Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Modern Christmas Time Capsule

I love when time can be frozen and a moment can be perfectly captured.  This project captures your family just as it is today, and holds it together for Christmases to come.  I actually did this tree with my kid's classrooms last year as their class decorations.

Here's what they started out looking like:

  Here's how we made them:  Everyone got the chance to bring anything they wanted to represent themselves--little tokens of something important to them.  They took turns placing them where they wanted them on the tree, and I used hot glue to hold them in place.  I used metal tree forms that I picked up second hand, but you could use anything you have shaped in a cone.  When every item was placed, I spray painted them in a hammered metal finish.  You could use any finish you like, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to spray prime before hand.  I was on a time crunch for mine, so I skipped that step. 

What are your family's favorite things, right now?  For us, it would be legos, pencils, cooking utensils, coins for collecting, little toy animals and musical instruments. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lookie--Another solution for a teeny tiny studio space

Before we turned our basement into a studio space, we were always looking for storage solutions to house all of our art supplies.  Someone in my family is constantly drawing or gluing or sewing something, so we desperately needed a place to stash everything. 
I was thrilled when I found this piece of furniture for $5 at a garage sale.  The man I bought it from honestly begged me to haul it away. (Sidenote:  I saw one just like this for free on KSL Classifieds this weekend!)  I looked past the honey oak, dated hardware and rose frosted mirror to see a solid piece of furniture with great bones.    

Updating this piece wasn't hard, just took some elbow grease.  First I removed all the hardware and filled the holes with wood putty.  I also removed the mirror.  I sanded it down and used an antiquing kit to get the finish I liked (it was actually my test piece to see if I liked it enough to refinish my kitchen cupboards with it.  I loved it, but decided to go with ivory for my kitchen in the end).  When sanding, you don't need to take the color off, just rough up the wood (this piece took me about 15 minutes of sanding).  

I followed the instructions on the box for the antiquing kit, which turned out great, but I have to admit, wasn't any better than the classic coats of paint and topcoat you'd typically put on.  If you're not a big painter, the kit isn't a bad option and includes everything you need for the project.  

I ordered the hardware from ebay--a great resource for discount high end hardware.  I chose to go with 2 different styles for variety.  I also cut down a corkboard to fit the back and covered it with one of my favorite fabrics for a quick place to post notes.  The cubby is the perfect size for a laptop and folds down to a desk.

I was really happy with the results and the massive amount of space it provided, while still fitting in with the rest of the furniture in the room.

Sometimes adding another piece of furniture isn't even an option, and then you have to get really creative.  One solution that has worked great for me is to use my kitchen pantry (the one that holds fruit snacks and jello boxes) as a storage space.  It's in a fantastic location so close to your kitchen table, and lets you work and put things away so easily.  

I shifted some of our food to other cupboards and put some of it on a shelf in glass containers.  This left the space for things we use all the time like my sewing machine or the kids colored pencils.  Of course, I don't keep everything in here, but for me it has been a lifesaver for the tools and supplies we use on a daily basis.

I'd love to hear your storage solutions--please comment to share how you use your workspace and how you've managed to carve some from a small living space!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Raising Art Literate Kids

While doing all the crafting for the Beehive Bazaar, we talked a lot about the artistic process.  They're always doing cool projects at my sis Kate's home, so I asked her to share her tips for guiding kids in their artistic endeavors.  Even though her own (numerous) natural gifts don't usually include creating art, she's raised 3 little Picassos.  Take note, she's kind of a genius.

Humbling (nay, humiliating) confession time: I have always enjoyed coloring books. Because unlike Dani, I have never been able to conceive of an original picture and reproduce it on a page. My artistic skills are much like my dad’s: I can draw a crude anchor on a kid’s forcep if they are feeling pirate-y.

Somehow my kids are mini-Danis. They can create art in any medium. I’ve always seen my job as supplying paper (we go through reams) and opening my mouth in astonishment at their talent. Usually that’s enough; sometimes it’s not. When my kids ask me to draw with them, here are my go-to tricks.

Have you ever noticed how much more creative you are within parameters? It’s like the whole world of possibility yields nothing, but one specific object or idea spouts inspiration like a fountain. That’s the idea behind the Scribble game. Each person makes a random scribble on a page, and then passes it clockwise. The next person stares at it until it starts to form a familiar shape, then adds the details to make a complete picture.

Often my kids create a new cartoon character for their on-going comic strips. I let them be my art teachers, showing me how to reproduce their originals. Even I can follow a step-by-step approach to drawing something.

Really, perfection is the problem. You want that tree to look like a real tree, doggone it. Fast draw games like Pictionary and Win, Lose or Draw! remove that inhibition , leaving you free to draw stick figures without shame.

Ditto to blind drawings. Blindfolded or eyes shut, you draw something from memory. The pictures look something like John Lennon’s etchings, which makes you feel a little famous.

Ramona Quimby made her own coloring books when her family couldn’t afford the store-bought ones. My kids are more than happy to supply drawings for me to color. I don’t have to be creative, and in the end we still have a collaborative project.  This is a picture my youngest drew for me of a video game.  I never would have noticed all the details if I hadn't colored them in.

Once I was backed into a corner to make a self-portrait (long story). I found it a lot easier to cut pieces out of colored paper and assemble them, mosaic style, than to actually put pen or paintbrush to paper. Drawing is hard, but puzzles are easy (bring on the Sudoku, Kakuro, and Kenken!).

