A Craft Space of My Own

I’ve been looking forward to a dedicated craft space to call my own for years. When our boys were young, Mike and I used our fourth bedroom as a home office. During the grade-school years, we added a pair of desks for the boys. They completed homework in that room and used the computer under my watchful eye. I crafted in a small area on my desk, or I joined friends once a year for a weekend away to work on our scrapbooks.

When my oldest left for university, I planned to reclaim part of this space for my sewing machine. My younger son quickly spread out using all the available surfaces. The room morphed again as a place to hang out with his friends.

In 2018, my youngest son left for university, and at long last, I had a dedicated craft space of my own.

Lindy marveling at the cleared surface

I started organizing my craft space that year, but a few months later, I found myself fully immersed in my volunteer work with Lifted Spirits and started spending a lot of my time downtown.

I put some structure in place at the time, and what a treat its been to have everything I need at my fingertips!

Now that we’re “sheltering in place” in Santa Clara County, I’ve finally put the finishing touches on this room.

My original plan was to set up a sewing area on one desk and a paper-crafting area on the other one.

The table is too deep for my machine and my foot pedal to work well together. Since I like spreading out when I sew, I decided to convert both sides into paper crafting. I can use my dining table when I sew.

Now I have a place for my Silhouette Cameo cutting machines and more surface area for work.

Cameo die cutting machine (a Christmas gift from Mike)

Cleaning up and reorganizing the space didn’t take long, and what a difference it’s made. I enjoy working on cards and assembling craft kits for the curb, and it is a pleasure working with a clean and uncluttered (for now) desk.

My reorganized crafting space

I enjoyed gathering inspirational art for the wall. It’s a collection of mixed-media, watercolor, collage, embroidery, and fiber arts from friends and family. I love having it gathered together and displayed in my creativity corner. I have several pieces from fellow bloggers, including Anne, Kelly, Marlene, Pauline, and Wilma, representing Australia, Canada, the US, and New Zealand.

I’m now surrounded by art created by family and friends.

On the pale yellow wall, the green heart is a gift from my friend, Carrielin. We met in college doing a play together, and we’ve remained friends all these years.

The custom-died monkey sitting on the heart is a gift from my self-described hippy friend, Laura.

All three read hearts we’re machine-embroidered by the talented Marlene, who blogs at insearchofitall.

From Canada, a mixed-media tag by artist Wilma Millette. You can find her gorgeous work on Instagram @creartful-dodger. To the right of Wilma’s piece is another mixed-media creation by the talented Kelly Daye. We met through blogging and have become the best of friends.

On the green wall, I hung Dad’s wooden painter’s palette. It’s a cherished memento. Oil painting was one of Dad’s many hobbies. I affixed three black and white photos to the pallette: My dad in the center, a picture of his completed model of the Golden Hinde, and the storefront of my parent’s flower shop in Seaforth, Canada. They’re all treasures. The Bay Bridge oil painting is also my dad’s work.

Below the palette is a mixed-media piece by Pauline King, a treasured gift for my 60th birthday. Pauline is known in the blogging world at The Contented Crafter.

Next to Pauline’s work are a pair of watercolor teapots by Anne Lawson. Anne is a Melbourne Artist who “captures the beauty of the #naturalworld in watercolour or ink.” You’ll find more of her work @annelawson54 on Instagram.

My father’s wooden oil painting palette

Repurposed wine crate stores stamps and punches

I like being able to see everything at a glance. Assorted cat mugs store my pens and tools. See-through bins store craft ribbon, dies, and acrylic stamps.

I removed the sliding doors to the room’s closet several years ago. It now houses our printer, most of my sewing supplies, extra baskets, and a few other crafting tools. Here’s what it looked like before re-organizing the shelves.

Starting Point: A four-foot closet in the same room stores craft materials, our printer, sewing projects and my Cameo cutting machine

This is what it looks like now.

After: craft room closet sorted with room for a chair.

Have you tackled an organizing project during your time in quarantine?

Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

Transferring the image of a leaf to paper has been around for years. It’s only recently though, that I learned of a technique using a Big Shot, one of those crafting tools I’ve put off buying for years.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot

Dawn, who blogs at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes created these beautiful cards using the technique. Dawn’s post and her stunning cards were the impetus I needed. I bought a Big Shot so I could give the technique a try. I’m sharing the Big Shot tool with my sister, Sharon, who makes all of her own cards. We bought some fun dies for her to use for her holiday cards this year.

As Dawn says, this is a wonderful opportunity to combine two loves: gardening and paper crafts.

According to Wiki:

Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is any of several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants.[1] Its name is derived from the Greek words chloros (“green”) and  phyllon, (“leaf”).[2] Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light. – Wikipedia

The technique is simple. You sandwich a leaf or petal between a folded piece of paper, run it through the Big Shot, and the green pigment created by the chlorophyll transfers to the paper.  As Pauline King would say, I’m at the messy stage of this process. I’ve yet to make a single card, but not from lack of trying.

I gathered several scraps of paper from my stash to get started, including an old file folder, card stock, old-fashioned typewriter paper and vellum.

File folder leaf print

Paper: File Folder * Verdict: so-so

chlorophyll prints watercolor paper

Paper: Watercolor * Verdict: Nice most of the time but not for all plant material

velum paper chorophyll print

Paper: Velum * Verdict: It looks like a Rorschach Test

I quickly learned that all paper is not created equal. In the end it was a scrap of watercolor paper that worked the best. It absorbed some of the natural moisture and showed off the texture of the plant material to good effect.

My collection of leaves were a mixed bag as well. Some were so wet and juicy, that they produced images that were half leaf imprint, half splat. My prints are definitely not ready for prime time, but I am having fun.

I’m still trying to get a good imprint from my coleus leaves. They’re a beautiful mix of red and green and sometimes purple. They’re also heart-shaped. If I can manage to get the impressions just right without the extra moisture they’ll look terrific on a card.

My favorite imprints so far are the fern and the Nepeta.

This imprint is from my lacy fern, a plant I’ve carted around with me for nearly thirty years. It went from a small, seventy-nine cent plant on my nightstand, to owning a corner of our garden. I love it.

Chlorophyll transfer fern and sweet pea

Chlorophyll transfer of fern and sweet pea petal to watercolor paper

The Nepeta or cat nip also transferred well, and comically, retained some of its potency. Mouse the Cat hopped up on the desk and enjoyed the scent.

Nepeta catmint transfer print

Mouse Approved

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

I’ll keep experimenting and hope to eventually have some bona fide cards to share. I tossed the small samples, but gathered the rest of them into a sample booklet, held together with baker’s twine and a few strips of Washi tape.

Chlorophyll Samples

Chlorophyll Sample Booklet

Have you been working away at a technique for a while with mixed results? Let us know in the comments below.

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When Spider Webs Catch The Light and Friends Make a Fuss

A wonderful package arrived shortly before my birthday, all the way from New Zealand. Pauline of the Contented Crafter says it’s been in the making for a while.

paulines-gift-box

Beautiful package

She decorated the box with her own customized decorative tape which you can read more about here. Isn’t it cool? She created the art for the postcard as well using postage stamps from my dad’s collection. The original hangs on my wall. It’s quite special.

Now look at what she tucked inside:

pauline-king-spider-web

An enchanting spider web light catcher

This isn’t any old spider web. It’s a hand-crafted, bead-encrusted, gem of a birthday/Halloween gift from Pauline. I love it!

glass-spider

Faceted glass spider

My special spider web arrived with an impressively sized, faceted spider with its own hook (but no fangs). You can move her around the web, then watch it catch the light.

center-of-web

In the center of the web

Guess what else was in the box? A Halloween-themed light catcher. The charms include spiders, witches hats, cats and brooms.  Did I mention the pumpkins? There are several of those too.

The reflective nature of the faceted glass makes it difficult to photograph, so I took some video as well. It will give you an idea of the light and movement.

