June 30, 2007

hot and dusty

are the words of the week, around here... summer is here, with a vengeance. 105+ temps (probably closer to 110) all week, and no end in sight. Below is a picture of the front yard after the saguaro and Argentinian toothpick were planted. Click here to go to my flickr for more cactus pics. I hope everyone else is staying cool! Today, we're headed to the movie theater, then out to dinner, with our friend Dennis- the AC better be working in the theater!

June 25, 2007

the incredible shrinking desk

This is what happens when I'm in the middle of multiple projects... my desk seems to get smaller and smaller, until there's nothing left. The work space shrinks till I'm working on my lap, basically. When chaos ensues, as it inevitably does, then I get overwhelmed by the mess and my creativity takes a vacation until I bite the bullet and clean it up again. I'm almost there, but not quite yet, thank goodness... Below is a close-up of the work space, if you can call it that- "space" is used loosely here... It all has a purpose, though- there are some stamped images that I may or may not use, some tags waiting for paint and ink, a few rubber stamps hanging around in case I want to use them, and some half-finished slide mount frames covered with paper that will (hopefully) eventually become keychains. Yes, it is practically impossible to find anything here, but that's beside the point. (and the real projects are being worked on out in the kitchen, on a corner of the countertop... that's where the gluing and pasting takes place- partly because it's closer to the sink, but partly because of the space issues on my desk, I must admit.) But, I have been working on a couple more new projects- the slide frames here will be keychains when they're finished; I finished two sets of stamped domino magnets, and I'm working on decoupaged dominos that will also be turned into keychains. (they're drying right now; pics will come later after I spray them with sealer.) And of course, as always, there are 4 or 5 more projects waiting to be started once I get these completed!

June 19, 2007

an end in sight...

I've put so many posts on here about "work in progress" it must look like I never actually finish anything! Well, that is the thing for me- Another Etsy seller posted about this on her blog; she called it "Crafts ADD" if I recall correctly... I definitely agree! I have so many ideas in my head, and so many projects in the works, that finishing them is sometimes difficult for me. But, this project is done. (...at least for now...) I've been working on felt pins lately, and most recently had about 5 or 6 going at once... I finally finished sewing the pin backs on all of them, mounted them on cardstock, and added Crimson Cat Paper Arts labels to all of them. They're ready to go for the trunk show, now, all thirteen of them! Of course, I did just buy some black wool-blend felt at JoAnn's this afternoon, for another idea I have in mind... but at least this group of pins is done! Now, on to the picture frame I have in process, and maybe try rubber stamping on the dominos.

A close-up of the shiny, sequiny butterfly pin. The body is one piece of felt, rolled up into a tube. The antennae were cut out of the same piece of felt. More shiny-ness than I usually do, but I thought it would be fun; I think he turned out cute!

June 17, 2007

hard at work!

Gardening in the desert... difficult, hot, sweaty work! The ground is hard as rock, and in some places we actually need to soften the ground with water, and use a hammer and chisel to loosen it up. But, the results will definitely be worth it.

Yesterday, our friend Mike brought us quite a few plants from his own yard; three yuccas, a century plant, pads from two different types of prickly pear, two small saguaro (that he raised from seed), and five small barrel cactus. A plethora of plants!! We also took out the palo verde tree from the front yard, and moved two Texas sage bushes to make way for the dry streambed we're planning.

The larger saguaro and another cactus, an Argentine toothpick, will be delivered the week after next. Then, we will be done! For the time being, that is... there's still a patio extension, beehive fireplace, and an inground jacuzzi to plan...

pictures to follow soon!

In other news, Tom is home for a short weekend from California; he's been working out there the last two weeks, and will go back again tomorrow for a few more days. Then, he will be taking some well-deserved time off! I am "in charge" at work for the next two weeks, as our supervisor is on vacation. (I'm not really in charge, but will have some extra responsibilities while she's gone.) We are making vacation plans ourselves, to head back to Wisconsin in July for Tom's family reunion, up in the woods outside Wisconsin Dells. We'll also be able to meet Mom and Dad for the day, too. It should be a nice trip, but too short, I'm sure. I'm going to be taking three classes at a "mixed media art retreat" that will be held in Phoenix in August... I want to take two classes on collage- one using paper, one using "found objects" and recycled stuff; and a class on making a Mexican style "art shrine" which is similar to a shadowbox. I can't wait!!! I found information about this retreat even before we moved out here, but just hadn't been able to fit it into my schedule before now. Art Unraveled is their website, if you want to check it out.

