Category Archives: Projects

A belated bit of show and tell–New years greeting

After wrestling with a complicated New Year’s greeting project, a scrap of paper on my work table turned it all into something much simpler, and somehow more satisfying. And who doesn’t need another nice bookmark?

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Nemo Did What?!

Nothing like a winter snowstorm (apparently courtesy of my cat, Nemo, who is taking the blame for much of this event) to give one time to get back to one’s blogging. I haven’t been idle, though, and I think it’s time to show you some of what I’ve been up to.

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Winter haiku lanterns with celestial bodies–stars and moons, galaxies and planets.  Oh, and a few choice lines, first from Basho:

Come, let’s go
snow viewing
until we’re buried

And the second, from Issa:

No talents
also no sins
winter seclusion

What more do you need when you’re snowbound?

Tea bowls on a tea bag

Tea bowls on teabag by floating ink
Tea bowls on teabag, a photo by floating ink on Flickr.

Remember the old riddle? You throw away the outside, cook the inside, then eat the outside and throw away the inside? At least, I think that’s how it went. The answer, of course–corn.

My newest art project has a similar bent. You throw away the outside (the tea bag wrapper), cook the inside (steeping the tea bag), put aside the inside (the now wet tea bag), and throw away the inside.

I’ve been having a wonderful time rescuing tea bags, hanging them to dry (on my art clothesline across the kitchen fireplace), then unfolding them, dumping out the shreds of tea inside (do dry first, and throwing out the old tea afterwards so that you get the most color out of the leaves and onto the fabric bag), then saving the tea bag paper for printing projects. And, yes, I can already hear some of you saying “Throw out the used tea leaves? Never!” I suppose they’d be good for dying and could also just be composted.

To gaze even further into my own navel, I’ve chosen to start with a print of–you guessed it–tea bowls.  A similar print ended up being incorporated into the encaustic painting I showed back in September. If you look at the larger version on my flickr page. at the top edge just to the left of the green ribbon, you can see (upside down) the tea bowl image printed on a tea bag. And again–faintly, almost directly below it, but right side up.

I’m also sort of digging this rabbit–he’s one of my favorite hand-carved stamps of all time and I’ve used him in many projects.

I’m going to continue to play with this tea bag paper–making a photocopy directly onto the tea bag is in the works, with a success rate (success being defined as not totally gumming up the copier) of about 35% so far.  I’m also piddling with some different kinds of tea, different tea bag fabrics and paper (I’ve got a little collection of silk tea bags I’m eager to try), and different lengths of time leaving the bags in contact with the paper.

Compare the tea bowl image at the top of this post, for instance, with the one below left (which stayed scrunched up with the wet tea leaves in it for almost a week), and take a look at the right-hand image, too–I’ve got some ideas for using the teabags cut up, too. If nothing else, it gives me lots of excuses to drink plenty of tea!

Semi-tutorial: Spiffy quick birthday banner

Second child celebrated a birthday recently, and invited 46,342 45 friends to her party (ok, not even quite that many, but several brought dates and possibly several wandered in off the street, so that’s more or less the actual head count). Given the square footage of our house, that’s . . . well, by my calculation, that was about 5 teenagers per square foot.

Happily, they were all reasonably well behaved, and polite, and most of them brought something yummy to eat to add to what we’d prepared (I’d show you pictures, but . . . 46,342 kids versus a number of pans of pasta and chili and ravioli and mac and cheese and pie and cookies and cupcakes and so on, not to mention an ocean of soda and enough chips and candies to pave the way to the moon and . . .the math will clearly demonstrate why there’s nothing left to photograph).

Anyway, about 2 hours before the party I got it into my head that there should be some kind of birthday souvenir for the guest of honor to keep, so I whipped up the banner you see above–neatly hung across the stone face of the kitchen fireplace. Yeah, it gets a little messy over to the right, when it has to pass by and over a hanging bag of onions and a big box of cat food.

I grabbed a yard of lightweight canvas and laid it out across the washer and dryer in the mud room (after pinning a note on the door warning her highness to keep out). I folded it as you see here, so that there would be two fold edges from which to cut pennant shapes.

I quickly gathered up some gesso and several tubes of cheap watercolor, a brayer, a big old paintbrush, and some odds and ends (soda bottle caps, some of those fake credit cards they send you in the mail, a paper plate) and set about painting the canvas in broad strokes, adding some imprints in contrasting colors of the bottle caps and making lines and squiggles with the cards. This is what I got–you can see it here having a quick dry on the clothesline (hint: a windy day is a boon)

Now back to the cutting table (aka the washer and dryer), where I cut the canvas into pennants. The more geometry savvy among you will have figured out that this left me with a bunch of triangles with an edge fold that would drape nicely over the 5 yards of cotton cording I bought for hanging them up but also with some pizza slice shaped pieces with no backs, and some backs with no painted fronts.

Remember, though, this was a quick-and-dirty operation–a few deft moves with a stapler connected the pizza slices to their backs, and I was able to drape all of the pennant shapes over the line. Where they looked like the top photo above.

I brought out markers and pens and crayons and interrupted the din merriment several times to ask everyone to–at some point in the evening–come and leave their mark–a message, a piece of art, a scribbled birthday greeting–and spread the banner on the kitchen table. Kids wandered in and out all night and had a great time signing and drawing and writing poems and advice and loving words, and the birthday girl had a great time the next morning reading and oohing and ahhing over all that love.

I knew I would not be allowed to photograph the thus-embellished banner after it was done, so I was glad I got a few detail shots of the painted fabric before I cut it up. Here are a couple–you can see more (and slightly more detail about making the banner) on my flickr site.

Now, what can we celebrate next so I have an excuse to make another one?

Ninja girls rule

In need of a little birthday gift (actually, a nifty bit of packaging for a milestone birthday gift for my niece, I decided to make a little pinch purse to hold the actual present (which–wink wink–is flat and green and foldable and features engravings of dead presidents).

I turned (again) to my stash of linen towels and decided to do a little freezer paper print.  Of what? I wanted it to be both a little girly and sort of urban chic.  Ultimately I was inspired by these ninja kokeshi at Temple7e. Do go and look and scroll down to see all of his fabulous takes on kokeshi (and other subjects). It looks like he does custom work, too–go see!

So here’s my ninja girl pinch purse. Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Do they call it fall because that’s what acorns do?

A quickie. I’ve been seeing these all over the internet and finding them very appealing. Just about every art and craft blogger is making them. So, you know . . . my mom doesn’t have to know that. She’ll think I’m very clever when she opens a box full of these:

Another notebook project

This one is an ongoing experiment. I came across a video tutorial for making these little perfect-bound notebooks a long time ago, bookmarked it, and put it on the back burner. Today the need for a new notebook arose, as it so often does around here. This is one of those projects that are just as easy to make in multiples, so I made two. It’s a great way to make use of old photos, too.

The tutorial is a good, clear, easy one from PhotoJojo, and making these two notebooks took about half an hour. I’m curious about how well they’ll hold up–perfect binding can be somewhat less than perfect–so I’m giving the candy necklaces one to Second Child and will throw the other in my own bag and we’ll see how they look in a couple of weeks. Place your bets.