Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Handmade With Lots of LOVE

Who loves receiving handmade gifts?  In this day and age, it seems that getting a handmade gift is a rare event but I think the effort spent speaks volumes.

As long as I can really remember, I have loved making homemade gifts for people.  As I child I loved to embroidery and would make dishtowels and pillows and now these days I pick up a pencils or paintbrushes over sewing needles.  I would paint my own stationary designs and make my own clothing.  I'm blessed that I learned to sew and that I could draw and paint.  It sure made gift giving easier and less expensive over the years.

Today, I am invited to a dear friends retirement party.  She has spent almost 20 years serving the community on our local police force.  I know she has looked forward to this day for a long time and I'm sure her family will rest a bit easier knowing she is no longer out there in harms way.  I so appreciate her service and I know that in the past few years it has become increasingly difficult to work in the law enforcement profession. I can't imagine the stress involved to put on that uniform each day.   Now she can just focus on her family, her faith, some gardening and maybe she and I can even plan a little road trip.

I decided I was going to put my newly learned Photoshop skills to the test and create her a retirement card from my artwork.  I decided this bee and daisy sketch would be perfect.  I added some digital paper for the background border and then added text.  Maybe I could have thought of something more clever to write but this is what I came up with in the small space afforded me.

Now, I also decided that I would paint her a cowbell.  I know maybe she isn't into cowbells or mice but I'll just have to take my chances with that I guess.   I decided to paint a little mouse climbing a dandelion stem headed upward towards the prize.  It makes me think of this scripture in Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

As a child, I remember being told to make a wish just before I blew as hard as I could to send each little feathery seed pod off in the wind.  Reaching retirement is like having those wishes come true.  I pray she will be blessed in this new phase of her life and I really hope she likes her cowbell.

I would LOVE to hear from you if you have recently used your skills to make a handmade gift.  If you send me a picture and the details I might feature it here on my blog and Facebook page.  Just send me a message and let me know about it.

You can check out more of my artwork on my website at JulieTownsendStudio.com

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hanging around for years

I LOVE ANYTHING THAT IS OLD.  I always have.  Even as a small child I would walk around the very old parts of the cemetery just to look at all the old grave stones.  So naturally I would want to decorate my home with old pieces collected here and there.  I guess you would call that decorating in either Rustic, Primitive or Country.  
It may have been as long as 15 years ago I noticed a listing on Ebay for these two E. W. Townsend Sons catalogs dated 1935 & 1938.  The oldest catalog is actually just in black and white and I purchased it first.  When I saw the 1938 catalog with it's juicy red strawberries and bright green stems I knew I had to have that one also.  Since my last name is Townsend and I love the red and green color theme in my kitchen and dining room, I decided to buy them and have them matted and framed.  They have been hanging in my dining room ever since.  I'm hoping they will be something that I can pass on to my grandchildren since I have plenty of them that also share that name.

Another item, among many that hang on the wall is my Nevada Ghost Town Map.  I bought this map, if my memory serves me correctly in the old ghost town of Johnnie.  Since Brad and I absolutely love exploring the desert, this map was perfect.  I have always had a bucket list goal of visiting every ghost town in Nevada.  There are a LOT of ghost towns in Nevada and so this is a really large map.  I acquired this really large poster frame that the map would fit in and I knew I wanted to display it.  Many may disagree, but I decided to lightly burn the edges of the map to make it appear older and give it some interest.  I have it attached on top of a piece of black matte board rather than behind it.  I feel it helps identify the fact that it is a map and the burnt edges gives it character and interest.  After all these years, I still LOVE it!

Here are just a few of my favorite Ghost Town Photos we have taken over the years while exploring Nevada and the neighboring states.  You don't have to go to a museum here in Nevada because there are little bits of history just lying around all over the place.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Step Away from the Green Sponge Paint

I've Been Dreaming of the Perfect Bathtub
I am really disappointed in the fact that I haven't written a creative blog for sometime.  When I started this blog I had made a commitment to myself to post here at a minimum of once a week.  A month has passed and here I am silent as a church mouse.  

It isn't because I haven't been creative during the time.  On the contrary, there has hardly a day gone by that I'm not creating some sort of art or learning Photoshop or thinking about marketing my art.  I have another blog for that activity.  No, this blog was to motivate me to step up my game here in my home and with my family.  

I've never been much of a craft person, but I do absolutely love country, rustic or primitive decorating.  That can be a challenge when you live in a large urban area and there no agriculture around.   Thankfully, we do have a Hobby Lobby now and they have plenty of adorable decorations to add to my collection.  

