Sunday, June 30, 2013

Solving the Tea Question

Today is the due date for the Alpha Stamps Peek-A-Boo Card Swap and boy do I have some lovely pieces done by fabulous artists to trade out. 
The above image is not exactly a Peek-A-Boo Card but it is the second piece I made using the gorgeous supplies from Alpha Stamps this month.
I decided to play with one of my absolute favorite themes, Tea. 
I used the Black and White Tea Things Collage Sheet for this piece (printed on transparency).
To add color I painted alcohol inks onto the leaves, flowers and tea cups/pot. 
To add dimension I used the Purple and green Acrylic Flower Mix and some real tea leaves all crushed up. 
A bit of purple seam binding and some goodies from the Brass Tea Set and I am done with the front.  
Inside I created a pocket to hold a special treat, stamped a lovely design and added some images from the same collage sheet. 
Come join us as the Alpha Stamps yahoo group to swap, next month we are voting on what to do.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka’s long-awaited follow-up to When the Emperor Was Divine is a tour de force of economy and precision, a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought from Japan to San Francisco as “picture brides” nearly a century ago.
In eight incantatory sections, The Buddha in the Attic traces the picture brides’ extraordinary lives, from their arduous journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their tremulous first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the deracinating arrival of war. 
In language that has the force and the fury of poetry, Julie Otsuka has written a singularly spellbinding novel about the American dream.
The Buddha in the Attic was a library book club book selection and it was a love it or hate it book.  Me, I loved it!
 The start of the book reminded me of the children's song "There are no cats in America."  I think I made this connection because of how "off" the Picture Bride's perception of America and what they were coming to was. 

On page 10 of the book the Mother's advice to the Picture Bride's is "You will see: women are week, but mothers are strong."  I could not agree and disagree more!  Shortly after this quote the book reveals that some of the women are leaving behind daughters because there is no chance of marriage.  
This book is about a group, not an individual and Julie writes it gorgeously by choosing to write in a "we" format.  What I mean by this is that there is a universal voice of all these picture brides.  I found this stunningly done, very poetic and done in a fashion that was not confusing.  The interesting thing about this voice is all the contradictions.  A good example of this would be when the Picture Brides meet their husbands for the first time.  Many of them were tricked and they say this but further in the paragraph there would be those women who were not deceived.  This opposite/different experience occurs frequently throughout the book. 
After the attack on Pearl Harbor the voice switches we's.  Now it is the American's are speaking.  The switch is very interesting because now the reader no longer gets the full effect of what is happening to the Picture Brides and their families, instead we get how the other town members view them. 
One of the most powerful lines in the book is in this section.  "We wonder if it wasn't somehow all our fault.  Perhaps we should have petitioned the major.  The Governor.  The president himself.  Please let them stay.  Or simply knocked on their doors and offered to help.  If only, we say to ourselves, we'd known."
Overall this was an intriguing read written in a gorgeous sing song manner that I would encourage everyone to try.  It is short too!
I'm linking up with  
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come join us!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Waterhouse ATC Swap ~ Final piece

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Blissful ART Swaps was hosting a Waterhouse ATC Swap, this is my final piece that I created.
I used an image from Waterhouse Beauties Collage Sheet available at Alpha Stamps.  
The colors that popped are not colors I normally work with but I had a wonderful time playing with the color palate of oranges and teals. 

