Rebecca Baer® Artful Living

09 April 2014

Preserving Magnolia Leaves

Magnolia and other types of leaves can be easily preserved using a simple solution of glycerin and water.  In order to create a craft project for a gardening group planning a visit to "Artisan Life & Style" I used the following process on both magnolia and holly leaves with excellent results.

  1. Prepare your solution using two of parts very hot water to one part glycerin and pour it into your chosen container.  A narrow container will require less volume as the smaller diameter allows it to rise higher than in a container with a larger diameter.
  2. Gather your freshly cut branches keeping in mind that shorter branches will take less time to preserve as the glycerin solution has less distance to travel. Mash the ends to expose more surface area and submerge the mashed ends.  These will take several weeks to absorb the solution.  Check the progress weekly.  When the solution has reached the leaves you will see a rich brown color beginning to develop following the paths of the veins on the magnolia leaves.  
  3. Once the entire leaf has turned a glossy brown it has become fully saturated and can be removed from the solution.  Holly leaves become a deep black-green hue.
The preserved leaves can be used for a variety of crafts and home decor applications including wreaths, swags and arrangements.  The leaves can also be used as an art canvas on which to paint.  Imagine a magnolia blossom painted on a preserved leaf.  This would be a summertime beauty to enjoy once the season is long past.

To gild the leaves I used RB Gilded Stenciling Adhesive (it is thick so it does not bead on the glossy leaves) along with Composition Gold Leafing.

21 March 2014

Do I Really Need Duplicate Brushes?


You've been painting for years and are likely to have an enormous stash of brushes.  You've recently decided to expand your horizons and try a new medium.  Or perhaps you are just getting started and aren't sure which medium will speak to you.  You've heard talk that you should have a different set of brushes for each medium but you are hesitant--surely that advice is from a company or individual who wants to sell more brushes, right?  Well, as it turns out, no.  Keeping a separate set of brushes reserved for use exclusively with oils, acrylics or watercolors is good advice.  

For starters, oil and water don't mix so if you use your brushes interchangeably between oils and waterbased mediums you create a compatibility problem.  Residue in the brushes can cause bonding issues or areas of resist. Oil residue can irreparably stain a paper or acrylic coated surface. In some cases the desired hair content or brush shape may differ.  For example, Oil painters and watercolorists often prefer a natural-hair brush while acrylic artists sometimes like a brush with synthetic bristles.  

Classique Angles
"Okay, sounds reasonable but doesn't that mean that I can use my acrylic brushes with watercolors?", you might ask.  After all, these are both waterbased so, no compatibility issues there.  The answer is a resounding yes...and no.  Compatibility isn't the problem, binders (or the lack of) are.  Acrylic paints have a binder which, upon drying, makes the paint permanent.  Watercolors do not have a binder so when more moisture is introduced to dry paint the colors come back to life.  (Let's pretend the following example is not drawn from personal experience) In a pinch you might grab a brush you usually use for acrylics but think it won't hurt to use it for watercolors, just this once.  You just need a quick wash of Ultramarine Blue and it will rinse right out.  But alas, the next time you go to pick up a nice bright white or light hue for your acrylic project you discover that the color has taken on a brilliant blue tint!  The presence of moisture in the brush has caused the residual watercolor to reactivate and change your acrylic hue accordingly.  

Now that you know there there is indeed sound reasoning behind the admonition to isolate your brushes don't be concerned that you need to duplicate every brush you own or plan to purchase.  I use the same brush series (these are a blend of natural and synthetic hair) as these series themselves perform well across all mediums but I have duplicates of certain ones that are reserved for each of the specific mediums. I prefer certain brush shapes depending on the medium and don't need a duplicate for each and every style so I add only as needed.  For example, since I have painted primarily in acrylics for years I have most everything I need for this medium with a few duplicates, some by choice, others by chance.  
Au Sec brush series
My preferred brushes for acrylics include Classique™ Angles 1100 series, Rounds 
1000 series, and Liners 1020 & 1050 series along with the Au Sec™ 200 series for blending and drybrushing. The other brushes in my stash are those I have collected in my quest to discover what works for me.  As I began to dabble in watercolors I added duplicates of the Classique™ rounds and liners to my collection.  I find that I use these most and can add others, like an angle here of there as needed.  For oils, I have mostly the Classique™ angles and liners rather than rounds with an occasional Au Sec™ thrown in for drybrushing or textural applications.  


