Countdown – Top Six Posts of 2020

Time Travel
In the movie, “Back to the Future”, Michael J. Fox traveled back in time.  As a new year begins, it’s interesting to review the best moments from the previous year.  As voted by you, the readers, below is a list of the Top Six posts of 2020, in ascending order:

Number 6: Say It with Flowers
Creative Flower Arranging
Flowers have been used for centuries to decorate, commemorate and celebrate the moments of our lives.  Whether you choose fresh cut or silk flowers, the artfully arranged blooms are both a challenge and a triumph for the dedicated crafter.  To read more, please click here.

Number 5: Celebrating 100th Post
100th Post
Today marks a very important milestone – my 100th post!  It has been a wonderful experience, and I thank all my readers and followers.  To read more, please click here.

Number 4: The Beauty of Wood Crafts
Beauty Wood Crafts
Wood crafts are a fun and inexpensive way to express your creativity.  From birdhouses to toys and home décor, there’s something for everyone and these projects are great activities to do with the kids.  To read more, please click here.

Number 3: Tropical Splendor
Tropical Leaves
Ah the tropics!  I’m sure we all wish we could be basking in the sun on a tropical island -sand under your feet, a soft ocean breeze, and a cool fruity drink within reach.  Our travel plans may be on hold for now, but we can dream.  A tropical project may be just what we need to brighten the day and lift our spirits.  To read more, please click here.

Number 2: Thank You
400 Followers
With many thanks to all of you, I have reached an important milestone: 400 Followers.  Thank you to all my readers and followers for liking, commenting, and sharing this creative journey with me.  I am so grateful for each and every one of you.  To read more, please click here.

Number 1: Fun with Photo Editing
Photo Editing
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could simply change a gloomy sky to a gorgeous day with a wave of your arm?  We might not have that ability now, but we can certainly achieve this monumental task through the power of photo editing.  To read more, please click here.

Future Projects
Art Supplies
And there you have it – the top 6 posts of 2020.  Now we have a new year, a clean slate, and together we shall explore the world of creativity.  There are always new ideas, new mediums for experimenting, and I’ll be sure to include more of your favorites.  Your opinions are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to so much more this year.  If you have any suggestions for future posts, please let me know.  Thanks for reading!

All the best in 2021 and Happy Crafting!

Happy New Year 2021

Beautiful Sunset
The beginning of a new year is often a time for thoughtful reflection. As children, we so easily see magic in the world. As time goes by, the obligations, worries and responsibilities of adulthood weigh so heavily upon us that we fail to appreciate the grandeur and beauty around us. Let’s recapture some of the magic!

Graphic Arts Tulips
The coming year will be filled with projects and topics to spark your creativity and inspire arts and crafts to share with friends and family. Rekindle the joy.

New Years
We find ourselves in a new year filled with infinite possibilities. May 2021 bring you Happiness & Love, and may all your dreams come true!

Thank you so much for reading, following, liking and commenting!

Happy New Year & Happy Crafting!

The Christmas Bandit

A dramatic retelling of an actual event…

The Scene of the Crime
Scene of the Crime
This cute little elf proudly stands in the front yard, bringing Christmas cheer to passersby. Then one day, without warning, he was robbed! What kind of creature would steal a scarf from one of Santa’s helpers?

Surveillance Video:
Evidence
Eyewitnesses only saw limited glimpses of the perpetrator but security cameras captured scenes of the crime in progress.

Evidence
Unfortunately, the thief seemed to know where the security cameras were positioned and successfully avoided showing his face.

Evidence
Amazingly, the thief gathered up the scarf in his mouth and leapt from a maple tree to an adjacent pine.

Evidence
After diligent work, he dragged his ill-gotten property through the pine branches. Eventually the scarf disappeared from sight, presumably lining his adjacent abode.

Police Line Up:
The Police Line Up
The police detectives rounded up potential suspects for a line up. It wasn’t hard to spot the guilty party.

The Prime Suspect:
The Prime Suspect
In a recent television interview, the suspect maintained his innocence. As to how he came to have a similar scarf in his possession, he claimed it was a cherished gift knitted by his dear mother.

