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Archive for December, 2010

We’ve been having a quiet holiday week here. Considering the dates for Christmas and New Years, and that I’ve finally succumbed to the cold Dad’s been battling the past couple of weeks, we opted to stay closed until the New Year.  (all the holiday rush framing was picked up by Christmas Eve so we could do it guilt free)

There was a nice surprise for me today in that my silver and white mask “Dauphin” is in a collection that is on the front page of Artfire right now! I still working on getting that store fully set-up, and they have so many options it can take a while, but I love how quickly we’ve made friends there.

It’s been a great year and we’re still loving our adventure here in Shakespeare. Hopefully next year will good one for you and yours. Happy New Year!!!

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geeky cookies

The holiday baking/candy making has been going a bit slowly. I did get this years

Star Trek cookies

candied peel made and dipped and a couple types of squares and cookies are ready but there is still more to do. What is finished are these Star Trek themed ones. I’ve never really tried to make a decorated cookie, aside from the usual stuff as a small child, before now and this year we wanted to try out a sugar cookie recipe from one of our copies of Fine Cooking magazine. It’s pretty simple and is basically a shortbread with a bit of lemon zest for added flavor. I generally find their recipes to be really reliable and well tested so it seemed like a safe gamble. (the taste is excellent, but it doesn’t roll out as easily as I’d prefer for this sort of cookie) They had gone with a snowflake shape and I’d been having some trouble figuring out what we would do design wise. (mother found a great assortment of seasonal cookie cutters, but now they have disappeared somewhere in the house) After reading last weeks “Foxtrot” cartoon we all agreed that making little red-shirted cookies was the way to go. We’ve had this particular cutter for a long time and I liked how the more modern shape really suits going with the Star Trek uniform shirts. (although it actually makes little men in top hats, so I had to trim the heads slightly) I also used their recipe for royal icing and piped the shirts in three sessions, one for each colour. It’s not as smooth as I’d like but I’m feeling good about it as a first attempt. (the guy beside the pictured cookie got a catastrophic injury coming out of the oven but, since he was doomed anyway I went ahead with the decorating) Our little Away Teams will be going out in a couple of packages and I hope that the recipients get the joke.

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Here is another of the this years paper ornaments. I again went with a very traditional concept.

map tree ornaments 2010

The trees are made by cutting three copies and gluing them together down the middle. (and the hanging ribbon was added in then as well) They are then made three dimensional by folding the sides out. This type of ornament can be made in many shapes, trees, bells, balls and even hearts. Since the concept is so simple I wanted a shape to the tree itself that would be interesting. It took a bit of sketching to finally get one I liked but it was worth the time. Once I got seriously into the cutting I did regret the amount of detail a bit but found it easier to deal with all the small cuts by cutting the tiny v’s in one direction first and then flipping the whole thing to cut the other sides. This saved a ton of time and hand strain. The tree in the photo was made from the pages of an atlas and I like the more modern feel of it. A few were also done using the sheet music, but they’ve already all found homes. (so…I think I know which ones I have to make more of for next year!)  It just shows that you can make these kinds of ornaments out of any sort of paper product you want. So long as you keep the shaped simple they also work great as a craft for kids, although you might want to let the children staple them together rather then risk the potential mess of glue. They also look great and full on the tree but flatten down to be easily packed away and I’m all for seasonal decorations that don’t need much storage room since they are on display for such a short time of the year..

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This is probably the simplest of this years paper ornaments.

paper bird ornament 2010

The bird body is cut from a heavy stock vintage paper ( it’s from a Bible story book around a hundred years old and it has different coloured inks, all of which co-ordinate with ones in the wing paper) and the wings are done using the ornate foiled paper again. They are given some dimension by putting the hole for the ribbon hanging loop in between the wings. This fluffs them out as well as hiding the hole. (the wing is only glued down at the front) The trick to doing the wings is to fold the paper in pleats before you cut it. This works because it allows you to cut 4 or 6 at a time but also makes sure that they are in the matching pairs you need. Of course, it’s not an issue if you use a paper that has the same finish on both sides. I varied the shape of the heads and tails on each round of bodies I cut, but you can stick to just one that you like. It’s also possible to do this kind of design using very modern papers and/or solid colours, I just liked the vintage look. (quel surprise, I know) These have the additional benefit of stacking away flat, to store.

