Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pretty Places, a Party, and a Present.....

"The busy bee has no time for sorrow."
~William Blake~
I have been as busy as bee buzzing from one project to the next and it has left little time for blogging so I thought I would direct you to some pretty places to visit and tell you about an exciting blog party coming up in July. I have add a few new sites to my blog roll and thought you might enjoy visiting them also.Last week I introduced you to a wonderful artist, Toni Kelly, of A Spattering. Her paintings are just amazing and I am sure you will love getting to know her.

I'd also like to introduce you to Lori of Before the Stroke of Midnight. Lori is a very talented and I just love her digital art!

Heidi of Birds of a Feather has such a dreamy style in her decorating and art. I wish I lived in her area to be able to attend her Mermaid Tea workshop!

Katie of Raggamuffin Gal is a wonderful artist and such a sweetheart. I know you will love visiting her too!

Tiffany of Shabby Scraps has exquisite style and her blog photos are just so dreamy to browse through.

Sharon of SharDon Exclusives makes some of the most beautiful jewelry I have ever seen. Her bead work is amazing!

Domestic Bliss, well the name says it all, this blog archive is pure bliss to browse through!

Rose Garden Romantic has that great feminine vintage vibe that I love so much.

Sandi of Wayside Treasures also has that dreamy cottage style.

If you are looking for some terrific party ideas you will not want to skip visiting Entertain Exchange. You will find all kinds of gorgeous table settings, party themes and ideas. I am in love with these little black olive penguin appetizers, they are almost too cute to eat!

Speaking of parties, Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage is having a blog party called, Where Bloggers Create, to be held on July 24, 2009.
Karen was inspired by the publication, Where Women Create, as well as a post over at Bella Dreams, where Denise posted some photos of her studio space. These inspirations got Karen's juices flowing thinking there must be many more gorgeous studios and work spaces out there in blog land. Karen's invitation is to join her in a blog party to share your creative space whether it be a full blown studio space, a converted closet, or a humble kitchen table.

To participate just leave a comment on this post link along with the address of your blog. Karen will add you to her link list on her sidebar. On July 24th you simply post your photos and stories about yourself and your creative space on your blog. To visit all the links just go to Karen's blog and click on her sidebar link list and enjoy. I hope to see you there!

Since I could not play with you today I thought I would leave you a little present to keep you occupied in my absence ~ a paper playmate!
Isn't she adorable? I found this paper doll sheet at a free online paper doll site. I can't find the link to give proper credit so if you know, please let me know. Feel free to download and use her in your paper crafting. Enjoy!

Miss Sandy

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Serendipity Sunday: Stillness on the Merry-Go-Round Ride of Life.....

Serendipity: Making an unexpected or delightful discovery(Photo of riders on the Over-the-jumps Arkansas carousel in the 1930's)

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots in the fire.
Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!"

~Psalm 46:9-11 (Amplified Bible)~

When I was a child a trip to the zoo meant a ride on the merry-go-round. There was an amusement park across the street from the zoo where the sound of the calliope drifted across the air and heightened the anticipation of exiting the zoo when the ride would take place.

( Restored Over~The~Jumps Carousel at the Little Rock, AR Zoo)

