Saturday, January 26, 2013

Creativity Wrap-Up

We shared our germs. And our misery.
Being sick stinks. I'm not sure which is worse: being a sick little boy who can't figure out why Mommy's kisses aren't making it better or being a sick little Mommy who can't figure out why her kisses aren't making it better.
I spent much of the week playing nurse, either to myself or to my little guy. Or to both of us.
But I also forced in bouts of creativity. Mainly because I needed distraction. Partly because I promised myself a creative 2013, and I plan on sticking to that.
So, what did I manage to accomplish?
"W" is for Workspace
The Art House Co-Op has been hosting free projects on Wednesdays, so I decided to participate in this weeks. They are creating a visual encyclopedia; in this case, they asked for pictures of your workspace to add to the "W" volume. I like easy projects! (Note my awesome poster of Poe in the background!)
Too Quickly
I also took some time one night to make the above picture. Can't believe how quickly he's growing up...
And finally, my creative practice for the week was in doodling. I didn't do much, truth be told. The most was done when I was in bed on Tuesday, trying to breathe and stop coughing. Ugh. (But this isn't about whining, right?)
My Assistant
Mistress Mary
I decided to start a new page in my creativity journal. I have plans for it...but that's all I will say for now. I'll post a pic of the finished product once it is a finished product.
And now it is the weekend. The plans? Hubby has a concert, so the little guy and I will be prepping for his birthday this week. The little guy wants to make him a card (creativity!), buy him a toy car that makes noises and lights up ("because Daddy always plays with them when we go to Walmart"), and bake him a layer cake with one big candle and lots of sprinkles. God, I love that kid.
With the roll of the die, my creative project for next week will be photo-processing. Yay! I have some photos just sitting in my drive, waiting for me to play.
How about you? Any creative plans for the week ahead?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Poor Little Pal... :(

My poor little snuggle bear. I had been hoping otherwise, but he finally got the nasty cold that has been circulating since Thanksgiving. Granted, I rather this cold than the flu or pneumonia.
But still.
The fever, the heart is breaking for him. At least he is napping quite a bit. That seems to be helping. His fever broke, and I'm hoping to keep that at bay. His cough is loose and gross, but he doesn't know how to "hawk a loogie," as it were. With him, it's either throw up all the grossness or swallow it back down. A losing battle either way. His daddy is going to grab some honey so I can make a homeopathic cough syrup. We'll see if that helps.
So, unless he naps the entire day away, craftiness isn't on my agenda today. I just want to sit and snuggle with him. The good thing is that I have my January craft done. And I rolled the die and gained a continuation of last week's doodling endeavor. Works for me. I'm not much interested in anything other than taking care of my little pal.
This is one of the parts of parenting that just rips my heart out. :(
So if anyone has some tried and true ways to make him feel better, I'm all ears. Leave me a comment....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Days of Doodling...

If I had kept all my notebooks from high school and college, you would be able to note two things:
1. I took good notes.
2. My notes were secondary to my doodles.
I love to doodle. Primary in my repertoire are cartoon faces followed by various letters, numbers, and shapes. (Here I should admit that I still doodle in the margins of meeting agendas and all over PowerPoint handouts.)
Anyway, one of the lovely items I picked up as a Christmas gift from my pal, Laura, is this book:
Best. Workbook. Ever.
This book is wonderful for my doodling soul. It has pages of doodle how-to's followed by pages of practice pages followed further by projects revolving around doodling!!
How could I not LOVE this?!
I have been trying to control myself and not do every single workbook page in one sitting (self-control has been put into overdrive for that one!), but I have worked through several exercises this week. Doodling was, after all, my creative endeavor for the week. Here is a sampling of the exercises that I have tried. Please note that all of the designs are from Stephanie Corfee's extraordinary imagination; I'm copying them for practice purposes.
Letter Designs
More Letters
Candy, Anyone?
Hearts Make Me Happy
Beautiful Birdies
Postcards from Doodle Land
My Banner, A Doodle
I have to admit, though it may be strange to some, how fulfilling it is to doodle. Specifically to doodle with the purpose of making it a beautiful doodle. I'm looking forward to continuing this workbook and moving on to the next step of doodling with a purpose!
So I must also admit that if I roll the die and find that I have to continue this exercise next week, I shan't be too disappointed in the repetition! ;)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Letter from Me

