Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Gift and A Tribute To Mom

I tend to be a pretty emotional and sentimental type of individual. All of the handmade items, pictures, letters, etc. that anyone has given me over the years I have kept. I've even kept all the cards that have ever been given to me, and my school papers, reports, etc.

I've also mentioned that besides crafting and making dolls I love floral design. Natural flowers, dried floral, and silk floral - it doesn't matter. I love creating with all of them.

Well, years ago my Mother wanted something bright and beautiful for Spring. Something that would remind her of sunshine. So I decided to create a floral wreath in her favorite color - which was blue. Something she could hang in her apartment in the Spring.

So, I bought a 14" round grapevine wreath, several blue silk and berry floral garlands, several small white and blue silk floral stems that I could place where needed, light blue and lilac wired ribbon for a bow, and thin and medium gauge wire.

I wrapped the garland around the grapevine wreath until I was happy with the placement and then hot glued it in place in different sections. I then cut the small white and blue silk floral stems down so I could insert them into the grapevine where needed and when happy with the placement hot glued them in place. I created a multiple loop bow from the wired ribbon and tied it to the wreath with the thin gauge wire. Then I created a loop out of the medium gauge wire and fastened it to the back of the top of the wreath for hanging purposes.

My Mother loved the wreath I made her (which is shown in the picture above) so much so that she hung it in her apartment year round. Well, when my Mother passed away I decided I wanted to hang the wreath that she loved so much where I could see it all the time and where it would remind me of my Mom. So, I decided to hang it on the wall in my family room.

My husband thought it would be nice to hang the bridal picture of my Mother that I had created years ago from my Mothers painted wedding portrait in the center of the wreath. I loved this idea and decided that was the perfect spot for the picture I had taken of her beautiful wedding portrait.

Years ago, after my Father had passed away, my Mother had kept a small picture of him in his military uniform on her bureau. I wanted to give her a small picture of her wedding portrait to place next to my Dad's picture and decided I would surprise her with this.

The problem was that her painted wedding portrait was large. I had framed it many years before and it was hanging up in my house and is shown in the picture below. So, I to decided to create a small 4x6 picture for her to put on her bureau. In order to do this I took a digital picture of her portrait, transferred it to my computer and enhanced it with picture software, then printed it out on matte paper.

I had always LOVED the painted portrait of my Mom in her wedding dress. When my folks were married in 1953 portraits of this nature were somewhat customary. Her dress had been made by my Aunt Mary, who was a seamstress and her colored picture had been painted over by a portrait studio in acrylics. It is an absolutely stunning picture to see - as you can see from the picture below.

Getting back to the story - I, of course, being the sentimental person that I am, decided to frame one picture for my Mother and frame one for myself. I put her picture in a frame that was made up of tiny pearls and tiny sea shells. Perfect for a wedding portrait - I thought. I put my picture of her in a simple white wooden frame. I didn't want my frame to overshadow her beauty. Simple. elegant, and beautiful - as was my Mother.

My Mother loved her wedding picture and it remained on her bureau next to the picture of my Dad until she passed away. My sister so loved the wedding picture in the pearl and sea shell frame that she asked me if I minded if she took it. I, of course, said she could as I had the original wedding portrait and the small picture was a beautiful reminder of my Mom on her wedding day. A sentimental reminder of a beautiful day in the lives of my parents.

So, now the digital picture of my Mother's wedding portrait hangs in the middle of the wreath that I made for my Mother - that she loved. It doesn't get more sentimental than that! A loving tribute to my beautiful Mother.

My Answer To The Favecrafts Blog Question - What Is Your Favorite Craft Tool?

On February 24, 2010 I received an email from Caley Walsh, Editorial Director, of asking if I would be interested in answering the Monthly Craft Question over at FaveCraftsBlog. The question was: What is your favorite craft tool?

Here's what I said: The answer to this is kind of a quandary for me. You would think that the craft tool that I use the most, my glue gun, would be my all time favorite. Well, it wasn’t – now it is. Whenever I’m crafting it’s always in my right hand. In fact, sometimes I think it’s glued itself there! It is vitally important to just about everything I do – so much so that I have to admit I’ve burned a few of them out over the years. But, from time to time it’s also been my least favorite tool as it has caused me a great deal of pain. Getting scalding hot glue on ones hands and fingers from time to time was not a pleasant experience – especially when it was so hot your skin would blister and peel. However, over time they developed low temp glue guns – which no longer cause me pain. So, now my favorite tool would be my glue gun – but, it wasn’t always that way.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Sunflower Picture From 36 Years Ago

I know that I've mentioned many times how envious I am of artists with a natural talent for drawing. I wish I could draw - truly draw like a really good artist so I could paint wonderful faces on my dolls. Now, don't get me wrong. My favorite doll is still the faceless kind - especially if they're Victorian. And, I can draw somewhat, but I have to struggle with it. I don't have natural talent.

