Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Cards

(Click on any photo for a larger image.)

Ok, I admit it. I didn't send Christmas cards this year. Heck, I barely bought any gifts. There was just too much going on for me to sit down long enough to create my annual masterpiece to send out to everyone. To be very honest I felt a bit empty and let down about it because I really wanted to craft cards but Time is a hard task master and refused to relent in my favor.

The wee hours of Christmas morning found me feverishly throwing together some cards for the few people for whom I actually bought gifts. After all, if the card IS the gift, it should be a bit more personal than your standard store bought fare. Thank goodness for my RTU stash. It really comes through for me in a pinch. RTU stands for Ready To Use. It is the repository of all the unused bits and pieces of other projects as well as where I put the result of
any of my crafting experiments. Whenever I'm in a mad rush to throw together a card and I don't have time for my usual creative dawdling, my RTU's save my day.

The cards on this page represent all the cards I made early (like between 2AM and 6 AM early) on Christmas morning. With the exception of the curly purple tree on the top card and the hand drawn holly border on the white card to the left all of the elements used here were found in my RTU stash. A gilded border here, a rhinestone there and VOILA!, a card is born. Granted, the creativity quotient may have been somewhat lower than what I would have liked but it was preferable to a store bought card or (horrors) no card at all. Next year I'll have to start my cards earlier. Yeah, that sounds like a plan.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Sunday, November 28, 2010

An eCraft Project

(click on photo for a larger image)

Craftwell recently released its updated software designed to correct many of the problems inherent in the original version. I'm happy to report that many of the problems I had with my machine have been addressed and corrected with version 2. It's still not not my dream machine but it is far from the nightmare it was when I first received it. As a result, I've been playing around with it quite a bit, putting it through its paces and seeing what it can do. My big interest in this machine is the ability to import and cut images that I design on my computer. Now that it is behaving in a more consistent manner I can begin to dream up projects for the senior citizens center that I can cut solely on the eCraft. Here is my first paper project cut solely on the eCraft. It is a layered flower mounted on a pin back badge.

The flower on the right was cut from standard cardstock using the eCraft Fundamentals 1 set of SD images that were included in the initial shipment of the machine. The poinsettia flower on the left was cut from discontinued fabric paper the center had on hand with .svg files that I adapted from royalty free clipart. The layers are stacked with a washer between the leaves and petals to create height. The individual leaves and petals are curled and manipulated to give them more dimension and depth. Each layer, including the base badge, has a small hole punched in the middle through which passes a small office variety paper fastener. The legs of the fastener are opened and pressed tightly to the pin-back, effectively holding the whole thing together. I'm particularly pleased that I was able to salvage and repurpose the badges from being tossed into the trash by the senior center director. I believe wholeheartedly in recycling.These versatile flowers can also be made without the pin back for use as decor or dressing up a gift package. Ooh, I see a flowery spring bulletin board in my future.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The eCraft arrives...with a slew of problems.

The eCraft electronic cutter that I won at the CHA Summer 2010 Super Show finally arrived at the very end of October just as I was leaving for my 24th anniversary weekend so I wasn't able to put it through its paces until after I returned.

The machine comes with a power cord, a USB cord for connecting to a computer, a proprietary SD card with a set of images, a paper tray and a roller assembly to accommodate rolls of paper for creating banners. For more information on the eCraft's features and capabilites, visit the Craftwell USA website.

To be honest, I think this machine has been putting me through my paces and trying my patience in the bargain. The downloadable software that allows the machine to communicate with my computer and cut my own .svg images is buggy...VERY buggy. To say that there are a few glitches is to be kind. Craftwell, the makers of the eCraft, are well aware of the issues and is scheduled to release an update to the software on November 19th. (The original release date was Nov. 12, pushed back at the 11th hour.) I was so annoyed and frustrated by the problems I was encountering that, after three days and untold sheets of cardstock, I disassembled it and put it back in the box, fully prepared to relegate it to the status of expensive paperweight. By way of the eCraft Facebook page as well as a user-created Yahoo group that I have joined, I have discovered that not only am I not alone in my frustration but I am not experiencing the worst of it. Many other users are experiencing worse problems with the machine and its software.Non-communication between computer and cutter, windows asking for drivers that have already been installed, ripping, tearing and shredding paper...all sorts of problems are being reported. Yet others are reporting perfect cuts and wonderful results. Apparently there are those who have been unduly blessed by the electronic crafting angels. I, however, am not among them.