I joined the Art House Co-Op a couple of years ago when they ran their Fiction Project. Since then, I have participated in a couple of their smaller (free) projects. I'd love to do one of their sketchbook projects, but as posted all over the Internet..."Ain't nobody got time for that!" At the very least, I know that I don't.
So when the latest email came in with the free project for the week, I was in!
"Letters From Your Childhood" has participants writing a letter to themselves but from a younger version of themselves. I went right to work because, as of late, I've had a couple of things to say to myself anyway...
I really hope I listen to her...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January Project: Sharpie Mugs

If you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I have a project board that is a mile long.
(If you don't know what Pinterest is, get over there. Now. No, wait!! Go after you read the rest of this because it is highly addictive, and once you get started no one will see you for about a month...)
Anyway, I decided to choose one "bigger" project to do each month of 2013. I have my little weekly practice projects going on, but I wanted to make sure that I had something that I completed every month.
For this month, I decided to work on the Sharpie Mug projects that you see all over Pinterest right now. I made my first attempt a couple of weeks ago. I would show it to you here, but one trip through the dishwasher wiped out any artwork that I had created.
I knew this would happen.
Reading the comments after the various tutorials that I checked out, the most common complaint was that the Sharpie drawings did not withstand a trip through the dishwasher or even a hard scrubbing by hand. I tested out the veracity of those claims, and they were right on.
So I kept investigating--I really wanted to do this--and found a way that had more of a chance of success. Now, I have not put my mugs through the dishwasher. Yet. I might try out the white one (you'll see below) because I won't be too upset if I have to make it again. So far, though, they have stood up to rigorous hand-washings...
To start, I gathered my supplies:
  • Two cheap mugs (one was a freebie from decades ago and one cost $1.25 at Walmart)
  • A rubber stamp that I just wanted as inspiration
  • Rubbing alcohol (obviously not shown)
  • An oil-based Sharpie paint marker (about $4 at Michaels)
Ready to begin!
The first thing that I did was wash each mug, wipe it down with rubbing alcohol, then rinse it clean. While they dried, I stared at the white mug, trying to decide what I wanted to do with it since, as you can see, it was already embossed.
Eventually, I decided to keep it simple and all I did was put a dot of black ink over each of the raised dots on the mug. Cute and chic, so I left it alone!
The gray mug was easy as I had already tried this design once (and lost it to the dishwasher). Using the owl stamp as inspiration, I drew my own owl (a little slim but whatever) and added some free-hand words.

Yes, you read that correctly. "Owl be fine after my coffee." I am so punny sometimes!
After the marker had dried, I placed the mugs on a baking sheet in a cold oven. Following several recommendations I had read online, I set the oven to 350 degrees (mine probably runs at least 25 degrees hotter than that) and let it heat with the mugs inside. Once it hit temperature, I set the timer for 30 minutes, trying not to peek inside and listening for an explosion of mugs. No problem on either count.
After the timer went off, I left the mugs in there for as long as I could. I would have preferred to let them sit until the oven (and the mugs) was completely cooled off, but I had a casserole to make, so they came out after an hour or so.
And so far, as I said before, so good!
Now, as I said, I read through many blog comments trying to find the perfect "recipe" for these mugs. Some tips:
  • Use cheap mugs. I'm not saying to buy lead-filled death mugs, but if they are more expensive mugs, the glaze is probably more solid making it hard for the mug to absorb the ink.
  • Don't just use regular Sharpies unless you want to keep changing your design. Especially don't use them if your mug is meant to be a gift. It's just not worth the risk. Get to a craft store and get an oil-based Sharpie or find a real ceramic paint pen.
  • Some recent blog comments have suggested using a higher heat setting on the oven to better set the ink/paint. Your call as 350 degrees seems to have worked for me.
  • Don't touch the mugs with your fingers to see if they have cooled off yet. They haven't. Trust me.
And that's it! I can't wait to get to a dollar store to pick up more mugs. My next one? A plain white mug with a big handlebar mustache!! And maybe a lame witty saying like "I mustache you to make more coffee"!!
Tee hee!!
Now, off to start this week's creative project: Doodling!!
Have a great week!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

