"I do believe in an everyday sort of magic...the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone." Charles de Lint

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Photo Collage for all Occasions!

Like I mentioned before...once I got started making these photo collages....I didn't stop. They make a great personal gift...capturing a special occasion or place. The possibilities are endless! I generally frame them in the simple black frames where the glass snaps in the front. Not only are they readily available in many sizes but they're very reasonable...and the frames just fade away. These are photographs of the collages so there are flashbulb reflections and the colors are a little off...but you'll get the idea.

I made this one for my son, Sam, commemorating his trip to Greece his senior year in high school.  I had one tiny spot on the left to fill in so I used the tip of the wing of the plane.  These are the little details that I love...and are possible when making them by hand.

This one was made for my son Nate...honoring some of the memorable...and funny moments of his life.  I added some memorabilia such as a ticket from his first concert and Red Sox game, some of his childhood artwork...and his baseball card from little league. It hangs in my craft room until he has a bigger place.

This one was made for my friend Patsy...she frequently hosts stitching weekends at her get-a-way home on the coast of Maine.  The house sits on a point with water on three sides. It's one of my favorite places to connect and recharge!

This photo is a little fuzzy so it's hard to see the detail.  I like the little trio of lights in the middle...one of which is the cupola on their barn.  

The small cabin at the bottom is where we used to stay on the property before Patsy and Brian built the house.

At some point there will be more...and better pictures of this beautiful place.

I spent a weekend with my sister, Marilyn, one fall and we visited a pumpkin farm. I always welcome the fall colors and had fun putting this together for her.

Take note of the two polka dotted pumpkins in the middle...this was Marilyn's idea.  We spent quite a bit of time that weekend looking for an apple corer like the one found here. We didn't have any luck but I later found one on line. Using the apple corer you take plugs from each pumpkin and trade them. Such fun!

This was a gift to my sister, LaVonn, and her husband, Tim, and features views from their farm in Wisconsin.  It's hard to tell...but there are several partial views of some funky welded iron sculptures made from junk by their son Ben for 4-H.

There are more...but the last one I will share I made for my brother Rich before he passed away. He bought the farm we grew up on after my parents died and made it his home with his wife Carol, and their two boys, Henry and Charlie.  There are views up, down, and across the road we played and rode our bikes on. We used to play a silly game called "hide behind the three trees" in the front yard. (lower left corner)  Rich loved his garden and always grew pumpkins...he would carve their initials in the young pumpkins and they would scar over...kind of a pumpkin tattoo. Right under the pumpkin is chewing tobacco drying in a shed.  We spent hours and hours working in the tobacco fields.
I miss you Rich!

The Readers Calendar

For the last two years I have given my sister-in-law, Liz, one of my 4 x 6 digital calendars.  She collects readers....photos of people reading as well as figurines...so that was the perfect theme for her calendars. Her birthday is in September...so her calendar goes from October through September.

Here is a sampling of some of my favorites from the past two years.

Most of the images I use for these calendars are found on Pinterest.  I have not sold the calendars...I have just given them as gifts.  I do not have the sources where the images came from and I apologize for that.  I am mindful that they are someone's beautiful artwork and I am grateful.  If you are one of the artists I would love to give you credit.  Or if you do not want them posted here...I will gladly remove this post.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Photo Collage, Just the Beginning

I know many commercial places offer photo collaging...but I enjoy making them by hand. It all started with my friend, Becky, a few years back....and I haven't stopped. For years her husband, David, had been taking photos of her rose and flower gardens and beautiful sunsets and views from the boat on the lake. And, she and I had been redecorating her main floor and she wanted a place to hang some of David's photos. Becky gave me a stack of photographs and I got to work cutting and arranging to make these photo collages.  We created a gallery wall going down the basement stairs...to the disco man cave.  I love the way it turned out!

I used snippets of sunsets to frame sunsets and roses to frame roses.

We added small whole photos to give your eye a place to rest and help with the flow and design.

I especially like the simplicity of this one of Emily and her friend. I cut the photo into a grid and spread it out on black card stock.

Emily is the owner of "Selma" the sheep found here.

Stay tuned for a few more of my favorite photo collages.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Connecting With My Mom...A Shared Journal of Sorts

I wasn't sure whether I should write about this little red book....but the more I thought about it...the timing of rediscovering it....and the relevance to what I am promoting in this blog....I decided to go ahead.

I was delighted...and a little emotional yesterday when I came across this little book I put together for my parents in 1981...just a few months after I got marriedI.  I had finally grown up and officially left the farm to start my new life with Paul.  It was filled with silly poems and memories of growing up in a big family.  It was pretty simple and not very artistic...but it didn't need to be. It was my way, at that time, of saying thank you to my parents for giving me a good start in life.

A bit sappy?  Probably...

                        ...but I still believe these same things almost 34 years later.

