Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Official Start of Summer

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A Black Swallowtail Butterfly blesses my garden with beauty.
My loose leaf lettuces in all their colorful glory.
Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer, has come and gone along with the requisite barbecue celebrations that go with it. We hosted a barbecue that was very well attended by more than 30 family and friends. My son manned the grills, cooking burgers, hot dogs, barbecue and jerk chicken wings, spare ribs and steaks to complement the spicy guacamole and salsa he made from scratch. (Yes, my boy can COOK!!) My contribution to the food was vegetable rice and a big salad fresh from the garden. Not only did I use leaves from the various colorful varieties of lettuce I'm growing, I also added some chickweed, cilantro and mint, also growing in the garden.

Yes, Memorial Day spells summer to some but for me the official start of summer is the arrival of the migratory birds and the butterflies and this year I was not disappointed. I've already seen a bright red male cardinal and heard the call of mourning doves and the neighborhood's resident mocking bird. Although monarchs are usually the first butterflies to visit my garden, this year I was treated to the sight of a gorgeous Black Swallowtail that flitted among my creeping phlox blossoms and sampled the few blooms left on my old azalea bush. The sight of that beautiful creature filled me with more joy than I can describe. This year I planted some milkweed seeds in the hope of growing some milkweed plants to attract more butterflies, particularly the monarchs that I dearly love. Hopefully they will germinate. In the meantime, my garden beckons and I will answer its call with pleasure.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Long and Winding Road

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My digital artwork on display above the librar4y stacks.
Sometimes you just don't know when the circumstances of your life will take a turn and lead you in an unexpected direction. A nephew of mine who works for the public library notified me of a storytelling workshop being held at his branch. I agreed to participate in an attempt to get my father, someone who has been writing stories most of his life, to come along. Well, Dad didn't come and I went on my own. At last week's meeting, the staff member who coordinated the storytelling workshop announced the library's first art show and sale taking place this weekend. When I expressed interest in participating but said there was not enough time for me to prepare anything, I was asked if I had any completed work that I could exhibit. Well, heck yeah I've got completed work...lots of it. And so it was that I literally grabbed any work I could lay my hands on and decided what to display at the library.

The display cabinet containing my custom cards.
Remember I said this was a show and sale. There was no way I had the time to set up in the morning, break down at night, repeat the process the following day while manning a vendor table for six hours. That's when I was told that there was a lockable showcase available where I could set up a display for viewing. Okay, I thought, this is a sign that I'm supposed to be here and now it's up to me to take advantage of the opportunity. I set up a quick and dirty display of my cards and ATCs in the showcase and was also granted wall space to exhibit some of my framed digital graphics work.

The display case from another angle.
It is a two day show so I expected to have to pick up my goods sometime on Saturday to clear our the space. Again Providence intervened and I was told that I could leave my cards and digital art work on display until the end of June if I so desired. Wow. Can't get any easier than that. Set up the display and just let it stay for six weeks. But it gets even better. The library staff person coordinating the show asked about one of my cards and I explained it was from a project I created for the senior center for which I used to volunteer. When she heard that, she wondered if such a class could be offered at the library and told me to think about it.

So the workshop I had hoped to get my father interested put me in a place that offered me the opportunity to show my work and possibly start a class in card making. Not too shabby. Now let's see if the exposure leads to anything. Hey, ya never know.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Creating Memories

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My parents flanked by my brothers
This past weekend I had the great privilege and honor of seeing my parents renew their wedding vows in celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary. Given the divorce-riddled society we live in nowadays, such a milestone is rarely achieved. Such an occasion deserved nothing less than a tremendous effort on my part and I'm happy to say I delivered.

I chose a theme of butterflies and flowers in spring colors of
Matchbook favors in spring colors.
peach, blue and green and carried this theme throughout all the items. The favors, in spite of being the smallest of these items, turned out to be the most intricate and labor-intensive. Each matchbook was comprised of 15 individual pieces, all of which had to be cut one at a time. The butterfly alone is made up of four separate pieces. Although there were only 22 matchbooks, it took over a week of creating a prototype, tweaking it, then going into production. Once they were complete, I needed a means to carry them so they wouldn't be crushed or soiled. For this I used a bakery box and
A peek inside the favors
decorated the top to match the predetermined theme.

A decorated bakery box to hold the
There was one other thing I had to do last minute and that was to arrange and decorate my mother's bouquet. She didn't want to go through the expense of buying an expensive floral arrangement from a florist so she chose to purchase a dozen roses and some baby's breath from a local supermarket flower shop and handed them to me. She also gave me some silvery ribbon from which to fashion a bow. Inasmuch as I'm not a floral arranger, this prospect had me a little nervous but I'm happy to say that turned out beautifully as well. Unfortunately I neglected to photograph the finished bouquet, with its full, silvery bow, long sheer streamers and tissue paper wrapping hand stamped with watermarked images of hearts and butterflies.

The card I made to present
to my folks.
I then had to make a card for the occasion because, let's face it, Hallmark just wasn't going to cut it. Since I couldn't do any work on this project during the day, everything had to be done at night. I lost many hours of sleep but managed to finished everything in time AND managed to get some shut-eye before the big event.

Here are some of the materials I used to create the projects you see here. If you have any questions about how any of these was made, feel free to send me an email at 
  • Bazzill Basics cardstock - Glass Slipper
  • Colorbok Glitter Paper Pack - White
  • Michael Miller Memories Fabric Paper (discontinued)
  • Cutting Dies: 
    • Paper Artist - Viney Swirl; 
    • Spellbinders Nestabilities - Floral Ovals; 
    • Spellbinders Borderabilities - A2 Scalloped Borders One
    • Spellbinders Borderabilities - A2 Curved Borders One
    • Spellbinder Shapeabilities - Butterflies Two
    • Memory Box - Vivienne Butterfly (for butterfly body)
  • Embossing folders:
    • ProvoCraft Cuttlebug - Swiss Dots
    • Sizzix Textured Impressions - Elegant Lines
  • Distress Stickles (Ranger Industries) - Stormy Sky, Wild Honey
  • Inkssentials (Ranger Industries) - Glossy Accents
  • Aleene's Fast Grab Tacky Glue
  • Miracle Tape (double-sided super sticky tape) - various widths
  • Martha Stewart scoring board
  • Fiskars 12" SureCut Deluxe Craft Paper Trimmer
  • Assorted scissors and craft knives
  • Assorted bling and fabric flowers from my stash
This is by no means a comprehensive list but it does represent most of the materials I used for these projects. The length of the materials list alone should be an indication of how much work went into these items. Nevertheless I would do it all again in a heartbeat. For my mom and dad, anything.

Ballo ergo sum
 - Gitana, the Creative Diva