Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ocean City 2010

I love Stamping by the Sea. This is one of my favorite events to attend. You may have heard me mention this before - but it's true so it bears mentioning again.

The stamping convention is held the same weekend of May every year. This allows for some good pre-season deals on accommodations and yet, if you're lucky, some great time on the beach. Even when the weather isn't quite as cooperative as I'd like, I'd rather spend an overcast, cool day near the beach than here in northeast Ohio!

This year I arrived on Thursday night in time for dinner and a walk along the beach. I honestly don't remember where I ate that night, but I'm sure it was good. :-) I awoke early the next morning and made my way to the Boardwalk for the Cruisers parade. The weekend that this convention is held also happens to be during the Cruisers event. While I'm not a hot-rod or vintage car enthusiast, I do enjoy the boardwalk parades. They do these parades at 7 am Thursday through Saturday.

(For more information on the Cruisin' Ocean City event)

After the parade I headed to the Carousel Resort which was the host hotel for the convention. I taught two classes there on Friday morning. It was so nice to see familiar faces...some of my students have been taking classes from me all five years that I've attended. It made me feel quite good to have a few of them tell me they signed up for ALL of my classes that weekend.

It was a GORGEOUS day that Friday, so after cleaning up from my second class I grabbed my beach bag and chair and headed to the beach. I came prepared with my bathing suit under my clothes for precisely this purpose! I went down the beach where I ate my lunch and enjoyed the sun. After indulging in a little sun worship, I finally gathered myself up and went to set the booth up - grateful for the reprieve.

The Friday night dessert/make-and-take event is not to be missed...if you are an attendee. As an instructor, it is non-stop and incredibly tiring. I did it four years in a row and took a break this year. I may do it again next year as I do enjoy talking to all the people for the time they are seated in front of me. As an attendee, you get five tickets to create five different projects and enjoy the desserts. While you may have to wait in line for the most popular projects, it is relaxing and enjoyable evening for you. Seriously, you don't want to skip it - it is well worth the price.

Saturday morning I got up early and enjoyed the car parade again. I walked down the boardwalk and ate breakfast in a hotel where I could watch the cars while I ate. Wonderful! After breakfast it was back to the Carousel for a full day of vending fun. This was the 10th year for Stamping by the Sea and boy was it eventful! On Saturday, near noon, the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the hotel. Apparently there was smoke from a grill in the kitchen that set off the alarm.

Awaiting the "all-clear" from the fire department

If you are thinking of going to this event next year, let me just say that it has something for everyone! The host hotel is a beautiful resort complete with an indoor (and outdoor) pool, a fitness room, restaurant AND ice-skating rink! Your kids will love it. I brought my whole family the first two years I attended and we stayed at the Carousel. My kids thought they had died and gone to heaven! Additionally, the aforementioned Cruiser event will have your husband happy and content while you enjoy the convention. If you are an artsy husband - this should be like Mecca for you!

Before I left to attend the event I got my class counts and prepared my class kits. I always prepare extra for people who my choose to sign up once they arrive and see the class sample in person. I brought double the supplies for the Niches, Drawers and Doors Light class and filled that class AND squeezed in an additional person. What a fun class (if I do say so myself). I love sharing all of these neat altered book features with eager students.

I had a great show day on Sunday. Sunday is usually a slower-paced, relaxed day and it's nice after a busy Saturday. My neighbor vendor was Cindy Ward, the Art Director for a Maryland newspaper, an artist and author. What an interesting lady! She sells a line of rubber stamps, her own designs, based on all of her various kitty cats. Each stamp has a story. On this last day, Cindy presented me with a copy of a children's book that she wrote and published through Scholastic. What an honor. Meeting such creative and interesting people is just one of the many reasons I love the craft industry.

