Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Holiday Crafts Magazine

I have been BURSTING with anticipation!  I'm so excited about this news I am about to share with you, I can barely contain my glee!

MY WORK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN A MAGAZINE!!  I have a project featured in Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Crafts 2012!  WOOHOO!!

Way back in JANUARY I was contacted by a representative of the magazine asking if I would be interested in having my four quirky snowman face ornaments featured in this year's issue.  Well, DUH!  Yes, of course I would!  This is a first for me, and I was beside myself with excitement.  I had to rush a set of the ornaments off to them immediately.  And then I had to wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.

But, Oh! was it worth the wait!  I received my copy of the magazine about ten days ago, and this is the amazing feature I was greeted with:

Don't my little snowmen look AMAZING?  They mounted them on patterned paper and framed them, as an alternative to hanging them on a tree.  Very clever!  I am so pleased with how they look!

Since this is a how-to magazine, the ornaments are also featured on this page with instructions on how to make them:

Here's another view of the two pages:

I know, I know.  They sent me ONE magazine.  I have since bought 3 more issues!  I mailed one to my Mom today.  Not sure why I need 3 copies for myself, but I will think of a reason soon! HA!

If you are heading out to find a copy, here is what you need to look for:

It's actually a really great magazine with over 100 very nice projects for Christmas and Halloween.  And it is a real bargain at only $5.99!  If you are crafty at all, you might want to go out and grab a copy.

Normally I don't give out my 'secrets' on how to make my items, but this was such a HUGE opportunity I absolutely could not pass it up!  These ornaments are actually quite easy to make, and probably some of my most simple work.  But if you are not inclined to make your own set, I have them available in my etsy shop.

Whew!  I am soooo glad I was finally able to share this with you all! 

Have a great day!

PS--Jay Wilde is the photographer who did such an amazing job taking the pictures for the magazine.  I apologize for the not-so-great quality of my pictures.  Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a photograph?!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Favorite #7--Cindy Riccardelli

I love dolls.  I always have.  It started with Baby Lisa (yes, that was her real name!) that Santa brought me when I was 4.  I still have her, packed away now, of course, but not forgotten. 

I've never quite outgrown the appeal that dolls have for me.  Over the years I've had country bunnies, Raggedy Ann and Andy, folk art dolls, and Santas in my home at one time or another.  I used to have them sitting around on benches and shelves around the house.  I have outgrown that (except for at Christmas when the Santas come out), but I do still have a few special ones in my studio.

There are lots of wonderful dolls available on etsy.  I've been searching around for interesting art dolls---one of a kind darlings that you can't find anywhere else.  One artist that I am very impressed with is Cindy Riccardelli. I'm going to share a few of her dolls here.

Contemporary Folk Art Doll cloth and clay honey hair glass eyes ooak

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Some of you might look at her work and think, "Oh, she's not cute".  But that is what I LOVE about Cindy's dolls.  They are full of emotion and character and flaws, and that is what I enjoy about them.  I love that they are not quite pretty--their noses might be too big, or their eyes spaced a bit oddly, but they seem like real girls to me.  As we all know, it's what's inside a girl's heart that counts, and these dolls, to me, have a lot of heart. 

Cindy creates her one-of-a-kind art dolls from fabric and paperclay.  They are hand painted and dressed in handmade clothing.  You can tell by looking at her work that Cindy LOVES her girls. 

Here are a few more of my favorites:

cloth and clay collectible folk art doll painted hand stitching Eugenia original sculpt
(I love her big bow and her 'fancy' dress.)

Shadow Box Doll Sculpture girl and her chicken

Folk Art doll sculpted cloth and clay strawberry blonde hair bead jointed limbs

Art Doll cloth and clay mohair tea stained dress bobby socks pony tail mountain girl ooak

I can't decide who is my favorite, Sinead or AnnaMae.  I love them both so much!  I think it might be the hair....

I hope you will have a look at Cindy Riccardelli's shop.  I think her work is truly delightful!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christmas in July

I love Christmas.  And it's a good thing, because being an artist who sells the majority of her work in the fall season, I have to begin making Christmas things long before a normal person even has Christmas on their radar.  Who among you even wants to think  about holiday shopping yet?  NO ONE!  (There are five months until Christmas, right?)

Well, for me, Christmas season began about two months ago, when I made my first Santa of the year.  And to be honest, I'm feeling the pinch of time already!  How is that possible, with five months to Christmas you ask?  Well, I'm beginning to stock my etsy shop already.  And I have a BIG arts and crafts show approaching very quickly the first week of October.  I sometimes wish I had about a dozen elves in my studio like Santa does, busily working away!

