any residual softener smell off the sheets. Press them lightly with a low iron and set aside. In a glass bowl combine 1/2 cup of rock salt, 1/4 cup epsom salts, and 1/4 cup existing bath salts that you have laying around. Add a few drops of food coloring to tint the salts the desired color. Add a few drops of essential oil or perfume oil if you have it lying around. Scoop 1/8 cup of the salts onto a dryer sheet. Tie up into a tight bundle. Trim the top of the bundle into a round shape, tie a bow and finish up with a satin rose glued on with a glue gun.

Next, take some of those watch part tins or mini tins you have in your scrapbooking stash that held eyelets back in the day, and fill each one with different kinds of bath salts. I have TONS of different kinds of mud bath, clay mud mask, healing herbal bath etc. You can use epsom salts tinted different colors if you don't have any bath supplies at home. You can get a 1/2 gallon of epsom salts at the Dollar Store. I cut strips off of one of the dryer sheets and rolled it on my pants to create a shabby looking ribbon/twine. Glue a punched circle of the coordinating gift wrap on the top of the tin, then tie it up like a little package, finish off with satin rose. Write the name of the bath product on the bottom of the tin.  Now dig out those hotel toiletries you have laying in the bottom of the bathroom drawer, and cut matching paper to cover the existing labels. Glue the papers on to the toiletries.

Spray paint some poker chips with gold paint, punch a circle out and write the name of the product on the poker chip tag. You can cut circles out of cardstock or chipboard if you prefer. Tie label tags around the neck of the bottles, glue ribbons down with a dot of hot glue and embellish with roses.

Arrange items inside box, tie with a big bow and give to a friend who really needs some pampering. These gifts are always a big hit, and people are blown away that you made it all... Start looking for boxes and little containers at yard sales, and around your house that could be used for a similar project.