This and That: Spring ’14 Edition

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Greetings, dear readers!  I hope this post finds you well and happy.  How are things in your neck of the woods?  Today’s post is a small collection of odds and ends – some news, and links to things that I’ve been wrapped up in lately.  Here goes…

Art Supply Drive: Big thanks to the six wonderful souls who’ve donated to the art supply drive that I’m wrapping up.  I really appreciate you!  I’ll be able to teach art journaling to one class of 4th graders next school year.  Thank you for your generosity and kindness.  :]  If you intend to donate but forgot, and would still like to, you may do so quickly, easily, and securely HERE.

Spring Cleaning Fever: Have you ever heard of 40 Bags in 40 Days?  It’s a challenge that folks take part in to pare down their belongings and reduce clutter, by “filling up” 40 bags with belongings in 40 days.  I decided to participate by going through and purging in 40 different “spots” here at home.  Spots included the clothes closet, dresser drawers, bookshelves, the garage, my art supply storage, etc.  I was aggressive with what I decided to get rid of, and probably cleared out about three small truckloads of items – most were donated.  It feels great to have passed along things we’re not using so that someone else can benefit from them.  And it will be less for us to move, too!

Minimalism & Tiny Houses: Along with the purge came some research into minimalism, Tiny Houses, and full-time RV living.  I’m not sure we’ll ever get all the way to any of those things, but the idea of simplifying and reducing overhead in order to spend more time enjoying life sounds really good, so we’re taking baby steps in that direction.

This Girl Needs a Garden: I’ve been longing for a garden for the longest time – but apartment living makes that a challenge.  Enter Square Foot Gardening, which was brought into being by Mel Bartholomew.  I recently purchased his book, and am hoping that our next apartment home has a patio that will accommodate some raised bed planters (with both space and the sunlight needed) so I can give this gardening method a try.  Here are the rings I’d like to grow in my first 16 or so “squares”: carrots, parsley, cilantro, kale, lettuce, red bell peppers, chile peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, spinach, zucchini, arugala, and strawberries.  Have any of you tried Square Foot Gardening?  How did it go?

A Crafty & Cool Conference:  I recently attended Craftcation in Ventura, CA.  Craftcation is a conference for creative folks and small business owners – it combines business classes and hands-on classes for crafters and foodies.  I had a wonderful time and learned so much!  I took several classes, including a class for Etsy sellers and hands-on classes on image transfers and reverse appliqué.  The teacher of my image transfers class has a fab book out if you’d like to check it out – Playing with Image Transfers by Courtney Cerruti.

That’s all for now.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Warm regards,
Melody

*Please note: The links above are just for your reference – they won’t generate income for me.  :]

Posted in art, gardening, life in general Tagged , , , , , |

New Assemblages: Frontiers & Broken Foundation

Today I’m pleased to share two new assemblages:  Frontiers & Broken Foundation. They’re the newest additions to the series of assemblages I’ve been working on since late December, and they’re the fourth and fifth assemblages I’ve added to my Etsy shop.

Frontiers

frontier

I can’t recall where I found this black and white photo, but when I found it I knew I had to buy it.  I’d never seen anything quite like it, and knew it would be a strong foundation for a piece of art.  This lady from long ago is standing on her homestead, in the snow, looking off into the distance.  Such a lovely image – one that I’ve enhanced with elements like a vintage mirror, butterfly, bullet shells, vintage ledger paper, vintage cloth tape measure, a button, and a mini saw blade.

butterfly

bullets

 Broken Foundation

foundation assemblage

This is another photo I just had to buy.  This little girl has such personality – hands on hips in her cute dress.  Her image has been paired with a ribbon bow, vintage buttons, broken china pieces, a blue lens, and gold photo frames with words/phrases in them.  I also stamped on the photo with permanent black ink…

girl

frames1

These assemblages are each priced at $140 and are available for purchase in my Etsy store.  Please pop over and take a peek!

I hope you’re having a wonderful week, dear readers.  Happy Spring!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in art, assemblage, vintage, vintage photo Tagged , , , |

Photo Watches – Giveaway Winners!

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Congratulations to the winners of my photo watches giveaway!  The winners are:

Watch #1: Karen
Watch #2: Linda
Watch #3: Oksana

I hope you enjoy making your photo watch jewelry, ladies!  Please email me your mailing addresses so I can send your watches to you.  You can follow the directions I shared in this post to make your own Vintage Photo Watches.  :]

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in DIY, giveaway, vintage

Vintage Photo Watches & Giveaway (w/ pics this time!)

