Tag: atlanta

Visual Journal Page 20: Breathe In, Breathe Out

There are many nights I lay in bed, my body exhausted, eyes heavy, and mind racing. The endless to do list scrolls through, the what did I forgets start haunting, the stress from the day just can’t seem to find a way to subside.

When I first started teaching I had many restless nights. Fear kept me awake. Fear of what the next day would bring. Fear of sleeping in. Fear of not being prepared. Fear of forgetting something. Fear of failure. Fear of my students. Many days I felt like a hoax. I had no idea what I was doing. That year, everyday was the first day for me.

My first year anxieties lessened with each passing year. I learned a lot, found projects that were reliable, and developed systems for handling my students. As my stress levels were reduced, my nights of sleep got better. However, I would still periodically have those moments where I would lay in bed, stuck in limbo, unable to pass into sleep or wake up enough to do something else. In those moments I fall back on my old restless night strategies. I would lay still and focus on my lungs. As I would breathe in I would feel my lungs expand to capacity. I would imagine the folds filling out and pressing into my other organs as they expanded. I would breathe out. My lungs would slowly collapse pushing all air out, until they were tiny, limp, and deflated. I would repeat this until I finally drifted beyond the middle into sleep.

This method has helped me through many of my most restless nights. It’s my off button for my brain. A simple strategy to put focus on my most basic body function, breathe in… breathe out…

SUPPLIES

  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • Black bleeding tissue paper
  • Gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Water
  • Sharpie
  • Old book pages

HOW TO

This is one of those visual journal pages that was fairly simple to create, but had a lot of impact once it was finished. It was also one of those pages that I visualized in my head before starting and it came out just as I expected, if not better, which rarely happens.

I knew I wanted to create an image of a lung. I started this journal page by looking up medical drawings of lungs to reference. I wanted to make sure it was accurate. Once I settled on an image I began thinking about the look. I had recently completed a page about a black widow (check it out here) where I used black bleeding tissue paper and gesso. I loved the look the wet gesso created on the paper. A red hue would bleed into the white gesso from the black tissue paper. I decided this would be a good material to use for this visual journal page as well.

Once I had my image, a sheet of black tissue paper, paintbrush, and gesso, I was ready. I freehanded the painting of the lungs. I started with a loose outline of the shape and went into the bigger sections first, which was the white block in the heart that expanded to the veins in the lungs. I carefully planned around sections that needed to stay black and moved from one area to the next. For the arteries of the heart I used curved lines to show the shape and to give it texture to separate it from everything else. I liked the look of the lines and decided to carry them into the spaces between the veins in the lungs to fill out the shape. I mimicked the circular tissue pattern from the original image into my painting as I moved to the bottom of the lungs. To define the esophagus I used short, hatch lines, that also curved along the contour of the shape. I decided to make it longer than I needed, just to make sure it filled the page.

As I painted each section, the color from the bleeding tissue paper would bleed into the white. I loved the look it created, it added much more interest to the color than a stark white. Once the painting was dry, I cut the shape out of the rectangular bleeding tissue paper sheet. I carefully glued it into my visual journal using rubber cement and trimmed off the excess esophagus.

I overlapped sheets of old and discolored book pages to the top with ripped out pieces of black bleeding tissue paper on top. This tied the top section to my lungs visually, while also giving me a space to write words. Even with the detailed painting, I still felt the background was lacking. I decided to cut out rounded shapes from the book pages to mimic the shape of the lungs and create a sense of movement. I glued them into the background, which helped further tie the book pages into the entire piece.

Last, but not least, I used gesso to paint the words “breathe in… breathe out…” over the ripped up tissue paper. In the sections where the words extended beyond the bleeding tissue paper, I went over the letters with black sharpie to help them stand out.

CHALLENGE

Create a visual journal page about your method to falling asleep.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about visual journals by following and sharing with others on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!


 

Joining the Art and Craft Fair Circuit

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After a two years of collecting parts I finally have my outdoor booth set up ready to go. It’s officially June, and I have two outdoor fests under my belt with one more before the month closes out.

