Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rocky Mountain Outlook Feature

I was pleasantly surprised when Michelle Macullo of the Rocky Mountain Outlook called to interview me for the upcoming Banff Public Library Art Show. The exhibit will feature the art of local women during the month of March. It is the third year of this exhibit, which is inspired by International Women's Day on March 8th. It is the second year I have participated in the show.

I had a nice time chatting with Michelle about my work and how I am excited to be in this show with so many other talented artists. Then, I forgot about it, and was told by two people on the same day that my work was in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. I have not gotten my hand on a copy but I did find it online here. I will also post the article here below along with the image they printed in both the paper and have posted online. Thank you!

Global Women—March 2009 BPL show
Published: February 26, 2009 11:00 AM
Updated: February 26, 2009 11:40 AM


March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a commemoration of female spirit and achievement.

The day, first celebrated in 1911, also serves as a reminder that the days of female inequality are not entirely behind us.

In some instances, social, economic and political equality, both in the developed and developing world, are hard to come by. Gender equality, as outlined in the United Nations’ Charter, is a fundamental human right.

So it is with this in mind that the day serves as a reminder that all should be treated equal.

During the month of March, a colourful tapestry of local female artists, along with the Banff Public Library and the YWCA, are gathering to embrace female power, promise, contribution and worth through art.

Global Women: Bridging the Gap, an exhibition of original artwork, will be featured at the Banff Public Library Art Gallery. An opening reception with a number of the artists in attendance takes place on Saturday, March 7 from 7-9 p.m.

The mixed medium show features a potpourri of creations ranging from mosaic to photography to painting. Many of this year’s participants are easily recognizable women known throughout the Valley for their generosity, kindness and creativity – Jane Newman, Max Elliott and Tiffany Teske, to name a few.

Photographer Teske’s contribution to the exhibit are black and white images of women taken in Haiti.

“All of the women have a beautiful smile,” she shares. “Photography is powerful. Mother and National Geographic photographer Annie Griffins Belt captured it best when she said, ‘And I have learned that even without a shared language, it’s easy to let people know that their children are beautiful, their homes are lovely, their tea is delicious, and their stories are worth sharing with the world.’ She was right. I like to show humanity – the similarities and connections.”

As a mother and a wife, Teske says she’s spent a lot of time mulling over what it means to be female.

“I’m especially interested in how we got here,” she says. “It’s something I think about all of the time. When I think about all of the women that came before me, I’m thinking about my daughter. I’m going to encourage her to do whatever she wants to.”

Teske says her family played a vital role in giving her the confidence and poise to follow her dreams.

“My dad said I could be anything I wanted to be,” Teske said. ”And my grandma was one of the early Betty Crockers. She was working as an executive for the company before women really started working in those roles.”

A number of pieces in the show are available for sale. Additional information about the artists and their works is available at the library.

Global Women: Bridging the Gap runs until the end of the month at the Banff Public Library Art Gallery

Friday, February 27, 2009

Costa Rica Collage Frame

I am really thankful for the month long challenge of Thing-a-day, because I have completed many little projects I have been wanting to work on for ages! Some of them professional projects and some of them personal projects. The one project that had been lingering the longest is this collage frame. I have been wanting to put images from a 2001 trip to Costa Rica in it since I bought it a couple of years ago. Two years ago I went through my scads contact sheets from the trip, had the prints made, then could not find them. Turns out I was looking in the wrong place. I was looking for print envelopes with the prints in it, but apparently I got all organized one day and put them in an album! Just found it last week... hard to find something when you think you are looking for something else, sheesh! But now, it is finally done and on the wall. Yippee!! Hubby and I have been taking a trip down memory lane. This was the first major trip we took together. We had been together less than one year. It was an amazing 6 week journey through Costa Rica, with about a week spent in Panama.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Polaroid Transfers - High Tea at The Banff Springs

Yesterday, I created two new Polaroid transfers. I was commission by a very good friend of mine, to make a transfer for her mother's upcoming birthday. Her mom loves tea time, so we decided to use an image from high tea at The Banff Springs. What makes the image I used for the transfer special is that it is from a series of images I shot while this friend was visiting me and we went to have high tea together.

