Rising and SHINING!

Hello friends!  Did you think I fell off the face of the planet?  Or better yet….went back to California?

Nope – I’m still here (although, I’d go back to California in a heartbeat!).  I’ve been wanting to blog….but I’ve been avoiding it because I can’t bring myself to finish my California series.  I only had 3 more spots to write about (Kings Canyon NP, Santa Cruz/Big Basin Redwood SP & Napa Valley)….but I just can’t.  I don’t have it in me.  You’ll just have to take my word that they were all amazing, but not more amazing than everything I’ve already shared – so don’t feel jipped :)

I’m back because I have some creative pieces/projects/concepts to share!  First on the list: #AmycreatesintheAM.  I had started reading a book on how getting up earlier can actually feel great & in turn make you a more successful person.  For those of you who don’t know me – I don’t quite “spring” out of bed.  In fact, it takes about a half hour of hitting the snooze button before I SLUMP out of bed. It is awful.

Early morning in my craft room

Rather – it WAS awful.  After reading 1/3 of the book, I realized that I needed something that would get me excited to get up in the morning.  The something?  Spending time in my craftroom everyday.  Crazy?  A little.  But, being creative is a WAY better motivator than going to work ever was.  Plus, it guarantees that I exercise my creative & artistic muscles everyday – whereas creativity is usually the first thing to fall off the priority list when I’m busy.

So – for about 3 weeks, I’ve been getting up early to create …and I love it!  It gets my creative juices flowing & fills me with the rewarding tingles of accomplishment before I even eat breakfast!

Get creative in the morningGet creative in the morning

Best of all, this early morning habit has lead to one of my favorite pieces yet.  I made a watercolor painting for one my elephant-loving friends, Janelle (this is the second handmade elephant I’ve given her :))

Watercolor elephant

I’m really happy with how this little guy turned out.  Not gonna lie, I was even a little tempted to keep him – but Janelle was so happy with him, it made it easier to part with.  I know he went to a good home :)

I’ve been sharing most of my projects on Instagram (under the hashtag #AmycreatesintheAM) but I’d like to share everything here.  I’ve also found that creating in the morning has also motivated me to make even MORE time for creativity in the evenings and on the weekends.  So, those projects will be shared here too.  Plus, I have some logos I’m working on for 2 people, and I CAN’T WAIT to share those here!!

I’m limited on time over the next couple of weeks, so I’m going to tryyyyyyy to just pop in, post some pics with a couple of words and keep it moving (a la my intended goal for my Sandblog this whole year).  We’ll see though.  I’ve attempted this before, but (…not to sound cliché…) the words get in the way :P  But I’ll try, because I miss my Sandblog!

Alright…well, we’re painting our bedroom this weekend, so off I go!  But I hope to be back soon :)

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I heart Art Camp

I don’t have much time to write, because our trip to California is rightaroundthecorner!  But, I HAD to drop by and tell you about Art Camp.

Art Camp flag

Art Camp is magical.  It’s an extension of Art Nite – except we get together for a WHOLE weekend of creative goodness & camping funzies.  Our friends Donna & Kyle host all of us on their very spacious & wooded property down in West Virginia.  This was only our second year, but we all agreed that this needs to become a tradition that will continue for many years.

Last year’s Art Camp included checking out downtown Berkeley Springs and visiting a couple of local art studios:

Art Camp 2014

To save on time, I’ll be sharing Instagram pics from here on out…

This year we helped Donna and Kyle debark lumber for their future strawbale house (this part was optional, but surprisingly rewarding).  And yes, Donna, Kyle & their plans for a handmade dwelling are awesome.  Afterwards we enjoyed some homemade pizzas from their outdoor earth oven.  Yum!

[Insert pizza picture here]  (sorry, it got devoured before any pictures could be taken)

Both years included a group project that we all worked on together.  Last year we tried our hand at wet felting wool.  This year, we all brought scrap fabric and craft supplies and made prayer/party flags:

Art Camp 2015

We each made about 6 squares, so that we could all have a set that included 1 flag by each person.  I haven’t assembled my collection of flags together yet, but as soon as I do, you know I’ll come back to share pictures :)

Other Art Camp highlights: a hike down to Donna & Kyle’s creek, a drum circle, a large campfire complete with musical accompaniment (guitar/drums/fiddle/finger cymbals) & s’mores, delicious potluck dishes, sleeping outdoors, and of course spending quality time with the most creative people I know.

