Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Eggcellent Easter (Or the End of Egg Posts)

A little late perhaps to be debuting my Spring Easter decorations, but I'm such a lagger when it comes to blogging. I sure hope you'll forgive me. Above (and in a few shots below) is the arrangement I did (with all flowers grown by my mommy) and the Easter Egg wreath I made for our family's Easter lunch. We decided to do things super laid-back and casual. We grilled hamburgers (in the rain, as the weather didn't cooperate with our plans), baked french fries and had an All-American chocolate cake instead of typical Henry-family over-the-top feasts of fancy-pants foods.
I don't know why we decided to go super laid back, but it worked out really well for everyone. Did I mention the Bloody Mary's? With spicy Cajun salt on the rim? Oh my goodness. It was a great holiday.
And I got to do the centerpiece! I showed you a week ago my technique for draining the eggs shown here. I dyed them all with kiddie egg dye and high-end paint supplies. Then I thought they weren't quite showy enough so I rolled them in rubber cement and added super-fine glitter. Awesome. It made such a mess but it was great! You know how when you play with rubber cement it gets on your hands and rubs into those little balls of rubber cement? Well, add in tons of glitter and you have a genuine mess on your hands. Thankfully my nose didn't itch or anything like that and the mess was completely containable. I took a cardboard box and cut out a 9" circle and then inside of that I cut a 7" circle and used the 2" ring as the starting point for my wreath. Then I took a piece of fancy tissue paper (made by Papyrus and purchased at Central Market, which is generally way to fancy for me for craft supplies, but with tissue paper, you can see the quality) and cut it into strips, wrapping the strips around the cardboard ring and then letting the extra stick out of the ring like grass. When the wreath was completely covered, I glued the glittery eggs in a haphazard way to look casual and springy.
The arrangement was simple enough -- I took what mom had grown and picked and put it in a mint julep silver cup.

Below is a much better picture to get a straightforward view of the whole project.

And below this is the cake I made. Dyed the vanilla icing green and covered it with coconut flakes and some little Easter peanut M&Ms.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Oodles of Doodles

I'm going to Denmark in less than a month. So what does that have to do with doodles? Well, I'll tell you. It's intricately connected. In order to have all of my work done in time to stress-free evacuate the office in about three weeks, I had to read a heckaofalot of papers in a short span. We're talking me editing seven papers in three days. And I got a little loopy. And loopy means doodles. I thought some were fun so I decided you may want to see them. Frankly, I don't really have much more to say on the topic.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rose tags, And you'll see this verse a lot

Some lovely ladies at my church asked me to do a calligraphy project for them, so I scripted 36 copies of the same verse (1 John 1:7) on white tags using super-thick charcoaly India ink. What's fun about writing the same sentence 36 times is that I played around with the treatment. As the project went on, the "J" of Jesus got more and more exaggerated because I found that no matter how big I made it, it looked good. Some are in print and others are in cursive. I like to think that as these tags are given away to women who participate in the church retreat weekend, that the Spirit guides the right font to the right person.

Friday, April 17, 2009

In the Beginning

So this is a painting of the first book of the Bible. Genesis 1, the creation story.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
Those are the verses that inspired this. On one side you've got the light and on the other, the waters. I've never actually painted "something" before. My paintings are usually like Seinfeld, all about nothing. But this one is about something. It depicts the very creation of the Earth. At first I didn't think I'd like the way my painting of "something" would turn out. I assumed that it would look corny, but when I was done I really liked it.
I guess even in its depiction of something, it is still pretty abstract. You probably wouldn't believe how long I worked on it since it looks rather like all the other paintings I have done before. Yet, for some reason, I took hours and hours painting this, making sure that each layer of paint was just so.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Egg Treatment, Part One

I got a little photo happy with my Easter project and today's post only shows the beginnings of it all. Above is a collection of empty eggs soaking in the sink. What a challenge to get the egg out of the eggshells. But I devised a way that worked for me. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that. And then you watch a "how to" video by Martha Stewart and find out that there is a fairly easy and seriously more sanitary way to de-egg an eggshell and, wait, oh the corniness, I felt like I had egg on my face! No that's too lame of line to actually use...
What I did was stab the eggs with a steak knife, cut little holes from that stabbing, holes just big enough to fit a drinking straw through. Then I just blew the egg out of the shell as though I was blowing bubbles in my milk. I ended up with a bowl full of 18 eggs. Waste not, want not -- I cooked myself two casseroles. I decided that given my intimacy with the eggs that I better just keep the casseroles for me own personal consumption. Maybe that still sounds gross. It was just the best way I could think of.

This is how I rigged two kabob skewers and a plastic mixing bowl into being a decent place to let egg drain out of the eggshell.

Two casseroles in the fridge. Meals for weeks!

Six little glasses of egg dye. With Easter rabbit spoons to boot!