The unusually large wooden carousel not only went in circles with the horses going up and down in time with the music, the floor of the ride was shaped like large waves so that the you rode the crest of each one as your colorfully painted steed sped forward, round and round, up and down, over the waves. And yes, there was a real brass ring to grab for. I was never content to sit still in one of the swan benches and just enjoy the ride. I wanted action, movement, and motion. I also wanted to try and grab that brass ring. If you were able to grab the ring, there was a prize.In our busy goal~oriented action~based society, stillness is not something we are accustomed to. It seems we are on the merry~go~round ride of life reaching to grab the brass ring to win the prize. We never cease from circling. Life moves forward with its ups and downs like the horses on the ride. We want action, movement, motion, and we are never content to just sit still and be. Even in our faith we are striving to serve.Stillness is defined as a hush, tranquil silence, calmness without winds, motionless. How often do we really take time out from the rush of life to hush our minds, our emotions, or our bodies? How often do we cease from fretting when the winds of life buffet us? How often are we motionless? How often do we withdraw into the arms of the Lord and experience true tranquil silence of heart, mind, body, and emotion? How often are we willing to make the choice to dismount, to cease from grabbing for the brass ring, to stop trying to win an earthly prize, and just be content to sit in the swan seat and enjoy the ride in tranquil silence?As a child I knew how to enjoy the ride and wildly anticipated it. I was always sad when it ended. But, I always knew I had it to look forward to the next time we visited the zoo. The pauses in between the rides were ones in which the sound of the calliope still called to me mount up and take a ride but distance and location prevented me from doing so. It is the same with practicing stillness, the sound of life will still pull, tug, and call to you to come and take a ride. The key to stillness is to distance and location.To find your "swan seat" on life's ride, distance yourself, if even for a few brief moments, from the ride and withdraw to a quite place and cease all motion. Allow your heart, mind, body, and emotions to relax and rest. Pausing and practicing stillness for just ten minutes per day will ready you for the next ride on life's merry-go-round. Sit in silence with the Lord, let Him handle your war, let be and be still, know (understand and recognize) that He is God. Through your acknowledgment, He will be exalted and you will be refreshed, restored, and ready, even possibly anticipating, the next ride.
(Swan photos taken at Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, MO)

I was beyond sad when the amusement park closed and my beloved merry-go-round was sold to a private collector. This week I learned that it had been completely restored and donated to the zoo. It now stands just inside the zoo entrance, calliope music calling to one and all who enter to come and take a ride. For old times sake, the next time I visit the zoo, I think I will take a ride on the merry-go-round, only this time I will chose a swan seat, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Miss Sandy

P.S. Did you know that swans are a symbol of love and fidelity? Our stillness in the presence of the Lord symbolizes the same thing. Pause, and calmly think of that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nautre Notes Collage Journal.....

"I love to think of nature as as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."
~George Washington Carver~(Click on any photo to enlarge for detail viewing)
Yesterday I had a little play time in the studio and I made a little nature journal out of some of Ooops supplies. Ooops supplies are things that I have been experimenting with that might not have turned out exactly like I wanted them to for a certain project. I usually just tuck them away until I find another use for them.In this case I was interrupted while coffee dying some paper, fabric, and lace. I laid the wet items on a wire table and forgot about them. When I came back they had dried with a waffle pattern on them like the table. This was too rustic looking for the project I was doing so I set them aside until yesterday.

This muslin fabric coffee dyed cover has tattered uneven edges to give it an old look. I wanted this to look like an old worn field journal. I stitched it on the sewing machine with a dark brown thread using a decorative feather stitch.Pressed under a small piece of clear acetate are a few dried flowers. It is framed out with strips of coffee dyed paper and lace, old brown buttons, and walnut ink lettering. The cover is embellished with a little red bird printed out on ledger paper (another Ooops) as well as a corner cluster of one of my little fiber and wire nests, a velvet leaf, wire trendels, moss, and a sprig of berries. The spine is tied with a piece of natural twine and accented with a snippet of golden colored ribbon. The pages were cut with a decal edged scissor, stacked, and sewn to the spine of the book using a straight stitch on the sewing machine. When you open the journal you get a whiff of coffee scent.

I intentionally kept this journal very simple in design, leaving room for some creativity for the journal recipient.
Each set of pages contains photo corners, a matted rubber stamped journal block, and vintage bird image printed out on manila paper. I included a cutting template for use with nature photos or for sizing mini pieces of artwork. I combined collage and a nature photo as an example of what the journal could be used for. I really wanted this to be an interactive journal and to encourage the recipient to exercise their creative muscles and imagination. The journal block could be used to list the species and traits of the species in the photo or to tell a bit about the photo such as how the mama Blue Jay dived bombed me as I tried to capture her little one on camera. Cards of pressed flowers from your garden and planting details would also be wonderful entries. Simple nature inspired photos, like the one shown above of the rose from my garden, and favorite quotes would be nice as well.

I know I have given you these in an earlier post but if you did not get them, here is the bird collage sheet I used for this project. This is a sheet I made up of birds that were featured in a vintage bird book I own.
To save to your computer, right click on the image, click on "Save Image" or "Save Image As" and it will be saved to your computer.

