Friday, January 27, 2012

Artisan Clay Design Team - Pennsylvania Girls

Hi all.  Welcome to my January Artisan Clay Design Team reveal post.

Kristie Roeder, the magic hands behind these wonderful stoneware and recycled glass pieces of art, challenged the team to start out the new year.  She picked pieces for all of us sight unseen.  I lucked out with this blue and white pendant that's bright and summery and happy...perfect for the doldrums of a mediocre, muddy winter.  Plus, blue and white are my high school alma mater's colors, so I figured this little project could do double duty as a birthday present for one of my hometown buds as we move into our "over 40" years.  haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa  
Right away, I thought it'd be's blue, for crying out loud.  But, alas, matching the tones of these blues was harder than I thought it would be.  I think the darker one looks like the crayon called "cornflower" and the lighter one is a clearer version of the same.  You can see in the pic above that I started towards fibers that were in the right color family for this design.  I picked out some white-washed, pale wood disks and then re-discovered my little crystal hoard...that's when the design took a different turn.  
I have experienced a dearth of inspiration, lately, when I sit at the bead table.  But, one of my fave designers of late is fellow Team member, Staci over at Staci Louise Originals.  She just has a cool way of putting unique bits together into a composition that doesn't seem like it should work but just does!  So, I used her designs as inspiration for this piece...I hope she sees it as a suitable tribute. :)  
There's one other art bead included in the design:  that little blue lampworked glass round is from Sue at Suebeads, another Design Team member.  

That brings the total number of Pennsylvania girls involved in this project to four...Kristie, Staci, Sue, and I all hail from the Keystone state.  How cool is that?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lighter Handed

My wellness day on Thursday was wonderful.  I made jewelry all morning and then went to my knitting class where I practiced casting on and off.  Then, I went on to drawing class in the evening.  I didn't get around to cooking any meals, but I took the time to put a grocery list together for a few Cooking Light recipes and now I have the most yummy smells coming out of my kitchen!  I'm trying a baked root vegetable sort of thing with chicken.  We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, it's almost like I got to have another day of reprieve from anything "real world" again today and I love it.  I had to go through my photos and find something to draw.  Part of this class I'm in is designed to work us through a drawing from beginning to end.  I was completely overwhelmed with picking one thing that I will have to focus on for hours of work.  But, alas, I finally found a really pretty shot and worked it out.  I'll share more about that one as it goes in later posts.  For now, though, I want to share a few variations of a photo that I found while wandering through my files.  
This is a light from out at the Bedford Springs Resort in my hometown.  I took tons of shots during the course of a few visits last year and I want to use more of them.  I worked with this shot for my Kim Klassen layering adventures.  Some of her advice that I read this week was to be aware of having a heavy hand with adjustments and effects.  Well, I obviously didn't heed this advice for the banner, but I tried a "lighter touch" and here's what I have to offer...I wanted to share my latest PSE banner.  The "gradient map" is my new favorite tool.  Here's the new banner:
 And here's the original shot that they came from:
I'm happy it's the end of a Monday.  I got lots of good mail today, so I'll share later this week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wellness Day

I am not at work.
It is wonderful.
I am going to get my second cup of coffee.
I am going to keep working on my list of things to do.
I am going to cross some things off my list of things to do.
I am going to relax.
I am not going to hate anything today.
I am going to a knitting class.
I am going to draw.
I am going to do laundry.
I am going to have a second cup of coffee.
I am going to plan a meal and cook it.
I am going to spend some time in my right brain.
I am going to spend some time in my left brain.
I am going to spend time away from this computer.
I think it's time to start that now.
Whoooo   hoooooooooo

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Project 52: Unraveling

Here I am for week 3 of 52.  This is a shot of a bigass hunk of yarn that one of my knitting buds is using to craft up a big afghan.  
The title of this is "unraveling" because that's how I feel like my week is going and it's only just begun.  My job is beyond frustrating.  I can't find any reason to craft...everything I make just sits around here taking up space.  I can't eat because I have to have my waist measured tomorrow morning.  If I don't meet the waist measurement in the morning, I'll feel like a total loser.  Feeling like a total loser is not good.  I wish I could retire.  I wish I didn't have a mortgage.  I wish I could make good things happen.  I guess I should just try...even if I am too fat around the waist.   Cheers to whining!!  