I’m reposting this project today – and this time I’m actually including the photos.  ;]  This super cool project turns old watches into photo keepsake jewelry.  I’d like to say I dreamed up the idea for these amazing “photo watches”, but I didn’t.  I saw a photo of them on Facebook and was instantly smitten.  If you search online you’ll find other examples that are similar.  It’s a simple idea – one that I love SO much. They’re easy to execute (except getting the back off the watch!), and make lovely and unique jewelry.

As you may know, I LOVE vintage photos.  I collect them, have a drawer full of them, and use them in my artwork.  I often use photos of strangers that I’ve purchased in my projects, but sometimes I use old family photos.  My three samples make use of two cherished family photos, as well as one of the vintage photos I altered in my book – An Altered Existence.

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Left: One of the characters from the story Cast from a Different Mold (in my book)
Center: My Grandma Neva in the 1920′s
Right: My Aunt Bobby as a little girl, in her swimming cap and bathing suit

I wear the watches featuring the photos of my aunt and grandma on a regular basis, and I often wear both at the same time.  I sometimes pause during the day and look at their photos with love and gratitude.  It makes me happy to have them close, particularly since they’ve both passed on…

Materials
**

Old watches – they don’t have to run
Photos – either copies or (if you’re daring) originals
Diamond Glaze or Mod Podge (optional)
Scissors
Pencil
Something to pry or screw open the backs of the watches

Instructions
**

1. Open the back of the watch. You may need to reference the web to figure out how to open a specific type of watch, as I did.  Two of the watches opened by prying them open with a metal tool, and one screwed open.
2. Select photos that will fit in the window of your watch.   Make copies if need be.
3. Lightly trace the back of the watch onto the photo with pencil and trim the photo to fit inside the watch.
4. Remove the watch “innards” so you can place the photo inside.  You may need to trim the photo a bit more to get it to fit and line up properly.
5. Secure the photo inside the watch – either with Diamond Glaze or by putting the watch innards back in the watch behind the photo.   If you opt to affix the photo to the inside of the clear face cover, use a thin swipe of Diamond Glaze to “glue” it to the plastic or glass.  I did this with the two round-faced watches because the photos were color copies, and were thinner.  For the gold watch with the rectangular face I simply put the photo in and then placed the watch innards behind it.
6. Close up the back of the watch, wear, and enjoy!

giveaway_watches

Giveaway!
*

I love how these pieces turned out, and look forward to making more.  For me the tricky part is finding watch bands that fit my (big-boned) wrist.  I ordered a few lots of watches from eBay in order to make this project, and because some of the watches are just too small for me I’m offering some of the watches that didn’t work out for me in a giveaway.  If you win one of the watches you can customize it your own way – whether you opt to use a color photo or something black and white, as I did.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post saying which watch you’d choose from the three I’m offering. Please include your first and second choices.  I’ll choose names at random and will assign watches to folks until they’re all spoken for.  The winners will be notified here on my blog a week from today, on March 26, 2014. Good luck!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in DIY, giveaway, vintage, vintage photo Tagged |

My Art Journaling Program: Art Supply Drive & Something a Bit Different for This Fall

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Greetings, dear readers!  I hope you’re all well and happy.  Although it’s only March, I’m kicking off my Art Supply Drive for the 2014-2015 school year.  I know – crazy, right?  I hope you’ll participate and help children in need.  Please keep reading to get the scoop on what I’ll be doing differently this fall, and why I’m hosting my drive now instead of in August.

First Things First: A Bit About My Program
*

I volunteer teach art journaling to at-risk elementary school students.  Art journaling – a combination of visual art and traditional journaling – nurtures creativity, strengthens language and fine motor skills, and bolsters a child’s self-esteem while providing a positive form of self-expression. Art journaling is a valuable tool that provides positive focus, promotes personal growth, and encourages non-violent conflict resolution through visual and verbal expression.

Donations and art materials are gathered from wonderful folks like you, and I typically teach as many classrooms of students for which we have supplies (six classrooms in the 2013-2014 school year).  Each student is provided with a blank journal and a packet of art supplies upon the first visit. The children are taught art journaling in the early part of their school year, and then I return to the class during the last month of school for an art journal show – to see what they’ve created and to celebrate their artistic accomplishments.