Since you aren't likely to be using each group of brushes simultaneously it is most convenient to keep brushes for each medium in designated carriers.  If you don't have separate carriers for the brushes then segregate them within the same container and mark the handles with colored masking tape for quick identification.

The brushes that meet my needs are few and can be found on our website:rebeccabaer.com.  Order the sets to save money.

30 January 2014

Burlap Pillow Ensemble


This tutorial provides instructions for creating the companion pillows appearing in PaintWorks Magazine April 2014 Issue.  The magazine article features the rectangular pillow with the hand-painted dogwood blossoms panel.  The decorative panel overlay is attached with buttons allowing you to change it with the seasons.

I have provided you with the total fabric requirements at the beginning then the cut size with each pillow.  The process for each pillow is complete so you won't have to skip back and forth for repeated techniques.
 
Fabric (enough to make all three pillows)
 1/2 yd. Sage Burlap
 3/4 yd. Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
 1/3 yd. Paisley Romance/Gingham (Grey)


Preparing the Burlap
New burlap is strong smelling and stiff so I opted to wash  mine before creating anything with it. Additionally, the sizing present in new fabrics inhibits paint adhesion and I wanted to stencil on the burlap.  Washing removes the sizing and significantly softens the burlap making it easier to work with.  Wash the burlap prior to cutting to size.  

There are a few things you should consider if you choose to wash your burlap.  First, it is incredibly linty.  Be sure and wash it alone and wipe out the inside of the washer when it is done.  Second, it is a loose weave and will fray extensively.  Be sure and allow extra for trimming to size. The frayed strings will tangle together and you will need scissors to cut these off.  Alternatively, stay-stitch the perimeter of the burlap before washing to reduce fraying. Third, do not use any fabric softener.  You can line-dry the burlap or use the dryer but it will leave a lot of lint in the dryer so be sure and clean it out.  Iron the burlap.  Do not use any starch or sizing when ironing.  This process will make your burlap more user-friendly.  


Cutting the burlap straight
Burlap's loose weave makes it hard to cut straight leaving short strands that fray off the edge while you work.  The simple solution is to pull a single stand from the burlap to define your cutting line.  This creates a visible line along the straight grain of the fabric for you to cut.  I also use this method to mark the fold line for hemming.



Large Pillow
 [1] 16"H x 16"W  Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
 [2] 16"H x 12"W  Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
 [1] 16"H x 11"W Paisley Romance/Gingham (Grey) plus scrap to cover button
 [1] 6-1/4" x 16" Sage Burlap

General Supplies
 16" Pillow Form
 16" 7/8" wide Grosgrain Ribbon Brown 
 32" 3/8" wide Grosgrain Ribbon Grey
 Matching Thread for fabric and ribbons
 [1] 1-1/2" Dritz Half-Round Fabric Cover Buttons 
 [2] 7/8" Dritz Half-Round Fabric Cover Buttons 
 Plastic Coated Freezer Paper
 Chalk Pencil
 Glue stick
Americana Paint
 Shale Green
 Neutral Grey

RB Artiste™ Brush
 #2 Stenciler 500 series

Rebecca Baer® Stencil
 Arabesque Border-Large Stencil ST-302.L

Stenciling
Stencil the burlap panel using the Arabesque Border-Large stencil  (ST-302.L).  To do this,

Iron freezer paper to the back of the burlap to stabilize it.  Place the burlap face down on the ironing board.  Position a piece of freezer paper with the plastic-coated side down over the burlap.  Iron on high using no steam to bond the paper to the burlap. Turn the burlap and paper face up.  You can tape this to your work surface if desired to prevent shifting.

Position the stencil at  one corner of the burlap.  Tape if desired.  Combine Shale Green + Neutral Grey 1:1.  Pick up the mixture on a #2 stenciler and wipe well on a clean, dry paper towel to remove excess paint then swirl gently over the stencil.  When the image is complete reposition the stencil to continue the pattern.  The top and bottom of the border stencil have bump-outs that overlap the last scroll to continue the pattern in either direction.  Repeat the border along the other edge of the burlap as shown.  If you get paint on the segments of the stenciling that extend into the center between the two rows of border it does not matter.  The center will be covered by ribbon.

