Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photo Therapy

Every day I pass a neighborhood with beautiful landscaping at the entrance and the way the sprinklers mist it in the morning and the rising sun lights it, it's just begging to be photographed! So early Saturday morning I set out to get a shot of it.

No sprinklers! Our area just put voluntary water rationing in place.

I wondered what other interesting pictures might be out there in this terrible dry spell we're in.

 I stopped at the wetland preserve where there's a bike/running trail. I've never seen it this dry! See the comparison?

 Next door to the trail was this great looking old barn. (Great looking in that vintage sort of way). It's disappeared under a tent of vines! Figures weeds will grow when nothing else will. That snow looks positively refreshing.

 Here's another view of the wetlands. Not so wet at the moment.

I heard a sad chirping and saw 2 cranes walking around the dry bed. This one found a puddle.

Some color amongst the dried up weeds.

On the opposite side of the trail, it's a little greener. This is the side where the vine-covered barn is. Must be better soil over there!

I love this shot of broken glass. Too bad it was left in the trail's parking area. Why do people have to be slobs?

Oh Crepe Myrtle! At least someone loves this wretched heat. Thank you for giving us a punch of cheerful color in the dregs of summer!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Blue Fairy

This was a "sneak peek" I posted on FB of my current project.

And here she is, all finished!

My art-doll club has a challenge coming up to make a character from a book for our August display at the library. The doll & book will be displayed together. This is a combination of patterns from Patti Culea's book. (I would use a different pattern next time. I think the head is too small & hands too big).

This project cost less than $3. I had everything on hand, including the trims & glitters. That's why a girl needs a craft room - so she can gradually accumulate all kinds of fabrics, trims, ephemera, and art medium. Then when you want to make something, you already have the supplies! So use those craft store coupons every week and save even more on your future projects! Makes sense, doesn't it girls?

I've just been dying to make these glitzy wings from a Jean Bernard tutorial (available online here). Also been wanting to make another fairy. So I looked & looked for a book with a fairy's picture in it that I liked, instead of making something I found in a book.

Here's some highlights from the process. I'll mention some of the things I had to do differently. Jean's instructions showed how to make wings using fiber optics strands between 2 sheets of painted tissue. After all the glittery pretties are added, it would really sparkle when the fiber optics are turned on. She said the same thing could be done without the optics, which is what I did.

Warning:  I think the fiber optics add some support to the wings. I had to add a wire support at the end of the project so the wings wouldn't flop back. Then again, these wings are much bigger than the ones shown in the tutorial.

Perhaps the solution, if you're making larger wings, is to build support on the wire frame. Rather than just a wire outline of the wing edge, add some support structure with a slightly heavier gauge wire.

I used some silk dyes that I had on hand & painted the tissues. (warning #2 - don't use heat-set dyes. Every time the material comes in contact with moisture guess what happens. And wear gloves.) By "tissues" I mean regular 2-ply facial tissue. You'll need two; one ply each for the front & back of each wing.

I won't repeat all of Jean's instructions. That would be an artist copyright infringement of some kind. I'll just tell you where I deviated. I made a paper pattern to work from, then formed wire into a 3-piece wing shape.

I covered both sides of the wire frame with Grip glue and laid on the dyed, uncut tissue, then covered with the other tissue. Once it dried, I tore the excess tissue around the wire frame. This gave a feather effect to the edges.

The glued frame creates texture on the wings. Jean suggests finger-rubbing a powder metallic paint on the ridges to highlight. I had some Perfect Pearls & I think it worked fine. I love the effect!

Then the fun really begins! Per instructions, you make a mixture of glue (I used Grip) and sparklies like micro-beads, glass glitter, fine beads. I used pearls and gold beads also. (I should've thrown a few rhinestones in there too. Phooey - I didn't think of til now.) No matter; the glue mix really looks gem-like once it dries. Spread the mixture all over the wings. While it's wet, sprinkle some fine glitter all over it for added shimmer. The more mixture you add to your project, the more gem-encrusted it looks.

This is a sample I made before diving into the bigger ones. Jean also suggests taking silky fibers and dragging them thru the glue mixture. The "gems" stick to the fibers and you drape them all over the wings. It gives a very wispy-ethereal, magical look. I loved this technique and plan to use it for the wings on an angel my sister has asked me to make. This could be done for crowns & masks, too.

It always feels good to finish a doll. Now I have to clean my craft room - it looks like a tornado went thru here - and then start on little Miss Scarlett's doll. Can you guess what her theme color will be?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Bird Tale

It's not often you get to see a robin's nest up close!

A nest was built in our backyard redbud tree, which is only about 10' tall right now.

Only one baby was in the nest and we got the chance to get some closeup pictures.

It was a hoot watching Mama & Daddy try to shoo Blu away from the tree. They were very protective.

Getting sleepy.

But there's not a happy ending to the story. We went out this evening and the nest was empty. We don't know what happened.

Isn't it amazing that a little bird builds all this with just her beak?