June 11, 2007

new crafty cuteness

Yesterday afternoon, we watched the Nascar race from the Poconos... well, we waited around for the race to start, then watched it till the rain stopped it early. While we relaxed, I got busy with some felt and my embroidery floss, and worked on some new pin designs. I named this little guy Fuzzy- he turned out so cute! He was cut out using pinking shears (I love them!), has orange embroidery floss stripes, and tiny white felt eyes attached with french knots. I didn't mean to, but he turned out kind of worried looking! Perhaps there is a hungry bird after him??
I made him for my upcoming "In the Trunk" Phoenix Craft Mafia show, but just couldn't keep his cuteness to myself till then, so he's now for sale in my Etsy shop. I also have his cousin Nate (a tan caterpillar with turquoise stripes), two light blue butterflies (perhaps some long-lost relatives?), and two felt and fabric flower pins almost done as well.
Hey, if you click on the Craft Mafia link above, check out the press link on the lefthand side to see our first real press! A mention on an entertainment webpage that has links to events all around Arizona!!
And now, off to bed for doggy and me... Tom left early this morning (more like middle of the night last night; he had to get up at 3 am!) for work, and I am beat!

June 08, 2007

one down, twenty or so to go...

The glue is dry, and it's finished! Okay, almost finished- I still need to add a round piece of cardstock onto the back to cover up the rough edges of the flower petals. But it turned out really cute, I think! I inked the edges of the flower petals with distress ink before assembling it, and added brown rickrack for hanging.
My original thumbtack idea was shrink plastic shaped like bumblebees, but I decided on matching colored buttons, instead. And, of course, the colors match... I don't think there's any way I could sell this through my Etsy shop; I'm really not sure how I would ship it safely. So, it will have to wait for the show in August.

Now, I'm off to paint picture frames... to work on projects number two and three!

June 07, 2007

more work in progress...

I have a couple (okay, at least 5) more projects in the works, and wanted to show pics of the "before" states of each. Yes, I know, I haven't shown any photos of completed projects from the previous works in progress yet. That's because they're not complete. Yet. But I'm working on them, I promise! The trivet-turned bulletin board from the previous post is flattened under a stack of books till the glue dries as I write this, so there is some progress being made. (but slow- you can't imagine how long it took me to get the flower petals arranged so that I liked how it looked... sometimes I really get tired of being such a perfectionist about such things, but after 38 years, I'm not sure how I'd change.)
Anyway, on to the new projects in process... Yesterday on the way home from work, I decided to hit one of the local thrift stores, just for a few minutes. One and a half hours later, I walked out with these... two multi-pic photo frames, a clipboard, and not in the picture are two small bulletin boards. (the bulletin boards were even half price!) The black frame was plain; the white one had some silly little shell design painted on it. All have been sanded and are on their way to becoming something much more decorative! A few of the other needed ingredients: mod-pattern scrapbooking paper, cream-colored paint, silk flowers, pages from an old travel atlas, mod podge, rickrack, crackle medium and assorted ribbon (although rest assured that not all of these will be used on the same project!). The white frames came connected with jute twine, so that they hung vertically. I'll probably put them together the same way, just with some really pretty ribbon instead. The clip board will be covered with decorative paper and trimmings, and will become an "altered clipboard" which can be used to display photos. I've seen them on the internet, and wanted to make one, but never got around to it before. How could I pass up a clipboard in perfect condition for a thrift store price?? I couldn't, of course!

Then today, I stopped at WalMart. (I meant to go there yesterday, but spent too much time at the thrift store.) The composition books are destined to become journals covered in paper and trimmings, and the stencil was just darn cute. I think it was the bee skep with the bees that did it, actually- and the cute little ladybugs, and the caterpillar... darn cute! The dominos are something else I've wanted to try out for ages; they are popular for stamping on, decoupaging things on, decorating with polymer clay, all sorts of things... they could be magnets, pins, pendants, keychains... lots of things! Now I just need to figure out how to use Tom's dremel tool to drill holes in them, and I'm set.

In other news, it finally cooled off a bit here- today's high temp was only in the high 80s, which was a nice change from the 105+ temps of the past few days. Our hummingbirds are out in full force, too- they emptied the feeder in only 3 or 4 days! I just filled it up again this evening, so they're set for tomorrow morning. And, our saguaro cactus will be here in a couple weeks, too, so that's exciting! When I talked to the man from the nursery, I said we wanted to be here to direct them as to how to situate them when they're planted, but was told that it wouldn't matter. Cacti have to be planted the same way that they're oriented at the nursery; something about sensitivity to the sun??? So, they mark the south side of the plant before they dig it up, and make sure it's facing the same way when they re-plant it-weird, huh?? who knew?? Thank goodness the bullet holes in the saguaro are facing northwest, so they won't be facing the street directly! (although I still think the bullet holes are sort of romantic, in a "wild west" sort of way.)

And, in Craft Mafia news, we got our first bit of press already. Can you call it "press" if it's in cyberspace? I'm not sure, but I'm gonna! Someone (we don't know who) added a link to our first show on a site listing local events, movies, and music information. See it here... our notice is about halfway down the page. Cool, huh??

June 05, 2007

works in progress

A lot of people who write blogs also participate in Flickr groups, people who post pictures on particular topics- one of them is Works in Progress, where they share pics of projects they're working on... this post shows a bit of what's "in progress" here in Maricopa!
The first work in progress is the front yard. We're finally working on changing it from the standard "cookie-cutter" landscape that came with the house: there were three choices to pick from; we got one tree, four varieties of shrubs and plants total, and everyone's yard looks the same... I have actually driven past the house a number of times because I didn't realize it was ours! We really want a truly "desert" landscape, with cactus, yuccas or agaves, maybe a few shrubs, large boulders, and NO irrigating. This past weekend, we started on that journey- we moved five lantanas (low-growing flowering plants) to the east side of the driveway... these will be the only plants that get irrigated. It took a bit longer than we thought (moving the gravel and digging the holes was pretty hard work), and did necessitate a trip to the local Ace- we had to add some irrigation tubing for the extra plants, and had a small incident involving the shovel hitting the tubing, which nicked it and caused minor flooding. We also capped off the irrigation tubing that goes to the main portion of the yard, so from now on, everything we're leaving in the main yard is on its own. They're all desert plants, though, so it should be okay.
The next step was to plant our first bona-fide desert plant, an ocotillo. They come bare-root, so right now it just looks like a bundle of sticks, but soon (hopefully) those sticks will be a mass of small green leaves, if the periodic misting and watering coaxes it out of dormancy. (If not, then we dig it out and try again, but we won't know that for sure for a while...) In spring, they look like candles, with bright orange flower scapes sprouting from the tops of the canes. It's hard to see, but where the shrubs are right now is a raked area that will eventually be a dry streambed with river rock (that will hopefully assist with water drainage when it rains). And, the small palo verde tree in the middle of the yard has been trimmed way down so that we can eventually dig it up, to be replaced by a saguaro cactus. We knew we wanted a saguaro; we both think they're the quintessential desert plant, and besides, they just look cool. We bought it already, and are just waiting for the landscape company to call and arrange planting... it's almost 6 feet tall, so we definitely won't be planting it ourselves!! It's not legal to go out in the desert and dig them up, so it will actually come with papers, to show we purchased it legally... it also comes complete with a few bullet holes (apparently saguaro make good shooting targets when people go out into the desert to go target shooting...), which didn't do any lasting damage to it, and actually lend it a bit of wild frontier-type character.

These pics are the other works in progress... Tom is in California all week, so I have paper all over the kitchen island and the dining table... (no surprise there!) This pic is a cork trivet, a hand-drawn pattern, and cardstock that are the makings of a decorative (small) bulletin board shaped like a sunflower. (I can't take total credit for this idea; I saw a similar idea on the internet somewhere... I just put my own spin on it.) If it turns out okay (don't know yet!), I'll post pics of the finished product. This pic is the table, currently hosting a multitude of cardstock, patterned paper, tools, glue stick, and a smattering of card designing magazines. Our first Craft Mafia show (yay!!!) is August 11th (see here for details), which seems like a long ways away, but I really wanted to get a head-start on making stuff for it. There are the makings for at least 15 cards here, and more on the desk in my craft room... they're halfway designed and made now, so I just have to get out the rubber stamps, ink, and ribbon to finish up the designs. Then, I can spend some quality time with the glue stick!!!