It came to down to a choice between the above image, which is going to be for mom, and the image below. I decided to go ahead and work with both. They both turned out well, so it looks like Kiki will be getting the one below as an early birthday present.... These are photographs of the images, not scans, so they are less than ideal, I hope to scan them tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Curtains, curtains, and more curtains...

My lovely and wonderful friend, Karina Bergmans, came to visit me in Banff last week. A fellow artist, Karina is someone I miss very much since moving away from Ottawa. She and I have been through each others' professional highs and lows, and supported each other along the way. She even came to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, when I was there teaching a photography class last January. It was so nice to have her here in Banff, for the second time. Since Karina is handy with a sewing machine, and since I lack serious confidence even though I have taken three sewing courses and I own my own machine, I asked K to help me with a couple of projects. I seem to feel the need to have an experienced seamstress looking over my shoulder if I even attempt a stitch. I basically need to make four curtain panels; a pair of cafe curtains for my kitchen, a curtain to cover the storage area in our upstairs hallway for diapers (my daughter wears cloth at home, disposable when we go out or at night, so we have tons of different stuff to stash), and a curtain to cover a shelf area under the sink in my bathroom (that normally would probably have a cabinet door).

This AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL, COMPLETELY WONDERFUL curtain is the one that is concealing out diapers. Karina did me a favor and made it for me. I LOVE the fabric, which is bright and cheerful, and that I paid $3 for exactly the right amount needed at the local thrift store. Just look at the close ups of the little characters! The owl is my favorite.

AND it just happens to look amazing on the wall across the hall from three of Karina's pieces of art that I own. I am positively giddy every time I walk down the hall. And my daughter loves it.

The second project was a pair of panels for my kitchen. Karina and I started these kind of late at night, after a fabulous dinner, since we had to wash and dry the fabric. Because of this, we were talking to each other, but not understanding each other... Karina started to sew one panel, but she thought I wanted them the long way not the wide way, or something, and she sewed up the wrong side. She threw in the towel, and it is a good thing because A) the fact that she made a mistake gave me more confidence and B) I started sewing myself. I finished them after Karina had gone home, so I can pretty confidently say I did them myself, YIPPEE! My 2 1/2 year old even handed me pins and helped me out. Fabric by Ikea.

The third project was the curtain for the bathroom, which I made start to finish myself. Quin also handed me pins. She has already been bit by the creative bug. She asks me regularly, "Mama, what project are we working on today?". AAWWWWWW! She LOVES this curtain. Every time we are in the bathroom she shows it to me, "Look, Mama!". Orange is currently my favorite color, so she gets really excited to show it to me. I got this fabric, again, by some sort of luck, the perfect amount, for $1 at the local thrift store!

Now, I just need to keep the sewing machine where I can see it, so I USE it and keep the confidence going... Thanks, K!

Olive & Herb Focaccia

Thanks again, MahnaMahna on Thing-a-day, this time for an amazing bread recipe! I ALWAYS have trouble with yeast bread, I can't get it to rise... This did, but not like it should have. I guess I need to find a warmer place to put it. Does anyone else have some advice? This focaccia is sooooooo good! We had five hungry men over who loved it. Thanks, MahnaMahna! Check out this post on her blog for the recipe...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Upcoming Art Show at the Banff Public Library

Today, I matted and framed three of my photographs for the upcoming show at the Banff Public Library. It will run for the month of March, and is inspired by International Women's Day on March 8th.

All of the participating artists are women, working in a variety of mediums, and the theme of the show is "Global Women, Bridging the Gap". This is the third year that the Library has hosted the show, and the second year I have participated.