Mike installed hooks in the nook above the sink so I could hang the web near the light. Interestingly, the web is just as beautiful at night. The lower light mutes some of the colors, while the facets shine.

spider-light-catcher-kitchen-window

Halloween-themed light catcher hanging in the kitchen window (Mouse the Cat looks on) Thank you, Pauline

 

Gathering friends with the years

birthday-and-sympathy-cards

The stunning sunflowers are a gift from Laurie, surrounded by birthday cards and condolences on losing Slinky. The sunflower painting was a gift from Kelly last year.

My mother never liked a fuss on her birthday, so I grew up following suit. A few close friends sent greetings through the mail or by phone which I loved, but I otherwise kept my birthday a secret.

I’ve come to realize that I like a bit of a fuss. Not a loud, brash, in your face fuss, but the warm greetings that arrive by post. I love receiving cards in the mail. Happy birthday wishes via Facebook and blogging are a delight as well. I  smile at the beautifully animated e-cards and the thoughtful friends who send them. My friend Carrielin calls me on my birthday every year and has since we were in college. Each greeting is a reminder of the richness of friends and family, relationships that have grown and deepened with the passing years. I feel loved beyond measure.

Thank you all for making a fuss.

pumpkin-with-paulines-spider

Did I mention the second spider?

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Monday Musings

We’ve been dusting off the garden furniture and hanging our shade sails.  Summer is on the way. Temps shot up overnight, with a high of 90 degrees (32C) in the forecast. There’s a dry wind blowing as well, making if feel more like July than April. It’s a bit strange.

I (mostly) played hooky today, enjoying lunch on the patio of  The Left Bank with my friend Laura. I made phone calls in between our get together, but overall had a relaxing day.

left bank april 2015

The Left Bank, Santana Row

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on Laura’s birthday gift, a set of greeting cards and gift tags made using the Couture line of paper by Graphic 45.

Now that the birthday girl’s opened her gift, I can give you a little peek.

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Graphic 45 cards, vintage trim

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These shoes aren’t made for walking: Jet rhinestones by Kaiser Scrapbook, Couture paper by Graphic 45, vintage red seam binding from Green House Supply

Graphic 45 gift tags

Gift tags: Graphic 45 Couture paper and tags, vintage seam binding, Kaiser Scrapbook rhinestones

I trimmed the box and some of the cards with vintage seam binding from my friend Donna’s Antique Row booth. She sells a variety of ephemera with a changing selection, so it’s always fun to go look (and buy).

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Box trimmed with vintage seam binding, topped with Graphic 45 Couture

box detail

Box detail

In other garden news, I’m still trying to decide what to do with our garden swing. It’s in a sorry state thanks to the nest-building squirrels. I’ll share more about that in another post.

I hope your week is off to a terrific start.

Fairy Garden Additions: A Little *Little* Free Library

Mary Elizabeth planted the seed. In her sincerest voice she asked “when will you be building a Little Free Library for your fairy garden?”

Well.

I picked up the fairy-dusted gauntlet and came up with this:
miniature little free library

The shell for the library illustrates a classic case of the box being more interesting than the contents. Setting aside three tiny jars of purple glitter, I got to work on the structure. I finished it in no time.  Fairy structures are like that. If you’ve been putting off building one, today’s the day. Working in miniature is rewarding and relaxing. If you use items on hand, it’s also affordable if not free.

miniature library

Miniature Library Materials

Old matchboxes infused with special memories served as the basis for the larger books. Toothpicks covered with vintage stickers made slender chapter books. Miniature titles are at the ready for diminutive passersby.

The roof signage came from the bottom of one of the LFL brochures. It’s the perfect size.  Serendipity.

mini little free library

The mini LFL sits at the curb of the fairy garden

Like its bigger cousin, this L(L)FL sits near the curb. It was my son’s idea to support it with a clothes pin. Garden builders under 18 often have the best ideas.

My fairy gardening style is ever-evolving. Check out my Page, above, Fairy Garden Frivolity for a look back.

The Little Free Library movement encourages ‘reading for children, literacy for adults, and libraries around the world.’ Little Free Library.org

Fairy Garden Renovations

Are you familiar with the old adage, “one thing leads to another?”  The classic children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie uses this concept with great humour.

