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Straw.  (What did you think I was going to say?)

Friends Patricia, Joan and I got together for some food, painting and, of course, laughing.   Patricia had seen someone on YouTube paint a tree with watercolor and a straw. So we gave it a try.   It was hilarious and fun.  Here are the results.

Cherry Blossom straw trees

Straw Trees 1

Straw Trees 2

It will never stop snowing here.  Ever.  Gothamist just posted this:  More Snow Expected To Hit City Today, Possibly Every Day For Eternity!  Since it’s so cold and snowy out, there are any number of Buzzfeed tests on the internet to pass the time until Spring.  And since I can kill time like nobody’s business, I’ve been enjoying (although not agreeing) with a number of them:

What state do you actually belong in?  (I got NH, then PA then TN)

What career should you have?  (Humanitarian – stop laughing, then Professor)

Which Star Trek character are you? (Chekov)

What font are you?  I got Courier.  My friend Judy got Futura. She said “I was sure I had a serif in me but apparently I was sans serif.”

And in case you didn’t know, here are the 5 stages of Winter:

Here’s to April!

Back? Ready to work?  Let’s go.  This is the “finishing” section.  Soon your piece will be ready for the coming out party at the decoupage debutante ball.

Once you’re satisfied with your gluing and subsequent cleaning of the glass, the next step is to select some metallic paints to sponge onto your piece to give it a little pizzazz.   Of course there is pizzazz and then there’s PIZZAZZ.  I am often stopped by my teacher after I’ve covered the whole back of a piece of glass with metallic paint.  She gently tells me it should look classy like fine art, not loud and garish.  (Did she just meet me?)  Her motto is Less is More. My motto is If Less is More, More must be Fabulous.   I chose gold for this project.

Put some of the metallic paint on a paper plate, take a sea sponge, dip the sponge into the metallic paint and then dab the sponge over the paper plate until the paint is almost dry.   At this point you are ready to enhance and elevate your glued paper and glass to the next level of awesomeness.  Gently press the sponge on the back of the glued image so that only a bit of metallic is showing…almost as if the image is glowing. Try different color metallics.   I often use silver, three different kinds of gold, chocolate and sometimes red. Not all at the same time.

Let the metallic paint dry.  If you think it needs more bling, go for it.  If you think you overdid it, scratch some off with your fingernail.

Next, select a background color for your piece.  In the studio we have a giant box filled with the free paint chips you get at the hardware store.   We try them out until we find a color we like and then match it by mixing the color using a variety of basic acrylic colors.  Another option is to decide on a color…let’s say red…and then pick out all of your red paints, paint a small swatch of each on a piece of paper and let dry.  Once the paper is dry, hold it behind the glass and see which shade of red works for you.

Paint the back of the glass until there are no streaks and the background is a solid color.  If you are using craft paint you may need four coats of paint.  Thick bodied acrylics should only require two coats.

Let dry.  Enjoy a cosmo and some fine dark chocolate.  I prefer the Lindt extra dark in the black wrappers, but this was all that was available.

I often put a final coat (or two) of metallic paint on the back. Finish with polyurethane or varnish.  Clean the edges and whatever paint and glue on the glass with a straight edge razor.   You may clean the front of the plate with glass cleaner.  Don’t soak or put it in the dishwasher.

Ta Da!

Congratulations, you have completed your first project.  You now absolutely detest this and never want to do it again…or…you will become consumed with looking for glass in different sizes and styles and images to copy and paste.

Some general info:

1.  This is only one technique.  You may know of different ways to achieve the same or similar results.  If you do please comment and share your knowledge.

2.  This is not an exact science.  I have ruined more pieces in either the gluing or cleaning of the glue than I want to remember.  Once I dropped a piece that was practically finished.  Boy was I broken hearted when it shattered.

3.  There are fixes for some mistakes.  (But not if you drop your glass and it shatters.)   If you’ve horribly disfigured a section of your image but everything else looks good, wait for the whole thing to dry and then carefully cut the offending section off and glue a new section on.  This is why it’s a good idea to make multiple copies of your images.

4.  If you don’t have another image to use to make a fix, and a piece of your paper has torn slightly, sometimes a colored pencil or marker on the back of the paper may cover the tear enough for it not to show.

5. If you see a bubble after the paper has dried, gently poke a small hole or make a small slit with your xacto knife and try to get some more glue in there.  Or get it a little wet and press down hard on the paper.  Don’t rub.