I hope you are inspired to make a journal of your own. If you do, I'd love to see your version!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Miss Sandy

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flea's & Tiques - Artful Finds.....

"When I go to a country, I go to flea markets, antique stores. I am always looking for something."
~Ursula Andress~
Thank you all so much for letting me know that my posts are now getting through. I really appreciate the feedback. I am sorry so many of you are experiencing some of the same issues as well as others. I think it is not "us" but "them". Anyway, I am glad to be back in loop.

I recently started a new art project and needed a few items to incorporate into the main body of the piece, soooo, I had to go flea marketing. I know, its a tough job, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do! I am working within a very limited color pallet of shades of three colors, wanted specific textures, and the items had to have the feel of a specific time period. Not much to ask for huh?

I knew my best bet would be to first try Flea's & Tiques, (1097 Highway 65N, Greenbrier, AR), one of my favorite antique and flea markets. They have a great mix of styles and items with equally great prices. The owners are friendly and fun to banter with. If you are ever in the area be sure and stop by, you will love it!(This photo has nothing to do with what I bought but don't you just love this old iron bed frame welded into a bench? Dreamy fabric too! I love this dealers booth!)

I found a wonderful old chippy picture frame with hand painted details on the corners ~ a steal at 50 cents! OK, so first thing out of the gate was not for the project I was working on but I had to buy it and I do intend for it to be a frame for a collage...someday.I did find a tiny pink fabric pin cushion with a crochet overlay,a pink leaf impression ceramic thing-a-ma-bob, and the best of all...a dance card from a 1917 Halloween Dance, complete with the original ribbon, tassel, and tiny pencil!
All of these will fit nicely into the project. The dance card cover is super delicate, I plan to carefully disassemble it, copy it and use the copy for the actual project as I don't think the original will hold up.

Ordinarily I would not touch the integrity of a vintage ephemera item but sometimes to save it you have to alter it. I will need to glue the brittle cover to another piece of paper in order to preserve it as it is literally crumbling with age. I will also treat it and all the pages with a spray that neutralizes acids that deteriorate paper and cause brittleness to prevent further decay. There are darling little notes under the dance titles.

Another stop netted me a few more items, a pair of ivory sheer ladies gloves with a ruffle at the wrist, (BIG SIGH, my technical difficulties are not over, Blogger refuses to load the photo below in the right position! In my file it it correct, when I upload it is sideways!!! Just tilt your head to the right to view the correct position. I give up!) a small round frame, and 3 chandelier crystals, a small oval mirror, and an interesting old opalescent bottle. I also found these very large spools of fiber.
One is a knotted cotton type heavy twine and the other two are chenille, these are also not for the project but for a dollar a spool I was not about to pass them up. They had several more cones and now I am wondering should I have bought them all but they are very large and take up space to store.

Can you guess which item in the photos is not mentioned? It was not a purchase, it is the first piece I made for the project and is not complete yet. If you guessed the dress you are correct!
I had a ton of fun designing and sewing this little lace number. I'll add a few more sneak peeks as I make progress.

Miss Sandy

Technical Difficulties.....

"There are two ways of meeting difficulties: You alter the difficulties or you alter yourself to meet them."
~Phyllis Bottome~

Sorry I have not been able to get a post up. I don't know if this post will be up. I may be here writing to myself for all I know. I can see my posts but you cannot. I think they are now ghost posts, invisible!

I have received emails telling me of mysterious frozen screens, only one post showing up, to disappearing posts on my blog. I have no earthly idea what is going on. I thought it might be because I imported a post written in another program causing the trouble so I deleted it. I am still unsure exactly what the technical difficulty is. If you are able to access my blog please let me know if it is there.

I will try and post again this afternoon and see if I am visible or not.

Thank You,
Miss Sandy

Friday, June 19, 2009

Q&A - "What is Matte Gel Meduim?" (tutorial links included).....

"Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new."
~Og Mandino~

I live with the Question Queen. That is a title we have bestowed upon Darling Daughter. Ever since she learned to speak she has been full of questions. They mostly start with, Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How...maybe she should have been a reporter. She has always had an insatiable curiosity and her catch phrase today is, "Hey, I've got a question."

