Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Color Purple? + Wax Ornaments!

Purple, Lavender, Violet........ whatever the shade, it's apparently going to be very trendy (or is already), and, if we follow our European cousins, we'll see it paired with turquoise.  Love it, love it!  Purple and turquoise are two of my favorite fashion colors - for clothing that is, but, sorry, I just can't see myself buying purple Christmas ornaments.  I have to admit, purple did not jump out as being a "hot" color when I walked the Dallas Gift market in January and July this year.  The first time I really saw it as being a possible trend, was in the Christmas aisle at my local Michaels store.  Michaels buyers are very savvy about trends, but I'm going to reserve judgment on this one until I see that it "sold out".  The "proof is in the pudding", as my mum used to say, so we'll see how much purple is left for the after Christmas sales.

My favorite colors for the holidays are red, green, silver and gold.  I'm a die hard traditionalist when it comes to Christmas.  I still love my wooden ornaments from Germany and the old fashioned, colorful glass ornments.  My favorite is a small coffee pot.  It's just like the one my dad bought for me about 55 years ago - yup.... it's all about the memories.  This weekend I'll be unpacking Christmas decorations.  It's a chore getting all the boxes down, but I just love unpacking the boxes of ornaments for the tree.  I usually do this on the 2nd Sunday in Advent.  We decorate outside first, then inside with the tree being the last decoration we put up.  It's not just the wood and glass ornaments, but things we've made over the years that are full of memories - sand dollars sprinkled with clear glitter, clothespin reindeer, oh and RECYCLED candle ornaments!  They're the best.  I had a whole tree full one year.  I melted old red candle wax in a double boiler. Let it cool until it just coats a metal spoon, then used a gravy ladel to pour it into plastic cookie cutters set out on wax paper on a cold surface.  Let the wax harden then pop the cookie cutter away from the wax.  Voilá, you have a perfect wax heart.  The real beauty is seen when they're hung on the tree and the lights from the tree shine thru the wax.  Hangers are easy.  Light a candle, then thread gold thread onto a needle.  Heat the tip of the needle in then candle flame then push thru the top of the was ornament.  Thread a whole bunch at once then tie them off one at a time. I made hearts, stars, moons, and small gingerbread boys and girls.  Oh, and if the wax was perfumed, your ornaments will be too.  Just a word of warning.  Store them in a cool place after Christmas.......  an attic in Texas was not the best idea.  Of course you can always melt them down and re-make them........

Happy Thanksgiving "ya'll"

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shoebox Crafts - "Card-Ecologist"

Okay, I promised some old, timeless projects from my Shoebox Crafts column, so here 'tis:
(This is a page from Craftworks©/November 1998 magazine, published by All American Crafts.)

"Recycle, reuse, remember and rejoice - it's almost Christmas!"  Sound familiar?  This was 11 years ago. BTW:  Christmas Day is 6 weeks from today.  I digress.......  not sure you can read the text.  I'll check once it's posted then if it's not legible I'll post instructions on my website: on the "Projects" page.  Give me a day or two though.............

Hmmm... interesting photo - oh to be 50 again!!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!  Enjoy.

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shoebox Crafts

In 1996 I started to write a feature column in Craftworks magazine entitled, "Julie's Shoebox Crafts".  They were all very basic craft projects with a chatty little story, of course, featuring....drum roll please..... things that most people have around the house.  We have a saying in England - "I'm not as GREEN as I'm cabbage looking", but apparently I was already being very "green" by featuring projects that reused, repurposed and recycled. I always was ahead of my time, at least that's what my dad thought.  Craftworks evolved into Create and Decorate a few years ago and the column changed to "Home Remedies" (Home Dec projects), but life got in the way and I had to stop writing the column a couple of years ago.  Some of the projects were pretty timeless, so maybe I'll feature some of them again here and on my website.  I'll have to pull out my old computer for the files though, or maybe I can scan the project photo from the magazine.  I'll have a think and see what I can do.

In the meantime here's one of my favourite photos - taken on my way to the grocery store.  Enjoy!


Isn't he - not exactly cute...   how about "Typically Texan"....  I told you I lived in the country. 

