How to Dye Bottle Trees

Awhile back I posted lots of little snippets of our bottle tree dying fun.  I promised to share how, and today I am fulfilling this promise!  I saw the idea first on Pinterest. Of course.   I found a photo of a beautiful pink sparkly bottle tree.  Swoon.  I thought how and where did they get that?  Once I linked over realized they'd made them.  Even better.  I can't remember the original link as after I saw how to make them I knew what to do!
It took awhile to locate some trees.  Her site had suggested the ones at Hobby Lobby in the model department.  But they weren't really the shape I wanted and were a bit pricey.  One afternoon while cruising the holiday aisle at Home Depot I spied this bag on the bottom row of a Christmas display.  I FREAKED out.  Like seriously squealed.  Pretty sure I looked foolish.  21 little trees.  Oh the possibilities!
Okay.  So here's what you need:
1-  craft trees like above
2-  small bucket
3-  bleach
4-  your sink and a drying rack
5-  paper towels
6-  Solo cups
7-  variety of dyes (we used liquid RIT but favorite was Neon food color)
8-  spray glue and glitter
1.  Place the bucket in your sink and empty the bleach into it.  I used part hot water part bleach.  Not sure about the ratio sorry.
2.  Gently place the trees into the bucket.  We used a plastic spoon to sorta keep them from floating up.  Leave in the water until all the green color is gone and they are whitish.  It's according to how much bleach you use as to how long it takes.  I recommend doing larger trees by themselves in the bucket.  Now don't walk away and watch a movie.  It only took like 5 minutes!
3. When you pull them out of the beach mixture rinse well and place in the dish drain.
4.  They are actually quite beautiful at this stage....we weren't patient and began they dying process while they were wet.  I am not sure if letting them dry would change the process or not.  So from my experience, these were simply towel dried.  :)

5.  I forgot to photo our dying process.  Basically we put solo cups on the counter with a bunch of dyes in them.  The more concentrated the color the better.  We kept experimenting with color combinations...it was crazy fun.  Mailey and I were fighting for more trees!  I personally liked the Neon Food coloring best.  Although the one below was made with RIT Liquid dye.  Oh, and the snow on the trees kinda gets eaten off in the bleach process.  This didn't bother me much since I knew we would be adding glitter.
6.  So below is our magical tree forest.  I lined the counter with layers of paper towels so the counter wouldn't get stained.  If you are on a wooden surface definitely put down something to protect the surface.  The trees leak until they are dry.  Some of the fun with the dying was layering.  We'd put the tip in one cup, the base in another and pour the middle a third!  The end results are amazing!
I love the blue and white one below.....
7.  After they were completely dry I went to the basement and covered my floor with butcher paper.  Using spray glue I lightly misted the trees then used white glitter to add shimmer to them all.  I LOVE the white glitter.  I think it's called Diamond Dust? 

8.  Displaying them I decided to just pile them all onto a vintage white platter with a glittered deer.  I also tied a few to the tops of vintage toy trucks.  The orange truck below was William's "Orange tuck"...that went everywhere with us at age 2.  LUV...LUV...that we kept it tucked away and that I found the for the magical tree forest!  I have them displayed now on a dresser as you walk into our home.  I am seriously thinking about keeping them out all year.  They make me smile. 

Well, there ya go!  Enjoy making some for yourself.  I need to go back and grab another bag or two of trees from Home Depot.  I think next year they'd make fun Christmas gifts.  I've an idea swimming on how to gift them to others!  I'll be sure to share that next year.

Have a lovely weekend.  Today is the last day of school and then a flurry of stuff happens this weekend....then Christmas Eve then Christmas DAY!!!  I'm going to take a week or so off from blogging.  Be sure to follow me on Facebook or Instagram (artsyorange) to see what we are up to over the holiday.  I thank you all for following my little creative journey.  And wish you all a


