Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bloom's Day

I'm taking a break from cutting stencils to concentrate on my son's bar mitzvah. Perhaps my natural sense of "I can figure out how to make this work" has gotten the better of me, since I'm doing it myself (cooking, decorating, flower arranging) with just a couple of helpers.

We've hung the decorations (round paper lanterns in aqua and grass green with orange and silver stars) and the paper goods have been delivered (deep blue, orange and lime green.) So now I'm working on the flowers. Is there such thing as "masculine" enough flowers for a 13-year-old boy? Sigh. I guess not. So I'm doing orange and blue (hooray for pansies!) because someone is a huge Mets fan. There are also African daisies called osteospurmum and ranunculus. The sculptural foliage of perennials (foxglove, salvia, hosta) will be featured in the bimah (altar) pieces. 

So here are the flowers about to be reconfigured for centerpieces and altar pieces. Afterward, they'll grace the bar mitzvah of a friend's son, then be planted in front of the synagogue. No cut blooms to go in the trash! 

While these flowers will dress up the bar mitzvah, I'd also like to dedicate them to our friend Michelle Ward's sister, Shannon, who is putting up with hospital food and working on healing. Shannon, these blooms are for you, too. I hope you don't mind virtual flowers.

If you'd like to learn a little bit more about Shannon and add your good wishes, go to Michelle's blog here

Now, back to planting. Knee pads, anyone?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Flights of Fancy

Perhaps it's the arrival of spring, but birds are everywhere on the Internet. I confess to being part of it  -- I have birds on the brain! Since I made so many bird stamps, I thought I'd try to make bird stencils as part of Michelle Ward's GPP Street Team's 19th Crusade. Perhaps not the brightest idea I've had.

I must admit upfront that I am hip deep in preparations for The Bar Mitzvah Boy's big day. Lists seem to be constructed by the Sorcerer's Apprentice. For everything I cross off, three more things appear. And my homey, low-key, do-it-yourself celebration is reaching fever pitch. What to do? Art therapy, of course!

The first dilemma was where to get a stencil burner. Calls to the local craft stores yielded nada. In a fit of instant gratification, I ripped apart a tissue box and cut some crude stencils with my Exacto knife. They sort of worked  in combination with my stamps (see below) but I wanted more. And since my spare time is shrinking to nothing, I decided that the "more" had to come NOW. No sooner had I made that decision then I noticed my neighbor throwing out a glass picture frame that had the image torn out from behind it. Kismet!

So off I went to Michaels Arts & Crafts to check out the stencil aisle for myself. As it turns out, the youngster who took my phone call was a bit too literal. The tool is called a stencil cutter and she didn't make the connection. Ah, me.

Home at last, I set to work. The thick stencil plastic took great patience and a slow hand to melt. I wonder if there is a better material out there? My first birds were too complicated and my brush pouncing technique gave undesirable results. I went back and burned away the details leaving me with just an outline. Much better. (See first two images.)

Still, I wanted to try something more ornate. I copied the iris (results below) from my Dover Art Nouveau stencil designs. Pretty, but too small to have much impact. And the bumpy melted edges made for poor monoprinting, one of my favorite techniques. (Sometimes I stencil just to get monoprints!)

I decided to do something much larger. Not having photoshop, I didn't feel confident in trying to cut a stencil of The Bar Mitzvah Boy. But there was a cool stencil of fish. And The Boy is a Pices, so that's kind of appropriate, no? Once the fish were stenciled, inspiration struck. My curlicue stamp would be perfect for water! It didn't turn out too bad, but I wish I had created a background first. At least I'm satisfied enough to give all my attention to the bar mitzvah until Michelle cooks up something new and irresistible in May. Until then, I'm going to trade Bloglandia for Barmitzvahland. I'll be the one hip deep in poached salmon -- speaking of fish!