December 31, 2009


I can't stand it! Time is so fleeting. This may be my last baby. I want to relish every moment, every look, every little piece of him. But there are other kids, happy noises, discussions, meals to make, emails to check, blog posts to write, dogs that bark to go out, an art table with scraps that want to be glued, movies to see... all good, all necessary for my full life. It is all going so fast. When I get to heaven I want a blow by blow replay of every moment with each one of my babies, my toddlers, my children and one day hopefully I will say my teens.

In January I am beginning a new venture ~ as a monthly contributor to the Wishstudio. My column is all about what it means to be an Artistic Mother. So please visit me on that site and leave me a comment there. I really do want feedback from you.

Have a lovely new year to all my blogging friends & new acquaintances. You have made this space worth coming to.

December 30, 2009

How to project of mine on!

Check out my Valentine book that was posted on Stampington's Artisan Avenue Project of the Month. Yes, it really is time to start planning for Valentine's projects!

It is a book I made using the Bind It machine and those Sticky 2's that I mentioned last week!

December 29, 2009

Celebrating 2009 with a Cinquain

Jennifer Lee over at the Wishstudio suggests ways of commemorating our year.

Until I read her post yesterday I just had not taken the time to stop and look back. I hardly even realize that it is the end of another year. She asks some questions to help you take stock. I took about 10 minutes to consider these. It is a great exercise, why not have a go?

· What are you most proud of?
completing my book
getting back to blogging regularly
taking photos almost every day
keeping my kids on track in their schooling
maintaining my home, my closest relationships while being busy
birthing another Cole baby

· What was your biggest learning?
I can’t get away with not exercising :(
I can do it all if I am organized and focused

· How did you stretch yourself?
traveling internationally with 4 kids while pregnant
schooling the kids right up until I was due with Max

· How will you celebrate who you’ve become?
A reward - my husband and I are going to Houston for the night New Years Day. Sounds small but is what we like to do - go visit old haunts, drive by my old house (the house I brought my first 3 kids home to), go the art museum, dinner at a great restaurant, a night in a hotel, antique shopping on 19th street, sit in our favorite coffee shop and write and plan our 2010 life (if I didn’t have Max we would go to the theater, but instead we may just go to the movies)

But the best way I can celebrate is to keep it all going. All my efforts can be lost if I don't keep at it. I want to maintain my productivity and vision and really be this person I am becoming.


Jennifer also suggested we write a 2009 Cinquain:

I love how the structure or rules of a poem helps direct your poetic words.

A Cinquain is constructed in the following way (this is copied from Jennifer's Wishstudio post):
· The first line is one word (a noun/the topic)
· The second line is two descriptive words (2 adjectives that describe the first word)
· The third line is three action words (3 -ly adverbs or –ing verbs)
· The fourth line contains four words that express a feeling or make a statement (a 4 word phrase)
· The last line is one word (a synonym or adjective that refers to the first word)

My cinquain for 2009:

Round, satisfying
stretching, flying, becoming
Live inside a dream

Using a thesaurus makes this a simple exercise! Why not have a go?

December 28, 2009

Collage Directory

I have started a collage making directory to keep up with people who do collage. I like to check out the latest blog posts and this directory will make this easy for me (and others that visit) to do that. The list will be organized 'blog list' style with the latest posted blog moving to the top. There will be no other content on the list except links to creative blogs!

~Who should sign up?

I have a very liberal view of what collage is - basically anything that includes layering or gluing something to something could be considered a collage.

So if you glue anything - paper, fabric, scrapbook pages, crafts, toys, whatever... then consider listing your blog on this directory.

If you make collage, but blog mainly on your life, that is fine, I love having a peek into creative folks lives.

If you make the odd collage, but primarily do other arty things, like sewing, that is fine. We can all be inspired by other mediums!

~How do you sign up for the directory?

It is simple:
1) Go to this blog: Collage Making.

2) Scroll down to the bottom of the list and enter a comment in the box indicating that you want to sign up (leave me the url of your blog or website).

That is it, I will add you to the list!

~Will you sign up for it?

I hope so, that way it would make it easy for me and others to come by and visit.

Thanks to Trudy for the suggestion and Diana at 'We love to sew' for the model!