Pinterest Treasure Hunt

I've been using Pinterest a little A LOT this holiday seeking out fun projects for my art students.  You'd think I'd be awesome at holiday projects for kids.  But I'm not.  I have a complete brain fart issue with things like this.  Crafty cute holiday type projects that is.  But I do have an ability to look at ideas and just run with them.  That's good since most of the Pinterest ideas are just eye candy that you have to figure out how to do on your own.  Anyhoo....whilst borrowing amazing ideas for my art students I found this bracelet:
I know.  Total swoon worthy.  Luckily for me this Pinterest bracelet actually took me somewhere.  Here actually.   I was super smitten with Ali's design.  Awe struck with this new technique called "laddering".  So I U-tubed the technique (Hey Mailey suggested it.  I never thought to U-Tube anything!  You'd be amazed at how many videos on this technique there are!)   I'm now making bracelet after bracelet for gifts this holiday.  They are perfect for the 1,000,000 beads I have since the technique uses so many!  I did have to buy some leather and KO thread.  But really, not much out of pocket on this project.  Here's my first try:

And then there's Mailey.  Who after seeing my first bracelet was like, "Mom, you gotta teach me that!"  So we spent Saturday night on the floor in front of the fire making stuff together.  It was wonderful way to end our Mother-Daughter day.  We'd already been to the Nutcracker earlier in the day.
 Here's her first attempt:
She's making them every night now.  We've already decided we do need a project board from Bead Shop.  The clip board is good, but if she is going to keep this up we gotta have the right tools.  All her teachers are receiving these for Christmas gifts.  Awesome right? 

I hope to get the clip board back soon so I can make a few with a more random pattern like Ali's.  I'm also wondering if my stamped ID tags could ladder into the design.  Oh how my wheels are turning.    Pinterest you are just like a treasure hunt.  You never know what you'll find buried under all the sand! 


Not Your Momma's Cross-Stitching

I was taught to cross-stitch at a very young age.  I think I drove my mom nuts until she finally gave in and taught me!  I started with simple projects, always on a car trip I'd work, or while watching TV with the family.  I still have the willow tree and name pillows I made in the late 80's.  I also can't seem to pass a vintage sampler in a store without holding it and staring at the stitches.  Something about the rows of little x's completely entrance me.  I made the Pike sampler below for Billy while we were dating.  It says 91" on it.  Awwwww...I know.
 So sometime back I saw on a favorite blog PapernStitch this tutorial for making a cross-stitch pendant.  Drool city....I want to make those......but alas.  I was trying to be good and not make jewelry or at least not buy anything new.  I have enough beads and wire to make about 1000 necklaces.  No lie.  And then I went to the show where I picked up my awesome chair and an artist had these sweet little wooden pendants she'd stitched onto.  They weren't cross-stitch, just little threaded pieces.   I was so smitten with the delicate nature of them.  They were so different from wearing metal or sparkles around your neck.  So you guessed it, I got on Etsy and found the wooden cross-stitch blanks.  And they arrived from Greece this weekend.
I thought a lot about what I wanted to stitch onto the pendants and ultimately decided to buy a beautiful color palette and stitch simple patterns onto the wooden blanks.  I finished 2 yesterday.  Love, love.....
On the pendant above I only did single side stitches.  I was going for more of a chevron look.  The other is a rectangle, totally stitched.  I have to be totally honest though.  These little suckers are tiny.  And your eyes get kinda crossed while doing them.  AND it took as long as it does for me to paint one small painting.  Yeah.  And yet I'm afraid the most I can put on the finished pieces is around $35.  But, I love them.  And I'm pretty sure Vero at Naked Art Gallery in B'ham is going to flip over them for the Micro Love Show I always participate in.  Every year I come up with some new jewelry line for her to sell.  It's my yearly thing.

So....tempted to try you hand at them?  Head over to Etsy and type in "wooden cross stitch base" and you'll find them.  Most are from over seas.  It took 3 weeks to get here.  So plan accordingly.   And get out your readers and a good light.  Because you'll need them!  Enjoy!


Lovely Field

 I just wanted to pop in a second and show off the latest custom painting.  This was painted for a sweet friend that lives down in Orlando.  She sent me a photo one day of her desk and computer and said, "What would you do with this wall space?"  hehehehe....I'd buy a giant painting from me of course!  So in less than 2 weeks I had it painted, she flew up, came to school to get it and flew it home (1st class BTW  how lucky is that painting!).  I am just tickled with the final piece.  It looks amazing in the space as well.  Yeah!!
 It's funny too how lately all the painting requests have been for more of my old style, subjects and technique.  All a part of that getting back to the roots.
So....in other news since I did put it out there.  Looks like I'm not even going to get an interview for the art job in the different school.  I had a feeling my applying was going to be a LONG shot.  Not that I'm not qualified teaching wise, but on paper I am not qualified.  So I got passed over.  I let my teaching certificate expire in 2007.  Stupid thing to let happen.  But back in those days I just wasn't thinking about needing it.  So anyhoo....I am working diligently with my current principal to get it up to date.  She has been awesome at helping me write up my learning logs and such.  Hopefully by the end of the school year I'll be close to the 100 hours needed to get the paper renewed.  I am very disappointed.  I won't lie about that.  But know in my heart that there is a reason for being passed over this time around.  And am looking forward to teaching my little ones more about the subject I love.


