Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cookie House of Cards

Source: The Cookie Architect
Last week I started a very long-and I think an incredibly fascinating- post.  Unfortunately,  I never know when to the post just keeps getting longer and longer.  No surprise there!  I thought it would be ready to publish on Friday but it still isn't quite done.  Rather than rush it out, I thought I would post something short and sweet, but super duper awesome.  

The first thing you have to know is that I have fallen in love with cookie art.  What is cookie art you ask?  Cookie art is when artists use a plain old sugar or gingerbread cookie as their canvas and icing and food coloring as their paint to produce an edible work of art.  The designs range from just plain cute to cartoonish to intricate to looking like they are actual paintings done by the masters.  I can tell you from my short time spent in this world, that it is a highly addictive hobby.  But more on all that in the big-long-post-that-isn't-done-yet post....when I post it.

I had spent a little time traveling around on cookie art blogs last week when I stumbled on something that literally took my breath away.  What could be that interesting you ask? A cookie house of cards, that's what.  You heard me right...a COOKIE HOUSE OF CARDS.  A stunning and amazing and incredible cookie house of cards.
Source: The Cookie Architect
This enterprise was a group project and I do think that it is part of what makes it so special.  I love that the styles and techniques used to decorate each card are all so different, but together they make a very stunning presentation.  The woman in charge of it all is known as "The Cookie Architect" aka Rebecca.  She is an actual architect.  The kind who draw really straight lines on blue paper and print alphabet letters with a precision that baffles the mind?  Yeah, that kind.
Source: The Cookie Architect
Rebecca says that she discovered the cookie art community about a year ago and this Christmas she decided to bring together her two favorite things-architecture and cookies.  What she ended up with is a spectacular work of art to celebrate her one-year anniversary.
Source: The Cookie Architect
Source: The Cookie Architect
Rebecca blogged about the project on her blog and/or you can see photos on her Facebook.  To begin,  Rebecca recruited her favorite cookie artists to each make one individual card.  Once she had 28 artists on board, she baked and cut all the cookie cards.  She ended up using a jigsaw to be sure that all the cards were precisely cut.  To construct the finished house all the cards had to fit together in any arrangement, so precise cutting of the joints was imperative. Once everything was baked and trimmed, Rebecca mailed them off all over North America; the completed cookies were mailed back to her.
Source: The Cookie Architect
Each artist decorated her cookie anyway she wanted using Christmas as a theme to tie them all together.
I love that they are all so very different, but together they make one beautiful house of cards.  Some artists decorated both sides of her card and some just decorated one side.  You can see all the cards close up, (including the front and back) and the completed house on her Facebook page here.  On her blog you can find easy links to each artists post.
Source: The Cookie Architect
All of the cards are stunning.
Source: The Cookie Architect
My favorite? This amazing Chalk cookie by Arty McGoo.  She explains her design on her Facebook post.  She painted one side like the traditional chalk paintings of Madonna that she saw in Italy.  The other side was decorated with modern chalkboard look that is so trendy right now.  I am beyond smitten.  The painting is incredible in and of itself but considering that it is done in food coloring on a cookie-and-icing canvas just about blows my mind.  The colors really do look like chalk with soft smudged appearance.  The backside of her cookie the the modern chalkboard looks like it was done with chalk paint and a piece of white chalk rather than sugar. The details of both sides are beautiful.  
As I quickly scroll down Arty McGoo's Facebook to find the post on this cookie, I found lots of fun cookies and breath taking designs that I have to check out later.
Source: The Cookie Architect

Which cookie design is your favorite cookie in this house of cards?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Waterless Snowglobes

As I am sure most of you in the US of A can attest, the weather has been down right wackadoodledoo.  If you have had weird weather and live somewhere else in the world, I'm sorry- I stopped watching TV 18 months ago and frankly, big things happen, global things,and I have no clue until much later.  In Michigan. we enjoyed all of the benefits of the Polar Vortex (I just like saying that).  We experienced the frigid temperatures including the wind chill of -45F (to my dear friend Karen from Winnipeg Ontario, I do realize this is a normal temperature for you).  We experienced a large dump of snow- in the neighborhood of 18 inches- in a short time which lead to some serious---I mean SERIOUS--- snow piles in parking lots and at the end of the driveway.  We had bad weather days off of school- not sure if it was all road conditions or a combination of road and wind chill because we rarely get snow days.  "They" say it has something to do with having few backroads and a mean superintendent.  Ok, I must confess, I don't even know the superintendent, so maybe it is all about the lack of "backroads".