Prior Records:
Prior Mugshots
A few old mugshots surfaced, trending across social media. Undeterred, the suspect claimed to be a new man, having put indiscretions of his youth behind him.

Dining at Home
Dining at Home Tree
In the absence of any hard evidence, the suspect was released with a stern warning to mind his step in accordance with the law. In the spirit of Christmas, I decided it was best to forgive and forget. After all, he probably has a family that needs to stay warm during the cold dark winter…

Rubbing It In:
Rubbing It In
Until one morning, I spotted the “alleged” thief and a group of accomplices on my front lawn bragging about their latest escapades and brazenly feasting upon a cup of hot cocoa!

New Security System:
New Security System
Having no other recourse, a new security system, utilizing bait (scarves) and trap (teeth) technology, has been installed and appears very promising indeed.

The Christmas Bandit
Christmas Bandit
Don’t become a victim! If you see this unsavory character on your property, secure your outerwear! The thief is still on the loose!

May your holidays be filled with laughter & joy! Happy Crafting!

Scarf Bandit Update:
Shredded Scarf & Straw
Back in December 2020, I posted this true story about a squirrel stealing a scarf from the neck of an outdoor Christmas elf.  Once that scarf was dragged into his nest, I didn’t expect to have a follow-up story.  We recently have had a lot of snow and the mounds are finally starting to melt.  Much to my surprise, I discovered shredded pieces of that scarf mixed with pieces of straw, as shown in the photo above.  I assumed the scarf would remain in one piece to be used as a blanket.  Instead, this creative little squirrel invented outdoor insulation.  What will this clever home improvement specialist do next?  Stay tuned!

Happy Crafting!

Giving Thanks

Busy Airport
We used to take so many things for granted – the ability to travel; gathering with family and friends, being entertained in stadiums & movie theaters; and walking around wherever we please without the need for a mask or social distancing. The arrival of Covid-19 has changed all of that.

Thanksgiving Family Dinner
Here in the United States, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season. Historically, the day before Thanksgiving has been the most heavily traveled day of the year. Celebrations include family and friends.

Dinner for Two
Due to the pandemic, our Thanksgiving celebrations will be on a much smaller scale, with most people simply staying at home.

Holding Hands
Visiting usually means reconnecting and sharing…

Virtual Kissing
But this year many will have to settle for phone calls and video feeds.

And yet there are still many things to be grateful for. Obviously we all depend upon local resources for food, gasoline, utilities, etc. One thing I hadn’t considered was the origin of many of the items I use on a daily basis, and I was surprised to discover that it really requires a worldwide effort.

World Map on Hands
In the margins of the above photo is a partial list of the items I use and their countries of origin.  It’s astounding! Each of these items connects me to people all over the world.

World Flags
This year on Thanksgiving I’m going to be thankful for everyone everywhere – people I may never meet, but whose presence in my daily life will be forever appreciated. Take a closer look at your own life and you will discover how truly connected we are like one big family.

Thanks for Reading & Happy Thanksgiving!

Clouds with Silver Linings

Silver Lining Clouds

Due to the Covid 19 virus, most of us have been in lockdown for months, only traveling for groceries or other absolute necessities.

Storm Damaged Tree

Last Wednesday a tornado wreaked havoc upon our town, knocking down trees that had stood for hundreds of years, and taking down power, internet and phone lines.

Hands Heart

I wanted to share some amazing moments, of love, generosity, and fellowship, I have witnessed over the last week:

Charging Cell Phone

Because most people were without power, one neighbor created a makeshift charging station in his front yard, complete with a table, folding chairs, and extension cords, along with an invitation to anyone in the community to charge their phones or laptops.

Grocery Store

Without refrigeration, food shopping has become a daily chore.  As you might imagine, ice can be hard to find in such a widespread blackout, but one man, who lives in a nearby town, delivered ice bags to several neighbors.

