Friday, February 27, 2009

Painting the Town Red...Or Me At Least

Before I get started on my current project, I want to make a note about photography.  When it comes to digital photography, red is the hardest color to photograph accurately.  Apparently highly textured red fabric is even harder (hence the reason there are no photographs of the felt fortune cookies I made for Valentine's day).  "But Jen," you must be saying to yourself, "you're a photographer.  Surely you know how to photograph red."  Yes, I do.  But when I'm covered in paint and glue, I'm not really motivated to pull out my $2000 camera.  So, judge not my photography skills when I am in craft mode.  If you haven't had the opportunity, check out my photography website to see my work.

That being said, it seems I've been doing a lot with red recently.  I did the valentines, which we're still enjoying.  I've also been wearing a red shirt lately (this is the closest you'll see me come to a sports metaphor).  I injured my right hand at work at the beginning of this week.  Needless to say I haven't been able to do much since I couldn't hold anything in my hand.  Finally today I was able to do a little bit of work in my studio.

I've been trying to get ready for the Spring Fling that we're having at Church in April.  This year is the second year and I'm really looking forward to showing off all the new stuff I've been working on since last year.  I know it doesn't look like much, but above you is a clipboard I'm working on.  I'm planning to decoupage some of my Hawaiian photographs on it, postcard style, so I'm trying to paint the background to look like a Hawaiian shirt.

I tend to get really impatient when it comes to painting.  I was so excited about what I was going to do when I got home that I started painting the clipboard right away.  After two coats the clipboard looked a reddish shade of brown.  I remembered the lesson I have learned so many times before--prime.  In the art/craft world priming means pulling out the gesso.  Once I applied a couple coats (I had to cover the red paint I'd already applied) I got what you see now.  

The next step is to paint it red.  The first couple coats are drying now.  I found a really cute pineapple foam stamp that I'm going to stamp in white to try to get the Hawaiian shirt effect.  I will keep you posted on how it goes.

As you can see a good portion of the red paint got on my hands.  I have never been able to paint without covering myself in it.  I have no problems keeping it off of my clothes, but just about any piece of skin that is exposed is going to have some paint on it.  So, can you blame me for not pulling out the big camera while I'm crafting?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Inspirations from IKEA

This is us at 4:00 in the morning, February 18.  What, you may ask would possess us to get up in the middle of the night, get in the car and drive over two hours to Charlotte?  Well...

It was the grand opening of the new IKEA in Charlotte.  There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity like this.  It's certainly not everyday that you get to witness the grand opening of a store like IKEA.

My original plan was to chronicle the whole morning--waiting in line, the band, the hundreds of other people anxiously awaiting the opening of the doors--but I was thwarted by mother nature.  Before we left at 4 am I checked the weather to decide which coat I should bring.  Unfortunately I failed to notice the little rain symbol next to the 50 degrees.  It started raining in Burlington.  It got worse when we got to Charlotte.  Our umbrellas were in Durham.

Luckily they were handing out ponchos to us fools who were standing in line.  The lucky (crazy?) few who had been there since Monday had a cover over their heads, while the rest of us who decided we didn't need a free chair bad enough to camp out for three days were left out in the rain.  We were fortunate enough that a very nice couple got in line behind us, equipped with a giant golf umbrella.  We got to know them quite well during the two hours we huddled together underneath it.  

The store was originally supposed to open at 9:00.  They started the opening ceremonies at 8:00.  First the appropriate anthems were played as first the American, then the Swedish, then the North Carolina flags were raised.  There was a men's choir from Sweden there to sing the Swedish national anthem.  There were speeches from the store manager, the local district politician, and even Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (whom I'm told never misses an opportunity like this).  Finally at 8:30 they asked us if we'd like to go in a little early.  The crowd responded more loudly than when the television crews asked if they were excited.  And I felt the happiest I'd been in several hours--we were going in.

This was the scene when we entered the store.  All of the employees were lined up, cheering and clapping us as we came in the doors and headed up the escalator.  It was so exciting.  It was like iPhone day, only I'd been the idiot waiting in line, not the one inside the store clapping.

We spent the rest of the morning going through the enormous showroom.  We made time, of course, for some Swedish meatballs and ligonberry juice.  If you ever get to go, you must try the meatballs.  If you're smart and pack a cooler you can even bring some frozen meatballs home to fix for yourself.  Though, keep in mind, that the cooler could take up precious cargo space in the car.  You can only buy the furniture that you can take back home with you.

So what, may say, does any of this have to do with craftiness and inspiration?  Well, IKEA is not just about furniture and meatballs, it's about accessories and organizing too.  