Art Friends

One more phone pic: the inspiring Donna and I down by the creek :)

My First Adventure in Art Journaling

When I first bought my gelli plate I around for ideas/inspiration of how to use it.  I discovered that a lot of people use it for art journaling.  While I’ve always felt inspired by pictures of people’s art journals, I’ve also felt intimidated and unsure of it.  Where do I start?  Do I journal daily?  What if it doesn’t look good?

Well, there’s no better time to dive into a new creative adventure then during your Creative Recharge!  After coming across a weekly blog series devoted to Art Journaling, I decided to finally let go of all my apprehensions and just TRY it.  Worst case: I find out Art Journaling isn’t for me and this blog post doesn’t get written.  Best case: I really enjoy it and am happy enough with the finished piece to share it here.  If you couldn’t guess…we’re in Best Case Land :)

My first Art Journal entry

In the least conceded way possible, I have to say, I love it.  I don’t love it because I think it’s a masterpiece – it’s not, nor is it meant to be.  I love it because it represents a personal victory.  I was well outside my comfort zone with this, but even so, I was able to let go of my hesitations and expectations and just play.  I let the art happen – and the fact that it ended up where it did kinda blows my mind.

Art Journal - Let Your Creativity Flourish

True to my journal entry, I let my creativity flourish :)

Are there things I don’t love about it?  Sure.  But, do they bother me?  Nah.  That’s because there were a couple of points where I really wasn’t loving it, which was something I had feared would happen.  I was afraid I had ruined it, and I was left with 3 options: A. Give up.  B. Take a break and come back with fresh eyes (aka: probably give up). or C. Keep working with it.  I chose option C and I’m so glad that I did.  I cleared a creative hurdle and made it to a point where it felt complete AND I was satisfied with it.

Art journal process

Mmmm, gelli-plate goodness! Truthfully: it was tempting to stop here, in an effort to leave well enough alone. I’m so glad I kept pushing myself though.

The collage below shows my Art Journal Journey.  You can click on any of the thumbnails to see larger shots.  I’ve also added captions to some of the pics so you can know what was going through my head at different points (hover to see which ones have captions).

Do I plan on journaling every night?  No way josé!  I keep a 5-minute journal where I write a couple of sentences about my day each night – and sometimes I’m too tired to even do that.  Do I plan on journaling again?  You betchya!  I felt so empowered and excited after completing this! The fact that I was able to truly let go of all my fears, apprehensions, and (most of all) the anxiety of imperfection felt amazing.  That’s a good place to be, and a place I would like to visit again soon.

Colorful Paper Garland

We recently had a snowy Saturday that caused all of our plans to be cancelled.  I took it as proof that the universe supported my Creative Recharge and wanted me to continue embracing it – so I spent the better part of the day working on some colorful and creative projects.

Amy's craftroom

The best seat in the house (depending on who you ask): my craftroom.

First, some background: every year I treat myself to a page-a-day calendar.  This year I got the Farmer’s Almanac calendar, hoping it would would be filled with gardening tips and weather predictions for 2015.  Much to my dismay, it was instead full of boring bird facts and outdated wives tales.  Bummer.  The bigger bummer is that as a tree-hugger I already feel guilty about buying & using page-a-day calendars.  So, when I bought a replacement, I couldn’t just toss this one in the trash.  So, I upcycled it into colorful paper garland:

Colorful paper garland

I’ve been wanting to make paper garland for a while as it combines 2 of my favorite things: paper and sewing!  Like I mentioned in my last post, I used my gelli plate to layer different colors and textures onto the calendar pages.

