Saturday, July 31, 2010

Water, water, everywhere ...

It seems these days that water is constantly on our minds: water to cool off in ... water to quench our thirst with ... water that has been coming down from the sky just a bit too much this summer.  So what is the theme for this week at Inspiration Avenue?  You guessed it!

I thought I would post a few water photos that to me epitomize summertime. 







Enjoying your summer?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Garden Bench

I'm just getting around to posting my project from a few weeks ago.  I spent a week refinishing my garden bench. Why a week? Well, each step needed time to dry. The temperatures were in the 90s all week, with equal humidity. And it rained almost every night. It was a heck of a week!

Anyway, I have had this garden bench for quite a number of years, and I love it. Since I live in a condo, it has to stay outside during our Michigan winters. I protect it as much as I can, but with the weather and bird poop and other garden stuff like that, it was in pretty bad shape.

Here it is before I started my project:




The first steps were to scrub it clean and strip it. Messy job!

I then used a good wood cleaner and sanded it all down.
I had originally planned to stain the bench, but some of the wood was in pretty bad shape and I had to replace a piece that was broken off.  So I decided to fix some of the damage with wood putty and paint the bench rather than stain.  I chose an outdoor paint color called "Cordovan."  I also used rust converter and gloss black paint on the wrought iron slats.


Here's the final result:

Now that my garden bench looks so lovely, my storage box/bench looked way too shabby, so I kept going and cleaned it up as well:


I added some quick stenciling to the flip top.

Done!  It's now ready for me to sit and relax while enjoying my coffee and morning paper. Now if it will only stop raining and if I can keep the birds from pooping on my new and improved bench!


Have you done any refinishing projects lately?  Send along some photos and I'll post!

WE HAVE A WINNER!!

The winner of the $20 gift certificate to glasselements shop is:

AIK!


Congratulations! I'll be in touch with you to make arrangements to receive your gift certificate.

A few things to say:

First, a huge THANK YOU to all who participated by reading and commenting.

Second, I want to note that Marja's interview edged out the previous record holder for the most comments/entries for a giveaway on my blog. I am absolutely not surprised - it just shows that so many of you agree with me that her jewelry is so stunning and delicious!

Finally, I want to offer a huge shoutout and welcome to those of you who signed up to follow my blog and/or my Facebook page. I'm looking forward to getting to know you, and I hope that you will continue to come back and share your thoughts with me. I'm sure Marja extends the same welcome to those of you who signed up for her Facebook page and Twitter. The online artistic community is very special to both of us.

Thanks again to Marja and to all who participated! And, again, congratulations to AIK. We're all jealous!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Treasury

Ahhhh - what a lovely treasury!  I love being in the company of such gorgeous photos!  My Rose reaching for the Sun is included.   And speaking of dreamy, the treasury was created by The Ardent Sparrow. Her shop is full of absolutely gorgeous, dreamy jewelry.  Take a look!


Sunday, July 25, 2010

My New Dreamy Treasury

I created a treasury last night - Mystifying Dreams in Sepia.  I love sepia toned images, and  although I'm no dream analysis expert, I think some of these are very symbolic dream images.  And, needless to say, quite stunning art. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Treasury

I don't care how hot and muggy it is, I'm not ready for fall just yet. But I have to admit this is a beautiful treasury: Autumn's Anticipated Arrival.  It includes my Autumn Scented Wreath.  The treasury was created by Patchwork Crafters, a shop full of lovely patchwork quilts.  Take a look!


Send in the Clouds

With all the crazy weather that's been happening all across the country lately, all eyes are focused on the sky. Even though the storms can be frightening and damaging, I find there's a dramatic beauty to the fast moving clouds, the colors, and the uncertainty of what might come next. And of course, we watch that the dreaded funnel cloud doesn't form. 

I have been following the Inspiration Avenue blog's weekly challenge and when I saw that this week's challenge is "clouds" I had to submit some photos. 

Here's what my part of the world looks like lately. Yours too?









My niece had the right idea - relax and let it pass...


Because if we get lucky we will be chasing rainbows ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In the Studio with Glass Elements


Today it’s my pleasure to visit in the studio of Marja Huhta, of Glass Elements. I came to know Marja when we submitted work for the weekly challenge on Thursday Sweet Treat, a great blog by a very special person, Natasha. One week the theme was “Purple Passion.” I had recently lost a dear niece to cancer, and she had a passion for the color purple. So when I saw Marja’s submission, this lovely purple heart, I bought it on the spot, and it will forever remind me of my niece.