Fortunately, for me, I have been lucky enough, in my lifetime, to know a few people that have had natural drawing ability - probably since they were in diapers.

One such talent was my former sister-in-law who was so gifted and talented at any medium she chose.  She was one of those rare individuals (beautiful inside and out) who just knew what to do without any formal instruction.  How she knew - I don't know, but it was beautiful to watch her create.

One year she wanted to draw something for me so I told her that I'd love a flower. So, she drew the "Flos Solis maior" sunflower poster that was very popular at the time and which is pictured above.  This was the early 70's and the "hippie" generation was in vogue.

What was astonishing about it was it was larger than the poster and drawn all out of colored pencils.  I was speechless and amazed at the detail - especially in the center section of the flower.  You can't tell from the picture above, but there are intricate little details to the center area of seeds, the petals, and the leaves.

I fell in love with it and carried it with me rolled up to protect it from house to house over the years until one year I finally had it framed as shown in the picture above. 

However, the sunflower picture wasn't the only thing she created for me. She also created a beautiful watercolor abstract that, unfortunately, got destroyed when it got wet.

And, given this was back in the 70's when the musical "Hair" was all the rage she created a painting for me of the famous "Hair" poster (like the one shown in the picture below).  The colors in her rendition were so bright and vibrant - simply amazing.

This picture also traveled with me from house to house. However, I didn't get it framed, but would love to now so I could show you her amazing skill. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it right now. But, I will. It's here somewhere.

Like everything else with me images can be nostalgic and can bring you back to a time long gone.  Now, every time I look at my sunflower picture I think of her and am once again in awe of her natural talent.  The sunflower picture that she created  for me is every bit as astonishing now as it was 36 years ago.  Now, that's truly amazing!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Teenagers Attempt At A Yarn Picture

I know that I've mentioned many times that when I was a young girl around the holidays my Mom and Dad would encourage us to create something new. Sometimes they helped us with the holiday projects and sometimes they didn't.

Well, when I was 16, which is 40 years ago now - YIKES!!! Am I That OLD??? - I decided that I wanted to try something I had never done before. Back then exchanging Christmas cards was all the rage and we would receive hundreds of them every year which we would tape to the sides of the door frame so everyone could see them.

One of the cards we received that year was a very colorful one that had a picture of the Madonna on it. I just LOVED all the colors and the simplicity of her face so I decided to create a picture of her out of yarn. I had seen something in one of the magazines that my parents received about creating pictures out of yarn and decided that this might be a wonderful picture to create.

The first thing I did was to draw an outline of the Madonna's picture on a small sheet of paper that I could use as a guide for my larger picture. I drew my outline several times until I was happy with the picture and then indicated on it what colors would go where. Then I decided what size I wanted my picture to be and then cut this size out of a large piece of cardboard. I proceeded to draw the Madonna's face and halo rings on the cardboard per my draft and in pencil so I could erase it if I wasn't happy with it.

After I had the cardboard picture drawn and knew the size of the picture I decided how many skeins of the different colors of yarn I needed and bought all the yarn I figured I would need in an array of very vivid colors. I also bought a TON of Elmer's glue as that was how I was going to glue the yarn to the cardboard.

The yarn was going to be glued to the cardboard several ways. For the large expanse of the face I was going to glue the yarn in a circular motion and for the large areas of the halo I was going to glue the yarn in vertical rows. If you look at the large picture above I think you can see what I mean.

In any event I proceeded to glue the yarn according to my outline. I wasn't exactly sure how this was going to come out, but in the end I was pleased with my result. The colors were stunning and the yarn picture looked like the Madonna. Best of all my Mom and Dad absolutely loved it.

In fact, my Dad loved it so much he decided he was going to frame it. So, he bought a wood frame, some Plexiglas for the front and proceeded to frame my masterpiece. I intended for my Madonna to be hung during the holidays, but my Dad was so happy with it he decided to hang it in his study year round. My Dad loved that picture and it remained with him until he passed away. Then I decided I would honor him by hanging it in my house year round.

My Madonna is still hanging in one of my bedrooms and it is still as vivid as the day I made it. None of the yarn has become unglued which I guess is a testament to how strong Elmer's glue is. Now every time I look at the picture I think of my Dad, our holiday craft projects and a teenager's attempt at a yarn picture.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Wonder What The Birthday Flowers Will Be Next Year?