I love to come together with other artists to exhibit and I am looking forward to the opening on March 7th. My images were shot in Terrier Rouge, Haiti. I chose three images of women who are wearing vibrant smiles, which is not necessarily the usual tone of my documentary work. As a photographer, capturing emotions is an important way to communicate universally with an image. A smile can speak volumes, where language may not. The images together are titled, ""Our Smiles Can Speak to the World".

I selected the following quote to be displayed with the images...
"And I have learned that even without a shared language, it's easy to let people know that their children are beautiful, their homes are lovely, their tea is delicious, and their stories are worth sharing with the world." Annie Griffins Belt, National Geographic Photographer & Mother

The other thing I did today was start a class on writing memoir. I am really excited about it. Memory is the inspiration behind a lot of my mixed media work and I am looking forward to learning to write more eloquently about my life experiences.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Blog Feature on The Craft Begins...

Self Portrait by Tiffany Teske

My friend and fellow crafter on EveryDayCreate, Bri, was kind enough to ask to interview me for her blog, The Craft Begins. I had great fun answering the awesome questions that Bri wrote. I always like to read artist and crafter interviews and I hope people have enjoy reading mine. Here it is... Thanks, Bri!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Banner, FINALLY...

I am thrilled to say that I finally took the time to make a banner for this blog... what do you think? Busy? Colorful? Too many pics? Yes, yes, and yes. I love it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Call for Submission - Paws for Charity

I compiled an article on a call for submission for the Paws for Charity Book Project for the Photographers of Etsy blog. It is open to any photographer who photographs dogs and cats, you don't need to be an Etsy seller. Hurry and enter...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hummus or as MY Cookbook says...Hommos

Hummus and I have a long history. I love the stuff but when I have tried to make it, it has usually been a flop. Not that it doesn't come out as edible, it just has a strange texture or doesn't taste quite right. One recipe was too coarse, one too lemony, one too oily... I could had kept tweeking the same recipe but instead I kept looking for a new one. A local take out restaurant, Barpa Bill's, has delicious hummus, and they even gave the recipe to a writer from a publication that they have hung on the wall in the restaurant. I wrote it down one day, while waiting for my veggie pita, thinking that this would be the one. No. In fact, I almost feel they gave the newspaper a decoy recipe. Well, it is time to announce, my search has finally lead me to THE ONE. It is in the same cookbook I mentioned in this post, a cookbook that has yet to let me down, and is on the way to becoming a favorite.

As you can see, Hummus is not very photogenic. I should have out it in a bowl and laid out a nice spread of pita chips, olives, cheese... but I photographed the before and after instead. I like the idea of anything you can throw into the blender, push a button, and have complete and ready to eat. This recipe is very open ended, with quantities of ingredients being left up to the maker. This made me a bit worried about the outcome, given the past flops, but it is really, really good. My husband admitted to me when he started eating it that he was ready to quit eating the store bought hummus, that he was sick of it, and he was thrilled that I found a good recipe. It's a hit around here. The recipe follows, and I will use a * and paranthesis to let you know what I did.

Hommos (Middle Eastern Chickpea Puree)
Serves 6-8
Recipe by Martha Rose Shulman
From the Cookbook "Gourmet Vegetarian Feasts"

- 1 cup chickpeas, washed, picked over, and soaked for several hours or overnight in three times their volume water *(I used Eden Organic canned chickpeas, which is 2 cups, so I doubled the recipe)
- Sea salt, to taste
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup lemon juice, or to taste *(I used 1/2 cup in my doubled recipe, the minimum)
- 2 large garlic cloves *(4 for me)
- 1/4 cup good olive oil *(1/2 cup extra virgin for me)
- 6-8 heaping Tablespoons tahini *(I used 12 T for the doubled recipe)
- 6 -8 Tablespoons plain low fat yogurt *(I used 12 T of organic 3.25% fat)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin *(1 t for me)
- Freshly chopped parsley and halved black olives for garnish