This Week, In Creative News...

It was hard to be creative this week.
I'm not entirely sure why. I think part of it was still trying to get rid of this darned sinus infection. Ugh. Just can't win against this thing! I even did a journal entry in the hopes of showing it how I would not let it get me down...
Go. Away.
It didn't entirely work, but I did feel better for having added an entry to my moleskine.
The main creative endeavor that I had for this week came with the roll of a die. I had chosen six creative endeavors that I would let fate dictate to me for each week of this year. This week I rolled a "5"...making jewelry.
A couple of years ago, I was a jewelry-making machine! I even sold quite a bit of jewelry for a while. Then, I had to deal with a difficult customer, and it pretty much killed that creative endeavor. For a while, anyway. I decided to give it another shot this year.
That being said, I wasn't feeling the creative mojo for most of the week. My first two endeavors felt like cheating since all I did was put some beads on chains:

That was all I did for a couple of days. creative mojo. Halfway through the week, though, I figuratively kicked myself in the butt and hauled out all my jewelry-making supplies. My mother-in-law had given me a jewelry catalog, so I decided to see if I could mirror some of the designs that I liked in there. I won't show you the original, but I will say that my copycat pair of earrings are pretty similar and were about $80 cheaper!
Ain't Nothing Wrong with Cheap Knock-Offs!
Last night, I sat by the fire and made several more pairs of earrings. In the past, I made some pretty elaborate and dangly designs, but I decided to go subtle this time around. I'm glad that I did; I ended up with four pair that I will wear on a daily basis:
Which Pair Today?
The only other creative endeavor that I put much effort into was the Instagram app on my iPhone. I'd like to post a daily picture this year and so far, so good. Some of my recent posts were taken while driving into an amazing sunset. I then processed the images using the DistressedFX app on my iPhone (highly recommend this one!) and posted them to Instagram. Here is a sampling:
Long Way Down the Road

At the End of the Day

In the Beginning

The Skeleton of a Passing Memory
My only other creative endeavor this week was to process a photo with PhotoShop. I hadn't felt the urge to do this for a while...It was nice to get back to it.
All That Flies Away
I guess, looking at this post, I was fairy creative this week. It's not like I didn't engage in any creative endeavors. I may not have sat down every night to do something, but when I did devote time to creativity, I was productive.
Tonight, I'll roll the die again and see what next week's creative focus will be.
How about you? Roll of the die or otherwise; how will you incorporate creativity into your week?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Project in 2013

As much as possible (by which I mean as much as my four-year-old will let me), 2013 has been off to a fairly creative start. I have written in not just one but two diaries (one question-driven and one just a basic daily summary) every night so far. I added two more pages to my creative journal in the last three days.
Last night, I rolled a number five on my creativity die and discovered that I will be making jewelry this week! This is perfect timing since I just bought some beads at Michael's. It's also a little daunting since I haven't really made any jewelry in quite some time. We'll see how I do!
Another creative endeavor that I have been working on is inspired by several generations of women in my family.