I admit to not always being able to answer her questions, often being amazed at the things she was curious about. When I did not know the answer I would tell her I did not know but I would find out. Nothing like being given homework by your child! Many times we would sit together and look things up, the meaning of a word or how something worked.

The "Why?" questions were always the hardest to answer because the why of something or some situation is not always clear. She once asked why ducks quacked and cows did not. That was an easy one, because that is the way God designed each one of them, unique and special in their qualities and abilities. When she asked why some mommies and daddies did not love their children and were mean to them, that I could not answer as readily. The biggest question she ever asked me was, "Mommy, who IS God?" That question sent me off on a journey of exploration that still continues today but that is a whole other blog post!

I am wondering if there are any other question queens out there who might have a question for me, something that visiting here at Quill Cottage has made you curious about. I thought it might be fun to answer some of those questions in a blog post.

I was recently asked by someone viewing my archives if my kitchen floors were maple.
The answer is, no, they are knotty pine. We left the pine natural and coated it with three coats of oil based polyurethane which gives the floors durability and a honey golden hue accenting the dark knots and grain of the wood.

Penny, who is a fantastic mosaic artist (Lavender Hill Studio) and decorator (The Comforts of Home) recently asked, "What is Matte Gel Medium? Is it like Modge Podge?" after viewing this post. I sent Penny and email telling her probably more than she ever wanted to know about matte gel medium and I wanted to share some of that information here with you in case you too are curious.I use Liquitex brand Matte Gel Medium (MGM), there are other brands such as Golden, Studio, and Grumbacher, etc. MGM is an artist acrylic glue that is a heavy bodied, translucent gel that creates a matte, non-reflective finish, unlike Modge Podge which is thinner in consistency and has a shiny finish when dry. You can get MGM in a gloss finish if you so desire. Gel mediums also come in regular, soft, medium, or heavy consistancy.

(I used MGM on the above project to adhere not only the paper pieces but the lace as well)

It is an excellent glue for collage or to use as a transparent ground for acrylic paintings. MGM is opaque when wet, dries translucent and matte. It will retain brushstrokes. MGM can be used to extend acrylic paint volume, it slows the drying time and enhances blending. It is permanent, non-yellowing, flexible, and water resistant when dry. You can not only use it to adhere but to seal as well.

(I used MGM here to adhere paper to wood)

You can mix it with acrylic color but do not mix with oils. You can thin it by adding up to 25% water if its paste like texture is too thick for your use. Since this is an acrylic based product, clean up is simple soap and water.(The box above was made for a mermaid art swap I did. I used MGM to apply fabric to a paper mache box)

QUICK TIP: When washing out a brush after using an acrylic product, never ever use hot water! Hot water will actually set the paint or glue in your brush by hardening it and ruin your brush. Always use cold water for acrylic clean up.
(MGM even has a great bond for heavier paper like some of the thicker handmade papers like the ones I used above to cover mini blank journals)

You find this product in most art supply or hobby stores. Both Hobby Lobby and Michael's carry it. It is found in the fine arts department usually near the oil paints and artist canvas. This product is quite pricey with a small container being $10.99. I use the store coupons for Michael's or Hobby Lobby to purchase mine with to cut down on the costs.

(One of my favorite MGM uses, a simple paper collage)

One of the ways I like to use MGM besides adhering my collage work is to add a little acrylic stain or paint to the gel, mixing well, and top coating a project to give it an antique finish.

(MGM was invaluable in its uses for this Valentine Assemblage, from gluing on glitter to paper and beyond)

You can also use gel medium to make transfers onto paper or fabric. Here are links to two fantastic tutorials one using inkjet copies for transfer onto fabric and another using photo paper to transfer onto paper:

Lara Berch ~ is a site where you will find great free tutorials! (image source, Lara Berch)

A Spattering~ Toni is a wonderful artist who was featured in the winter issue, volume 2, of Artful Blogging. On her blog she shares her wonderful talents and techniques. I am in awe of her bird paintings!
(Eastern Phoebe by Toni Kelly)


So, now that you too know more about matte gel medium that you ever cared to, if you have something you would like to ask just leave your question in the comments section or email me, my email link is on my upper sidebar. I will address the questions in an upcoming post and with your permission link back to you if you so desire.

Miss Sandy
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