Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Free Shipping Extended through Tuesday!

Lucky you! Free shipping from my shop has been extended through Tuesday, 12/3!  Here's a great way to make a dent in your holiday shopping.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Winter Fox - new art!

I was able to find some time today to put together a new piece of art before going back to work from Thanksgiving break.  This is a mixed media piece, combining ink paintings that I scanned in to the computer and then colored and layered in Photoshop.  The whole thing came together surprisingly fast - it's always nice when that happens!  

This design is also available right here in my Society6 shop.  Free Worldwide Shipping is still available from my shop, but it ends at the end of the day tomorrow (Monday, December 2nd).  Everything in my shop, except for stretched canvas prints and throw pillows with inserts, qualifies for free shipping.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Baby Onesies - Now Available!

The options in my shop continue to grow! In addition to the new mugs, I can now also offer my designs on Kids T-shirts and Baby Onesies.  The Kids T-shirts can be found right here in my shop.  They look almost the same as the adult options, but they are available in sizes suitable for children ages 2 through 12.

The Baby Onesies can be found right here in my shop.  They are really adorable and come in sizes 3 months through 18 months.  Like the t-shirts, each design comes with a variety of fabric color options for you to customize with.  I think I'm going to have to come up with some new ideas just for Onesies since there are so many new print options to explore!

You can see a few of the available designs for the Baby Onesies below.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Blue Waters - New Design on Society6

Last week I decided to play around with using paint strokes to make a print design for my Society6 shop.  I thought that paint strokes would lend themselves quite nicely to things like throw pillows and tote bags.  

More often than not, I find myself looking through stores for specific items when it comes to prints or designs, and when I can't find them I decide to make them for myself when possible.  In this case, I've been looking for some painterly fabric for throw pillows, so I finally just sat down and painted my own to scan for my shop.  I really like how it looks on the different products, so I think I'll probably make some more in other color schemes.  

You can find this design right here in my Society6 shop.

Also, I am excited to announce that I now have  mugs for sale in my shop!  The mugs are available in either 11 oz. or 15 oz. sizes, with wrap-around printed designs on them.  You can see a few examples of what is available below, or click on through to my shop to see all available options.  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Colorful Vintage Keys

I recently put together a more colorful version of my Vintage Keys illustration.  I thought it made for a fun alternative.  The new version of this design can also be found right here in my Society6 shop.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fox In The Leaves

This weekend, I finished putting together a new piece of autumn inspired art.  Autumn is my favorite season - the smells, the food, the colors!  I love everything about this time of year.  This illustration is a sort of seasonal companion piece to Rabbits In The Garden.  

The illustration is available for sale through my Society6 shop.  I think that it looks especially nice on the tote bags and pillows.  Speaking of tote bags, the design style for the printing of the bags has been upgraded so that the print now fills the whole side of the bag instead of printing on the off-white canvas color like before.  I think the change is a big upgrade and love how it looks.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wall Art with Vintage Rulers

From the fall of 2008 through the spring of 2009, I was in a program at the Rochester Institute of Technology to get my Masters degree for art education.  It was an intense nine months (yes, a complete Masters program in nine months!), full of classes, classroom observations, and student teaching, but all worth it.  During that time, I purchased a Keep Calm and Carry On poster off of Etsy and hung it in my room.  It was my grad school motto, my daily pep talk that I saw every morning before I went to class or student teaching.

At that time, in 2008, the Keep Calm poster was not widely known around here.  In 2013, though, the poster has officially become "a thing".  It's been spoofed a million times over and you can find it in stores like Barnes & Noble, plastered all over merchandise.  

When my husband and I first moved in to our apartment in 2009, we hung my grad school poster over the fireplace mantle.  Lately, I've been wanting to replace it with something, but could never find a piece of art that was interesting enough and still went along with our collection of letters and vintage cameras.

Then yesterday morning I had a brainstorm with my morning coffee!  As usual, I was browsing Pinterest while enjoying my coffee.  I was looking through a collection of patterns I had pinned for ideas for another project when a lightbulb went off - herringbone! I always love herringbone patterns, whether it's for brick sidewalks, wood floors, or tiles, so I thought why not try that with those old rulers I'd been saving?