Embellishment
Fold under and press 1" on each long side of the gingham fabric. Center the burlap over the gingham. Pin or tack using the glue stick.  Draw the brown grosgrain ribbon over the glue stick and center the ribbon on the burlap panel.  Likewise attach the grey ribbons along the edges.  

Position the embellishment off center on the front of the pillow front (the 16" square scattered dot fabric) roughly three inches from the left edge.  Stitch the layers together  sewing along both sides of each strip of ribbon.  Use thread matching the ribbon and keep the stitching as close the the edge of the ribbon as you can.  Using a lighter thread matching the fabrics stitch the gingham to the pillow front 1/4" in from the folded edge.  Fold the pillow front in half top-to-bottom to find the center and use the chalk pencil mark the brown ribbon with a dot.  This is the placement mark for the large button, however, I prefer to construct the pillow with the layers flat so I do not attach the buttons at this time.

Construction
Hem one end on both 16" x 12" pieces.  Fold over 1/2" and press. Then fold this over another 1/2" to enclose the raw edge.  Press and stitch.  The finished size of each hemmed piece is 16" x 11".

Position the layers with the right sides together and all outer edges aligned.  This will create a three-inch overlap at the center of the back.  Pin if desired.  Stitch with a 1/2" seam allowance tapering to a 7/8" allowance at the corners.  If you continue straight at the corners rather than tapering inward your pillow will have dog ears.


After stitching, snip the corners diagonally to reduce bulk and press open the seams.  It is helpful to place a rolled hand towel inside the cover when pressing the seams.  Invert the cover.  

Buttons
Cover the buttons according to package instructions.  Hand sew the large gingham-covered button in place over the dot marking the center of the ribbon.  Visually space the small scattered dot-covered buttons equal distances above and below the central button.  I used a tall, narrow spool as a spacer.  Hand-sew these to the pillow front.

Assembly
Before inserting the pillow form make sure the fill is pushed into the corners of the form.  Insert the pillow form through the opening in the back.

Small Pillow
[1] 10"H x 10"W  Sage Burlap
[2] 10"H x 9"W  Sage Burlap
[1] 5" x 11"W Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
[1] 5" x 22"W Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
[1] Paisley Romance/Gingham (Grey) scrap to cover button

General Supplies
10" Pillow Form
1/4 yd Paisley Romance/Scattered Dot (Cream Multi)
Paisley Romance/Gingham (Grey) scrap to cover button
[1] 1-1/2" Dritz Half-Round Fabric Cover Buttons 

Americana Paint
 Shale Green
 Neutral Grey

RB Artiste™ Brush

Rebecca Baer® Stencil
 Arabesque Background-Small Stencil ST-301.S


Stenciling
Stencil the front (10" x 10") panel using the Arabesque Background-Small stencil  (ST-301.S).  To do this, Iron freezer paper to the back of the burlap to stabilize it.  Place the burlap face down on the ironing board.  Position a piece of freezer paper with the plastic-coated side down over the burlap.  Iron on high using no steam to bond the paper to the burlap. Turn the burlap and paper face up.  You can tape this to your work surface if desired to prevent shifting. Position the stencil at one corner of the burlap.  Tape if desired.  

Combine Shale Green + Neutral Grey 1:1.  Pick up the mixture on a #2 stenciler and wipe well on a clean, dry paper towel to remove excess paint then swirl gently over the stencil.  When the image is complete reposition the stencil to continue the pattern.  This stencil has a drop repeat so it will not match straight across.  Use the irregular inner edge to align the motif.



Decorative Band 
With right sides together stitch the long sides of the  5" x 11"W scattered dot fabric together to make a tube.  Press the seam open and invert the tube.  Position the seam in the center of the band and press.

Construction
Hem one side on both 10" x 19" pieces.  Fold over 1/2" and press. Then fold this over another 1/2" to enclose the raw edge.  Press and stitch.  The finished size of each hemmed piece is 10" x 8".

