Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Happy List

As I stated a few weeks ago, I am trying to re-organize my life right now.  Putting what is really important first and I have to admit it is very hard.  But what I have seen more than anything is that I have a lot more to be happy about now. 

1.  One of the many struggles we as a family have been dealing with is how to help our oldest daughter.  She has an extreme anxiety disorder along with ADHD (just diagnosed).  All year she has been struggling with reading.  It got to the point that I couldn't help her so we decided to get outside help, and have her going to Sylvan now.  Well, after a month she has not only shown improvement she has blossomed.  Yesterday she came home so proud of herself, she had been on a level C book, and skipped over level D and went right on to level E.  It was such a joy to see how proud she was of herself. 

2.  My youngest child is a hand full, she has more energy than the energizer bunny of acid and keeps me on my feet.  It is fun and exhausting at the same time.  When she sets her mind to something she does it, no matter how much work it takes.  Right now her favorite movie is Mirror Mirror, she watches it over and over and she loves this song.  Believe it or not my 3 year old can almost sing the entire thing!  She sounds so sweet and innocent when she does. 
3.  Art is not my first hobby, believe it or not I have been writing fiction for years.  I write because I have stories in my head, but I also have punctuation, spelling and sentence structure issues so normally what I write isn't very good but it makes me happy.  This past weekend I found time to write for the first time in months and it felt great!

4.  My sister came to visit a few weeks ago, it was wonderful to see her and the girls love their Aunt so much I think they might have been even more excited to see her.  Anyway, The Host is one of my sister and I's favorite books and neither of us had seen the movie so we went.  It was fabulous!  Spending time with my sister and sharing our love of books and the movies that are made afterwards has always kind of been our thing.  I am so glad we got to do it for The Host. 
5.  Last but not least the girls and I went on a little road trip this weekend.  We listened to the Soundtrack from Alice in Wonderland, they sang and I talked them through what was happening when there was no singing.  When we got to our destination they played for hours at a huge park and then we all went for dinner and ice cream.  They had so much fun and it was a delight to have them all to myself for a few hours. 
So there it is, my happy list for this week. 
It seems to be getting easier for me to put these together now that I am focusing on the positives in my life, so please come join us. 
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Friday, April 26, 2013

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Paris. 1878. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventy francs a month, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work—and the love of a dangerous
young man—as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modelling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her
image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer
Aged Fourteen. Antoinette, meanwhile, descends
lower and lower in society, and must make the choice between a life of honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde—that is, unless her love affair derails her completely.

Set at a moment of profound artistic, cultural,
and societal change, The Painted Girls is a tale of two remarkable sisters rendered uniquely vulnerable to the darker impulses of “civilized society.”
Buchanan opens her novel with a quote from Le Figaro, 1880 "-No social being is less protected than the young Parisian girl-by laws, regulations, and social customs."
Sounds like a great start, doesn't it!
I was so excited to read this book, I fell in love with the cover and the book jacket summary sounded exciting, but they are marketing trickery. 
Little Dancer aged Fourteen
The novel is written in first person multiple point of view.  One story told by Antoinette and the other Marie Van Goethem.  But the writing isn't strong enough to carry off two different persona's, if the two girls stories hadn't been so different it would have been difficult to tell which sister was telling her tale.
In the end I wanted Marie's story to have been written by Susan Vreeland who wrote Clara and Mr. Tiffany, one of my all time favorite reads.  Buchanan and the book jacket write up lead me to believe there would be more interaction with Degas, and I wanted that, in fact there is very little.  I believe Susan Vreeland would have made this aspect stronger while maintaining the integrity of Marie's story. 
As for Antoinette I wanted her story to have been written by Emma Donoghue, she wrote Slammerkin, a gritty telling of a girl turned prostitute due to her love of clothing in the 1700's.  I believe that Donoghue would have pulled off Antoinette's decent into the gutter in a stronger manner. 
Rue de Douai, Paris
About 200 pages into the novel I wanted a better picture of how Marie viewed Lefebvre, her abonnes (a wealthy man who take ballerinas under their wing and pay, give gifts to and well you fill in the rest).  Buchanan doesn't even give a good physical description of him, how old is he, way too old or middle aged? (You find out much later) But since this portion of the story is told by Marie I expected to know how she felt about this man who was having such an impact on her life.
Antoinette was/is a character that I just don't understand and I chalk that up to an inability to empathise with her character.  Buchanan focuses so much on the characters flaws that you end up not liking anyone or really understanding their actions. 
Toward the end of the novel things get really unbelievable.  Antoinette has a complete reformation.  Up until now she has been a constant lier, even before her fall from grace, and fell so easily into Emiles hands. 
The final section of the novel is dated 1895 and to me was more of an Epilogue and should have been presented that way. 
New Caledonia, Paris
Normally I don't read the Author's notes but I was so disappointed with this book that I wondered what Buchanan had been thinking.  She talks about the below BBC Documentary influenced her writing.  I found the documentary much more interesting than the book and it took up a lot less time of my life. 