This is what I brought home from IKEA.  I knew when I went that I wanted to get some of these jars.  We bought some a couple years ago for our kitchen, and they are wonderful.  They have a really tight seal on them so they keep things fresh.  Well, a couple months ago when I was working on organizing my craft room I stole a couple out of the kitchen, because they look really nice too.  I've got bottle caps, buttons, scrap ribbon stored in them, and they look nice enough to leave out on shelves.  I also came across this really cute tin set.  I couldn't resist the polka dots, and it was only $2 for the three tins.  The big white board in the back is a metal board for magnets.  I've been displaying my magnets on the back of a Christmas serving plate, so I was very excited to find this, especially with a craft show coming up in April (more on that later).  The mirror I found for $4.  It's unfinished wood, which I plan to decoupage.  

The most surprising inspiration of all is in that big blue bag.  We have a couple from our previous trips to IKEA.  You can purchase one of those for $2, and it's big enough to fit everything you buy in, or you can pay $.50 per plastic shopping bag.  It's the Swedish way of encouraging you to help the environment.  They're really nice and heavy, but for me they're too big to be of any real use in day-to-day life.  I certainly wouldn't fill them with groceries.  I would never be able to carry it in from the car.  Well, while we were in line for our meatballs I spotted something interesting.  A woman had on her shoulder one of the IKEA blue bags, only it was the size of her purse (granted one of those huge suitcase-sized purses, but still).  She had taken the bag, cut it, and re-sewn it to the size that she wanted.  How ingenious is that?  I've looked at those bags a dozen times and never thought to do that.  Since it was the grand opening they gave everyone new blue bags for free, so I have a crisp new one to play with.  And who knows, maybe it will start a new fashion trend.

My final find, and perhaps my favorite, is this nine drawer organizer.  Yes, I realize it looks like a box of wood right now, but that's the fun of IKEA.  I get to put it together myself.  And since I get to do that I get to paint it and decorate it any way I want.  I'm really looking forward to playing with it.

So, I guess if I were to sum up this blog in a couple of sentences (for those of you who have scrolled down) it is this: 1)Do something crazy like get up in the middle of the night and stand in the rain for hours just for a store opening at least once in your life.  2)Keep your eyes open.  There is inspiration everywhere and some things aren't what they seemed when you first looked at them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fortune Cookies That Would Make Martha Blush

I was trying to come up with a cute Valentine idea to give my hubby this year when I came across this idea on the Martha Stewart craft page.  They are these cute little fortune cookies made out of felt.  You can write your own message to your sweetheart.  I decided however to give them a special little twist.

Instead of writing sweet little nothings to fill the fortune cookies, I decided to write naughty suggestions on them.  Decorate a box from Pei Wei and voila, you've got a new Valentine's game to play with your hubby.

Of course you don't have to make this a naughty.  You could put in charade suggestions and use it as a party game.  Or, if you want to go the traditional way, there are tons of "Chinese proverbs" on the web that you could use.

To get the instructions and see the video just click on the post title and it will take you to Martha's page.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Blessing of Friends

During a hectic day of running around and cleaning the house it's nice to be interrupted by the mailman at the door.  Especially when he has a package with your name on it.  And the day is made even better when you open the box and inside is a wonderful book, full of crafty inspirations, lovingly picked out and packaged by a friend.  These are the best kind of days.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Great Pincushion Dilemma

Lately I've been doing a lot of sewing.  Mostly motivated by my desire to make something useful out of my old work t-shirts, but also because this is the first time I've pulled out the sewing machine in two years.  I've made two really cute purses, which I'll post soon.

While I was sewing my first bag I realized I was missing a key piece of sewing equipment--a pincushion.  I vowed that the first thing I would do when I was finished with the bag was make myself a pincushion.  Since I wanted something unique and creative, I scoured my craft room for something that would work.  And when I say "great pincushion dilemma" I'm not exaggerating.  I pondered for several hours, wanting to create the perfect pincushion.  

Finally I had a vision.  I had some scrap red satin, left over from my sister's bridesmaid dress, and I had some very cute little Halloween favors that had been in  my drawer for two years, waiting for the perfect project. A little batting and a few stitches later and voila--a pincushion.

And as if that wasn't perfect enough, when I was at my crafty slumber party at Panopolie, I got to make another pincushion.  Since I was playing around with felting (and sticking myself with the needles) I decided to make another pincushion.  It turned out quite nicely, though it is certainly different from the first.  But I love both of them, and in a strange way they each represent my personality.  

And if you think of it in a really odd way, it's like having a flower to put on the coffin.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Mommy

Felicia Gayle Hudgins

A friend of mine made this suggestion to me, and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it earlier.  Since she is the inspiration for my blog, it is only fitting that I have a picture of my Mom posted.  

This particular picture is a little poignant.  It was taken four days before she died.  Mom had just gotten her hair cut and wanted to share it.  Sadly, because of the technology of the day, I can only print it big enough to put in my locket.  Luckily I have plenty of other photos of her.  And as I said before, I always have the full moon to see her face in.