1) Combine chickpeas with 5 cups of water in a large pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer one hour. *(I probably didn't have to do this for my canned chickpeas, which are already quite soft, but the last time I just added them to the recipe, it had a coarse texture. So, I did do this step.)
2) Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt and continue to simmer another hour, until chickpeas are soft. Drain, retaining some of the liquid. *(I removed mine from the stove after an hour. I added the 1 teaspoon of salt to all the ingredients in the blender, and I did add a bit of the cooking water so it was nice consistency.)
3) In a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle grind together cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, tahini, and yogurt until you have a smooth paste. Add more yogurt or cooking liquid if you want a smoother puree. Add salt to taste and ground cumin, and blend in.
4) Transfer to bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and garnish with black olives. Serve with bread, crackers, or rounds of cucumbers. This can be frozen. *(Since I doubled the recipe, I had a HUGE amount, so I gave some to a friend, but am happy to see hummus can be frozen. We like to eat it with carrots, pita chips, and cheese, as well as the items listed...)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Roses Polaroid

I made this image on slide film at my friends' wedding in Wakefield, Quebec, about 4 years ago. I made them a Polaroid transfer collage of their wedding images. Today, I decided to photograph this slide onto Polaroid 669 film, and this is the result. I really like it a lot. It is really beautiful in person. Roses are not my favorite flower but I love how this is textured and dreamy at once, as well as the shade of red. I scanned it into my computer, to share it hear, and decided to do a bit of Photoshop work on it. I am always kind of stuck in between the analog, hands on way of making images, and the modern, technology based way of doing things. I guess it is a good way to respect and pay homage to the past while learning, evolving, and moving into the future, or in this case, at least the present. Which image do you like best? I love your comments...

Soy Tea Cup Candles - Tutorial

I would like to start including more tutorials on my blog. Some by me, some by guests. If you have a project that you would like to write about, I am happy to feature it here. Leave me a comment and I will contact you...

I have been wanting to make soy candles for a long time. They are really easy to make container candles. And since I love to drink tea (and most other hot beverages) I thought tea cups would make the perfect container. While you can find vintage tea cups at antique shops, I prefer to buy mine at the thrift store. They usually don't have saucers, which I don't need, and the price is right.

I don't like to rely on products made from petroleum, and since paraffin candles are petroleum based, I had been looking for an alternative. Soy candles are made with wax that is made from soy beans. Soy wax is a sustainable product that can be made as long as soybeans can be grown, which benefits farmers. They also last twice as long as paraffin candles. However, many makers of soy candles claim that they are soot free, which is false. While properly made soy candles do not emit black soot they can emit white soot. This soot is comparable to households soots produced by toasters and cooking oil, and are not believed to be dangerous to our health the way that soot from diesel, coal, and gasoline are. Soy wax is a soft wax which is best used in containers, or as tealight or tart candles. It is difficult to make a 100% soy (or beeswax for that matter) pillar or votive candles, although I have seen soy blend wax for votives. Most freestanding candles have been mixed with paraffin in some ratio. There is said to be no scientific evidence that paraffin wax is harmful to your health. It is a personal choice which one you use. Check out this article for more info on paraffin vs soy wax.

To get started making soy candles I bought a one pound container of microwaveable soy wax flakes for containers, from the company called Yaley. I bought this at Micheal's in Canada, and it cost something like $11, which is a lot more than it costs on the Yaley site (which is in the US, so the prices need to adjusted accordingly). On their site, a 25 lb. box of the same wax is $53.75 US. I was able to make three small container votives and two tea cup candles with one pound of wax. I also bought scent and wicks from Michael's. I bought the wrong wicks... for some reason it is not best to use metal centered wicks with soy wax. I ended up going to the dollar store where I got metal-less wicks, 7 for $1.50. They burn well, but are a lot more expensive than just buying wicking in a larger quantity. Yaley has medium wicking at the special price of $10 a bag, which gives me 230 wicks! I won't get into prices but I did find a Canadian source for soy wax candle making supplies called Canwax. I plan to order all my supplies from them in the future....

