Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creating with Kristen Robinson, Part Two: The Journal

Yes, I know. I need another journal like a hole in the head. But the journal being taught by Kristen Robinson was different from others I'd done -- and besides, it was Kristen's class, which meant it would be tons of fun!

Kristen's upcycled journal will be featured on her upcoming DVD so don't look for instructions here, but ideas. And the big concept was to use what you have to build something beautiful. Trust me, for every step, she had a rapt audience!

We started with cereal bags. Yup. Empty cereal bags! After the crumbs were removed we arranged items of our story -- whatever that may be -- on one half of the bag, folded it over and press it to seal the bag into a page signature.

This was WAY easier said than done for me!

You need to be careful that elements don't slip out of place when you are pressing it and turning it over (or else you will have, say, a tea bag paper covering Greg's face! above left -- oops!)

But the technique is pretty cool and a great way to see elements yet protect them.

Kristen's kits had everything we needed to make the project -- papers, music, the cereal bag (of course), charms, fabirc, music and printed pages. But of course, we all brought things -- photos and fabric and paint and embellishments!

She demonstrated and gave us art to create a gel medium photo transfer...

...and showed us how to burn felt for an aged, vintage technique.

We incorporated paper bags...

And sewed muslin to paper to make pockets filled with journal cards.

The idea of the journal was to leave room to write. I decided to use mine for family connections, so I had pages with my parents (I can journal on the painted parts or on the journaling cards)...

And places and people I loved.

I finished mine a bit more when I returned home, adding some embellishments I hadn't brought to class and fleshing things out a bit. Here are a couple more pages.

I'm probably not going to make another journal -- not that I didn't like making this one. I did. A lot. But I'm a bit overjournaled and don't put nearly what I should in them.


That said, I learned a lot of techniques I will definitely use again -- the transfer, felt burning, the cloth flowers in the photo above, right, and the idea of fusing the papers together. All of these will come in very handy in the future.

I leave you with a technique Kristen shared with us -- painting a surface and then using a tool (end of your paintbrush works fine!) to inscribe the piece. This one was by Amy -- I wish I could take credit for it, because it is a wonderful page and wonderful words.

Words to remember, no matter what the case -- a blank page or canvas. Or, a new step forward in life.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

WWCD? The Cork Poppers Try Some Summer Whites!

Cheryl is our one Cork Popper who leaves each tasting having only tasted one or two or -- on a good night for her -- three of our wines in any given tasting. She and her husband Dick may have started our group but when one only drinks white wine, they are at a distinct disadvantage in our group of red-loving sippers.

So, when it was our turn to host on what we hoped would be a lovely early summer day, we muddled through themes and came up with "What Would Cheryl Drink?" The mission was for guests to bring a white or rose, perfect for summer sipping.

The weather indeed held out for a glorious afternoon of tasting something new. And the results disappointed no one -- but Cheryl, in particular, offered more than a few "Thumbs UP!"

We started with Dick's offering from the Marlborough area of New Zealand. Drylands Marlborough 2014 Sauvignon Blanc was an immediate hit. It was served chilled and was very crisp. It might have been my personal favorite of the day, apart from a $16 price tag. As Barb said, "If this was all we had today, I'd be happy."

This wine had a strong grapefruit note and was a tad spicy and acidic but in a good way. According to the description, it had hints of tropical fruit, melon and fresh herbs but I noticed the grapefruit more than anything else. I could envision sitting on the beach at sunset on a warm, humid evening and cooling off with a refreshing glass of this!

Anne and Clayton were up next with Chateau Ste. Michelle's 2012 Chardonnay. Bottled in Washington, the color was more golden than the first and it was creamy and buttery but not oakey. I don't remember which of our gang said "I could kill myself on a summer day with that!"

Roger summed it up with "I'd drink this with food and the first just to drink and enjoy." Rick described this one as "friends" and the first as "blue sky." At $12.99, it was certainly a good buy and pretty tasty too!

Barb and Mike weighed in next with Black Star Farms "Arcturus Pinot Gris 2013." The food-friendly Pinot Gris wines are often tasty and fairly light, fine for simply sipping. It had a hint of effervescence -- not quite sparkling, but not far from it.

This was a wine from Northern Michigan on the Mission Peninsula. I have to say that I am not generally fond of Michigan wines of any kind (especially the reds) but this wasn't too bad for me. It was a bit peppery, though I could have done without the fizz. Since the point of the day was "What would Cheryl drink?" it is worthwhile to consider her verdict of this $13.99 wine: "I love it!"

Roger and Meredith offered another wine from the Marlborough, New Zealand region, Kim Craford Sauvignon Blanc 2014. It was advised to decant the wine to get rid of some of the minerality. this wine is prepared with stainless steel or enamel lined tanks. It wasn't bad at all. Cost $14.99.

