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!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Hey, Friends! Guess what? Yvette at Charm House is giving away FREE MONEY! That's right! A $25 gift certificate to Target. Who couldn't use that to buy herself some yummy bubble bath and ice cream bon bons? That's what our husbands think we do all day anyway, right? Go visit Yvette before 04/21/09, leave a comment, and you are IN!

Also, Diane is giving away the cutest teacup nest! Go enter the drawing so you can win this little lovely!

Diane Knott's Teacup Nest Giveaway!

Good luck everyone!

Easter Gifts!

Easter didn't go unnoticed at the Bass household this year! Imagine my surprise when the Easter Bunny (for the first time in the 5 years since I've known my husband) left me a goody-filled Easter Basket this year. It was even more of a surprise because I didn't find it "hiding" in my craft room/studio until late afternoon. Apparently the Easter Bunny thought that was the most logical place to leave my treats, even though I usually don't go in there until night-time (when I create best). Oh well! I'm just happy he showed up at all!

The second great surprise Easter treat came much later in the day. At about twilight, the door bell rang. While fighting down the oh-so-eager Chance (a.k.a. Chanuisance), I managed to open the door a crack. Would you believe it? We had our first-ever Easter caroler?! I know, I know. One usually thinks of carolers at Christmastime. But, Easter is all about Christ, like Christmas, so it only makes sense, right? Why didn't anyone ever think of that before? Brilliant!

Actually, it was a friend's little girl sporting a bunny-ear headband, singing "Hoppy Easter to you. Hoppy Easter to you..." You get the drift. She was cute, though!

Lori Tolbert is my Visiting Teacher from the Relief Society organization at church. Don't know what that is? See my earlier post about the Relief Society. In the women's organization, they match everyone up with a partner or what we refer to as a "companion". Each companionship is assigned a handful of 2 or 3 other women from the organization to visit at least once a month. Everyone is paired up with a partner, and everyone gets assigned to have someone visit her. That way everyone has at least 2 other someones in the group to look out for her! This is known as Visiting Teaching, because you "visit" the gals you are assigned to and after lots of chatting and catching up, you usually leave a spiritual thought or scripture "teaching". Usually your visiting teachers (those who visit you) and/or your visiting teachees(those you and your companion visit) become some of your best friends simply because you're so invested in one another's lives and well-being.

So, Lori's daughter, Ariana, came to our door and sang us this cute "Easter carol" (while our ever-loving pooch, Chance, kept barking and clawing to get out!) Then she gave us the sweetest gift Lori had made for us!

I love this simple, but elegant Easter expression! How clever is Lori?!

What a great gift idea...something both calorie-free AND reusable each Easter season! I just love how she spent such time making these adorable stuffed fabric eggs! A few scraps of fabric...who knew?!

Lori, herself, is just a pretty amazing gal. I'm always so impressed with how gracefully she balances marriage, motherhood of 3 little ones, AND still manages to come up with the cutest and craftiest things! Even though she and I haven't been able to schedule a time to sit down and "visit" much lately, that sweet treat sure made me feel loved!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marie Antoinette Artisting Day

As I may've mentioned (I don't know...can't remember!) I'm participating in an awesome collage swap hosted by the oh-so-lovely and talented Maria Rodarte at The Junk Drawer. With the April 1st release of Sommerset Studio's Marie Premiere issue, the theme for our collage swap is of course, Marie Antoinette .

With mail-outs occuring on 24, April, there isn't much time to create a stunning piece for our partner's pleasure! I received my swap partner's name just a few short days ago and am so excited to exchange pieces with her! Suzie Buttons lives in nearby Garland (a suburb of the Dallas Metroplex) and seems to be a master seamstress, among many other talents!

A couple of friends and I got together last week to spend all day working on our project (as we are all participating!) As the morning began with clouds and rain, I texted Alisa excitedly, "Today is a GREAT day for artisting!" Because of the rain, my Red Velvet Cake was ill-prepared for traveling. I need one of those tupperware-style plastic cake-carriers! (Do they even still make those?) But, alas, I didn't have one. So, being the Creative-Carey* that I am, I fashioned my own handy-dandy-cheaper-than-dirt-but-still-functional cake-carrier! (*Creative-Carey is standard nomenclature in my native family. We use the term to massage our egos for always coming up with weirdo ideas and contraptions! Growing up as one of seven children, money was very short. We continually found ourselves inventing all kinds of items or "fixes" for things that "normal" people would've bought replacement parts for! It's okay, though. We're actually quite proud of our creative ability to always find a winning solution to any problem--and usually get a good laugh out of it, too!) Here's how I handled the rain and transporting my fancy cake:

You've got to admit all that masking tape and aluminum foil is a real BEAUTY!!!

Alisa, as always, had prepared a wonderful place for us to craft, complete with BLUE decor and treats (to match the Marie cover!) She's so dandy that way!

While I somehow managed to control myself and not devour the all the lovely little candies, I DID heartily partake in the Red Velvet Cake and Nina's yummy spring cupcakes! Thank you, Nina! Next to Red Velvet , white cake is my favorite!

Nina apparently had a little trouble with transporting her goodies, as well, so I didn't feel so badly! They tasted YUMMILICIOUS nonetheless!

While I can't yet reveal our collages, I CAN tell you that the sun came out and we had a wonderful time together! And, frankly, you can be assured that anytime cake is involved in my creative process...the results will be worthwhile! We'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out! I'm so glad Maria decided to host this swap, as I am having the BEST time with it! (But then again, it's not April 23rd yet. Ask me then!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Red Velvet Cake Makes Life Better

I'm not sure why, but for quite a few years, Red Velvet Cake has been my favorite kind of cake. Don't get me wrong, I love cake. Pretty much any kind of cake will do when I need a fix. But, if I had my "druthers", I'd choose Red Velvet every time. (Disclaimer: it can't be dry or has to be GOOD cake.)

A couple of weeks ago, I came across this recipe for "Mom's Red Velvet Cake" on Feathering the Nest and decided to give it a whirl. Boy am I glad I did! This is the Red Velvet Cake recipe for me. Not only was it easy, but oh-so-tasty!

Admittedly, I DID add a couple of changes to make it "mine". I'll give you a hint: I subsituted half of the called-for vanilla with another favorite flavor of mine--both in the cake batter and the frosting! The other specialty item I added was 1 small box of vanilla pudding. I do this with pretty much every cake I make, whether from a box mix or from scratch (as was this). It makes your cake fuller and moister every time. I learned this trick from MY mom! (And she thinks I never listened to her about anything!)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Booking Your Blog

Just a quick post to let everyone know about this great site that my friend (and UBER-AMAZING mother) Valerie clued me into: BLURB.COM. Valerie always has so many neat things to write about in her blog. At the end of each year, she uploads all her posts and photos into a book and has them printed. That way her whole family will always have a physical reminder of everything they've done as they've grown together. I plan on doing it myself at the end of 2009. I just think it's so amazing, I had to share!