The prompt game

As promised here are the very first two paintings I did as part of this course.  The second week we did some work in sketchbooks and in the third week we moved into painting.  I made this painting using the “prompt game’.  This game was designed to loosen us up.  Basically you put a bunch of prompts written on paper into a bowl and pull them out one by one.  You do what the prompt tells you for two minutes.  Then you pull out another prompt.  I loved pulling “add a splash of red” and was terrified by “paint with your eyes closed”!!  Ack!  It definitely took me out of my comfort zone and I was prepared for some HIDEOUS paintings.  But I’m actually quite pleased with the results and once I got going, I had a BLAST!  Check out painting number two:

I know they are not perfect but I was so excited to have actually painted something that resembles…er, a painting?  I loved the freedom that having to follow instructions gave me…I’m not responsible for all that white that went over everything else – the game made me do it!  Without the responsibility for having decided to do what is on the canvas I was free to just enjoy the process and I learned a ton about how paint works.  I can’t recommend Sarah’s class enough!

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A room of her own: part II

I did get momentarily sidetracked by helping Lil’S with her art space but eventually, slowly, I put this together:

Yes, it is at the bottom of my basement stairs and right upside the cast iron sewer pipe.  Yep.  But it is my space.  I can craft and paint and sew my little heart out here.  The good news is it does have a window and since I’ve taken this picture I replaced the white sheet (that is hiding our shoe rack) with a curtain rod and a curtain.  I couldn’t be more pleased!

Pages and Paint has been an amazing course so far.  The first week we were charged with setting up our spaces, gathering supplies and making an inspiration wall.  This is mine:

My favourite part is this picture that Lil’S drew of me when she was really little.  This thrifted picture frame turns it into a true masterpiece don’t you think?

I know this next picture is kind of out of focus but see if you can spot the vintage map of Nipigon, Jellicoe and Geralton!!  A little piece of home.

The thing is I find the easiest time to take pictures and get work done is at night so my photos are of questionable but sharable quality.  This one is a bit clearer:

The old picture is one of my grandma and my great-grandma ploughing a field with a horse-drawn plough.  I love the “attachments” bit.  It is the top of an old box of singer sewing machine parts.

What a gorgeous shelf, you say?  You recognize the colour don’t you?  Yes, it is true this is another of my Chalk paint wonders.  And yes, it is the same colour as the paint for the fantastic metal shelf transformation...from the same can of paint actually.  I wasn’t kidding when I said this stuff goes a long way!  This is project number three for one can!  This is what it looked like before:

A really crazy, awful MDF faux wood disaster that I’d been hanging onto since I lived at home.  It was almost trashed in the last move and now it has found new life.

Nothing like a cheerful paper bunting to hide wiring…sigh.  It isn’t perfect but already I have made more art here than I did before I had a dedicated space with everything I need out and ready to go.  Just one more reason why I am so grateful to the creative and amazing women over at Squam Art Workshops.  If you need an artistic kick in the pants they are the people to see!

I can’t wait to share with you my creations from Page and Paint though…next post I promise!

a room of her own – the prequel

Some of you may already know that I am taking an AMAZING online art course called Pages and Paint with incredibly talented Sarah Ahearn Bellemare.  In the first week of the course we (students from all around the world), were charged with gathering supplies, creating a work space and creating an inspiration board.  Our job was then to photograph all three and post them to our private flicker group.  I’m finally getting around to photographing my space.  I still need to tidy it up a bit before I’ll let anyone see.

So until I get those photos up, I’ll share with you how this flurry of artsy activity in this house has sparked a whole lot of…well, artsy activity (not that we have a shortage of that here ; ).  Lil’S has decided that she too needs a space of her own to do her “work”.  She spent this morning and most of the afternoon gathering and arranging, choosing her furniture and her art pieces.  When she was satisfied she sat down and drew a picture of her sister who was playing nearby.  “Look mama” she said as she showed me her drawing.  “This is great.  I love my new space…but I’m gonna need something with drawers”.  Already she is planning an upgrade!

She sat at her desk and carefully chose which drawings and paintings she wanted to put up over her desk.  She fussed over the perfect placement of everything; which containers she would need…

I love how she added paper frames to her drawings!

A few of my faves from her “How to draw monsters and bugs” book…

The final result.  She wanted quite a few supplies within reach and so there ended up being paper and books under her desk and beside it in a basket.  Maybe she does need something with drawers after all!  PS.  I love that she drew on her chalk board “Scarlett’s work space”…just in case there was a question.

