Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My backyard mermaid

I love being in our backyard when the weather is nice.  After being cooped up during the cold, dreary winter months, I try to spend as much time as possible out there.  I paint out there, read out there, nap in the hammock out there, and of course play with the pups.  We dont have tons of land but we are fortunate enough to have a nice privacy fence to ward off the nosy neighbors-if only there was a  way to make it soundproof!-and also let the pups run free in a safe environment.  I've been trying to add little touches back there to make the space even more enjoyable.  This past summer, I made a mermaid to hang on the back of the garage.  She is visible from almost the entire backyard.

I sketched out a basic shape on some fairly thin plywood, and then cut out the shape.  Yes, I cut it out by myself, that's why she's got some wonky spaces.  I then started painting her.  I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to finish her so I painted the fin with scales and just basically thought over different ideas for her.  

I started gluing seashells and little glass marbles onto her tail.  I used quick-set epoxy to attach them.  I gave her fins a more patterned placement of the shells.  I also added more glass baubles around her waistline.  I like how that looked, so then I had to decide what to do with her body and hair.  

I had a terrible time painting her boobs, so I decided she needed a shell bra.  I affixed two of the larger, better matched shells on her torso to cover my awful paint job.  I then went in search of hair material.

I decided that branches would give her a fun, funky 'do and I began epoxying them in a crazy hairstyle.  When everything was attached and dry, She was sealed up since she'd be hanging outside and then, with the hubby's help, we screwed her onto the back of the garage.  I love how she turned out.  I know have a funky, unexpected surprise to make me smile and enjoy the backyard even more!  

Now I just gotta wait for the warm weather to return!  Thanks so much for stopping by.

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Monday, February 20, 2012

Peace sign-Pottery Barn knockoff

For Christmas this year I decided to make my niece a large, lighted peace sign to hang on her bedroom wall.  I saw this idea in a Pottery Barn catalog, but found it to be priced out of range for our gift giving budget.  It didn't seem like it would be that hard to create so I ran my idea by my hubby.  He agreed to help out so we we went off to the hardware store in search of plywood.  

We purchased a thin sheet of plywood (I cant remember exactly, but I think it was only about 1/4" thick).  I sketched out a peace sign using rulers-which I usually revolt against using-to make sure everything would be even and look correct.  This was the most difficult part of this project.  After I did the sketch and thought it looked good, my hubby got to work cutting it out for me.  He even sanded it!  Then we put on a few coats of white paint.  I had thought about making holes all around the sign to stick the lights through, but decided that I liked the idea of them being behind the sign and backlighting it.  I spread out a string of white Christmas lights over the back of the sign and started to tape them down.  Problem was, the tape wasn't staying down.  I thought maybe we could use a staple gun and staple the wires on, but the staples were to deep, or the wood was to thin.  Either way, the result was an oops of going all the way through the sign, and then it was necessary to patch up the holes and paint job.  After the fix was complete, we decided that push pins would work to hold the tape down and the wires were quickly held in place and the sign was completed.

Here it is (sorry for my hub's hands-the sign requires 2 nails to hang and we dont have any in our house to demo it from) unlit.

And here it is with the lights lit up.
I love how this turned out.  My niece loves it.  It was fairly easy to make and very inexpensive in comparison to buying from the store.  Hope that maybe you've been inspired to look through a catalog with a new eye.  

Thanks for stopping by.

I'm linking this project here:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pet Portrait Commission-Dan's cats

This painting was actually done last spring.  I was looking for new ways to help fundraise for my Breast Cancer 3-Day walk and I decided to try to do art and craft commissions in return for donations.  This worked really well for me and helped me bring in quite a bit of money to help in the fight for breast cancer.  This painting was done for my friend and walking buddy Dan.  We walked together in San Diego in Nov. 2010, and again in Boston during July 2011.  We're signed up to walk again in San Francisco in Sept. of this year.  He is a wonderful friend and I enjoy all the time we are able to spend together. 
I found it funny that I was super worried about painting the tiger striped gray cat.  That one went well and just fell into place without much of a struggle.  On the other hand, the black and white one was very hard for me.  I had to redo that one a few times to get it right.  This is an acrylic painting on a 9x12 canvas.  It was a fun project to work on and I learned quite a few things while I was working on this painting.  Here's one of the photos' I was sent to base my painting from:

You can see another pet protrait that I painted here.

I'm still open to doing commission work both for donations, and for profit depending on the situation.  I've got a few things in the works and I can't wait to get started on them.