I make a point of planning some time for "me" into every day and every event. I planned to stay an extra day after the show for some me time on the beach. The foggy weather didn't exactly cooperate with my beach aspirations, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. I got up early, as usual, grabbed breakfast, rented a bike for an hour, shopped up and down the boardwalk, ate some boardwalk fries, took advantage of the one hour the sun did pop out, and enjoyed a nice dinner and a movie. Note the goosebumps on my leg...I tried to stick it out on the beach.

Guess what greeted me the morning I left? SUN. It was going to be a beautiful day. If I could have, I would have stayed an extra day. I did stay a little longer than I had originally planned so I could take a walk on the boardwalk and grab a little breakfast at a restaurant overlooking the ocean.

Make plans to join us in 2011. Go to: and sign up for their email newsletter so you get all the information when it becomes available

Places I visited this year in Ocean City:

Harrison's Harbor Watch Restaurant
on the boardwalk at the inlet

*I liked this restaurant. I had Tilapia with redskin potatoes and a FREE shrimp cocktail (from a coupon booklet).

Davinci's by the Sea
beneath the Harrison Hall hotel at 15th St. and the boardwalk

*Unlimited bread and salad. The salad is great, albeit not so healthy. The garlic spread for the bread is delish. Every entree I've had here has been very good. This is the restaurant where I spoke with Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley) in 2009.

Fausto's Bistro
12th St and the boardwalk

*Great happy hour deal: 1/2 cheese pizza and a glass of wine for $5.95. That said, I wasn't terribly impressed with this place. The pizza was good, but their menu was very limited. If you want pizza, try them. If you hope to find something else to eat, go somewhere else.

Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille
66th St Bayside.

*Eat at the bar during happy hour and get 20% off your food and drink purchase! I had their tomato soup and a salad. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. But, to be truthful, I may have been jaded by the fact that my waitress was over-attentive and made me a little nutso. They have an extensive drink list, but I think their wines are overpriced. I think a glass of White Zinfandel was $8 or something like that.

The Dough Roller
There are several locations throughout Ocean City, but I ate breakfast at the one on 3rd St and the boardwalk. This is the original location.

*It is from this restaurant that I watched the morning parade of Cruisers while enjoying my breakfast. They have an AWESOME fresh fruit cup here.

The Captain's Table
Inside the Courtyard by Marriott 15th St. and the Boardwalk

*Lovely restaurant. No view of the ocean, but the food is really good. I had a salad here that was VERY yummy. This is a more elegant restaurant than some of the others I went to and the prices reflet that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Weekend in Cary

I just got back from a whirlwind couple of weeks. It began a couple of weekends ago with an art workshop in Cary, NC. What a wonderful time! I was invited by Jillian Goldberg, co-owner of Lara 'N Jillz Art Studio to come and teach.

I stayed with Jillian and I have to tell you that the first thing I noticed when I entered her lovely home was all of the beautiful artwork that graced the walls. She took me on a little tour of the art and I learned that it came from a variety of sources, some were her works...all were wonderful. I was greatly blessed by Jillian's hospitality.

Jillian's home is nestled on a lovely lake that has a public park on one side and a beautiful walking path that encircles it. Before I left Ohio the weather had been dismal. We had had highs in the forties! In North Carolina the temperature was in the nineties. This freeze-baby was in heaven! And, what a great way to enjoy the weather by talking a walk around the beautiful lake. I did this both mornings that I was there and LOVED it!

We had a wonderful time at the workshop. I love to teach, I love people and I love altered art. I always enjoy my classes and it is even more enjoyable when there are fun and lively participants. What a great group of people! Great art was created by everyone. Check out photos of the participants and their artwork at:!/album.php?aid=163771&id=45128553476&ref=mf

The studio is a fun place. A converted garage, it was stocked with everything you would need to be creative. I would love to have something like that in my area. They teach both adult and children's classes. Tuesday mornings feature an Open Studio series, as well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tuesday

Happy Fat Tuesday! I've always wanted to go to New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras. Someday I will get there, but in the meantime I get to have fun at my first-ever Mardi Gras party!

I decided that I wanted to dress up and I just had to have the requisite Mardi Gras mask. This crafty lady had to, of course, make her own.