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Atlanta is not shy when it comes to hosting festivals, the latest addition is the Mac n’ Cheese fest, often with multiple festivals per weekend come spring and fall. This makes weekend planning difficult, but it allows me to have a variety of options when choosing which festivals to apply to and participate in.

Chastain Park Arts Festival was my introduction into the outdoor festival circuit. The weekend couldn’t have brought more perfect weather. It was low eighties, a light breeze, and a good continuous crowd. I was pleased with my profit earnings and the connections I made in the Atlanta art community.

Joining the festival circuit doesn’t just mean I have another venue to sell my art. It also means I get plugged into the art community. I have a much greater opportunity to meet likeminded and goal oriented people. I have the chance to build relationships, learn more about my craft, and be inspired by others. I love feeling like I am finally part of the community I have observed from the outside in for so many years.

Virginia Highlands Summerfest came next with an even better weekend, better foot traffic, much hotter days and a lesson in rain. I learned to place my oil paintings at the front of my booth, to save my encaustics from the direct sunlight (and potential melting) that inevitably pours in. I learned that if there is a chance of rain everything that sits on the ground should be placed on a raised surface. The later was a difficult lesson to learn when I opened my tent the next morning to deep puddles and a bag of ruined mats and prints.

Next up is Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival in just a week and a half. In between spending time with my family on Hilton Head Island, I am ordering new mats and prints, gluing paper to panels, and painting a new batch of fruit and veggies. I can’t wait to see what comes from this next festival and the break afterwards until my schedule fills up for the fall. Check out more about my new oil paintings below!

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When I first set up my booth to take pictures I realized my encaustics could melt if it was warm enough outside and they were in direct sunlight. I began to panic. After all I had just invested a lot of money for my set up. What would I do if I couldn’t display my product outside?

Version 2While teaching an idea hit me. My students had just started oil paint studies of food. I was itching to paint with oils on canvas again and started my own so I could work along with my kids. I loved getting back to the basics of just paint and I was pleased with the way my bell pepper and pomegranate turned out. I wanted to do more.

After thinking about it I decided these would be the perfect solution to my encaustic melting problem. If I moved around my artwork based on where the sun was hitting I could keep my encaustic out of the sun by displaying my oils in the sun.

Since my bell pepper and pomegranate studies I have completed blueberries, eggs, a cabbage, orange, cauliflower, garlic, mussel, oyster, and I am finishing up a kiwi, tomato, onion, and papaya. Each of these food studies are 6″x6.” I start with an underpainting, typically choosing the complementary color of the food I am painting for the background.

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After allowing the underpainting to dry I mark out the shape of the food and add some detail before applying my first layer of white to the background.

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I like to leave hints of the underpainting peeking through. Whether it’s along the edge of a bowl or in between eggs, I think it adds another interesting detail to the piece.

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I also pushed myself to loosen up my painting style by trying out palette knife painting. I started with portraits of my chickens Rachel, Thackary Binx, Sir Sylvia, and Linda. I loved the texture and the sense of movement the palette knife marks made.

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I decided to go even bigger than the 12×12 chicken portraits and I completed a 32″x32″ positive/negative space painting of the Crescent City Connection bridge in New Orleans.

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I will post additional information about my upcoming festival, Old Fourth Ward Park Arts Festival, next week.

With sweet Cooper, my 13 new chicks, finishing up teaching for the year, and prepping for four festivals, I have had little time to update my blog. I hope to get back to posting weekly this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for stopping by!


 

 

Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays!


 

Back to the Grind: My Summer Off

Trinidad, CA

So far, 2015 has proven to be a busy year. I feel like I’ve been on the go since the beginning, and a lot of changes and new beginnings have presented themselves in the past 7 months. As the school year wrapped up and summer began, I readied my summer to do list, which included posting regularly to my blog. While 2015 has been an eventful year for me personally, my blogging life has fallen a little flat, and summer was no exception. In between the vacations and projects, I kept pulling up my site, starting a post, before being distracted by something else. Eventually I hit a point where I decided it was okay to take a break. What used to be a passion had suddenly turned into a to do burden. I was no longer putting the time or effort into my posts to make it worthwhile for me to write or my readers to read. But now I find myself back from summer and excited to share my new projects and life stories. I look forward to once again fulfilling my weekly goal of sharing my interests with you!

