Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

 A wonderful New Year is wished for all. I wanted to share some simple and not so simple decorations in my tiny apartment. Above, a small sparkly bouquet of silk holly and poinsettias, a swirly mask, and a wooden sentiment, candles in stone in glass containers. A bit of sparkle and shine. The handmade and embroidered table cloth was actually a find in a "junk shop" in Indiana. Creamy white with taupe stitching, the piece is very elegant without being too lacy or frilly. The "vase" for the "flowers" is actually a bamboo shaped clay tea cup from my trip to Japan in the 90's.
 This banner is a labor of love. I used my Cricut Expression and several cartridges to make the tags and letters. Lots of Bazzill shiny metallic cardstock in black, pewter, gold and copper. I cut the top most layer of speckled "muslin" cardstock and using browns, tans, and gray inks, stamped every clock face stamp I had. There is a polka dotted swirl stamp in brown under the letters (cut from metallic purple cardstock) that was accented with rhinestones and Ranger's Distress glitter glue. TIP: the rhinestones were clear, but a dab of Ranger's Rust and Golden alcohol inks made a great match. Ribbon scraps of silk, and velvet tie the tags together. A final touch were Tim Holtz gears and brads in copper, pewter and antique gold.

Oh, the "mobile" underneath the tag banner is Memory Glass, Memory frames filled with stamped transparency, "crystal" look plastic beads, waxed thread and a bamboo skewer. I forgot to take it down before taking the photo.
My holiday plans this week were modified at the last moment by the death of a family member of my boyfriend. So while he was away, I made this simple ripple afghan in my New Year's holiday colors of Muslin, Chocolate, light Grey and deep Indigo Blue.

Last thing to make is Photo Booth Fun 'Staches and Glasses, Lips for New Years fun photos. These are popular on Etsy and simple die cuts adhered to bamboo skewers to hold up in front of your face. I'm also going to make and decorate some tiaras and bow ties to go as well. Some champagne glass cutouts and noise maker cutouts would be fun too.

 I have many hopes for the New Year, and I wish all of you a Happy and Blessed 2012. - Anna Banana Justice

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Holidays - last minute details

Above is an easy and quick ornament gift for a couple close friends of mine. A simple to construct pyramid box of green cardstock, stamped, filled with candies (or any small items), tied and embellished.

To create this box you'll need cardstock, swirl or flourish stamp, versamark watermark ink pad, gold interference pigment, brush, misc. paper flowers and leaves, velvet ribbon, metallic cord, rhinestones, glue dots.

I created the box by drawing out on graph paper a simple pyramid box, 2.5 x 2.5 inch square bottom, and each side is 3 inches tall. I added a .25 inch tab to each side of the four sides of the box. Punched holes in the apex of each triangle and scored my fold lines.

I stamped with my watermark pad the flourish on each side and brushed the ink with the pigment powder. The interference colors look white in the jar, but shine brilliant gold, better than any gold ink. You could also heat emboss with gold embossing powder. I then threaded cord thru the holes to pull the sides up and close the box. You can put small candies, lipgloss, etc. in the box.

With glue dots, I added flowers, leaves and a ribbon bow. NOTE: I had clear rhinestones, so I temporarily adhered them to masking tape and used a golden yellow alcohol ink to color them a light amber color. This works for any alcohol ink color and you only need to store one color (clear) of rhinestones. A nice budget friendly and storage friendly embellishment.

I want to wish everyone a beautiful and creative holiday. When we make a gift, we also give a piece of ourselves.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photography: The Art of Artifice

     I don't have a craft post today, but it IS related to what I do. I am a photographer, and the majority of my work is portraiture (families, teens, children, even some actors and fellow artists).
     Here is a link to a young woman recently featured on television. The young lady suffers from severe acne. The short video shows how she artfully applies makeup to hide the scars and blemishes to create a flawless face and then is able to model professionally. It is a simple How-To, but it touched me greatly.

    So, WHY am I pasting it here on a blog about crafting and art? Because, it reminds me that modern photography has changed. But the view of photographs and video has not. There are thousands of websites devoted to exposing the "evils" of Photoshop. Models shaved down to wasp waists, extreme lithe limbs and skin to rival the backside of any newborn.
    People complain that it sets unrealistic standards of beauty and injures the self esteem of developing teens and young adults. I say this is a societal excuse to remain uneducated about an art form that has developed beyond it's scientific birth.
   I've also been watching perhaps too many period pieces on Netflix, and enjoyed my art history classes a bit too much. (Alas, my college did not offer a Art History degree...). This exposure to ancient and contemporary art, be it painting or sculpture also taught me the art of artifice. No matter how realistic a painting or sculpture may be, not a single one was True. Even the Roman emperors in a time when artists worked hard to depict every flaw, every sinew, bulging vein and muscle - had their images "edited" to create the Image they wished to project. Active follicles were added to hairlines, the invention of the six-pack ab, even manicured toes and better teeth. Renaissance masters perked up breasts, whittled waists and bleached the skin of Royalty. Gray hairs were corrected with a simple paintbrush, and other flaws were simply omitted from the Official State Portraiture.
    A recent special on the History Channel exposed the vanities of our First President. His white wig, shapely calves and even stature were enhanced as part of official PR. The real man more closely resembled a war ravaged and scarred Soprano brother, than the angelic statesman perched atop pedestals that decorate my neighboring city in DC.
    Photography has moved into the Digital Age. Images are a file composed of edited Pixels, dots of electronic paint. I have a tablet and stylus and with the flick of my wrist I am able to create a mark or remove one. I am painting. I may "sketch" with my camera, the sensor picks up the basic shape, signal of the object in front of it, but even the RAW file is not the finished image. The computer itself will interpret what the data says - and converts the 3D object and renders on screen a 2D image. Often straight and plum items develop an angle, lights that looked white suddenly become orange or yellow. My "sketch" does not look like the thing which I took a photograph of.
     I change the white balance, I correct distortion. I remove a blemish, but try to leave the freckles sprinkled across the nose. I remove a stray hair, soften a line on the face that the shadows and flash made more obvious. I have already removed the photograph from its original.
     Even before I pushed the shutter, artifice was at work. The "black velvet drape" is actually cheap black fleece blanket material. The flowers are silk, the vase looks like bronze but is really cheap plaster. I raised the lights to shadow a soft belly, raised a hand to diminish a bit of loose skin at the neck, hid the other to hide a bandage on a finger. Rotated the shoulder to make the subject look slimmer. Stood on a ladder so the perspective will make the head larger, the body smaller in proportion.
    Even my subject has used artifice. She wore Spanx under her dress, she curled her naturally straight hair, or straightened her naturally curly hair. She is wearing lipstick to redden her lips, mascara to lengthen her lashes. She may even be faking her smile, appearing cheerful, when she is really sad.
     The image is True to the Person who created it or wished its creation. Because when we wish a photograph to be made, especially a portrait, what we really want is the Magic, the Illusion. To see reflected in the frame the image we carry in our own head of who and what we are. When we accept that the image is not scientific, but artful, then we learn to accept that other images are artful as well.
     Our self esteem is not damaged by that image. Our self worth is not in that image. Our worth, our value is in what that image stands for. When we expect others to be that image then we put on them an unrealistic expectation. When we say that because they don't look like the image that they are flawed, then we have put the blame on the wrong end. We have forgotten that true beauty is an internal thing, that the image tries only to make manifest and show that beauty in a flawed way. No artist, no matter how skillful, can show or render a Soul onto a lifeless material.