You see, when you're an art teacher and an artist, people tend to offer you random things and ask if you could use them or want them to make something out of.  I usually say yes, knowing that I could use whatever it is for either my students and classroom or a project of my own at some point.  That's how I came in to possession of over eighty vintage wooden rulers.  I've been holding on to them for years, looking for something to use them for.  I have more than enough rulers in my classroom, so I had been saving the rulers to use for a project of my own.  Originally I had been thinking I might make a wreath out of them, but after seeing those pattern photos I'd saved on Pinterest I instantly knew that I wanted to use the rulers to make some new wall art to replace my Keep Calm poster.  

I went out and bought an 18"x24" canvas and a small hacksaw.  My plan was to use the rulers to create a pattern on top of the canvas, attaching them to the canvas with a hot glue gun.  I wasn't sure exactly what angle to start the pattern at, but I knew I wanted to make the rulers smaller.  I separated out a bunch of rulers (I wound up using 37 by the end of this) and cut them in half to make 6" segments.  I also went through the rulers and used a small pair of pliers to pull out any metal edges before I started cutting them, so that the metal wouldn't snag on the saw when I cut the rulers.  

I bought the hacksaw and a pack of replacement blades at Home Depot.  The saw itself was less than $5, and I wound up not needing the replacement blades.  Sawing through the rulers got a little tedious, but if you have access to a power saw then this step could go much quicker.  The cuts were straight cuts at around 6 inches, so I didn't have to measure out any angles or anything. I put a trash can under the table edge while cutting the rulers to help catch sawdust and wood fragments.  I used a pair of scissors to trim off any stray wood edges after cutting - the wood was generally soft and thin enough where the scissors cleaned up the edges just fine.

Once I had my pieces cut, it was time to figure out where on the canvas I wanted to start the pattern.  Since I was making this up as I went along, I wanted to make sure I had a pattern completely figured out so that I wouldn't have to make more ruler cuts than I needed.  I spent a little bit of time using the 6" ruler pieces and the full 12" rulers to plan out different arrangements on top of the 18"x24" canvas.

I finally decided on the arrangement you can see in the photo below.  I also had some almond colored spray paint leftover from another project, so before I started gluing the rulers down I took the canvas outside and spray-painted the top and the edges.  I didn't want any of the white gessoed surface of the canvas showing through between any gaps in the rulers, or along the outside edges since I wasn't planning on framing it.  The almond color was a safe enough neutral that blended nicely with the colors of the wooden rulers.

Now that I had the pattern figured out and the canvas painted, I plugged in my hot glue gun and started gluing down the 6" rulers, working out from the bottom left corner and then rotating the canvas to reach the other side.  As I got near the edges, I had to make some new cuts to make all of the pieces fit in to the shorter or more narrow areas.  I generally tried to glue the rulers so the fresh cut sides went towards the inside of the canvas and the naturally worn edges faced the outside edge of the canvas.  It made for a cleaner look to have the naturally aged edges of the rulers exposed.

Approximately three and a half hours after starting to cut the first ruler (I watched a few TV shows on Hulu while gluing pieces down), the new wall art was finished! Tada!  That might seem like a lot of time, but for an afternoon DIY that included all of my trial and error time figuring out a pattern, I thought that was a worthy time investment for my new living room art.  

I'm really happy with how it turned out, and think it looks great on the wall.  The cost to make this was extremely low, too.  I already had the rulers, spray paint, glue gun and glue sticks.  I spent $8.09 (used a 50% off coupon) at Michael's on a two pack of 18"x24" canvas (so approximately $4 for one canvas) and $12.48 at Home Depot for the saw and replacement blades, of which I wound up not using the replacement blades and can use the saw for future projects.  Between the Mouse sander this summer, and the saw this weekend, my collection of tools is slowly growing!  

Not too shabby for a weekend project!  

