Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekend in Review: A Lotta Dirt!

"Look, Ma! The seeds are UP!!"  In fact they are so tall, we had to raise the light a couple of links!  Elizabeth is over the moon excited about how well these little guys are doing.  Even the ones she planted last week are almost all up.  If we end up harvesting 1/2 of what we've planted, we are going to need to find an outlet for the excess!

There are two more trays on the shelf below that are just getting started well.  The seed starting mix she got is amazing, but I am sure things are helped along by her twice daily conversations with them, urging them to "come along, little seedies!" :)

So, here is the report on the indoor garden:  Not much happened there, except the fish tank is now filled.  We had to buy a shower filter to add to the garden hose to filter out the chlorine, and I imagine there are many other substances in the city water that won't be helpful to the occupants of the system--plants or fishies.  

Ornery's mom joined us on Friday for a puzzle working session and to buy me dinner to celebrate my birthday.  She was quite awed by the whole system Ornery has going in the garden room, and told his sister she needed to come see.  So, Saturday morning she and Monty came by for a little look-see.  After they left, the dirt hauling commenced.

Elizabeth and Michael brought over their own shovel and wheel barrow, and the three of them shoveled, and dumped, raked and repeated for a long time on Saturday, then came back for a second dose of torture on Sunday.  In all they moved 7 YARDS of dirt off the driveway and into five newly built beds,

flower beds!!  Can't wait to fill them!

Vegetable Garden beds!  Awesome dirt!

places on the lawn that needed a bit of leveling out,
and the last remaining bit into the front flower bed, which is awaiting some terracing and a general overhaul.

It looks like some giant moles have been at work out there!  I bet Ornery is a little more careful next time he guess-timates how much soil we will need!! :)

Week in Review: A Lotta Art

First up, an art journal page I did in a friend's journal.
I used some gelli-prints for the background.

Next are some ATCs I made for various swaps this past week.
Black and white sender's choice.  I actually made three of these, one to keep, two to swap. :)  The background is plain black cardstock stamped with embossing ink, then embossed with clear powder.  I added a bit of white acrylic paint and lots of butterflies punched out of security envelopes.

I used gelliprint background and also for the butterflies.  I set a stencil over the paper, applied glass bead gel medium, then pulled the stencil away.  It left the shape of the butterfly, which I cut around, then glued down and outlined.

More gelliprints, glass bead gel and some washi tape, butterflies and embossed stamping.

I was trying to clear out some of my stuff, and put this together.  I sent it as an extra in a private swap. :)

The next three ATCs nearly caused a riot on Instagram!  I made them to swap with a few people I had already told I would trade with, so they weren't really available except to those three, but there were a few people who really wanted them!  I ran out of copper wire, and need to order more.  Clearly these were a popular item!!

 I tied a yellow ribbon around the tree... I don't think anyone really got the significance of that.

The second one I didn't unfurl the branches at first, but before I sent it I will.

This is the third one.  I made one more for a swap I am hosting on Swap Bot, but so far no one has signed up for the swap.  It's still a week or two away, though.  If they don't I know I won't have any trouble trading it!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Birthday to ME!

Today is my birthday, and already I have gotten more cards than I have ever received for any one birthday!  Ryan and Ale sent gifts, Elizabeth and Michael gave me money (which I promptly spent on art supplies!), Ornery gave me paints, (although I picked them out and ordered them myself) and my pen-friends and swapping buddies have sent cards, goodies, and Instagram wishes all week!  I am feeling so blessed!

In other news, Michael and Elizabeth came over Sunday.  While she planted more seeds, Michael assembled a new 9 cubicle shelf unit for my studio closet.  My stuff runneth over!  Then they both helped Ornery build three raised beds outside in the backyard.  The building consisted of laying down lime, then corrugated cardboard, then putting cedar 4'X8'X12" boxes on top of that.  I need to order some mushroom compost and round up some manure to do some lasagna garden beds, but we are off to a galloping start!

Ornery got the first 18 bags of Grow Stones rinsed, soaked and rinsed again, and put them into the grow beds in the aquaponics garden room last night.  Seeds are sprouting and growing happily on the starter rack, and the weather has been absolutely beautiful!  I think it was a short lived phenomena but it was a wonderful and welcome harbinger of spring!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Garden Room 2.0

Before I begin, I think I should post a disclaimer here.  The phrase "Garden Room" evokes (in me, at least) an image of a lush, plant filled room with a pretty fountain quietly trickling into a stone pond, with maybe a couple of koi swimming around and a relaxing seating area where one can take in the peaceful beauty.  The wall is full of windows and lots of natural light shines in to keep the plants healthy and happy.

Well, our garden room will be plant filled, and the water as it travels in and out of the various beds and tanks will certainly have a trickling sound, but there are not any koi (yet anyway) and most of the light comes from fluorescent tubes.  There sure enough won't be room for any sitting area!!  So, now that we have all that out of the way, allow me to commence sharing photos of our little converted patio-cum-aquaponics garden room!


Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of the view looking out the window from the dining room.  Here is what the enclosed area looks like now.

 This first one is the view looking out from the dining room door.  You can see the lights overhead, (there will be another two added, and these rearranged a bit before it's all said and done) and the frames Ornery built to support the converted IBC totes.  There were three totes to begin with, and he is using one whole one (with the top cut out) for the fish tank (far left) one for the sump tank and one grow bed, (cut 1/3 x 2/3) and the third for two grow beds (cut in half).  He has installed a rather intricate plumbing system that works with siphons and pumps.  The siphons work, although they need adjusting so they will stop siphoning when they need to...

This is a picture looking into the room from the newly installed French doors.  The fish tank is in the front here, and you can see all three grow beds.  In the far back corner (about the middle of the photo) is a shelf Ornery built several years ago out of cedar fence pickets.  It will hold several odds and ends of garden tools and supplies.

The fish tank is not set up yet at all, but Ornery has filled and carried 5 gallon buckets to fill the sump tank -- about 170 gallons so far -- from our shower (because it is filtered water) to the garden room.  The chiropractor noted his increased manual labor and prescribed some zinc to help keep the connective tissue intact! :)

 Here's the ornery guy, posing for a picture, which I wasn't really intending to take, but he was in the way. :)

 Standing by the aforementioned picket shelf, I took this photo of our seed rack. We only have two trays of seeds started right now, and not all of those are actually planted.  The lights are on a timer and turn on at 5:00 AM and off at 10:00 PM.  The seedlings are happy...

 These little guys were up on the third day!
It's hard to see, but there are several basil and marjoram plants coming up, too.  Most of the pepper seeds are still waiting to hatch. :)

 In case you missed this when I posted earlier, this is a view of the outside now.  We still haven't painted it, but the weather is really nice right now, so maybe soon.

I didn't ever take a photo of the patio full of IBC totes, but I can tell you, this is a much nicer view!  There are some bags of grow stones waiting to be rinsed and put in the beds at the far end of the patio. The black bag on the lawn is full of leaves I raked up to use in the raised garden beds.

We ordered a total of 30 bags of grow stones from Amazon.  They came two bags to a box, and while the bags are lightweight (14 lbs. each) they were big and bulky.  The grow media has to be completely rinsed, soaked and rinsed again before it can be added to the beds.  Ornery is in the soaking stage of the first 18 bags of stones.  It will need to be rinsed later today, then put into the beds, which will take about 10 bags each.  This was one of the most expensive aspects of the project--other than the construction, of course.

We will be recycling the bags and boxes from the project beneath our outdoor raised garden beds, which will be built later today. Elizabeth is coming to help with the project in exchange for Ornery cutting her wood and hauling it home for her. :)

The project is coming together MUCH slower than Ornery had anticipated, but we are very pleased with how well things are working so far.  I am so proud of him for doing all the research and work to make this dream a reality!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

I am not posting a lot about hearts and love today, but I do wish all my friends and family a happy day to celebrate LOVE!  What I do have to share: Pictures! :)

First up are some Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) I made this week.  All have been traded already.  I used some of my Gelli-prints for the backgrounds, and pawed through my collection of "extras" that people send with swaps to find some of the embellishments.  I also cut up a florists calendar for some of the arrangement photos.

This was a "jam" which means three people added to the background.  My contribution was the background, and the rest of it was so bad, I tore it all off and reworked it.  It is much more subdued than my usual bright colors, but I liked it anyway.

The next one is for a swap that required the use of the inside of a security envelope for the background.  I had been saving them for a while, so I had a lot of patterns to choose from.  Rather than just using them for the background, I used them for the whole thing!

And here is the card, ATC sleeve and envelope I sent the finished product in. I was quite happy with the overall effect, and I hope the recipient will be!

This is on the loom this week.  Purple, teal and off-white color combination.  Elizabeth has two completed and listed on her etsy shop, and this one should be up sometime next week.

And last, but not least, here is a short stack of outgoing mail from this week.  I just love decorating the envelopes with washi tape!  :)

I haven't forgotten the promised photos of the garden room.  Ornery has been working a little bit each evening, and just about has it ready to add the grow media.  Seeds are sprouting right and left in the little trays, and the temperature is finally tolerable outside. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, I will have some good pictures to share.  Meanwhile, there are huge boxes stacked everywhere awaiting the completion of the grow bed system.  They are full of grow stones media, and they are taking up a lot of space in the garage and living room!! :(

Monday, February 10, 2014

Altered Files, Birthday Presents, and Happy Mail

Happy Monday!  Ornery and I had a productive weekend!  Here are a few pictures of the fruits of my labor.  (another post will feature HIS projects!)

