Thursday, April 30, 2009

Marie Antoinette Bits and Baubles Swap

Well, it's finally OVER! Don't get me wrong, I pretty much loved every minute of it, but I am finally finished with the Marie Antoinette Bits and Baubles Altered Canvas Swap hosted by Maria at The Junkk Drawer. I know I learned a lot over the last one gazillion hours I spent crafting my little "piece"!

The lowdown for those of you who don't know: This swap was open to anyone interested. You "sign up" and then the hostess, Maria Rodarte, put all the names in a randomizer and they all got switched around. She then emailed everyone to let them know who their partner for the swap would be. The reqs: use one 9x12 canvas, divide it into 12 squares. Decorate/Alter to your heart's desire. The theme was simply "Marie Antoinette". You were to create this piece and then mail it off to your partner by Friday 4-24-09.

Well, after many many hours of tiny detail work that you wouldn't necessarily notice, but is there nonetheless, I finally finished my piece...EARLY EVEN! But, I somehow still managed to mail my canvas out LATE! How did that happen?! I was ever-so conscious of the deadline.

At the "last minute" I decided to send my swap partner, Suzie, a few handmade "extras" to go along with the work I'd created for her. Here they are:

I made some digital/altered Marie Antoinette inspired birthday cards (package of 6), along with a Marie Antoinette inspired necklace. Here's a closer look at the beadwork of the necklace:

I was surprised at how many hours I actually spent crafting this piece, but was happy doing it nonetheless. I only hope Suzie will forgive my tardiness! :)

The other "extra" item I included was a really cool "crown" hang hook I found at Hobby Lobby (one of my all-time favorite stores!) When I saw it, I knew it was just what Suzie would need to hang her Marie altered canvas on. How perfect!

Now, before I "reveal" my creation...and try to explain what I did...I want to share Sweet Suzie's gift to me! Suzie, for one, was ON TIME with her creation. Way to go, Suzie!

I can tell by the details on her altered canvas that she worked really hard on it and I so appreciate her efforts. It can be daunting to create something for someone you've never met before, but Suzie faced the challenge head on! I especially LOVE the awesome vintage rhinestones she placed on it. Wow! So much sparkly sparkly. What a lucky gal I am to be the recipient of such generosity. Thank you so much, Suzie!

Now, with an explanation, of sorts, of what I attempted to do with the piece I created: I was feeling somewhat limited by the small canvas size, and then struggling even more to divide it into 12 squares! That was going to make it really difficult to incorporate everything onto the canvas that I had wanted to. So after thinking it over several nights as I was trying to go to sleep, I finally came up with a solution! Pockets! I created 12 "pockets" that would add additional space for me to be able to tell Marie's story. So, not only did I get to "decorate" my 12 squares, I was also going to be able to include the history of Marie's life. This was really important to me.

One of the things I really like about working with vintage items in altered art is that the items have a story. Every tattered piece of lace and every tarnished jewel belongs to someone's life story. As I've journeyed into this world of vintage and altered art, I've learned that it's not just the items themselves that I fall in love's the stories behind them that matter most to me. When I go to an estate sale, I like to ask questions and find out about the lives of those who lived...why these items might have been important to them. For me, the items are only a representation of their owners. It's always been the PEOPLE and their stories that matter more than the trinkets they leave behind.

Ergo, when creating my Marie Antoinette altered canvas, I wanted to do something a little more than just using items to represent Marie Antoinette. I wanted to incorporate my other favorite artistic medium to tell her story...words. I love words as much or more than my paints and brushes, my glitter and bling. Words are my most favorite artistic expression and I felt my piece wouldn't be complete without their inclusion. With this in mind, I took several hours over the course of a week to research Marie Antoinette's life story. Within each of these 12 pockets is included a tag. On each tag is a picture that represents a portion of her life. On the backs are very brief summaries of the differnt aspects of her biography. While I wasn't able to write everything I wanted to, I was able to give a portion of the details and I felt satisfied that I had completed my primary objective!

The fronts of the twelve tags:

The backside of a few of the tags:

Here are the black and white images on the fronts of the pockets that represent aspects of her life and the story contained within the interior of the pocket:

Here's a few upclose shots of the 12 pockets:

And here, as the French would say, without further adieu, is the completed canvas:

Though it's far from perfect, and there are many other wonderful versions/creations by others involved in this swap, I was pleased with how it turned out...especially considering the time I invested into it. Funny thing is, after you work so hard on a project, it is difficult to give it away to someone else! I can only hope it makes Suzie as happy as it made me while dreaming, thinking, pondering and creating.

I also wanted to thank our sweet hostess, Maria, for such a wonderful opportunity to get involved, so I made her a little gift, as well. Hers was also a package of Marie Antoinette inspired birthday cards and a Marie Antoinette inspired charm bracelet:

My favorite thing out of all the things I created in the last two weeks, however, was this Thank You card for Maria. Silly, huh? Spend many many hours on jewelry and an altered canvas and the thing I am most pleased with is a silly little greeting card!

But, as previously stated, this was a growth experience for me and I really was thankful for the stretching it caused me to do!


  1. Wow--that was beautifully done! You are so very talented and creative--I am completely in awe.

  2. oooooh, there are some adorable goodies there!
    welcome to our blog...we are thrilled to have you join us on our journey. we are looking forward to getting to know you better.
    have a great weekend.

    ps love your header!!

  3. You are killing me! This is fabulous and delicious. What a lucky partner you have! I totally get what you are saying about the greeting card. I am the same way!!! LOL!! Thank you so much for your sweet words today on the blog. I can say the exact same for you too sweetie! I can't wait to meet you in June. We are going to have so much fun! Love, Jamie

  4. The canvas is simply amazing. You put a lot of thought and detail into that, not to mention the work. Love the way it all came together. Just Beautiful. And I love the card as well, gorgeous!


  5. Cheryl, I absolutely LOVE the fact that you incorporated her story into the canvas.... brilliant!
    And the card, well, you already know I think it's stunning!
    Great job on everything!!

  6. Wasn't that such a fun swap!?!?! Your canvas is lovely! I love the idea of all the little tags... so clever! Such a pretty necklace and bracelet too! LOVE the colors!

  7. I just noticed your comment on "Amazing Grace" and I haven't seen "Fireproof" but I will look for it now! Thanks for sharing! Suzie

  8. Hi Cheryl,

    Wow I'm a big Marie Antoinette fan. I just adore your beautiful treasures. They are gorgeous.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog.

    xo Cathy