The very best part about rediscovering this book was remembering how my mom used some of the blank pages at the end. She wrote a little thank you note and quoted a few scriptures and poems. She also included a few pictures that were important to her and tucked in my father's obituary. He died just after Christmas that year...and she was starting a new life on her own.

My mom died about 6 years later and I miss her dearly. There is so much I would love to chat about with her...so many stories I would love to share.

I am glad this little book went full circle and I have it back. It's a "shared journaling" treasure.

My mom and her nine children.  She tucked this 
into the book...taken on the day of my dad's 
funeral...the last day of that year.

One Final Note
Long before I started my shared journaling, my mother-in-law, Margie, and my sister-in-law, Liz, had been writing in a shared journal...and they still are today. They trade one book back and forth and share memories, reflections, and pictures. They comment...and sometimes correct what the other has written about...but that is part of the plan.  What a treasure that book will be!  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Not Your Average Marble

When I posted about my bowl of art marbles...I knew I would share another special marble in my collection. But first I have to tell a little back story.

I love the  glasswork of Nocholas Kekic.  I have a couple of his "squarebles" that I display on my kitchen window sill. They look like ice cubes and are filled with beautiful patterns of colored class.

My friend Anita and I attended "Craft Boston" a few years ago.  It's a beautiful show in the city featuring all kinds of amazing arts and crafts...most of which I can't afford...but I am always inspired and it's fun to look.  As we were making the rounds I spotted Nicholas' beautiful glass and had to stop...then I spotted the marble.

As you can see from the picture...it's a big marble...the size of a baseball. Nicholas had also created a concave glass base that allowed the marble to be spun like a top. Sold! I love tops and I love marbles so it was a match made in heaven. (It may not surprise you that I have a small top collection...my sister Angie's is much more impressive.)

Part two...or is it three...of the story...sorry...we're almost there.  I decided to make a video tape of the marble spinning thinking I would post it.  Funny thing is I had been taking little videos on my camera for several years and had not downloaded one.  I knew they were there...but never took the time to figure out how to retrieve them...never had a reason to.

Listening to the voice of my son, Nate, that rattles around in my head..."just Google it." Long story short I succeeded getting the videos onto my computer...but it took over an hour because I had a few years worth to download.  I wasn't able to get the actual video on this page but did get it on youtube...so click the the link below the picture to watch. My husband said that no one would actually watch it to the end...it spins for 2 minutes 20 seconds.  Go ahead...prove him wrong.

 Not Your Average Marble!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Shared Journaling With a Dear Friend

This was taken on the coast of Maine
when Becky came for a visit.
Several years ago my childhood friend, Becky, and I started a shared journal project. We decided we would trade a more traditional journal where we shared memories, thoughts, and stories about what we were up to.  We agreed it would have an art component...but that part was optional.  It would be a good place to put a doodle or a snippet of something fun...in between our thoughts and stories.

There were no rules, no expectations, and no judgement.

We started with one journal going back and forth but quickly decided we needed two going at the same time...so we each always had one.  At some random point in time we traded.

It was a little weird at the beginning...I had never kept a diary or a journal.  I started a few...but always abandoned them after a short time. But in this journal I was writing TO someone....someone who I had nearly a lifetime of shared experiences...and that made a difference. Becky and I had known each other since we were five years old having both grown up on farms in Edgerton, Wisconsin. We raised two kids at the same time, we both were teachers, and shared similar interests and hobbies...so we had a lot to talk about.

We have 4 or 5 full journals at this point over several years. We have taken a break...but we're sure we will pick it back up again.  It's a good thing.

This was an entry I made back in 2010...no, it doesn't matter what happens to these journals or if anyone else cares about them...and no, we will not run out of things to say.  It's about joy...and sometimes sorrow...mostly it's about connecting!

Thanks Becky!

My next journal sits ready when it's the right time to start again....even with a few little snippets I had to put somewhere. Don't you love the puzzle punch?

The First Big Snowfall

Don't you just
love the first big
snowfall of
the season?

"In the falling of the snow there is hope for today, a promise for tomorrow, and peace for the future.  For in the stillness of snow...
all things are possible."

Samuel L. Barrett

Saturday, January 24, 2015

JOYFUL Connecting!

This photo of porcelain berries was taken 
on one of our morning walks...most
likely our friend Janet was with us.
I have a great story about these 
for another time.
Joy comes from a conversation I had a couple of mornings ago with my friend Anita while we were on a morning walk. She told me she is starting her 4th year of a shared project with her daughter Becky...an idea that bubbled out the enthusiasm I have for my shared journal experiences. I absolutely love what they are doing!

