Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the Seventh Day of Christmas ...

I must admit that I was REALLY excited when the groups were announced for this twelve days of Christmas swap, because, Jeri was in my group!  I've been doing this swap now for a couple of years, and I think that this is the first year that I was in the same group as Jeri!  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy receiving art from all the artists, however, I really get excited when I have the opportunity to swap with an artist that I've not swapped with in a while.  I think the last time I swapped with Jeri - other than the fat book from earlier this year, which was a collected group effort, of course - was a tip-in swap from a couple of years ago. 

And, as you might of guessed, Day 7 is Jeri's day!

Here's what the wrapping looked like ...

Very cute and clever! 

And inside was this ...

I'm not sure exactly what it is ... but I love LOVE love it!  The mitten houses a little Santa Claus-y "stuffy" and the back of the stuffy has a pin in it.  That's the part that threw me!  I mean, from first glance, I thought, OK, this is a really cool wall decoration!  And this will look great on my wall (I'm thinking of hanging it up next to the stockings to add a bit of color and pizzazz to that section of the wall) ... but the pin in the back got me thinking ... is this a large broach or something like that?  Maybe something to pin on a warm, wooly outer coat (or in my case, cape ... I love my cape.  My gramma gave it to me.  It was one of the very last gifts she bestowed upon me before she passed away ... but I digress)

Anyway ... I really love this, it's so festive and adorably cute.  I hope it is not wrong to hang it on the wall, because I think it would add a really nice touch the the stocking wall.  (We don't hang our stockings on the chimney with care, because the tree is in the living room and the fireplace is in the family room, and we don't expect St. Nick to walk all through the house just to fill the stockings and leave our presents!  All that activity would surely awaken everyone ... even the mouse.)

UGH ... corny, yes, yes, I know.  Sorry.

OK, I'm out of here.  Thank you Jeri, for such a cute and remarkably unique gift.  I shall cherish it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

On the Sixth Day of Christmas ...

Today's gift comes from Dawn!  Thank you, Dawn!

First of all, I have to share with you the cute little box that the gift arrived in.  Check it out ...

This tiny little box came to my mailbox just like this ... talk about a fun package to receive!  So cute.  That's what I love about this gift exchange in particular ... the wrappings are almost as fun as the gift inside! 

And this is what was inside ...

This is a beautifully sparkly decoration.  The front spells out "Joy" and the back is decorated with a rhinestone.  I would have included a photo of the back, but I seldom am able to capture the beauty of rhinestones with my camera so I figured it was going to be fruitless. 

I love the way this is assembled with the chain, the little glittery ball at the end, and how beautifully it adds a touch of holiday brightness to my living room wall.  I was thinking of hanging it from the mantle, because then it would be able to move around a bit more and some of the sparkle on the back would come forth now and then, but, most of our decorations are in the living room, and my mantle is in the family room ... which is to become my studio.  Yay!  :)

But that's another story.  I do love this little decoration - thank you Dawn for this clever little piece of art.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On the Fifth Day of Christmas ...

This post is running a little bit late.  What can I say?  My Mondays are always pretty insane.  My husband is off on Monday, so we get most of our running around done on Monday, and that leaves very little time for anything else. 

But I did take a moment to unwrap today's gift, which comes from Liane! 

Surprisingly, there have been no tree ornaments given in this swap until today!  Usually, this seems to be the popular choice with these Christmas gifts, and that's not a complaint (so I hope it didn't sound like one!)  I am thrilled with ornament gifts, because I love the fact that my tree is decorated with unique ornaments.  Every single one of them is different ... no two alike ... and most of them are handmade works of art.

Liane's gift is my newest addition to my tree ...

 Isn't it lovely?

I love the little bit of sparkle that the dangly crystal will add to the tree.  This is a wonderful ornament, and I'm so happy to have a new ornament to add to my tree this year!  Yay!

Thank you Liane!  Your gift is PERFECT!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On the Fourth Day of Christmas ...