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And now for the rest of her room.  The title is a bit inaccurate, as none of us actually have a room of our own.  This room was supposed to be my craft/art space but J’s treadmill didn’t fit where it was supposed to and so I lost my dream of a room of my own.  The girls use it as a playspace (which now include’s Scarlett’s work area).  Here is what the rest of the space looks like:

Here is our beloved craft supply closet.  (Also, why are Mrs. Iverson’s dolls always in some sort of compromised pose?)

The girls love it because of this fascinating old key.  They love to pretend to lock the closet (it doesn’t actually lock), take the key out of the lock, place it gently into their apron pockets, walk around aimlessly for a while, only to arrive back at the closet where they withdraw the key from said pocket and insert it into the lock, cautiously look around (lest someone should see what is held within this magical closet), turn the key and dramatically open the doors.  Repeat.

You are some of the lucky few to get a glimpse at…er, our craft supplies.

And then there is the “horse corner”.  What is it about girls and their horses?  The two riding horses were given to us by our dear friend Heather.  Her daughters had outgrown them and they were a happy addition to our home.  I made the harness you see on the white horse out of ribbon and metal washers.  I suppose I should get around to making one for the other horse sometime…maybe I’ll show you how if I do…

This is Mrs.Iverson’s kitchen.  She is quite serious about her “cooker-maker” duties here and in our real kitchen.  Here is a question: see that doll house to the left?  I would have killed for it as a child.  I thought my kids would love it.  They don’t.  They don’t play with it at all.  Maybe once in a blue moon.  Yet they won’t let me get rid of it.  They are little still so maybe I should hang on to it and they will hit a stage where they do want to play with it?  Thoughts?

These Alice in Wonderland pictures were from an oversized colouring book from Auntie Patty.  We love them…

There is a whole other corner of the room that I didn’t photograph.  It holds our old coffee table that is the perfect height for using clay and playdough, colouring and painting for Mrs. Iverson.  Beside that is another bookshelf with toys and musical instruments.  Clearly this shelf belongs to the Mrs.  Sometimes I see little scenes like this and totally crack up.

So there you go.  Another room shared for those of you who have been asking for more house stuff.  I promise to share my new space soon.  Until then!

A birdie for Wren

Oh dear.  It appears I am about to write another post that is not quite about Squam.  I’ll get to it, I really will.  Life is busy.  My mind a little preoccupied with the everyday happenings.  But Squam is there.

I arrived back home with gifts.

A ceramic candle holder for Cathy and Eric.  A thank you for looking after the girls while I was away.  A set of five finger puppets for Mrs. Iverson.  And for Lil’S, the embroidery sampler from my class with Rebecca Ringquist.

She LOVED it!  We set to work straight away.  Scarlett already knew that she wanted to make something for her cousin Wren’s upcoming birthday and now she had an idea.  It took a bit to get her to slow down enough to learn each stitch.  Mrs. Iverson took right to it and it seemed had already been taught how to embroider?  I showed them how to tie a know in the back of the work and Ivy turned over her piece and, ta-da, she deftly made a knot!!

Scarlett was particularly curious about the sulky solvy that I had used to transfer an image onto a piece of fabric I was embroidering.  I had some left over from my class with Rebecca so I let Lil’S use it.  Up to her room she went.  Down came one of the number flashcards on her wall.  The one with the wrens on it (be still my heart, this crafty and thoughtful girl of mine makes my heart ache sometimes).

You can see the flash card on the table in the picture above. She traced one of the wrens onto the sulky solvy with a Sharpie.  The embroidery hoop kept the solvy and the fabric in place and she started to embroider.  I’ll admit she did really well for a beginner.  But she really did want to fill in every last bit of space and that took some time.  So she would occasionally pass the hoop to me and ask me to fill some in for her.  She’d snatch it back after some time had passed though, worried that if she didn’t do more that she wouldn’t be able to say she made it.  A joint effort and so lovely:

While this joint project was being worked on by Lil’S I worked on a special addition to the gift myself.  Actually I had started it at Squam with a mind to make one for each of the girl cousins for Christmas this year.  Wren got hers early I suppose : )

We then had a brilliant idea to make this into a door hanging instead of two separate hoops to hang.  We ran a bright yellow ribbon (Wrennie’s favourite colour) behind the fabric in each hoop.  Viola!  What do you think?

And we turn once again to chalk paint…

I did warn you in yesterday’s post.  And really you have already seen the finished project so why not share the transformation.  You may have noticed the two matching end tables on either side of the couch.  They started out as cheap, dirty yet suitable (and most importantly, matching)  tables found at the flea market down the road.  The pair of them cost $40.

See?  See how dirty?  Perhaps you can’t tell…

Surely now you can see the difference now?  We polished the brass bits and washed the table with soap and water and that my friends is the only prep we did.  Enter one sample size jar of Chalk Paint…for both tables.  Yep, one.  Love this stuff.