I think I'll go shop for some beads.  It won't make me skinny or make my job more satisfying, but at least I'll get something cool in the mail in a few days.  haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wreathtastic in Williamsburg

Curt & I took a Saturday afternoon and had a little adventure up in Colonial Williamsburg.  We were focused on a dinner date, but I made him go up a few hours early so we could wander around and get some photos.  Well, we were lucky to have a nicely overcast day (with good natural light) and the village was decked out for the holidays with all sorts of natural decor.  I heard one of the villagers, aka a person in colonial garb, talking about the decorations and, apparently, the homes in the historic section can only be adorned with materials that would have been available in the 18th century.  As we were walking I joked about coming up with a blog post about this and Curt chimed in with "wreathtastic" as a descriptor...we laughed and laughed and now here it is!  Enjoy!
 Chowning's Tavern
 A little more detail at Chowning' those little "ales"

A few close-up the dried floral & fruit details

Even with supposed limits on the materials, the creativity in these bits isn't limited at all!  I didn't get many good shots of the more non-traditional materials like cotton or feathers or antlers.

And, finally, while we waited for dinner, a little shot of us.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New Banner

I don't normally stay up this late, but I forgot my sheets were in the washer so now I'm waiting until the final tumbles are done.  In the meantime, I'm having a little fun with PS Elements and trying to figure out how to get a pic sized right for a banner.  Normally I use Picnik and it's really easy to resize things.  This was a little more challenging, but I think I figured it out!

Here's the photo it started from:
And here's the end product:
You may ask yourself, "Why would Jen put a copy of the banner in the post when it's right there at the top of her page?"  Well, I'll answer by telling you that my mom is at least one of my fans and she sees my posts via a daily email, so she wouldn't know what kind of "banner" I was talking about unless I make it crystal clear.  haaaaaaaaaaaa

It looks a little squished, but I think it'll work for now.  I'm taking a Skinny-Mini photoshop course with Kim Klassen, so hopefully I can figure out the measurement stuff along the way.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Little Texture

I selected my Week 2 photo for Project 52.  It's this door...the door to something delightful, but only in my imagination.  Until I figure out exactly where it should lead, I spent some time having fun with it in Elements and even added one of my own textures!  I'm gonna be learning a lot more about textures this year because I just signed up for a year-long adventure with Kim Klassen called "Beyond Layers."  I'd love to thank my dear friend, Sally Russick, but I can't just yet because I have to see just how much time I'm going to lose staring at my computer playing instead of getting things done!!  haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa  Just kidding...the only way to learn how to fun-up pictures is to practice, so having a program to follow is a great way to work.
Week 2 - Welcome
If you're's the before shot that I took with my iPhone.  I used five different layers with various masks to make it look like this.  My brother challenged me to never "just apply a filter" and be done...anyone can do that.  It's the little tweaks that are going to make it all mine.  So, that's what I tried to do here.
The Before - The Door
So, that's two for two in Project 52!  Whooo hoooo.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Art Bead Luck

I just got the best email from Shaiha:  
my blog is going to be the next host on the Art Bead Love Tour!
What that means:  I will be getting a package in the mail this week that includes a 1 1/2 foot chain filled to overflowing with handmade artisan beads.  Then, I'll get to pick some from the chain to keep and then refill them with art beads from my own overwhelming stash.  The whole idea came from the organizers over at the Love My Art Jewelry blog.

It's all about creating handmade from handmade.  I can't wait to see what's on the chain now that it has gone through a few stops:

Whoo hoooooooo!!!  
I'll be posting my own giveaway to find the next stop on the tour in a couple of weeks...see you then.  :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Joining the Club: Scritches

I was seriously busy last week and it was great!  I took my "word" to heart and got out and about.  I used to find some groups and I'm pleased to report that I had a great time at both!  This post is a start of my involvement in the Hampton Roads Digital Photography Club (HRDPC).  I guess I didn't really have a particular expectation when I went to the meeting on Tuesday night, but I was pleasantly surprised at the extensive involvement and really welcoming atmosphere.  There were over 30 people there at the annual brainstorming session to come up with programming for 2012.  It was really high energy and everyone seemed really generous and genuinely driven to share their skills.  There were quite a few professionals in the room, but I still felt like I could contribute some value with my own less-experienced creative perspective...and that felt really good!!!