This past fall, the last child at home flew the coup.  With that event, comes the pressure to finally tackle those really big projects that having children in the home discourage.  So Brad and I made the decision to begin remodeling our main bathroom.  I should clarify this and say Brad was more like a hostage to my zeal to finally in my life have that amazing, as deep as I can get bathtub I have always dreamed of, the bronze fixtures, granite counter top and beautiful travertine walls and floor.

Tearing out the one piece tub
We took it down to the 2 x 4 studs, ripped out plumbing and tile.  Pretty much every square inch will be impacted and nothing there will be remaining.  As the old saying goes, "No PAIN, No GAIN!"  This mantra expresses perfectly the remodeling process as well as an effective exercise routine.

Even mopping the rest of the house seems like an effort in futility so to say I've been on the top of my game creative wise would not be true.  I've just been struggling with keeping the chaos organized and the drama to a minimum.  I FAILED!

Paint Swatches on Green Sponge Paint
We are now approaching the stage of remodeling project where I can begin to think about being creative.  I'm considering the paint colors and the accessories and little touches that will make this area pop with my personality.  I am SO ready to be rid of this 90's green sponge paint.  How did I ever think that was a good idea.  

New Travertine Shower
I've been in love with Teal and Brown for quite sometime now and I really want to make that the color theme.  The bathroom is really small so I'm planning on only painting one accent wall with the largest color sample.  The rest of the walls will be painting with a nice neutral beige to tone down all that browns of the stone floor and vanity top.  

Granite for the vanity top
I know that this particular color scheme just screams out Ocean or Beach decorations, but I'm not letting that hinder me here.  I'm thinking more in the line of flower gardens,  birds, nests with eggs and feathers.  I've already started gathering ideas for creating my own artwork to decorate with and will be blogging about this whole process so please consider following me as I attempt to transform this overused and worn out bathroom into a place that I can truly enjoy.  I had better start stocking up on bubble bath and candles.

Here are some small bird paintings I have done in the past and might try to either recreate or utilize them along with some purchased decorations.  As you can see two of them are on cowbells but I could repaint them on small canvases.  The center artwork is a colored pencil drawing I did last year.  



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

My Carrots Hanging in the Wind

So with my last blog I had written about how I had come across what I thought was a really cute idea for an Easter decoration.  It was so cute  that I decided I was going to try for myself.  
Several weeks ago I had purchased this very large rabbit from a Ross Dress for Less Store to use as part of my entryway spring display.  A can of Kono Brown  Glossy spray paint was all that was needed to him transformed him into the largest chocolate bunny I've ever seen.  He REALLY looks like he made of solid chocolate now.  This was so simple and yet so adorable, I decided to spray paint a couple of wooden eggs I had stowed away in the studio and give them a simple painted design.  
I then got the creative idea that I needed to add a few carrots to complete my decorations.  I looked around at Michaels and Walmart and not a fake vegetable on the shelf to be found.  I decided would take matters into my own hands and get MESSY with some paper mache!  
I gathered up all the necessary supplies for my project: 
Sticks from my tree in my front yard 
Tin Foil
Floral tape
The four sticks I had gathered had to be broken down into the correct size.  I wanted fairly large carrots so I tried to keep the straightest portions and yet it really didn't have to be perfect.  Using the floral tape I attached 2 or 3 frowns of greenery to each of the 4 sticks.
Sizing up my sticks and greenery
The next step was to take the tin foil and shape it around the stick in a form of a carrot.  Wider at the top tapering down to a slimmer pointed end.
When I had all four carrots shaped out of the tin foil I then turned my attention to mixing the flour and water paste.  It has probably been since Mr. Drinkard's Jr. High art class that I have used paper mache.  I have a memory of making masks or animals or something but that was MANY years ago. 
 I first tried one cup flour and one cup of water but that seemed much too think.  I ended up with 1 1/2 cups water to get the consistency that I remembered. I cut my paper into thin strips and then plunged into the really messy part.  The strips of paper must be well coated with the flour paste.  I used my fingers to pull the extra paste off before I then applied the sticky paper to my tin foil carrot.  Working from top to bottom trying to make sure each piece of paper is well attached.
When I managed to get all 4 carrots finished I then took them outside and hung them up in my tree to dry.  
The following day I decided that another coat of paper mache was necessary and so I repeated the process for each carrot.  I probably could have added several more coats to smooth out some of the more bumpy areas but I was getting pretty tired of all the mess I was making in my kitchen.  Two layers was going to have to be sufficient.
The final step was to paint them with orange paint and apply a coat of spray varnish. 
As usually you can see that I have been a rather busy artist this week.  I gathered up a number of items that all needed a coat of varnish applied.  This actually included 3 cowbells and 2 small cow paintings that I didn't remember about until after I had taken this picture.
Here you can see my carrots hanging out to dry for the last time.  The varnish really takes very little time to dry but because they were wet all over, hanging was really the best drying option.
All in all I like my end results and am happy that I decided to take the time to make my own decorations.  Even though the photo is just a little bit dark here you can see just how lovely all the pieces go together.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

DYI Faux Chocolate Bunnies

 I found such a cute and easy idea today that I just felt compelled to share it with you.  Now I wish I could say that I had thought of this on my own but I must give credit to the very creative woman who shared these photos of her creation.  