The kids have the best time creating, and love using their art supplies.  They truly love art journaling, and this creative outlet gives them a chance to shine and to express themselves – priceless!

Why So Early?
* 

I’ll be moving in July (will still be in OC), and am unlikely to have garage space in the new complex – which affects my ability to store art supplies for my program.  I’ll need to assemble the art supply kits for next year and pass on any remaining supplies before the move.  Since July will be here before I know it I’m asking for your help now.

Just Two Classes This Fall
*

I’ll be teaching fewer classes this fall since I’m going to take a short trip/mini sabbatical in November and will need the vacation days I usually donate to my program in order to make this happen.  I need to recharge my batteries, but will still teach two classes at the school in Ontario where my aunt is a 4th grade teacher.

art_journal_page16

Wish List
*

Because I was able to store supplies and hold some extra items back from last year, I already have a number of the supplies I’ll need for the 80 art supply kits.  For example, I already have all the scissors, decorative paper and cardstock, tags, pencils, mini ink pads, paper punches, playing cards, and more.  My wish list is much shorter this year, and I’d be SO thankful if you’d help me fill in the gaps to ensure that two classrooms of children receive the gift of art journaling this fall.

*Please note: I don’t expect any one person to supply the entire dollar amount for the journals, all the glue sticks, etc.  You’re welcome to donate in any amount or quantity. :]

  • $250 to buy 80 journals/sketchbooks
    (gift cards to Office Depot, checks, or donations via GoFundMe)
  • 100 glue sticks – any brand
  • 70 8-count packs of Crayola Crayons
  • $35 for the large Ziplock bags that hold each child’s supplies
    (Target gift card, check, or donation via GoFundMe)
  • 160 Fabric Squares: please mail these to my P.O. Box  
    (3 kind and generous people are donating these – hurray!)
  • $15 to buy single window business envelopes
    (Office Depot Gift card, check, or donation via GoFundMe)

Art Supply Drive Deadline & Mailing Address
*

I’d love to receive all donations by April 15, 2014.

You may donate quickly, easily, and securely via my page at GoFundMe – just click here.

If you’d like to order a gift card online and have it mailed directly to me, or plan to send supplies like crayons, glue sticks, or fabric squares please use this address:

Melody M. Nuñez
P.O. Box 60030
Irvine, CA 92602

Thank you for your consideration!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, helping others Tagged , , |

Haiku: Winter Tree

winter-tree

Though branches are bare
there’s such beauty to be seen.
I love life’s details…

I hope you’re enjoying the season, dear readers.  And if you happen to live in an area that’s been walloped by ice, cold and snow this winter, hang in there!  Spring is just around the corner…

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in haiku, inspiration, life in general, nature, photography, poetry, writing Tagged , |

A New Assemblage: Solitary

 solitary4
I recently created the newest piece in my series of assemblages.  This one, titled “Solitary”, makes use of the same house-shaped box as its predecessors, and includes items like vintage wallpaper, a vintage photo, a mini tart mold (the “head”), key holder and keys, an old camera lens cover (the clear “halo” behind the silver tart mold), and other elements.

solitary1
I really enjoyed putting it together with my trusty friend, epoxy.  This piece is available for sale in my Etsy shop, so if you’d like this piece of handmade, original art please pop on over.  It’s signed, and is ready to be shipped out.  :]

Please let me know if you have any questions, dear readers.  I hope you’re having a great week!

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in antiques, art, assemblage, vintage Tagged , , , |

Have You Heard of The Life Organizer?

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I recently received a review copy of The Life Organizer from the folks at New World Library.  Created by Jennifer Louden, this is not a step-by-step guide on how to neatly organize your life and beat it into submission.  Rather, it’s a guide that focuses on self-kindness and self-care, and helps guide you to the discovery and implementation of that which will bring you happiness.  So much of our lives are “should” and “have to”, and this guide helps you to slow down and ask some questions of yourself that can effect positive change.