The book is known for its playful, circular pattern. A boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair), and a broom (to sweep up). Next he wants to take a nap, to have a story read to him, to draw a picture, and to hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it. – Wikipedia

So, if you give a friend a craft store gift card (thank you Stephanie), she’s going to want to use it.  When she goes to the crafting store, she’ll discover cute little stencils.  She buys those stencils along with a few acrylic paints.

Martha Stewart Craft stencilsDSC_0007

Martha Stewart Craft stencils

Since the garden nursery is *right next door* to the crafting store, she’ll pop in for a look.  While there she’ll find the perfect, over-sized plant trays and the wheels begin to turn.  Fairy garden renovations, here I come!

Large plant trays

Large plant trays

She’ll rush home with the loot, but days will pass before she has time to play. She moves the project from the garage workbench to the kitchen counter, thinking she’s more likely to work on it there.  She’s right!  Racing the clock, she stencils one of the trays before heading off for another appointment.  Family memories say lovely things, spurring her on.

stenciled tray

Stenciled plant trays

The stenciled trays must wait to dry.  Once dry, they need a sealer. Once sealed, they need some soil. Mother’s Day rolls around and she wants nothing more than an afternoon renovating the garden.

Fairy garden on Deck

Fairy Garden on Deck

Two planter trays are the perfect size and shape for my garden bench.

patio fairy garden

Patio Fairy Garden

The perfect spot for the newly renovated fairy house.

fairy house

Newly renovated fairy house flying the rainbow flag

Fairies can cozy up in a Magnolia petal hammock.

magnolia petal hammock

Magnolia petal hammock

A log bridge connects the house and the garden.

reading garden details

Log bridge to the reading garden

My son painted the ceramic plate, the focal point of the reading garden. The chair, lantern and glazing ball are gifts from Alyster the Gnome.

reading garden

Reading Garden

There are already signs of visitors: a tiny deer behind the house, an open copy of Fairy News and the faintest movement from the wishing pond. Ahhhh….

Fairy Garden Activity

Fairy Garden Activity

So if you give a friend a gift card…well, you know the rest.

Mini Plant Care Book and Happy Birthday to the Bard

Karen Philips designed this mini photo album a few years back. She taught a workshop at a weekend retreat, leading us through the steps to make our own.   After making a sample in class, I purchased a few of her kits.  It’s been fun using her template to create a few designs of my own.

The album below is Karen’s design. I just added the flowers to bring in a bit of color

Today I put it to use as a small plant care log, then delivered it with my Earth Day project. This little album is the perfect size and color.

I photocopied the back of the plant care labels and included them in the book. After removing the pointy ends of the tags, I added those too.

Putting this together reminds me that I need to make more time for projects like this.  It was so relaxing.

fold out mini album

Fold Out Mini Album designed by Karen Philips

mini album open

These photos show the steps for opening the mini album

plant care instructions

Plant care instructions

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Now one lives forever, however the brilliant collection of William Shakespeare is timeless. Today we celebrate The Bard’s 450th birthday. To ‘men of middle age.’

Here are a few of his garden quotes:

Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.169-72)

When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.
The Winter’s Tale (4.3.1-4)

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.
The Winter’s Tale (4.4.122-7)

 

 

 

Snow-in-a-Can, Winter Wonderland

Early last week, I received a package in the mail.  Not just any old package, but a package from a garden gnome named Alyster.  He’s a clever little fellow, small enough to fit in your hand, but full of big ideas.

Alyster says he’s “up to his eyeballs in snow” and wishes he could come back to stay in sunny California.  I wish he would come and stay, too.  I need to check in with his traveling companion, Boomdee.

Since Alyster is missing the sun, he thought I might be missing the snow.  (You are so right, Alyster).  That clever garden gnome sent me snow-in-a-can.  Just add water and watch the snow grow.  Along with the snow came a tiny glass igloo, and the smallest scarf you’ve ever seen.

snow in a can

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So what does one do with snow-in-a-can, a tiny igloo and a pint-sized red scarf?  You make a snow globe!

Several years ago, my friend Marcia sent us this super-cool acrylic globe.  We’ve used it in many ways over the years.  It was a terrarium for a while till the plants outgrew it.  One year we filled it with colored silk Christmas ornaments.  It’s also beautiful unadorned.