Gelli prints

Every tutorial I’ve found on making paper garland suggests using thicker paper (probably to keep the paper from curling) – but these pages were THIN.  Even after I modge-podged 2 sheets together, the squares were still pretty flimsy.  So, I ended up also modge-podging a blank calendar page in the middle.  The layers of paint + 27 coats of modge podge* + 3 calendar pages = the perfect thickness.

Once all my sheets were dry, I used a circle puncher to cut 2-inch circles from each square.  I was able to fit 3 circles per square:

Circle cut outs

Oh don’t worry…I kept the hole-y squares and already have a creative plan for them!

I then flattened all of the circles under a stack of magazines (HGTV magazines in case you’re wondering).

Gell print circles

They kind of remind me of artsy Pogs. Yup – Pogs, remember those?? #90s

Gelli print circles

Gelli print circles

Gelli print circle

I love how you can still see the calendar text on this one!

After taking 4,000 pictures, it was finally time to sew the circles together!  This tutorial gave me the clever idea of using tape to ensure I would sew all my circles in the center.

sewing paper circles

Sewing paper circles

Sewing + tea = happy Amy

I used silver thread for a little extra whimsy :)

Paper garland

When I was done, I draped it on an antique window we have in our Family Room:

Paper garland on an antique window

Paper garland close-up

I loooooove how it turned out!  The combination of upcycling, colorful paints, sewing and the fact that I now have some new homemade décor makes this one of my favorite projects ever.

I still have about 300 calendar pages left…perhaps I should try my hand at origami??  We’ll see!

* In case you’re wondering “Gee, I wonder how these didn’t end up air bubbles/glue wrinkles?” it’s because before I glued the sheets together, I coated each sheet with a thin layer of modge podge first.  Once that layer was thoroughly dry, I would modge modge 2 pieces together (again using as little as possible).  Since each square is 3 sheets of paper, this was VERY time consuming, but worth it.

Latest Obsession: Weaving

A couple of months ago I saw a tutorial on one of my favorite blogs on how to weave a wall hanging, and the idea as lingered in the back of my mind ever since.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized that a woven wall hanging would be the perfect decoration for our main floor powder room for 2 reasons. 1. it would look cool, and 2. it would help absorb noise in a room that doesn’t benefit from great acoustics.

Eager to start a new project, I found my large box of old yarn (from a long-ago crocheting phase) and started picking out colors that would coordinate with the [it-came-with-the-house-and-is-tolerable] wallpaper that adorns the bathroom walls. That’s when I paused & thought – “Hmmm, maybe I should do a practice weaving first…”.  And so I did:

Practice weaving

This is my practice weaving. As it turns out, a box of old yarn is NOT the only thing you need to create a weaving. I could have benefited from a loom, a tapestry needle and a shed stick – but I made do with a homemade cardboard loom (thanks to tips from this site), a paperclip and a ruler. Weaving on a cardboard loom

All things considered, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.

Practice weaving

I really enjoyed this project.  The act of weaving was incredibly relaxing and it was satisfying to watch it grow. I also enjoyed the challenge of arranging my random assortment of yarns to try to make a [semi] cohesive design.

I want to try another one, this time just 2 colors and some shapes. After that, I’ll tackle the large one for our powder room. And, of course, I’ll be sure to share how they each turn out.  Thanks for reading :)

Simple Décor: Frame a Festive Cocktail Napkin

Simple decor: frame a festive cocktail napkin!

Cute? Check! Easy? Check! Inexpensive? Check!

I had bought these cute cocktail napkins for a particularly festive Art Nite we hosted back in December – but they were so fun, I almost didn’t want to use them.   Yet, even I (the self-proclaimed hoarder) knew that would be silly.

Fighting the urge to stash them in a kitchen cabinet for years to come – I simply picked up some sparkly scrapbook paper and a square 8×8 frame and…Voila!  We now have a cute piece of winter décor that I can’t get enough of.  Best of all?  You really can’t even tell that it’s a napkin unless you get super close.

Frame a festive cocktail napkin

Special thanks to my lightbulb snowman & pasta snowflake for helping out with this photoshoot :)

PS – Want to see more simple décor ideas?  Check out these antique crates-turned-shelves or these upcycled candle jars.