Making Soy Tea Cup Candles

You will need:
Soy Wax Flakes
Microwaveable container or double boiler
Skewer of some sort to keep wicks straight

1) Wash and dry your containers. They should be room temperature when you fill them with wax.

2) The best burning wicks to use with soy wax do not have wire in the middle of the wick. They can have a metal disc at the bottom of the wick, but it is not necessary. You can secure your wick in the middle of the container with a drop of wax, but it will move again once you fill the container.

3) Melt the wax in a microwaveable container in your microwave according to package instructions. You can also use a double boiler on a stove top. You will need a thermometer to check the temp. My wax was best at 180 degrees F.

4) You can add scent at this point, which comes in a block that looks like wax. Use according to your instructions. I grated mine before adding so it would melt well. I didn't use coloring but I believe you could add that at this point.

5) Hold your wick while pouring in the wax. When you let go, it may shift. I bent my wicks around a BBQ skewer so I could position them.

6) Let your candles cool and harden. I noticed that my candles in clear containers kept some "wet" looking spots. I guess this is the nature of the wax, as the Yaley site just introduced a wax that doesn't tend to do this. It didn't seem to be a problem in the tea cups. You can get cracks when the wax dries, which you can minimize by using a BBQ lighter flame, carefully so as not to light the wick, on the surface of the wax. I didn't have a lot of cracking since I was working in a room temp environment. I think you get more cracks when working in a cold place.

Have you made these candles? Have a tip to share? Leave a comment. I am very pleased with my candles and will be making many more for gifts and my own home...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lovelies from My Love

It has taken me a few days but I wanted to post images of the lovely, lovely flowers and foliage my husband brought to me on Valentine's Day. What a beautiful arrangement! I love love love grasses and foliage with my flowers. Everything down to the bow is wonderful. And there are two roses, one for me, one for our daughter, and a bud for our little babe on the way. My love also made me dinner and took me to a movie. Thanks, hubby! I love you!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spicy Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup

I have been participating in Thing-a-day since February 1st. It has been a great experience to document my creative pursuits each day. It has taught me that I actually do live an artful life.

You can follow the posts of people you have selected on Thing-a-day, and my favorite person to follow is fellow Canadian, MahnaMahna. She lives in Toronto and she posts the most amazing recipes. I love them all. I drooled over this soup recipe, I made it today because I have a cold that has been hanging on. It is both delicious and good therapy, since the spice has cleared my sinuses. I added two cloves of garlic to help with that. Easy to make, yummy to eat! I think I may have added too many carrots and sweet potatoes, since mine looks more like stew than the photo MahnaMahna posted. But, I like it thick like this....

If you would like the recipe you can get it on MahnaMahna's blog.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Featured Kids Craft Project with Kristal of The Rikrak Studios ~ Stenciled T-shirts

I am pleased to be presenting a new series of projects and activities for kids here on my blog. I am also excited to feature guest tutorials from time to time. My first guest tutorial is being brought to you by Kristal of The Rikrak Studios in Ottawa, Ontario. All images are by Kristal.

Stenciled T-shirts

we've always loved to give handmade gifts in our home. a few years ago, when our son was 2, i was looking for an easy, inexpensive way to share my wonderful son's adorable toddler drawings with the world! :) i just love those clean, dramatic lines and thought they would be wonderful on a t-shirt! having them made at a store was too pricey, so i did a little research, and came across an amazing group of handcrafters on flickr that were making easy stencils and then using them to create handmade t-shirt masterpieces! i fell in love!

mr. rikrak & little rikrak in their adorable handmade stenciled shirts, made when our little one was 2.
(don't worry - they don't always wear matching shirts! :)

so here's my variation on contact paper stenciling for you and your child, or niece or nephew, or kids that you just love and want to make projects with! (or hey - just make them for yourself - it's so superfun!) and no need to just make t-shirts! we've made stenciled canvas totebags for our non-t-shirt wearing family members, and little stenciled pencil cases for other friends! basically, anything fabricy works!

