Craft

Year of Crafting Edition 1: Week 1-10

This year, I vowed to complete one craft (or one stage for longer projects) a week. I love to craft and on January 1st I realized I hadn’t spent much time crafting during 2016. I was going to change that for this year and my goal is to finish up some crafting projects (Disney vacation album), try some new crafts (painting, Deco Mesh wreath making, and use the fabric I bought for projects but have been scared I’d mess up and waste the money I spent so I’m letting all my lovely fabric and patterns just hang out in my storage unit. No more! I realized it’s no more of a waste to not use the fabric and patterns as it is to make a mistake sewing the item (cute patterns for purses I really want to sew). The only way to get better at sewing is to sew.

Here are the projects I have completed so far:

CP 1 and 2 Megan's winter setWeek 1-2: A matching scarf and messy bun hat for my younger daughter. The messy bun hat I used a pattern, and the scarf I made using the double crochet stitch.

CP Week 3 Messy bun hat BrittanyWeek 3: A messy bun hat for my oldest. She saw a picture I posted of her sister’s hat on Facebook and wanted one. I used the same pattern as the one for her sister but this time I used the front and back post stitch for the brim.

CP Week 6 My ScarfWeek 4-6: I’ve been crocheting a little over a year and I hadn’t made myself anything yet. I crocheted blankets, mermaid tail blanket, scarfs, a cozy for a Beta fish tank, but nothing for me. I wanted to use a Caron Cake and on the sleeve of one of the Cakes was a pattern for this scarf. The completed scarf is 70 inches long so I broke it down into steps as I wouldn’t be able to complete it in one week. I love the fringe!

CP Week 7 Alex ScarfWeek 7: When I was crocheting my scarf, my favorite little guy saw it and asked if I’d make him a blue and green one. Of course! I used a scarf knitting loom, and stepped way out of my comfort zone by creating my pattern. I love how it turned out.

CP Week 8 Spring Deco WreathWeek 8: Deco Wreath. I’ve always wanted to make a Deco Mesh wreath and as this 2017 is my year of crafting I decided to give it a try. It also helped that the day I was at AC Moore the supplies for the wreaths were 50% 0ff. I like how the spring wreath turned out and I have supplies to make a Frozen inspired wreath.

CP Week 9 Mardi Gras Cricut CozyWeek 9: I’m donating a basket filled with goodies for a prize at the crop I’m attending and I sewed a Cricut dust cover to add to it. I went with a Mardi Gras theme as it matches the cover of my book Masked to Death as it’s also included in the basket. I’ve sewed some Cricut/Cameo dust covers before but this was the first time I sewed on an embellishment–sequined ribbon.

CP week 10Week 10: This week was a very crafty week for me. I attended a three-day scrapbook retreat so I completed some layouts, and the night before the crop I took a painting class with my oldest. We had a wonderful time and I’m hoping we can make time to go to another one. I dubbed my masterpiece Tinkerbell in Paris.

Craft · How To

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II by Sybil Johnson

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part II

by Sybil Johnson

Here I am again, reporting on my trompe l’oeil adventure. It’s been a couple weeks and I’ve made some progress though not as much as I’d like.

Here’s a pointer to my first post, in case you missed it: https://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/adventures-in-trompe-loeil-part-i/. Go ahead, check it out, then come back. I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great! Let’s continue.

When I left you last, I was working on a table with a cherry pie painted on it. I’d gotten as far as staining the wood and painting the cloth underneath the pie. I was about to start on the pie.

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And this is where I was stalled for a short while. When I do a project, I like to use the colors suggested by the designer or, at least, something similar. That means I need to know approximately what a color looks like. Unfortunately, acrylic paint colors come and go so, when a design is several years old, some of the colors may have been discontinued. That’s the problem I ran into this time. This is where being a hoarder of paint color brochures comes in handy. I was able to figure out what the discontinued colors looked like and come up with substitutes based on color equivalency charts I’d picked up years ago.

Once that was straightened out, I turned to painting the cherry pie. Unfortunately, the instructions are not as detailed as I would like. That’s something to look for when you buy a pattern book or packet: check out the instructions to see if they are detailed enough for your skill level. Some designers assume more experience than others. Here is where the photos of the finished piece have come in handy. Studying them has helped me figure out the approach I should take.

Here’s where I am now:

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I still have a long way to go. I need to work on shading on the pie itself and I need to strengthen the shadows on the cloth. I’m getting there, though. Right now I’m off to work on final edits to A PALETTE FOR MURDER, then I’ll get back to work on that pie. Until next time…

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press. Learn more about her at http://www.authorsybiljohnson.com.

Craft · How To

Adventures in Trompe l’oeil, Part I

Today on the Self-Rescue Princess, I’m having a guest blogger introduce you to the art of  in Trompe l’oeil.

by Sybil Johnson

The next book in my Aurora Anderson Mystery Series, A PALETTE FOR MURDER, features a trompe l’oeil (pronounced “Tromp Loy”) class. That means “trick the eye” or “fool the eye”. It’s any painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object.  Those clouds on ceilings in Vegas casinos and faux finishes such as marble and bricks fall into this category. To get a feel for what else can be done, here are some masterful 3-D illusions using chalk on pavement by various artists: ://www.boredphttpanda.com/5-most-talented-3d-sidewalk-chalk-artists/

Go ahead, check them out. I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Amazing, right? My favorite is Ice Age.

While working on PALETTE, I was reminded that I’d bought a pattern book and wood for a much simpler project, a cherry pie on a stool, years ago. Yep, years ago. I decided now was the time to work on this project. I thought I’d take you along on my journey into trompe l’oeil.

