Saturday, February 25, 2012

"The time has come", the walrus said...

(Click on photo to see a larger image.)

" talk of many things."  Even someone unfamiliar with Lewis Carroll's classic poem, "The Walrus and The Carpenter", has heard those words before. I will do exactly of many things.

It is with a heavy heart and a tinge of regret that I have made the decision to suspend my craft classes at the senior citizens center. My weekly craft projects have become extremely time consuming and I have other responsibilities that demand my attention. It has become increasingly difficult to come up with a project each week that is simple enough for even the most challenged seniors to complete, interesting enough to hold their attention and diverse enough so that they are not doing the same thing over and over again. Yet there is another, more intangible, reason. I'm feeling jaded and I no longer feel the same anticipation and joy I once did. These are but some of the reasons I must leave my beloved senior ladies.

Here you see a photo of the final project I will be doing with them. It is a card utilizing simple elements on a printed card front. The beautiful designs on these cards make simple die cut shapes and a decorated garment tag take on a more sophisticated look. This will be one of those projects where the ladies will get to choose their own pieces as opposed to having me create individual kits for them. The cards are double sided with an ornate design on one side and a more subtle and subdued pattern on the other side, giving them two options to choose for a card front. The embellishments will all be placed on the table for them to choose from and if I know my ladies they will all be choosing a different mix. With this, their final craft project with me, they will be allowed to demonstrate their own personal creativity and flair. I, for my part, will be photographing them as usual, capturing their moments of cooperation and their smiles.

Ballo ergo sum
 - Gitana, the Creative Diva

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Going with the Flow

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The final Valentine's Day craft class took place at the senior center this week and once again I decided on a bit of a departure from the norm. I was going to have the ladies craft little treat boxes shaped like miniature Chinese food take out containers.
Although we have made little treat boxes before, this time I left a lot of the work up to the seniors. I cut out all the pieces as usual but I didn't package everything into neat little kits. Instead I spread everything out on the table in boxes and let them choose whatever pieces they wanted to decorate their boxes. I also brought along a few "toys" for them to play with -- embossing machines and embossing folders. This allowed them to press raised designs onto paper panels that they then glued onto the sides of their boxes. I demonstrated how to use the machines and also showed them how to color their embossing with the side of a colored pencil to highlight the raised designs. I provided them with charts illustrating the available designs they could choose from and then I let them loose.
Oh boy, did they get a kick out of that! I thought they would be a little annoyed at having to get out of their seats and walk over to the adjoining table where the machines were but not only did they not get annoyed, they were having a ball choosing designs and using the machines. A few of them were very enthusiastic about the project. Fortunately I had made double the usual number of projects because the boxes were very small and because I wanted them to make one for themselves and another one to give away to a someone they loved. And, of course, what is a treat box without some treats? When they completed their boxes, I filled them with candy! The class lasted much longer than the usual 45  minutes to an hour but no one seemed to mind a bit, least of all me. 

The preparation for this class took quite a lot of time and those embossing machines and supplies were REALLY heavy (I needed a rolling bag to carry them) but we had such a good time that it was all worth it. As the class was ending, one of the ladies gave me one of her completed, candy-filled boxes. I thought it was such a sweet gesture and it gave me a big smile. 

After each class, it is my practice to take the prototype I create for the project and place it in the display case with the other class projects. In this manner there is a constantly changing display with older pieces being replaced by newer ones and I get to look over all the work we've done in the past. This week when I added to the display, something had changed. It was as if I was seeing all those pieces for the very first time through a new set of eyes. I was taken aback by the true beauty of it all and I had to hold back emotional tears of joy. 

It's funny how you can be so close to something that you don't really see it. 

Ballo ergo sum

- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Unconventional Valentine's Day Card

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2012 - a dramatically different color scheme
When you think of Valentine's Day, you think of pink and red hearts, right? Yeah, me too, but this year I wanted to do something a little different for my seniors. Our Valentine's Day projects for the past two years, as seen below, have included the mandatory red and pink hearts. This time I wanted to give an unexpected twist to our craft project. While this year's card sports the obligatory hearts and flowers my ladies know and love, the color scheme is anything but conventional. Inspired by a beautiful piece of specialty paper in shades of turquoise and purple , I designed a card that really played up those colors. I will admit that, at first, I wasn't too thrilled with the way this card was turning out but the more I worked on it, the more it grew on me and now I'm very pleased with the final outcome.

Our very first project from 2010
2011's hanging ornament
The colors are not the only things different about this card. You can't really tell from the photo but this is not a foldover card, it's an insertion card. What I mean is that there is only a front and a back to this card, like a postcard. It doesn't open up. You have to turn it around to see what is written on the other side. This will be a bit of a departure for these ladies accustomed to the more conventional type of card.

For this project I had my DrawPlus graphic software and my eCraft electronic cutter working overtime. The heart is crafted of four different layers stacked upon one another. Each of these layers had to be designed and cut separately. It took quite a few attempts to get the lighter blue trellis-like layer to cut correctly, after which I had to manually poke out all the little holes in between the mesh. Once the heart was completed, cutting the rest of the card elements was a piece of cake. The tiny tag was just the perfect size for a kiss print rubber stamp that I've had for the longest time. I deliberately left off any overt references to Valentine's Day because I wanted this project to convey the universal aspect of love over the celebration of one calendar day. This card could just as easily be used to congratulate a newly engaged couple or be sent as a quick hello to a cherished grandchild. Although I admit that the swirls and flowers lend a very feminine air, the color scheme would suit a young man. I'm sure the ladies will love it.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva