Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Collabrative Art

One of the easiest ways to entertain my grand kids is with a sheet of stickers. It's true.....isn't it?!! Kids love stickers.

They get a strip of stickers when we go to Trader Joes. The dentist gives out stickers. Teachers give out stickers. They are little bits of joy!

Somewhere, sometime, for some reason, I bought a box full of round stickers. Whatever they cost me has paid back 10-fold when I need more time without distraction on a project!

What amazes me is that the kids have moved from placing the stickers on paper to arranging them on the furniture, on the carpet, on beds, walls and each other. And no matter how well I think I have cleaned them up, they keep reappearing in my hair, on my clothes, in my car, on my elbow, etc. As I sat down to write this post I noticed one on my chair. I'm not surprised!

I came across the most amazing photos and video of an art installation at the Queensland Museum of Modern Art from January of last year. It's a brilliant example of interactive art and I love that they let the kids get involved!! This is what happens when you give thousands of stickers to thousands of kids and give them permission to stick them all over the room!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Creative Imagination: Cardboard Boxes

I sometimes wish for simpler times when imagination influenced our days rather than electronic devices that distract us and absorb our attention.

When my kids ask me what I did when I was young, I can ramble on about spending all day with the neighborhood kids and playing games based on our imagination.

My dad and his brother owned an electrical wholesale supply business in Pasadena. In the back of the shop was a shipping desk with different size boxes. Every once in awhile my dad would come across some extra large boxes and bring them home. When he did .... we knew we were in for a treat.

With a roll of brown packaging tape and a carton cutter, these boxes were turned into cardboard houses. When he taped several boxes together they because multi-room cardboard forts!!

The most amazing transformations of these boxes happened at Halloween. I wish I had photos of when my parents went to a costume party as robots!! They each wore a large box that was covered with switches and buttons that activated lights and buzzers.

Another year, which was a really cool example of how my dad could transform cardboard into just about anything, what when he built a "PF flyer" tennis shoe. Yup....a shoe! My mom ripped up an old sheet and sewed it together to make a continuous strip that we used to lace the shoe. My sister, a neighborhood friend and I each fit inside. Pretty cool huh?!!!!

I may not be as creative with cardboard as my dad, but when a large box of shipping supplies were delivered to my home last week I got the craving to turn it into a cardboard house! My tools....shipping tape and a carton cutter! Imagination never gets old!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Little Something New from Mama Bleu Designs

I've been asked over and over again to make a smaller bag that you can drop your cell phone, license and a few personal items in and head out on some errands. And another "must have" request I get almost every week is for a wrist strap.

Add up these requests + stir in some Mama Bleu Design style = these fun little 7" x 5.5" bags!!

~ Perfect for running errands!
~ Great gift idea for young girls!
~ Always nice as bridesmaid or flower girl gifts!
~ Irresistibly cute fashion accessory for any occasion!

Monday, October 21, 2013

DIY: Studio Chair Makeover

I have a fondness for old things especially when they once belonged to a family member. This rusty, paint splattered bar stool style chair was used by my grandparents. I have wonderful memories of working on projects with them in their garage/workshop. If my memory serves me right, this chair was there too.

Not that I needed another project to work on but I loved the idea of using this chair in my studio. All it needed was a face lift.

Once I removed the chair frame from the seat cushion I could work more easily on each section. I sanded the entire metal surface of the chair to remove dirt, rust and old paint. After wiping it down with a clean cloth I gave it a coat of grey primer and then a white finish coat.

Next was the seat cushion. I scrubbed the vinyl to get it as clean as possible and left it in tact because it was in good shape. All I had to do was remove the disintegrating paper from the underside and start attaching the new fabric. It is best to use a canvas weight fabric that is made especially for upholstery or draperies. I had just enough of this fabric left over from another project and thought the bright floral design would be perfect for my studio.

 I would have preferred to use an electric staple gun to attach the upholstery but we don't own one. These aren't as convenient to use but upholstery tacks work well and you don't need any special tools to make them work....just a hammer and some elbow grease! My best advice is to work slowly to make sure you are creating a smooth surface on the front side of the cushion.

