Inspired by Anne Ten Donkelaar

Right now I don't have much to do. On one hand it feels great to take things slow and live without an agenda. On the other hand, I'm used to the busy life! I understand the saying about how 'time flies when you're having fun' because when you're waiting to do the thing you love, time can go so slow.
On yet another hand - can you believe these beautiful sculptures!? I am very jealous of the artist's courage to hold bugs enough to turn them into works of art. I have given Anne Ten Donkelaar's pieces my own category called 'Deconstructed Nature'. To enjoy the rest of her work, visit her website and then use them for your own inspiration.

I love Anne's look of displayed butterfly varieties through using the pins and the shadow boxes. However, I do not like touching bugs, even if they are beautiful. Instead, I decided to create an easy sculpture using the leaves around our apartment as a momento of this summer's adventure.

 After trying many types of leaves, I found that thicker, stiffer leaves work best. They might take a bit longer to dry out but they are the only ones which I ended up using. The first step is using an exacto knife to cut shapes out of leaves in various patterns.

 Place the leaves between two sheets of paper towels and stack books on top to flatten them out a bit.
 As for the shadow box, it is important to have thick material that the pins can go into. My first thought was to use a few layers of cork tiles. Instead, I found a small sheet of foam for much less and covered it in a bit of linen material.

Once the foam is covered and lightly painted with any color of choice, the leaves and pins are ready to go in. Varying lengths of the pins and leaves look great in any pattern. Use your imagination and go for it!

 As soon as the pins and leaves are in place, glue the foam into the shadowbox. I'm sure that with time, the leaves may curl or change color but I am excited to see how the sculpture changes as the years go by.
These small adventures at the beginning of our marriage feel so important on the impact of our family later on. I'm so glad to be in this time of life where every decision will eventually lead to some part of our future and I want to keep a piece of our travels to remember the journeys that we are having.


Canvas Clock

This last weekend was devoted to mothers everywhere! I'm not a mother yet, but this was my first mother's day as a wife and it started to sink in what a great holiday this is. I appreciate all the women in my life because they each set an example for me to become better in a different way! 
 This post is a sequel to the last tutorial on the magic of a hot glue gun and a bit of paint to decorate a canvas. To display the project, I decided to quickly turn it into a clock for the living room. It's super easy once you find or buy the clock hands. I took mine apart from an old clock from Walmart.
 First, find the center of the clock's placement and cut a small slit. Then slip the clock through the back and attach the hands. I also glued some ribbon on the back to hold the battery in place. That's basically it!


Inspired by Esma Pacal Turam

Since we moved into our new place I've been fishing for some type of project to brighten up our living room. Because our adventure is temporary, I didn't think about bringing decorations on the trip... now I regret not having pieces to make it feel more like home. To fix the problem, I decided to whip something up that was both practical and decorating.
Esma Pacal Turam isn't very well known in the US - yet. She is an amazing artist from Turkey who focuses on creating lacy sculptures out of one of my favorite materials: hot glue. I never thought about this technique before but it makes perfect sense because hot glue is moldable before it dries very fast and keeps it's hard shape while staying light and flexible. Although she doesn't have very many examples on her site, the idea is inspiring enough for me to pick up my hot glue gun and make something unique.

I may have to use this technique in a future installation piece! For now, I wanted to share a lower key process using glue in an opposite direction than Esma. While she uses glue as her drawing form and then focuses on using her designs without a background, I wanted to focus on the negative space that dettached glue makes... let me explain.
 To start, I bought a plain canvas, lots of hot glue sticks, paint and a blow dryer. You'll find out what the clock hands are used for next time.
 I quickly sketched a design on the canvas to get the shape right. It doesn't have to be perfect or stencil-straight because the lines will get slightly messed up later anyways.

 I didn't want the plain white canvas as the base so I quickly covered it with a solid color and then let it dry overnight. If it doesn't dry all the way, the glue might pick the paint up with it later.
Once the canvas is dry you can start gluing your design. If the solid color was light enough, you should be able to faintly see your design underneath as a guide.

 I love the way the lacy glue looks! Part of me wanted to stop right here and call the project done - perhaps during another time this technique will look perfect on it's own. However, for this particular piece I decided to continue on. So, after mixing up some paint I used the glued lines as borders and went ahead.

Let the paint dry for an afternoon and then get your hairdryer and sit somewhere comfortable. By holding the warm air under the canvas in the place that you are working, the glue magically comes up! 
Disclaimer: this was my husband's idea. When I had trouble getting the hot glue off the canvas without peeling up paint he recommended getting it hot. I wasn't very humble and rejected his idea because I thought the glue would melt everywhere and make a mess. Eventually I came around. I have to admit that my chemical-engineering husband is pretty smart sometimes...
I'm glad I can share this trick with you so you don't waste as much time as I do!

I love the finished product! The lines from the glue create wonderful negative space that gives the design an ethnic feel. 
During the process I couldn't help but think what a fun project this would be with kids! As long as you get the hot glue part done, they can have fun painting inside the lines and helping you peel the glue off.

A Summer Adventure

We recently had a slight transition in our life. We are on our big first adventure away from the west side! After finishing the last few weeks of studying and finals, we packed up and road-tripped across the country to our summer home: Texas! (And for the record, everyone who said the drive would be boring was wrong.) 
Now is the time to apologize for my lack of presence. Due to this busy time and our happy stops along the way to our new home, I shirked my crafting duties for one big reason: I was distracted. However, I can't apologize too much because I was distracted by life... and it has been wonderful.
Look at that big Texas sky! Also, the weaving roads and green countryside. How distracting!