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Scrapbooking - Alive & Well

In 2003 Leisure Arts published "Alphabet Doodles", a book I had written about creating fun and simple alphabets for scrapbookers by combining a variety of markers.  Here's a condensed version of the forward I wrote for the book:

    "Over the past six years or so, photograph albums, scrapbooks, and even diaries have combined and the word "scrapbook" has evolved from a noun to a verb.  Without doubt, scrapbooking has become one of the most popular creative pastimes for the new millennium."

So popular, in fact that capital investment companies took note as they started to see small family businesses grow into multi million dollar enterprises seemingly overnight and decided that buying and consolidating these liitle companies was going to be BIG business.  Now, another six years later the scrapbooking industry has a completely different face.  But, we still scrapbook.  Influenced by digital cameras and online products,  we don't necessarily scrapbook the way we did in 1997 for example, or even 2000, or 2003, but scrapbookers still create scrapbooks

    "showcasing the very essence of our lives".  A scrapbook becomes a perpetual record and helps us to remember those special moments we might otherwise forget."  Whatever your style, scrapbooks are important.  Years from now they will make you laugh, smile and maybe even shed a tear or two, but, most importantly, they will be worth every second you took to put them together."

There are so many industry polls about whether scrapbooking is on the rise, or decline.  Independent scrapbooks stores are now few and far between, each one vying for customers, trying to hold on to their niche in spite of competition from the chain stores and more recently from online stores.  There is constant discussion about why this is happening and who's to blame and there are polls that show this, and polls that show that and "no, you can't borrow my axe because I'm making soup".

Things change.  People change.  The baby in the photos that were painstakingly scrapbooked in 1997 is now 12 years old and we are scrapbooking in different way - sometimes, sometimes not.  We are taking more photographs now than we ever did because we have digital cameras and our biggest challenge today, is to print them!  I, for one, admit to having over 6,500 in iPhoto on my desktop.  Now that's different for a start.  But, I still scrapbook.  I chronicle the important events in our lives because whatever the polls say, it's still all about me and I will always take photos and, even though some of my scrapbooks are a mere iPhoto library on my desktop, they are there for all of us to see and enjoy and are just as important.

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Don't Quote Me!

I LOVE quotes!  I saw one in my "Cheeky Quotes" today that reminded me of one of my all time favorites:

Winston Churchill was at a dinner that was also being attended by Lady Astor.  At one point during the conversation she turned to Winston and said, "Winston.  If you were my husband I'd put poison in your drink".  Without missing a beat Winston turned to her and replied, "and if you were my wife madam, I'd drink it". Brilliant!

Have a happy day!  Only 7 weeks and 2 days till Christmas  :)

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Unsung Heroes

Our business was audited this week - thankfully not by the IRS, but by the state Workforce Commission.  One of the questions we were asked was, "what exactly is it that you do?"  Not an uncommon question and not an easy one to answer to someone who has no idea that there even is an Arts & Crafts industry. I'd just finished working on some kits for a manufacturer and had about a dozen projects in a box waiting to be packed up and shipped out.  I also had a box full of the manufacturer's product that I had been sent to work with.  Using these to illustrate, I explained my job as a designer as follows: 
        The majority of companies provide consumers with a finished item that they can buy then display, or use in a certain way.  In the Arts & Crafts industry, companies manufacture components that the consumer can use to create an item themselves.  Fabric is an easy example.  The consumer can buy a dress, or buy the components and tools to make a dress, i.e. fabric, thread, scissors, pins, needles and a pattern featuring fabric.  The designer's job for manufacturers is to create an item (project) featuring their component (product) to inspire the consumer to buy their product and make the item.   Finished projects with instructions on how to make them, appear in craft magazines, books, on TV, project sheets, websites, or, as in this case, the projects were designed specifically for the manufacturer to create kits.  So why my "unsung heroes" title?  Any time you see projects on packaging, or a header/poster in a store that promote a particular product, they were created by a designer who you may, or may not know.  And, of course,  the products being sold whether they are finished pieces or raw components, were designed by someone. You'll be seeing the kits I designed in a major chain store next year.  Like many other things I work on, there'll be no name attached.  My wish is, that I hope you enjoy making the projects as much as I enjoyed designing and creating them.

Yours truly,
Julie  :)
BTW:  We passed the audit with "no errors"..........