I love her work, and I was therefore very happy that Marja agreed to this interview. So … here we go!

FK: What’s your morning “cuppa,” Marja?

Coffee! Preferably locally roasted fair-trade organic coffee. Yes, I’m serious about my coffee. My favorite? Pangaea Organica Coffee

FK: Well, I guess you ARE serious! I’ll pour the coffee while you tell us about your etsy shop and other sites.

My etsy shop is http://www.glasselements.etsy.com/. I’m on Twitter www.twitter.com/mhuhta, Facebook www.facebook.com/glasselements and on flickr www.flickr.com/photos/glasselements.

FK: Here’s some of Marja’s gorgeous work from her flickr site.







FK: Your work is stunning. Did you have formal art training?

I don’t actually have a formal art education background – I went down the path of a traditional science education where I felt (at the time) like there was no time for art!

I spent most of the time during my long science education trying to ignore the call of the artist inside. When I was finally at a point where my career was paying the bills, and I could spend some extra to take art classes at local community art schools, it was like a switch was turned on. The person hiding inside had a way out, and she wasn’t ever going to be quiet again. I’ve tried many mediums during my period of self re-discovery, learning from working artists at non-profit community art centers – including Capitol Hill Arts Workshop in DC, The Art League in VA, and Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle.




FK: I can relate to that – I wasn’t encouraged to take art seriously when I was young. I was over 30 when I enrolled in college for my art degree! Tell us about your family life.

I live in beautiful Seattle, WA with my husband, Jonathon Colman. Known as a bit of a wanderer by my family and friends – I grew up in CT and have hung my hat in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Washington, DC, three wonderful (but too short) months in Australia, and now in Seattle. Seattle has its hooks in us – we have settled down in our first house and plan to stay for a while! It might be the locally roasted coffee.


FK: Ahhh … now I understand your passion for coffee – you live in Seattle! And a small coincidence – your husband grew up practically next door to me in Ann Arbor, Michigan!




FK: Talk to me about your etsy shop. And do you exhibit or sell anywhere else besides etsy?

I signed up for my etsy shop in Sept 2008. I started selling my work in 2007 to acquaintances, colleagues and friends while I was working a full time job in biotech. After moving across the country from DC to Seattle in May of 2008, I was faced with a generous opportunity: to strike out on my own doing what I love. After several months of preparation, I took the plunge and started selling online at Etsy.

I also participate in local art and craft shows - and I really enjoy them! It is a fantastic way to meet new people, other local artists and craftspeople and share the love of glass directly. I find juried shows are the best venues for showcasing my work.

 

FK: I am really interested in your fused glass technique. Is it possible for you to give a brief explanation of your process?

I use compatible glass from Bullseye Glass Company out of Portland, Oregon for all of my glass work. I design, hand-cut, and layer each piece – whether a small jewelry item or a large platter – before placing it in a kiln and firing to approximately 1500 degrees. I then anneal (cool) the glass slowly for enhanced strength and durability. A typical firing cycle lasts 15 hours. Finally, the beauty of each unique piece is revealed by further cutting and shaping with diamond grinder and a ring saw and then polished by additional firing in the kiln.

FK: You seem to be quite successful selling on etsy, even though there’s a lot of jewelry competition. Do you have any secrets to offer for your success?

I know there is a lot of advice floating out there specific to Etsy – learn to take great photos, update your shop often, renew items if you can’t list new things, etc. - all advice that I’ve taken to heart and done myself.

I also have a secret support group – my local Etsy street team - which has been a fantastic resource for advice and expertise!




FK: Where’s your “quiet place” when you need a break from creating – somewhere you go to rest, refresh, meditate?

If I’m home, my rest place is usually vegetating in front of the TV, catching up on some favorite shows. If people are dancing, I’m watching it. Away from home, any time I can get out in nature and enjoy a hike or a bike ride and the beautiful greenery the Pacific NW has to offer, I’m in heaven.

FK: What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you and what is hardest for you?
The most gratifying is sharing the love of glass. Either by seeing someone’s face light up when they find a piece that makes them so happy – or by teaching people how to create their own.