  • 18"x24" canvas
  • almond spray paint for the background (optional)
  • 37 12" wooden rulers, cut in half to 6" segments
  • hot glue gun with replacement hot glue sticks
  • small hacksaw
  • scissors
  • small pliers (for pulling metal edge out of rulers)
  • pencil for marking cuts on the rulers

Monday, September 16, 2013

Vintage Keys

This weekend I finished a new design for my Society6 shop.  The design was inspired by my small collection of vintage keys (pictured below) that I've picked up at various flea markets and antique shops.  I love the look of old keys, I think they hold much more of a sense of adventure and mystery than our modern keys.  Plus, the shapes are certainly much more fun than modern keys.  

This design is now available in my Society6 shop.  There have been a few updates throughout my shop - throw pillows now come in an outdoor fabric option and there are also new phone cases for new models of smart phones.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sketchbook - Red Rocks

Earlier this year, in May, I went to Boulder, Colorado for my brother's wedding.  He and his wife were married at a lovely location up in the Flatiron Mountains.  My husband and I had a wonderful time visiting Boulder and exploring the city.  I hope to visit Boulder again some day.  I'd love to spend more time out there drawing, painting, and exploring.  

While we were out in Boulder, we also drove to Red Rocks to have a look around.  Jeff and I couldn't get in to the amphitheatre area because there was a concert going on that night - Vampire Weekend with Monsters and Men opening for them.  We were able to get as far the gift shop area, so we went in to their little parking lot and picnic area and sat and drew the rocks for a while.  There was also the awesome bonus that we could hear the entire Monsters and Men soundcheck from where we were sitting - it was like a free concert! Whoo!  I drew the above sketch while we were sitting at Red Rocks.  I also snapped a few photos, which you can see below.

All of the pictures in the news of the recent flooding in Boulder and the surrounding area makes me so sad for the people of the city.  If you're looking to help the citizens of Boulder who are suffering from the floodwaters, this page from the CBS Denver News has information about the various ways you can help.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sketchbook - Leaves

Here is a sketchbook page from earlier this summer. I always find drawing leaves, trees, and other plants to be a nice way to relax.  This was drawn while I was visiting my parents on Martha's Vineyard, from some of the plants in my mom's garden.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Drawing at the Montreal Biodome

Last weekend, my husband and I took a trip to Montreal.  On Sunday morning, we went to the Montreal Biodome that's located in the 1976 Olympic Park.  We had a lot of fun watching lynx cubs, otters, puffins, penguins, and other animals.  We also both brought our sketchbooks with us so that we could draw the animals while we were there.  It was fairly busy, but we were able to find some seats in the Gulf of St. Lawrence exhibit to draw the fish in the aquarium.  Or in my case, fish and duck bottoms.   

The sketch above shows an Atlantic Sturgeon, a Pollock, and two Black Guillemot Birds.  The sketch below shows a puffin.  I've also included a few photos that I took while we were there.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Free Shipping!

My Society6 shop is currently offering free shipping on orders totaling $50 or more (excluding framed prints and stretched canvases)!  

Also, the ever popular throw pillows are now available in an outdoor fabric option as well! When looking at a particular pillow in the shop, there is now a drop down menu on the page that lets you pick either indoor or outdoor fabric.  If you've been looking to add some color to your patio or porch furniture, now is the perfect time to grab a few from the shop.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A New Mailbox

For several years I have painted mailboxes for my parents' home.  The last one I painted for them was five years ago and it was starting to show its age, so this summer I decided that they were due for a new one.  The past few mailboxes have been more illustrative, so this time I decided to go with a more graphic design inspired look for a change.

The mailbox I started with was originally a bronze color, but I primed it with a pearly white finish for the base of the design.  Once the base coat was dry, I used painters tape in varying widths to mask out the herringbone inspired pattern.  I didn't do any measuring for the pattern, just eyeballed everything for the stripes.  I wanted the color blocks to be similar in size but with enough variety to add more visual interest.