I love it!  No odour so I can paint to my heart’s content inside after the girls are in bed.

Much better don’t you agree?

I finished these in the winter and they have stood the test of time…so has every other piece I’ve painted using this stuff really.  I’m working up my confidence to do the kitchen cupboards…

Amazing slipcover transformation!!!

Hahaha!  That title makes me laugh.  I’m not sure if my slipcover is amazing but it was necessary.  This project challenged me in so many ways so I thought I’d share my process in case any of you are thinking of attempting something similar in your home.

Here is how it started:  our old couch died.  This couch was my graduation present, the first piece of furniture that we had actually purchased and not inherited/found on the side of the road.  It was moved first into our tiny apartment, then out and into our first home.  That move resulted in a crack in one of the boards which despite what the price tag might have suggested was not made of solid wood but of chipboard.  More recently this couch was moved in our current home where the crack turned into a full on break resulting in much sagging and creaking right in the middle of the couch…blah.  So we never sat it in and I became anxious if company was over lest they sit down and find out our secret.  So the dog laid on it and left dog hair and dog other things and well, we needed to get a new couch…Here is a pic of the sad and broken couch:

I had an idea of the kind of couch I would like to replace it with but not the budget unfortunately.  The situation was getting dire with the prolonged presence of the dog as the primary user.  But alas no magic money tree appeared on my lawn.

So we could not refuse when this beauty came our way.  It was in mint condition and it was free.  I was using “not broken” as my main criteria in the used couch search so you can imagine my joy when “clean”, “from a good home” and “free” came with this one.  There were two problems though.  I had been dreaming of a modern looking couch and a colour scheme that matched the rest of our decor.  Solution?  Slipcover.

Problem?  Slipcovers in the stores 1. are hard to find 2. are hideous 3. are insanely expensive despite their hideousness!  I bought two from two different stores and thought I’d rather die than have them in my living room.  That might sound dramatic but you didn’t see them!

For those of you who will never make a slipcover yourself, the next photo is of my finished slipcover.  Thank you for reading this far.  For those of you who might one day need to make one, stay with me and I’ll share my resources and process.  But first:

Ta-da!!!!  I’m no stager so forgive the wrinkles…I’m pretty pleased.

The first serendipitous event was my arrival at Fabricland to find that they were having  50-75% clearance event.  I’m not a huge FL fan but it is all this city has and as luck would have it, I found one solid fabric that I liked enough to buy.  The colour works and hey at $5/metre it was a steal!!!!!!  I am a little giddy with the knowledge that my slipcover cost me $48 in fabric.  I used the leftover thread from my bridesmaids dresses (again…mom, how much thread did you buy all those 13 years ago?).  I did need to buy some cording to do the piping for the arms which was 0.80¢/metre and I used three metres so add $2.40 and we have a total of $50.40 for this cover.

The second wonderful find was found at the local library:

None of the projects were actually what I needed but I took info here and there and applied it to my slipcover.  The best resource if you are going to cover anything is Miss Mustard Seed’s six part video tutorial on covering furniture.  Elizabeth from The Melon Patch turned me on to Miss Mustard Seed when I was on my Chalk Paint bent (which will come up again by the way).  Miss Mustard Seed is the reason I decided I could actually do the piping (which makes all the difference I think).

So here is what I did:

I took a very old and ratty King Sized sheet and fitted sheet (with the elastic cut off) as my “make your own pattern” pieces.  I have no photos of this process but basically you throw you sheet over your piece of furniture and cut it to make pattern pieces.  Here is a pic of the “front of the arm” piece on top of the real fabric, ready to cut out:

The sheet pieces don’t have to be perfect just so long as they cover the part of the couch you want it to cover.  When all of the pieces are pinned in place you can trim the excess fabric.  Step number two was cut out the pieces of real fabric.  You need a fairly large area to do this my dining room and living room floor were big enough for me to roll out the bolt and cut them all out at once.

Step three involves pinning you real fabric pieces on the couch with the right side of the fabric showing.  This is so that you can have an idea of what  the finished product with look like and to make any adjustments and changes (more important if you are working with a patterned fabric).

I don’t know if you can see it really well in this photo, but up near where the arms of the couch meet the back of the couch you can see a lot of excess fabric.  I just pinned the pieces together and cut off the excess.  The trickiest part was trying to pin and then tuck the fabric in to see what if would look like.  The arms were tricky as well…

What step are we on? Four?  Once you have all of your pieces pinned with the right side of the fabric showing.  You get to take it all out and pin it with the wrong side showing so that you can actually sew this thing together:

Just keep pinning, just keep pinning….

