Documented Life Project- Week 32

The Documented Life Project challenge for week 32 was to “Incorporate a Fortune from a Fortune Cookie.”

I had not been to a restaurant that served fortune cookies for a long time and had no plans to the week of this challenge. Instead, I bought a small box of fortune cookies at the grocery store and had a whole pile of fortunes. Since I want to practice sketching skills, a pile of fortune cookies looked like a good opportunity for sketching shapes and shadows. I cut out the sketch and glued it to black paper for a border. The fortunes from the cookies were glued to black background paper and I wrote more fortunes across the background with a white pen.DLP-Week-32-JMelinda:

I was looking through my scrapbook papers for a different project and found one covered in fortune cookies and fortunes. I cut out the fortunes to use for my page. I started looking through google images for Chinese things to give me some inspiration. I saw a lot of bowls, so I used some gelli printed paper and cut out and decorated a bowl shape. I started laying out the fortune papers and they made me think of steam rising from the bowl (though they are more like fat noodles being dropped into the bowl). I cut out thin black strips of paper to be chop sticks.


Shirt Becomes Nightgown

I’ve shown you how I made a couple nightgowns from thrift store finds for My Princess in an earlier post. This time, I found a shirt from my own closet that I no longer wanted and thought it would be perfect to transform into a nightgown for Miss Tickles. She is a stickler about things belonging to a certain person, so when I have tried to put nightgowns that belong to her older sister on her, she insists that they are not hers. I wanted to make her a nightgown that she could claim as her own.

I took this white strapless shirt and took in the sides to fit Miss Tickles.Old Shirt

I added a couple straps, and now she has a nightgown of her own!Transformed Shirt to NightgownNightgown made from Old Shirt
She says she is a beautiful princess when she wears it. It took her half the day to finally change out of it after wearing it all night (and that was only because she spilled some food on it).

Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 3}

Some months ago I came across the term “cane” in reference to clay. Curiosity lead me to “just google it” as my grandson would say when he was about three and I did not know the answer to one of his many questions. According to the website of a polymer clay company, Sculpey, the definition is:

cane \’kan\ n — a polymer clay rod of two or more colors; the colors inside the rod are constructed in such a way that when the rod is cross-sectioned at any point, a 2 dimensional pattern is revealed.

When my sister asked if she could bring her clay and tools for us to play with on our vacation, I enthusiastically agreed. After reading a couple of tutorials, I started experimenting with making canes. This is the result of my first experiment:Polymer Clay Cane BeadsI was pretty excited about the process and the results, but after doing several more this became my least favorite of everything I made on vacation.

Melinda decided to give it a try and made these cute beads:Making Clay Beads from Cane

Next I tried making spiral canes and combining them into one cane. I sliced part of it very thin and layered the pieces onto a pendant. Then I reduced the cane even smaller and sliced off beads. The scrap pieces from the ends were rolled into small round beads.Clay CanePolymer Clay Cane SpiralI was trying to look up some videos for ideas of more canes to put together but our internet connection at the time was sporadic. I managed to watch almost all of this tutorial before losing connection and was excited to give it a try.

Mokume Gane was a new term to me, but it was fascinating. The original process is actually hundreds of years old and started in Japan. It was the layering of mixed metals to form a laminate of unique wood grain patterns. Here’s a little history lesson. Using a layering/cutting technique with polymer clay achieves a look with similar characteristics to the original metal process. Here’s what I made with this technique:Mokume Gane Polymer ClayNow I was hooked. I finally saw another tutorial and learned that poking holes with toothpicks and various other sized pokers produced more unique patterns.

And this is what I came up with in my experimentation:Polymer Clay BeadsMokume Gane BeadsPolymer Clay BeadsI wanted to make a landscape cane (no clue how to do it) but I tried. It didn’t look right so after slicing the cane, I layered those pieces and cut and poked into the layers and came up with something that looked like a fish swimming in the lake. You never know what you might create! I flattened out the rest of the pieces, rolled them up and cut them into beads. No clay goes to waste.Polymer Clay BeadNow I have several bags of handmade beads and pendants. I guess the next thing I get to learn is how to make jewelry. It’s another one of those things that looks overwhelming when I look at the isles of jewelry making supplies and beads, but I will study or find someone who knows how to make jewelry to get me headed in the right direction. After all, I still want to make more clay beads and pendants. There are so many more creative techniques to try!

