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.
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