 On this Fourth Day of Christmas, I'm to open a package from Regina!  The wrapping is a plain brown bag that had been hole-punched to thread threough a piece of festive red twine to secure the bag as well as attach a label that said "day 4".  Accompanying this brown bag was this cute little greeting card.

Tucked inside the bag was this cute "altered art" tree - made of a bottle brush type tree atop two wooden spools that have been wrapped with paper, twine and holiday-ish fibers.  This is really cute!

This will make a great addition to my holiday decorations.  At the moment, it sits next to my computer, but, I think I'm going to find a new place for it on a shelf in the living room so that everyone can enjoy it!

I just love gifts like this, gifts that reflect for me what altered art really is about.  Taking something that might otherwise be a "throw away" item (thread spools) and turn them into something really special.

It's adorable, Regina!  Thank you so much! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

On The Third Day of Christmas ...

The Third Day of Christmas was the day I was assigned.  I found it interesting that not only did I get the third day of Christmas with this art group, but also with another swap I started on Steepster.  I probably should have done something very French Hen-ish with my art group, but, somehow, I just couldn't draw inspiration for that.

Anyway, I tossed around a few different ideas with the announcement of this swap this year ... at first, I thought this would be a great time for me to explore something I've been wanting to get in to for a long time now:  candle making.  But, the investment was a bit too much at this time, and I also worried that I might need a bit more time than I was counting on to get the hang of the candle making, and I didn't have a lot of time for those creative learning mistakes that were bound to happen.

I had a couple of other ideas, and the truth is, each one required some new technique or skill learning on my part, and I worried that I would end up too short on time before I got the hang of it.  So, I decided to go with something that I already knew how to do ... and something that I have been wanting to do for myself for some time now.

Smash Books!  I have been completely enthralled by Smash Books for the better part of this year ... since the first time I noticed them in whatever store I happened to discover them.  Since that time, I've seen them everywhere:  In Target, in Fred Meyer, and now my local Michaels seems to have restructured their floor plan to make room (and quite a bit of space has been dedicated to it!) for Smash Books.

I have been wanting to buy myself a Smash Book, but every time I'd look at the price tag, I'd think "Sheesh!  OK, so, it's not a ton of money, but, really, I could make one of these myself!  Why should I invest 20 bucks or so on a blank journal that I could easily make at home since I've all the tools and materials I need to do it?"  But the truth is, I never DID make myself a journal, I just kept coveting the pre-made ones... that is... until now.

I finally decided to make my own version of a Smash Book for everyone in my group.  For the covers, I was originally going to cover some book board with some fancy paper, but, I decided to instead get some contact paper because a) it's self-adhesive; b) it is easy to clean!; c) did I mention it's self-adhesive?  Since the adhesion of the fancy paper to the book board would be the biggest time consumer of the production of these books, I figured by using contact paper, it would cut the time I needed to make each book drastically.  And it did.
Then I just went through my huge collection of paper (I think I was hoarding all these papers, and I've come to realize that it's crazy to do that, especially since they keep coming out with awesome new papers.  This was a very freeing exercise for me, to be able to let go of some of the papers that I've been holding on to for a couple of years now!) and gathered up patterned scrapbook papers, various colors of cardstock, envelopes, and other papers and cut them to size, and started assembling the books using my rubi-coil to cut the holes in the papers.  Sadly, the rubi-coil isn't able to cut the holes in the thicker book board, so I needed to count on my Japanese screw punch for that job ... and about 2/3 of the way through it, my Japanese Screw Punch broke... so ... I had to rush out and buy an Imaginisce punching tool - it's the only thing I could find that was adequate enough to punch through the book board.  However, it is far less effective at doing the job neatly, and some of the books are not quite as well done as the others.  :(  Hopefully, though, everyone will still be able to enjoy their books, even if the holes punched in the covers are not as well aligned as the holes in the papers.

I added envelopes to the front and back covers, so that the recipients of the books can stash ephemera or whatnot in the book easily.

I debated with myself about whether or not I should embellish the cover of each of the books, but, I ultimately decided that since these are going to be journals that each artist can use in whatever way they see fit, I thought it was appropriate that they could embellish or decorate the covers in whatever way they see fit (or not embellish at all, if they choose not to).  I figured that way, they could truly make it their own, and that's what I wanted ... as it seems to me that is what a Smash Book is all about.  Right?