Given that the book guides you through 52 weeks of soul searching, and I just received it a few weeks ago, I haven’t had the chance to work through or read everything.  However, some things jumped out at me in the early chapters that may help give you a bit of a feel for The Life Organizer – these are pages whose corners I folded over.  :]

What Life Organizing Is (pg. 14)
Coming into the present
Asking for guidance, help, support
Listening, receiving, opening
Applying, taking the next step
Seeing if the path you are taking fits you, feels right, and aligns with your values
A structure for learning from your inner experience

What Life Organizing Is Not (pg. 10)
A rule
A should
A program
Something that must be done every day or done to make you good or right
About believing anything

Another little bit I liked, from page 18:
Life organizing doesn’t require you to be quiet, to be solemn, or to have a chunk of time.  It is to be used in the midst of all the insanity – that’s the point!

I compiled some of my life insights and my minimum requirements for self-care, as suggested by Ms. Louden, and am looking forward to working through the weekly questions and prompts in the coming year.  If any of this sounds intriguing, helpful, or otherwise sparks your curiosity, please take a moment to learn more about Jennifer Louden’s book The Life Organizer.  And happy reading!

Warm regards,
Melody

*I received one complimentary copy of The Life Organizer for review purposes, and will not receive any financial compensation for my participation in the book tour.  My opinions are my own.

Posted in books, inspiration Tagged , , , , |

Playing in My Art Journal: A Self-Portrait

I completed a few new entries in my art journal last week, and one of them was a self-portrait.  I started it during my lunch hour – just working with my journal and a black pen.  I finished the page that night, when I had access to my watercolor pencils, a paintbrush, and a bit more time.

This organic form is representational of me, and yes – that’s a pumpkin head!  The words near the leaves’ tendrils are things I associate with myself – they’re either some of my qualities and traits, or things that are important to me.

I find it very relaxing to doodle/draw, fill in the spaces with color, and then blend the colors with brush and water.  I don’t have any illusions of being skilled at drawing, but I do have fun playing – and that’s the whole point.  :]

black_white

Black and white…

colored_in

Colored in but not blended…

blended_colors

Color blended with water and brush…

 leaves_detail1

Up close…

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at one of my latest art journal pages, dear readers.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm regards,
Melody

Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, self-portrait Tagged , |

A Peek at My Newest Art Journal

Greetings!  I hope you’re having a great week thus far, dear readers.  Today I’m sharing a peek at my newest art journal – art journal number #16!  I just started it last week, and thought I’d show you how I customized it.

The Book Itself
journal

The journal is an 8 ½” x 11” book that started out with a blank white cover and blank white inside pages.  I love getting these Possibilities Blank Books from skybluepink.com.  The proprietress of skybluepink, Christina,  is a longtime supporter of my art journaling program for at-risk kids.  Hooray!  :]  I believe the style I order is the large portrait journal with 46 sheets…

Personalization
cover

I decorated the exterior of my journal by covering it with vintage wallpaper.  (Thanks for the wallpaper, Karan!)  The central image on the cover consists of an original black and white vintage photo that I mounted on black cardstock and a vintage label stamped with the word “sixteen”.  I also traced around the edge of the label and photo with a bronze metallic gel pen.  The exterior of the journal is treated with a clear sealer in order to protect it from spills and muck.

The Spine
spine

I customized the spine of my journal with another number 16.  This helps me order and locate the journals quickly if I have them on a shelf.  The number was cut from a page of vintage ledger paper – I wanted to carry the vintage look throughout on the exterior…

Inside
inside-left

I always make sure to put my name and phone number inside my journal, in case it gets lost.  I also like to include the date I start and finish the journal.  Because I date virtually all the pages/entries in my journals I could also look at the first and last entries to figure this out, but I like having this quick reference in the front as well.

inside-right

On the right side of the inside spread I like to mount an envelope.  I use this envelope to hold odds and ends like movie tickets while I’m working in the journal.  In this particular case I’ve embellished the envelope with some washi tape and a butterfly that I die cut from fine wire mesh.  However, the envelope embellishment varies from journal to journal.

Credit Where Credit is Due
*

Many of the ways I customize my book (decorating and sealing the cover, envelope in the inside, numbering journals) were adopted from the supremely talented artist Janice Lowry – I was lucky enough to take a class from her several years ago.  She was a lifelong journal keeper, and her 100+ journals are now part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art.  Janice was an incredible artist and a lovely person, and I’m thankful to have had her for both a teacher and a friend.  :]

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick peek at my newest art journal.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Warm regards,
Melody

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Posted in art, art journaling, art supplies, inspiration, vintage, writing Tagged , |