In the painting she is holding a fan so I decided to play that up a bit and created a fancy fan for her. 
I can't wait to see what everyone else created! And of course I will share the beautiful ATC's with you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to loseLouisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
Leeds Castle, Kent England
Me Before You is one of the best written yet horrible books I've read to date and I just finished a Jody Picoult so that is saying a lot.
One of the lines in the book describes how I felt about all the characters in a nut shell.  "Her default setting seemed to be stuck on disapprove." (pg 289).  In other words I had a hard time liking any of the characters, not just because they were humanly flawed but because Jojo Moyes focused on those flaws more than the positives (but then again the type of character she was writing didn't have many positives).
Louisa's fondest childhood memory is of her bumble bee tights and green rain boots
Me Before You is written in first person.  I love first person books, they always end up at the top of my lists.  But this one switched characters which I found very strange and unnecessary.  The first switch doesn't occur until page 105 and it switches to a very minor character and covers something that could have easily been inferred through Louisa's POV.  Some of the switches sections were so short (like 4 pages) that it was just disruptive to the story. 
This was a truly British novel.  I have read many books by British authors but this one I actually had to look up some of the terms and traditions.  Jojo refers to tea a LOT!  It took me a bit to realize she wasn't just talking about tea but about meals as well.  I enjoyed this aspect, I felt submersed in the culture. 
However on the flip side there were two things she referred to that I had no idea what they were and had to stop reading to look them up and get the entire meaning out of them. One was a reference to someone named Christy Brown the other was Dignitas (this one becomes clearer through the story)
Mauritius, where Louisa takes Will
As I stated earlier it is hard to like any of the characters and the moral issue explored in Me Before You is a very touchy one.  I believe you have to be on the fence about assisted suicide to be able to make it through this book at all.  It requires an open mind, not necessarily designed to change your mind but it does show the struggle presented to these people in a very straight forward manner. 
I enjoyed this book despite its heavy subject matter and would recommend it, but also recommend you read a happy light book at the same time.
I'm linking up with Art @ Home: Literary Friday
come join us 
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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Waterhouse ATC Swap

Blissful ART Swaps is hosting a Waterhouse ATC swap.  This swap came along at the perfect time as I had just finished pulling together 2 fabulous Waterhouse Collage Sheets.
Waterhouse Beauties Collage Sheet, click image to purchase
Waterhouse Flowers Collage Sheet, click image to purchase

A few weeks ago I shared one of my creations, you can view it HERE
But I think this one of Ophelia is my favorite!
I can't wait to see what everyone else did with Waterhouse's gorgeous images.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Aging Paper with Walnut Ink ~ Tutorial

Last week I shared a tutorial on how to create my ATC Accordion Book with cut-outs.
I briefly mentioned that I had done a special aging treatment on the papers. 
You can see below how much brighter the paper was before I used it. 
And below are two images of the aged papers 
This treatment process is best used when you have large amounts of papers you want to age.  If you are just aging one sheet I suggest using the Tim Holtz Distress Inks (don't know how to do this, just let me know and I'll pull something together for you)
Supplies Needed:
Decorative Paper
Walnut Ink
bowl (something to mix ink and water in)
Sponge (or foam paintbrush)
Iron *optional
 How To Age Paper with Walnut Ink
Step 1:
Collect your papers
Step 2:
Crumple your papers, be careful not to rip them.  
The stiffer/heavier weight the paper the more likely this will happen.
Step 3:
Flatten the papers out, but not all the way.
Step 4:
Measure out 1/2 cup of water and pour into a mixing bowl
(whatever you have on hand, I actually use old yogurt cups but for this tutorial I kept it in the measuring cup)
Step 5:
Add 1 Teaspoon of Walnut Ink to the water.
Step 6:
Stir until well distributed.
Step 7:
Using a sponge (or a foam paintbrush) apply the ink to the papers.
Step 8:
Set aside to dry
* I do a bit of both, allow some of the ink to permeate the paper and then iron the paper flat.
Voila, a huge stack of ready to use aged papers!
Hope you have enjoyed my tutorial.  As always if you have any questions please let me know. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Peek-A-Boo Cards ~ Alpha Stamp Swap

 Leslie at Alpha Stamps set the bar high with her latest Design Team request. 
Peek-A-Boo cards!

At first I had no idea what I was going to do but after much wine and pouring over of the fabulous images she had sent I came up with this Celestial piece.  
To hold the transparency in place (because it was smaller than the opening) I used jewelers wire.  I also painted the stars and moon using acrylic paints.

The binding is kind of like a spiral notebook and works pretty well and I really like how my town glows.  Almost everything I used on this piece is available in the Black and White Silhouettes Kit
Want to try your hand at these fun cards? 
Well come join us in the swap.  Click the above image for more information.