Thursday, December 18, 2014

Knitting Journal - Chunky Cabled Throw

I have been working on this for almost 2 months. But now it's done and I'm in love!!

Needles: US 35 (made by Havenwood Farms -- they are awesome!)
Yarn: Red Heart Comfort Solids (6 giant 16 oz. skeins)
Pattern: Super Chunky Double Cable Throw Blanket/Rug from Erin Black Designs
Finished Size: 44" x 60"

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Art Journal Page 12/09/14 - Christmas Girls

These little gals are all dressed up in their Christmas dresses. These faces started out just as sketchbook sketches, but I liked them so much I cut them out and gave them their own Art Journal page. Aren't they festive?
Their neighboring page is a little neighborhood I did back in November. I didn't try to have the two pages work together this time. Instead I used a strip of washi tape to divide the pages and keep them very separate.

Art Journal Page 12/09/14 - 1 Bird, 2 Bird

I have been utterly inspired lately by quilts. Paper piecing is very similar to quilting, so you can see how I'd be drawn to quilts (even though I'm not a quilter myself).

I have this lovely quilt from Jodi at Pleasant Home and I LOVE it!! As I was hanging it up this year for Christmas I decided to make a little paper bird inspired by the quilt. And then I decided that that bird needed a little friend. And that's how this page was born.
Here's the full page spread with a page I did back in November. I didn't bother trying to connect the two pages today. I'm nearing the end of this Art Journal so I'm sort of just fitting things in where I can and this page already had a bit of blue paint for the sky so I went with it.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Christmas Neighborhood

I'm still having so much fun making these little neighborhoods. This one is currently displayed right next to my Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cream Cheese Peppermints With Chocolate

This is my "Go To" recipe for cookie exchanges and Christmas parties. They are simple and delicious.

Cream Cheese Peppermints With Chocolate (adapted from

1 pound confections sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
a few drops of peppermint oil (to taste)
green food coloring gel (optional)
4 ounces chocolate chips
granulated sugar

Using a mixer, gradually add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese, beat well until incorporated. Add peppermint extract and food coloring (if using) and combine well.

Roll dough into teaspoon size balls and roll in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet(s) lined with parchment paper. Create a small “bowl” or indentation in each ball using a ¼ teaspoon or your finger. Refrigerate for a few hours until firm.

When peppermints have firmed, melt chocolate according to package directions. Fill a piping bag or freezer bag with the corner clipped with melted chocolate. Fill each mini peppermint with chocolate and let cool

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, December 5, 2014

First Friday Art Class for December 2014 - Won't You Be My Neighbor?

We are creating little neighborhoods today in Art Class.

We began by talking about the Rule of Thirds and how it's more pleasing to our eyes to have the horizon line either lower or higher than the midline. Even in pieces where you're not going for realism--like our little neighborhoods.

We discussed the difference between a composition and design. For instance, if we made a bunch of these little houses and put them in rows with nothing else around them, that could make for a great DESIGN for fabric or wrapping paper. But today we did a full composition with foreground (either snow or grass), background (blue sky or any other color the girls chose), and our main elements (houses and trees). We also talked a little bit about Folk Art and how if we did several rows of these houses with each row having it's own little street or hill to sit on, that would give us a more Folk Art feel.

I then showed them my sketchbook where I keep several pages of basic house shapes to use as a reference when making these houses. When I see a new shape I like, I add it to my reference page. We drew several simple house shapes together.
I also gave the girls this Architectural Detail Hunt page from Art Starters by Ande Cook. I have this page laminated and keep it close when making houses. It's a great reference! I especially love all the window ideas. The girls loved that the handles on the French doors look like a mustache. :)
We talked about different tree shapes they could do--ranging from the very most basic triangle tree, to a bit more complicated two tone tree with a Y shaped trunk (as you'll see in their finished paintings).

I showed them examples of backgrounds I'd done and we discussed other ideas including attaching snowflakes cut with a tiny snowflake punch or just circles, adding clouds, and splattering paint onto your background. There are so many fun possibilities.

Then we talked about where our inspiration could come from when making our houses. You can do a theme such as a holiday or one particular color (I'm working on a pinks/purples neighborhood right now) or you can let the paper guide you or be your restriction (i.e., whatever piece I pick up next, I have to use somewhere), you can give each house it's own distinct personality. I told them to listen to the paper and let it "speak" to which one of the little, clever cuties said, "I don't trust the paper." :) Hilarious!

And then one final tip before we got down to business...GLUE STICKS TO ITSELF BETTER THAN TO "NAKED" PAPER. Put glue on both surfaces for a better adhesion. We used Glue Sticks today, but normally I use Mod Podge. (For the girls today I figured Glue Sticks would be simpler and less messy).
I made one house from start to finish to show them my process. Here are the steps...

Step 1 - Cut out your shapes and lay them out to see where you want things to go. Always leave yourself room to glue since we are not assembling these on the background paper--they are free standing houses. So if you want your triangle roof to sit right on top of your rectangle house, leave a little overlap on the top of the house for gluing.
Step 2 - Outline the house, roof, and chimney. I find it easier to do this before gluing. I use Micron pens. The girls used a variety of pens today.
Step 3 - Glue all your pieces together (being careful to not glue it onto the table) :) and outline the remaining elements. It's so much easier to outline those tiny pieces like the windows and doors once they are glued down!

Here's a picture to give you an idea of size.
Isn't it so cute?? As the girls worked they talked about how these little houses looked perfect for little fairies or magic elves.

Step 4 - Glue the houses onto your background page. The girls are using 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" pieces of cardstock for their backgrounds. Add your other elements (snowflakes, clouds, etc.)
And here are all the finished projects.
 This artist created a lovely little Christmas village, complete with a beautiful snowy sky. Isn't it cozy?
 This artist wanted to have one large neighborhood Christmas tree...and a penguin peeking out of the snow.
 This creative girl wanted to have a snowy sky AND have her houses on snowy hills. I love the simplicity and the depth the two layers of paper give.
This artist put a lot of thought into her composition and decided to leave one of the houses she made out in order to get a more pleasing, balanced composition.  
 This cutie made all of her houses very tiny and added snow circles at the very last minute. She also distressed rather than outlined her foreground grass piece.
This artist wanted each of her houses to have their own distinct personality. And I think she achieved that beautifully!

We had lots of fun and hot chocolate at this week's class. What a great group! See you next month.
ETA (12/18/14): One of our sweet little artists recently moved. We miss her terribly, but she is doing the class online. She sent me a picture of her beautiful neighborhood. Her mom said she was mad they didn't have a paper punch for her snow, but I love her improvisation!


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