Acrylic globe

Acrylic globe

This season it’s a tiny winter wonderland.  Here’s what I did:

I filled the bottom with airfill packing, then topped with a paper plate, cut to fit the opening.

Airplus Packing material

AIRplus Packing material

I foraged a couple of Christmas ornaments from our tree to help set the scene.  We bought the tiny wooden snowman for our first tree 18 years ago.  We were starting from scratch so we bought a small tree and even smaller ornaments at a local import store.  The little door decoration came from our local Hallmark store the year we remodeled our house.

snow globe details

Snow globe details

I added sprigs of Christmas greens, a small pathway and then it was time to let it snow.  I haven’t had this much fun in ages.

It’s ‘snowing’ on WordPress throughout December.  I can’t wait to hit the publish key so I can watch the snow falling on my winter wonderland.

PS…Alyster, I found your flip-flops.  You left them on the bottom of the box.  Please pop over to pick them up whenever you like.  🙂  I’ll keep the light on for you.

snow globe

Snow globe

under the dome

Under the dome

falling snow

Now just linger over this last photo and wait for the snow to fall

 

Craft if Forward: Garden Journal

This month’s craft it forward goes to Emma at Greenhousing.   Emma is a fellow gardener, helping things grow in her own special garden in the UK.

She started Greenhousing: Big Plans for a Small Garden with her husband to:

plan and keep a record of our hard and not-so-hard work.

Luckily we have been hoarding lots of plant pots of various sizes, seed and drip trays, pot trays, seeds, weed suppressant fabric, vegetable and tomato fertiliser, etc. so we can make big plans without having to spend a lot of money.

The garden is an odd shape at the back of the house, with fencing on three sides and a corner of a neighbour’s garage jutting into it.  The big plan is to work around any obstacles and grow some tasty food and lovely flowers and plants.

She hasn’t posted for a while, so I’m hoping life simply got busy and that all is okay.

Garden Memories

I started by gathering garden-inspired paper and embellishments.  Oh how I tax myself [wink-wink]). I assembled an 8 x 8 book/album, small enough to carry into the garden to record notes on garden progress.  It can also be used to save photos of her garden successes or remembrances of her first year with a lovely greenhouse.

Here are a few sample pages:

garden journal page 1 garden journal page 2 garden journal page 3 garden journal page 4 garden journal page 5 garden journal page 6 garden journal back cover

What is Craft it Forward?

Here’s how it works. The first five people to comment on the original post receive a handmade item with the gardening nirvana touch. In return, they agree to pay it forward, crafting their own unique item for the first five people on their list. Craft it Forward encourages community, creative spirit and camaraderie. It also encourages flexibility, so I expanded my list from five to seven based on interest in the project. Isn’t it fun making your own rules?

Further, in the era of the internet, who doesn’t like ‘real’ mail? If you haven’t started your own Craft it Forward, today is a good day to get going.

Reclaimed Fences, Birdhouse Charm

My friend, Michele and her family get together every year and make birdhouses. They reclaim wood from broken fences and other old materials, then craft them into unique designs. I’m the lucky recipient of this charming model, below.

reclaimed fencing birdhouse

Reclaimed fencing

I love their family tradition of gathering and creating together. I’m also a huge fan of reclaiming materials and giving them a new life.

back of birdhouse

Back of birdhouse

They attached the back of the birdhouse  with screws for easy removal and cleaning. Weathered wood blends beautifully into the landscape.

Ceramic "chimney"

Ceramic or porcelain “chimney”

The birdhouse “chimney” is a vintage ceramic or porcelain insulator. Once used as old telephone wire insulation, the markings  indicate manufacturing by WP or Wisconsin Porcelain. The top of the insulator reminds me of a peppermint Lifesaver. I’m never far from my sugar-loving roots. Ha!

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Even the rusty nail is re-purposed, artfully bent into a perch.**

Do you have gift-making family traditions?

Related Articles:

**I plan to display this lovely birdhouse as a piece of art. If you want to attract nesting birds to your yard, here are a few safety tips.