Your Roots

Sometimes I wonder how I got from the above painting to where I am now.  Some call it growing, some experience, some developing your style, getting better at your craft, blah, blah, blah......Here's what I remember about the above painting.  It was effortless.  I wasn't thinking about being a famous artist.....one who is in every Hallmark store.....one who makes $1000's at art shows.  I was just painting.  Happy little birdie paintings.  Somewhere along that line of happy it became a business.  When you run a business whether it's a McDonald's or an etsy shop you have to make decisions that are business in nature.  At some point between the above painting and the Jenni I am now I've lost sight of how much joy painting brings to my daily life.  I've gotten very bogged down in the numbers.  I know a good painting when it feels effortless to create, not forced or created because of a show deadline and I need to fill a tent.  Another sign of a good piece, when I get done I want to keep it.  That's my meter.   If you follow my 52 Canvases project you may have noticed a subject matter shift.  After finishing a rather large custom painting last night this whole idea hit me.  It was a simple painting,  big...and yet the finished piece is captivating.  Because it's me.  I painted it from the depths of the me that is an artist.  And it felt good.

I really love to paint.  Perhaps you don't see the struggle I have with the subjects, with my art.  I suppose in blog world you can give the reader any point of view you want because you are the author of that blog.  I like to think here in this journal I share my whole art self with you.  Not just the pretty and the good.  I like to give you a more rounded picture of my life as an artist.  A reader posted one of the best comments on my blog yesterday, she said that my painting looked, "smooth and effortless".  That my friends is my goal.  To create simple, happy, effortless paintings straight from the heart.  I intend to get back to my roots with painting.  I've been studying my first paintings from 2007 and finding that they were more thoughtfully created than I'd given them credit for.  I guess sometimes we need to rediscover what we already know in order to get back to where we need to be.


Leaps of Faith

You know sometimes.....

Everyday I work towards this:
I wasn't going to talk about this here, but last night's dream was just too much and I feel like sharing.  You are my little support team here.  I like you guys!  An opportunity has come available to be an art teacher at a different school.  In a certified position.  Full-time.  And I've put in for it.  Since making this decision 2 days ago I've been a bundle of nerves worrying about leaving this school, the 350 babies I love, the teachers I am comfortable with, the parents who care and support me.  Then last night this dream came to me.  I am an avid dreamer by the way. I never remember the entire dream, rather snip-its.  This dream was SO vivid though.  Here's the scene:  I was at a swimming pool.  My children were there, Billy there, and some friends I think.  They were already swimming and having fun.  I was late for some reason.  I got my suit on and then immediately climbed up the high diving board to just jump in.  And then I got scared and wanted off the diving board.  When I turned around to go down the ladder, it was gone!  I was freaking out.  Screaming to get off the board...and yet my family was all in the pool cheering me on to just jump mom!!  You'll be okay!  And then Billy woke me up.  So I'm not sure if I jumped or not.  But symbolically.....danged if it wasn't telling me something!!
We all have to take chances in our lives sometimes.  Sometimes we jump in and loose our bikini tops.  Other times we jump and impress with a gorgeous swan dive.  How ever you jump, the point is you jump.  You take the leap of faith for yourself.  Luckily for me I have an amazing support team cheering me on, including my current principal.  I may not even get an interview.  But I might.  The important step has been taken, I've put myself out there.  I jumped into the water off the high dive in real life.
Now, I am waiting patiently (refreshing my email every 5 minutes) to see if I get "the call".  If I don't it's okay.  I really...really love my job here.  But if I do get a call, rest assured I'll do my best to shine in the interview. I'll be sure to keep you posted.  Thanks for listening!  And always being here in cyberland for me.