Photo by Violet Lively
Violet Lively, Owner of Ranch Bar-B Rustics, LLC in Delores, Colorado shared this amazing Easter decorating idea on Facebook today and I just have to give it a try. Violet writes, "Easy DYI faux chocolate bunnies!  Dollar store Easter decor or thrift store finds and brown gloss spray paint!"  Don't they look amazing?  
Photo by Violet Lively

I'm sending Brad out here pretty soon to buy me a can of gloss brown spray paint so I can give this giant bunny a yummy looking coat.  I bought this bunny at Ross last month to add to my spring display but giving him into faux chocolate exterior will surely get the attention of my grandchildren!

I can see him now in a large basket surrounded by fake carrots.   I really am not a fan of shopping but I did look for carrots at Michaels this week but only found fake fruit.  So since I haven't found faux carrots, I guess I will just have to make my own this week out of paper mache.  Getting a little messy will hopefully prove to be more fun anyway.

Give me a couple days and I will hopefully be able to show you my beautiful creations as I endeavor to "Embrace My Creative Side".  I would love to hear from you if you try this idea for your self.  Send me your pictures and I will share them on my Facebook Page.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Creativity Doing It's Part to Keep the Universe Safe

What a great idea my young friend posted today on Facebook.   I love this and thought I would share this creative idea with you.  She found this idea on Pinterest of course and decided to do some spring cleaning in her son's room.  

These super hero toys can be really important to some kids and with this handy idea they can keep track of them at a glance. They can make sure that all their crime fighters are accounted for. This just may will help keep forces of evil in check and the universe a safer place to live!

 Of course was many years ago,  but my three boys loved their little action army figures.  They were their favorite toys.  Each little soldier was all about 3 inches long and their arms and legs moved.  They were just nameless soldiers and heroes that had the task to teach some little boys how to grow up to be brave men.

Now there are so many superhero figures with amazing super powers that I can't even begin to know all their names.  Of course I haven't really paid attention to the current movies so besides Superman and Batman my knowledge of superheroes is pretty limited.  My 4 year old grandson sure knows them all and these toys are important to them.  He seems to have a complete collection of both the smaller versions and the super sized 12" rendition. 

This back of the door shoe organizer idea really struck me as a great idea for a boys room.  Not only are the action figures up off the floor and no longer posing a tripping hazard but it is teaching organization skills at a young age.  

I should clarify that it is not just boys who appreciate a good superhero.  I did buy my 4 year old granddaughter a couple of the 12" crime fighters and a set of superhero capes for Christmas.  She like Batman the best I'm told.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Feels Like Summer Outside but it's Spring Just Inside My Door

I would really like to know where spring has gone.  With temperatures in Las Vegas well into the 90's it feels much more like May than March.  Then if you add in the factors of recovery from the 1000 mile road trip to Reno topped with the springing a head of daylight savings time, you can see why this week has been pretty much a blur.   

Before our trek across the vast emptiness of the Nevada desert, I had finalized my spring decoration in my foyer area.  I was happy with everything EXCEPT the table runner.  I just couldn't find one that jumped out at me so I opted for a plain ivory lace runner that I found at Hobby Lobby.  I think it was about $6 (1/2 off sale).  Not bad but it really wasn't what I had in mind.  

While I was in Reno, I spent a little time walking around the Ross Store near our hotel.  As I was almost finished shopping, I ran across a picked over display near the front of the store.  This cute little chick appliqued on a set of two cotton dishtowel caught my eye.  Embellished with pastel colored ric-rac and at only $3.99 I couldn't resist.  I knew I had found my perfect spring table runner.

Today I finally got a chance to put the towels together.  A needle and white thread were all I needed to add some quick basting stitches so that the towel ends lined up and would stay in place under my sewing machine needle.  I started with a stitch at both ends to make sure they lined up perfectly and then I worked my way to the center.  I think it only took about 8 stitches and I was ready to get my ZIG ZAG on.  

Since I wanted the runner to lay flat it was important to stitch them together rather than overlapping and then having a thick seam running down the middle.  

Here is my finished table runner and I couldn't have asked for a better fit.  This antique buffet was a trash treasure that my husband found about 2 years ago.  I had wanted a high narrow table to fit behind our front door in our foyer and this piece was just perfect.   

And finally, here is my completed display down to the malted robin's eggs in my antique Red Wing spongeware mixing bowl.  How could something so easy make me smile so big?