Picket Fence

The high winds tore down a section of fencing across the street.  A neighbor went right over to help the homeowner repair it in no time.  Tree trimming companies are completely overwhelmed.  While we wait, my next-door neighbor has been working in my yard for the last two evenings, clearing debris and uncovering plants buried under branches, pine needles and bark.  He is the “Energizer Bunny” of gardening and restoration would not be possible without him.

Shish Kebabs

People with propane gas grills cooked extra food for those in need.

Powerline Repairman

Electrical contractors from all over the country, as well as Canada, have shown up to restore power.  These storm chasers travel wherever and whenever they are needed, restoring power to millions of customers.

Thanks

I would like to thank everyone who has helped in any way to restore our lives: family, friends & neighbors, employees at grocery stores, gas stations, tree trimming companies, electrical, phone and cable companies, truck drivers, delivery services, essential workers, first responders, and good Samaritans everywhere.  

Wizard of Oz

We may not get the opportunity to say thank you in person, but we will remember you in our hearts!

Thank you so much!

Happy Crafting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crafter of the Month – June 2018

Crafter of the Month
Our June Crafter of the Month is Sally, from Cherry Hill, NJ. Her eclectic mix of interests revolves around two lifelong passions: gardening and animals. Tending her flower garden and feeding local wildlife requires daily attention. Sally takes the same approach with her crafting, as she lovingly nurtures each project to completion. Below is a small sampling of her work.

Ceramic Pumpkins
Ceramic Pumpkins
Ceramics
One of the best things about autumn is the availability of pumpkins. This cute pair of ceramic pumpkins looks beautiful in any season. The orange paint was applied following the contours of the outer shells. Darker ridges add depth and dimension. The interiors have been painted yellow with an additional clear glaze to make them food safe. Crafter Tip: The pumpkin stems were coated with a specialty paint, which blends green and brown colors together during the firing process. No two are exactly alike and it produces a more realistic appearance.

Valley Forge Memorial Arch
Vally Forge Arch
Photography
This beautiful arch, located in Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, is a memorial to General George Washington and the Continental Army. Taking this photo at an angle adds visual interest, and beautifully showcases the carved stonework and massive structure of this architectural icon. The cool, light gray stone sharply contrasts with the robin’s egg blue sky.

Amethyst & Fluorite Necklace
Amethyst & Fluorite Necklace
Beaded Jewelry
Ever since the first precious gems were discovered, people have crafted jewelry to showcase their finds. Wearing beautiful gemstones against your skin is such a luxurious, decadent experience. This faceted, deep purple amethyst necklace has a carved fluorite center stone and sterling silver accents. Crafter Tips: Genuine gemstone beads are available in many varieties, shapes, and colors at a fraction of the cost of cut gemstones. Be sure to purchase gemstones from reputable sources, such as Fire Mountain Gems.

Christmas Boots Ornaments
Christmas Boots Ornaments
DIY Kits
If you haven’t visited a craft store recently, you’ll be amazed at the selection of DIY kits to make anything from stepping stones and suncatchers to pillows and toys. This is a great opportunity to do a creative project with the convenience of having all the necessary supplies in one box, and the simplicity of easy to follow instructions for adults and kids of all ages. This Christmas ornament kit included all the sequins, straight pins, and ribbons needed to make two boots. Crafter Tip: Before selecting a project to make with your kids, be sure to check the recommended ages – kits often include small parts and pieces.

Jaguar Needlepoint
Jaguar Needlepoint
Needlepoint
The gaze of this predator meets the viewer eye to eye. Large paws hint at superior physical strength and agility. In the blink of an eye, he could disappear into the jungle, blending perfectly among the foliage with his spotted fur coat. Intricate details in this needlepoint were created using a single style stitch, which relies upon color, light and shadow to define the subject. The dark stained, distressed wood frame coordinates perfectly with the abstract jungle foliage. Crafter Tip: For best results, needlepoint should be professionally blocked and framed.