A Little Tandem Ride

This is another custom painting order ready and waiting for pick up.  I am loving these custom painting oh yes I am!  And funny enough, this is my second tandem bike that is a wedding gift.  How cool a gift is that?  Actually the first photo is of my process.  Many of you are intrigued by my choice of canvas color.  Yes, it starts black.  I noticed the other day in Michael's they actually sell black gessoed canvases.  Interesting.  Although I do not like to paint on canvas, rather prefer the wood surfaces.  But the option is now out there.

I have some cool things going on these days in the classroom, home and personally.  I like it when my world seems balanced.  Seems.  Because sure enough something will eventually creep up and knock me off my feet.  It's those feet knocking experiences though that make me stronger and wiser.  And more prepared for the next round of good and bad.  Right now I'm going to focus on the good.  And ride the tandem bike with my sweetie Billy.  Because lately we are really pedaling the same speed.  It's kinda nice.  He sees the light at the end of the political tunnel.  I can not tell you how exciting the thought of having him home for January-April is.  Yeah.  It's going to be nice riding the tandem bike with him and not alone those cold winter months!


Entranceway Project....Nesting Time

Sometimes things come into your home which require complete transformations of the spaces they are going to reside.  Yep.  Like this rock your brain most awesome chair ever in the history of chairs chair:

And this family heirloom you finally decide to paint a poppin' blue.  Yes.  These two things came into our home and me being the nut job that I am started a tailspin of a remodel in the entrance way of our home.  Yeah, I know.  Jenni when do you stop?  That answer is simply never.

When we moved into the house I knew eventually I'd have to tackle this two story entrance area.  It's a dead space honestly.  Annoying that it functions as nothing but a walk through.  Too small and awkward to be a room, but enough space to need attention.  So this week was the week.  First, ya know how I feel about all the khaki in this house.  So I won't bore you with that rant.  The den and kitchen area I painted the prettiest color called "cotton whisper" from Home Depot.  Since you see right into the den when you enter our home I decided perhaps that should be the entrance color.  So painting was first on the agenda.  Oh geesh....there was so much brush painting in this area....my arm retaliated towards the end!!  I will end up hiring someone to paint the tall walls, as I was not renting scaffolding again.  But the amount I painted so far makes me very happy.

Ok.  It's not as bad as I make it out to be,  I love to over dramatize.  And I love to nest.  So for a the price of a gallon of paint and a few thrift store finds I have an entirely new look to the entrance way!

It's hard to see the change in color with the lighting, but man the buttery white makes me so happy now.

The blue table was our kitchen island in the old house.  Now it has a better home than on the screened in porch area.  The vintage mannequin is a favorite to decorate for the holidays.  I think she'll have wings this year.  :)  Oh, and I painted the railing dark gray.  That is an addition I love!!  No more dirty hands on the white!
I love to decorate with my favorite things including photos.  I'm not a big frame buyer so instead I scattered some favorites out for friends and family to flip through when they come over. The heart leaf collection stands perfectly in old books I've ripped the covers off of.
The nook below pretty much stayed the same, except I found the amazing green ceramic lamp at the Goodwill last week for a mere $3.50.  I intend to glam up the shade with some Amy Butler Fabrics.   The larger scale lamp makes more sense for the wall height.  It's funny how you notice things like that.  I've never been a lamp person until this house.  And I kept buying tiny lamps when we moved in.  Now I am looking for HUGE lamps.  Because the wall heights need scale!

One of the biggest and prettiest changes for the room is the chandelier pictured here.  My Dad and his wife gave it to us for Christmas last year.  We finally got it up in lieu of the 200 pound brass thing.  That btw even the Goodwill wouldn't take.  This one is perfectly gorgeous!  And will hang here for years to come.  From this angle you can really see the paint differences.  The bottom of the chair rail is the new color.  Cotton whisper.....I should also mention that on the sky lights to the left and right of the door were not only wood blinds but also dark film sheets.  Without those two things the room is SO pretty and airy.  The cats love it.  We have to replace the door soon due to rotting wood.  I am hoping we can do a double door.....

Well.....the rest of the week was full of family, friends (girl-friends too.... ekk....we love our new sweet friend) food, and rest.  It has been such a lovely week.  I feel blessed beyond words that we live in a home we can fill with food and family on holidays like this.  I do hope your week was filled with love and happiness as well.  I'll be back soon with some of the studio time charm. 