After a couple of days, I took it back out of the box and began again from scratch, uninstalling and reinstalling the software and rebooting my computer a number of times before it and the eCraft were able to communicate. My euphoria at this progress was short-lived because of the glitches inherent in the software. It performs well enough when cutting directly from the images provided on the SD card but PC-to-eCraft communications remain somewhat sketchy. Still, I was able to successfully create and cut some of my own images, albeit extremely simple ones. Anything complex and eCraft has a hissy fit, cutting random circles, stuttering in one place and likewise exhibiting ill-tempered behavior.

In spite of it all, I was able to cut one perfect project and created my son's name for his wall. All the layers of this image were created in a drawing program, saved in .svg format, imported into the eCraft software and sent to cut. I stamped the topmost layer with Versamark watermark ink and dusted it with PearlEx pigments.

In the course of my travails with the machine, I think I may have stumbled across the reason for the stuttering while cutting imported image files. I have posted my theory on my Facebook fan page under the discussions tab (click here if you're interested) and am waiting to hear if anyone else tests my hypothesis. In the meantime I, like dozens of other eCraft owners, am a lady-in-waiting...waiting for the promised update that is supposed to address all software issues known to date. I've got projects in the pipeline waiting to be cut so this update better be all it's cracked up to be. I'll keep you posted.

Ballo ergo sum - Gitana, the Creative Diva Design team member for About Art Accents

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trying to Catch Up

Wedding card
Origami folded invitation

Shrink Plastic Charm Bracelet

Cardmaking at the Senior Center

Jewelry making

I've been so busy lately it feels as if I've been running like a madwoman just to stay in place. Just in the past month alone I worked on the projects pictured on this page.

I designed, printed and folded over 100 custom invitations for a repeat client. The invite, which had to tie into the theme of love and money, is that of an oversized one dollar bill folded origami-style into the shape of a heart. In the photo, I placed the invitation next to an actual folded dollar bill so you can get an idea of the scale.

No sooner was that project completed than I had to scramble to make a card for a wedding I was attending and, of course, I did it just hours before I left for the wedding. No pressure. On the heels of that, I had to create, photograph and write instructions for a charm bracelet made with shrink plastic charms that I rubberstamped and colored. Once that was put to bed, I had to design a card, create the prototype and make individual assembly kits for my crafting class at the senior citizen's center where I volunteer. I had been away from the center for five months due to other commitments and have just returned to find that nearly all the crafting materials had been rearranged. I predict hours of reorganization in my immediate future. On top of all this, I signed up with my sister to attend a weekly jewelry making class at the local community college. I'm having a lot of fun creating simple little bracelets, earrings and necklaces. I have already designed a project for my senior ladies to do. It's the bracelet and matching earrings in the center top of the photo.

As if I didn't have enough to do, I just received a new "toy". The E-Craft electronic cutter that I won in a contest at the CHA SuperShow this summer finally arrived after numerous delays. I've been too busy to do much more than open the box. It is two feet long and so much more intimidating on my table that it was at the trade show booth. I'm going to have to dive in soon and put it through its paces so I can really start creating.

My summer flew by, autumn is in full swing, the holiday season is bearing down on me and I'm still hoping to find a little time to relax. Nope, doesn't look like that's going to happen any time soon. Maybe in my next life...

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Well, What a Surprise!

(Click on the photo to view a larger image.)

I have, on many occasions, mentioned the Dorchester Senior Citizen's Center, the place at which I volunteer. Due to many other conflicting commitments, I have been on hiatus from the center since the end of May 2010 and am due to return this month. In my absence, the center director, Ms. JoAnne Biswakarma, updated her center's blog and among her posts what should I find but a photo of myself standing before a display of the projects I did with the center's members. What a surprise!

Click here to go to the post featuring me. Click here to read about all the events that have taken place at Dorchester Senior Citizen's Center.

Ballo ergo sum

- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

Friday, September 10, 2010

Saved from the Recycling Bin

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Candleholder - before
Candleholder - after

I've been having such a good time playing with my CHA goodies that I decided to try my hand at something that wasn't made of paper.