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One of the things I was working on for the MADE show at the beginning of the month

paper angel ornament 2010 design

were some new paper ornaments. I had done a few last year, with a focus on teacher ones. This year I went a bit broader and even more traditional. (actually I did a few more teacher ones as well but they all found homes at the show and I didn’t manage to take pictures so I’ll have to redo those) As a child I remember making paper angel ornaments, typically with the pleated fan for the skirt and pipe-cleaner halos. I didn’t want to go that route, but I thought it would be possible to design a vintage style angel using paper that was still tasteful. The wings are actually done using three layers of separately cut sheet music. The feathers can be fluffed up or left laying flat. The head and halo are cut in a thicker stock and the halo has been gilded. The base wasn’t prepped, so the gilding is a bit rough and doesn’t completely cover, which I think suits the antique feel. The body is a simple cone in a scrap of ornate paper. The asymmetrical placement of the point worked best, although I’m not sure why. The ribbon loop was put in when the wings were glued together so it is strongly and integrally attached. This design could work on a larger version and since they’ve been popular this year I may make a couple of treetop sized ones for next season.

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Deep time

I’ve always found it easiest to make pieces for specific people. Generally, I’ll think about them and then plan the whole piece around their lives. The percentage of my work that is done this

"Deep Time" custom art piece

way is small, but I’ve always been happy with the final results. A while ago I finished a pair of small pieces using some antique watch cases. The client who took them home loved the concept and wanted something similar done as a gift for a friend. It was a bit of a challenge, not only because it was a custom order for a type of piece I’ve only ever made on spec, but she wanted it to be fully enclosed so it could be carried or worn by a man. The design theme was the concept of “deep time” in the geological sense. She gave me a range of the recipients interests and then left most of it up to me. The case was a problem since we wanted the feel of a watch case, but I didn’t have any left. I got lucky in that it turned out that I did have an antique brass cover for a clock pendulum that had the exact diameter of a glass and brass rimmed cover for a barometer. The background of the piece is a vintage image of clouds above waves. Included inside is a small water-smoothed stone from Lake Huron, some watch gears, a tiny animal tooth (provided by the client) and a jade turtle. A little scrap of faux velum is inscribed with the quote from Ralph Ingersoll, “In the presence of eternity, the mountains are as transient as the clouds”. The case is wired together with copper and a solid link allows it to clip to a watch fob, belt loop or key-chain. (not that I recommend using the key-chain with keys on it, but it is an option) Overall, I found it easier than expected to do this kind of design work, but the client was generous in sharing information and letting me go wherever I needed to with it. My client was happy with the final result and I can hope that it will also be well received by the person it was made for.

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I mentioned that we finally got the house hooked up to the brand new town sewer system

ribbon cutting for the Shakespeare sewage plant

last week. On Saturday they had the official opening for the processing plant. I can’t say that I ever thought they did celebrations for sewage processing but, when you really think about it, it is one of the marvels of modern civilization and being hooked up put us in a celebratory mood. I was busy at the store, but the parentals attended. (wearing their “Save Shakespeare” buttons like so many of the other residents who came) Representatives of all three levels of government were there, with speeches, to commemorate the event. They even had a ribbon cutting, as you can see. (I know the whole “ribbon cutting” thing is a symbolic act but I’m not sure I should be as amused as I am by the fact they had to have two guys stand there and hold the ends of the ribbons since they couldn’t find a place to tie them to and still get a good photo op) While it was nice to finally have the plant officially opened I also hope our governmental representatives took home the message that Shakespeare isn’t going to be quiet with our concerns about the possible highway expansion.

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