This is the place where I round up a corral chock-full of mixed media art, vintage collections, digital escapades, and some occasionally snarky observations about life with junk, books, rescue dogs and nearly-grown children.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cute Happy Fun Time

I love my scanner.  With a few clicks of the mouse, ephemera bits take on a new life.  I love kawaii  (cute) Japanese graphics, and so I save the packaging from Japanese products, including snacks, household goods and craft supplies.

This happy kitty was cropped from a scan of the logo for a packet of origami papers.  I made the mosaic in Picnik, an online photo editing program.  I love Picnik--I have the "premium" package ($25 a year) so I can keep photos I like to use again in my history.  I doctored the colors on the kitty in Photoshop, then bumped the picture into Picnik.

We love Pokenmon in our household.  This is a header from a packet of origami paper that features the popular "pocket monsters" in a variety of designs.  Pikachu is my favorite.

This eye-catching girl in her kimono is another graphic from a packet of origami paper.  Not only is her kimono made with the prints featured in the assortment, she is styled like a kokeshi doll, the popular, collectible, small wooden dolls made by craftspeople in Northern Japan.

This sweet fawn was scanned from the lid to a Bento box that my daughter's best friend purchased at FIT, the Japanese "Dollar" store in Bellaire, below the I-10 in Houston. Deer are very popular kawaii subjects, in part because the deer is considered by Japanese who practice Shinto, a spiritual faith indigenous to Japan.

We'll end with a scan featuring Japan's most famous kitty, Sanrio's, "Hello Kitty," shown here sipping tea in honor of the biscuits in the box.  Although the biscuits are shaped like Hello Kitty and her family, she doesn't seem to mind.  And she looks as young as ever, even though last year she celebrated her 35th birthday!  What a kitty.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Band Fun

 I love the braided trim detail on her jacket!

A few months ago, I bought six vintage trophy tops from Margo, at Junkin' Journal. She had found a treasure trove of drum majorette trophy figures, and I selected three gold metal and three silver ones, along with two diminutive trophy cups.  None of the pieces came on marble bases.

 Three merry drum majorettes.

The trophy cups stand fine without a base, but the drum majorettes had the screw-in bottoms and so needed bases.  I took my gals to a local trophy shop, and for a $1.50 per piece, had them mounted on plain white marble bases.  I can now add ribbon sashes or add "engraved" messages with scrap-booking items.
 Photoshop piece I made using a photo of my daughter with her mellophone.

My daughter plays French Horn and Mellophone in the TWHS Band, so I can use these merry majorettes as awards during her senior year or as table decorations.

 My favorite shot of my daughter and her French Horn, taken after Chamber Music prelims in 2009.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Planetary Musings

Into Space
"Into Space" Digital artwork by C. Bruhn

I've been thinking about outer space lately.  Outer Space makes me feel hopeful, like the dreamy family above, which I put together with the aid of Photoshop.

Gremlins In Space
From a vintage children's reader.

Robot Hand!
Cardboard header from a child's toy.

Images keep appearing in my ephemera collections--I gather some of these on my Flickr photostream.  I am drawn to depictions of the Earth, star maps, and quirky depictions of the space age.

Walk-In World
Detail from "The Story of the Globe".

 Rocket Bank
A rocket bank from my childhood.

I remember the first Moonwalk, the Challenger explosion, and the Columbia disaster.  I have stayed up to scout for comets--Halley's, Kohutek, and Hale-Bopp. I've been to Edwards Air Force Base to watch the Shuttle land.  I've sat through dozens of planetarium shows.

 Warehouse of Mass Distribution
Rocket House in South Houston.

I'm no astronomer, and I'm not even that well-versed about the cosmos, but still, I'm intrigued.  Maybe it's because of "Star Wars" or "Space Odyssey 2001".

Sun and Planets
Detail  from a Goode's Atlas, back in the days when Pluto was a planet.

And when I need a lift, nothing makes me smile like the Monty Python "Galaxy Song".

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Etsy Excitement!

Getting a package from most Etsy sellers is like having a party on a day that isn't your birthday!  I received my second order from "Dime Store Chic," and I took my sweet time opening the box and admiring my treasures.

First off, Beth wraps all your purchases neatly with tissue.  This time, the items were tied with vintage lace, cord and seam binding and wonderful "extras" were snuggled around the packages.  The tutti-fruittii beads  and the kawaii Japanese phone charm were "Lagniappe," or something extra, as the Cajuns say.

Everything was as Beth described in her Etsy listings. I immediately set up some vignettes to show off my finds:
 I put my counters in a narrow glass jar for safe-keeping.

I adore puppies and kittens.  The bluebird image will be great for my Paper Cowgirl Swap project!