After reading the Author's note I wished there had been a Prologue.  Many of the things mentioned in the Author's note were not strong enough in her writing.  I am intrigued more by the author's note - Degas and the criminal mans anthropology connection-and possibly might have enjoyed the book more with this information being presented earlier.
Overall I was let down and feel that the title had a lot to do with that.  This book was not about Degas or the girls that posed for him.  It was about two sisters and how much their lives sucked. 
I give it 2 cupcakes.  
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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Perfume Bottle Postcard Tutorial Part 2

Last week I shared with you Part 1 of how to create my Perfume Bottle. 
The first part of the tutorial covered up to this point, how to insert ice resin into a paper piece.  You can view the tutorial HERE
Today I will share with you how I finished up the project.
Step 1:
Prepare your embellishments by spray painting them with a white gloss paint..
The ones I used have been discontinued but a good substitute would be these
Step 2:
Print out Vintage French Ads digital collage sheet onto a clear sticker paper.
Step 3:
Cut out and place the label onto your Ice Resin Perfume Bottle.
Step 4:
Select a backing paper and trace an opening the size of the bottle onto it.
I used paper from the Lyric 6x6 Paper Pad
Step 5: 
Cover all edges with black ink.
Step 7:
Attach backing paper to chipboard using Rubber Cement.
Step 8:
By now the white paint should have almost completely dried. 
Using the same PearlEx powders I mixed into the Ice Resin,
I dusted the swirls with the powder.
And sealed them with a high gloss spray sealer/finisher.
Step 9:
Time to add some Dresden.
I used two, a gold (I would suggest
Baroque Gold Dresden Boarders to replace the gold I used which is no longer available) and the Half-Rounded Dresden Borders in pink
Cut them to size and glue them together.
Step 10:
Add some ribbon around the neck by poking holes to weave the ribbon through. 
Finish the ribbon off with some extra fibers and a pearl, see image below.
Step 11:
Attach Dresden on the front and back of the ice resin bottle. 
Step 12: 
Add your other embellishments,
You can stop here, but I wanted a back to write on, if you would like that too, continue on.
Step 13: 
Grab a piece of
Lightweight Chipboard Postcard and cover it with decorative paper.
My paper is from the Lyric 6x6 Paper Pad
Step 14:
Fold down a 1/4" to help the card sit like a triangle instead of with the back flush.  This will allow light in so your ice resin shows off.
Step 15:
Draw a pattern onto a template of your Ice Resin cut out. 
Step 16:
Poke holes through the chipboard to create the pattern. 
Doing this allows for a difference in light to show through the ice resin when the card is closed.
Step 17:
Sand the back of the card down smooth.
 Step 18:
Select a backing paper and attach using Rubber Cement.
I used a French inspired Post Card.
Here are your two piece separated.
Step 19:
Punch holes through the top, equal distance from one another, and reinforce with an eyelet. 
There are some really fun Heart Eyelets available through Alpha Stamps.
Step 20:
Weave the two pieces together with Strawberry Glaze Seam Binding.
And there you have it, 
all done!
This is what the card looks like open. 
And a view of the back, I added a Pink Rose from the Pink Roses Dresden Scraps and have room to write.
 I hope you enjoy!
Let me know if you have any questions and I look forward to seeing how you use all these wonderful products.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Plexi Glass Eiffel Tower ~ MAMA Swap

One of the many projects I made this month for swaps is this Plexi Glass Eiffel Tower.  It is for a MAMA swap, we were asked to use a template of the Eiffel Tower, place it on a box and fill the box with goodies. 
Now of course I had to make it super hard on myself and not use paper.  I got this idea in my head that it would be great in glass, but then switched to plexi glass because I had some. 
I wanted to make each tear different and fun.  The top tear is very skinny and the butterflies I got a little too fat so they didn't go as high into the tower as I wanted.  I made the star from paper clay and painted it to match the top of the box, it has a gold sheen to it. 
For the middle tear I made a clay cupcake using a tutorial by Garden of Imagination and a crown using the concepts from  tutorial by Rook No. 17
The base I filled with clay flowers that I made.  I put together a tutorial for these about a year ago, you can view it HERE.  Make sure to check out my other tutorials, click the Tutorial tab under my banner.
I had to put each layer together separately, allow for them to completely dry and then add the next one.  I'm not 100% pleased with how the plexi glass sealant dried, it is clear but I can still see it. 
For the base of the box I decided to go with a "Spring in Paris" type feel.  I didn't want to put anything on the top of the box to detract from my tower. 
I used a floral fabric for the background, lots of flowers, small white picket fence (that I grunged up a bit), and butterflies (the same ones I used in the top of the tower).
I love the 3D aspect.  For the trim around the box I used 2 shades of seam binding and strung together some off white pearls. 
Filled it to the brim with goodies I hope my partner will like.  I visited her blog to see what colors she leans towards and it was creams and pinks.  So that is what I tried to give her.

I tossed in some other fun things, a French decorated soap bar and a large glittery crown. 
I learned a lot making this creation about my limits and how driven I am to get things to look the way I want them.  I love pushing the boundaries of what I know and what has been done and I think I did a good job with this creation, not great, but with some more practice maybe I can get it better.