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!

Coloring – It’s Not Just For Kids Anymore

A wide variety of coloring book subjects

Do you remember how much fun you had coloring as a child? The box of 64 Crayola Crayons, with the built-in sharpener, was like the Holy Grail. Not to worry – those days of fun and creativity can be yours once again. Adult Coloring has arrived.

Adult coloring display

Coloring groups are forming across the country and around the world. A few times a month, many local libraries and community centers host Adult Coloring Nights, and the materials are provided free of charge. Participants share drawing tips and a few laughs, as well as the occasional homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Can’t find an Adult Coloring group in your area? Start your own. Coloring is a great activity for all generations, so invite your friends, and family. Bring new meaning to “Happy Hour” by inviting your co-workers to join in on the fun. A quick online search provides free downloadable pictures. Your local craft store has a wide selection of colored pencils, gel pens, magic markers, and crayons, which are all frequently on sale.

Abstract Spiral Design

There’s more to coloring than meets the eye. Having fun is obviously the first benefit, but it’s also therapeutic – reducing stress, stimulating the brain through decision making, and socializing for people who may not otherwise have opportunities to make new friends and enjoy time away from their hectic, everyday routines. World-renowned rehabilitation facilities have adopted adult coloring as a standard part of their therapy programs.

Coloring is easy, providing instant gratification for beginners, while presenting significant challenges for the more advanced. For many people, this is their first introduction to the world of art, and can lead to an interest in pursuing arts and crafts classes.

Even on a coloring book page, there's nothing quite like a Ferrari.

Publishers and art supply companies have begun catering to this new adult market, creating more complex designs in a wide-variety of genres, such as history, geography, nature, sports, and fantasy. Digital galleries have been popping up online to display the finished works.

Coloring in progress.

There was a time when some well-meaning adults might have uttered the words, “Aren’t you a little too old to be coloring?” Today we’re more likely to hear, “Scoot over and pass me the red and blue pencils.” Make room on the refrigerator! The big kids are here to color!

In Search of Artistic Inspiration

As a lifelong artist, I am constantly on a quest to find my next creative project.  Walking up and down the aisles of the local craft stores, I find that I am not alone, in fact far from it.  Arts and Crafts are more popular than ever, and the number of people participating is growing on a daily basis.  The purpose of this blog is to share crafting ideas to inspire each other, as we form a community of craft lovers.  And so the journey begins…

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