Here’s what I started with, a pattern/instruction book by Peggy Decker and an unpainted wood side table:

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I started by staining the wood. The instructions said to use Minwax Polyshades, Gloss Finish, in Pecan. It’s a polyurethane varnish with the stain in the product. I’d never used the product or even stained anything before, so I approached it with some trepidation. I pulled on my big girl pants and worked away. It took me all of 30 minutes to screw it up. Okay, it was a little longer than that, but not by much.

When the table dried, the top was a mess, not smooth at all. I thought I’d read the instructions carefully, but turns out I didn’t really. Luckily, wood is fairly forgiving so I stripped the top using Citristrip, sanded it a bit and I was good to go again. This time, I made sure I read and reread the instructions.

The next step was applying the pattern using graphite and basecoating with DecoArt White acrylic paint. I was a little worried about the acrylic painting adhering to the Polyshades, but it worked out okay. In between coats of white, I used a bit of paper torn from a brown paper bag to “sand”. Yep, a good old paper bag from the grocery store. It’s rough enough to smooth the paint a bit, but not so rough that it takes the paint off.

Here it is after this step:

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Next came a coating of light gray followed by the stripes on the cloth, painted in FolkArt Rose Chiffon. Liner work is not my favorite thing to do. I’ve seen brushes at conventions that have two brushes on one handle, that produce two parallel lines. I don’t have one of those, but I decided it wouldn’t be hard to make my own. I taped together two 10/0 liner brushes and voila! I have my own double brush.

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This is where I am so far on the project.

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Doesn’t look terribly exciting yet, I know. Projects never do at the beginning. Next time I’ll be working on the pie at the center of the design. Stay tuned.

 

Sybil Johnson wields pen and brush at her home in Southern California where she writes the Aurora Anderson Mystery Series (FATAL BRUSHSTROKE, PAINT THE TOWN DEAD and, soon, A PALETTE FOR MURDER) published by Henery Press.

Books · Craft · Excerpt

Crafting Excerpt from Hijack in Abstract by Larissa Reinhart

 

HIJACK frontPortraits: Making the Art Patron Happy with Cherry Tucker (and Larissa Reinhart)

My character Cherry Tucker would love National Craft Month. Although she’s a classically trained portrait artist, she also DIYs her clothes into works of art and likes to paint furniture (and anything else she can paint, embellish, or bedazzle).

Unfortunately, in her mysteries, she’s often too busy chasing down murderers and thieves to paint much. At least on the page. Off the page, when you’re not reading, she’s always painting, embellishing, and bedazzling. However, one of my favorite on-the-page painting scenes takes place in her third mystery, Hijack in Abstract. She’s been hired by a wealthy, Atlanta immigration lawyer to paint his portrait. She doesn’t think much of Rupert, but that never stops her from doing her job.

As she always says, “Always make the art patron happy. Even when you’ve found a dead man earlier that day.”

Hijack in Abstract, A Cherry Tucker Mystery #3

I returned to Rupert’s office. He had finished his phone call and paced before the Christmas tree.

“Where have you been, darling?” he asked. “I have some free time now. Let’s begin.”

“I’m going to start with some quick sketches,” I said, hurrying to the Christmas tree. “I’ll work at my easel. Feel free to talk and try different positions. Would you like to be seated or standing?”

Rupert turned to examine the Christmas tree. “Sitting will be more comfortable, but I will have better lines if I stand. Don’t you agree? And sitting might appear aggrandizing. Like I’m a king on a throne.”

I looked up at him from my squat before my tackle box. Rupert put a lot more thought into posing than anyone I ever met. “Whatever you want to do is fine with me. We can try both and you can look at my sketches before you decide.”

He strode to his desk and picked up his phone. “Miss David? Can you get the full length mirror from my dressing room and bring it in here?”

This was probably why Miss David hated me. My appearance caused her more work. A butler’s job is never done.

Grabbing a good piece of charcoal and my sketch pad, I placed both on my easel and set to work sketching Rupert as he fretted about his pose. I concentrated on getting his relative proportions before worrying about detail and composition. The head is amazingly symmetrical. Pupils are your center. You can actually draw a line from pupil to pupil and use that line to make a perfect square to help find the lines for the mouth and nose.

I find that aspect of the human face amazing. And I don’t even like geometry.

Once you understand the shape of a face, drawing becomes much simpler. However, everyone but super models have quirks to their symmetry. Those small faults had to be noted, too, without drawing too much attention to them. People with a crooked nose don’t want to see a crooked nose in their portrait. But the painting still has to honestly reflect their face. Tricky.

As I told Miss David, in order for a portrait to look realistic, it needs the personality of the sitter. Portraits are all about nuance, not geometry. A tilt to the head, an uplift at the corner of the mouth, or a slant in an eye’s gaze makes all the difference. Otherwise you end up with a robot face.

Or a paint by number project by Shawna Branson.

Miss David returned with the mirror. We set it up next to my easel so Rupert could pose himself as Father Businessman Christmas or whatever look he was going for. He tried standing, leaning, and sitting, then settled on standing.

“So how long has Miss David worked for you?” I waited to ask that question until she had left the room. The less Miss David talked, the more I wanted to know.

“A few years,” he picked a piece of lint off his suit jacket. “Do you think I should wear a black or blue suit?”

“Blue. It’ll pull out some of the colors from the tree decorations and work better with the undertones in your skin.”

I flipped a page in my sketchbook and worked on a close up of his small, bushy mustache. It would not do to have him looking like Hitler.

 

larissaA 2015 Georgia Author of the Year Best Mystery finalist, Larissa writes the Cherry Tucker Mystery series. The first in the series, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY (2012), is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. The sixth mystery, A COMPOSITION IN MURDER, is expected to release in 2016. Her family and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, now live in Nagoya, Japan, but still call Georgia home. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, find her chatting on FacebookInstagram, and Goodreads  or join her Facebook street team, The Mystery Minions.