Friday, 22 March 2013

Inspiring Fabric + Creativity = Curtains!

Detail of the inspiring fabric design I immediately fell for at Ikea...
("Cecilia", cotton, $2.99/metre!!)

    I knew that this would be a pretty design for my kitchen door and window so I bought what they had left on the bolt, 2.5 metres - enough to make the two panels I needed with some to spare.  I've always enjoyed the casual look of cottage-style so when I found that I had a large remnant of a deep apple green fabric sporting white grid lines I knew it would be perfect to edge the panels for the windows!  The juxtaposition of these two fabrics/prints - free-form botanicals beside geometric lines, with colour being their common bond - LOVE!      
This photo isn't very clear/crisp but it shows the true colour and 
the fun juxtaposition achieved with the two fabrics I used!

Curtain panels in place and full length
(windows are each W30" x H62")

 Curtain panels, accordion folded and held up with green grosgrain ribbon

 Detail of curtain panels, lifted.

    These windows are full Southern exposure, so while these are delightful windows to sit by on a sunny winter day, they allow in much too much heat in the summer so these curtain panels will certainly help with keeping the kitchen cooler and more enjoyable in those hot months!  Now that's inspiring!!

    ♥ Cath-

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Chalkboard DIY

    I ♥ chalkboards!  I have liked them for as long as I can remember! In Grade 1, Mrs. Kay had a big room-dividing chalkboard on wheels in our classroom. All the students who finished their work early were allowed to spend their time quietly doodling on that big chalkboard and I wanted to do that more than anything else but I was never done my work in time. So I hatched a plan!  I stuffed my unfinished work back into my desk, thinking the teacher would never know, I got up quietly from my desk, picked up one beautiful piece of chalk and was just about to draw when Mrs. Kay called me over and asked me to show her my completed work - Eek!!  My plan was foiled - caught chalk-handed!!

     I still remember the first time my Grade 5 French teacher picked up chalk and began to write on the chalkboard - it made no sound!  There was no dull scratchy sound of chalk grating against the board - it was a smooth as a marker on a white board - without the squeaks! From that day on I wanted nothing more than to be called up to the board to write something - anything! - just so I could try out that beautiful, and impressive chalkboard! I did one day get my opportunity and it was delightful! Ahhh, those were the days!
    I certainly haven't changed much since then because I was in our local school just two days ago and even though they have switched out almost every chalkboard for whiteboards - I still couldn't resist!  I was in the Grade 3 classroom and grabbed up a marker and drew a l'il person on the board and to give it purpose I wrote "Welcome!" above it... while I was drawing, one of the students saw me and ran to the teacher and tattled, "Hey, she's drawing on the board!!"  The teacher, who has known me for years now, simply replied to the student that it was okay, she's allowed to draw on our boards. Phew!  

    All that to say - I finally have my very own chalkboard - one I designed, built, and installed myself!  I don't know why I hadn't thought to do it before but now I have a lovely, long chalkboard in my kitchen to put grocery lists on and also doodle on!  : )

    I don't have a lot of pictures but I did remember to take some through the process so I'll give you a bit of a step by step... 

Homemade Chalkboard
For Under $20!!  

    I did some searching online on the Home Depot site to find sizes of trim, so I could do all my calculations at home before going to the store, I determined that a 15" x 45.5" writing surface would be a nice size to fill the wall area I had.  I found the trim I wanted (Colonial white wood trim, 3/8" thick, 1-1/4" wide), I ensured the local store had it in stock and then figured out my final board dimensions: 17.5" x 48".
    Home Depot carries 24" x 48" sheets of 1/4" Hard Board (Masonite) for only $2.95 CDN!! So one quick, in-store cut later I had the dimensions I needed for my chalkboard - and a perfect left-over piece of hard board I can use to make a cute sign or something!

    I gathered the trim - it came in 6ft. lengths, so I got two - only $4.95 each (!) and headed home!

    Our youngest was very excited to help me when she got home from school so she helped me measure, mark, and mitre the trim pieces and then set to work painting them.

A mitre box is a beautiful thing!!

       The trim paint colour does not show well in this photo but it is a lovely neutral green!
Sherwin-Williams "Softened Green" (SW6177)

    After we finished with all the trim work we set to work on the chalkboard surface.  I bought two bottles of CraftSmart brand Chalkboard paint (in Black, it is also available in Green) from Michaels.  Each bottle was only $1.69 CDN!!  Woo-hoo!!

    We applied, per paint instructions, one coat vertically and a second coat horizontally, allowing an hour drying time between coats.  

   We used glue to adhere the trim pieces to the hardboard - a squiggle of regular glue and a couple dots of hot glue along each piece.  The hot glue will hold immediately while the regular glue sets up to hold permanently.