New Orleans

Lets recap. January started off slow and typical. Winter was cold, snow never coated the ground, the weather was dreary, and I was feeling the gray creeping inside my brain. I was tired, run down, and needed a pick me up. I got just what I needed in the coming months, and the work/sleep/eat routine was broken in February when I took my first trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2015.

It was an experience like no other, in a city like no other. I felt the tremors of the city as soon as we hit the bridges leading into town. There is an underlying sense of excitement and life in every tree, building, plate of food, and person you pass by. The city is full of color and culture. I took in the beautiful, huge, stretching trees that I have come to associate with my childhood and the south. My eyes devoured the architecture, flying beads, and costumes, while my stomach ate up some of the best food I have ever had. I ate my first crawfish out of a bag, sitting on the ground in the park. It was a beautiful city and breath of fresh air, just what I needed to get back on track.

Seattle to San Fran

Not long after our trip to New Orleans, I was once again packing my bags, getting ready for Nick and my long awaited west coast adventure. For 10 days wse spent time on foot, in cars, on bicycles, on buses, and hiking trails from Seattle to San Francisco. My recently relocated cousin gave us a good excuse to go out to Seattle and visit. What began as a long weekend trip turned into an all out tour of the Pacific northwest. This trip was a like no other, and is an experience I will never forget.

Each city was as unique and interesting as the last. In Seattle I discovered a city built on hills, with an underground city hiding underneath. In Portland I found amazing natural beauty nestled directly outside of skyscrapers. In northern California I fulfilled my childhood dream of standing in front of a redwood and we feel asleep to the sound of barking of sea lions. In San Francisco I saw an amazing harmony of cultures coexisting in the bay side city. In ten days we experienced mountains, forests, beaches, and cities. I wore sundresses in the sand, galoshes in torrential downpours, and layers of coats in feet of snow.

This trip was not only a testament to our beautiful country, culture, art, and architecture, but it was also a reminder of how much I love my Nick. We packed into our tiny rental and drove hours from location to location. Perhaps we would have made better time if we didn’t stop every mile on the Pacific Coast Highway for me to snap yet another picture, but Nick noticed every time my eyes lit up in need of another snapshot memory. I never tired of his company, I could have spent another 10, 20, 30 days packed into a car with just him, touring the countryside and cityscapes.

Many of the pictures I took on this trip have already made their way into my encaustic art. Be on the lookout for future posts about my new projects!

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Although it was difficult to leave our vacation bubble and return to the real world, I headed back feeling rejuvenated. I was so inspired by everything I saw, felt, and experienced, and I couldn’t wait to infuse that into my teaching, artwork, and home. With the passing of March came the warming of the air, spring showers, and the coming and going of my busiest time of year at school. Before I knew it, summer was on the cusp, and so was our first dinner club.

As an effort to keep in touch with our dear friends in our growing, busy lives, Nick and I decided to get a group together once a month to eat good food, share recipes, and enjoy each other’s company. The first one was hosted at our house, a crawfish boil in the backyard. It was a taste of New Orleans brought home, the perfect start to the spring and coming of summer.

CharlestonBefore I could even start my summer countdown, school was over. I began my first weekend of summer in one of my favorite southern cities, Charleston. It marked the beginning of my much needed extended vacation, a very busy wedding season for Nick and I, and the addition of a sister-in-law to my seemingly ever growing family. We celebrated Nick’s brother marrying his perfect match, and spent the weekend piled into a house on the beach with his parents, 5 siblings, significant others, and extended family.

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We were reunited with Nick’s sister, brother-in-law, and our two nieces in the house on Folley beach. After a year in Italy, it was wonderful to see their faces again, hear about their traveling adventures, and witness the hyperactivity of toddlers. It also gave me the chance to give Kyla her birthday teapot, designed to fit her two year birthday theme, Carnivale, a traditional celebration in Italy. Be on the look out for a more extensive post about this tea set in the future.