My philosophy is that if something is so bad that it can be thrown out, it can't be made any worse by an attempt to fix it and perhaps might actually turn out well. I have a very old candle holder that was so rusted and peeling that it should have been trashed but I like it so much I tried to rescue it with some paint and some of the templates I received from The Crafter's Workshop. (Thanks again to Jaime Echt. What a sweetheart.)

After cleaning and removing the rust, I sprayed it with flat black high temperature paint, the type used for barbecue grills. Then I tried my hand at painting it with some acrylics that are suitable for permanent outdoor use. 

In the process I discovered that some of the problems I was encountering had nothing to do with the stencil or the paint but with the application. Apparently what you apply the paint with and how you apply the paint is as important as the paint itself. After trying a variety of tools I found that a sponge, a dauber or a small stipple brush work well IF the paint is applied thinly and the applicator is nearly dry. Paint that was too wet or too thick tended to seep under the template. As you can see in the second photo, I had to cut the template to accommodate the odd surfaces of the candle holder. The final product is okay for a first attempt. It won't win any prizes but I like it enough to keep it.
Some of the materials used.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

Creating with My CHA goodies

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Stencils by The Crafter's Workshop
Moon Gate to Mt. Fuji
In my previous post I showed you a small fraction of the enviable stash of goodies I brought home from the CHA Summer 2010 Supershow in Illinois. In this post you can see some of the things I've done with these materials.

Not to be confined to my favored pastime of creating cards, I decided to try my hand at decorating a pair of paper slippers. These slippers were from a diagnostic procedure my daughter underwent recently and she had kept them because she thought they were "cool". Since she is now away at college, I thought I would jazz them up and send them to her for a giggle. Her area of interest is Marine Biology and she loves all things fish-related so the choice of angelfish was a no brainer. Stencils for all the designs were provided by The Crafter's Workshop. Dye inks, fine point black marker and gel pens were used to color and doodle the design.
"Night Flight" Series -Dragonflies
"Night Flight" Series - Bird

Also from The Crafter's Workshop is the patterned paper used in the "Night Flight" series of cards. The paper is from their Enchanted Complements line and features a softly muted text pattern that appears over a barely discernible pattern of fern leaves done in various tones of one color. These cards were done with Moonlight Aqua and Moonlight Lime. The foliage and flying creatures on each card were stamped in Versafine fast drying black pigment ink, a gift to me by the Tsukineko booth at CHA. Versafine claims that it captures details like no other ink and I'm happy to say this superior ink has lived up to its claim. My images were crisp and dark with no muddiness around the edges. These cards were all created using pigment inks, a departure from the dye inks I have been using of late. I was reminded of the creamier texture and slower drying properties of pigment inks, allowing themselves to be moved around by the artist, creating smoother transitions between colors. I took full advantage of this characteristic when creating the ombre background. A fine tip black marker was used to darken the winged creature silhouettes for added emphasis and a white gel pen was used to add highlights.

The green base card for Moon Gate Path to Mt. Fuji was a gift from the folks at the DCWV (Die Cuts With a View) booth at CHA. This particular card comes from their new Street Lace Collection. The main image is from About Art Accents (plate A246) and was colored using a combination of coloring pencils and markers. The shimmering branch to the right of the main image is "Bonsai Sprig" by Stampendous, stamped in Versamark Ink, also a gift from Tsukineko, and dusted with PearlEx pigment powder, a gift from A.C. Moore as part of my sweepstakes prize.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents

CHA Convention Swag

A fraction of my "swag" haul.
DCWV designer series cards
The Crafter's Workshop papers and stencils
Cutting tools from Fiskars.
Chalks and rub-on colors by Craf-T.
A bonanza from Tsukineko

Never having been to a crafts convention before, I had no idea what to expect in spite of the fact that I had done quite a bit of reading about CHA before I went. Although I had been warned by the staff at A.C. Moore that I should expect to receive some goodies, I had no idea I'd be coming home with so much stuff. Apparently seasoned convention attendees come prepared for "swag", the insider's term for the giveaways and free goodies that one receives at these conventions. I saw some people walking around with rolling luggage just for that purpose.