December 26, 2009

Giveaway #3

Today's giveaway winner, chosen by the Random Number Generator, is someone who joined recently -

Wendy of the corvidarium


Pick your prize from the choices below (click on image to see a larger image) and post it in the comments. I will contact you via email so you can send me, privately, your physical address.

Choice #1 - Printed fabric (my artwork) glasses case with satin ribbon.

Choice #2 - 8 painted and stamped pegs

Choice #3 - Butterfly reminder to 'Play Freely' made with balsa wood, wire, beads, paint and collage elements.

For everyone else - Please check back in next Saturday to see if you win something. I will offer a new set of prizes. I will try to offer a range of things in the hopes something will appeal to you when it's your turn!

And of course, if you are not listed as following this blog, you are welcome to do so! Join in the fun.

December 24, 2009

December 22, 2009

December 21, 2009

New venture for Jenny Doh

Jenny Doh has been an important person on my art road. She is the one who gave me the chance to become an Artist On Call for Stampington. She supported and believed in my art from the beginning. I would not have a book coming out if she had not in way endorsed my vision. I got to meet her in person last year and she is as bubbly, positive and wonderful in real life as I imagined.

She has been a major player at Stampington and Co. for several years. Now, as many of you may have heard, she is venturing out on her own creative vision. CRESCENDOh.

CRESCENDOh will an online community, art shop (proceeds go to charity), with articles, TV and Radio that focus on the power of art to change lives, or as Jenny calls Art Saves.

Sounds interesting? yes, indeed. I think there will be nothing quite like it online and with Jenny's energy and commitment it will be super successful.

I am delighted to say that I will be part of the first wave of Guest Curators the week of March 29 - April 4. I will be posting my own Art Saves story, and links to artists and webpages that have inspired me.

Jenny, I wish you all the best and every success in 2010.

December 19, 2009

Sticky2 and foil demo & Giveaway #2

I am not one to buy and buy the latest craft products. I like to use what I have to the fullest. But here is one I may need some more of: Sticky 2 and foil by Christine Adolph.

They are so simple to use:

Step 1
Choose the surface you want to give to a decorative shine to.

Step 2
Trim the image from the Sticky2 sheet that you want to use. I have the Romance collection designed by Christine Adolph.

Step 3
Peel off the backing and lay the image on the surface. Burnish the image. It turns a darker blue as it adheres. Discard the clear plastic cover.

Step 4
Lay the foil, colored side up, and rub with your finger. I have the foil packet called 'Sunset' which has red, pink and orange foil sheets.

Step 5
Peel off the foil and find it has stuck to the image, so now you have a shiny version of the image.

You only use the image once, so here enters the need to purchase another packet! Oh well, it is all in the name of crafting ;)
(and no, I get no commission on these, I simply want to share what I am using)

I used these products to decorate a mini valentine book that I have sent off to Stampington (I know, it seems unseasonal of me, but when you for planning and shopping purposes you have to think seasons ahead)

Here is a tutorial by Christine herself:

Next tutorial I will be doing is 'altered photos', as requested by Trudy, so check back next week, the day after Christmas, or Boxing Day as it is called in Ireland!


Some new folks have signed up to 'follow' my blog. I am always surprised when I notice a new person has signed up. I don't take it for granted. I see those interested in my blog as like minded folks, and in life those are hard to come by! So I want to visit your blog and see your view of the world. I am sorry if I have not made it to you to say hello, I am still trying to get to those who signed up during the Sew Mama Sew giveaway!

Now on with this week's giveaway! Chosen by random generator, the winner is



Pick your prize from the choices below (click on image to see a larger image) and post it in the comments. I will contact you via email so you can send me, privately, your physical address.

Choice #1 - Collage wall hanging, aprox 15x8, the hanger is included :)

Choice #2 - A child's necklace with shrinky dink stamped pendant. About 13 inches long. Suitable for girls 5-9 years old (I think, but you know your own kids or grandkids) or for young at heart grown ups!

Choice #3 - White and blue balsa wood angel Christmas ornament, with soldered pendant. Aprox 8x2 inches.

For everyone else - Please check back in next Saturday to see if you win something. I will offer a new set of prizes. I will try to offer a range of things in the hopes something will appeal to you when it's your turn!

And of course, if you are not listed as following this blog, you are welcome to do so! Join in the fun.