Did you play with play-doh when you were a child? Playing with polymer clay may take you back to those fun memories. There’s just something therapeutic about squishing the clay between your fingers. How about giving it a try?


Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 2}

I had a great time making beads and sweets with the clay (here), but I found my niche when I started sculpting with it. I wanted to make something for my kids and had seen a cute clay figure of Yoda as I searched Pinterest. I took that inspiration and made a little Yoda for Ninja Boy.Clay YodaI didn’t want to stop after Yoda was finished, so I made a Cinderella for My Princess.Clay CinderellaMiss Tickles is a big fan of Daniel Tiger, so I made her a little version of her own.Clay Daniel TigerMy adopted daughter, Jessi, and I have been reading and watching Harry Potter lately, so I had a whole lot of fun making her some little figures.Clay Harry Potter FigurinesAfter playing around with the clay at the cottage, I knew I wanted to get some of my own. I used a coupon to buy some tools, and the clay happened to be on sale! When I got home, I showed Jessi her figures and my new tools. She loved them so much she decided to play around a little too and add to her collection.Clay Voldemort


Learning a New Craft on Vacation {Part 1}

I have often looked down the isle at the craft store displaying clay and sculpting supplies and wondered where to start. I’ve even watched a few videos online about various techniques. Learning how to make things using this meduim has been on my someday list. While on our girl’s vacation I moved that desire to the “now” list. My sister brought along polymer clay and all sorts of clay tools to play with. She just recently became interested in working with clay and wanted to share. The dining room became our craft room for the week. She taught us what she had learned so far and then we played. It was interesting how each of us gravitated to different ways of using the clay.Clay Creation PlayMy sister became interested in clay when she wanted to make food and various items for a doll house she is making for my granddaughters. Someday soon (she hopes) the doll house will be completed and we can share it with you. Here are some plants she was working on for the doll house patio.Clay leaves

After seeing samples of some of the miniature clay food, Melinda and her sister decided to start making play food for their girls tea party sets. Who knew you could make frosting out of clay?Frosting Clay CookiesSoon cookies and cakes and even sushi took shape in their fingers. It all looks good enough to eat!Clay Tea Party FoodMy mom started making hand rolled beads for a necklace and used cookie cutters to make small embellishments to add to her card making creations.Beads and EmbelishmentsMy other sister loves bracelets and used the bead rolling tool to make lots of beads to string.Bead Rolling Tool

Clay Beads ready to bake

Bead Baking Rack


Stringing beads for bracelets

Stringing beads for bracelets with elastic string

While beads were baking my sister decided to create shapes to put on magnets for gifts. Clay MagnetsMy mom thought the flowers looked great and set to work making her own flower magnets.Making Clay FlowersThe possibilities of things to make with clay are endless. We just got a taste of it and are hooked.  We still have more to show you in future posts. I love it that my family is always eager to learn new ways of creating. The credit of course goes to my mom who nurtured the desire to create in my sisters and I from a very young age. And I happily passed that on to my kids.


North Shore Nature

Wherever I go, I am drawn to look for things in nature that will inspire me for future creativity projects. On our North Shore vacation I took more photos of nature than I did of the people I was with (I knew that the rest of my family was taking family shots though.) I wanted to share a few of them with you in hopes that you too will be inspired for projects you are creating.Birch BarkFeather on RockFlowersFlowering GrassFlowers LilliesFlowers on RocksFlowers DaisiesFlowers North ShoreFlowersHeart LeafLichenLichenPlants on Rocks

Inspiration at a Lighthouse

On our vacation at the North Shore we left our beautiful “home” for the week to visit one tourist spot– the Split Rock Lighthouse. Supposedly it is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. Our family certainly added to the number of pictures taken.Split Rock LighthouseHowever, it was not built for the purpose of tourist picture taking. It was built after a terrible storm in 1905 in which 29 ships were sunk or damaged. The cliff is 130 feet high and all of the materials for building the lighthouse and surrounding buildings had to be hoisted up the cliff from boats below (not an easy endeavor.) There were no roads to the lighthouse during the first 20 years of operation but after roads were built tourists began to flock to the lighthouse by the 1930s. Besides the job of keeping the lighthouse functioning properly, the keepers had to also become tour guides.