I received beautiful cardstock, inks, chalks, magazines, catalogs, stencils, cutting tools and more from companies like Fiskars, The Crafter's Workshop, Tsukineko, Dies Cuts With a View (DCWV) and others. Pictured here is just a small fraction of the treasures I brought home...so much that I was concerned about exceeding the weight limit on my luggage. (Side note: On the return trip home, I placed my carry-on bag on the luggage scale. It weighed 15 pounds and it only contained the magazines and catalogs I received. The rest of the goodies were in my sister's carry on and in our luggage.) Seriously, it took me four days just to put some of it away and I still have some things in my crafts room that are floating around waiting for a permanent storage place. All this does not take into account the goodies I received from A.C. Moore BEFORE attending CHA as part of my sweepstakes prize! Heaven knows what is going to happen when my big win...the E-Craft electronic cutter... arrives. I suppose I'll have to rent a storage room somewhere.

So what to do with all of this wonderful material and inspiration that I brought back from CHA Summer 2010? Start crafting, of course!! Look for my next post where I'll show pictures of some of the things I've been making.

Ballo ergo sum - Gitana, the Creative Diva Design team member for About Art Accents

Monday, August 23, 2010

News from CHA Summer 2010

Tim Holtz and I get close.
 Robin, Scott, me, Sue and Rachel.

It has been three weeks since I returned from my extraordinary trip to the CHA Supershow in Rosedale (Chicago) as the grand prize winner of the A.C. Moore/CHA Sweepstakes. So much happened immediately upon my return that it totally interrupted my posting any information from that wonderful trip. I will try to recapture some of the highlights of what I experienced, complete with photos, over the next couple of weeks. I will also post some work I have done with the wonderful new materials I got from the show.

No sooner do my sister Sue and I arrive at our hotel from O'Hare Airport than we were greeted by Scott Ridgley, Director of Customer Loyalty for A.C. Moore. We were to see a lot of him over the next few days. He welcomed us to Chicago, gave us our entry passes and escorted us to the convention center where the show was being held. There we met two other AC Moore representatives; Robin Beam, Director of Education and Rachel Ginter, Social Media Specialist. These three individuals, whom I shall refer to as the ACM Dream Team, treated us like visiting royalty every day we were there.

Dresses designed with the E-Craft cutter.

As you can imagine, the CHA show is BIG, really big, with vendors as far as the eye can see. Although I had never been to a crafts convention before, I felt as if I was at a family reunion, meeting the manufacturers of the supplies and tools I have been using for many, many years. McGill, Fiskars, Provo Craft, Die Cuts With A View, Janome, BabyLock, and many more. Many of these vendors offered give-aways, contests, raffles and  make-and-takes. It's like being in a big candy store filled with crafting goodies.

My sister and I pose with Suede.
I specifically wanted to check out the electronic cutters being offered by Craftwell USA (E-Craft) and Provo Craft (Cricut Imagine), both of which were raffling off machines at the show. The E-Craft, the machine I was most interested in because of its ability to cut user-created SVG graphic files, held the most appeal and as luck would have it, I WON in one of their raffles. Yes, that's right, I won a Craftwell E-Craft machine and am scheduled to receive it sometime in October, according to a recent email from Craftwell. At the Craftwell booth, my sister and I met Suede, a Project Runway Season 5 designer, who had been commissioned by Craftwell to create some dresses with the E-Craft. Two of the three dresses can be seen in the photo above.

That evening the AC Moore Dream Team treated us to dinner at Gibson's, a fabulous steak restaurant located in the lobby of our hotel. While we're waiting to be seated, Robin darts away for a moment and returns with none other than Tim Holtz, crown prince of scrapbooking and crafts supplies. After introductions, he graciously agrees to pose for a photo with me. Now not only was I living a dream, I was canoodling with celebrities.

It would seem that I was enjoying an incredible winning streak and this was only the beginning.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design team member for About Art Accents (www.aboutartaccents.com)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stretching My Creative Wings

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

As a new design team member for About Art Accents, I am sent rubber stamps with which to create artwork that is then featured on the AAA website. Because I have no choice in what images are sent to me, I invariably receive stamps that I would not necessarily have chosen for myself. This actually turns out to be a good thing because it forces me to think outside my comfortable box and come up with fresh ideas. That was the case with these two stamps.