I just LOVE flowers and have since I was a little girl. Our next door neighbor also loved flowers and she had the most beautiful English Garden. I can remember just standing there admiring all the beautiful flowers and thinking of creating a beautiful bouquet with them.

So, I decided that at the age of 8 or so that I should have my OWN garden - just like my neighbors.  I hounded my parents for months on end one year to let me build a garden of my own. I wanted to plant dahlia's as they were my most favorite flower. My Dad always encouraged us to try new things so he agreed, but the catch was that if I wanted my own garden I would have to create it by myself and would have to be responsible for maintaining it. He'd be there to help me, but the work would all be on me. I, being a cocky little thing, said "okay" I can do that.

So, the spent the better part of the weekend one spring digging up the soil, putting rocks around it for a garden edging, and planting my dahlia bulbs. Well, the 1st year that my garden was in full bloom I had the MOST BEAUTIFUL display of color you'd ever want to see. I had red, yellow, pink, white, and maroon dahlia's - all different sizes from colossal to the little patio dahlia's. I was sooooo pleased with myself. That wasn't too hard.

Well, as the summer went along like any 8 year old I soon lost interest in the weeding and maintenance of my little garden. My Dad knew that I would which is why my garden was in the side yard and not on display in the front yard - like my Mom's garden. Like a good gardener she weeded her garden every night.

So, my garden fell to the weeds. That didn't bother me as I was at the end of the season and next spring I could start anew. My Dad mentioned to me that dahlia's were tender bulbs and would not survive the harsh New England winters. I would need to dig the bulbs up and store them in peat moss for the long cold winter and then plant them again. I, of course, thought that was too much work so I opted to leave them in the ground and put lots of pine needles over them for a blanket. My Dad just smiled - knowing full well that this wasn't going to work, but he let me have my way.

Well, of course when the spring came my dahlia bulbs were nothing but mush. More like dahlia soup. And, of course, they did not sprout. So, that spring I had no garden and no dahlia's. I did however, learn my lesson and the following year after my dahlia's had bloomed I dug them up in the fall and stored them in peat moss to replant them the following spring.

To make a long story short - I never outgrew my love of beautiful natural flowers. The bigger and brighter they were the better. So, to get to the gist of my story my darling husband knows that I love flower bouquets - especially the English Garden type.  Two years ago her surprised me with the fullest bouquet of English Garden flowers I'd ever seen.  It's the bouquet at the top of this post and shown below.  The pictures don't really do it justice as it was really, really, big and beautifully full. 

My husband was so pleased with the bouquet from the previous year that he once again surprised with with a gorgeous bouquet for my birthday last year and it is shown in the picture below.  However, truth be told, while we both thought the bouquet was stunning it wasn't quite as lovely as the previous year.  We both thought it had too much of an orange, red, and yellow combination.  But, it was pretty.

This year my husband wanted to try and replicate the stunning bouquet from two years ago so he had the bouquet shown below delivered on my birthday.  I think he achieved his goal.  It was an absolutely beautiful bouquet of flowers and I loved it. 

My only regret is that I  wish I could find a way to keep flowers fresh forever as I would love to have floral bouquets all year long.  In fact, if I could find a way to bring my garden inside all year - I would.    Just think, if I could do that, I'd be able to plant dahlia's and never have to worry about digging them up in the fall.

Alas, even though the natural beauty of cut flowers can only be enjoyed for a few short days I still think they are well worth it.  At least once a year anyways.  Hmmm..... I wonder what next year's bouquet will look like.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

What's New - We're Reviewing Craft Patterns and Kits On My "The Book Review Corner" Blog

We've been making lots of changes over at our "The Book Review Corner" blog. Some of those changes were to the format of the blog. Some of those changes were additions to what we're going to review.

We've been reviewing crafts and doll making books that we've purchased over the years.  Now we're also going to review and tell you about some of the various crafts patterns and kits we've bought over the years and made.  They might be a craft pattern or kit we've bought and made, or a punchneedle pattern or kit we've bought and made.  Maybe a cross-stitch pattern or kit we've bought and made.  Maybe even wool felt and needle felting patterns and kits we may have bought and made.  They could be just about anything in patterns and kits that fall under the umbrella of crafts.  So, given that umbrella - the sky's the limit.

We've bought hundreds upon hundreds of crafts and doll patterns over the years - if not thousands.  So, we have a LOT of patterns and lots of items made from those patterns that we can review for you and tell you about.

We're going to have a LOT of fun with "The Book Review Corner" blog in 2010 and hope you will too.