Thanks for stopping by

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sisterhood of the Traveling Sketchbook-October, Eva

Its been quite awhile since I had a sketchbook to work in.  I'm actually kinda thankful that some of them were delayed as the last part of 2011 was a bit busy without the stress of getting entries done and out in a timely manner. 
This book belongs to Eva and I hope you'll visit her blog and see all the lovely things she does.  I seem to have a skip in months as the last one I did was for August and this book came ready for me to do the October spread.  Not a big deal, but I had formulated some basic ideas for September and hadn't for October (Crap!!) so I had to do some serious thinking before I could start painting.  It was odd to think of Halloween when the world is inundated with Chocolates, hearts and all things Valentine.  This October I spent quite a bit of time working in a haunted house so I thought it'd be cool to try to bring some aspect of that to life for my entry.  Spooky old house with huge lit windows.  A monsterous harvest moon with tree limbs outlined in its glow.  And of course a black cat on the fence.  I really liked working on this once my idea was in place. 
I wanted to try something new, something I hadn't seen before but had an idea for, and thus the fishing line spider web took shape over top of the journal spread.
And then I had to incorporate something with the web on the reverse side where my thoughts on October reside.  I wrote different things that I love about October along the spider web on this spread to give it a bit more depth and interest.  I also gave my not so creepy crawly spider green glitter eyes!
This book will be sent of to Lisa later today.  I always have so much fun doing these entries and it is so wonderful to see the great art that each of them holds.  I can't wait for the next one to arrive!
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My photo op stand-in

I have a great friend who runs a haunted house and a corn maze each fall.  I volunteered to help paint some things for her.  I was excited to do this for a few reasons. 
1.  Its always a great experience to help someone. 
2.  It would allow me to paint something I've never done before. 
3.  It would allow me to paint on a scale I've never done before. 
4.  It would allow me to work with someone to decide on a concept together and then help make our joint vision become reality. (As opposed to me painting my usual subjects.)

We decided it would be fun to have one of those photo-stand in's for visitors to take pictures with.  I brainstormed a few ideas and did some rough sketching.  After some consultation, we decided to do a farmer and his horse peeking out from a barn door.  She bought me a huge sheet of plywood, tons of paint and left me to it.  I sketched in the design and then left the cutting out to the "head holes" to someone else.  I can't be trusted with power tools!  In the picture below, the area above the roof still needs to be cut off, but the rest is the final project.  This was really fun and challenging for me and I'm pretty happy with the results. 
I also helped paint in the haunted house.  The moon and the owl eyes are black light responsive, and also glow in the dark.  This passageway also has many bolts of lightning as you walk through.  It was fun to work on this room as everything is so huge!  I have to admit to freaking myself out while painting in the haunted house.  My friend left so I was in there alone and although the lights were on, it was still pretty spooky.  Especially when the wind would blow the plastic that hangs throughtout the maze like house and make sounds like someone was in there with me.  It was really spooky when I was painting near one of the blind corners and I kept hearing things.  No one can ever accuse me as to having an underactive imagination.  They can call me a scardy-cat, but not unimaginative!
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A gift to some real life Heros

Our local Volunteer Fire Department has been incredibly supportive of me and my constant fundraising to fight breast cancer.  They allowed me to set up a booth selling tshirts and other breast cancer awareness items during their annual fall festival fundraiser.  They did this not expecting anything back, they were simply helping a neighbor.  Not only did they let me sell, they all bought from me and on the last night of the festival they all wore my shirts around showing incredible support in the fight against breast cancer.  It was a wonderful experience and I am very grateful to have such fun, compassionate, caring people serving our community.

I really wanted to do something special to let them know how much I appreciated their help and support.  They restored the original 1938 fire engine that served our town.  They spent tons of time and energy on this project and it is a spectacular restoration.  Needless to say, they are very proud of the end result and now use it in parades. 
I decided I would try to paint the fire truck.  You need to realize, I've never painted a vehicle before.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  This is the most detailed thing I've ever done, and it took lots of time and effort.  I even had to cut back on my coffee (Oh NO!!) in order to get my hands steady enough for the detail lines!  I really am proud of the way the painting turned out.  I made the firemen dinner and presented the painting to them and their reaction made all of the time I invested on this project worth it. 

They now have it hanging in the office at the fire department and I hope they continue to enjoy it.  They continue to support me and my fundraising adventures and I love them for that, and for all the work they do to help our community.  I think of them and pray for them each time I hear those sirens sound.  It people like these men and women who restore my faith in society.  Please remember to thank those who give their time to help others, especially in such a dangerous manner.
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bottle cap music note ornament tutorial

I have a tradition of making ornaments for all of my piano students each year.  This year I came up with these personalized music note ornaments.  I used the same concept as gifts for my church choir but substituted a picture of the painting I had made of the church inside the note head.  These were fairly easy to make once I got the hang of it.

I had some tubing in my stash that I had picked up on clearance a long time ago.  I simply cut them down to a reasonable length.

Bought bottle caps (the used ones all had dents from openening so I couldn't recycle!)

Added some copper foil so I could solder them

Soldered the whole thing together

Drilled a hole which I thread some wire through for the hanger.

Added the picture or the name, layered on some Glossy Accents, and then threw a glass pebble over the top to give it dimension.

I think they turned out cute and everyone seemed to like them.
Thanks for stopping by.

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