6.  Use one of your own original paintings!   Make some copies of your painting, cut it out and go to town.

7.  HAVE FUN!

Thank you for your time and patience reading the longest blog post ever.  Good luck.  Let me know how you do.

A big thank you goes to Nicola of Pointy Pix for passing along this Liebster Blog Award to me.

Liebster translates to sweetheart, darling, dearest one. The award originated in Germany in 2009-2010 and it was for blogs with less than 3000 followers.  Nicola nominated me with this comment:

Carol King who is always Painting, Drawing, Complaining! She just makes me laugh with her New York wit and she does cool paintings too!

Aww shucks.  Thank you Nicola.

Now, I’m supposed to tell you 5 things you don’t already know about me, and we’ve been through this before with the other award.  Since the pressure is on, I thought I might knuckle under and give you a few tidbits about me that you haven’t already figured out from my blog posts.

1.  I am not tall.

2.  I cannot sing, but wish I could with all my heart.  Of course this does not stop me from singing at the top of my lungs when I’m alone in the car.

3.   I have never lived anywhere else other than NYC.   (Neither did my parents.)    I live 1/2 mile from where I was born.  Sad.

4.  I like to travel, but hate to fly.  Thank God for little yellow pills!

5.  If I was on death row (someplace I hope to never be) my last meal would probably be potato chips.  Plain, not flavored.

I’m to pass this award on to 5 other people.   All of you on my blog roll inspire me, but you didn’t take me up on it last time I got an award and nominated all of you, so here goes, in no particular order:

Jana Bouc     Virginia     Rhonda     Leslie     Irina  and   Alice (my sister).    Yeah, yeah, so there’s six instead of five.  Math was not one of my better subjects.

I’m in the process of creating more decoupage under glass including documenting the steps since so many people have asked about it.  I hope to have it all ready to post soon.   So get your Elmer’s Glue ready!

Painted wooden lazy susan – acrylic

A recent trip with my sister to visit my nephew on Parent’s Day at Philadelphia University brought us fun, cheesesteaks and a visit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  (I told everyone “Jack has two mommies”).

Parent’s Day started off with the two of us visiting Jack, a freshman, in his dorm at PhilaU.  (I guess that’s better than P.U. which is what I was calling it.)

And what does a freshman want most?  Food, and lots of it.  My sister Alice did not disappoint, bringing frozen homemade meals, Ramen noodles, cookies, and a boat load of other snacks and toiletries including the “soft toilet paper” he specifically requested.  I guess Freshmen tushes are very sensitive these days.

Old Lady in Window, Rovingo /Rovinij Istria, Croatia – Watercolor on 1/2 sheet of Arches 140# cold press

Turns out, we never even made it to any of the Parent’s Day activities.  Jack wanted to go to Pat’s and Geno’s, the rival Philly cheesesteak establishments which are across the street from each other.   We sampled both and I paid the price later on. PLEASE pass the Rolaids!  Jack gave the thumbs up to Geno’s, while Alice gave it to Pat’s.  I just had a stomach ache after tasting both and swore I wouldn’t eat cheesesteak again.  After lunch Jack got a haircut ( #1 buzz ) and then we paid a visit to the Philadelphia Museum.  The big exhibit was Rembrandt and “face of Jesus”  and was interesting.  To balance the viewing we then went over to the contemporary gallery.  We saw plaster casts of people’s navels, saws with “saws” on them, a mobile of wax heads cut off at the necks and numerous other pieces that I didn’t get.    But one of my favorite parts of the day was when we exited through the gift shop after the Rembrandt show. The gift shop had giant fake wheels of cheese, wooden shoes, tulips and some Dutch chocolate along with the usual books and other Rembrandt paraphernalia.

When we exited the Museum, there where two bridal parties taking pictures. We saw a couple get engaged on the steps as their friends & family looked on from the steps above and cheered.  A group of school girls ran up the steps Rocky style. and we took pictures by the Rocky statue.   Alas, we had to leave but a visit back is already int the works.

Above you will find a large lazy susan I painted for my sister-in-law Jeanne.  I think she liked it, but I should have used gloss rather than matte varnish.  The old lady in the window in Istria has finally been completed.  I think she’s turning away because she just ate a Philly cheesesteak and now has agita.

