Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving, and every day

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melody Beattie

"Gratitude connects us to others and feeling gratitude allows us to be our best selves. When we are truly grateful, we can count on living the life we want." ~MJ Ryan

I am grateful for the countless blessings in my life, including you, my blog readers and online friends. May you have a fun-filled, healthy holiday!

PS ~ I've received a couple inquiries about how I made the purple FP pendant, so I'll be sharing details in an upcoming post ~ just not sure how soon due to the holiday, family in town, catching another bug, working most every weekend, etc. But ... creating & sharing via this blog make me happy, so it will definitely be ASAP!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

purple fp pendant

It was a stellar day last week when I found a forgotten gift card in my wallet. Without missing a beat, I trotted off to that store & found a beautiful purple shirt, crying out for a custom-made pendant. It was so much fun creating this pendant last night, I'm making matching earrings tonight! This Friendly Plastic is a tad addictive {smile}.

Thanks for coming by! Don't be shy if you have a question or comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

fp & metal pendants

Here are my latest Friendly Plastic & metal pendants. Boy, are these fun to make.
Here's a shot of the backs, along with a penny to show their size. I like embossing the back so it looks nice, just in case the pendant flips on my neck.

And in case you're wondering what the heck I could wear the blue, aqua & orange one with, well, I wasn't thinking of it at the time I made it, but it goes great with one of my favorite shirts....

Thanks for coming by! Drop me a line if you have a question or comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

to start your day...

In case you missed the sunrise this morning, I'm sharing the beautiful sight from central Iowa just a few minutes ago. It took my breath away. Now I'm sipping my favorite coffee as I type this. I have a hair appointment this afternoon (wonderful scalp massage), RENT tickets tonight (my favorite musical) and plans to go to a art/craft show tomorrow with my mom & sister. Life is good! Have a fantastic Friday, everyone! Oh, and I have been creating some here & there.... I just don't have anything done yet. I'll share when I do.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

part two ~ getting arboreal: a nature collection

It's time to check in on our trees, for the photo excursion Julie & JeriAnn are hosting. These updated photos are a stark contrast to the green leaves I photographed on the tree August 28. Just a few leaves remain, shimmering a golden yellow. I didn't realize it until I downloaded the photos to my pc, that our pooch is in the background of one of them. The little sweetie is with me everywhere....

It over 70 degrees here in Iowa today ~ a rare treat for November. I hope you're enjoying rare treats today too!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

diffusing flash

I don't have any recently completed items & am not big on sharing works in progress so today I want to share a photography tip. The other day in one of the Yahoo groups I belong to, the subject of photographing our creations came up: specifically, to flash or not to flash. Sometimes you need the light a flash provides but that light is just too darn harsh. What can you do?
  • Weather and all other things permitting, take your photo outdoors.
  • Add other lighting at various angles to offset the shadows cast by other lighting.
  • Bounce light off white walls and/or ceilings. This spreads out the light and reduces the shadows.
  • Increase the ISO setting, attach your camera to a tripod and take the photo without the flash.
  • If your camera has an internal flash, try covering it with a piece of white paper, tissue, coffee filter, opaque plastic lid, etc. I've found various layers of bubble wrap work nicely. This lessens the amount of light reaching your subject, thus reducing harshness & shadows.
  • If your camera has a pop-up flash, cut a white or opaque plastic bottle so it will fit over the flash, thus dispersing the light a bit.

Beware that diffusing your flash can change the light from a bluish cast to a more golden tone. You may or may not like this. It's easy to adjust with your photo software if you want to change it....easier than trying to remove shadows.

If you're interested in more information, there are a good number of photography books & websites out there. Just google "diffusing flash" and you'll get all kinds of hits. Most important... experiment to see what works best for you, your camera and your situation(s).

Here are some photos from my experimentation last night. The first three photos were taken with my subcompact Canon with internal flash. Photo one is with no flash (it's blurry because I didn't use my tripod). Photo two is with flash and photo three is with flash that I diffused with bubble wrap. What do you think?

These next four photos were taken with my better quality Canon. Photo one is with no flash (using a tripod). Photo two is with added lighting. Photo three is with flash and photo four is with pop-up flash diffused by a plastic bottle. The differences are subtle, but there. If I wanted the best photo possible, I'd start with photo four and enhance it with photo software. What do you think?

belated blogiversary!

Monday was the first anniversary for my blog. Woo-Hoo! While I wasn't sure what I was doing when I started out, and still don't have a clear focus, I look back at my posts over the year and see growth, which was one of the main reasons I started the blog. I've also met some talented individuals and made some good friends. I thank you for visiting my blog and enriching my life. You've reached out and connected with me, encouraged & inspired me. I'm grateful. Life is good!

I'll close this short post with a quote I came across today. It goes along with the variety of creative endeavors I experiment with and share on my blog...

"Everybody has talent, it's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is." ~ George Lucas

Sunday, October 25, 2009

nature nurturing

Life has been pretty stressful lately. I grabbed a couple hours after work today for some soul-care. We're fortunate to live less than 10 miles from some wonderful parks, so I grabbed my camera and headed for one of my favorites. It's not a colorful park, but it's beautiful nonetheless. I could sit and stare at the oaks for hours....

