Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Room with a View

Here is the view from our balcony at The Water's Edge resort in Wildwood Crest, NJ.  When we were here a few years ago, we learned that this beach is rare in that it grows every year, rather than being eroded.  Apparently, the water used to come up just past those dunes in the foreground, but as you can see, now it is quite a trek out there to the real water's edge.

From our balcony, you can also see the pool and sun deck.  The balcony faces east and it's a great place to start the morning, enjoying the early sun and the view.
 Below is the view to the south where you can see the motel next door.  It is one of the kitchy ones with the plastic palm trees.  Mark & I have really been enjoying the ultra-hip retro architecture and decor on some of the motels from the late 50s and early 60s, known as the "doo-wop" style.  I'll post some more cool photos of those on another post.
Another great thing about this motel's location (besides proximity to the beach) is the sidewalk/promenade that runs right into the famous Wildwood Boardwalk only a short distance away.  In the mornings, lots of people are out jogging or biking, some in these rented surreys that can seat up to six people.  We brought along three bicycles and have managed to get a few rides in here and there.
But mostly, we've been spending time at the beach!  The water is very warm and the waves have been exciting, but not too rough.  We have three boogie boards with us, so the girls can all ride the waves together, and if one of them is out of the water, Mark & I get to have a go.  When we've had enough sun and salt water, we head back to the pool to rinse off, then up to the room for a snack and a nap.  Then it's out to the boardwalk or a restaurant for dinner.  Hard to believe we'll be heading back home tomorrow!  
One other tid-bit for today: Remember the Sketchbook Project I took part in in 2010-11?  One of the guys who runs it contacted me back in June and asked me to put together a tutorial for their blog to explain  how I re-bound my sketchbook using fabric pages.  They just posted it for today's "Tip-Jar Thursday" and you can see it by clicking here.  I didn't have enough photos from my original sketchbook for the tutorial so I had to make a mock-up using materials on hand.  Even, so I think it came out pretty good, considering this is my first real web tutorial.  Take a peek and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

More Garden Inspiration

 Here are the rest of the photos from Stonecrop Gardens last week.  Next post I'll have some photos of the beach to share!

Outdoor Inspiration

 Last week, after the girls went another round with me cleaning out closets, I gave them a break and took them to Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring.  Here are a few inspirational photos from the outing.  I have many more, but the wifi at the motel we are staying at is very slow.  I'll see if I can add them in later.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More Surface Design

 Next week we will be away at the beach and my FANE group meets the following week.  I've been kind of stalling on the next layer of the "renga" surface design round-robin we are doing because I just wasn't sure what to add to this fabric.  The person before me sketched in a landscape as you see above. I still think some members are getting confused about the exercise and are trying to add to a work of art with a focal point rather than simply experimenting with various surface design techniques.   After pondering how to continue, I decided I wanted to back away from the landscape direction, if possible, and try to add just a layer of design.  Since I already worked with acrylic paints twice so far, I figured I'd better try something else.

I bought myself a bunch of Shiva oil paint sticks several years ago because many artists in the group and in QA magazine were raving about them.  I like them, but I'm not totally wild about them for a few reasons.  They are kind of pricey, and to have any assortment of colors, you could spend a lot.  They also need time to cure, sometimes as much as a few weeks or even a month, so you have to plan that time into your project.  And every time you use them, you have to peel away a "skin" that forms over the crayon, which seems like such a waste of product.  But since I haven't used them in a while, I decided to break them out again and play around.  I found this book containing texture plates for making crayon rubbings that used to belong to one of the girls, so I flipped through it and chose a few textures that might work with the fabric.  I picked out three paintsticks, one dark green, one light green, and one turquoise metallic.
 I used three different textures: one on the upper portion of the fabric, one in the center, and another towards the bottom.  It still looks very much like a landscape, but at least the originator won't be completely forced to go in that direction if she doesn't want to.
I thought maybe my own surface design fabrics could use a little texture as well.  I added some of the dark green with a sort of petal-shaped texture plate to this fabric after I painted in some copper acrylic paint accents with a brush.
And I added some wavy lines with the turquoise metallic paintstick and another texture plate.  This fabric could probably use some more layers, as there are only two here, but I'll have to ponder that a little more.  I wonder what I'll create with all these new and unique fabrics...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Jewelry and Old

 Here are two of the new bracelets I finished last week.  Above is my tropical "Margaritaville" bracelet featuring a mini margarita charm right in the middle, as well as a little bit of beach in a bottle, a flip-flop, some glass fish beads, and a little shrink plastic charm reminding the wearer to "chillax."  I love the way it turned out.  Chelsea saw it and loved the colors, so I ended up making a second similar one for her (without the margarita!).