December 18, 2009

getting out and about

When we first moved out of the city of Houston I promised myself I would still take my kids in to the theater, art museums, to see friends and so on. But time marches on and I have a very full and busy life out here, an hour north of Houston. I rarely get myself together enough to make it in to town. But fresh from the memory of the enjoyment of going to the Fancy Nancy author/illustrator book signing, yesterday I decided we would do another trip.

This time to the Children's Museum in Houston. It has been all done up and in my humble opinion those designers get and A+ for their creativity. The museum was an award winner before this and now, phew, it is an amazing collection of hands on 'learning is fun' experiences. Our favorite was Kidtropolis, a street with (pretend) shops, banks, fire station, diner, art studio and so on for the kids to play 'real life' make believe. The girls just loved it. Played and painted. (Matthew is in Las Vegas at a juggling convention with his daddy. Mark you are the best dad for supporting your son's unconventional hobby :)

We had dinner at Cafe Express in the Houston Museum of Fine Art down the road and then went to see the art (Thursday night is free night). There was a fabulous exhibition of Korean photography and another one of contemporary Korean art. And I mean fabulous. If anyone reading is near Houston I highly recommend it.

My kids were enthralled, especially with the giant American style doll house that has been 'hit' with a traditional Korean house. You could spend literally hours looking at all the itty, bitty furniture and household 'stuff' inside and wonder over the violent meeting of two cultures. Amazing. They also enjoyed the jewelry of India, and full Budda covered in turquoise sequence, and the giant half sphere covered in kitchen utensils. Inspired as they were they came home and immediately drew designs for golden crowns!

Their enthusiasm has been a further reminder to do 'it', to leave the house and do something out of the ordinary. Not only because it makes life more interesting, it bonds us together through even more colorful shared memories and is educational. It is better to do than not to do! That is my motto.

Please tell me what cool and unusual thing you have done or plan to do with your family!

December 17, 2009

The Artistic Mother - official announcement!


This is the product description for my book on Amazon, where is is available for pre-order.

"Are you a busy Momma who loves art but can never fit it in? When you have kids to feed and errands to run, finding the time to create meaningful art can be difficult. In The Artistic Mother, Shona Cole, mother of five and mixed media artist to boot, helps you make the time and space in your life for your artistic passion while incorporating your love for your children into your art. Shona guides you through the Artist’s Workshop, a 12-week course that includes step-by-step instructions for making artwork inspired by your children. You’ll also be introduced to seven other artistic mothers from whom you can draw inspiration and encouragement.

Discover within the pages:

• The Artist’s Workshop, a 12-week art course that teaches you how to bring creativity back into your life
• Step-by-step instructions for more than 12 finished art pieces celebrating motherhood and family
• A weekly action plan to help you make the best use of your time
• Artist Spotlights that introduce you to 7 inspiring artist-mommas
• Tips on creating time and space in your life for your art
• A beginner’s guide to each of three much-loved arts: poetry, photography and mixed media

Don’t go another day without bringing together your two passions: motherhood and art!"

There have been many times this past year where I have floundered, been too busy, become tired or unfocused and not made time to be creative - in those times I have thought 'I need to read my book'. It is a funny feeling to have written something that I need to read, as if someone else wrote it for me! I wrote it for all those Moms who want to do something arty now while rearing their children, not waiting until they are older or they have the space (time or an art studio). And that is me too.

I hope that you consider pre-ordering my book :)

It will also be available at:

Barnes and Nobles
Borders Books (where my husband and I often have our date nights!) in Canada also in Canada
Infibeam - has shipping info for India for ordering in Japan
Big W for ordering in Australia for UK orders
Tesco books also for UK orders in the UK for Germany (thanks Birgit)

And best of all for me it is available in Ireland at Eason, where I bought all my school books growing up! I don't know if it will be in the physical stores, but at least you can buy it in Euro. Yeah!

December 15, 2009

December 12, 2009

Saturday Giveaway #1

As a thank you to the people who have signed up to follow my blog I am hosting a giveaway every Saturday until March. That is the month that my book 'The Artistic Mother - A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into Your Busy Life' will be released by North Light Books. It is already available for pre-order here.

In this space, starting January I will be talking a little more about the content of the book, which I hope will appeal to arty inclined women who are also Mothers.

I want the book to inspire more women to do art, especially young mothers and beginners because I truly believe that a content, fulfilled, happy women = content, happy kids. But, as in everything, it is not that simple. It takes work and focus to make it work in the reality of our busy lives. It takes balance, balance between doing art and doing everything else..... But, more about this in future posts.