and better then a fabric transfer, there seems to be no peeling or cracking with this method! woohoo!

above: the original drawing we chose, created by my little sweetie when he was 2.
he named it: mr. sunny.

above: another image that was a great hit.
drawn by our little sweetie, age 2, as stenciled onto a t-shirt.

for this project, you'll need:
  • a fun drawing (sized how you'd like for the project)
  • inexpensive contact paper (plasticized sticky-backed paper available in dollar stores, craft stores, hardware stores and more. shelf paper works well. available on a roll)
  • cuticle scissors (or an exacto knife, if you're doing the cutting away from children!)
  • newsprint (or another used paper scrap, as large as the shape of your drawing
  • a ballpoint pen
  • a square of cardboard (large enough to fit inside the tshirt)
  • fabric paint in the colour(s) of your choice
  • paintbrush (inexpensive foam brush works great)
  • iron
  • masking tape
(now, there is some debate about if a freezer paper stencil is better then a contact paper stencil. here are my thoughts on it. both are great. i prefer the contact paper one for this project for a couple of reasons. 1) contact stencils are reusable, if you're careful with them. that means you can do more then one print, on a different item, without redoing the first few steps. also, 2) contact paper is readily available here in my hometown. freezer paper was a bit challenging to find when i was looking for it a few years ago. however, if you decide to branch out into more detailed projects, the concensus seems to be that a freezer paper stencil gives you more detail possibilities!)

1. choose the drawing! with your little sweetiepie - choose one of their favourite drawings. keep a few helpful hints in mind: try to find a basic linedrawing, perferably with thick lines, and focus on one main shape to start. decide if you need to enlarge, or decrease the size of the original image for the size of the shirt you are making. (this can easily be done by using a photocopier or scanner).. can't find an image? draw a new one! for older children, who might have more advanced drawings, perhaps a fun silhouette workshop session would be fun, then you can use the results for the tshirts!

2. prepare the t-shirt: on a flat surface, insert the cardboard square into the middle of the prewashed t-shirt. this way, as you work at painting the shirt, the paint won't bleed thru to the back. place the shirt (with cardboard inside) face up on the surface. i also like to add a layer or two of newsprint, or used paper between the front of the shirt and the cardboard, for extra blotting protection.

3. transfer the image to the contact paper: on a flat surface, place the drawing (or photocopy) face up. place an unpeeled piece of contact paper over top. you can tape down the contact paper on the sides, so that it won't slip, if your child would like to do the tracing! using a pen, carefully trace the outline of the image. in the image we're using (mr. sunny!) , it needs to have an outline, then two *floating* eyes and a *floating* mouth... so we drew the inside line of the sun shape, then the outside line. then the outlines of the eyes and mouth.

4. cut out the stencil: unless the child is older, this step is best done by an adult. untape the stencil. carefully cut out the stencil. in ours, we are carefully cutting out the white space inner image line, then the white space outer image line, then the *floating* eyes and mouth. many sources suggest an exacto knife, but i prefer tiny, sharp cuticle scissors. i feel they give me more control cutting, but use whichever you feel more adept at! divide up the parts you'll be using, and non-usable parts. (for example, we *used* the inner white body of mr. sunny, and the outlying white space. we were *not using* the cut out eyes, the cut out mouth, the cutaway line/space between his head and the sky.) i think the cutting and figuring out which are the right parts can be the most confusing part of the process. be patient! you can do it! it is easier if you are just using a silhouette, and have no floating parts.

5. placing the stencil on the shirt: before peeling the paper backing off, decide together where the image will go on the front of the shirt. remember... where the stencil is will end up being the colour of your shirt. where the stencil isn't will be the colour of your paint. now carefully peel off the paper backing from each part and stick onto shirt. then carefully smooth each part of the stencil with your finger, to ensure it is fully stuck, so that no paint bleeding will occur. the parts that will be the colour of the shirt will be covered. the parts that will be painted will be exposed.