But no.  I am a one woman show.  Each and every piece that appears in my etsy shop or in a show display is made by me.  And only me.  When you buy one of my clay pieces you are truly buying A Piece of Lisa. 

Today I listed my first Christmas items on etsy.  Among them was that first Santa of the season.  Here's a look at him now:

All my pieces begin with an armature made from wire and foil.  Then I begin covering the piece with clay.  I usually have an idea in my head of where I am going with a figure, but sometimes it will veer off on its own.  I listen to what the clay and the armature are telling me as I work. 

Santa needs a red suit, of course, and tall black winter boots with silver buckles.  A black belt and green mittens complete his ensemble.  I have all sort of brads and notions and buttons and trims to use in my work, and for this piece I chose two different styles of studs for his buttons and belt buckle.

Once I have the body constructed, I begin on the head.  Faces take forever!  I'm not after complete realism and perfect proportions.  I want them to have a personality, and I'm not bothered by flaws.  Who doesn't have a few flaws??  His eyes are hand painted and his cheeks and lips are lightly brushed with blush. On this piece I decided to make his beard from clay.

Santa has a little red hat with a jingle bell on the tip.  His fur trim is chenille.  I relish in the little details of a piece! 

I like to accessorize my dolls, and this time I used a bottle brush wreath I bought in the doll house miniatures department at Hobby Lobby.  It was already adorned with a red satin ribbon! 

I finish my dolls with a dusting of glass glitter on the base.  I have all sorts of wonderful glass glitters and mica flakes, most of which I purchased here.  This particular one is a Japanese glass glitter, and it's very fine (read: messy), but it glitters like freshly fallen snow.

I love this jolly old soul.  I love that his eyes are not exactly the same size and that his hat might be a little bit too small.  I think he's got lots of character.

I hope you'll stop by A Piece of Lisa and have a look around. 

(OK, it IS a bit early for that)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marian's Vessel

This is a piece I made last spring for my BFF Marian's birthday.  I've mentioned Marian before.  She is truly my BFF.  We are so alike it's almost eerie.  She, too, is an artistic sort, so we have lots of common ground there.  She is quite dear to me, and no ordinary gifts will do for her.  I don't stroll into Bath & Body Works and grab a gift basket for her.  Oh, no no no. We like to make each other things.  Even if I purchase something, it has to be something artsy.  Something unique.  Something special.  Like our friendship. 

Her home is quite contemporary, filled with lovely objects and nice artwork, so I try to find things that would fit into her life nicely.  She loves the work of Dilly Pad (which I featured here) and the gorgeous porcelain vessels of  White Earth Studio on etsy, so I used those as inspiration for this piece.

This vessel was very fun to make.  While it might look like it was very tedious, it really was not.  Yes, it took several hours to construct, but since there was no "right" way to make it, it was also very freeing.  It's made of hundreds, if not thousands, of pieces of white Premo polymer clay.  I did not start with a sketch or a set idea of what I wanted it to be.  I just did what the clay told me to do. 

 Sometimes all you have to do is listen to the material you are working with, and it will guide you.  "I want to be a flower."  OK.  "I want to be a coil."  You betcha.  "I want to be a circle."  Anything you want. 

Once the pieces were all in place, I took a stylus and added little details to the work.  Then I put some glasses inside to brace it a bit while it was baking.  And kept my fingers crossed.  And said a little prayer to the Polymer Clay God.  And held my breath.  And in the end, it came out just right.

I loved making this project so much that I'm considering doing another one.  Perhaps this time I will use all black.....

Sometimes it is just fun to step outside of what you normally do and create something completely different.  Take a leap of faith.  You never know what you'll come up with!

Thanks for stopping by!

OH--in case you are wondering, this piece is perhaps 8 inches wide and maybe 4 inches high.  Give or take a little bit.  It lives in New Mexico and I live in Nebraska, so I can't just pop over and measure it right now.  I WISH!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Polymer Clay Enthusiasts Team Member--Trina's Clay Creations

On etsy I am a member of the Polymer Clay Enthusiasts Team.  The goal of our team is to share our love of crafting with polymer clay, and to support and promote each other's shops.  There are nearly 500 members on this team, so as you can expect, there is a lot of talent and diversity.  Today I'm going to share with you one of my favorite shops, Trina's Clay Creations.

