Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's Garden Tour Time Again

It's that time again, the time when we share the beauty of our gardens with the public. Recently we were honored to be a part of the Newburyport Horticultural Society's first ever water garden tour. Although it was very early in the season (for us -- we are used to tours closer to the end of the month!), we were ready, and we even treated our visitors to a truly Victorian tea.

The next tour is the Country Gardens Water Garden Tour, the largest tour of it's kind in the region.  You can learn more about this fabulous tour at the Country Gardens web site. This year, our garden will be open to the public for viewing on Saturday, June 26th. If you can spare the time, bring a book and curl up in any of the little sitting areas we have and just enjoy beauty, the birds, the waterfall, the fountains, and the gorgeous blue and black dragonflies that have been flying around all week.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rest in Peace, Dudley....

Our very difficult winter - illness, flooding from the severe winter storms, downed trees - is finally behind us but the sad news continues.

At 6:43 AM, our beautiful German Shepherd, Mister Dudley, passed away at the age of 12 years and 5 months after a long struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, perianal fistulas, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatic failure, and degenerative myelopathy.

His playful antics and perfect imitations of fire and ambulance sirens will be deeply missed.

This picture was taken two weeks ago. He was the fabulous big brother to Emily, Toughie, Katie, and Elizabeth.

The bottom two pictures were taken in December, when Katie was 3 months old. Dudley showed such patience with her!

We're going to miss you, Big Guy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Congratulations Jake!

Our son, Jacob, recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Political Science (double majors). Jake was named a Student Leader by the faculty of the Communications Department and the chair of the department and one of the other professors took the time to tell us how much they enjoyed having Jake as part of their program. They were genuine and effusive in their praise and we were so proud that they think so highly of him! 

We surprised Jake with a graduation party. When asked how he wanted to celebrate, he wavered about a party and then asked if we would take his small list of closest family and friends to a restaurant. We knew that deep down, he would love a party so we agreed to take everyone to a restaurant that happens to be across the street from the Newburyport Masonic Hall. Surprise, waiting inside the Masonic Hall were more than forty friends and family who turned out to totally surprise Jake and wish him well.

Jake will be attending Massachusetts School of Law in the fall.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Artist Trading Cards -- Tip of the Week - Recycle!

Today I am introducing a new weekly column that will appear each Monday and feature helpful hints and design ideas for creating unusual and eye-stopping Artist Trading Cards. Click on the individual pictures for a much larger view.

I fell in love with these miniature works of art about a year ago and have posted about them in the past. For the basics of ATC's, you can read more in my archives here and here. For inspiration, you can also check out my ATC album in my gallery at Splitcoast Stampers.

One of the most important aspects of creating a truly fabulous art card is to start with a sturdy foundation or base. A double layer of watercolor paper or very heavy card stock makes an excellent foundation, but watercolor paper is not inexpensive and I don't always have the color I want to use in the heaviest grade of card stock. I also hate to cut a full sheet of card stock for a couple of panels for art cards, and using thinner card stock might require three or four layers to achieve a substantial, sturdy base for a card.

If you reuse, recycle, and repurpose the way we do, you have wonderful alternatives to expensive card stock or watercolor paper in your recycle bin. I use the cardboard backings from packaging materials, thin cereal boxes, jello boxes, the cardboard that lines packages of pantyhose, and even used cardboard flat rate mailing envelopes as a middle layer. With such a substantial base, you can adhere even the thinnest card stock or patterned paper to either side for a very sturdy yet economical foundation for your artwork.

At 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, Artist Trading Cards are a perfect canvas for designs utilizing your smallest scraps. I save even small pieces of card stock, patterned paper and vellum. Sometimes only a few inches are needed to add a lacy border or to paper piece a portion of a design. I store my smallest scraps in a shallow drawer sorted by size. It's my first place to rummage when I am designing a new card.

I also save pieces of punched lace that are left over from larger projects and I'll often go ahead and punch an extra strip when I'm making punched lace and set it aside to use later on a greeting card or ATC. A strip of punched lace along the side of the card or across the bottom, layered under a strip of ribbon, can set an otherwise bland piece of ribbon off or turn a plain background into an eye catcher. I also save some of the punched out shapes that remain when you punch lace.... these miniature fleur de lis, hearts, flowers, and tiny scrolls are often a perfect embellishment for these very small design canvasses.

My "regular" scrap bin - where I store larger scraps.... anything larger than 3 or 4 inches square - is my next "go to" place for paper for ATC's. My scrap bin has hanging files where I store larger scraps sorted by color. When I make greeting cards, I will often cut the extra card stock into ATC sized panels so I have a rainbow stash on hand. They fit nicely in a plastic fruit or vegetable box, the kind that strawberries are sold in.

Here are a few ATC's that I made entirely from my scraps for a recent swap using recycled cardboard panels between layers of coordinating card stock and patterned paper.

Come back next week for some helpful hints about finishing touches - techniques for giving your card a beautiful finished edge and where to find the "perfect color" for your background.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where has the time gone?

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two months since I last posted. Where has the time gone? In the past two months, we've said a sad good-bye to some close friends and family members who died too soon, well, too soon for me anyway. Finally, though, I am back at work, crafting and designing.

Here is one of my recent projects.... a page from a set of several pages with the same style and colors that I made for an album for a friend whose daughter recently got married.

I used coordinating papers from My Minds Eye's Asparagus Collection, ribbed ivory card stock, and medium brown and brick red card stock. I pleated the paper to form the outside and bottom borders.

When making an album for someone else, I have always been stymied by the problem of how to make it so they can easily add pictures to mats and frames. I solved that with this set by creating the frame on folded card stock.

I made triple layered frames that I embellished with grungeboard flourishes inked with red ink and then dry brushed and edged with gold acrylic paint. Charms dangle from each side adding an ornate, Victorian touch.

I also added glass gems and other charms. The round glass gems are new embellishment that I'm currently carrying in my Etsy store. Think dew drops but on a much larger scale. They add a punch of vibrant color to a scrap book page.

The frame lifts up so a photograph can be secured underneath, and I added mounting squares to the underside so she can adhere the frame to the base once she has inserted her pictures.