Just back from a fantastic trip to Croatia (or Hrvatska as the Croatians call it).  It was the Husband’s big birthday trip. Our first stop was Istria, a peninsula that juts out into the Adriatic.  That is where my father’s family comes from.   We got to see the town my grandmother came from which was fun.  The town is called Šušnjevica and I spoke about it and painted it here and here.   There will be many more paintings to come, but in the meantime here is a similar plate as the plates I made to give to my cousin’s cousins (got that?) who live in Pula and have, among other things, a vineyard.

Some observations from the trip:

Croatians are a tall people.

Germans are also a tall people and apparently like to take all their clothes off in the sun.

Europeans in general cannot stand in line if their life depended on it.  There may be a semblance of a line say, to get on a catamaran to take one to Hvar, but as soon as that catamaran docks, it’s a free-for-all.  This made the Husband nuts!  (Members of the UK are excluded from this observation. They excel at queuing!)

It amazes me that so many people from other countries can speak multiple languages.  I am always jealous of this.  One time in particular, there was a Croatian who spoke to my cousin’s cousin, who then turned and translated to my cousin in Italian who then turned and translated it into English for us.  Sigh.  I wish I was multi-lingual.  I also wish I was taller, younger, richer and weighed less.

The first native word the Husband learns is the word for beer.  (In Croatian it’s Pivo.)

“Trst” is the Croatian word for the Italian town of Trieste.  Krk is a Croatian island in the Adriatic.  Many of the Croatian words have impossibly long consonant combinations that make it difficult for non-speakers to even try to pronounce.  There are also many accented letters.  The Husband asked a native why they have little or few vowels in many of their words.  She thought about this for a moment, shrugged and said nonchalantly replied “we don’t need them”.    So there you go.

An amazing amount of Europeans still smoke.  I am astounded by that.

The myth of the skinny European has been debunked.  Many are as fat as Americans.

The Adriatic Sea is crystal clear and many beautiful shades of blue.

Croatians love their Crocs (which they call crocsies).

More on Croatia (Istria and the Dalmation Coast) with (hopefully) some paintings in later posts.

Set of 4 Art glass coasters – each are 4 1/2″ in diameter

Boy am I tired.

After about 20 years I went ice skating again.  My brother who does not read my blog has two boys, 6 and almost 4.  The six-year-old is taking ice skating lessons and wanted The Husband to show him how to skate backwards.  So off we went.  I never thought I could still skate but I could.  And it was fun. OK, there were no comparisons to Peggy Fleming, but at least I didn’t fall.

After skating it was off to Monster Mini Golf which is indoors and has black (UV) lighting.  Wow,  flashback to the 60’s and 70’s.  It had great music, a disco ball, and our shirts and shoelaces glowed in the dark.  We topped that off with some ski-ball.  It’s an arcade game where you toss a ball up an incline and try to get it into different holes for points and tickets.  A bazillion tickets gets you a pencil eraser.  At that point The Husband and I had to go home.  We couldn’t take any more excitement.

I am now going to take 3 Advils and go to bed.  My whole body hurts.   Wait, maybe first I will make a cosmo and rest the glass on these lovely art glass coasters that I made.  This way I don’t get rings on my fancy tray table.

The coasters are made by decoupaging images on the back of glass coasters with plain old Elmer’s glue.  Then some bronzing powders (the metallic in the images above – I used gold and chocolate) paint and polyurethane.  The process is very time-consuming but I love the results.  Can’t wait to make more.

When can I quit my tedious day job so I can play with paint, glue and scissors all day?

I returned from a 10 day trip to Peru to find the work in my office piled to the rafters.   Ugh!  Whatever iota of relaxation I felt during those ten days left rather quickly.   But what won’t ever leave are the fabulous memories of Peru, Machu Picchu and the wonderful Peruvian people.

We flew into Lima, the capital of Peru and spent a couple of days wandering around this very interesting city.   It is on the ocean and has a beautiful coast and a fascinating historical center with wonderful colonial architecture.   We then flew to Cusco, high up in the Andes mountains.  At 11,200 feet you have to take it slowly the first day.  For those of you who may live in the mountains, this may not seem like a big deal, but for us sea level dwellers, we experienced shortness of breath and headache.  A few cups of coca tea (yes, THAT coca) put us right.

The second day in Cusco we climbed to Sacsaywaman, also known as Sacsayhuaman which almost killed me.  Damn, those Incas loved steps.   A fascinating tour with Mario, a local shaman had us up there for over four hours. It was exhausting but well worth the trip.