Afghan crocheted for me by my maternal grandmother. <3
The women on my mom's side of the family know how to crochet. I tried to learn; earnestly and honestly, I did. But I'd get no further than a foot before I'd completely forget what I was doing and would have to start over.
Eventually, I just gave up.
Still, there has always been a part of me that has wanted to be able to participate in this family tradition. After all, my mom made the afghan that we brought our little guy home in; who will do the same for my grandchildren?
Imagine my joy, then, when a solution presented itself. One of my high school students was in study hall the other day, knitting a scarf on the most wondrous contraption. I asked her for a quick explanation, and she showed me just how easy it was.
That's when I knew I could continue a tradition.
So, the other night, I purchased my first knitting loom and a pile of soft, gorgeous, bulky yarn.
Isn't it gorgeous?!
The instruction book that came with the loom left a little bit to be desired (but in fairness, so did my reading skills, as I missed an entire sentence and couldn't figure out what in the heck I was doing). Once I got going though, I picked up the rhythm of the pattern.
I also numbered the pegs on my loom. This brain
isn't as fresh as it once was...
Now, I realize that in a blog post such as this, the expectation is that I will be ending by showing you a finished product...
In Progress: My First Scarf
Okay, listen. I am notorious for starting a project and not bringing it to fruition. I am counting on you (taps screen and points), YOU, to make sure that I keep working on this and that I actually finish it! And then you have to make me work on more!
This mission, should you choose to accept it, is not impossible. I generally give in really well to guilt trips, so if I don't post my progress in a week or so, let the nagging and hounding commence!!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

*Sniffle* *Sneeze* Create?

Much like just about everybody right now, I am sick. It seems that my winters are spent in a constant state of sinusitis. It's partly my fault; I should take daily allergy meds to better ward them off, but I think I'd rather just build myself a great big bubble and live inside that.
In any case, my head is full of concrete balloons, and I have become a good subject for a kid's science fair project.
So how does one find the energy to create when one feels like curling up in a snuggie and sleeping the rest of the winter away?
Well, if you're my pal, Laura, you manage beautifully. I seriously think she might be a creative superhero. Hmmm....
If you're me, you start with something that, historically, you have not enjoyed: a cup of tea.

A Spot of Tea

I have never been a hot tea drinker. The other day, though, in the midst of my misery, I just wanted a hot mug of tea to make me feel better. And you know what? It was wonderful. My adult palate must be more discerning than that of my youth.

Infused with vanilla, honey, and chamomile, I was able to accomplish one thing. One of the things I want to do throughout the year is to keep track of happy memories and moments. I got the idea from Pinterest, and with an alteration or two, I had our memory "jar" ready!

Focus on Happiness
The end goal is to fill the vase and to read all the slips of paper on New Year's Eve. I informed Hubby that he has to participate without mockery. To my surprise...he agreed! Without so much as a smirk! (Well, maybe a little one...)
Other than this project and a couple of Instagram posts, I've been less than creative. With it being the weekend, I hope that will change somewhat. We stopped at Michael's last night, and I used some Christmas money to pick up a few crafty items. You'll have to wait to see what those are, however!
Sometime today, I plan to roll my die to see what creative endeavor I'm going to work on throughout the next week. More on that another time, too!!
Now, it's off to finish my coffee, act out scenes from Home Alone 2 with my obsessed little guy, and to peruse the photobook that arrived on my front porch yesterday. Have a great weekend!!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Getting Ready for a Creative Year

I may have mentioned this before, but there is a running "joke" in my family. I put the word joke in quotation marks because it's really not all that funny. Anyway, the "joke" is that any time I mention the word "plan", whatever idea I've attached to that word is doomed to fail.
Seriously. It's true. If I say the word "plan" as in "it's a plan!", it's not going to happen.
So I try very had to avoid using that horrid word. In the details of a creative year, I have been especially careful of what I say. I want 2013 to be a really fruitful year in terms of creative endeavors!
My creativity got a jump start with a generous gift from my creative sister, Laura. She inspires and prompts me to create, and so I made sure that I picked out some items that I would put to use throughout the year.
Tools of the Trade
I haven't delved into the Digital Art Wonderland book yet, but Creative Doodling & Beyond is wonderful!! It's set up like a workbook and it's all I can do not to plow through and do every page! I did, however, get started on the first of my three moleskines:
A Year of Creative Journal Entries
I love moleskines! They are so full of promise! I already put entries in the first couple of pages.
The first page is dedicated to my horoscope for the year. Let me tell you: if this all comes to fruition, 2013 is my year!!!!