Trina Prenzi is a wonderful polymer clay artist.  Her attention to detail is very impressive.  I can relate to the time and effort she puts into her miniature works of art because when I was doing only miniature figurines I tried to do as much tiny detail as I could on each piece.  You have to really really really love tedious work to be able to manipulate polymer clay in this way.  And Trina is a master.

She makes lots of wonderful characters.  Seasonal and holiday pieces.  Professions and hobbies.  Animals and children.  There is something for everyone in her shop.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Polymer Clay Little Pirate with Parrot

Polymer Clay Mermaid

Polymer Clay Girl in Garden - Love My Garden

Don't you agree that Trina has a real knack for detail?  Absolutely!  Her work is quite wonderful. 

If you are impressed by these first three pieces, wait until you see her wedding cake toppers!  I think of all her work, these are really her showcase pieces.  She customizes these adorable cake toppers to your specifications, and she does a really fabulous job!  What better way to commemorate your special day than with a personalized wedding couple---a keepsake to cherish forever! 

Bride and Groom Wedding Cake Topper with Date Plaque Personalized Polymer Clay Topper/Keepsake

Wedding Cake Topper Bride and Groom with Two Dogs Personalized Polymer Clay Beach Theme topper/keepsake
She will even add your dogs!

Lion Wedding Cake Topper Polymer Clay 
And for something a little less traditional, Two Lions

I hope you will take a minute to go check out Trina's Clay Creations.  I think you will be very impressed!

Off to work now!

PS--If you would like to know more about Trina and her work, visit her blog trinastrinkets.blogspot.com

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Favorite #6--Su Ami

I was browsing through my activity feed just the other day and saw something that knocked my socks off, so to speak. (Being the middle of summer and nearly 100 degrees, I actually was NOT wearing socks!).  I found these ADORABLE little crocheted sheep, and I could not believe how TINY they are!  I had to investigate this shop more fully.

Twin Funny Sheep - Micro Crochet Miniature Sheep - Set of Two Cute Sheep - Made to Order

Now, unless that is the finger of a giant, those are some teensy tiny sheep!  I've been known to do some very small things in clay before, but OMG!  I'm also impressed because I can't crochet. (My grandmother tried and tried to teach me, but it just never stuck.)

Su Ami is a group of 5 family members from Vietnam.  That's another thing I love about etsy.  You can find wonderful handmade treasures from all over the world. 

I spent several minutes browsing through this cute little shop and have narrowed my favorites down to these, but there are so many cute little tiny things in this shop you really should go check it out for yourself.

Micro Penguin Family - Tiny Miniature Penguins - Set of Six Penguin Chicks - Made To Order

Miniature Pink Bear  - Mini Tiny Crochet Bear -  Mohair Bear Blue Bow

Tiny Miniature Monkey With Skirt -  Mini Micro Dollhouse Crochet 1 Inch Scale Monkey - Made to Order

Red Ladybug - Micro Crochet Miniature Ladybug - Made To Order

Tiniest Sock Monkey - Baby Sock Monkey - Miniature Sock Monkey - Grey Sock Monkey With Hat - Made to Order

I think the work of Su Ami is very impressive.  I especially love the sock monkey!  Have you ever seen one so tiny?  Not me. 

I hope you'll take a minute to go check out this adorable shop!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

100 Degrees and Snowing

I like summer.  I really do.  But this is ridiculous!  Omaha has been stuck in a heat wave, like much of the country, and it's been unbearably miserable.  Not only do we get temperatures in the high 90s and 100s, we get the added bonus of humidity, so it seems hotter than it really is.  Yesterdays high: 103.  Add in the humidity and it's somewhere in the neighborhood of, oh, about 1003.  Anyway.  Not much we can do about it, right? 

Since I can't tolerate being outside is this oppressive heat for very long periods of time, I have taken to my studio.  I have so much work to do to prepare for my upcoming busy holiday season that I don't feel like I'm missing out on much by staying inside all day. 

I've tried to beat the heat by thinking snow....in this case snowmen.  I've spent the last several days making these fun little guys, and thought I would give you all a sneak peak today.  Maybe they will cool you off a bit.

I hope you are all finding a way to beat the heat.  As for me, I'll just keep working....

Stay cool!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Photography 101

OK--if by the title of this post you are expecting some hints about photography, or a tutorial of some sort, or any words of wisdom on how to take great pictures, stop reading now.  This is NOT going to be any of those things. 

A photographer, I am not.  I am a point-and-shoot kind of girl.  I have a darling little Canon PowerShot 1400 digital camera that will tuck neatly into your pocket, and it has filled my photography needs quite well, thank you very much.  HOWEVER, now that I am selling my work online, I need super-dooper-extra-wonderful photographs.  While I'm sure if I actually READ THE MANUAL and learned how to use EVERYTHING on the camera I could probably take high quality pictures, I've relied on my husband to do the job.