Footprints Matted Photo
Footprints Matted Photo
Semi-Custom Picture Framing
During childhood, some of our best friends are pets. Through every adventure, real or imagined, your faithful companion is always at your side. This adorable photo has a very special customized two-tone double matt. The artist traced her dog’s foot and then transferred it onto the tan matt board. Each print was cut out using an Exacto knife, revealing the dark brown layer beneath, creating the footprint pattern. Crafter Tip: For maximum impact, use two high-contrast matt board colors.

Happy Crafting!

Crafter of the Month – May 2018

This post is the third in a series featuring crafts made by members of our community.

Crafter of the MonthOur May Crafter of the Month is Lisa, from Kaanapali, HI. Her passion for creativity started with a package of eight oversized crayons for kids and several coloring books. This led to a lifelong love of all arts and crafts. There’s always a project in progress and others waiting in the wings. Inspiration can strike at any hour, day or night. When it does, Lisa dives right in, eager to see where the journey will take her. Below is a small sampling of her work.

Cold Beverage Coasters:
Cold Beverage Coasters
There was a time when beer was simply sold in cans or bottles, without much fanfare. With so much competition, wine and spirits companies are vying for consumer attention with funny commercials and elaborate packaging. Who could forget the scary old tree from Angry Orchard Hard Cider or how about the headless horseman riding a hippo from River Horse Pumpkin Ale, pictured above? With a few easy steps you can turn this eye-catching artwork into cold beverage coasters. Cut out the designs to fit standard 4” x 4” or 6” x 6” cork squares, available from any craft store. Waterproof the cardboard by sealing both sides with clear, self-adhesive laminating sheets. Finish the edges with black craft tape, and glue onto cork squares.

Crafter Tip: Avoid air pockets in laminate by applying firm, even pressure using a credit card or flat plastic ruler.

Painted Wall Mural:
Tropical Mural
Hovering for a second, an iridescent hummingbird pollinates tropical flowers in this vibrant wall mural. This is only a small portion of a large mural encompassing several walls in this tropical themed bedroom. Although the majority was painted over a period of months, new additions are periodically added – lizards, tree frogs and butterflies are hidden among the foliage, creating a life-size Seek & Find puzzle for everyone to enjoy.

Crafter Tips: During the layout phase for a wall mural, use a colored pencil a shade lighter or darker than the background color, making the lines unnoticeable later. To prevent damage from the sun, ensure the painted designs are protected from direct sunlight.

Crocheting:
Crocheted Afghan
Philadelphia sports fans will appreciate this afghan representing the NFL Eagles and the NCAA Villanova University. Although it was completed last year, ironically both teams won their respective championships in 2018. This oversized blanket is big enough to share while watching the games, keeping you warm and showing your team spirit. When folded, one team shows on top, which can be easily alternated by flipping it over to celebrate the team of your choice.

Crafter Tip: Take the official sports logos with you to buy the yarn so that you can match the team colors.

Beaded Jewelry:
Grapevine Necklace
What could be more luxurious than a thick strand of beads adorning your neck? Hours of love (four to be exact) went into the making of this grapevine spiral necklace, which was created using a needle and specialty thread one bead at a time. Iridescent blue & purple glass beads are woven with blue triangular beads and aqua seed beads.

Crafter Tip: Have a lot of patience for this time-consuming project & good lighting to work with tiny beads. The spectacular results are worth all the effort.

Watercolor Painting:
Watercolor Disney's Castle
Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida is probably one of the most recognized buildings in the world. The soft muted colors in this watercolor painting capture the fairy tale atmosphere. As in the animated films, you almost expect to see the princess herself stroll onto the bridge to look out over the water.

Crafter Tip: When working with watercolor paints, layer the colors – once the paint has dried, you can always go darker, however the opposite is NOT true. If a wet area looks too dark, lighten it with a damp brush to soften the color, or dab with a paper towel and allow it to dry before re-attempting.

Ceramics:
Ceramic Lion
Just about everyone has a favorite animal of choice on a carousel. Some prefer the fancy horses, while others take a walk on the wild side with exotic tigers, giraffes and the occasional polar bear. This ceramic carousel lion roars to life with bright, festive colors associated with carnivals, fairs and amusement parks. The realistic, sculpted details of the face, fur and saddle are enhanced by the color scheme, calling to mind childhood memories of summertime fun.