In addition to the great face-to-face interactions, I'm excited about the projects.  The club organizers go out of their way to put fun challenges together that will allow anyone to participate.  First off is Project 52--a picture a week.  Apparently they did this last year with a Project 365--I can't imagine trying to shoot a pic every day.  But, I think one a week is definitely do-able.  Here's my first shot:  Scritches.
Can you guess what it is?  Think dumpster!  haaaaaaaaa  This is the concrete outside my office where the dumpster used to be.  I thought it looked kinda retro-70's wallpaper combined with nice lines.  I used my handy dandy iPhone's Hipstamatic for this one.

Another cool HRDPC idea is their Scavenger Hunt.  I have two months to shoot a specific list of 10 items.  This one includes a yellow sign and a news van, among other things.  I'll have to figure out how to get some sort of checklist on my phone so I won't forget when I see something I need!

Other than those things, I'm looking forward to next week's meeting because folks will be showing off photos of their "key moments" from 2011.  It's not necessarily the best picture of the year, but something that was pivotal to life or photography or whatever.  I'm excited to share my own but I haven't picked a pic yet.

I've gotta get another cup of coffee and keep the laundry train moving before Curt gets here.  He's riding down on his motorcycle since the weather is so wonderful.  Then, we're going to see Rock of Ages, the musical, tonight.  I love me some hair bands, so I'm really looking forward to it!  

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Life Accoutrements"

Okay, they're technically Christmas ornaments, I guess, but I'm transitioning to the mind that ornaments can be pretty, decoratey things all the time!  They're sort of "life accoutrements."  I've come to that idea for two reasons:  a.  I really love the ornaments I made a few weeks ago and am going to hang them up somewhere other than a tree so I can see them all the time; and b.  I have some beautiful ornaments from Rebecca Anderson of Songbeads that I got in Sally's ornament exchange and blog hop and I don't want to put them away either!

Let me start out with a photo of these three pretty dangles from Rebecca!  The best thing about them...they have a bunch of wonderful artists represented in them!
According to the little note Rebecca sent along, the poinsettia is by Elise Canning, the lovely textured urchin bead is from Blueberri Beads, and the lampworked glass is from One Silly Moo.  I love the mix of beads and how they're all tied together with wonderful rustic wirework.  So pretty!
Rebecca's been having a sad week, so if you have a chance to stop over at her blog and send her some hugs, I know she'd appreciate it.  Plus, you have to go see what I sent her!  Just a is off the "beaded path" and highlights some of my latest crochet handiwork.

Sally has started the year off with some big changes that include a new blog at The Studio Sublime.  So, she could use some hugs, too, as she sets off on a new adventure or, as her word of the year more aptly states, a new "journey."

The rest of the ornaments from the blog hop are already on display at these blogs since the original reveal date was back on 17 December:

Rebecca Anderson and Jen Velasquez  (finally!)

I have to get back to work writing a paper about irregular warfare strategy.  Good grief!  haaaaaaaaaaa  Enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Getting with it...getting involved

I really have to get with it!  I spend way too much time by myself.  I'm not saying I don't enjoy it and that others might not be jealous of the peace and quiet, it's just that I really want to learn more about the things I have fun with like photography and other crafty pursuits.  I'm sure I could continue to learn lots and lots on the Internet or through books and magazines, but I feel like I'm missing something...personal interaction.  Plus, I spend too many hours of my day in a job that I don't necessary find all that fulfilling, so I feel like I need to find a niche where I can make a difference.

So, my word for 2012 is:


I've already gotten started with sorting out a few things to do in the coming months that will get me out to meet new people and try some new things.  I found a couple of groups on and will go to my first meeting of a local digital photography group tomorrow!  I'm a little apprehensive, but, heck, what have I got to lose, an evening? 
I'll try to peel back a few layers and try to figure out how to channel my creative energy into something halfway productive and at least a little bit meaningful.  haaaaaaaaaaaa  Wish me luck!


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Bedford, PA, United States
I'm a retiree/artist/student who makes things. It's a nice kind of lifestyle!

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