The hardest for me is the isolation of working in my private studio - I find myself missing the camaraderie of co-workers. By teaching at Pratt Fine Art Center and being involved in a community like EtsyRAIN, I’m finding ways to alleviate that without the isolation driving me back into biotech.



FK: What activities do you enjoy when you’re not being an artist?

I spend most of my time drinking coffee. (Just kidding!)

I love getting outside – walking, hiking and biking – especially in new places. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is explore by walking and figuring out their public transport. If I can get around without a car – that makes for the perfect adventure.

And I’ve rarely turned down seeing a movie in the theater. Even if it’s bad – I enjoy the big screen and popcorn.

FK: Sounds good to me! Marja, I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting and getting to know more about you. Now tell us what your giveaway is going to be for some lucky winner.

I am giving away a $20 gift card, which will be good towards any purchase online or in person at any show.



FK: That’s wonderful! Now let me tell everyone how they can win.

You will have several chances to be entered into the random drawing.  Each one must be entered as a separate comment.

First entry: Visit Marja's shop, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite piece.

Second entry: Enter a comment if you signed up to follow Marja's Facebook page (or comment if you already follow).

Third entry: Enter a comment that you signed up as Marja's friend on Twitter.

Fourth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow). (See column at right to sign up.)

Fifth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up as my fan on Facebook.

That's FIVE chances to enter for the random drawing!!!  I will use random number generator to pick a winner after 12 noon EDT on

THURSDAY, JULY 29.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Undead Computer


It's the strangest thing .... my computer quit; tech support told me the motherboard died; there was no hope. As I mentioned, this was a bit of a crisis, because computer access is a big deal for me with the blog and etsy shop, not to mention email, facebook, etc.  So the last few days I have been running over to the library for a few hours so I could keep tabs on everything. 

I was still in denial, though - every time I passed my computer I tried powering it on but nothing happened for days. All of a sudden, as of Sunday night, IT IS AMONG THE UNDEAD!!!  It's now running again. Go figure!  I know it's not well, though, so I'm rushing to go through everything to make sure I have everything saved that I need to save. Once I get the new one set up, I'll ask the technician to clean this one out to see if it will serve as a backup for awhile longer.

Anyway, I'm just happy to be operational and I hope it lasts until the new one is in-house.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do I Need an Intervention?

Well, I'm back at the library catching up with my online business and pleasure. Ordered my new computer last night.  All my pleading and begging did no good: it will still take at minimum 3-5 business days before they ship. And then I have to get a tech support person to access my old hard drive and retrieve what I can as well as help me reconfigure the new machine.  I am so used to having access that I am totally lost right now. So many times I start going toward the computer to do something or look up something and then ... nope, can't do that.

The only other time I remember feeling so empty and out of sorts was when I was in between moves for a few months and everything I owned except my clothes was in storage.  I hadn't realized at the time how much my meager possessions meant to me. 

I suppose the only positive about this is with  the free time I have for a few days I hope to be able to do some major sorting out in my home. As I have mentioned before, I have too much "stuff" and it's time to create something with it, donate it, give it away, or throw it away. I may put together a few more "craft boxes" for my little nieces and nephews.  Which reminds me of a cute story my niece told me recently.

She has three lovely boys, all with their own distinctly different but delightful personalities.  Her oldest, the one she calls her "overachiever," woke up one morning all excited and eager to get to the craft box I gave the boys for Christmas.  (It was simply a collection of papers, ribbons, doodads, beads, buttons ... and they love it.)  She told him that was fine, he could play with the craft box after he finished breakfast. Well, he was so excited he could barely contain himself, and he said he couldn't wait to play with the new stuff.  New stuff?? Yes, the new stuff Auntie Felicia brought over last night!  Ahhh.  My niece had to explain gently to her son that Auntie Felicia didn't bring anything over last night; he had DREAMED it all! How sweet is that??  (And it also made me feel a little guilty - so I think it's time for a few more craft box collections!)

Hope you're having a great weekend!  Stay cool!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AARRRGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Just wanted to let you know that my presence here may be a little scarce the next few days.  Yep, my computer died. Seriously died. The motherboard is kaput!  I am assured that I will be able to retrieve my files - thank goodness 90% of my files are on an external drive (Yay, I did one smart thing). 

I had intended to purchase a new computer very soon, but I procrastinated doing my research. Now I have to do it in a BIG HURRY. So here I am at my local-libary-lifesaver-computer doing my homework.  FAST!

