52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week 10: Hand painted driftwood cityscape with candles

This week’s project was really special to me for several reasons. A few weeks ago while Breen and I were in New York City celebrating our first wedding anniversary, we were walking along the waterfront in Battery Park when Breen spotted an entire dock covered with driftwood that had washed up from all the heavy rain. We ran in to a nearby office building and grabbed a handful of umbrella bags which we then filled up with driftwood. It was one of those moments that I knew exactly what I wanted to make with my driftwood: a hand painted cityscape with carved out areas to place tea light candles. I wanted to honor both the special memory of our first wedding anniversary and the greatness of a city that lost so many on September 11th. We had to let the driftwood dry out pretty well for a few weeks before we could get this underway.

This project was also very special to me because Breen and I did this as a joint venture. He did all of the drilling and gluing and wood working; I painted the pieces of driftwood. Together we decided on how to place the pieces. Breen came up with the idea to put the Statue of Liberty on her own separate “island”. Every piece in our project is a piece of driftwood that we found that day in Battery Park. I made the crown on the Statue of Liberty with heavy card stock and Breen made a notch in the wood to secure it; I would have loved to make her crown out of tin. We worked on this together for hours last night and when we finished, we placed it on our fireplace mantel, lit the candles and smiled with satisfaction. Our driftwood creations hold wonderful memories we will never forget and there are no others exactly the same anywhere. I love getting creative with my husband. It really brings us together on all sorts of different levels. I’m so very grateful that Breen gets as excited as I do about these 52 Projects. I think this project made us both realize how nice it’s going to be to have our own space for woodworking one of these days.

Here's the back of the piece:

Here are two shots of the city at night :))

Breen working with his wood :))

What did you do this week?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 9: painted tiles

6 out of 15 tiles

A while back I was totally inspired by some tiles that Aimee from Artsyville had painted. I knew these were going to be one of my 52 projects as soon as I saw them. The color on the tiles is actually produced by alcohol ink which is designed to be used on non-porous materials. I went to Michael's and purchased a three pack of Adirondack Inks in Nature (Wild Plum, Butterscotch and Stream). Along with the inks you need the blending solution. As luck would have it, there was a Home Depot right next door to Michael's where I purchased 15 plain white tiles for 16 cents a piece.

The process is so simple. The inks are very messy though so be sure to put down some paper towels or newspapers under the tiles. You start with a white tile and wipe it down to get any dust or little particles off of it. Next you add a thin layer of the blending solution all over the tile and start dropping colors on to it. The blending solution acts as a thinning agent. It's amazing to watch all the beautiful patterns begin to form. You'll get different results by blending the colors together while they're still wet or by letting each color dry before adding more color. The inks dry very quickly so you need to work fast. I played around with texture effects. Just look how many colors only 3 inks produced! The possibilities are really endless and the inks come in so many different colors. Here's the good part: if you don't like the result, you simply wipe the tile down with the blending solution and start all over again. The last step is to seal them. I tried several different things. Modge Podge does NOT work; as soon as I brushed it on, the ink started to lift. I ended up spraying several coats of Polyurethane and that seemed to do the trick.

I'm not sure how I'll use these tiles yet. I was thinking about building a frame for a mirror with these. I was also thinking that these tiles would make great coasters or even look good cut in to mosaic pieces for a table top. Did I mention that these inks work on glass and metal too? Imagine the "stained glass" you could make.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week 8: pilgrimage to ground zero

I'm a bit late in getting this post up and running today, but for good reason: Breen and I have been in New York City for a good portion of our weekend celebrating our first wedding anniversary. We left early on Saturday morning and returned later this afternoon. My original idea for this week's project was to surprise my husband at midnight with a small replica of our wedding cake and our wedding song playing in our hotel room in Manhattan. I got the cake. I had the whole thing ready to go but the weather turned ugly and the logistics of getting the cake up to the room made no sense. So I left the cake at home and off we went to New York City for an awesome time away together.

I've always wanted to make a pilgrimage to the site where the Twin Towers once stood looming over the entire island of Manhattan. It's a time in history that none of us will ever forget. I'll always remember every exact detail of that morning. My ex-husband was in Denver, Colorado on a business trip (it would take him nearly two weeks to get home), my son was at school, my daughter at day care and I went to work. When I got to work, my co-worker had a little TV set on and was glued to the news coverage of "someone who must have accidentally crashed in to the Twin Towers". It was like watching a horror show as the details slowly unfurled and we soon discovered that it was no accident at all. I'll never forget how life just seemed to come to a complete and confusing halt that day.

Today as we parked our car in the Financial District and made our way to ground zero, a sadness gripped me. Almost nine years later and you can still feel the loss. Although the site is obviously cleaned up, there is still just a huge hole in the earth where those buildings stood tall and so many were lost in just a few hours.
I feel fortunate to live only two hours from New York. It seems like a shame if you live in the United States and don't have a chance to make a pilgrimage. Here are some pictures taken in the rain this morning:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Week 7: hand painted dishes

I loved my project for this week. I stumbled upon it when my husband surprised me one day after work this week with an amazing craft book from Borders. With 300 projects offered, the book is sure to be a hit with me. There are so many awesome things to try from tin can dragonflies to copper wire mobiles to tiled serving trays.

You would be shocked at how inexpensive and easy this project actually is. We went to Ikea yesterday and purchased one coffee mug for .59 and one cereal bowl for $1.99. Right next door to Ikea was Michael's Arts and Crafts where I purchased two Porcelaine 150 paint pens made just for glass and ceramics for $3.99 each. Possibly the paint pens are the biggest investment but they come in a full range of colors and tips and you can use them on lots of projects in the future. Trust me, you'll be hooked when you see how easy this is. I'm already thinking ahead for unique hand painted gifts. I think this would be great fun for kids to try too and imagine the funky keepsake you'd have for years to come. Ikea is the mecca for inexpensive plates, cups and saucers. I happen to adore the clean look of white plates but you could probably choose just about any color you want. You might even have an old set in your closet right now that would be happy for a little lift. The paints are opaque and non-toxic.

One side of my mug:

The other side of my mug:

The OUTSIDE of my bowl has some of my favorite words:

This is the INSIDE of my bowl:

The possibilities are endless!

Here are the instructions:
1. wipe down your china and make sure it's nice and clean.
2. uncap your paint pen, get the flow of ink started and let the painting begin!
3. let the paints fully dry on your china for 24 hours
4. place the pieces in a preheated 300 degree oven for 30 minutes.
5. let the pieces cool in the oven and remove.
6. the paint is now baked on to your piece. Enjoy!