Position the band, seam down, on the front of the 10" x 10" stenciled burlap.  The band should be centered top-to-bottom with the raw edges aligned at the sides.  The band is slightly wider than the pillow to allow for gathering at the center.  Simply take up the extra at the middle with a fold.  Place the back layers over the front assembly with the right sides together and all outer edges aligned.  This will create a three-inch overlap at the center of the back.  Pin if desired.  Stitch with a 1/2" seam allowance tapering to a 7/8" allowance at the corners.  If you continue straight at the corners rather than tapering inward your pillow will have dog ears.

After stitching, snip the corners diagonally to reduce bulk and press open the seams.  It is helpful to place a rolled hand towel inside the cover when pressing the seams.  Invert the cover.  


Gather the center of the band and hand-stitch.  After stitching through the gathered band as shown, wrap the thread tightly around the center several times.  Finish by stitching through the gathered center again before tying off the thread.
 

Rosette
With right sides together stitch the short ends of the 5" x 22" scattered dot fabric together to make a loop.  Press the seam open then fold the loop in half with wrong sides together and the raw edges aligned; press.

Stitch two loose (long stitch length) rows 1/4" apart just in from the raw edges.  Do not snip the threads.  Knot each pair of thread ends on the top side.  Hold the pair of bobbin threads (starting tails--one from each row) and gently pull as you work the fabric back the threads to gather it.  
When it gets difficult to keep sliding the fabric along the threads gather the rest using the threads at the opposite end (ending tails--one from each row).  Gather the fabric as tightly as possible then knot the threads and clip the tails.  At this point the rosette lies flat.

Use a hand needle and thread to further pinch and stitch gathering the center as tightly as possible leaving no hole in the center.   Stitch through the ruffles and across the center to keep everything tightly bound.  The rosette no longer lies flat.


Hand-stitch the rosette to the center of the gathered band.

Buttons
Cover buttons according to package instructions.  Hand sew the large gingham-covered button in place over the center of the rosette.

Assembly

Before inserting the pillow form make sure the fill is pushed into the corners of the form.  Insert the pillow form through the opening in the back.

24 January 2014

New Valentine Stamps!








Valentine's Day and everyday romance!  All you need is love.  Love is all you need.




Are you ready to show someone just how much you care?  We can help with our new Gourmet Rubber Stamps!  Whether you are looking for just the right sentiment or a fun, whimsical image there are a range from which to choose.  These will carry you through Valentine's Day and beyond.  Our "Two Shall Become One" stamp is ideal for a wedding card or making your own invitations. Or how about "Love of My Life" for an anniversary? Try stamping an image on watercolor and painting it or coloring it in with markers!  Then finish it with a bit of bling!  We have over thirty hot-fix crystal colors/sizes in stock to add pizazz to papercrafts, quilts and paintings.

The stamps can be purchased online at rebeccabaer.com or in-store at Artisan Life & Style™ located in Hagerstown, MD.  Please see the Artisan Life & Style™ website for location and hours.  View sample cards here.
More to Come
More "Whimsies & Wishes™ stamps are in the works.  Next-up: Easter, Mother's Day, & Father's Day!

Mounting
The stamps come backed with a cling mounting cushion.  To use, simply peel away the protective backing and mount on an acrylic carrier.  The one shown here is pre-printed with grid lines as well as angled lines for precision alignment.  This is especially helpful when using the word or phrase stamps. In theory, a single carrier is all you need since the stamps can be peeled off and stored separately.  On the other hand, if you are making a series of stamped images and working with several independent stamps repeatedly then extra carriers are useful.

Storage
For convenient storage, laminate* a sheet of cardstock and punch with holes for a three-ring binder. The stamps will cling to the laminated page.  Pages are then stored in a three-ring binder and can be removed or rearranged as needed.  Before lamination you can print the sheet with the subject, i.e., holiday, wedding, celebration etc., and stamp each image onto the sheet.  If you choose relative colors for each category you'll be able to flip to the desired group of stamps at-a-glance.

*If you do not own a page laminator you can take your pages to a local copy/printing shop for lamination.