These cards were created with About Art Accents rubber stamp images. The upper image is AAA plate #246 - Gnarled Pine Tree. The lower image is AAA Plate #246 - Umbrella People. They were created using totally different techniques. "Gnarled Pine" was done using brayering, masking, sponging and reverse stamping techniques. "Stormy Day" uses chalking, masking, coloring and wet embossing. Although I have used those techniques before, I haven't used images like these before. They strike me as moody, evocative and strong, lending themselves well to being used as focal images.

It never ceases to amaze me that when I'm not totally comfortable or pleased with a piece of my work, it tends to turn out better than I expected. That was the case with these two cards and with "Stormy Day" in particular. I had never before attempted to make a "wet" card, that is to say one that simulated wetness, in this case, rain and puddles. Although I have created clouds before, I've never made storm clouds. In spite of stumbling about a bit on this first effort. I think I managed to accomplish it well enough that I am pleased with it. Several of my fellow members of the Oriental Stamp Art (OSA) Yahoo group I belong to seem to agree and have asked me to describe how I did it. To that end I have created a document outlining the steps I used to create the clouds, the shadowy reflections on the ground and the raindrops. If you are interested, just send me an email requesting the Stormy Day tutorial and I'll be happy to send it to you. My email address is gypsiwoman55@yahoo.com. Thanks for your interest.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva
Design Team member for About Art Accents

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gitana, the Design Team Diva

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

You may recall that in an earlier post I mentioned that I had been invited to become a design team member for About Art Accents, a rubber stamp company and one of the sponsors for the Oriental Stamp Art (OSA) Yahoo group. AAA provides me with rubber stamps and I, in turn, use them to create art that is then featured in its online gallery. During my recent flurry of activity (see my previous posts), I had received the first delivery of stamps and was anxiously awaiting a free moment in which to "play" with them. Here you see my first attempts with some of the many stamps I received. In both cases I chose to use a dark navy blue base card for a dramatic backdrop.

The card with the flowering branch in a vase was made with AAA Plate #244B - Covered Teacup. The image was stamped with gold pigment ink onto navy blue card stock and embossed with gold ultrafine embossing powder. The flowers were punched from white glitter paper with a six petal flower punch. The tip of each petal was then carefully notched with a 1/16" hole punch to mimic the flowers in the background washi paper. The petals were lightly sponged with a light pink, being careful to leave the very center of the flower untouched. The petal points were sponged with a darker shade of pink for depth. A light fuschia marker was lightly traced over the edges of the petals to make the flowers pop from the background. A pink rhinestone in the center completes each flower. The branches are thin slivers of brown card stock that are glued together along 1/4 of the length. I just randomly placed it on the card front and bent the free ends to mimic the growth habit of a branch. It was glued into place with Zip Dry glue and the flowers were adhered with pop dots for height. The vase was adhered using two layers of foam tape for sufficient height to clear the branch stem. The background washi papers are from Hanko Designs, another one of OSA's wonderful sponsors.

The next card was created using AAA Plate 246 - Paired Koi Pond (Light), a wonderfully detailed stamp depicting two koi swimming playfully amid swirling waves. I used sketch layout (sk071710) from Paper Craft Planet's weekly sketch challenge. Since I haven't been able to participate in any challenges or swaps lately, I decided to take this time to make my card do double duty. I chose a monochromatic blue color scheme for the water and surrounding decorative elements. To avoid losing the fish among the highly ornate waves, I colored them in shades of orange to make them stand out. The dark blue waves are highlighted with blue microbeads to give them a little depth and add some textural interest.(See close up photo for bead detail.) Nestabilities Fleur de Lis pendant die set provided the ornate mat behind the fish panel as well as the individual die cuts used to create the decorative edge below. Sentiment by Heidi Grace "Beyond the Sea" acrylic stamp set.

: About Art Accents recently acquired Art Neko Stamps. As of this writing, AAA was in the process of merging the two websites. The above link to AAA will take you to the Art Neko website (www.artneko.com). If you encounter problems connecting to that site, please try www.aboutartaccents.com.

Ballo ergo sum- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Project Update...

I delivered the completed project to my client and he was delighted with it. He liked it so much he ordered another one on the spot. This project is a monitoring vest to be used for an Alzheimer's research project. Because of the proprietary nature of research projects, I prefer not to show pictures of the vest so as not to incur any chance of infringing on the researcher's rights.

I had cleared off my work table in anticipation of working on other things but it looks like I'll have to bring out my sewing machine again. Busy, busy, busy. I like busy.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The work continues...