Pat shared a Fetzer Gerwerztraminer 2013 from Monterey County, California. It was sweeter than any of the others we tasted. Dick called it "lovely" and loved the sweet smell. I said "They should make perfume like this!" I would find it better after dinner, closer to a dessert wine, than with dinner. Or, as Dick said, "It is a dessert to me -- after a meal or instead of a meal." It was $11.99.

Rick and I provided the only rose of the day -- Susana Balbo Crios Rose of Malbec 2014. Bottled in the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina from 100 percent Malbec grapes, it had the loveliest color of all and was a bit fruity.

But to be honest (and I say this because I picked it), it didn't do much for me. It was OK. Not fabulous. Not terrible. OK. And at $11.99, I expect more than OK. While it might be very nice with certain foods (light pastas, chicken, fish) it didn't have the sparkle for me (and by this I mean the joy of it, not sparkle as in sparkling wine) that the whites did.

Dick brought a second wine -- a Chateau Ste. Michelle 2014 Sauvignon Blanc. We ended the day with this and determined it was very tasty, but by then we were starting to get ready for dinner! Time flies!

We were lucky in that it was a perfect day -- not too hot or cool, sunny but not beating down on us, little if any humidity.Since we were outside, a BBQ was the theme. Rick made a Louisiana barbecue chicken, in which he marinated the chicken in a mixture of Louisiana-brand hot sauce, lemon juice and lots of other stuff before putting it on the grill and basting it regularly. It was moist and delicious, flavorful but not too spicy.

To accompany the dinner we had Meredith's fabulous corn bread.

And Barb served up a beautiful Cobb salad.

And despite the fact that Pat, Dick and Cheryl had brought an amazing cheese and cracker plate, supplemented by Rick's baguettes, once we said "Dinner's On!" nobody went hungry!


I went for simple on the table decorations and party favor/place cards. A simple geranium potted in a small tin bucket served as centerpiece. We had two tables, one with Fiesta china, the other a Dansk blue and white pattern.

For place cards I potted purple verbena plants in peat pots and added a ribbon and garden marker with a photo of the person who would sit there. The plants went home with the guests to remind them of the day.

Of course, no party ends without a spectacular dessert and Anne's Texas sheet cake with a wonderful chocolate frosting packed with pecans had us all swooning.

As the last of our guests drove off, we actually enjoyed the clean-up, talking favorite tastes and good times. And as for the answer to "What Would Cheryl Drink?" the answer was "All of them!"

And yes, this red wine lover will be drinking some whites this summer, too. And enjoying them!

NOTE: This post, along with other Cork Popper wine tasting posts, will be included in the link on the menu bar at the top of Marmelade Gpysy. If you want recommendations of our favorites, check out the page. Remember, we are not trained oenophiles. We just like what we like -- and suggest that this is really the thing that matters most!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Creating Art with Kristen Robinson, Part One

As you may know from earlier posts, few things make me happier than when I can do creative things in the company of others. If I'm learning something new it's even better! So, when one of my favorite teachers, Kristen Robinson, comes to town, of course I'm enrolled!

Kristen taught three classes at SmittenDust -- I took two and this post chronicles the first. We made a small shrine/shadowbox and another flat piece using plaster, along with paint, fabric and ribbon, paper clay embellishments, buttons and whatever else we chose to bring to the table! This is her sample.

Kristen provided a wonderful kit and all the supplies, apart from things of our own we thought we might like to include. Dusty had large tables with good workspace and the company was terrific!

Kristen is including this project on her DVD and in her mixed-media book written with Ruth Rae, so I won't go into details on making it. But I will show you some of my photos during the process so you can see how it evolved.

We started with a square piece of matboard which was cut and turned into a box shape. Then it was covered in plaster -- big pieces and small strips -- to get the right texture and strengthen it.

We also added a small platform inside the box.

Then Kristen demonstrated different ways to move on, incorporating buttons, ribbon, muslin and embellishments to make the boxes unique.

We were all completely engrossed in learning the best techniques -- and she has plenty of helpful hints!

The longest part of this technique is the drying part, which gave us time to talk and grab lunch at the ice cream shop next door!

When it was dry enough, we began to paint. I kept mine with a pretty neutral cream/tan/aqua palette but lots of people went with more color. It didn't matter -- everyone's was beautiful!

Then we added embellishments and wax and more paint to age the box. Kristen's demonstrations (below) were easy to follow. The whole project was shaping up!

And finally, the finished pieces!

It was truly a remarkable day. Fellow teacher/artist Kari McKnight Holbrook was here for the weekend, too, so it was like getting a double dose of favorite teachers! And of course, both brought some of the things they make and of course, I shopped!


And, I had a big smile on my face when I left, eagerly anticipating the next workshop!

Stay tuned for her unique journal project!

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