I bought a little 79 cent plastic mask from Michaels along with some fun feathers. I had some rhinestones, glitter glue and alcohol inks on hand to round out my supplies.
While I had alcohol inks, I had never actually USED them. *GASP* I've seen them demonstrated numerous times and love the look. I determined that this was the perfect time to give them a go. What fun! I used the Tim Holtz alcohol ink applicator along with three colors of ink and love the effect that it created.

After I dabbed the alcohol inks onto the plastic mask, I let it dry. Being an altered artist, I felt the need to add some words to the mask. I went through a newspaper and found a variety of words and phrases to fit into my idea of a mask of positivity. I wear this mask of positivity in real life (a figurative one) and thought it fun to create a tangible replica. In the case of this positivity mask, I believe it is not something I hide behind but something that defines me. I despise whining and complaining, and work hard to always find the positive aspect of every situation. Sometimes the positivity is not IN the situation itself, but in what we learn from a situation and how we grow as a result.

Armed with my positive words and phrases, I began to adhere my "positive outlook" onto my mask. After adhering the words I glued the rhinestones and feathers. I finished the piece with a little glitter glue to line the eyes.

Enjoy this festive day and...stay positive. :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Exciting News - We're Going Digital!

2010 is the sixth year for Altered Arts. From the very first club kit that we sent out we have strived to adjust to our customer’s feedback and the changing times. We have some very exciting changes on the horizon for 2010. The most notable change will be our switch from a print magazine to a digital format. While we, like most of you, enjoy the tactile nature of a print magazine, the switch to digital will offer many new exciting possibilities.

This switch should not be confused with our current e-magazine newsletters. The e-magazine newsletters are just that – newsletters in magazine format. They were specifically sized to be viewed only online. We have purchased new software for our new digital issues that will allow us to continue to inspire you in really exciting ways. While it may take a little time for us to fully utilize all the possibilities of this new software, imagine, if you will, how-to articles with VIDEO! I told you it was exciting. Additionally, because of the high cost of printing and postage, we had to limit the page count of our print magazine. We will now be able to add more content to the magazine without increasing the number of ads or increasing the purchase price. This means more inspiring artwork and articles for you.

All of our subscribers with current subscriptions will automatically receive the new digital magazine. As a thank-you for making this switch with us, we will extend subscriptions purchased before February 12th by TWO issues! Our club members will also receive the digital version with their membership.

If you are a club member or current subscriber, please check your email for important information about this change.

The Spring 2010 issue, our first digital issue, will be made available free of charge to anyone who would like to try it out. The Spring issue will be available at the beginning of March.

Want a taste? We have put together a 7 page sample of our new digital format featuring articles from the WIN 09 print issue along with a new Letter to the Editor and a sample of our new video feature. As we learn the program, more exciting things will be added. To read the articles, it is imperative that you click on full size (1:1) to zoom to the magazine's actual size. The print online is actually the same size (and larger) than the print on paper at the full-size ratio. Once at the 1:1 size, you can click and drag the page to wherever you need it. You may also print from this format easily by clicking on the printer icon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Glimmer Chalk Backgrounds

At the Westminster, MD StampScrapArtTour, we did a make-and-take using black cardstock and glimmer chalks. If you're a fan of our Facebook page, you've probably already seen some ATCs that convention-goers made at our booth using this technique. I decided I'd share the technique with everyone.

We started with a black ATC blank. We then rubbed the glimmer chalks onto the black cardstock - wherever. The background was immediate, and visually striking! Our make-and-take artists finished their cards by running gold PearlEx ink around the edge and adding images and embellishments.

I also tried this technique using templates from The Crafter's Workshop. LOVED the results!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Drawn in by the Muse

I was unable to find a hotel near the Westminster, MD convention and wound up in Frederick - nearly 45 minutes away. (This is what happens when an event sneaks up on you and you realize the day before you leave that you have not yet made your travel plans.) My hotel was near Historic Frederick and I was excited about visiting the historic city center after the convention on Saturday night.