6. painting the shirt: we just use regular foam mini-paintbrushes. dip the brush into the fabric paint. it will be nice and thick. try holding the tshirt while your child gently paints in the open-stencil areas. this should be a nice slow process. be careful not to paint outside the contact paper edge, or it will land on the shirt where you don't want it. after one coat, take a close look with your child and see if there are any uneven spaces. we like to make ours nice and even, and not too thin, and not too thick (without being gloppy!) - this way it will have a solid line look, even after 100's of washes!

7. letting it dry: let the paint dry for an hour or so. go do something else fun! some folks say wait longer, but we always found we were both too excited to wait any more! once fairly dry (or else it might bleed), gently peel off the stencil parts. and tada! a magical homemade tshirt awaits, with your kidlet's art on display! now let it set for up to 24 hours to ensure it's totally dry.

8. set the image: the fabric paint we use needs to be heat-set as the final step. follow the paint instructions (which might just be to gently iron the image to heat-set it)

9. enjoy the shirt!! we made matching ones for our whole family! and gave away a whole bunch in different colours as gifts a few years back! ours have been worn & washed 100's of times and the paint remained in tact perfectly! and i gotta tell ya, i think everyone loved them! :) it's so fun to see fun friends and family wearing them around!


* as a further idea, you can use a fabric marker pen to have your child sign their name, and date it, too!

* you can also use any image to make your stencil. maybe after using a drawing, you'd like to try your hand at a favourite silhouette from the internet, or try this fun idea for making a silhouette of your kiddies from inhabitots! i gotta tell you, making your own reusable stencils is wonderfully addictive, and so much fun for everyone. great to try at a party, if you have lots of helping adult hands, or with a group!

* you can reuse your stencil a few times. i've used most about 4 times each. if you are taking a long break inbetween, affix the stencil to saranwrap, in order to save the stickiness of the backing.

like a visual tutorial or some more ideas?
you can find all kinds of wonderful hints on the web...
* a nice visual step by step from SpinalCat
* see this one for another great step by step photo tutorial
*this one on craft from the wonderful angry chicken
* more on the contact paper vs. freezer paper debate here.
* more fun ideas on handmade stencils on spazztic crafts

i couldn't find a video tutorial - so i might just make one up someday soon!

have fun! kids seem to love the process and the end result! hope you do to!

Thank you, Kristal! This is an amazing project that I can't wait to try! For more on Kristal and her fine talents, you can check out her blog, and her Etsy shop where she sells "modern & sustainable patchwork". I will leave you with a few of the lovely examples of her craftiness...

DIY Sustainable Clutch Purse

Iron On

DIY Sustainable Wallet or Business Card Holder

Friday, February 13, 2009

Congratulations! Another New Baby....

My naturopath and friend just had a baby! An 8 lb baby girl, named Applonia, whose nickname will be Apple :) Welcome, little Apple!! Congrats to the new family who are said to being doing very well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flexing My Green Thumb

Today was a pretty creative day but since I am exhausted and don't want to upload, resize, and explain all the photos, I will stick with the first thing I accomplished today and pick it up again tomorrow...

I love houseplants. I recently acquired a bunch of new ones through Freecycle, an online group where people list things they are give away for free. You can post a wanted post for things you are looking for. I received 5 responses to my post which resulted in everything from cuttings to mature plants. Most of the plants were in need of repotting and some rehab, so today was the day. I have always enjoyed working with plants and soil. I love to get my hands dirty and today also got my kitchen pretty filthy. I find it exhilarating to make a good mess, and plants really lift my spirits in the winter. Plus, I am pregnant, so it goes right along with the nesting instinct.... Some of my new plants include aloe, snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue, purple velvet plant, and yucca.