I have been in a whirlwind of activity lately, so much so that I haven't had a minute to craft a card in well over a month. I'm beginning to go into withdrawal but I think there may be a lull soon that will allow me a moment to unwind and craft. My latest project was to recreate a monitoring testing vest for use in an ongoing research project at the local senior college. I'm happy to say that I completed the vest and will be delivering it to the client tomorrow. The vest, which is covered in panels of Velcro-like hook and loop fabric, proved to be quite a bit more challenging than I anticipated because it kept sticking to itself. Also the panels created extra bulk in the seams, preventing them from lying flat. There was a bit of a learning curve involved here but I managed to come out at the other end alright. Now I'm hoping the client doesn't mind some of the imperfections this learning curve caused. We shall see. In the meantime I have to catch up on some of the other work that fell to the wayside while I was working on the vest like mending, ironing, cleaning, and best of all, CRAFTING! I can't wait to reclaim my crafts table so I can mess it up again.

Ballo ergo sum- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, July 2, 2010

So Much to Tell...

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

Where do I start? There is so much to say.

First let me say that I completed the six large paper flower arrangements for my daughter's high school graduation and they looked magnificent. Here's a picture of how they looked across the front of the auditorium stage. They are approximately three feet from top to bottom and two and a half feet across.

While I was in the midst of paper flower frenzy, I received a call to create another project of a totally different sort, one that requires my skills as a seamstress. I'll be recreating a monitoring vest used in the medical field for an Alzheimer's research project. I haven't even begun that project yet and I'm being contracted by yet another client who needs invitations designed for her annual client appreciation event. I had hoped to dedicate my summer to doing business research and creating a business plan but it appears I'll be too busy being in business to do any research about being in business. Not a bad problem to have.

In addition, I have been asked to become a design team member for About Art Accents, the rubber stamp company that sponsors Oriental Stamp Art, the Yahoo group I belong to. I accepted and have received my first set of rubber stamps with which to create cards and other works of art.

As if all this isn't enough, there is more. I have just received notification from my favorite crafts supply store, A. C. Moore, that I have won their sweepstakes for a trip for two to the biggest crafts show in the country, the Craft and Hobby Association Supershow in Rosemont, Illinois taking place during the last weekend in July. I am waiting to hear from a sweepstakes official so I can satisfy myself that this is not a hoax. Then I'm going to start packing my bags.

In the middle of all of this activity on my part, I've had to deal with:
- my youngest daughter's graduation and all the attendant social engagements that go along with it,
- hosting my oldest daughter and family who came up from North Carolina for the graduation
- Father's Day
- my husband's birthday
- doctor and dentist appointments
- preparing my new graduate to move to North Carolina with her sister to attend college.

Brother, I think I need a rest.

Ballo ergo sum,
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brand New Look

Blogger recently introduced new templates for its blogs so I thought this was a good time to give The Creative Diva a fresh new look. I hope you like it and will continue to visit. Thanks.

Ballo ergo sum- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Paper Flowers for a Green School Graduation

This June marks a couple of milestones. First, my youngest daughter is graduating from high school and going off to college. Second, she is a member of the very first graduating class for The Green School, An Academy for Environmental Careers, a new high school here in Brooklyn that first opened its doors to students in September 2007. As its name implies, The Green School's focus is environmental responsibility and sustainability so, of course, its graduation exercises has to promote that mission. Also of concern is the budget so the event must be organized on a shoestring. To that end, I volunteered to create large floral arrangements with which to decorate the auditorium during the ceremony. The paper for these flowers was salvaged surplus that was previously printed with school notices, flyers, etc. and was designated for the recycling bin. Never mind that I have no floral experience and have never done anything like this before. I just jumped in, learned what I could as I went long and whatever I didn't learn, I made up on the fly.

The photos here were taken at the school one day when one of the art teachers volunteered all his art classes one day solely for the purpose of helping me cut the massive amounts of paper petals and leaves required for this project. In addition, the students also pre-assembled many of the flowers and the paper bows. Here is also a photo of three completed arrangements. All told, there will be a total of six arrangements that will be placed side by side across the front of the auditorium stage. I have already completed four of them. Two more and I am done. Phew! I had no idea how large a project this would be but I'm so glad I took the chance and did it. It has been a great learning experience and has yielded a very satisfying result.