Below is a more sedate version of a beach charm bracelet:  plenty of reminders of the water but all in shades of aqua (click on the photos to see a close-up).  They are both on silver-plated chains with toggle closures.  Maybe I'll bring some with me when we go to the Jersey Shore next week and see if any of the boutiques might be interested in carrying them next summer...
 By the way, how do you like my photo staging for these pieces?  I wanted to make the pieces look like they just washed up on shore.  I'll take some without the sand as well, so all the details are visible.  Below is a pair of earrings I made from the wooden beads I dyed and decorated.  I really like the unusual look of the beads combined with the filagree caps and the little fantail bead on the bottom.
Finally, here is the first piece of "art jewelry" I ever bought for myself (maybe the only one!).  I got it in a shop in Durham, NC more than 20 years ago.  It is made of brass and originally had more of a verdigris patina to it. When I saw it, I just fell in love with the handmade quality and diversity of all the charms.  The little oval charm to the right of the bar part of the clasp has the artist's signature on it.  His name is Lochlin Smith and I recently found his website.  He lives and works in Vermont and is still creating unique jewelry like this.  I still enjoy wearing it, although now I have quite a collection of charm bracelets to choose from!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Another Busy Weekend

This morning there was a hint of fall in the air.  I snapped these shots while I was out for my morning walk with Cassie.  It seems that summer is quickly coming to a close and I'm trying to make the most of each day left.
But last night summer was still in full swing as we celebrated Chelsea's 14th birthday with a bunch of her friends.  We spent most of the day Saturday setting up, preparing, and organizing the evening's events.  She requested some special-effect lighting and loud dance music, so my husband did his best to accomodate.  He worked frantically to connect speakers to our various digital music sources and hung  black lights outside under our upper deck for this fun splash-drumming activity with fluorescent (washable) paint.  If big smiles, big messes and loud noise are any indication, then this turned out to be quite a successful party!  About ten girls spent the night downstairs in our family room so the fun went on for a long time.
 After all that fun, there was plenty of clean-up to go around, so after all the guests left, I continued my mission to get the house in good order before school starts up again by steam-cleaning the family room carpeting and doing tons of wash (lots of wet towels after they washed off the paint in the hot tub!).  Mark took down all the lights and speakers he hung up yesterday and of course the girls pitched in to help get the house back in order.
Tomorrow starts a new week and once again, I'm taking some time off to continue getting organized.  I've already gone through several closets, underbed boxes, kitchen drawers and cabinets, but there's plenty more de-junking to do and I'm so lucky I can take some time off to get it done!  Of course, I've managed to squeeze in a little creative time here and there, so I'll have a few new things to share next time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mid-Month Catch-Up

It's hard to believe it's already the middle of August and my busy summer schedule is starting to wind down.  July is a very busy month at the library because we do programming for school-age children as well as the preschool programs we do year round.  This summer, as in the past several, I co-taught a craft class for elementary age kids as well as a "Dangles and Bangles" jewelry making class for  the middle and high-school crowd.  Not only do I have more classes to prepare for and teach, I also have my own girls at home that need to be dropped off at camp before work and picked up afterward.  Now all of that is done, so I can breathe a huge sigh of relief and pat myself on the back for surviving another season!   Although I didn't have a lot of creative time or energy for the past month, I did manage to whip up some new polymer clay earrings for myself and my co-workers.  We end the library's summer reading program with a big ice cream party so I thought these would be fun to wear.  My partners in Youth Services got chocolate and vanilla soft serve cones (but I was in such a hurry I forgot to photograph them!).  My favorite (obviously) is mint chocolate chip!

Even though I didn't have energy for creating,  I managed to get into a few great summer books after work.  Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews was one of my favorite books this summer.  It's about a group of women who've known each other since grade school, but now, in their thirties, rent a house on the Outer Banks for the month of August.  I think I chose it because I most desperately wish I could spend the month of August on the beach!  This book has a little bit of everything - mystery and suspense as well as humor and romance.  A very nice virtual escape!

I also enjoyed How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue, below, about a young woman opening a cupcake bakery with a childhood friend, who is financing the new store.  The two have some past history to work out, which adds some drama and holds your interest throughout the story.  Another nice diversion. 
Cupcakes really seem to be big these days, so for my middle daughter's birthday yesterday, we baked these for dessert.  Chelsea loves color and when we opened the box of 4 neon food colors to tint the frosting, she wanted to use them all!  She also has lots of fun experimenting with our makeshift pastry bag and tips, as you can see.  She is having a full-blown teen party on Saturday evening, complete with special-effect lighting (a strobe light AND a black light!), neon paints on tee-shirts, trampoline jumping, and maybe even hot-tub dipping.  (Hope we survive...!)
 Finally, I created one more prayer flag this week.  I had to work another Saturday at the library and I anticipated it would be a slow day, so I gathered some scrap fabrics we had lying around and came up with this:
 Now there are four:

 I hope I have time to make one or two more before the summer officially ends.  For the rest of the month I will be spending a lot less time at work and a lot more time at home getting organized!  We've also managed to squeeze in a beach vacation to the Jersey shore the last week of the month, so I have that to look forward to!  Thanks for stopping by!  Leave me a comment and let me know how your summer's going!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Summer Refreshments

 I started playing around with polymer clay again and came up with a few new tropical Margaritaville charms.  I made a cane out of lime green clay and sliced it to come up with the above lime slices.  Don't they look good enough to eat?

I also studied the photo of the margaritas on Inedible Jewelry and did some web research on using translucent polymer clay.  A little secret I picked up, which did seem to help, is that if you drop the baked items immediately into cold water after removing them from the oven, the clay will cure clearer.  I tried it, and I like the results - these margaritas are much improved on my first attempt.  I also mixed the translucent clay with the lime green clay to form the top portion of the glass.  Makes it look more like a liquid.  Now I'll feel more confident putting these on bracelet!
 While I was at it, I thought I might play around with some other summer beverages.  I have friend who prefers pina coladas.  What do you think of these?
Makes me want to get out the blender and mix up a few for myself!  Maybe later (it's only 11 am!)  Have a great weekend, everyone!