After we dug, plowed, and clawed our way out of the Polar Vortex, we were gifted with rain.  No, I am not kidding.  It rained on Friday and Saturday.  Then in Raiced or Hained or something that was a combination of falling precipitation that was definitely wobbling on a thin line between rain and ice.  Today it was a balmy 45F and tomorrow it is going to hit 40F before it plummets back to 19F on Friday.  Huh?

Enough TALKING about the weather because now it is time for CRAFTING about the weather or doing weather crafts or something like that.  We are going to make a waterless snowglobe.  And really, nothing could easier.  In fact, the hardest thing to do is finding the small objects to use in scene.

Supplies are pretty basic:
A vessel
Miniature figures
Glitter glue
Hot Glue
What makes this project so fun is the many ways you can change the entire look simply by changing the supplies.
I started with two different types of jars.  The important things to look for in a jar are:

  •  It must be clear glass. I prefer a jar with NO writing or other marks of decoration on the glass. Let's face it, any marks will only distract from the scene you are creating.  Both of the plain glass jars I used were purchased from Hobby Lobby.  They come as plain as it gets (meaning no labels, decor or typography imbedded in the glass )but of course you can recycle any jar that fits the criteria.  

***Now excuse me as I step up onto my soapbox. I have seen a lot of "jar"crafts of late- either making faux mercury glass, spray painting with opaque colors to achieve an antique look, or tinting with a colored glue mixture to achieve a vintage glass.  Too many crafters are not taking care to recycle appropriate jars and bottles.  I don't care how pretty the paint color is that you used or how carefully you painted it, if I can still see it says "Prego" it doesn't look professional.  After all your hard work you end up with a project that looks like your children did it.  I love my kids, but I don't pass of their elementary school art projects as high-end home decor.  So please, the quality is in the details.  Remember that....THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORK IS IN THE DETAILS.  Always.  If you can't stand to pay a $1 or $2 to get a perfect jar from the craft store, recycle wisely.  There are certainly jars and bottles that do not have any identifying marks on them.  Ok, I'm done.... stepping down.

  • The must be an adequate area to place your scene.  It can be either in the lid or in the bottom of the jar.  You can see that I did it different in each jar.  Part of this is logistics.  If I had put the scene on the lid of the clear jelly jar, I would have had to deal with glue showing through the glass.  

If you chose to set the scene in the lid, you have to take into consideration the size of the items you are using and the depth of the lid.  Because the items you will be using are small, even a relatively shallow lid may cover 3/4 of your bear. That doesn't seem too bad until you add a small amount of "snow" and are left with 2 black eyes, a black nose and 2 white ears.  And that is all you can see.
This jar lid was too deep. I compensated by adding small cardboard inserts for the animals and the tree to stand on. The snow covers them up entirely so no one is the wiser.  Except I just told you....(slaps forehead).

You have your pick your miniatures.  Honestly not the easiest thing for me to find in my area.  I ended up purchasing Safari brand animals that come in a tube from Michaels.  The problem with that is that I couldn't use all of the animals.  I just couldn't come up with an appropriate snowglobe scene that included a tiger and a matter how much glitter I used ;D.  Safari animal sets come in several configurations, so chose wisely.  They run about $10 per tube but don't forget your Michael's coupon.  If you get their App you always have a coupon.
I do have a  Pinterest Board, that I brilliantly named Tiny Little Things, where I pin tiny little items and where to purchase them.  

Tim Holtz - Idea-ology Collection - Christmas - Woodlands - Ornaments

The trees are easy to find because they are Tim's.  Yay Tim!  Look for Tim Holtz Idea-ology Woodland Trees and Wreathes.  The trees come packaged with two trees (one large and one small) and a wreath for around $5 or you can get a multipack of just the trees for $8.  The trees come already bleached- thank God because I have seen more "Pinterest Fail" tree bleaching photos (shudder).  Protip: Tim's trees take color well.  A pale pale blue green would be gorgeous as would gold or silver.  If you do want green trees or you do want to bleach them yourself- and Paula Cheney has done a fabulous job so in the past so I know it is possible-you can find them with Christmas Village decorations.
I started by glittering up the animals.  I prefer Martha Stewart Glitter Glue because it is thick enough to stay where you put it and it holds a lot of glitter.  But any white glue that dries clear will work.  I glittered my animals using either white or silver fine glitter but there are no rules here- use your imagination and glitter away.  The white glitter on the animals is Martha Stewart Fine White glitter; the silver is Martha's White Gold Fine Glitter.  I did make these before I had the new Distress Glitters.  That glitter is chunky but it is gorgeous and comes in interesting shades. I do like to use Glossy Accents with that glitter.  