The water is so soothing....

Even the clouds were cooperating to set just the right meditative mood...
A couple times I was so moved by the sights, sounds & smells, I nearly cried....
Then a squirrel came along and coaxed a big smile out of me....

Nature brings peace, balance & harmony to my life...

Please, my friends, take time for yourselves.

"We hear voices in solitude we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts we get under no other condition."
~ Amelia Barr

Sunday, October 18, 2009

experiment, practice, learn!

When you're creating, do you strictly follow product instructions and/or lessons learned in classes? I like to know the rules mostly so I can determine which ones I want to break.

I've been experimenting more with Friendly Plastic lately. Most of my efforts have been rather hideous, but eventually something worth saving results. This pendant is an example. It's FP on copper I added texture to then heated to warm the color. The entire piece is sealed with gloss glaze. The glaze is fine, but I'm going to the store today to buy some EnviroTex Lite and see if it will provide a nicer finish on future pieces. If you've used EnviroTex Lite and have any tips you'd like to share, I'd welcome them!

1.25" x 1.5" pendant
Friendly Plastic on textured, heated copper

Saturday, October 17, 2009

autumn postcards

Fighting a bug & laying low last weekend allowed me to start working on a postcard swap I signed up for with one of the groups I belong to. I hadn't done any paper crafting for awhile, and it felt surprisingly foreign at first, but it came back to me. I finished the five cards today, so will drop them in the mail Monday.

Now to grab some lunch & a nap before moving over to the other side of the studio..... I hope you're enjoying a good day too!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

clove & our first snow

I awoke this morning congested & with a sore throat. Boy, did that hit fast, as I felt great last night. Hopefully it'll pass as quickly as it came. To help in that regard, I cancelled today's plans and am laying low. I did some online research about which essentials oils are good for my condition and unfortunately, didn't find a lot of consistency amongst the various websites I visited. A couple mentioned clove, and since that's one of my favorites and I have it on hand, I chose it. If it doesn't work, at least I'll enjoy the aroma. It's such a warm fall scent.

I had another surprise when I awoke this morning ~ our first snow of the season. Large, fluffy flakes floated gently about, bringing a crisp freshness to the air. I took these photos early in the day, from our patio door. A little over an inch accumulated before it all melted away this afternoon. The photo below shows it on a cob web ~ interesting, huh?

Stay healthy out there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

postscript to virtual studio tour

I had a great time this past weekend visiting all the studios on the tour (at least I think I made it to all of them). What a visual treat to see such varied work spaces, each enabling those creative souls to express themselves and make this world a better place. My special thanks to those of you who visited my studio via my blog and especially those who left a kind comment. You truly brightened my day.

Speaking of comments, I received several comments about the metal strip at the bottom of one of the shelving units. I'd like to share a few more of these little niceties that make the area so functional. If you can take away a helpful idea from here, my mission is complete {smile}.

Drawer slides work great for printers that open on top for scanning and for other items that need to be opened from the top when used (like my Silhouette).

An eight-outlet electrical strip attached under the work surface makes getting power easy, without the inconvenience of cords draped across the work surface. A peel-n-stick ruler (this one is 48") attached to the work surface means there's one less item to get in the way.

Modular shelving made from inexpensive mdf (medium density fiberboard) allows for wonderful flexibility. The majority of the shelves in my area are like the one pictured above. They can be hung (see next photo) or stacked. The slots allow thin panels to be inserted either horizontally or vertically as needed.

The shelves can be hung any number of ways, but we found this method to be the most flexible. A wedge-shaped board is screwed to the back of the shelf and two boards, the top one also wedge-shaped, are screwed to the wall. The board attached to the shelves nestles into the top board on the wall while the bottom board on the wall keeps the entire shelving unit equal distance from the wall, top to bottom.

Last but not least, is handy parcel paper and gift wrap storage (please ignore the dust ~ I'd rather be creating than cleaning).

If you have any questions or tips you'd like to share, please post a comment or send an email to me. I welcome your input!

Friday, October 2, 2009

welcome to my studio

Welcome to my studio! Latin guitar is playing on the stereo & cedar incense is burning to sooth the senses. There are warm glows here & there from various little lamps, dragonfly lights, etc. Make yourself at home, be inspired, get paint/ink/clay/whatever on your hands & under your fingernails. Indulge & have fun!

This photo shows the room overall (the other half, behind me as I'm taking the picture, is the yoga/exercise area ~ a very important part of my life too). My very best four-legged friend and puppy soul mate is there in his bed.... with me wherever I go.

This side is set up for card making & painting (the easel is mostly cut off in the picture ~ off to the left with my denim apron hanging from it). Recently gessoed canvas frames are drying on the work surface, calling for me to express myself. If you're interested, you can click on the photo to see more detail.

As you can see, I have a weakness for stuffed animals ~ a weakness my wonderful husband indulges me in. There are several stuffed animals sprinkled about the room, helping to lighten the mood when needed, as well as giving me someone else to talk to when our dog stops listening {smile}.