Then it was simply a matter of going through with three different shades of blue and aqua house paint (acrylic paint would work fine, too, but I had these colors on hand from a previous project) and a sponge brush to dab in the color.  I used a sponge brush instead of a normal brush so that I would have a flatter finish with the color.  I tested how a normal brush looked, but I wasn't happy with being able to see the brushstroke lines.  I did use a normal paintbrush for painting in the lettering.

The lettering was put on the mailbox out by first printing out the address using my computer (the font used was Futura).  I then flipped the printouts over, and on the back of the paper I covered where the lettering was with pencil.  If you're trying this at home, you can just hold the paper up to a light to make sure that the back is sufficiently covered with pencil to cover the letters.  Once that was done, I taped the sheet to the mailbox, with the pencil covered back against the metal and the printed lettering on top.  I then simply traced over the printed letters, and the pencil on the back of the paper transfers your tracing on to the surface of the mailbox.  It's the same concept as carbon paper.

After all of the painting was completed and all of the tape removed, I sealed everything with Rust-Oleum's Crystal Clear Enamel spray to make the paint last longer against weather elements.  Then it was just a matter of installing the hardware and the mailbox was done.  Ta-da!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Vintage Cabinet Upcycle - Part 2

My vintage cabinet is finally finished!  It's been living in my kitchen for a few weeks and it is already proving itself to be quite useful.  The first post about the beginning of the job can be found here.  The remainder of this post will explain how I finished painting and fixing up the cabinet.

Once I finished sanding enough of the old paint off of the cabinet, it was time to take apart the wheels and clean them.  There was an awful lot of old gunk built up around the wheels, so it definitely needed a thorough cleaning before I could use it in my kitchen.  It took some work with pliers to loosen the bolts, but they finally came off.  You can see a cabinet leg minus the wheel below.  I also used the Mouse sander to take a good bit of rust off that part of the wheel, though I forgot to take an "after" picture before I reassembled everything.

I brought the wheel bits and the drawer pulls inside to clean them off.  I soaked everything in a mixture of warm water and CLR to help clean a lot of the older gunk off.  All of the pieces were then individually scrubbed with a toothbrush before I rinsed and dried them.  The handles shined up nicely while still retaining some of their weathered patina, which was perfect.  I wanted them to look clean, but not like they had just come off the manufacturing line.  The wheels looked much better, and the cleaned bolts also allowed the wheels to turn much more freely once I reassembled everything.

I put the wheels back on the legs before painting the primer coat on the cabinet so that I could move it around easily when needed.  I didn't want paint to get on the newly cleaned wheels, so I covered them with aluminum foil.  The foil was much easier to mash around the wheels for proper coverage instead of trying to tape them off.  

I used a Rust-Oleum spray primer to cover all inside and outside areas of the cabinet.  The surface of the cabinet looked patchy, but was smooth and level for the primer paint.  I ended up using almost two and a half cans of primer (the one half can was left over from a previous project).  Below is a picture of the primed cabinet and the drawer.

At this point, I had to delay painting for several days to weather - I live in a second floor apartment, so I try to do projects like this either out in the garage or the driveway.  However, I wound up becoming impatient with waiting, so one day I moved the cabinet inside for painting.  I made sure to open windows and set up lots of fans so that the apartment wouldn't smell like paint.  I also covered the floors so I wouldn't drip any paint.  

For the colors, I purchased two small cans (30 fl. oz.) of Behr's Low Odor Zero VOC paint.  The darker color is Teal Zeal and the lighter color that I used for the door, drawer, and cabinet interior is Jamaica Bay.  I used a small foam roller like this one to apply the paint, which allowed me to get a nice even coat.  Two coats of paint was plenty for getting the color even.  I have a decent amount of paint leftover, but that was the plan because I want to use these colors for a few other projects as well.

I let the paint thoroughly dry for a few days (the weather was still very humid and I wanted to be very sure that the surface was dry) and then moved everything back outside so that I could apply a spray coat finish to seal everything.  The paint probably didn't need a sealant, but since I planned to use this in the kitchen I wanted to apply a sealant so that the surface could be properly cleaned when needed without damaging the color.  I used Rust-Oleum's Crystal Clear Enamel spray to coat the surface.