A Little Break

Lately it seems this is my life:

During lunch last week Billy brought me Chick-fil-a (rock star hubby) while I worked on not one but two computers at the same time.   And this is just one 30 minute break.  You should see how I roll during class!  No wonder I am literally hungry ALL day long.  With my training runs and teaching on my feet all day I am burning more calories than I am in taking.  I really like being called this:

Because she rocks.  And deep inside I think I rock too.  But this week we are out for Thanksgiving Break.  So I intend to hang with these two.  They can just call me "Mom".
 And hopefully my thankful hands can look a bit like this. 
Everyday I am so thankful that I have this life to be a part of.  There was a time when I really did not like any part of my life or anyone in it.  I am thankful that through love, support and time those days are behind me.  So this week I am taking off from blogging and FB so I can focus a bit more on being kind to myself and my family.  And showing them how grateful I am to have them as a part of my life.  I hope you have a lovely holiday week.  Blessing to you.


Southern Circle Retreats

As you know, Tiffin and I have been busy bees planning our first Southern Circle Retreats.  Part of the plan was to gather vendors for swag bag goodies.  We made a list of companies we like and whose products we love.  And then we started sending the emails.  And well.....just a little bit of this is coming our way.

Actually alot of JOY is coming our way!!  It's like Christmas at Tiffin's house everyday as the UPS man drops off boxes of goodness for our retreat attendees to use during the retreat and take a little home as well!
 Velvet ribbon from May Arts will be used on our embroidery project.
 TombowUSA sent double stick tape runners that will be used for LOTS of things during the weekend.
Plaid Crafts sent Modge Podge, Martha Stewart craft supplies and more!!

There's more too....some we can't show because it's secret goodies.  We don't want to give it all away....but we did want to tease you a tad.  It's not too late to sign up for the retreat.  AND if you need us to send an email to a family member maybe mentioning the retreat for a Christmas present do!!  Send them our way at:  www.southerncircleretreats.com  or email direct to:  gather@southerncircleretreats.com

We want you there!!  And you know you wan to be there.  With us.  For the first ever Southern Circle Retreat.  It's going to be so good.


If This Jar Could Talk

If this jar could talk I wonder what it'd say?  It's painted 100's of paintings with me.  Had it's photo taken like it's my child everytime it makes a cool color.  As an artist sometimes I get a tad annoyed at my brain and how it sees things.  Like beauty in this jar.  And the water colors that emerge as the canvas is brought to life. 

But then again, if there weren't artists like me who saw beauty in things like this, the world would be as very dull place to be.


I Just Love Soy Paint

I just can not tell you how much I am LOVING these delta CREATIVE soy paints.  I about kart-wheeled down the Hobby Lobby aisle when I saw they'd restocked!  (Actually there was a rather large lady and her daughter totally blocking the paint aisle on the phone talking to Daddy about dinner and groceries.  I about ninja'd them to get to the paint!)  I did miss yellow somehow.  Guess I'll be making a trip today.  They just go on like butter, not clumpy thick like my regular paints (which cost a fortune!).  And at $1.99 a bottle.....yeah I am thinking this is a no brainer.  I am going soy.  Have you tried them yet??
 Here's the raw start of a painting with the soy paints on my black gesso.  I can't wait to show you the end result.  This little painting is for a friend.....who also wants a yellow house by the sea.
There's the bottle in the right corner of the above photo.  They are likely to be where the "craft paint" is located instead of in the fine art aisle.

Anyhoo....busy bee around the house lately.  I can't wait to share the new entrance way.  It's coming along nicely!  And just in time for the 15 guest at our home for Thanksgiving dinner.  Yep. The WHOLE family is coming to our house this year!!  So cool.


Custom Painting

I've been working like a wild woman on custom paintings.  I've decided I really like this idea...custom paintings.  First, you are making a client super happy.  That's a good thing.  Second, there's no risk of it sitting in your basement for 2 years going to every show never selling and eventually getting painted over.  Right?

This sweet client wanted a truck and a bike for over her boy's beds.  The beds are amazing four post twin beds painted red.  The quilts are an awesome "boy" plaid.  I think the end results are going to look so cool over the beds!  Below is the scarey stage of the process.
 Never fear, with a little scrubbing the end results are very lovely.  Rich in texture.
Yep.  I can't wait to visit Diane and get photos of the two rooms with the art work hanging.  Makes my heart full to know that years to come these paintings will be with the boys.
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