My husband likes expensive hobbies.  He hunts, both with a bow and with guns, so we have quite an arsenal in our basement.  He fishes, so we have a lovely Ranger bass boat in the driveway, chocked full of high quality fishing gear.  A couple of years ago, he decided to take up photography, and he jumped in with both feet, buying a fancy Nikon D90 DSLR camera and muliple lenses.  (He has since bought ANOTHER camera, and I couldn't tell you how many lenses he has now.)  This new hobby has benefitted me greatly, because he's been willing and able to take very nice pictures of my work to post in my etsy shop

The problem with this set up is, I have to rely on his timetable to get my photography done.  He's always willing to do it, but sometimes when he has time, the lighting isn't good.  He, of course, has a day job (to help pay for all these expensive hobbies he has), so weekday photo shoots have been out of the question.  Some weekends we are not home, or we are busy doing other things, or like I said, the lighting is bad.  So the solution to this dilemma is for me to actually learn how to take my own pictures.

I've been somewhat intimidated by this fancy camera of his. Too many buttons.  Too much to know.  Can I really handle this?  He says yes, I can.  ISO, aperature settings, white balance, depth of field, bracketing---he's speaking another language to me. 

Nevertheless, today we set about my first real photography lesson.  I had a whole parade of new characters waiting to smile for the camera, so it was as good a time as any for me to dip a toe in the water of real photography. 

David is a prince.  I think I have mentioned that.  He's helpful and patient and actually quite good at teaching people things. Today he went over just a few very basic things, got the camera set up for me, and said "have at it."  OMG!!  Really!!  He took a few test shots to make sure the settings were where they should be, then handed the job over to me.

Well, I must say, it was NOT THAT DIFFICULT!!  Hold the shutter button halfway down.  Check for the green dot to tell you it's focused (if not, turn the little dial til it shows up).  Check the light meter to see if it's in the middle (if not, turn another little button until it is).  CLICK!  DONE!!  He has his shutter set up to take three quick photos---one at the set exposure, one just under, and one just over that exposure (HEY!  That's called bracketing!).  Easy Peasy! 

So I had 23 items to photograph.  I probably took somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 pictures!  Of course, over half of them can be pitched, but I got plenty to work with of each item.  Now the sorting and cropping begins. 

I still have LOADS to learn.  I'm not kidding myself about that.  But for a first attempt I'm rather pleased.  Of course, the camera does all the work!  And he really did tell it what to do.  I basically just clicked the button.  But still, progress!

Here is a sneak preview of a few things that will be showing up soon in my etsy shop.  Photography courtesy of Lisa J. Ammerman!

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

What sort of task has had you feeling daunted, but when you actually tried it, it turned out being not that bad?  This was one for me, and I think I might actually like it!

I hope you had a great weekend, and are ready to face another week.  We're in the grip of a horrible heat wave again this week, so I'm sure I'll get lots done in my studio!


PS---Turns out my husband has quite a good eye for photography.  He enjoys taking nature pictures, and one of these days I am going to share some of them with you.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Favorite #5--Monkey Mind Design

First off, I love the name of this shop, Monkey Mind Design.  And after reading Anita's profile and learning where the name came from, I love it even more!  Her sister told her when she was young that she had 'monkey mind'--skipping from one thought to another without missing a beat.  HHMMMM......sounds very familiar! 

I love typography, graphic design, paper goods, and a clever turn of phrase, so OF COURSE I would love Monkey Mind Design, because it incorporates all of those things.  Anita makes absolutely wonderful paper products---cards, calendars, and little notebooks--all with a delightful sense of whimsy. 

I don't remember how I found her shop, but I ran across these tiny little matchbook notebooks and had to have them.  When I was in college and living with my older sister, she would say to me at least a couple times a day "remind me to _________".  Well, when I saw these I knew they were speaking to me, so I grabbed them immediately.

Friendly Reminder Matchbook Handmade Notepads - 3PK

These tiny notepads are perfect for tucking in your purse or wallet.  LOVE THEM! 

I also purchased this wonderful set of notecards, because as I may have mentioned, daisies are my very favorite flower.

Daisy Blank Note Card Set - 6PK

I love Anita's work so much.  Here are a few more of my favorites:

Artsy Birdies - Mini 2012-13 Handmade Calendar - Original Illustration

Life is Better with Friends 8x10 Bird Art Print

Hello - Fox Handmade Card
 Playdate Note Cards - 4PK

I Like You - Creature Heart Card
(I think this is my new favorite....I know exactly who I would send it to!)

