Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Art Lesson with Older Kids: ATCs and Monkeys

This week, inspired by my own impromptu art session after last week's class, I introduced the older kids to the idea of making their own Artist Trading Cards (aka: ATCs). I've known about ATCs for a few years now, and have recently been surprised how people are just recently discovering the ATC phenomenon. When I was picking up one of the kids for class and told his mom what we were doing today, she said she was excited I was doing ATCs because she'd just read about them and thought it was an awesome idea...and a friend of mine on Facebook just discovered it too. Is there something "new" out there about ATCs for kids or something? I've just kind of figured maybe the only reason I knew about them already was because I'm such an art geek!

I'm still all about watercolors and rubber stamps. They are both such good art mediums for kids when they are so used to just being allowed to use crayons and/or markers. Kids love to paint...I think mostly because paint isn't a common medium they are allowed to use...because paint is messy. Eventually we will get to one of my favorite mediums, acrylic paint... but I'm not confident enough yet to brave those waters with more than one young child. (because paint is messy!) The thing about acrylic is that if you spill, drip, spatter, dribble, drobble, or otherwise get it on something other than your paper/canvas, it does not wash out. Maybe I'll test the waters with tempera paint...since they're washable. Although as an artist, I'm kind of a snob about tempera paint. I don't like it. It doesn't have the same opacity of acrylic. But I digress...

Watercolor is fine for now. No one has complained yet!

I'm always amazed at just how quiet and focused they all get when it's time to do the drawing worksheet.
This week's worksheet was how to draw a monkey.

Ava, the lone girl of the group, always loves to dress up her drawings when she's finished the basic figure. She's all about princesses and dresses and fashion. And she'll give most of her drawings personalities and stories. I didn't get to hear the story about these dressed-up monkeys today.

My "Art Class Rules" on the wall, along with some of my own drawings. (please disregard my awful, awful, outdated wallpaper!)

I actually had Eli for the day today. His mom had an appointment that she would not be back from before art class, so I offered to have her drop him off before her appointment and have him hang out with me for the day so he would not have to miss art (and she would have one less kid to worry about!) This kid really loves art. Almost every Sunday at church, he asks me if we are having art this week. Before class today, he sat down on his own (between Lego building sessions) and decided to copy the monkey drawing I had by the Art Class Rules. I think he did a pretty good job for sight-drawing with no step-by-step instructions!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: What Large Eyes You Have!

My Barn Owl Nubbin was featured in an owl-themed treasury this week!

Owls...still on top. They may say foxes and hedgehogs are the new "it" animals...but owls are still big. :)

As always, check out my Treasury Tuesday post on the RNEST blog for more Etsy Treasuries! (one of the RNESTers had her treasury featured on the front page of Etsy last week!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

RNEST Monthly Challenge: August (Trending Colors)

Hello my loyal blog readers!
It's time again for the RNEST Monthly Challenge! August's theme is "Trending Colors". "According to Etsy's marketing team, the most popular colors this month are deep jewel tones, fluorescents, classic reds and kelly greens".

I entered more than one item in this month's challenge (we're allowed to do that!), but the one that has the most votes so far is Iggy the Sweater Monster...with his notes of kelly green and turquoise (ah yes...LOVE the turquoise!). I'm in second place as of now. Please take a second to pop over to the RNEST Blog and vote in the poll on the upper right of the page. You don't even have to register or anything, just click! Voting ends at midnight tomorrow!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cool-Colored Sweater Monster Siblings

Here are some new sweater monsters! (they're from the same they're siblings!) I actually made up little personalities for them and everything!

"Ingrid is a huggable monster made out of the arm of a striped sweater with a scheme of cool colors. Despite her one-eyed, monster-like appearance, Ingrid likes to think of herself as a prim and proper lady. One of her favorite pastimes is attending tea parties and practicing her British accent."

Ingrid is actually one of my favorites! She's got a huggably squishy, floppy quality to her that I just love. The kind that makes her the perfect stuffed animal for a kid to snuggle with at bedtime!

"While his sister Ingrid is a prim and proper lady, Iggy is a little troublemaker and loves making mischief. His favorite pastimes are sabotaging his sister's tea parties and hiding people's socks. That favorite pair of socks you can't find?...Iggy probably hid them! Just look at that smile! You KNOW he did it!"

*Iggy is actually my entry in my local Etsy team's Monthly Challenge. Pop over and vote in the poll on the upper-right corner of the page if you can spare a moment! (You don't have to register or anything! Just go and click!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Etsy Favorite Friday!: Cat & Dog Salt and Pepper Shakers

It's amazing the things one finds on Etsy. Many people know that Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade items, but it also is a place where you can sell vintage items. ("vintage" is defined as anything 20 years or older). Earlier this month, a fellow RNEST team member created a vintage, dog-themed treasury that included a listing for a set of Cat & Dog Salt & Pepper shakers from the shop Lisa's RetroStyle...

I saw the listing and gasped in surprise. I have that same set! (although in a bit more of a worn condition)

It's one of those ridiculous moments where you realize that it had never crossed your mind that there could possibly be another set like the one you have! Mine is a bit of a private nostalgic family treasure. The story behind my set is that they were my great Aunt Carrie's (aka: Aunt Grandma). But she didn't use them as salt & pepper shakers...she kept them in the red, wooden toybox I used to raid when I came over to her house when I was little. And the cat & dog were some of my favorite things to play with! It was years before I even realized they were supposed to be salt and pepper shakers. You'd think the holes in the tops of their heads (in a "S" shape on the dog and in a "P" shape for the cat) would have tipped me off.
I still have the red toybox too. I used it for the background of these pictures. And I still keep toys in it for when my friends' kids come to play!

I've had these kind of selfishly hidden up in my craft room on a shelf, but I think I may start keeping them in the toybox like old times! I'll let a child enjoy them like I once did!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Post-Art-Class Inspiration

After teaching art class, I often feel inspired to play around with the supplies and make some art myself.

So I made a little ATC (Artist Trading Card) using the watercolors and my monster rubber stamp (custom made by my friend John of Jackbear Stamps).

I also did some extra watercolor and rubber stamping on the paper I used to show the kids how to do the sticker & watercolor project.

Then I made myself another button painting. I think it would look cute framed on a wall. I can't decide whether to keep it or to try and sell it in the shop.

And here's a look at the beautiful mess the dining room table is! Sure, it's chaos, but all the color makes it look so pretty! (and besides, it won't be that hard to clean up!)

Art Lesson with Little Kids: Button Paintings

This week it was the little kids' (2-4 year olds) turn to do the Button Painting project...

While waiting for the watercolors to dry before stamping the button design, I had the kids put stickers on their paper and use the watercolor over them. Then I had them take the stickers off to reveal the white design.
I ended up stamping the names on them myself, since the kids' attention spans were pretty much gone and they were more interested in moving on and playing/reading books in the living room. (I accidentally stamped Shea's name on Liam's paper, but caught my mistake and fixed it as best I could. Whoops!)
At one point Joy came in from playing in the living room, and insisted on helping me stamp Shea's name on her paper
I particularly liked Joy's starry-sky looking painting. (the shape in the middle was from a handprint sticker)
The kids always love coming over for art!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

KiraArts Portfolio Book Preview

I think last week was freebie week for me! I ordered the free fabric swatch from Spoonflower, a free 8x10 collage print from Walgreens, and a free photobook from Shutterfly! And the only thing I had to pay shipping on was the photo book!

I love Shutterfly. They do good prints and always have good deals and freebies. Every once in awhile I'll get an email from them with a promo code for free prints. This week I got a promo code for a free 8x8, 20 page, hardcover photo book!

I've made photo books before with pictures of my for myself and one I gave to my in-laws as a Christmas gift a couple years ago. When i got the promo code this time around, I was trying to figure out what kind of book to make and it dawned on make a sort of KiraArts portfolio. It can be something to have at craft shows to show to people my past work, but also to have on-hand when I'm out and about and someone asks me what I "do". Telling people you make plush creatures out of recycled clothing doesn't quite do the work justice... you kind of have to actually see it to understand.

I'm excited about the book. I can't wait for it to arrive in the mail. I took a few nights to finish designing it (one of them staying up WAY too late because I thought the deadline for he promo was the next day...when I actually had a few days left). The graphic designer, control freak, and perfectionist in me contributed to it taking so long. I can't just upload pictures and slap them in a pre-made, no, has to be perfect! And just when I thought I was done, I would double check the pages and decide something needed to be fixed or changed. I had this fear in the back of my mind that I would order the book and find that I had overlooked some small, stupid detail when I got it. Well...I guess that could still happen. We shall see!

Treasury Tuesday: Mayday Preview

Can you believe I almost forgot to apply for Mayday Underground's fall show? Luckily, I remembered a few weeks before the application deadline! Now, I'm included a treasury that gives a sneak preview of the work from some of the applicants...some of which are fellow RNEST members as well!

Rochester's largest Indie Craft + Art show, Mayday Underground, comes to the Main Street Armory on November 5th. Find out more at the Mayday Underground Blog.
Last year's November show was my most successful craft show to date! Let's hope this year's does just as well!

Check out this week's Treasury Tuesday on the RNEST Blog for more Etsy Treasuries!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free Spoonflower Swatch!

*ATTENTION: This is NOT a sponsored announcement! I just thought it was cool and wanted to share the coolness with you all!*

Today is "Free Swatch Day" at, a custom-printed fabric company! (I found out about it via Craftzine) You can upload your own design, or choose from designs on the site. I just ordered my own 8x8 swatch! This offer is available until tomorrow, August 19th, at noon (eastern-standard time).

This is what my fabric will look like!

Some more info:
"This offer is limited to one swatch per customer. To activate the discount, add a swatch-sized piece of fabric to your shopping cart between noon EST on Thursday, August 18 and noon EST on Friday, August 19, then proceed to checkout. The discount will be subtracted from your cart total automatically. Note that in order to receive your swatches, you need to follow the transaction through to the order confirmation page. [And yes, shipping is free, too.] This offer works for your own designs or for any of the designs available for sale in the Spoonflower marketplace. Offer is limited to ONE SWATCH PER CUSTOMER." -via Spoonflower's Blog

This is the original design I uploaded. The site repeats it for you and there are different options for how to repeat it.

I'm not sure what I'll use the fabric for right now...but I'm thinking that I'll make myself a new pouch to hold my fabric scissors when I'm on the go (my scissor tips are very pointy!). I've been using this pouch I made awhile ago.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Woodland Creatures Series: Hans the Hedgehog

After having a poll on my KiraArts Facebook fan page, it was obvious the masses were clamoring for my next plush in my Woodland Creature series to be a hedgehog...

So here he is! Hans the Hedgehog!

I've known that hedgehogs are right up there in popularity with owls & foxes, but I'd been putting off doing a hedgehog because I just wasn't sure how I was going to the "spikes" on his back. But I realized that I had some lovely faux fur fabric I'd gotten from the Joann's remnant bin awhile back. And it was perfect for getting that "spikey" back texture...although the fabric itself is quite silky and soft! (making Hans extra huggable!)

Hans did get sold at the craft show this weekend though. But I'll be sure to make another hedgehog to list on Etsy to give you non-locals a chance! ;)
(I also have another fox and raccoon in the hand-sewing stages right now!)

Craft Show! : Bread & Water Theatre Art & Music Show

Hey, I'm actually posting pictures of a craft show the day afterwards! (instead of 5-7 days later!)
These are from the Bread & Water Theatre Art & Music Show I did yesterday.

We drove straight to the show rather than dropping Luna off at my parents like we usually do when I have a show in Rochester. She kept barking at the event coordinators and other vendors while we were setting up, so I made her sit on my chair. She seemed to feel more secure there and didn't bark as much. Once my mom came to be my "backup", CJ took Luna and went to my parent's house to hang out with my dad.

I'd signed up to have a table outside, since people could see me when they went by the building, which would help me get more business. What I didn't count on when I originally filled out the application was the weather today. But there's always a risk involved when you have a spot outside. It was hazy when we got there...after I was set up, it started sprinkling...but then it turned into an all-out downpour, and the event organizers decided to move us inside. I had my tent, so my table and I were both dry while they moved the other vendors without tents inside first. I originally wasn't thrilled about having to move inside and kind of hoped to wade it out and hope the rain stopped...but then the lightning started (and really LOUD cracks of thunder overhead)...and inside seemed like a good idea!

The transition was quick, since I got a lot of help with moving all my stuff inside from the event coordinators as well as some other vendors. One of the girls had a big golf umbrella, and kept going back and forth from my tent to the building, holding the umbrella over people who were bringing my suitcases in. CJ came back and took down the tent for me...and got completely drenched! Oh the things my loving hubby does for me! (he went back to my parents' house and borrowed their dryer as well as some of Dad's clothes).

I was ultimately glad that we moved inside. There were more artists in there and we got to listen to/watch the musicians and performers. My table ended up right in front of the stage! My favorite acts were the bellydance troupe, which made me want to learn bellydancing! (for exercise purposes only!...not for public performance!) and the masked cellist, which made me want to go out and buy a CD of cello music!

The cello music was so relaxing and beautiful!

Another reason I was glad to be inside with the other vendors (who had originally opted to be inside) was that the other vendors were my best customers! And although this wasn't my most successful show (I did make my booth fee though), I had a lot of fun and am glad I did it! :)