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I was very spoiled to be able to enjoy three weeks of my summer in Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head has been a part of me since I can remember. Every summer our family of five braved the five plus hour drive to the small, tennis shoe shaped island off the coast of South Carolina. We learned to crawl, walk, and ride bikes on the sandy beach. I realized my first nugget of independence as my parents allowed the kids to ride the bike trails unsupervised.

This summer was spent between two houses, which felt like a living metaphor. The old and the new, the coming and the going. My parents closed on a new property in Hilton Head in the spring. A beautiful house, only one street away from the original house, but many steps closer to the beach. Although my parents are keeping the partnerships of both houses intact, there was something monumental about heading to the new property. All the kids are grown up, my sister already has one of her own learning to run on the beach just like we did. The old house will always hold the memories of my siblings and I growing up, but I know this new house will soon hold the memories of our kids growing up.

Sarah Showers

After Hilton Head, another wedding was celebrated in another amazing southern location, Asheville, North Carolina. As I headed home I began planning a bridal shower for another future sister-in-law, Sarah, and getting information about her bachelorette party, to be held at the end of summer. A couples shower cook out was hosted at my house, full of crafty projects and decor I can’t wait to share. Be on the lookout for these how tos coming soon. Since January I have gained two more sisters. I am incredibly lucky my brother-in-laws know how to pick girls I click with, I couldn’t ask for better family.

Aruba Scenes

The next wedding location of the season required an international voyage to Aruba. Nick was honored as Jared’s best man as he married his other half, Ashley. Not only did we get to see some of our best friends commit their lives to each other, but we got to do it in an unbelievable location. For five days we sat next to turquoise waters, tanned alongside iguanas, and ate fresh-caught-daily seafood.

5 Year Wedding Anniversary

A few days after Jared and Ashley tied the knot, Nick and I celebrated five years married. Aruba was the perfect location for our anniversary celebration, and our last full day on the island, we spent together, crammed on a 1980’s dirt bike touring the island. I can’t believe we have been a couple for 10 years, with 5 years of marriage under our belts. I’ve never regretted picking him, I’m not sure I had a choice in the matter, it felt right from day one. As I’ve said before, and as I will say again, I think we have at least another 75 years together in us.

Starlight Six Drive In

The end of summer is bittersweet. I begin to realize I am losing a portion of my freedom for another nine months, but I am also ready to see my kiddos, and ready for my birthday, which always seems to mark my last weekend of summer. Year 28 of my life was closed out with a drive in movie, lots of junk food, and lots of attention and love from my family and hub. School was about to start again, and it was time to wrap my head around the coming work, and get ready for another great year.

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In addition to all of our trips and busy schedules, we also found out we were pregnant with our first baby in March. Now I find myself back to school, almost 7 months pregnant, planning a nursery, and prepping for our baby boy. I can’t wait to see his sweet face in flesh and color, and discover which features he decided to model after his dad and which ones he modeled after me. With the coming of baby also brings a lot of home projects, which will also be coming soon to my how tos.

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I hope you enjoyed the recap of the last 7 months, and I promise to stay on top of my postings as things continue to get busier. Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Help spread the word about easy craft projects, art making techniques, and visual journaling by sharing it with others! Thanks for stopping by.


 

Encaustic Mixed Media: Wine Corks, Playing Cards, Scrabble Tiles, and Letters

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

Recently, I was asked by a family friend do do a commissioned work of art for her husband’s sixtieth birthday. I was flattered, and excited for the prospect of a new project. It all began with a very large bag of corks from wine Buddy and Margaret (lovingly called Uncle Buddy and Aunt Margaret, as they have been a part of my family since my parents were in high school) had enjoyed over the last 30 years. She mentioned she liked my mixed media pieces, and hoped I could incorporate the corks into the work of art. It was easy having a client like Aunt Margaret, because she appreciates art, is open minded, and has amazing ideas that helped me work towards the final piece.

When the first package of corks arrived, ideas immediately began buzzing. We discussed prices and sizes, and settled on a large, 36″x48″ panel as the base. I decided I would use the corks, and I wanted every inch of the panel covered with them. They would create the base texture for the overall piece. Since I was working so heavily with corks, I opted for a wine theme, to bridge the material with the imagery.