14 January 2014

Sweet Potato Oven Fries

With just a hint of sweetness, sweet potatoes make marvelous fries.  Sweet potatoes also store well at room temperature so they are easy to keep on hand. By roasting the "fries" in the oven there is no mess or lingering odor in the air from frying.  These tasty morsels can turn anyone into a sweet potato lover!

Method
Begin by preheating the oven to 425 degrees. Then wash, dry and cut two un-peeled sweet potatoes into 1/2" to 1/4" strips. Choose a size and be consistent. The thinner the strips are, the quicker they will cook. 

Toss the potatoes  in olive oil along with minced sage and freshly ground black pepper. 

Roast the potatoes for 15 -20 minutes until you start to see some browning. Toss and return to oven for 15-20 minutes more. 

Be sure to check the fries often and remove them when they are crispy and browned to your liking.  Once they begin to color the remaining fries will quickly follow suit. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

You may notice the addition of green among my fries.  This is kale that I added during the last half of the cooking time.  It complements the sweet potatoes nicely and adds another pop of color.  If you would like to add this to your fries start by removing the stems from 2-3 leaves of washed* kale and then chop it into roughly 1" or smaller pieces.  Lightly drizzle the kale with olive oil and toss to distribute.

Midway through cooking, push the fries to one side of your pan and spread the kale on the other half.  The kale will be crispy when the fries are done and you can combine before salting.

*In order for the kale to crisp it must be dry so after washing, pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. 



22 December 2013

Crystal Palace by Whimsies & Wishes™ for Studio e

Immerse yourself in a frosty winter wonderland in beautiful shades of grey.  The neutral tones lend an air of sophistication to this collection accented with finishing touches of metallic gold.  This group will ship in May 2014 allowing time to create all of your wintry projects.  Preview the Crystal Palace collection here.


"Studio e" produces 100% cotton, premium quality fabrics in 43"/44" widths.  Your local quilt store can order them through Checker Distributors.  Checker does not sell directly to the consumer but you can view the fabrics on their site.  Although the fabrics are not scheduled for shipment until May 2014, your local shop can pre-order here. 
















04 December 2013

Sorting Posts onto Blogger Pages

Although my interests are many and varied, perhaps you visit my blog for a singular purpose.  In that case you may not want to see the marvelous recipes or my latest product releases.  I don't get that; but hey, to each his own.  It also stands to reason that your visitors may not be interested in your many layers as well.  In that case we need to categorize our posts onto topical pages so everyone can view only what is of interest to them and ignore everything else.  Yes, they might miss some great stuff but we don't want to lose readers wading through topics in which they have no interest.  Let's get started.

Assigning Pages


In order to sort your posts onto pages that appear either as tabs along the top of your blog or links in the sidebar you first need to assign a label to each.  The sorting label must be the same name as your page name but your post can have other labels assigned to it as well.  For example, this post includes the label "tutorials". Thus it appears under the tutorials tab.  
You assign labels by clicking on the labels icon appearing in the right sidebar when you are composing your posts. Decide how many categories (pages) you will have then make sure every post includes a label for one of the pages.

Creating the Pages

While in your blogger dashboard select "pages" in the sidebar at the left side of your screen.








   







Choose "new page" and then "web address" as the type of page that you wish to create.  This will lead to a window where your enter the page title (which appears on the tab) in the upper field and the url to that category in the lower field.  In a new window find the url as described below.



Finding the URL for the Page

Remember those labels that you assigned to each post?  This is where they become useful.  Scroll to the bottom of a post and select the label that you assigned that coincides with the page on which you want it to appear. 

This example is from one of my posts using the label "Made from Scratch".

Click on the label.  In the address bar of your browser you will see http://yourblogname.blogspot.com/search/label/your label.  Notice how there are some characters and numbers within my label name in the url.  That happens when the label is made up of more than one word.  That is why I go to the label and copy the url rather than just type the label name at the end.

Copy the url and paste into the "web address" field noted above.  Do this for each page, i.e., label under which you wish to sort your posts. Click Save.  

Select how you want to display your pages.  You can choose top tabs or side links.  If you would like some of your pages to show as tabs and others as side links follow this tutorial on dividing your pages.  I have divided the pages on this blog.