Can't wait to start altering the image on the cover of this sweet dictionary.
 Lovely little "extras" from Dime Store Chic.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Funday

Aren't these labels cute?  I found them at the recent Montgomery Antiques show and sale.  I scanned them, then cleaned them up in Photoshop.  Feel free to click and download  a copy for your own use.  Just don't redistribute the originals as your own for profit.

BTW, these are not available on my Flickr stream--they are my gift to you, my readers.

Happy Monday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Happens at the Perfect Church Service

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

This isn't my church (we don't have a cool, darkly draped stage) but I have been to churches like this.  I found this on the awesome if somewhat biting blog The Church of No People

I heard Tony Campolo in a workshop comment on contemporary worship songs as tending toward "Seven-Eleven Songs"--"The same eleven words repeated seven times" (or maybe it was vice-versa).  At any rate, at a recent church-approved book study, I stepped into a mud-hole of confusion by quoting from the old hymn, "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past" and received blank looks from my fellow book study participants.  We haven't had hymnals in our sanctuary EVER--and we only sing our denomination's signature hymn, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (without the awesome pipe organ intro) on Reformation Sunday.

Yep, I'm Lutheran by worship.  Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Lutheran, to be specific, although my husband was born and raised Wisconsin Synod (and, yes, we have our doctrinal points of difference).
I was describing my multi-denominational upbringing to a good friend who is a Methodist pastor, explaining, "I was Disciple of Christ by family background, Presbyterian by birth, and Lutheran by marriage--"

Grinning, my friend added, "And now you're Methodist by the grace of God."  As time has gone by, I see he was pretty well on target.  I consider myself a Thinking Christian, and don't mind looking across the denominational board for my churchly sustenance. In addition to the Bible, I read stuff by Phyllis Tickle, C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonheoffer.  Google 'em if you aren't familiar with them.

My women's study group is reading "Counterfeit Gods:  The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters" by Timothy Keller.  I don't know yet if there's a chapter about making false idols out of our church communities, but there should be one.  Read this book, and check out his other title, "The Prodigal God"  Both will get you thinking!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Excitement Builds for Paper Cowgirl Retreat

The 2010 Paper Cowgirl Altered Art Retreat (June 24-27) is drawing closer, and my excitement is building.  I received a wonderful little packet from Ms. Lisa of Tarnished and Tattered--she's teaching a class on mixed media tag-making and she sent each of her students a letter with a handmade resin embellishment attached.  I feel like doing the "zoomies" (what my dogs do when they deliriously whirl around the house with joy)--I'm going to learn so much from her!

I've signed up for several swaps--and I'm working on all of them.  I'm saving cardboard TP rolls to transform into "baskets" to hold trims for the Vintage Trims swap.  I'm putting together my ATC design--I'll use the same design on all my cards because I have to make a bunch.  I've finished my "blossoms" and just need to add "leaves" to them.

And I'm exploring color palettes for my swap partner in the "I'm a Rodeo Queen, Now Where's My Sash?" swap.  My sash-partner loves aqua and pink, and this is a new color combo for me.  You can see a selection of trims I've gathered so far, including an awesome vintage horse show ribbon in soft, shabby pink.

To top it off, I created a swap--the "Faithful Horse" swap, using the templates provided so generously by Ann Wood, here.  I chose one from the three templates she offers, and enlarged it just a bit.  I'm cutting my horses out of file folders by Cavalini printed with a luscious image of vintage United States map.  Of course,  I'm making sure that Texas shows up on the horse's body!

If you're signed up for Paper Cowgirl, let me know!  If you haven't signed up, you have to HURRY--registration will be closing soon!  Want to see what PC is all about?  Click here.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Aloha Friday


Summer weather has arrived here in Houston, which makes me long for trade winds and the white sands  on the North Shore O'ahu beaches.

Enjoy this video of the official "It's Aloha Friday" song, which features historic photos of cane field workers from the old days in Hawai'i-Nei.

Photos by C. Bruhn; Rocky Point Beach, Sunset Beach, O'ahu, Hawai'i; July 2007

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time Travel Thursday

 The Hula Girl at Hulaville, near Victorville, CA, circa 1986

Long, long ago, in a state far away (a state known as California), I took photos with a Minolta camera, using actual film!  Today, for your viewing pleasure, here are three scans of photos from the 1980s, altered a bit with the fabulous on-line program Picnik, to enhance their nostalgia.  These are scenes of things that no longer exist.  Enjoy.
  Queen's Motel with Dinosaur; Apple Valley, CA, circa 1984

And for those who appreciate vintage neon:
Artesia Blvd; Redondo Beach, CA; circa 1984

Photos by C. Bruhn

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Make Your Own Ribbon Lei

My husband’s job took our family to live on O’ahu, Hawai’i from 1998 through November 2001.  Local crafters create all sorts of handmade leis for gifts and for sale, using every substance imaginable, from the freshest island flowers (mmm!) to cut-up soda straws (a toddler’s first lei-stringing project) to ribbon, rick-rack, crochet thread and yarn.  One of my favorite lei materials is the ubiquitous “Spool ‘o’ Ribbon” brand by Offray, in 1/8- or ¼-inch double-face satin in a rainbow of colors.  These leis are plaited using what is sometimes called a “military braid”.