Somewhere along the way (for me it was step five) you need to make your own piping.  I like Miss Mustard Seed’s way of doing it (aka no need to make bias tape first…great because I hate making bias tape even though it is awesome and great because I could use up scraps to make the piping).  So I cut out a strip of 2 in (or so) fabric, folded it over the cording, dug out my machine’s zipper foot and started sewing as close to the cord as possible.

Step number six is the marathon of pinning one section, taking it off to sew it, putting it on the with the right side showing to make sure it fit well, then back to wrong side to pin another section etc, etc.  Worth it though I promise.  Pinning the piping was easy peasy (do what Miss Mustard Seed says.  She is smart).  Sewing the piping in is NOT easy peasy if you have never done it before:

See how the right side of the arm looks fantastic?  See how the left side does not?  It took me a while to figure out why it happened but basically your zipper foot needs to be right on your cording in order to sew right beside it.  No worries though, step number 7 is using your stitch ripper to rip out your handiwork.  Step 8, redo your handiwork.

Wax on, wax off.  Step 9, put your fabric back on the couch once again.  Pin parts that need pinning (if you are fussy). Step 10: karate chop the pillow ‘cuz you’ve always wanted to do that for a photo.  Step 11:  Use dressmakers chalk and a metre stick to make a line around the bottom of the fabric to make your hem.

Yep, I am so not a stager.  Wrinkles and some pulling, but you get the idea.  I love it.  And I can save up for my dream couch.

Last step is to add some backyard picked goodness to the table.  Now it is done : ).

Here is your bonus photo.  I crack up each time I see it.  Let’s see if you notice…

Do you see it?  The little pencil in the top right hand side of the frame?  Taking pictures with kids around is always fun.  Lil’S was being a lil’pain in the butt getting in shots.  This time though she was so stealth with her pencil that I didn’t even notice!  So when I was editing photos I burst out laughing when I saw it : ).  What a kid!

Happy Canada Day weekend!

Such a lovely weekend!  It is easy to get excited when you have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old absolutely thrilled with all of the festivities going on around town.  Friday, J had his last day of work while the girls and I picked raspberries and strawberries at Fruition Berry Farm north of the city and met up with friends at the splash pad and beach at Joel Stone Park in Gan.

Not one to miss an opportunity to dress up, Mrs. Iverson made a splash picking berries in a dress and crown.  “Princesses looove strawberries”.  It is true, they do!

Lil’S chose more practical attire but still turned heads in her vintage Kids CBC t-shirt.  Notice the bottom of the shirt cinched with a hair elastic of to the side!  I totally remember doing this as a kid but have no idea where she got this bit of flare from…

A headless “Venus of Willendorf” shaped strawberry.  She tasted pretty good too!

I am so glad the girls and I went.  They loved picking the raspberries and we devised a great team approach with Mrs. Iverson taking the low berries, Lil’S the medium height branches and me taking from the top.  Strawberries were a little harder to get at but we had a great time none the less.

Saturday morning we started working on this:

I could look at this sign all day it makes me so happy.  See the lemon and the pitcher down at the bottom?  Love, love, love!  Lil’S and her friend B were so very excited to have a lemonade stand.  We made two kinds of homemade lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade and Regular Lemonade.  Well, I suppose there were three types, strawberry, regular organic and regular regular.  The stuff made with organic lemons was hands down the best.  I couldn’t believe there was a difference!  Try it you’ll see.

See?  I told you they were excited!

Their first and best customer was Mrs. Iverson decked out in her Stepford wives dress.

Ah, refreshing.  Such a great idea this lemonade stand was.  S got to reconnect with her friend.  Both got a great lesson in business administration and the stand was so darn adorable (did you notice the fresh-cut flowers on the stand?) that we met even more of our neighbours.  The girls, anxious for customers did do a door to door campaign at one point and a “running down the street with their sign” campaign.  They yelled “Come and get your fresh, homemade lemonade!” over and over.  So cute.

We finished up the weekend by heading to Gan for the fireworks there.  It felt so special lying on the hill on a blanket snuggling my girls. The fire-flies did their part keeping the girls entertained while we were waiting for things to start.  A friendly stranger went around to all of the children and passed out sparklers.  It was so sweet!  It didn’t take long for the kids to start visiting other blankets in search of those people who might have brought a lighter or some matches.  By the time the show started we had interacted with all of the families on blankets around us – a great way to create instant community.

Lil’S decked out in red and white (I made her skirt out of an old ikea duvet cover using the twirly skirt pattern from Sew Liberated.  Mrs. Iverson went in her pjs.

Not a bad way to end a great weekend (excuse the poor quality blackberry shots).  The kids were asleep in seconds afterwards.

Did you have a good weekend?  How did you celebrate Canada’s birthday?