I think Anita's work is very fun.  I hope it put a smile on your face today!  Please visit Monkey Mind Design and check out the rest of her great work!

Have a happy day!

Again, couldn't resist putting in just one more......
Monster Love Card

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cloth, Paper, Scissors


I have a subscription to Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine.  LOVE IT!  I find all the mixed media projects in its pages very inspiring.  I actually don't often make many of the them myself.  Mostly I'm just interested in what other artists do. 
When I received the May/June 2010 issue, however, I fell in love with the artwork of Serena Wilson Stubson featured on the cover and knew at some point I HAD to try that myself.  It took until the end of the year, when I needed an interesting gift for my BFF Marian for Christmas.  She had seen that issue as well, and also fell in love with these whimsical little painted paper collages, so I thought, what the heck.  Let's give it a try!

Since I am a hoarder of paper and paint and lots of other art media, I didn't have to look very far to find the materials needed to complete this project.  A canvas--check.  Tissue paper--check.  Scrapbooking paper---a million checks.  Paint, adhesive, and some chalk pastels.  Yep, got it all. 

My first attempt, while fine, ended up not being the right color scheme to fit Marian's taste.  It turned out far too yellow.  You can catch a glimpse of it here in the photo of my studio.  But, never one to let a not-so-perfect-first-try get me down, I grabbed another canvas and set to work making one with a cooler palette.  I was very pleased with the results, and I think Marian was as well. 

I love long skinny canvases.  This one measures 8x24 
Here is a detail view of the patterns and textures.

This was a very fun project to do. Serena gave a really great tutorial in the magazine.  If you are not inclined to create one of these great mixed media collage pieces yourself, but would love to have one nonetheless, you are in luck!!  Serena has a shop on etsy!  You can find her wonderful collages here.  I'll give you a peek at a couple of her pieces.
1 red, 1 purple, 1 orange flower (Reproduction Print)
hollyhocks no.02 (Reproduction Print)

So, what inspires you creatively?  Do you enjoy browsing creative magazines as much as I do?  Do you like to wander the aisles of art and craft fairs?  Do you spend countless hours on etsy or pinterest?  You just never know where inspiration is going to strike!

Go create something fun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summertime Angel

Over the years I have made countless angels.  I started with Christmas angels, and from there it sort of snowballed into angels for all seasons and any occasion.

To appeal to the many angel collectors, and to the collectors of my miniature figurines, I kept the style of each angel the same.  They all wear the same lacy white dress, have the same short curly blond hair, and the same bronze metallic wings.  Each one holds something that makes her unique---anything from a Christmas wreath, to a string of Valentine hearts, to an Easter basket. 

But what says 'summer' better than a big ol' slice of watermelon?  (And perhaps a sunflower?)  How about both? 

Here is Summertime Angel.

Angel has just taken a big bite of her favorite summertime treat, when a little bird dropped by to see if she would share the seeds. 

I hope you all are enjoying your summer.  I can't believe it's July already!  We've been in the midst of the awful heat wave that has socked the middle of the country, so many of my days have been spent tucked inside enjoying the wonderful air conditioning and avoiding Omaha's oppressive humidity.  Hopefully the heat will let up a bit so I can do something outdoors soon.  What's the point of summer if you're stuck inside all the time?

Stay cool!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Favorite #4--Dilly Pad, Angela Schwer

Unique Sea Life Sculpture

I love polymer clay because it is so versatile.  Every artist has their own way of using this medium, and it never ceases to amaze me what wonderful things can be made with such a simple little block of clay.  Today I'm taking you to Dilly Pad, so we can see how another artist uses this clay in a whole different way.

I ADORE Angela's work!  I LOVE that she uses only white clay.  I think her shapes are fascinating, and they have such a wonderful, organic quality. Her attention to detail is quite impressive. These amazing wall sculptures really seem to be alive.

Sea Urchin Wall Tile

No. 1 dahlia wall sculpture

Succulent Clay Wall Sculpture

(I think this one just might be my very favorite!)

Texture Tile of Four species

I originally found Dilly Pad's work in my activity feed and was blown away when I followed this favorite to the shop.  This is simple amazing work, and I'm so pleased to share it with you!  Please go have a look!

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! 

I couldn't resist adding one more of Angela's great pieces....something a little different.

Miniature Figurine Set includes the entire Baby Loves Collection