I won’t bore you with ALL the details of our trip, but will show you some pictures of the main attraction...Machu Picchu. This ancient Incan site was magical and amazing and fabulous.  Here are just a few of the 1400 + pictures we took:

And look at this….the tiredest pre-colombian Peruvian that ever lived:

Oh,  the platters on the very top are a couple I painted for some very special people.  Cousin Tommy and Chrissy for their 25th wedding anniversary and the other for a couple that just got married.  Since I haven’t given it to them yet, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

No matter how much fun vacations are, it’s always good to be home, with friends and family and in this case, back at sea level.

It’s been so hot here (and everywhere in the northern hemisphere I hear) that I have no energy to do anything.  So, there is no painting this week.  Just some comments on death and dying.

Yep,  I figured it’s so hot you would need something really fun to perk you up.

A recent story of a woman who was a hoarder (think Collyer Brothers) fell in her home and died under an avalanche of her own “stuff”.  She was found four months later.   Don’t ask.

I told this story to a friend who said to me: “I always pray ‘God, don’t let me die stupid’.”  What she meant, of course, was don’t let me die on the toilet, tripping over the dog or setting my self aflame because my sweater caught on the toaster as I was making myself some cinnamon raisin toast.

So while I feel for this poor woman, I only hope that when it’s my time to go, it’s not by getting my hair caught in my shredder.

The pictured chair was done for a woman who had a paint your own pottery studio.  I no longer remember why, but she had a contest to paint the white chairs in her studio.  I came in 2nd or 3rd and won something.   So much for my memory.

A random thought:  Law and Order Los Angeles?  Really?

Stay cool dear blog readers.  Stay cool.

Patti’s 50th birthday tray

Walking our dogs along 4th Ave one evening, Charlie noticed one of his dogs sniffing around a small glassine envelope on the ground.  Charlie said “Geordi found a nickel bag.”   As you know if you read my previous post about gentrification, a number of years ago we could have found a number of things on the sidewalk from crack vials to needles to…well you get the idea. 

Now, not so much. 

I looked down and thought  “I wonder what you get in a nickel bag these days?”   Or…is a nickel bag still worth a nickel?  Charlie told me it was now called a venti bag.  We laughed and laughed.  Oh, the times they are a changin’.

What does the above story have to do with the photo of the broken ceramic tray above? 

Nothing.

A number of years ago cousin Patti gave me this huge wooden tray and some left over tiles from her fireplace surround and asked if I could do something with them.  I had them in my apartment for a looooooong time.  So long, in fact that I think it was a few years when SUDDENLY AND WITHOUT WARNING, Patti turned 50 and I was invited to the party.  What to give?   How about a decorative tiled tray?   But how to do it since I never did anything like this before.   I painted the tray to match the roses, did some decorative painting on the sides and then had the most fun smashing the tiles.   Got me some grout, laid out the tiles and voila!   Done.  And it weighs a TON!  Patti loved it and all was well in the world.

I have just returned from a 3 city tour of Florida.  It began with Sanibel Island, then over to Jupiter, then up to Winter Park.  I was bitten by every sand flea, no-see-um and mosquito in the state.

What can I say about Florida?  It’s an adjustment.

1.  It’s hot.

2.  There are gators (and I saw one right on the side of the road where I was a-walkin’)

3.  There were stingrays in the Gulf Water.  (ok, they were skates, but still…there were a LOT of them.)

4.  Did I mention it was HOT.  And this was only April.

5.  No one walks.  Anywhere.  There were NO PEOPLE on the streets.  Where is everyone?

Florida pluses:  got to see dolphins, a ton of manatee and some osprey and beautiful egrets and herons.   Despite my fear of “owtside”, we had a great time.   (remember my motto, stolen directly from Bonnie Luria:  “Owtside begins with Ow”).

My friend that I went to college with who I also visited while in Florida now uses a “Jitterbug” phone!   This phone is for old people.  Why?  You can’t text, you can’t get your email, you can’t take pictures you can’t browse the web.

What CAN you do with a Jitterbug?   You can make or receive calls, you can press a button if you’ve fallen and you can’t get up or you can use it as a shoehorn.

(Full disclosure…I have a blackberry, aka crackberry, which I’m kind of addicted to.)

While in Florida I got to visit some of my decorative painted wood pieces.  A “petunia” tray I had painted for my aunt and a “garden” birdhouse I painted for my friends Jim and Kirk, who themselves have a lush garden.   It was fun to see these pieces I had forgotten I had painted and given away.  It was like running into old friends.

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