Even if you don't take stock in such things as horoscopes, there is still the power of positive thinking! That's why I wanted this to be the first page of my journal. On low days, I can turn to this page and remind myself that I can make things work out the way that I want!
The second page of my journal was dedicated to the goals that I posted about in yesterday's blog entry. Always a good idea to keep them handy!
The third page is a...well, that dreaded word just popped into my head. Let's just say that I listed the things that I hope to accomplish this year. One of my creative goals was to accomplish a monthly project. To make sure that I do this, I mapped out what I want to do each month. With it written down and set in stone, so to speak, now I have to do each of these little projects!
A Year of Crafty Projects

And finally, I'm following Laura's lead in "scheduling" creativity. Laura had the idea to list all the creative pursuits that she likes to engage in. Then, each day, she'll roll a die to see what she'll work on. I wish that I had the time and discipline to do this daily, but I know that I'd be setting myself up for failure if I even tried. So, I'm going to roll my die on Saturday nights to see what project I'll be working on throughout the following week. I'll be able to start and finish on a weekend, so that gives me at least two days to devote to creative pursuits. I think I can make this work!!
What Shall It Be This Week?
Phew! What a lot of creativity! I also want to try to do a 365 Project on Instagram, but I'm not committing myself to accomplishing that...only to trying to do it more days than not.
Now, off to find a mason jar to fill with slips of paper listing my happy memories of 2013. Busy! Busy! Busy!
How are you planning (oh no!) to cultivate and maintain your creative life this year?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013: Goals and High Expectations

I stopped making New Year's resolutions a couple of years ago. I never seemed to fulfill very many--if any--of them! Probably because I set them so high that I psyched myself out.
Now, I simply set some reasonable goals for myself, many having to do with creative endeavors.
Before I list said goals, let me just say that I peeked at my horoscope for the coming year. And say what you will about such things, my horoscope for the next year is AWESOME!! Whether one can trust a horoscope or not, I'm going all in with a positive outlook for the coming year!! 2013 is going to be a great year for this Scorpio!
So, without further ado, some goals for the next 12 months...
Personal Goals:
1. Drama Free. People seemed to think that I needed extra drama in 2012. I beg to differ and will use 2013 to get away from all that nonsense.
2. Organization. I need to better organize myself. First step? Purge those things that I'm holding onto for no reason!
3. Fabulous by Forty. This was actually something that I started in 2012. Over the past six months, I have lost thirty pounds. I'd like to lose a couple more in 2013 and then it's the hard part: getting fit and toned. Ugh...I hate to exercise. So my goal will be to find something that will fit into my schedule and that I'll enjoy!
Now, while there may be other things that I want to work on throughout the year, I'm making these three goals my priority. No sense in overwhelming myself and giving up on all of them, right?
Creative Goals:
1. Daily. Keep a daily diary entry. I did this all last year and I want to keep this habit going through 2013.
2. Weekly. My friend, Laura, came up with this idea and I'm going to do my own spin on it. I'm going to make a list of creative pursuits I want to engage in; then, I'll roll a die and see what I'll be working on for that week. I don't have to finish a project, but I do have to practice my skills.
3. Monthly. I want to complete one "big" project per month. I found some ideas on Pinterest that I want to do, and I'm sure there will be some weekly projects that I'll want to bring to fruition.
4. Long Term. I want to finish writing my novel this year. It's been three years in the works; time to finish it. I want to get my Etsy shop up and running with some photos and see where that takes me.
So there it is. Will I succeed at everything? Probably not. And that's just me being realistic. But it makes me feel good to have direction and to have reasonable goals set for me.
We'll see what happens!
Now it's your turn. What goals are you setting for the coming year?
Open the Door to New Possibilities!