Crafter Tip: When cleaning the raw clay, be very careful with fine details and fragile areas. The tail on this figure broke off and had to be carefully re-attached and patched with clay. It’s not as smooth as the original, but blends well, and has restored strength due to the kiln firing process.

Happy Crafting!

Crafter of the Month – April 2018

This article is one in a series featuring crafts made by members of our community.

Yarn Skeins

Our April Crafter of the Month is Kathy, from Broomall, PA. It is said that charity begins at home. Kathy has taken this message to heart as she uses her crocheting skills to make lap blankets for people confined to wheelchairs, in nursing homes and religious organizations. While watching television or talking with friends, that crocheting needle is always in hand. Below is a small sampling of her work.

Crocheting:

White Rainbow Baby Blankets

A handmade baby blanket makes a great gift. Don’t know whether it will be a boy or a girl? No problem. White super soft yarn with rainbow stripes in pastel pink, blue, green and yellow will coordinate with any décor in the nursery. The loose weave creates lightweight comfort and warmth. Tip: Baby blankets tend to be rather small. You might want to consider making a larger size to be shared by a parent and the baby for an afternoon nap or a ride in a rocking chair.

Bright Pink Multi-Color Afghan

No one could miss noticing the vibrant colors in this sassy pink afghan. The fringe has been doubled for an ultra luxurious appeal. Because it is oversized, it can be used as a bedspread, or draped across the back of a sofa, within easy reach, for movie night or binge watching television.

Blue & White Baby’s Blanket

It’s a boy! This soft and inviting baby blanket is ready and waiting to wrap up a newborn in cozy style. Babies are fascinated by colors and textures. The spacing of the stitches in this blanket allows the baby to grip the fabric, holding it close like a warm hug. Tip: Most yarns are machine washable, but never assume. Always check the label prior to purchasing yarn for your next project. Baby blankets require a lot of washing, and many toddlers continue to carry around their baby blankets like cherished friends. Buying washable yarn will ensure years of enjoyment for the baby and the parents.

Adult Coloring:

Pigeon

Poised upon a tree branch, this pigeon is ready to take flight. The pencil strokes define the feathers, especially upon the neck, tail and wing. Use of shimmering colors on the side of the head is a realistic touch. The brilliant colors of the eye, beak and feet grab your attention as he stares back at you. The shading and colors on the branches add texture and the new leaves hint at the time of year, spring.

Spotted Owl

Owls are often heard but not seen. This spotted owl seems perfectly content to remain where he is. Those sharp inquisitive eyes are perfect for finding prey in the dark. Contrasting colors define the feathers across the wings and body. Strong claws anchor this large bird upon a branch, while the boulder in the background suggests this perch is high above the ground as it would be in nature.

Painting:

Painted Oar

Green design has been an important part of protecting our environment for generations to come. Kathy has actually taken action by reducing waste, which would otherwise end up in a landfill. The seagull in this photo was painted upon an old wooden oar from a rowboat. The blue and white color scheme brings to mind sunny days at the seashore playing in the sand. The wind, water and feathers are depicted using various brush strokes. This newly repurposed oar would look great hanging above a bar, or over a sofa in an ocean-themed room. Tip: Other than a little sanding, the oar was kept in its original condition. A base primer coat of paint should first be applied to prepare the raw wood prior to painting your designs. Curtain rod or tapestry holders, purchased in any home improvement store, will proudly keep your creation in place for all to admire.

Happy Crafting!

Crafter of the Month – March 2018

This article is the first in a series featuring crafts made by members of our community.

Art Supplies

Our first Crafter of the Month is Trudy, from King of Prussia, PA. She has been crafting for years, and continues to seek out new creative challenges. A visit to the craft store is a time to be savored, as she walks up and down every aisle in search of her next project. A shopping cart is definitely a prerequisite for this endeavor. There’s always a new product or technique to explore, and countless reasons (or excuses) to create something new. Below is a small sampling of her work.