When the clear coat was dry, all that was left was to re-attach the hardware and the cabinet countertop.   Ta-da!  I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

The cabinet is now in my kitchen and is being put to good use.  I use it to hold recipes on the countertop while I'm cooking, and I'm working on how to best utilize it for storage.  It's currently holding my teakettle and immersion blender.

I also bought three plastic placemats for $1.99 each from Target and trimmed them to fit the drawer and the interior shelves.  I had thought about lining the drawers with contact paper, but then decided on plastic placemats because I can easily remove them for cleaning in the future when needed.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Vintage Cabinet Upcycle - Part 1

Back at the beginning of June, I went to annual Syracuse Funky Flea outside of the Everson Museum.  For those who aren't familiar with it, the Funky Flea is a one day market that has vintage goods, work from local artists, and some excellent food from local vendors.  My main score from the Funky Flea was this vintage cabinet.  The whole thing is painted metal, has a laminate top, and legs with wheels.  I thought I could put it to use in either my kitchen or as art supply storage.  The seller wanted $35, but I offered $30 and they accepted, so I walked away happy.

The cabinet has a shelf inside the large door as well as a towel bar in the inside.  After some thinking, I've decided to use it in my kitchen because I could use an extra countertop space by the stove, and the cabinet is almost the perfect height for that.  

That also means that this metal cabinet needs a serious makeover.  For starters, can we talk about that shade of pink? Yuck!  The whole cabinet is going to get a new paint job.  The top is in good condition, and I like the knobs (which will look good as new after some cleaning), so a new paint job will go a long way in sprucing up this cabinet.

I took the cabinet out in the driveway today to start sanding off the old paint.  The tapered legs and the corners of the cabinet are in the worst shape in terms of scratches and dings.  The wheels are also kind of grungy right now (as you can see above), so I've removed those for cleaning and polishing.  I also pulled out the drawer, removed both knobs, and unscrewed and removed the laminate top as well.  

Then I broke out my Mouse sander, some 80 grit sandpaper, and a face mask.  After a bit of work, I discovered that whoever had painted this cabinet pink put the paint on really really thick.  In some places, the paint is flaking off in chunks, but in other spots it's taking a lot of work to remove it.  In fact, let's take a look at the layers of old paint on this cabinet.  It almost looks like a topographical map!

That's six layers of paint before you get to the original surface!  Crazy!  The pink paint is the toughest right now because both layers of it were put on so thick.  Originally my plan was to get down to the original surface of the cabinet before priming and re-painting, but let's be honest, ain't nobody got time for that.  After working outside sanding for several hours, I have amended my plan to just sanding off the pink layers, which are the most noticeably bumpy and pitted, and then just to make it an even enough surface before I put the primer on.  The areas where I've gotten all of the pink paint off already feel pretty smooth and level, even though you can still see different patches of color.  Once the primer is on, you won't be able to tell the difference.  

I had to stop work on the cabinet a little earlier than I would have liked due to incoming rain and thunder, but when I came back inside I decided to do a little bit of research on my vintage cabinet - and this is where I found out some interesting things! After thoroughly checking the cabinet, I wasn't able to find a manufacturing stamp or label, but I knew that the factory printed faux wood grain that I found under the paint could help point me in the right direction.  

I haven't been able to find an exact match to my cabinet, but I've found enough to estimate that it's from the 1930's to 1950's.  I'd guess around 1940 or so judging from some of the other cabinets I found online.  It was most likely part of a medical office.  The two brands I found that look the most similar in style are Simmons and Hamilton.  For example, here is a metal 1930s Simmons wheeled cabinet with a faux wood grain on Etsy - selling for $350!  I also found another online shop selling vintage medical and apothecary cabinets that are similar to mine - but the lowest starting price is $495!  I don't know if my metal cabinet is worth anything like that, but I'm willing to bet that my $30 I spent at the Funky Flea was an excellent bargain!

I'm hoping to work more on the cabinet this weekend.  I'd like to finish the last bits of sanding and then prime it so I can start painting.  Now to pick out the colors!