    Now, for the 'hanging it up' part.  If you don't know me and I've not happened to mention it before - I'm a "Fru-Gal" - the term my brother gave me because I tend look for ways to NOT spend money and I'm a firm believer in "Necessity is the mother of invention!"  I didn't have any picture hangers and I really didn't want to have to go out again to buy some so I found a couple 3/8"  wood screws and attached a couple of pop can tabs to the back of the chalkboard!  They seem meant for such applications - they're aluminum, they have two holes - one for a screw, one for a wall nail - voila!!

    Now, I'm just waiting out the 24 hour curing time on the paint so I can start using this chalkboard!  And rest assured, I did learn my lesson way back in Grade 1 - I'm getting all my work done now so I can draw on the chalkboard with a clear conscience a little later!!  : )

    ♥ Cath-

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Odds & Ends

"Smoochin' Hippopotamuses"
(preliminary sketch, graphite)

This was left over from my month of February Love & Friendship ideas... 
I may still make it into a full-fledged card design.

 "Three Crazy Cupcake Baking Mice"
(preliminary sketch, graphite)

I thought this design up when two other Moms and myself  offered a "Cupcake Day"  to
 our local school... the design was simply to inspire us as we set to preparing for the day, 
but was later deemed 'not quite crazy enough - much too calm - and tidy!' 

"Self Portrait #1"
(watercolour, 8x10")

I made this design for a personal Thank You card, the 
sentiment read, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!
It is, in my opinion, a true likeness of me... I have high cheekbones and I 
can tend to lose my eyes when I'm smiling if I'm not careful!  But my darling 
husband didn't like this design, he felt it was too caricature-ish.  
So I drew this one:

"Self Portrait #2"
(watercolour, 8x10")
He seemed happy with this design, but I still like the first one! 
I feeling inspired to paint a real (aka 'serious' or 'more life-like') self-portrait... 
Hope you all a great day!
 ♥ Cath-

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

School Art...

 "Snowman Reading With Friends"
(acrylic on stretched canvas, 18x25")

"Snow Lady Reading With Friends"
(acrylic on stretched canvas, 18x25")

    I enjoy volunteering at our local school... For the last two years I have focused my attention on helping the Teacher Librarian in the library.... I check-in books, catalog and shelf books, send out reminder notices for overdue books, and straighten the shelves.  Over the first few months of volunteering in the library I was bothered by the lack of colour and interest particularly in the primary area...  

    When children are first discovering books and reading, a bunch of colourful book spines staring back at them may not be enough to interest them... There was a huge bulletin board over the low shelves in this section of the library that was painted a dark navy blue and had some faded cardstock mini posters stapled to it that announced subjects like "History", Geography", and "Science" - nothing against any of these fine subjects but in a primary book area this all added up to a display that was just plain B-O-R-I-N-G!!!

    When I approached the principal to get approval for improving on the bulletin board display I felt like l'il Mary Lennox in Francis Hodgson Burnett's "The Secret Garden" when she asked her uncle, "Might I have a bit of earth?" ... The principal, of course, was not frightening like Mary's uncle, Mr. Craven - he was overjoyed and 'let me do as I wished' so I set to work taking measurements and making preliminary sketches!

    I came up with this...
"Reading Helps Your Imagination Blossom"
(acrylic on cardstock, mixed media (blossoms), bulletin board)

    Here are some details of the bulletin board... all the little creatures in the design (mouse, frog, butterfly, dragonfly, and ladybug) are all enjoying a good book:
     I even wrote the beginning of a story for the mouse to be reading... one of the Grade 2 classes found me one day shortly after I put this board together and asked me if it was a real book because their teacher had read the words I had written in this design and the class wanted to find out what happened next!  When I told them that it was a story I had just made up and I didn't know what happened next or even how the story ends they were somewhat disappointed but I then encouraged them to write their own version of how the story continues!

    The Snow people (at the top of this post) are my most recent addition to the library walls... there is a bland, boring, beige painted peg board over the other low shelves in the primary section and I have been trying to fill it with colour and so last month I painted these two canvasses and hung them up to create a little display, complete with a banner "Friends Gather Here To Read"... just in front of these shelves is a big carpet and a rocking chair for the teacher to read to his/her class - so I thought the sentiment appropriate!

    Here is the overall display:
    The books the snow people are reading are titled. "A Winter's Tale" and "A Winter's Tale Too"

     I didn't know I would one day be painting canvasses for the school library - and buying more canvasses for future ideas/displays - but God has blessed me with time and opportunity to share my abilities to brighten a dull corner and hopefully make someone's day a little cheerier!!

    ♥ Cath-