 While the animals were drying, I embellished the trees.  I added Swarovski Grey Pearls to the small tree and Ivory Pearls to the larger one using hot glue-be careful.  Then using a foam brush, I paint glue on the larger tree.  I just added glue here and there and then sprinkled it with white glitter.  There is NEVER too much glitter.  Ever.  

The little stands for some of the animals were made by simply folding chipboard into 3D rectangles and gluing it into place using hot glue.  The animals were hot-glued onto the stands.  Be sure to dry fit everything before you add glue, just to be sure everything sits where you want it to.  
This shows the difference between the fine glitter (in the center) used on the animals and the larger flake glitter used as snow (on far right) 
Once everything is glued into place and the glue is all dry and/or cooled it is time to add the snow.  You will be surprised at how little you really need.  I ended up having to scoop glitter out of all the jars in order to unbury my animals. Even with my little chipboard stands I still ended up with just 2 white bunny ears peaking out above the snow.  You want enough snow to cover the bottom of the jars, the stands and look like winter but so much it looks like a miniature Polar Vortex hit your snowglobe.  I mean, unless that is what you's your globe after all.  

I chose to keep the jars plain, but you could add ribbons around the metal lid, paint the metal lid with Distress Paint, add a simple rub on sentiment (but again it is imperative that it not distract from your design inside the jar).  You could add a few dangles from a bow tied around the top.  You can do a lot to embellish and personalize the snowglobes.  

On another note- today is the last day of CHA and Tim has released a lot of cool things-again.  What else is new, right?  He is showing his more feminine side aka Paula Cheney and I am thrilled.  

Stamper Anonymous: Of course he has lots of cool stamps coming out including some more Classics (lots by one of my favorite artist- and an amazing person-Michelle Ward).  There are more Blueprint sets and Marios first set which is called Hashtags.  You can see all the sets here on his blog or you can watch the Paperclipping Video walkthrough with Tim here.  He is also releasing more Layering Stencils you can see here.

Sizzix: There are several fun Alterations dies you can see them on Tim's Blog here and here, or the video here.  As usual Tim has some new and innovative products coming out.  There appears to be some shapes that are made to appeal to the quilters and sewers that are finding Tim via his Fabric line Eclectic Elements.  He has released Jumbo Tattered Floral already (I got it for Christmas but it is still at my sister's house). This large die is made for home decor projects.

Idea-ology: As usual there is a lot of fun stuff here. You can see it all on his blog here including and a Compendium of Curiosity 3.  There will be ephemera packages that are NOT on glossy paper so they do look old and they can be inked.  My two favorite things are the Found Relatives- photos of strangers-I wonder how many of us find someone that looks like maybe they are related- and wooden Letterpress blocks.   The video walkthrough his here.

Tonic- Tim is releasing a pair of larger scissors with all the same properties of his other red handle scissors but longer blades.  Again, I think this is probably somewhat for the fabric crowd but since I sew and because they cut paper just as well as the smaller blades, I will be getting a pair for sure. You can read the blog post here.

Ranger: Releasing new 1x1 inch Distress Ink pads, a new mini blending tool (it's round!),  a Distress Marker Spritzer (that can be used with ANY marker including Copics), 6 new alcohol inks and new packaging on his Alcohol Ink Pen (and yes, I was using it wrong).  They are also completing the Distress Paint color palate with the last 12 colors.  You can read more about Ranger's release here or watch Tim explain it all here.

Tim is releasing a workspace lamp Stella Lighting Lamp that he didn't discuss on his blog but you can see it in action here.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cinderella's Winter Coach

Happy New Year to all! 