Chelsea Erotica Article in The Ottawa Citizen

Chelsea Erotica V: Swell received some favorable press in the Ottawa Citizen this year. You can read the article here... I sent three pieces to the show, but I wish I could have sent myself. It is always a fun time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Good with the Bad

I was having a very bad day. I guess that is how it goes sometimes, even when the sun is shining. Then, I got an email I have been waiting for... good friends of ours in Wakefield Quebec, just welcomed a little boy, Julian, into their family. Congrats to you guys!! You are in our thoughts.

Speaking of having a bad day, I wonder if it is something going through our townhouse complex, as I heard that our neighbor, a pro snowboarded, broke his hip and maybe more, on a big jump at the ski area my husband manages... bad luck, dude, heal up soon!

Two more good things about today, yes, I am counting, I noticed on the way home from work (I work one or two days a week at my friend's shop in the next town) that the days are getting longer. I left about 6:25 PM today and got home before it was pitch dark. I love winter, and I love being inside all cozy when it is dark outside, but the realization of longer days made my heart sing....

AND our local health food store is now carrying Sunny Bears!! Vegetarian, organic, fruit juice gummy bears that I first tasted while visiting a friend in Boulder, Colorado. They are amongst my favorite candies, EVER. I bought a big bag today and ate them all the way home :) There's nothing Sunny Bears can't cure.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Handmade Valentines & Truffles for Kids

My friend, Kristal, from The Rikrak Studios, asked me to contribute some kid crafts and activities to her blog. I love the idea, and asked her if she would consider doing the same for my blog. So, we plan to have a bit of a project tutorial swap on an ongoing basis which we hope you enjoy. Stay tuned!

I teach crafts to kids and seniors in my community, AND I get PAID! I love it! Today, I made valentine cards and truffles with my favorite seniors. I have taught the same projects to kids ages 6 - 12 years old. These are fun and doable projects for all ages if you join in the fun.

Valentine "Puffy Hearts" (as my friend, Sue, calls them)
I LOVE tissue art. It brings me back to childhood. I love the bright colors and texture of the paper. I also find the repetitive

You will need:
- Colorful tissue paper, folded as many times as you can and still cut it into 1" squares (the idea is to make many squares from minimum cuts). You can go as large as 2", but just keep in mind the larger the square, the higher they will be off the paper.
- Hearts cut out of card stock, ours were about 5".
- White glue
- Pencil
- Markers or pen for a greeting

1) It is easiest for kids to write a greeting on the card BEFORE adding the tissue paper.

2) When I do tissue art I put glue in a little bowl and dip, but for kids it seems to be easiest if they make a running bead of white glue around the piece.

3) Put the end of pencil in the middle of a square of tissue paper and wrap the paper around the end of the pencil, then push into the glue on the card, and pull out the pencil. There is no wrong way to do this. The less perfect the better. If a child doesn't have the patience to fill in the whole heart they can still make adorable cards by just putting the paper on the border of the heart.

A variation on this theme is to just put the tissue on the border and then to paste another heart on top so that the tissue paper sticks out the sides.


These are not comparable to fine Belgian chocolates, but they satisfy the chocolate cravings of adults and kids alike. They are fast, easy, and yummy! No cooking required, which makes them great for a class (although you need a microwave to melt the butter). I quadruple the recipe.

You will need:
2 1/2 oz graham crackers
4 oz icing sugar
3 Tablespoons cocoa
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon or instant coffee (you can probably tell which is best for kids)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1) Put crackers in a clean plastic bag. Use rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs.

2) Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir in butter, cinnamon OR coffee, and vanilla.

3) Pour the crumbs into the bowl. Mix them in. Then, use your hands to squeeze the mixture into a ball.

4) Break off pieces of the mixture and roll into small balls the size of walnuts. You can roll the balls in more cocoa, icing sugar, or crushed nuts.

5) Put the finished balls onto a large plate and let cool. Then, package them up in fun Valentine bags or boxes. Give to your sweetheart and hope they will share some with you. Enjoy!