Next time perhaps I'll actually get some floral training so I'll know what I'm doing.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Incredible Mail Day

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

In March, I wrote about several art competitions that I was entering and how busy I was preparing for them (click here to read that post). What I didn't tell you was what eventually happened. My submission didn't make it in the FEGS art competition so that was one out of three contests out of the way. The entries I submitted to the contest sponsored by the rubber stamp company (Blockhead Stamps) were a hit and I won a prize. That's two out of three contests out of the way. The competition sponsored by my husband's local union...to tell the truth, after the exhibit was over and I picked up my entries, I put the whole thing out of my mind. I never heard from anyone regarding the winners of the contest so I assumed I didn't win and promptly forgot about it. Three out of three contests out of the way. Well...not quite.

I received a large envelope from the division of the union that runs the art show a few days ago. My husband assumed it was a certificate of appreciation for participating in the show so that is what I had in mind when I opened it. Was I ever surprised to find a letter congratulating me for winning first prize in the digital art category! A certificate and a blue ribbon accompanied the letter. As if that wasn't good enough, there was another letter congratulating me on winning a prize. And another letter. And yet another letter. That's right. Out of six entries that I submitted to the art show, four of them won prizes: two first prizes and two second prizes. In fact, I took both first AND second prize in the digital art category. I was so flabbergasted I started shaking.

Such a bonanza was totally unthinkable. No, the prizes weren't the bonanza. (I never entered the contest for the prizes which were miniscule at best.) The bonanza was that this particular art show is big, with well over two hundred entries in a few dozen categories. My first time entering the contest I win four times!! How amazing is that? Here you can see all my winning entries from the past couple of months. The Inspire Daisy is the winner for the Blockhead Stamps contest and the other four are the winning entries for the Local 3 contest.

Unfortunately I have no time to rest on my laurels. I'm under a deadline crunch. I have yet to complete the paper flower arrangements for my daughter's high school graduation ceremony at the end of this month. I'll post more information and pictures about that project soon. Busy, busy.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The crafts classes continue...

(Click on an image for a larger view.)

Between the volunteering I do for the senior center and a decorating project I'm working on for my daughter's high school, I've been too frantically busy to write about what I'm doing. I'm going to try and condense things here in an effort to catch up.

For a change of pace, we switched from card making and began making other things from paper. Thanks to a very successful visit to Material for the Arts as well as some generous donations of craft materials from private donors, I had lots of new materials to work with. Here you'll see a pretty pink and black memo holder complete with cards for writing little notes. These have small round magnets on the backs that allow them to stick to a refrigerator or filing cabinet.

Then there are two different styles of gift bags. The one pictured here is in a blue floral pattern but the seniors were able to choose from a variety of floral colors including chartreuse, peach and gold. This bag came with a coordinating gift tag and a matching little gift holder crafted to look like a matchbook and perfectly sized to hold a single square of Ghirardelli chocolate.

The other gift bag was made to look like a pale green mini tote bag and features a matching gift tag and a velcro closure. Class participants even got some coordinating tissue paper to place in the bag so they could be ready to wrap that perfect little gift.

The card you see here will be this week's project, a generic birthday card that is suitable for both men and women. It's generally more difficult to choose colors and themes that are suitable for men so this is a welcome change. This will be my final project for this season until I return in September to continue the craft classes. I must dedicate myself to completing the project for the high school in time for the graduation ceremony at the end of June, then spend time preparing my graduating daughter for her transition to college. So many things to do, so few days in which to do them.

Oh yes, the remaining photo. The senior center will be conducting it's own version of American Idol called "Dorchester Senior Idol". The photo represents the scoring paddles the judges will be using to score the participants on a scale from one to four. I created the paddles from some old hand fans with wooden handles by removing the original cardboard fan and replacing it with one that I designed. I just thought I'd throw them into the mix here as well since I had some fun making them. Oh yes, one more thing. I not only got to make the paddles, I'll get to use them. I've been asked to be one of the judges for the talent contest. This should be fun!!

Okay, no more time for chatter. I'm off again to put nose firmly to grindstone. I've got flowers to create and floral arrangements to make and a prom to prepare for and a graduation coming up and...

Boy, I need a vacation.

Ballo ergo sum- Gitana, the Creative Diva