The lighthouse itself is 54 feet tall so access within the tower is by a narrow spiral staircase. I love the design shapes visible looking down the staircase. The lens for the lighthouse was built in Paris and assembled in the lighthouse. The entire lens weighs in at almost 6.5 tons. Remember that all had to be hoisted up the cliff from boats along with over 300 tons of building materials. The keepers had to keep each lens glass clean along with the lighthouse windows. Notice the rainbow colors on the lens in the upper left side in the picture. The lens revolved once every 20 seconds so a light flashed once every 10 seconds. (Every lighthouse has its own unique signal.) The beacon of light could be seen for 22 miles. The lens assembly was turned by a gear system with weights on cables similar to a grandfather clock. The weights had to be restored to their starting positions every two hours by the keepers.Split Rock Lighthouse InsideWhen the visibility conditions did not allow for the light to be seen, the fog signal building blasted a two second blast every 18 seconds to warn ships up to 5 miles away.Fog Signal Building Split Rock LighthouseThree identical keeper’s houses were built next to the lighthouse for the light house keeper and two assistants along with their families. The families only lived on the property during the shipping season (not the winter months) until the roads were built and they could stay year round. The colors for the rooms of each house were determined by the government and each house had to be identical.Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers Home Of course each home could be personalized with special touches of handmade items.HandworkA large pantry was necessary because running to the grocery store was not an option.Split Rock Lighthouse Keepers HomeCommunication was not as simple as it is for us today. Have you ever seen a typewriter like this one?TypewriterThe views from the lighthouse are spectacular.Lake Superior- Split Rock LighthouseNorth Shore Lake Superior North Shore Lake Superior The Split Rock Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 when modern methods of navigations made lighthouses unnecessary and eventually became a National Historic Landmark.

So besides the breath-taking beauty surrounding the lighthouse and the unique designs of the lens and the spiral staircase, how was I inspired at a lighthouse?

First, the story of how the lighthouse was built even with seemingly impossible obstacles to overcome makes me realize that no matter what obstacles I may face, nothing really is impossible. It may require creativity and ingenuity to figure out alternative ways to do something and sometimes requires much perseverance in the process.

Second, my everyday life is so very easy compared with the way people lived during the early years of the lighthouse operations. I love old houses and antiques, but I also appreciate very much the modern conveniences I have today. I am inspired by the creativity required for their everyday living.

Third, lighthouses have long been used symbolically in the Christian faith as Jesus being the light of the world as a beacon of hope to show people the way. Visiting a lighthouse brings more clarity to that mental image.

I might be inspired to someday paint or draw Split Rock Lighthouse like some of the beautiful artwork I saw in the visitor center. Someone was even inspired to make a Lego Split Rock Lighthouse.Split Rock Lighthouse LegosNext time you visit a tourist spot, open your eyes, mind, and heart to look for inspiration.