I made my mom a pretty little coach for Cinderella or any princess who needs an elegant mode of transportation.  My intention is to complete more pieces so she has in effect a beautiful Christmas Village.  Fingers crossed...

The coach was made using a file from SVGCuts called Enchanted Autumn.
Ever since I made all those Rosettes for Brandin's wedding (here, here and here), I have been obsessed with using my Cricut Expression.  Maybe because now I actually know how to use the thing ;).  You can expect more fun- 3D- projects in the future.  
So here is where I confess that this is the 3rd rendition of this project and the other 2 ended up in the trash. No matter how careful I am, I just can't get everything lined up well enough so at the end everything fits. Instead it goes all wonky.  This was the least wonky of the bunch.  I hate throwing projects away so I guess this has been a good lesson for me.  A lesson in patience, persistence, and precision.  SVGCuts releases assembly videos for all of their kits and Mary makes it look so freakin' easy.  It isn't.  But good things come from hard work.  
I added embellishments to make this more of a Christmas- or holiday-coach.  The flowers and holly are cut from Tim Holtz Alterations Festive Greenery Sizzlet Decorative Strip and Brenda Walton's (for Sizzix) Festive Greenery and Holiday Greenery.  Shhhh... don't tell Tim, but I love her dies.
If you are going to give SVGCuts digital files a go, the biggest piece of advice I would give is to make sure you think through what you want cut from patterned cardstock and what can be cut from plain cardstock.  I made that mistake with my first big project.  It was a huge Halloween Mansion that I never finished because I ran out of patterned paper.  If I had cut the basic form pieces with plain black cardstock, I would have had enough patterned paper to complete it.  Lesson learned the hard way.
Of course I added glitter, rhinestones, and pieces of tinsel.  My favorite thing about SVGCuts files is that I can make it whatever I want.  Mary sticks with one line of paper per project and always uses her papers effectively so if you would rather not be a designer you can easily use her ideas but if you want to go can go crazy.  Imagine this as a true Cinderella's Coach with a blue and silver color palate and maybe a small mouse sitting somewhere on it.  Maybe add a crown somewhere. Or a Queen of Hearts carriage with a red and black hearts and playing cards incorporated in the design.  I promised my 97-year-old grandmother I would make her one and I think I will go for a paper she can display all year.  Maybe metallics but stick with embellishments that are not seasonal.
So whether you make it for Cinderella's...or the ice princess...or Mrs Claus....or whomever you want to it is a fun project.  I have plans to make a church, several houses, a many plans....

New Year....New Plans.  A few years ago I took quite a few online art classes.  Last year there just weren't many classes that interested me and let's be real, I was busy with Brandin's wedding during the first half of the year.  This year looks like it will be a year of wishing I had more time....
I just signed up for Kelly Rae Roberts first online mixed media class, Hello Soul, Hello Mixed-Media Mantras,  and I cannot wait.   I have been a HUGE fan of hers for so freakin' long and she hasn't taught this type of course in the past.  She is such a good soul and I know it will be an amazing experience.  It starts in February.
I am also taking Life Book 2014 which is a year long course.  I have no idea what to expect but it should be interesting as well.  I also signed up for two self-placed courses that I still need to do.  I decided it is time to start dealing with drawing faces.  I am terrified.
Finally, I am taking a digital file organization class from Jessica Sprague.  If you have brushes, png files and SVG files you know that it is a nightmare to try to organize them.  Do you organize them by topic, by artist, by purpose? I have no idea so hopefully this will help.  I'll let you know what I find out.

I also have to finish Tim's Creative Chemistry 2-I have a few more tags to make for that class.  So much to do.  But first I have to clean the mess that is my studio.  We had a broken water line spray water into the ceiling of the basement and make a big ol' mess.  Thankfully, my studio wasn't directly affected but stuff had to be moved out of the guest room and off the floor near the break so my studio ended up full of boxes.

We are getting wood floors put in the upstairs bedrooms so Rick is cleaning all the rooms out so the installer can come tomorrow and start.  I am so excited to have new beautiful dark wood floors.  It is time to reorganize, repaint and get this house in order.  It is a big mess after 11 years of living here.  We haven't ever lived anywhere this long and you can tell by the amount of major cleaning and purging that needs to be done.  Time to get rid of the baby blocks.  Ok, it isn't THAT bad.... but just about.  Wish me luck :)