I do hope that the other artists in my swap group enjoy the Smash Books.  They were a lot more work than I bargained for, especially after my Screw Punch broke (going to have to get another one!) but, they really were fun to do.

And I even got a bit more creative with the wrapping this year!  I seem to remember lamenting about not putting as much effort in the wrapping last year as some of the other swappers, and I felt bad about it.  This year, this is what my wrapping looked like ...

I even made the tag.  LOL

Anyway ... I hope that the ladies enjoy their Smash Books!  What do you think?  Was this a good gift to give in this swap?

Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Second Day of Christmas ...

Today, our gift comes from Nancy!  Above is what the wrapped package looked like ... it's kind of hard to see with the photo but there are cute little gold stars all over the brown kraft paper ... and the ribbon has a pretty, iridescent shimmer to it.  Really quite beautiful and fun!  The kind of gift you want to find waiting for you under the tree!

Inside the package is the most delightful necklace!  Take a look!

  Isn't it pretty?  It's a little, tiny paper collage that's been turned into a pendant!  The bead is a little hard to see in the photo, but it adds a nice sparkle to the necklace. It's so beautiful!

Here's a close up of the pendant ...

So beautiful and creative.  I will wear it with pride!

I just love this gift ... and it is a perfect example of what makes this art swap so special to me, and why I have to join in on it every year!  Because of amazing works of art just like this!

Thanks Nancy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On The First Day of Christmas ...

Yep ... it's that time of year again!  How quickly the year passes!

And just like every year, I'm in the annual 12 Days of Christmas art swap.  I love this swap!  I must admit though, in the making of the gifts ... it gets a little stressful around here!  HA!  I am such a procrastinator.

Today's gift comes from Teresa!  She wrapped up a lovely little altered note pad.  A very useful gift, indeed.  I seem to always be scrambling to find a spare piece of note paper whenever on the phone!  I love that not only will this come in handy at times like those, but, also that every time I reach for it, it will remind me of the fun I had for this year's 12 Days of Christmas gift swap!

Thank you Teresa!  I love this note pad! 

PS:  Starting tomorrow on the SororiTea Sisters Tea Review Blog, I will be reviewing the 12 Teas of Christmas from Della Terra Teas!  That will be fun too!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Excuses!

Well... maybe a few.  Ha!

Yeah, I've been dreadfully absent from my art blog once again.  If you really miss me, you can always check out my tea reviews on SororiTea Sisters (we recently added a new sister to our SororiTea, and we're thrilled to have her on board!) 

To tell the truth, I haven't been doing a whole lot as far as art is concerned.  I've just been too occupied with other things, and too overwhelmed by the state of my studio to get in there and do any serious organizing.  Which seriously needs to be done ... as in MUST be done.  I'm tired of making it my New Years Resolution every year and still doing nothing about it.

I have managed to do a few things, though.  Earlier this year, I was part of a fat book swap with a Transportation theme.  Every one of my pages was a little different, based on what ephemera I had available to me, but the color scheme was pretty much the same on each one ...

I'm currently in the final "planning" stage of my 12 days of Christmas gift for the annual swap that I take part in.  For the previous years, I usually made ornaments, mostly because I LOVE altered art ornies!  Most of my tree ornaments are altered art pieces, I only have a few "store bought" ornaments, and even those store bought ornaments are all unique in some way (no boxed bulbs in this house!) 

But this year for the swap, I've decided to do something a little different, a little bit out of the box.  Mostly what lead me to this decision is the fact that most of October I was either laid up because I sprang my ankle, or sick because I had a very nasty cold that I'm still getting over, and I didn't have the time I needed to experiment and figure out my ornament.  So I chose something that I knew I could do without much experimentation.  It's going to be a fun project, one that I hope the other ladies in the swap will enjoy as much as I do.

For now, that's all, I just felt I needed to shake out the cobwebs of the blog before the 12 days of Christmas swap starts!!!