Monday, November 28, 2011

Silk Origami Christmas Ornaments

Fabric origami is a lot of fun, and I love the fact that, in just a few hours, I can have a whole collection of beautiful handmade Christmas ornaments to give to friends and family. 

Made of silk dupioni, they add an elegant touch to a Christmas tree, but they're almost too pretty to put away after the holidays!

 Designs range from simple ...

to complex ...

The simpler designs come together in a few minutes, while the more complicated ones require much more hand sewing and take a bit longer.

Each piece is accented with a handmade swirl hanger. This year I've added beads and buttons to make them even prettier.

I like using vintage buttons like the brass one (above) and the mother-of-pearl ones (below) to add some variety.

My inspiration for the ornaments came from the book Flower Origami by Kumiko Sudo.

Once again this year, a limited number of my silk origami ornaments are available for purchase at Artisans in Waynesburg, PA. Last year, the ornaments sold out long before Christmas, so stop by soon for the best selection of colors and styles. (Custom orders are available by contacting me directly via email.)

A handmade gift from the heart can never be matched by something mass-produced in a Chinese factory. I hope that you will take the time this year to make a few simple gifts. Or support local artists by stopping by an art gallery or craft shop in your area to find that perfect little something, made in the USA.

Earlier posts about fabric origami:
Drapery panels with origami accents & instructions for how to make "Primrose" origami.
Fabric origami pillow with quilting

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Soft Cornices with Jabots

I guess I should put down my turkey sandwich and leftover pumpkin pie, and take a few minutes to catch up on posting some of my latest projects. Let's talk about window treatments today, then later in the week, I'll show you some pretty Christmas ornaments I recently made. I've also finished my Ireland sketchbook journal, but haven't had a chance to get it all scanned and online yet. It's coming soon - I promise!

Soft Cornices
A soft cornice is a lightweight version of a traditional upholstered cornice. They have all the style of an upholstered cornice without the massive, heavy look. A thick, sturdy buckram is used to stiffen the treatment, rather than the plywood that has traditionally been used for cornices. A wide range of profiles are available, from a simple arch, like the one below, to more complex designs.

We recently installed a pair of soft cornices for a client who had wanted a simple, tailored look in her family room. After discussing a variety of style options, she decided on gently arched soft cornices with pleated jabots. The floral fabric was chosen to coordinate with the green wallpaper and deep brown woodwork.

The only detailing on this treatment is the apple green welt cord that outlines the pleated jabots. The welt continues up the leading edge of the jabots to help separate them visually from the cornice fabric. It contrasts nicely with the chocolate brown cotton sateen jabot lining. A green and brown double welt accents the lower edge of the cornice.

The window treatment had to allow access to the back yard through a set of sliding doors. Mounting the valance high on the wall and curving the lower edge provided the needed headroom, while also helping to balance the proportions of the window with added height.

We window treatment designers have to be problem solvers - finding the right style, coordinating with existing furnishings, working with dissimilar-sized windows and doors, balancing beauty with functionality - it's all in a day's work for us. When it all comes together, everybody's happy. Thankfully, that's what happened here!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tomato-Mushroom Chowder

November weather puts me in the mood for soup - how about you? When it's cold, gray, and drizzly outside, I love to fill the house with the aroma of sautéing vegetables and herbs. The anticipation of sitting down to a steaming bowl of chowder makes me feel all warm inside, and somehow that dreary day doesn't seem so bad anymore. Here's a recipe for a yummy soup I made the other evening. It's one of my go-to recipes ...

Pen & ink with watercolor on paper, 9" x 12"

Sometimes I'm just seized with the urge to sketch while I'm cooking, and that's what happened to me as I was waiting for the mushrooms and onions to sauté. I had a lot of fun drawing this page, trying to fit in all the ingredients, adding a touch of color and a swirl here and there. I love the way it turned out - so cheery and happy! I think I need to do this more often.

This recipe is really quick and easy, and very tasty. Give it a try to chase the November blues away.