I closed up our booth and drove to Frederick where I arrived about 6:15 pm. After driving around for a while getting the lay of the land, I parked in a garage and headed out on foot. The section of road I selected to explore contained about 4 or 5 restaurants. (I was hungry.) I was greeted by a woman outside the Cellar Door restaurant who provided me with a menu and invited me in. I checked out a few other restaurants and decided to give that one a try.

The Cellar Door restaurant was cozy and charming. It was, as the name suggested, in the basement of the building it occupied and contained some charming architectural elements as a result. I was seated around 6:40. The lady at the door had given me a half-price appetizer coupon so I ordered the lobster bruschetta which was okay - nothing to get excited about, though. I ordered the Eastern salad and, ever searching for unusual entrees, the fried green tomatoes with chipotle vodka sauce. The salad was excellent. The dressing for the salad was light and full of flavor. The entree, however, was not. I do think, however, that my issue with the entree may have been solely my own. You see, I have been eating healthy for about 3 years now and rarely have any fried food. I should have known better and ordered something else, but I think I was drawn in by the chipotle vodka sauce. (Spicy and alcohol together became a siren song for me, I think.) Anyway, the dish was just way too oily for me. I ate two of the tomatoes and that's all. The accompanying garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans were good. Unfortunately, the service was S-L-O-W! I did not get out of there until 8:30 pm. I was quite disappointed by this as I was planning to explore the area.

Refusing to have my night ruined by my late release from the restaurant, I wandered down North Market Street toward a store that I had noticed on my way in... the Muse. Of course the name drew me in. Our club is called the Mailbox Muse and I wondered what "inspiration" this store was offering.

The Muse is a wonderful store full of handcrafted items from artists. Most of the artists that supply the store are local, but the store does stock beautiful items from all over. Items that you will find in this store are beautiful jewelry, clothing, scarves, collages, soaps & bath products, baby items, ceramic pieces and more!

Being enamored of the store, I struck up a conversation with the cashier who turned out to be the store's owner, Whitney Bingham. Whitney told me all about the store and made me sincerely wish I lived closer. In addition to the wonderful handcrafted pieces, the store also offers craft classes for its customers. One class series is called, "Wednesday Wine & Cheese Craft parties," and another is "Sunday Mimosa Make & Take." Okay, I don't know about you, but for me crafts + wine/mixed drinks = heaven. The classes are quite reasonable as well - only $35 each plus your class kit. The upcoming offerings include Twisted Metal Bracelet Design, Fold Art Bird Brooch, Needle Punched Flower, Encaustic Wax Workshop, Mini Collage, altered Photo Ornaments and Reflections in Metal.

While I had little time to explore the full range of shops that Historic Frederick offered, I was thrilled to have found the Muse. If you have a chance to visit Frederick, stop in and visit this wonderful store. Tell Whitney I sent you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Potato Chip Bag Art

Well, I thought I had taken photos of the artwork I came up with using the shrunken potato chip bags but I can now neither find the photos nor the artwork. Someday when I am no longer needing it it will appear. You know how that goes, right? I bet I put it in a SAFE place. :-)

I did find pictures of the process, however. The pictures are of my original attempts. I Googled "shrink potato chip bags" to get instructions. Since I could not find my heat gun at the time (are you noticing a trend?), I used my oven. One problem that I had was that the bags curled up on themselves. I also cut the bags open and used only one ply. I'm imagining that I would have far different results if I used the complete bag. I actually have a cupboard full of empty chip bags for future trial and error practices.

So, enjoy my "process photos." Have you tried shrinking potato chip bags? We'd love to see your results. Post them on our Facebook Page. Periodically we select projects posted at random and award a prize.

I stamped on the bags using StazOn ink.

I added embossing powder and glitter to a couple of the pieces.

Most of the pieces curled up on themselves unfortunately. The ones on which I added the embossing powder came out usable.