Stay tuned.   

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Treasury


My Faithful Friend collage appeared in this You Make Me Happy treasury.  It makes me happy, too - how sweet are these images !?!  The treasury was created by CandeezApples, a shop full of handmade bags.  Good things! And the best thing is that Tami is a fellow Michigander!  Michigan, my Michigan ...

Merry Christmas!


Yes, I know it's July and it's 90 degrees outside!! It's Christmas in July in my shop so I thought I would include some of my vintage Christmas blocks for sale just to set the mood. 

It reminds me to stop complaining about the heat of summer.  I love Christmas, but to enjoy the holiday I wish I didn't have to put up with November, December, January, and February weather!  I have always said THIS is the four seasons Michigan should have: Spring, Summer, Fall, snow for one week at Christmas, Spring, Summer, Fall ......

My Christmas in July sale includes everything in my shop, and depending on how many items you buy, you get up to 40% off. Here's my easy to remember sale offers:

Buy one item, get 10% off
Buy two items, get 20% off
Buy three items, get 30% off
Buy four items, get 40% off

Questions? Email me at a-b-i@comcast.net.  Merry Christmas!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two New Treasuries


My scented potpourri wreath was included in a lovely summer blues treasury.  The treasury was created by beachseacrafts, a lovely "beachy" shop.  Cute shop!




And my set of notecards with flower photos taken during my trip to Hawaii is included in this Hawaiian Honeymoon - Sand, Surf, Attitude! treasury. Gorgeous!!!   This colorful collection was created by BeadzNBling, a beautiful collection of jewelry.  Great shop!


The above wreath and set of notecards are included - along with everything else in my shop - in my huge Christmas in July sale.  Don't miss it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New Treasury


I created this digital collage at the height of our country's financial crisis. I live in southeast Michigan, and the country’s economic troubles are still being felt more deeply here. I wanted to express hope for a new beginning with this collage that contrasts graffiti and bad news with the promise of hope and survival by brightly blooming new growth. 

I was happy to see this print included in a new treasury this morning. It's surrounded with all kinds of delightful colorful images. Perfect!  The treasury was created by Momsvintagetreasures and the shop is exactly that - lovely vintage treasures from the life-long collections of Mom and other family members.  Stop by and take a look.


Christmas in July Sale - Because I Must!



Ever since I decided that I will have another back surgery next year with a LONG recuperation during which time I can't BLT (bend, lift, twist) or do anything even remotely strenuous, my to-do list has grown by leaps and bounds. I want to declutter my home and get all those projects done that have been waiting for me for ... oh .... I don't know ... years??  

The biggest clutter is in my studio - there's hardly any floor space left. It looks even worse than that cartoon above.  So once again I'm going to try to (1) sell more stuff, (2) throw out more stuff, (3) donate more stuff.

Here's number 1:

HUGE SALE ... CHRISTMAS IN JULY

Everything in my shop is included
for the ENTIRE MONTH of July:

Buy one item - get 10% off the total purchase price

Buy two items - get 20% off the total purchase price

Buy three items - get 30% off the total purchase price

Buy four items - get 40% off the total purchase price

No special code required; anything purchased before July 31 will get the discount.  The discount and any excess shipping costs paid will be refunded to you as soon as I ship your order.

Think about your home decor. Think birthdays, weddings, Christmas gifts.  Even better, think about "me" gifts for yourself ... you deserve it!

Did I mention it's all month long?
 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Accidents

The process of art-making is full of happy accidents – what fun!
~ Max Elliott

I love it when I'm treated to a "happy accident" - the unexpected gift that presents itself when I'm in the process of creating or just simply playing.  That's what happened when I was out taking photos one very sunny day last spring.  Somehow I unknowingly re-set the exposure on my camera, resulting in some over-exposed macro photos of irises.   

I was thrilled with the result - a happy accident! I just renewed this one in my shop. Other than some minimal adjustments in Photoshop, the photo is as it came from the camera.


I layered some of the other photos with abstract images. I just renewed this one too: 


The following collage prints are not currently listed in my shop. If you are interested in any of them, please send me an email. 

Liquid Purple

Liquid Pink

Liquid Blue-Green

I have meant what I have done. Or – I have often meant what I have done. Or – I have sometimes meant what I have done. Or – I have tried to mean what I was doing.
~ Jasper Johns

Me too, Jasper - me too!

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