While I was planning out a rough design, Aunt Margaret began discussing the project with family members. As they talked about the future creation, stories of Uncle Buddy began to be swapped, sand volcanoes on the beach, the endless search for sharks teeth, his love for all things boards games and card tricks. As the family reminisced Aunt Margaret decided she wanted a type of “Buddy search,” a bigger image filled with all things Buddy hidden in the layers and objects. Soon after, I received another package filled with sharks teeth, newspaper clippings of Uncle Buddy’s high school football career, and beautiful letters written between Aunt Margaret and Uncle Buddy, while he was in the military.

Wine Corks Stage 1 and 2

As we threw ideas back and forth, it began to take form in my mind, and become a reality on the wood panel. I started by cutting corks in half, and gluing them to the panel to create a pattern in the background. I used whole corks to form the wine bottles, to create a sense of depth between the bottles and background. I cut wine corks in strips to go under the wine bottles, and define a tabletop space. At the very bottom I cut wine corks into circular sections to create a wave like pattern, reminiscent of the beach, and Hilton Head Island where they have spent much of their time.

To reference Uncle Buddy’s interest in cards and scrabble, I incorporate both into the piece. I decided to make it appear as though scrabble tiles where pouring out of the sideways wine bottle, spilling over a card game. I also used the tiles in the background, and spelled out each name in their family: Buddy, Margaret, Andrew, and Aaron. I’m still not sure this is a part they have discovered yet, but I enjoyed every minute of creating this personal scavenger hunt.

Wine Corks Stage 3

Once the base layer was complete, I added thin, art paper over top. I knew from the beginning I would cover the entire piece with encaustic wax. When the encaustic is melted onto certain types of paper, it create a semi-transparent look. I often play with encaustic and collage, and I was excited to have the additional elements of the corks, tiles, and cards added. I used different types of paper to distinguish the different areas, tacked it down with hot glue, then began painting the many layers of melted encaustic wax.

Wine Corks Stage 4

As I layered the wax, I also began incorporating copies of the letters and newspaper clippings. Although Aunt Margaret encouraged me to use the originals, I couldn’t bear to essentially ruin these family memories. I made high quality color copies, to maintain the ink color, and match them as close to the originals as possible. I scattered the envelopes and letters along the top, bottom, and behind the wine bottles. I also decided to layer the wine bottles with ripped up sections of the letters to tone down the dark green and create an interesting pattern with the mix of handwriting.

Once I finally achieved a fairly smooth, wax surface, and was satisfied with the placement of the letters, I began painting. I added wine glasses, olives, and shadows to help define the sections further. A number of times I added something, only to remove it the next day. The piece transitioned from light, to a dark background, from one to two to three wine glasses, it was continuously changing and I couldn’t seem to find my stopping point.

After seeking out second opinions from my wonderful husband and mom, I decided to add dark shadows to certain areas to create more contrast. I finally began to strike a balance in the piece, I was finally seeing the end.

Bottom Details

I emphasized the separation between the table and the background with a harder, dark line. The shadows under the wine bottles were emphasized, as well as around the letters.

Detail, Letter and Scratching

I also began scratching into the surface of the wax to create crosshatched shadows.

Detail, Glass with Olives

I darkened the shadows around the wine glasses to help the white highlights pop. As I painted in the glasses and olives, I opted for a semi-transparent look. I left the olives with see through centers, and a more sketchy feel. I love the play between the background and foreground.

Wine bottle details

The wine bottles finally began to pop, the letters stood out against the background, and your eye was drawn around the piece. It finally felt complete.

Wine Cork Mixed Media, Finished Piece

I was very pleased with the end result and excited it was going to a family I already love so much, to be hung in their living room. I know they will look at it and appreciate it every day.

Wine Corks Ready to Ship

The most stressful part came when it was time to package and ship this very large, heavy, and delicate piece from Atlanta, GA to Denver, CO. Layer after layer of foam and tape was applied before my signature twine, card, and encaustic info was added on top. It shipped out in a very pieced together looking box, but it was enough to keep it safe to its final destination

Uncle Buddy and the Final Piece

Happy sixtieth Uncle Buddy!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my most recent commissioned work of art! Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing with others and on your social networking site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!