Tomato-Mushroom Chowder

½ pound mushrooms, sliced
1 med. onion, chopped
3 T. butter
1 T. parsley, dried or fresh
1 tsp. dried basil
1/3 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 c. water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 can (20 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 - 2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan or soup kettle, saute mushrooms and onions in butter until tender.
Add herbs.
Stir in flour, salt and pepper.
Add water and bouillon. Stir and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until thickened.
Add tomatoes and heat through.
Add cheese just before serving; stir until melted. Do not boil. Or sprinkle cheese on top of each serving.

Recipe Notes:
- I like to use baby bella mushrooms, but any variety will do.
- Jules Gluten Free flour is a great substitute for regular wheat flour in this recipe.
- Substitute vegetarian bouillon for the chicken bouillon, if desired.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Our Town: Monday Morning" Watercolor Painting

A few years ago, I did a sketch of the main street of our little town, and it's been so popular at the gallery where I sell my work that I decided to do a whole series of "Our Town" paintings. Here's the second in the series, completed just a few days ago ...

"Our Town: Monday Morning", 9" x 12", pen & ink and watercolor

We have a small but vibrant downtown here in Waynesburg, PA, with lots of beautiful old buildings. I love painting them, because it gives me time to really study the architectural details that I never notice when I'm just driving or walking by.


Maybe I need to make a point of looking up more. The corbels, friezes, and dentil trim on these two buildings are gorgeous, and drawing them gave me a real appreciation for the dedication of the people who own and maintain them.


Weekday mornings in Waynesburg are filled with the bustle of people going to work, shopping, or walking their dogs. I felt I had to include a few of them in the painting to give a true picture of life in our town. Recognize anyone you know?


The first person I sketched was engrossed in texting (above). The mom and daughter shown below were headed into The Locker Room to check out the sporting goods.



The lady below is definitely more dressed up than the average dog-walker around here, but I thought we needed a touch of glamour!


The striped awnings on the Blair building are what caught my eye when I was choosing a scene to paint. I just can't resist painting awnings - they're so jaunty and fun! And this scene had the added benefit of having a boisterous display of flowers on the upper porch. 


So, the "Our Town" series is begun! It may only have two pieces right now, but I have plans for lots more. Keep watching!

High-quality giclée prints of "Our Town: Monday Morning" are available at Artisans, on High Street in Waynesburg, PA, or by emailing me using the Contact button.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Sketchbooks Make Their Television Debut!

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I received an invitation to appear on a local cable television show to talk about my art. I was happy to have an opportunity to share my work, although I was a tiny bit nervous about appearing on camera. Everything worked out just fine, though, and I actually enjoyed the experience! Here's a link to the video - the first 10 minutes is an interview, then I talk about my sketches for about 20 minutes:

The show is called The Greene Room, and it's a production of Waynesburg Community Television (WCTV), a public education channel that broadcasts in our local area and is operated by the students of the Department of Communications at Waynesburg University.

Host Haley Greene, introducing me on The Greene Room

The Greene Room is hosted by Haley Greene and features some of the talented people living in Greene County - artists, musicians, poets, and others.

Presenting my work on the set of The Greene Room

Everyone made me feel right at home when I arrived at the studio, and once the cameras were rolling, I got into the flow of things, and had no trouble filling the time allotted to discuss my work.

Showing a page from one of my "everyday" sketchbooks

I focused primarily on the travel sketchbooks that I have kept over the years during our family vacations to such varied locations as Maine, Alaska. Colorado, and Ireland.

Showing my Colorado travel sketches on The Greene Room

I hope that by sharing my sketches on the show, someone watching might be encouraged to pick up a pencil or a brush and give drawing or painting a try. Sketching is fun, and all it takes is the willingness to start. Skill comes with time, and the learning process is really rewarding. It's never too late to begin!

Haley Greene (host), me, and Casey Zell (show producer)

Thanks to the entire WCTV crew who helped me through my first TV experience without any mishaps!
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