And alas, a bird's eye view of the mess once my eggs got their dye jobs. Amazingly enough, the whole mess was a snap to clean up and no permanent damage was made to anything at all. Not even my dish rags show any signs of being mixed up with this mess. Oh and I decided that just plain old egg dye wasn't good enough for me. So I mixed the standard-issue egg dye with high-end art supply to come up with some interesting combinations. You'll have to stay tuned to see how it all turns out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sacred House of Blues?

With a West Coast baseball trip for my beloved if not beleaguered boys of summer and a bit of a bout of insomnia (must stop with the drinking of the diet dr pepper so late at night!), I find myself glued to the MLB HDTV (my favorite kind of acronym soup, honestly) with nothing to do but watch the Sox fail miserably and, well, present some new crafts to my loyal readers.
Here is a new painting. It's the first time I've ever left the majority of the canvas (a 12x12 square of glass) even partially unpainted. In fact, I had every intention of making a giant picture with all kinds of zigzag layers, but when I got to this point, I knew that I needed to stop and relish the simplicity. And I feel like the result looks like a cross between Mexican-inspired renditions of Catholic symbolism like the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the somewhat corporate, irreverent House of Blues logo. Anyways, I'm pleased with punch by it and I like how I've arranged trinkets around it, especially the fact that I can actually place things behind it and still see them, like the antique Maine postcard. When I started the drawing for this painting, I had intended to channel Indian patterns (as in subcontinental Asia, not Native American ones, though they are quite nice, too). The paisleys were supposed to set that spicy, exotic tone. It would have been fine and Indian looking had I not decided to paint with a bright, Latin pallet. As soon as the pink was layered atop the yellow, I knew that it was headed in a different direction than my original intention, not that I mind.

What's that I hear, did Don Orsillo say "ballgame over?" Long yawn and I think I'm ready to hit the hay. Amazing how awake I am when there's a live game, even if it was a bit of slaughterfest in the yuck direction for this little fan.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Geography Bee

You know what? I never posted a picture of my bedroom with its mapped-out wallpaper. My landlord won't let me paint the walls, so a continuing mission of mine is to decorate the walls with various other ways of completely covering the surfaces without opening a can of paint. Thus, the maps.

I went to a cheapskate's paradise, Half-Priced Books, and found out that old maps cost 25 cents each. Eight dollars and I had enough maps to do two walls. I had lots of fun digging through the map bins looking at the various places I could buy a guide to. Most of the ones in prominent places are maps of some of my favorite global spots -- I've got Texas (home sweet home), Maine (my big adventure state), Italy (well, my love/hate/tragedy story with that place is well documented) and some regional ones too. I've got a map of Louisiana and Arkansas that reminds me of my family's roots. I've got the whole South to remind me to behave like a good Southern lady. One of my prettiest maps is a National Geographic guide to Ireland, colored a lovely Emerald Green. And in a favorite spot, I've got a driving map of Boston, which is funny because Boston is a terrible place to drive in. The best part of this map -- I can point out Fenway Park with my toe.
I picked some maps for their arty qualities, like the map of the Indian Ocean Seafloor. I never knew how beautiful the bottom of the ocean could be!
I used a big collection of shiny golden tacks to put up these maps. I love how they look. Come on over sometime and judge for yourself!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Let's pretend, a lesson in Paint By Numbers

Let's just say that you developed an interest in paint by numbers. Why? Well, it looks relaxing and that mid-century modern concept, that by using a little map and some stalls of paint you too can be Van Gogh! So you research paint by numbers -- completed retro versions are pricey -- yikes no good for this little crafter. And the modern ones, well they are as trendy as Dream Catchers and similarly themed at that -- think a western coyote howling at the moon or an eagle soaring through the Utah skies or something. Bad bad bad.

So what's a crafter to do? Well, after a wee bit of internet searching I found that there's a software (we a 15 day trial period) available for download that turns your photos in paint by numbers kits. Score! After downloading it and playing around for a while, I gleaned all the info I thought I needed to start the project in earnest. *Key hint* you must use a really simple photo. I tried some complex pictures and then just some normal ones and we're talking a really difficult paint by numbers painting.

And then there's the fun part (I say that knowing that I haven't even cut the wood for the canvases much less painted these; I'm at a purely digital point thus far)... I had to make a computerized catalogue of every paint color that I own and mixes I was willing to make to cover for the colors that I don't own. I ended up with a home-made pallet of 54 colors, a real rainbow span at that. It took forever! Sitting there with all my tubes of paint evaluating the exact shades to create a digipallet. Geez louise.

Anyhoo, so once I got the yuck work out of the way, I had a blast creating a collection of patterns. I have 10 patterns but I wanted to show off this lovely pattern because it involves a 1970's version of my dad. Ha! So Mr. Moustaches and his pup are lounging and you can see the various versions -- the final colored in pattern (a pallet with lots of pinks and purples), the pattern with and then without numbers, then the original picture in all its glory. I'll keep you posted on the progress of this one... it's an exciting new collection.