Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sipping from the Well

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It seems like such a long time since I've sat down to create a card solely for myself, not because I had to create a project for the seniors or had some upcoming event that needed a gift card but something purely to soothe my creative beast. A recent trawl on various websites allowed me to drink in the beauty of and draw inspiration from the artistic work of others.

I truly love the simplicity of black and white, silhouette images and bare hints of color so I created the cards at right using elements composited from other cards I found online. The butterfly is an SVG cut file I created for my eCraft electronic cutter. It's body is glued down and embellished with rhinestone trim while the wings are lifted up off the paper giving a three dimensional effect. The stamped swirls were created using Inkadinkado's Flourishes clear stamp set 97618. Tim Holtz's distress inks (Old Paper, Crushed Olive) and Memories dye ink (Baby Blue)  were used to add the subtle color around the edges of the white paper. The tiniest rhinestone bling I could find was used to accent the corners of the butterfly square and a few curlicues in the swirls. A black satin ribbon tied in a bow pulls the whole thing together.

It was immensely satisfying to work solely for myself. I certainly hope to do more of this in the near future.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pink and Red

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Now that the Lunar New Year decorations we created in the past few weeks are up and displayed at the senior citizens center and the Year of the Dragon celebrations have begun, our crafting attention turns to other things. This year, 2012, is gearing up to be a year of great change. From a numerological perspective, 2012 equals the number 5 which represents change, so I created a card that prominently features a large butterfly as its focal point. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation and, as such, is a perfect representation of the changes that are to come this year. The card is pink which is not a color that appears very often in my crafting but in this project everything just fell together. A beautiful pearl card stock was crimped to give it a little texture. Black decorative elements were added for high contrast against the pink. The wings on the focal butterfly were cut from glitter paper, glued to a corresponding black butterfly and the wings lifted up to give a three-dimensional illusion of flight. A coordinating pink envelope was stamped with a flourish in a slightly darker shade of pink and two tiny butterflies flutter along its edge.

Now on to the next upcoming holiday -- Valentine's Day. With its focus on the tender emotions, it is a day everyone can identify with in one way or another. As expected, the dominant colors are pink and red. Like the Year of the Dragon hanging ornament, this project was created on a base of discarded CDs and is double sided so it can be viewed from either side. My group of crafters were able to personalize their project by choosing their preferred decorative stickers from a various sticker sheets. At right you can see both sides of the ornament featuring a large heart with stickers applied on one side and an intricate lace-like doily cut from card stock on the other side. A ring of connected hearts encircles the sentiment. Everything is built on a cream colored ribbon and topped with a full bow made of rosy pink satin ribbon. Here's a photo of my crafting group showing off their creations. We really had a good time putting these together and they look wonderful hanging on one side of the senior center's main activity room, across from the Lunar New Year decorations and interspersed with the December holiday decorations that will stay up through February. The room is bright, colorful and very festive. If you click on the photo of the seniors, you can see the room decorations in the room behind them to the left. Soon this will give way to the green of St. Patrick's Day and the coming of spring but for now red rules the day.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Year of the Dragon - Take 2

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The Chinese contingent at the senior center liked the hanging dragon ornament we made last week so much, the center director suggested that I do something directed specfically towards our Korean members who also celebrate the Lunar New Year. With that in mind, I created this faux lantern that can be used as a decorative hanging at the center. The design couldn't be simpler: a paper cylinder with printed Korean characters that represent the most common greeting given for the occasion: "I wish you good blessings for the new year". The lacy bands were punched from black cardstock and run through a Xyron. A thin strip of double stick tape was stuck right down the middle of each strip, then it was covered in gold glitter while it was still on the Xyron carrier backing sheet. The glitter stuck fast to the double stick tape and to the little bits of residual glue around the punched edges of the lace strips creating just a touch of glitz without overpowering. Red cardstock bands were embossed with bamboo leaf images and wrapped around the top and bottom of the cylinder to give it extra stability.

I could have made this project a lot less labor intensive if:
1. I had used a double edge punch to create the lace strips. Instead I used a single edge punch which meant I had to punch each side separately (48 strips - 96 sides), being careful to match up the design, or if;
2. I had used a ready-made die cut strip. This would have been the easiest but the most costly, especially since I have to make 13 kits -- one for the prototype and 12 for the actual crafts class,
3. I had used pre-printed paper on the edges. Then I would not have had to stamp and emboss each strip (26 in all) multiple times to create the effect.

It was a great idea when I was creating only one but when I had to create multiple kits, it turned out to be a LOT of work. Nevertheless, I'm sure all the ladies will like the project and the Koreans will particularly enjoy being acknowledged on their special holiday. I'll update after the class with their reactions.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, January 5, 2012

UPDATE: The Year of the Dragon

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 The seniors, especially my Asian contingent, LOVED the ornament. I think what they really liked was that someone cared enough to acknowledge their holiday and their culture in a very hands-on way. I took pains to make sure that the colors and the images were culturally correct and the Asians in my group appreciated it. One Chinese gentleman who has peeked in on our classed from time to time even joined in at the end and made an ornament as well. They particularly liked the fact that the finished decorations were promptly put on display in the main room as part of the festive holiday decor, all commenting on how nice they looked hanging amidst the tinsel and bows.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

The Year of the Dragon

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No sooner does one holiday end than another begins, or so it seems, and the Dorchester Senior Center must stay in step with all of them. So it is with the Lunar New Year which falls this year on Monday, January 23rd. In the Chinese calendar this is the Year of the Dragon and, as with most Asian celebrations, prominently features red and gold as the main colors because they are considered to be of good luck. I love hanging ornaments and the senior center is well suited to them so I created this simple ornament for the first crafts project of the new year. Two old CDs form the base for the focal point of the ornament. One side features a gold foil circle with the Asian calligraphy symbol for "dragon" in bold red and black. The other side features a stamped image of a traditional Chinese dragon (see detail photo below). A tasseled ribbon featuring a large bead bearing the Chinese symbol for double happiness as well as a golden hanging loop are sandwiched between the two discs with foam tape. The most challenging part of the project was the kanji symbol. I had to find it online, then replicate it with a drawing program in a format that could be sent to my electronic cutter because there is no way I could have cut this out by hand.

Here's a tip regarding the gold foil paper I used behind the kanji symbol: it's pretty wrapping paper. Because foil paper tends to be very delicate, I glued text weight paper to the back to stabilize it before cutting.

The senior center has a sizable Asian membership of Chinese and Koreans. I have no doubt that they will enjoy making this project and will appreciate the acknowledgement of their cultural traditions.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva