Sunday, November 2, 2014

craft booth display


i've been pressing on to complete a lot of items for the two craft booths i'm preparing this month. yesterday was the sugarplum holiday fair, and now that it's over, i am excited to share what i've learned.

it can be intimidating to put together a booth if you've never done it before. this was my fifth craft booth, so i'm certainly not an expert, but i'm learning as i go, and finding this process really fun. this is what works for me - which may not work at all for someone else. it really depends on how you want to display your items, how large, heavy, fragile or numerous your items are, and your own aesthetic.

for me, i want to use as few items as possible. i drive a camry. i need everything to fit in my car. i want tables to be lightweight and easily portable. i prefer to exhibit indoors (though i **love** to visit outdoor fairs) so i haven't needed to buy a canopy.

this year, in a 10 x 10 booth space, i used one standard-sized square coffee table, and two 20" x48" tables by cosco. i could have possibly used another cosco table if i had one. i chose an L shaped arrangement for the tables...mostly because i was positioned right in front of the restrooms and didn't want to block access.

i brought my belongings in unfinished wood crates. one crate doubled as a display shelf, and the other became area to keep bags and behind-the-scenes items that aren't visible behind the booth. i also brought an ikea bag filled with a few display pieces, swiffer cloths and cleaning wipes (because you never know), and a plastic container that held some smaller items. i also brought some additional materials for creating signs and price tags (kraft paper, paper punch, sharpies, number stamps, stamp pad, washi tape), small plastic bags and brown paper bags.

earrings three ways
this is the first year i've displayed earrings, and my challenge for the past few weeks was figuring out how i would display them. i had visited a few shows where people used purchased black velvet-ish earring holders for each pair, and shows where people used purchased earring holders, with each earring attached to a separate hole in the rack. neither of those options sounded right for me. i wanted the customer to be able to pick up a pair of earrings without having to take them apart from a rack, and i wanted the earring holders to match the rest of my booth's aesthetic (and i didn't want to pay a lot for any of these things). i liked the idea of using framed chicken wire or a frame with stretched ribbon and hooks or clothespins, but the volume of earrings i'd made didn't seem to fit either of those options.

here are the ideas that stuck:
1. i made my own earring holders using kraft cardstock, a hexagonal paper punch, and two sizes of hole punches.

2. i elevated an unframed, cardboard-backed corkboard on a frame stand, and pierced sixty pins through it.

(yikes from behind the scenes:)

3. i used a three-tiered stand that i already owned, bought 4 packs of 8 picture hanging hooks for 88 cents each, bent them around the top two tiers, and put the stand on a turntable. (then, because this piece was also magnetic, i attached magnets to it in lieu of bringing a magnet board this year.)

4. i bought two deep frames on clearance, then inserted iridescent white glitter scrapbook paper.

there are some things i could have done differently. i could have chosen a different table configuration, as the display could have been somewhat hidden from one walking direction. i could have chosen tablecloths for all tables, but made the last minute decision against them. i could have used more shelves, or an additional table. but i received compliments on the earring displays, and loved the comments from little girls, including, "Ooh! Shiny Things!" and "This is fabulous!"

it was the best craft fair yet.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

so many earrings

i recently rediscovered my stash of jewelry making supplies. the whim to create jewelry strikes me every few years, but i had some newer beads left over from projects used as gifts last year, and a donation of five pairs of earrings into an auction this spring reminded me how fun it is to make earrings.

dangle earrings are my favorite kind of jewelry to assemble. the beads, findings and tools are extremely portable (so much more than paint!), and the process goes so quickly that the feeling of accomplishment is sudden. i love all of the textures and colors and combinations of the beads. i like rearranging beads until they look right. also, i can work on earrings and still focus on other things (the emmy awards were a three hour long earring making session, and i still feel like i got to see everything).

these will be a great addition to my craft booths this year.

so far, there are over 120 pairs. they don't photograph well on the cork tray i use to corral this crafty mess, but here are some of the finished pieces:

Enjoy this week!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

a post for the end of August

Hello and goodbye, August.   I couldn't let the month pass without writing something!

This summer, I put most of my energy into the school where I spend most of my time. Changes needed to be made. It was the perfect time for big transitions so I planned (and paid attention to many lightbulb moments) and worked really hard to put everything into place for my students. It's work that I love, but it consumed most of my creative energy. It has already started paying off, though. The first month of school has been great!

So my painting table wasn't really used, except for last weekend, when I created the painting above. I think this happens every summer. I have to practice to get back into the creative process. This painting started out as an experimentation of something new to me - but it *wasn't* me or my style. So I kept going until it looked like something that might look like mine. SO MANY LAYERS. And then it just felt finished-ish, and I don't know how I feel about it, and I'm not going to think about it too much. I like it more than I dislike it, and most of what I dislike is how long it took me to get to the end. And there were lessons learned in all the experimentation.

Similar experimentation is what got me to the end of this painting, which became the most pinned thing I've ever put on Pinterest:

So it's all good. And tomorrow, this girl who has lost her keys too many times this month and can't remember words is going back on vacation.

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

monogram painting 2014

This summer has been full, and it feels like it's almost over. School starts in less than three weeks! Many districts in Indianapolis have switched to a "balanced calendar" - typically nine weeks on, two weeks off, with an extended Thanksgiving break. That means school starts at the end of July or beginning of August, and lasts until June. I like the two week breaks, and I don't work a typical teachers' calendar. If I did, I might love the two week breaks!

Anyway, this has been a fairly cool summer temperature-wise, which is awesome. I just spent the past weekend in Cincinnati and the first week of July in northern Michigan. There is so much to tell! Today I just want to post this photo of a painting I made for my niece, Gretchen. It's 11x14. It's cemented my inkling that my next painted projects will be strictly painting - no additional media. I love creating with mixed media - but I love just painting, too.

Gretchen's painting is a follow up to the monogram painting I made last summer. I've worked on my flowers a bit, and I like these shapes more. Gretchen, once again, was the color advisor. She has a keen eye.

Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


It's been a few months since I first posted about my recent adventures in art journaling.  I still don't like the phrase "art journaling", and I'm trying to come up with a term I'm more comfortable with.

I am liking this more and more all the time.

The first game changer was the day I added washi tape.

The next game changer was the day I added handmade stamps.  When I carved these tiny houses, I could barely keep from stamping them on every page.

I'm still working on the entire book all at once.  About half of the pages have backgrounds so far.  I usually take one tool or pen or type of paint, and add that to several pages at a time.  I just keep updating everything.  There are spaces to add words later, if I choose.  

This process has led me to be more self aware about my own style and creative habits.   Right now my goal is to be freer with color schemes.  It started out that when I would paint a background, I would tend to choose keep the color scheme of the background as I added patterns and designs.  Lately, I'm more intentional about mixing warm and cool elements.  

I'm also aware now that my canvas creations are more fairly rigid and calculated than I realized. Here, I have no expectations, and nothing is a mistake.  There is not a picture in my head about what the final product might look like.  I mix inks and paints and paint markers and delight in whatever the result turns out to be.  Words are from my stream of consciousness.  

Today I made some stamps out of bottle caps, and I like how the white pigment ink was just a little bit smeary, and how the edge of the bottle cap made an unintentional speckled semi-border.

And I wrote something for myself because I had a bit of a worry that looking at so many journals would make mine feel derivative.  And then I realized that the important part of it is to get into the mental space where I'm just creating - and within that space, "where I am not planning anything at all", there is no room for anything but authenticity.  It's probably similar to meditiation.  It definitely calms me, and that could be why I seek opportunities to keep at it - to keep adding new colors and shapes and layers - to keep tinkering with different media - to keep creating.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

downtown franklin goodness

Pictured below - just a sampling of the vintage/antique/artsy goodness of a Saturday trip through the shops on Jefferson Street in downtown Franklin, Indiana*.  I'd been through a few before, but taking in all of them on one day (with Heather K.) was fun and creatively inspiring.  I think this needs to become a seasonal visit!

*All of the shops were awesome in their own way, but the link only mentions a few. If you go, I can't stress enough the coolness of A Bird in the Hand and Vintage Whimsy - they skew toward midcentury quirkiness. We stayed in those shops the longest, for good reason!

Monday, May 26, 2014

water balloon dart painting, part two

Two years ago, I put together a water balloon dart painting for my niece Katie's graduation party. I really wanted my niece Gretchen to have the same experience. Here's how it happened.

To make the water balloons (which is the most important part!), you'll need the above items:
*water balloons
*liquid acrylic paint
*water bottles with "sport caps"
These caps are the secret to good paint balloons - they allow enough pressure to fill the balloons well.
Obviously, you will also need water - we did not fill the balloons with the Vernor's ginger soda next to the yarn- but I do recommend a can of Vernor's as the balloons are filled for delicious refreshment.

You will also need:
*duct tape

I recommend a larger canvas, rather than a smaller one.  Anything else you wish to use to set the scene (like a tarp) is optional.

I should mention up front that this painting project didn't turn out the same as the first, in one very significant way. We used the cheapest craft paint, and less of it. This led to some translucency in the final product, which turned out looking like we'd intentionally created a dripping chalk effect. I think the effect is really cool - but if you are trying for a brighter final product, use a thicker paint, twice as much paint, or half as much water, before shaking the bottle. (Generally, cheaper brands of paint are thinner.)  I don't have exact measurements, because paint consistencies are so different.  Try one part paint to two parts water, if you are seeking a measurement.

Filling these balloons can be a painty mess. On this day, I filled the balloons on a beach. The sand absorbs the spills nicely. I realize that taking paint balloons to the beach may not be a realistic step most of the time. Grass works fine, too, and so would any absorbent thing you may use as a tarp.   Most of the spills came from the process of tying.  To neatly fill the balloons, stretch the balloon while the bottle is upright, and then fill it as gently as possible, leaving enough room for a tie.  Just to be safe, wear painting clothes for this step.

A few weeks ago on Shark Tank, some entrepreneurs presented the TieNot . I've never used one, and I know it's meant to be attached to a hose, but I think the stick could be used to tie these balloons, and it may be a good investment for this project if tying becomes problematic. Let me know if you try it.

If you want to evenly separate your paint colors, you may want to assign each paint color to a balloon color. You won't be using as much liquid in a paint balloon as you would for a water balloon, so some of the balloons will be more opaque, meaning you won't always know which color of paint is inside.

The largest paint balloon was about two inches in diameter. And it's better to have a smaller balloon filled with paint rather than a larger balloon filled with paint and extra air - extra air will leave blank space behind it when it bursts.

In the meantime, paint the background of the canvas.  Gretchen painted her background black, while I painted fuchsia.  Two more hints: choose a background color that is not at all like your balloon paint colors.  Black was a great choice.  Fuchsia was a less great choice, because we used fluorescent pink balloon paint, which blended right in (and by chance, many of the balloons attached to the fuchsia happened to be pink ones).

Once the canvas is dry, it's time to adhere the paint balloons.  My method is to use a small piece of duct tape to individually hold each balloon along the back of the canvas.  That way, you can move each balloon while arranging them, and as you pop the balloons, you can move the strings and balloon pieces  behind the canvas, so the paint doesn't stick to those parts.  Place most of the balloons along the top of the front of the canvas.  It's fun to experiment with balloons at different heights, as well.

Choose an area to stage the creation of the paintings.  We used a huge plastic tarp, which we thumbtacked to trees, to minimize mess, and to catch any stray darts.  I like the idea of using a large, old sheet as a tarp, and I'd choose that over a plastic tarp next time - the plastic tarp took a long time to dry.  For Katie's painting, we used burlap against a fence.  We didn't have a fence this time, and I didn't want to throw darts and paint at the side of the house, so we chose this arrangement instead.

This is my only photo of the best part - the dart throwing, balloon bursting, color dripping part (!), because the process was much more fun to experience in the moment than behind a camera.

Part of the way through the process, the canvases looked like this.  Notice that the tarp is already sloshy, and Gretchen's painting has a dart stuck in it!  There will likely be tiny holes in your canvas. It's part of the fun!

Here are the canvases, waiting to dry. I think the tiny circles on the black canvas may have been caused by air pockets in some balloons - or just balloons where the darts hit toward the bottom of the balloons, so everything in them spilled downward. Regardless, the unintentionally chalky look was a cool surprise! My fuchsia canvas, with its layers of pink paint, only subtly resembles a water balloon dart painting.  And I really like it!  (Although, I've considered using the same fuchsia canvas for another round of dart painting - this time using gold and other non-pink colors on top of what is already there!)

These were so much fun to make! They were so worth the effort of mixing paint, filling and tying balloons, setting up a tarp, and cleaning up. It would make an awesome summer tradition!

If you try it, I'd love to see the results!