Friday my birthday gift from Ornery arrived in the form of new colors of silks, twinks and primary elements artist pigment powders.  Oh, glorious day!! :)  My birthday isn't until next week, but we celebrate from the beginning of the month... :)

Also in the mail was my order from Stampin' Up.  They offered in their clearance section some 8X8 albums for $5.99.  They are 3 D-ring binders and came with 10 sheet protector/pages inside.  I had been planning to make a stencil binder for storing my 6X6 stencils in, but I am sure I couldn't make one for $5.99, so I ordered two.  I only needed one binder for stencils, but both sets of pages.  I am going to use the other for a Mail Art Junk Journal.

 Outside cover...^^ and below is what it looks like with some stencils parked inside. :)

Saturday I worked on my own art journal for a round robin swap with two pen friends.  Here is one of the pages--I apparently forgot to photograph the other one!

 It was an accidental theme, as when I was spritzing the page with spray ink, over-spray got onto all the little paper dresses I had set aside for the page.  Oh, well.  It's the truth!

Sunday I broke out the Gelli-plate for another session.  I created 35 beautiful monoprints! :)

Next, I put together some altered file folders and a couple of post cards.  One folder is for a swap, the other is for my new Mail Art Junk Journal.  Here is a pile of completed projects from Sunday.

And here is a photo of the outgoing mail for Monday.  I put together some surprise Valentine's presents for a couple of my nephew's kids and my two grands.  The other items are my journal and a couple of swaps, plus the post card going to an Instagram friend.

Here is my folder front and back.

and here is the folder I made for the swap, front and back.  Note the stitching.  It happened here. Really.

That's all folks!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Two Art Journals

I am participating in two separate art journal round robins, one with three people and one with eight. The swap with 8 people has 7 US residents and one in Scotland, so the originator of the swap is sending around her journal and the out-of-country journal together.  Both arrived at my house this week, and I have been hard at it creating something I would like for others to see.  I also am in possession of my own journal for the other swap, and haven't started working in it yet--that's next!

Here are photos of the pages I did in the two albums.

 Both albums had a variety of types of pages inside, and since most people seemed to prefer the single-no-flap variety, I opted for one with a flap.  Turns out I was a glutton for punishment!  Anyway, the first photo, above, is the outside flap of the page.  I inked the page then tore strips of sheet music painted with twinkling H2O watercolors and loosely wove it.  There is washi tape, a bit of acrylic paint smudged and strategically placed here and there, and it may not really LOOK like a million letters, but when you are punching them out, it sure seemed like it!!  I used my QuicKutz dies to do the letters, then grunged them up with ink and stamps.  (click on the image if you want to see it bigger.)

 This is the inside of the spread.  After I inked all over the page, I used strips of paper I had painted on with my Gelli-plate and added them here and there.  Then I used orange and green distress ink with stencils to make the patterns.  The bird cage clip art is actually stamped using a wooden stencil a friend gave me.  I embossed it with clear embossing ink, then sprayed the whole thing with the blue ink. The embossed areas resisted the ink, leaving a lovely image.

The flowers are also punched from gelli-plate prints, using a zinnia punch. After I punched them, I dredged them in embossing ink, then ultra thick embossing enamel (UTEE).  By reheating the UTEE I was able to add a couple more layers of the powder, and then melt it again.  It gives a hard plastic looking finish.  For the centers, I dropped some Glossy Accents (Ranger) in the center, then scooped some glass seed beads onto the glue.  Once it was all dry, I accented it with some paprika colored stickles glitter glue.  I don't know how well it will stay, but I was afraid to melt the UTEE anymore, especially since it was already in the book.

The owner of this second journal prefers bright colors (Yay!) but no sparkly glitter (Boo!).  But, I am not deterred!  I started on the flap with a piece of deli wrap I had painted with silks acrylic glaze on my gelli-plate.  Then I added the pattern piece, just to give it some color and added interest.  The circles were torn from a piece of fun tissue paper I got in the mail a while ago.  I used the same circles on the far right side of the inner spread, which you can see in the next photo.
 The hearts are made with glass bead gel, which is shiny without being sparkly!  :)  I outlined them with black so they would show up better, since the gel is clear.  I think in the future, I will ink or paint the areas using the stencil so they will show better.
 This is the full effect of the first page.

 And this is the whole inside layout.  The flowers on the left were all punched from yellow card stock.  I punched the center out of them and used UTEE on them so they would be shiny, then I painted the petal part with silks acrylic glaze.  After it was dry, I drew in the black designs.  This person really likes patterns, so I tried to incorporate a lot of them on the design. In the center of the page, I used more glass bead gel with a triangle stencil, then I reset the stencil and drew more triangles from the stencil that I had not used before with the gel.  There is washi tape, ribbon, and various types of paper, plus the little heart on the book pocket is made of polymer clay. (I didn't make it.)

 Here is a close-up of the pocket.  Her name begins with a T, so I used that on the front.  The chipboard letter was originally plain, I added the orange gelli-print onto the top and embellished it with yarn and the heart paperclip.
The tag is made of security envelope linings.  I have been saving them for just such a purpose!  The various other words and designs are all rub-on embellishments I have had for a while.

That was two full days of art, but I feel really good about my offering in their journals. It leaves in the morning for the next stop!