When we pull out the recyclables to make junkbots, I’m too busy fastening on arms or cutting pieces to make my own Frankensteins. Sometimes one of my kids will notice that I did a lot of work with nothing to show for it, so they let me babysit their creations.

Cuddle time with a coffee table art book spread across our laps is enough, on occasion, to satisfy their art lust. Producing art is a hobby they can share with me. Appreciating art is a hobby I can share with them. 

      Wednesday, December 07, 2011

      Beehive Bazaar

      My kiddos are thrilled to be a part of the Beehive Bazaar in Provo this weekend. For years we've been attending this creative local crafters fair, and this weekend my kids will be contributing artists to the young crafters area. Everything they will be selling has been made entirely by them--take a peek at a few of them:

      My niece, Annie, will also be selling her super cute and unique drawings--you've got to come take a look at these!

      Saturday, December 03, 2011

      Advent Calendar

      This year I decided to make an advent calendar.  I got the Christmas bug a few weeks ago and rummaged through my fabrics until I came up with this.

      We embossed cards with the numbers for each day till Christmas, then added two additional cards each day.  One card has an activity, things we like to do anyway, but now the kids can see the plan when they wake up in the morning.  It might be sledding, baking treats, making gifts for their friends or decorating the tree.  For the days we don't really have plans, I added things like cute holiday games I found on the web, watching Christmas movies or cutting paper snowflakes.  The other card has both a scripture and a song.  For our family, we'll probably pull the song up on the internet and play it while we're eating breakfast, and read the scripture afterward.  I found the list online and like it because it's very short and doable for our morning routine.  I posted it below if you're interested.  

      Adding an advent calendar to my holiday schedule for some years would feel laughable--I can't possibly squeeze in one more thing.  But this year is just perfect for one to keep us focused and organized, and I'm surprised that it doesn't actually add any extra stress to our schedule.  It also helps that my daughter helped make it, so she's totally on board and gets the boys excited for it, too.

      Dec. 1 Isaiah 7:14 Angels We Have Heard On High
      Dec. 2 Isaiah 9:6 Away In A Manger
      Dec. 3 Micah 5:2 O Little Town of Bethlehem
      Dec. 4 Jeremiah 23:5 O Come All Ye Faithful
      Dec. 5 Isaiah 40:1-4 Joy to the World
      Dec. 6 Jeremiah 33:14-15 The First Noel
      Dec. 7 Isaiah 40:11 It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
      Dec. 8 Psalms 24 Hark the Herald Angels Sing
      Dec. 9 Jeremiah 23:6 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
      Dec. 10 Jacob 7:11-12 Far, Far Away On Judea's Plain
      Dec. 11 1 Nephi 10:4 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
      Dec. 12 1 Nephi 13:18 What Child Is This
      Dec. 13 1 Nephi 11:20-24 O Holy Night
      Dec. 14 1 Nephi 11:27 Who Is The Child
      Dec. 15 Helaman 14:3 Samuel Tells of the Baby Jesus
      Dec. 16 Helaman 14:5-6 I Heard the Bells
      Dec. 17 Luke 1:30-31 I Believe in Christ
      Dec. 18 3 Nephi 1:13 When Christ Was Born In Bethlehem
      Dec. 19 3 Nephi 1:19 Star Bright
      Dec. 20 Luke 2:4-7 O Hush Thee My Baby
      Dec. 21 Luke 2:8-11 How Great Thou Art
      Dec. 22 Luke 2:12-14 We Three Kings of Orient Are
      Dec. 23 Matthew 2:1-2 With Wondering Awe
      Dec. 24 Mosiah 3:5-8 Silent Night

      Friday, December 02, 2011

      A Peek into my Studio

      This is the first house I've had an entire room to myself to just be creative.  I consider myself really lucky, but I've used the same concept when I have been more limited on space.  In the past, I've just pared down the space to the corner of a room, inside dresser drawers, a closet, or under a bed.  I've also found garage space to do the trick.

      The bookshelves were among our first pieces of furniture 
      purchased over a dozen years ago.  I lined the back with 
      fabric I just tacked on.

      This room is completely furnished with pieces I didn't need anywhere else in the house.  They mix and match perfectly to create lots of usable storage and workspace.

      This dresser migrated from my son's room and was topped
      with a hutch that my friend Electa gave to me.  

      As you can see, I've used every square inch.  I try to balance my space with aesthetic decisions (displaying my bags, clear glass jars with buttons, etc.) and practical solutions.  There is nothing in this room that is purely decorative.  It doesn't pass the test unless it's functional, too.  Even my "art" is inspiration boards for rooms I'm designing.

      I pick up wooden and metal crates whenever I see them.
      They fill in great for storage and can fit into most spaces.
      The opposite wall (not pictured) is mounted with metal storage
      crates for shelving used for my files, sewing basket and supplies.

      After years of collecting unique bits and pieces of things, I have a pretty playful collection of trimmings and embellishments.  Some things I always keep my eye open for are vintage ribbon, lace, anything with lettering, fabric scraps, great paper, buttons, sewing notions, old books, small metal bits--really anything vintage.  When I find these pieces, I don't usually have a plan for them, but when I'm working on a project and need "some texture" or "more color" or "something old" and I just go dive into my drawers and baskets and pull out something.  I don't usually have to buy much of anything when I make a project--I just use what I have.