Crocheting

Blue Granny Squares Afghan

Traditionally Granny Squares are crocheted with contrasting yarns. This afghan was made with light blue yarn for the centers and navy blue for the perimeters. Both shades were used for the thick fringe. Granny Squares have a dense weave, which produces a heavy weight, very warm blanket. For a more contemporary style, you could make solid squares in several colors, and lay them out in zigzag or checkerboard patterns. Because the squares are made one at a time, this is an easily portable craft, made a few pieces at a time. Before you know it, you’ll have enough to complete your project. Tip: If you enlist the help of a family member, be sure to use the same tension on the yarn so that the finished squares will be of equal size.

Ceramics

Ceramic Beaver

Ceramic items range from decorative statues, to beautiful vases, and functional dinnerware and serving pieces. Workshops and studios offer classes for those with beginning and advanced skills, but knowledgeable staff members can quickly cover the basics, without the need for lessons. A wash technique was applied to this beaver’s fur, in which color glaze was first applied to the body using a brush, followed by a clean damp sponge to carefully wipe away the excess paint from the surface, leaving the darker color in all the crevices. This wash technique gives the fur depth and a soft textured appearance. Tip: When cleaning the raw clay, be sure not to scrape or rub too hard with tools or sponges, because it can damage the details or potentially weaken or crack the item. Once it has been fired in a kiln, the clay becomes firm and strong.

Adult Coloring

Coloring Giraffes

A symmetrical design representing the universe is known as a Mandala, and is often used as a focal point for meditation. This example includes elements from the African plains, including giraffes, trees, flowers, and vegetation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the interlocking pattern of the tree branches mimics the natural patterns in the giraffe’s fur. The light blue seen through the trees becomes the sky and distant horizon. Because the lower body and legs are hidden, the viewer is elevated high above the trees to look directly into the eyes of the giraffes. The lower half of the design mirrors the upper portion, much like the natural water reflection on the surface of their favorite watering hole. The soft palette of these colors is relaxing and closely matches those found in the giraffe’s natural habitat.

Tip: When using colored pencils, it is sometimes difficult to erase mistakes with a standard eraser. Purchase an eraser pencil, which is a pencil filled with an erasing material instead of lead. You can sharpen the eraser pencil to a fine point and use it to remove even the tiniest of marks without damaging the rest of your work. I prefer eraser pencils with a brush at one end to sweep the erasures from the page without the risk of smearing the colors with your hand.

Coloring Rabbits

In this Mandala, we are presented with a garden, complete with rabbits, flowers, strawberries, black berries, green leaves, and a moth at the center. The light blue background is reminiscent of the earth itself, and implies movement as the rabbit scampers about the garden for a quick bite to eat. The strawberries and flowers are reaching up toward the sky, while the rabbits hide among the plants, just as they do in nature. The pastel colors contrast with the rich red and blue berries on this perfect spring day. Tip: Color choice is a major part of any work of art. Sometimes going with your intuition produces the most surprising and satisfying results. Trust yourself, and enjoy the creative process.

Needlepoint

Gazebo Needlepoint

As with all needlecrafts, there is an amazing variety of stitches and an equally astounding selection of designs. This complex Gazebo landscape design was achieved using colors, shading, varying stitches & yarn types, and architectural geometry to create a three dimensional effect. The moss green velvet matt and golden, wood frame provide a window with a view into a beautiful garden. Tip: As you work with your design, the backing will inevitably become softer and somewhat out of shape. It’s important to have the finished needlepoint blocked to ensure that the stitches are straightened and the design resumes its intended shape.

Beaded Jewelry

Green Gemstone Earrings

These dangle earrings consist of green jasper and agate beads in three shapes: rondelles, hearts and twisted coins. Cool, shiny, silver-plated accent beads and shepherd’s hook earwires offset the soft matte gemstones in pastel greens. The natural variations in genuine gemstones make each finished piece of jewelry unique. Tip: Metal beads and findings are susceptible to tarnish. Be sure to store your jewelry with anti-tarnish strips, sealed away in an airtight jewelry box or zip locked plastic bag.

Happy Crafting!