Each month they both use a 3 by 5 card to document thoughts and snippets of their month...a quote, a ticket, a recipe, a receipt...anything! Sometimes they do just one card a month...sometimes 3 or 4. There are only two rules:  It has be on a 3 by 5 card and it has to be positive.  They mail them to each other at the end of month and they each get a glimpse into the others' life...those little things that might go unnoticed or unsaid.  At the end of each year they get all their own cards back and begin again.

At the end our walk Anita showed me some of her cards...all organized by year in cute little boxes. What a great way to keep track of your gratitude and joy. It made my day!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Shared Art Journals

This is one of my favorite pages in in my Pinterest art journal.  It was
inspired by a watercolor collage done by Geninne Ziatkis and found here
on my Pinterest board.  

I wanted to give shared art journaling a try, but I needed a partner.  So several years ago I approached my friend Ellen...I had been fascinated with her altered books and a shared art journal would be place for her to demonstrate some of her techniques. For me it would be a place to try new things and play around with mixed media. We each bought a blank art journal and got to work on several pages.  We traded the books after a month or so and worked on pages in each other's journal, then traded back...and so on. There were no rules.

The second journal had just one rule...our entries had to be inspired by something on our Pinterest boards.  Again, we traded back and forth.

Each journal project lasted a year or so.  It was a great way for us to connect, experiment, and reflect.

Here is a snapshot of Geninne's watercolor collage that inspired this journal page.  Geninne's blog was one of the first blogs I started viewing and I have looked at every single page...sometimes more than once. You can check her out here on her Facebook page.

My squares are collaged with bits of watercolors, greeting cards and old calendars.  The branch image is from a magazine and the background is made from book pages and handmade papers.

The books became kind of chunky...but that's part of the charm.
Over time I will show more pages from our books on different techniques...but for now here is a sampling.

On the left I did a mosaic of cut up scraps of watercolor practice...I'm still in the practice phase.  The next several pages consisted of a series of stacked semi-circles. I glued several of the journal pages together to give them strength then cut the pages into 4 semi circles...each one getting bigger.   I painted doodled and stitched on each one.
Here Ellen had done one side...and I did the other...all using a ribbon theme.
 I love this dramatic metallic page that Ellen created.  I think the peacock feathers are from a napkin...or maybe it was tissue.  It was kind of fun that our styles were so different...
it makes for an interesting finished product.

I will admit it...I love glitter.  I saw some handmade cards in a gift shop where a touch of glitter was used to highlight parts of the photo.  This journal was the perfect place to give it a try...like I said...I don't always know when enough is enough.  The left page features photos I have taken and the snow page is a combination of my photos, greeting cards and stickers.

This is my attempt at being a little less rigid...more freestyle.  The colors were clearly inspired by this beautiful image of the woman I found in a magazine.  I used all kinds of tissue, book pages and fibers including Angelina fibers.
It may be kind of a hot mess...but it's joyful don't you think?

I loved this page spread of Ellen's...on the left is a beautiful collage...and on the right are a series of pages out of velum that overlay creating an interesting effect.
  This was a great journey we took together...thanks Ellen!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Heart Calendar

Like I mentioned in the last post, my sister Nancy's birthday is coming up on Valentine's Day and I am working on a new calendar....not digital this time.  But I thought I would show you (using my new screen shot skill) another digital calendar I did for her a few years ago...using the obvious theme of hearts.

I will show the new calendar in a few weeks...once I've mailed it.  I'm having a lot of fun with it. Nancy, and my sister-in-law Liz, seem to really enjoy the calendars so they get one every year.  More about Liz's calendars a little later.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Hands Calendar..and a New Skill!

Screen Shots!
Who Knew?

I'm not sure what
gets me more excited...learning a new skill or sharing some of my calendar projects!

My niece Clarke was visiting for the weekend and taught me how to do a screen shot! I can't tell you how excited I was! It will be an easy way for me to share some of my digital projects.
(I will explain more about screen shots if anyone is interested...it takes a minute to learn)

OK....back to the calendars...

I have been making little 4 X 6 calendars for friends and family for quite some time. Some are digital and some are individually collaged with photos etc.  I love giving them as gifts because they can be personalized so easily. This particular one was for my sister Nancy who has a series of beautiful hand photographs hanging in her bedroom...I have always loved them.  I gathered the images, and using my simple "Pages" program on my Mac...created the calendar.  Each month's page slides easily into a plexiglass stand up frame you can get anywhere.

Warning:  I love my little calendars...so you will probably see more...and I have made several. Nancy's birthday is coming up and I am working on her new one...and it's not digital this time!  Stay tuned!  It will be finished soon.

I love My Marbles!

The glass balls from the last post reminded me of my collection of art marbles displayed on my coffee table. Several years ago I put a tiny set of LED lights in the bowl for Christmas...and there the lights remain.  I enjoy the glowing marbles year round!

There is a marble on the bottom of this picture that has a liquid center containing all sorts of floating bits of glass.