I trimmed away the excess fabric and reattached the metal frame. Another tip here is to take photos of your project as you are disassembling it. I can tell you from experience that it comes in handy when you can't remember how everything is suppose to go back together!

I was able to finish this project in one afternoon and started putting it to full use the next day when my grand daughter did some modeling for me!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Peek Into My Sketchbook

I'm a sucker for fall colors! I love it when the trees start to blush in hues of orange and red. Most of all, I love the look of berries! While on nature walks they always catch my eye. They are one of those bits of nature that I can't get enough of.

While we were in Indiana I went on several walks to collect leaves and pods and berries. Their colors and shapes are fascinating to me! Here is a bit of what I captured in my sketchbook on the last afternoon of our vacation in South Bend.

Friday, October 11, 2013

DIY: Tin Can Jack O'Lanterns

I finally pulled out some of my autumn decor over the weekend and came across a tin can jack o'lantern that I made years ago. This little guy is easy to make and fun to add fill with your favorite candy or fall foliage!

You'll need to retrieve a few tin cans from your recycle bin for this project. Any size will do. Make sure they are washed and thoroughly dried before you start.

The easiest way to paint your cans is with spray paint. Since the paint dries quickly, this is a project you can complete in just a few hours. It is always best to consult the instruction label on the can and use it outdoors. For best results, first spray your cans with a primer and then with your orange finish coat. I found that I should have used a white primer. I probably wouldn't have had to spray so many coats of orange to cover the gray color.

I tend to save the plastic trays that fresh produce is packaged in. They come in handy for a lot of different projects. I used one here to create a stencil for the jack o'lantern face. Use a fine tip permanent marker to draw the pumpkin face details and cut away the inside sections with an exacto knife. Be sure to put a cutting mat underneath your work.

Once your stencil is made, use a dark colored liquid acrylic to stencil the face design onto the can and have a tin can jack o'lantern!

I had a little bit of fun with the paper that I used to spray the cans on!! Just couldn't resist doing a bit of doodling on it! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Etsy Science: Navigating Change

No matter what part of our life that is can often feel uncomfortable and downright unbearable. I know of several people who avoid change because it's just too hard for them to deal with. We are familiar with the miraculous metamorphose of a caterpillar. How would we ever enjoy the beauty of a butterfly if a caterpillar avoided the coming change, the transformation processes?

I've been reading lots of negative talk about the changes that Etsy is/has been/will be doing. To some these changes are an irritant. To others it is reason to just ship. My philosophy......."the grass is not always green on the other side".

If you are an Etsy shop owner, or if you are considering opening a shop, I want to challenge you to step back and ponder a few things before making any judgement calls about recent events.

I am not an expert on the ins and outs of running a large multi-faceted online business. I have a small shop with almost 200 items listed. Taking care of my small business can be daunting sometimes. I do research. I network. I am constantly learning how to improve my products and my service. I take actions with the intention of building a stronger, better business.

Needless to say, I'm sure that Etsy is doing the same.......1000 fold! From the outside, with limited knowledge of what it takes to make this big "Etsy machine" work successfully, it is easy to be a back seat driver!

There are many companies who were extremely successful at one time but neglected to look forward at changing technology and trends. Names like Eastman Kodak and Blockbuster have gone by the wayside because they did not embrace change.

Also, as business owners we need to remember that there are things we are responsible for and should not assume that Etsy, or anyone else for that matter, will take care of for us. If we had a brick-and-morter business (a physical store), what would we need to do make it successful? Advertise? Network?

Even though our Etsy business is not an physical store, we need to treat it as if it is. Invite the outside world into your shop through social networking. Investigate how to use facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram and other social platforms to share your products, your creative process and your story.

So in short.....what am I saying? I am reminding myself, and each of you, that Etsy has been successful for a reason. Even though we don't understand recent events and don't like change doesn't mean that something is wrong. Let's choose to embrace an optimistic attitude.

I am also saying that we can take action. Look for ways to enhance and promote your business through social networking. This is a business practice that should be embraced whether change is pending or not. But, for some, this may be the perfect excuse to jump in and start.

I appreciate this quote from Zig Ziglar.....
"Be Positive. Positive thinking with let you do everything better than negative thinking!"