Oh, and speaking of my husband, he's the talented individual who built this studio for me, to my exact specifications. I'm very blessed... and very grateful. He didn't miss a detail. For example, the bottom front edge of the shelf in the third photo has a metal strip, painted black, so I can easily use a magnet to hang instructions in front of me when I'm trying new techniques.

This area is set up for jewelry work, metals, sewing, UTEE, Friendly Plastic (the griddle is a few shelves under the stuffed animals in the last picture) and polymer clay (the oven is behind the butterfly photo on the upper shelf to the right). I don't really need two dremels, but my dad didn't use his anymore and offered it to me, so hey, why not? It's actually come in handy a few times.... having one with a sanding disk attached all the time and the other open for whatever attachment is needed has saved a little time.

Here is, unfortunately, where I am a lot of the time, instead of creating in the other work areas. There's just so much eye candy in blogland, that I get pulled in. Does this happen to you too? I now have a timer next to the keyboard, to help me manage my time better. Saturday, however, that's going out the window. I'm going to take my time and enjoy the Open Studios Virtual Tour. Come along with me, won't you?

The words on the lampshade, repeated in at least three other places in the room are a constant reminder to myself. BELIEVE.....

Thanks for visiting. If you'd like, leave a comment with your questions or feedback. As most bloggers will tell you, it's not why we blog, but it's a very nice fringe benefit!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

open studios virtual tour

A friend turned me onto Cloth Paper Scissors earlier this month (thanks, Terry!). I don't know how I've missed this great publication all these years. I won't miss it going forward. In it, I learned of their sister publication, Studios. This I've gotta have, as I love looking at other people's work spaces. I study the organization, the practicality, the comfort, colors, you name it and I'm enjoying it & learning from it. Then yesterday, I discovered the blogs for these publications. Better yet, they are hosting a virtual open studios event this Saturday! What a great way to get to see others' studios while sharing my little slice of heaven. Grab a cup of coffee Saturday morning & join me as we take in the sights!

Virtual Open Studios Tour, beginning Saturday, October 3, 2009.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

rule of thirds

It was a beautiful day here today, so before the sun set, I grabbed my camera and enjoyed the fresh air. Since my primary goal was to enjoy the moment, I kept my photo-shoot simple using the rule of thirds.

I liked how the shadows played on the wood path...

Here they played on the fence. If you squint a little, can you see the face ~ forehead, eyes & nose?

Last winter was tough on my climbing roses, but somehow my favorites hung on and blessed us with a handful of blooms this year. This might be the last one of the season...

Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

FP dragonflies & 100 days

It's been awhile since I posted. Unwanted family drama visited, taking my time & energy. Before that, I was able to play a tad, and the last two nights catch up on some sleep, so I'm back & ready to engage again.

Here are a couple of dragonflies I made using Friendly Plastic (click on the image to see a closer view). I added glass beads to the bottom one before coating with gloss glaze. The effect is a little like the veins on real wings. The top dragonfly shows the veins that were part of the original metal charm I used to press into the FP.

Did you know, counting today, there are 100 days left in 2009? Time flies fast. Life passes quickly. Get out there & enjoy it while you can! And don't forget to come back & visit!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

what's your focus?

I got my first camera while in junior high school. I think I sent away for it from one of those ads in the back of a magazine. Unlike the pink-paddled breast-enhancer (you know them.... you'd squeeze the paddles together in front of your chest) that only gave me sore arms when it promised a larger bosom, the cheap plastic camera actually worked. Here's what was probably the first picture taken with that camera (my sis took it ~ it's of me ~ age 14).

In high school I received a 110 pocket Instamatic as well as a Polaroid self-developing camera. It wasn't until digital came around that I decided to invest in something new. I chose an Olympus Camedia C3000. It was one of the best non-SLR cameras available in 2001 and worked well for me for several years. It still works, but this year I wanted something more ~ something with more zoom that I could easily carry with me. Not finding one camera to fit both needs, I purchased two. In my purse, I carry a Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital Elph. When I'm after good photographs, I use my Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. The SX1 IS is as close as I could find to an SLR without the price tag, challenges & higher learning curve of an SLR (I hope to get there someday).

Anyhoo..... to the point of this blog post... The auto-focus of most cameras zeros in on what is exactly in the center of your viewfinder/ LCD screen. What if that's not the section of your photo that you want to be the sharpest? For example, here's a picture I took without thinking about the auto-focus.

The fence is more in focus than the metal ring. This was not my intent. When I realized my mistake, I went back for another photo. This time, I shifted the camera so a portion of the metal ring was in the center then held the focus button half-way to 'lock' it. I then shifted the camera so the fence was again in the center of the photo and snapped the picture. See the difference?

Is this earth-shattering? Umm, no. It is something, however, that novice photographers might easily forget. Discovering a problem when we get home and view the photo on our computer monitor is not the time to shift the focus. Whenever we can, it behooves us to take a few moments before taking a picture to think through everything, then after snapping the picture, zoom in to view the photo on the camera's LCD screen before moving on.

Happy photographing!