If you’re a Texas-based reader, you’ve seen the braid on Texas-style Homecoming corsages, generally made out of edged ½ or 1-inch streamer ribbon—finished strips sell for a couple of bucks at the florists around October.
The basic Ribbon Lei technique is very popular in Hawai’i and is a standard choice when making leis in school colors for graduation or other special occasions.  It is easy to do on the go as it doesn’t require anything beyond two rolls of ribbon in your choice of colors and dexterous fingers.  It’s a good airplane craft.
I rarely made my own leis when I lived in Hawai’i, as it was easier to buy them premade from my friends or pick them up at craft shows or at thrift stores, where second-hand fabric, seed and shell leis are almost always available. The rainbow-hued lei pictured in the photo below is a custom-made lei I purchased for Easter from a vendor at the Kam Swap Meet in Pearl City, HI in 1999.

Lately, though, I decided to teach myself the technique.  I found a wonderful tutorial on the Internet, published by the Star-Bulletin, Hawai’i’s second-largest newspaper.  You can find the link to the tutorial, which is an archived piece from 1998 here.  I recommended you copy the text and photos and save them because who knows how long the information will remain in archives.
I have made several leis in the past few weeks—a blue-and-white one for an Alice in Wonderland themed necklace, one in red-and-green as a sample for Band Parents (I’m going to offer them for sale in the fall) and one made with two different ribbon types to honor my dog, Taco.
Using a ribbon with a pattern on one side is tricky—you have to make an extra fold and be careful you don’t shift the plaiting direction as it will add a twist to the finished lei.  I plan to try more complicated patterns, including braiding three 1/8-inch wide leis and plaiting them together like the sample below.
Photos by C. Bruhn

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fun Finds

Yesterday, I received an Etsy order from the fabulous Magpie Ethel, whose blog by the same name is one of my daily must-sees.  I sigh over her photos of the amazing estate finds she snags and enjoy seeing how she recombines her treasures into remade items, all done in her chock-full (again, a sigh of faint envy) workshop.

When Magpie Ethel highlighted these awesome “medals” I just knew I needed a couple to pin onto my “Sugar Skull” Apron, also an Etsy find from Boojiboo.  I ordered one medal from Magpie Ethel and asked for a custom-made “Chatterbox” medal with purple and gold ribbon.  Aren’t they nifty?

This weekend, I went to the Montgomery Antiques Show, held in historic Montgomery, Texas.  I made a bee-line for the Garden Antiques display, hosted by Ms. Theresa, who has the best blog about Texas-style antiquin’ and junkin’ you’ll find this side of Lubbock.  We had a great chat.  I’m saving up for one of her vintage fish tanks.

I did spend a bit on some small items—I just can’t pass up bits of ephemera and little odds-n-ends, especially if they are $3.00 or less.  Here’s what I found.
 The neatest fun find for the day was this prison-art photo frame made from Camel cigarette package paper.  Although the dealer said she acquired it from a Houston-area dealer, it may well have been crafted by a Huntsville prison inmate to help pass the time.
 I also bought a table-top Coats Thread Display bin made out of metal with four sliding drawers.  My daughter has taken up sewing, and she'll be able to stash her threads, zippers, elastics and such in the drawers. Right now, her threads are rolling around in a plastic snap top box.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cowgirl Photoshop Project

This is a page that began as a scan from a 1941 edition of a Lone Ranger coloring book published by Whitman Books, Racine, Wisconsin.  I love the original (featured below, before restoration) but wanted to have the line art available for other projects.

I started this on Thursday, the night my dog died, and there was something soothing about cloning and erasing, bit by little bit.  I worked on it Saturday and Sunday evening, and spent a large chunk of today finishing the work and adding the filters. I altered some parts of the drawing and created "solid" dust clouds.  I used my mouse for all the re-lining work (the cowgirl, her horse, tack and the dust clouds were all relined).  I have a Wacom tablet, but haven't used it for awhile, and wanted the familiarity of the mouse for this project.

All told, this is about 10 hours of work.  I was having a new A/C installed today, so I did the bulk of the work while the technicians were hauling equipment up and down stairs.  I still may tweak the line art--I think I'll move the horse's rear leg into the middle of the "dust cloud" and do a few other refinements.  However, it's a nice piece, as it is, since the drawing has that old-fashioned feel.  I feel like I know Billie Jeanne after working on her page so long!