Another Memory Making Time

North Shore Lake Superior We just returned from a wonderfully relaxing vacation together on the Minnesota North Shore of Lake Superior. Last summer I shared a post about our annual Mother/Sister/Daughter memory making vacations. This trip was quite different from past years. We stayed in a place so beautiful and relaxing that we did not want to leave to go sight-seeing, so we only did that one afternoon. Our “home” for the week was in a three bedroom cottage at Larsmont Cottages Resort, a place we highly recommend. The weather was perfect, and contrary to what we expected (because we used to live in WI and MN), there were no giant mosquitos waiting to attack bare skin the minute you walked outside. What a blessing! This was our view from the front room…Larsmont Cottages Both of my daughters were able to join us this year on our girls get-away.FamilyWell, it wasn’t exactly girls only, because we had these two adorable boys to entertain us.The BoysWe tried to follow the rules as much as possible.Camp RulesWe took many walks along the lake and around the property.Larsmont Walking TrailAlong the shoreline were six community bonfire pits. When you wanted a fire, the resort staff came out to light a fire for you as well as bring the roasting sticks and supplies for s’mores.North Shore Lake Superior LarsmontCampfireMelinda was our head chef (her sister helped), and we enjoyed delicious home cooked meals three times a day. Larsmont Cottages DinnerWe used the outside dining room most of the time because the inside dining room quickly turned into the craft room. Instead of card making supplies, this year my sister brought polymer clay and all kinds of tools for us to play with. We’ll show you some of the things we made in another post. It was fun creating and learning a new craft.Crafting on vacationThe resort offered free bikes and helmets to the guests, so Melinda, my sisters and I took an “almost” six mile bike ride. There is debate about whether it was five or six miles, but since we don’t have any fish stories to tell, we are going with the six miles. I don’t even remember the last time I was on a bike, but it has to be at least twenty some years ago. We all survived and had a great time. My other daughter probably would have gone with us if she hadn’t been doing an eight mile run that day as part of her marathon training. BikingAround the resort are lawn games to play, puzzles, books to read, scavenger hunts, nature hunts, crafts, and even rock painting for the garden.Painted Garden RocksSitting on a chair or rocks to relax and rejuvenate is greatly encouraged. Peaceful Place to RelaxWith views like this, we all decided we wanted to spend a whole summer there. Even the winter views would be pretty if you did not have to ever go outside! I could picture a wonderful creative studio in the upstairs room looking out over the lake. It’s fun to dream of creating in such an inspiring place, but one reason I don’t live up north any more is because I don’t enjoy being cold for so long.North Shore Lake Superior Some days the lake is calm and other days it sounds like the ocean.North Shore Lake SuperiorNorth Shore Lake SuperiorAnd of course, it wouldn’t be Lake Superior without the big freighters.North Shore Lake Superior ShipOur one sight-seeing adventure while on the North Shore was a visit to Split Rock Light House. I’ll save that for another post.

Once again, so many beautiful memories were written on our hearts as we shared life together last week at our girls get-away. I’m glad my mom, sisters, and daughters love spending time with each other and with me.

Documented Life Project- Week 31

“Create a pocket – fill it with treasures from your week,” was the challenge for the 31st week of the Documented Life Project.

As I pondered what to do for this challenge, I was looking at the postcard I received from Katie at In My Backyard for the Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap and inspiration hit me!
Great Big Stitched Postcard SwapI decided to use the birds I received to make a mixed media page. I did a watercolor wash for background. Using denim fabric, I stitched part of a pair of jeans to the page and added a string clothesline and clothespin. The pocket on my jeans was filled with scraps of paper, thread and yarn for a bird’s nest. I cut out the yellow bird from my postcard and glued her in place on the clothesline. The little tags I received with birds stamped on them became my baby birds for mama bird’s nest. Since I am just doing the challenges and not doing the planner/journal part of the Documented Life Project, these birds were just the right thing to collect in my pocket. Thank you, Katie!DLP-Week-31-JMelinda:

I started my pocket with nothing in mind for it other than using some of the paper that I had gelli printed a couple weeks ago. I made this particular print trying to use color combinations that I normally wouldn’t use. I like how it turned out! I used purple cotton fabric to make a pocket on my paper. I sewed a heart piece of paper to the fabric first before sewing the pocket onto my paper. After I was done, I remembered the cards that I had made for my Hubby last week for our 8th Anniversary. I decided that my pocket was the perfect place to store them.


Cool Summer Tops Part 2

Mom showed you the shirt that she had made from this pattern.Summer Top PatternI had been wanting to make a shirt similar to this one that I have.

Sweater top

As I was preparing to make a pattern, I realized that mom’s pattern was almost exactly what I needed. I just had to add some length at the bottom and I didn’t do any gathering.

Summer-TshirtNow I have a comfortable loose top that is perfect with my post baby body.

(I’ll add a pic of it on as soon as I can get a decent one)