I will also be talking about this topic at the Wishstudio where, starting January I will be a monthly contributor in the column entitled 'The Artistic Mother'.

I really feel at home in that space. Wishstudio was started by Mindy (of Under A Pink Sky) for women who want "to nourish and embrace all that inspires us to live joyfully, authentically, and creatively". The posts are both real and inspiring. I am delighted to be joining the team, even though I feel like I need to stand on my tippy toes to write thoughts that measure up!

Anyhow, on with the show:

I used the Random generator to pick a winner. The 'followers' are not numbered by blogger, so I entered you into a spreadsheet which automatically assigns you a number.

The first 'winner' of the giveaway is:



Pick your prize from the choices below (click on image to see a larger image) and post it in the comments. I will contact you via email so you can send me, privately, your physical address.

Choice #1 - White and blue balsa wood angel Christmas ornament, with soldered pendant. Aprox 8x2 inches.

Choice #2 - Baby girl onsie and matching gift tag. Size 12 months. This would make a nice gift if you don't have a baby girl.

Choice #3 - Soldered pendent earrings with Celtic design. They dangle down about 2 inches. Sorry for the poor photo, my camera is packing up and my lens is broken and no longer focusing :(

For everyone else - Please check back in next Saturday to see if you win something. I will offer a new set of prizes. I will try to offer a range of things in the hopes something will appeal to you when it's your turn!

And of course, if you are not listed as following this blog, you are welcome to do so! Join in the fun.

December 10, 2009

Crafty links

It is better to take the time to make something, even something small than to do nothing arty in the day. Better for Mom, better for the kids - creating something new is empowering and spending time together on an activity is bonding time. I often need inspiration from others on what to do with my kids. So I asked commenters in my December 2 giveaway to tell me what they are doing this Christmas.

I am so impressed at how many crafty things being made out there in the lives behind the faces of blogland residents. In summary there are a ton of handmade gifts, cookies, gingerbread houses, Christmas cards and ornaments being created.

Felt ornaments seems to be popular. So I decided that was what I wanted to try. My girls have a pink Christmas tree in their room, so we made them some flower ornaments for their tree.

For some inspiration check out this link that Amanda Pedro left to Mimi Kirchner's blog Doll, oh my, if I could I would.

And check out the pictures on this Flickr group dedicated to felt ornaments!

These are super cool envelopes made from old magazines. Thanks Steph.

Thanks to Jaiying for this link to how to make snow globes.

And to Megan for this link to learn how to make button ornaments by Martha Stewart. Very cute.

Ellyn said she was making marshmallows, and posted about it here. I think my girls would love these - pink and sweet.

This is a nice idea on 'random acts of kindness' from Hallie.

If you are interested in candle making, there is a great tutorial here by Donna.

If anyone has any other cool crafts they have completed, leave me a link in the comments. It might inspire others to do the same.

December 09, 2009

Soldering tutorial

This is a very good tutorial on basic pendant soldering. It features Vanessa Spencer at Stampington & Co.

Thanks Vanessa! I love those decorative scrolls and I want, no need one of those clamps, it would make things a lot easier.

December 08, 2009

the slow joy of motherhood

I hold her gaze, my arms opening
to the music of who we are

her delicate yellow dance my hours
grasped, dreamed, once distant, once

a lark about the house that woke
the slow joy of motherhood in me

her sweet earthly way
needing my journey smooth, my laying down

of self, my speech of love, it’s low, steady drum
it’s morning arms that open and open

in the tender days of flying,
of impossible holding. Tender, but at once blessed.

Check out The Writer's Almanac, it is a great source of poetry every day.

December 07, 2009

Give away winner & a smile

A smile to brighten your day

Sarah of 'The Forest Room' won the journal and tote bag in the December 2nd giveaway. I used the Random Generator to pick her number.

Now I am more than half way through reading the activities that folks said in the comments they are doing this Christmas so I can choose one to do too. It is amazing how many crafty folks are out there! I love it and I love being a part of such a positive, friendly group of people.

I want to contact everyone who took the time to comment on the giveaway. If I don't make it to you it is because there was no email or blog associated with the comment.


Remember my weekly Saturday Giveaway starts this Saturday!

December 05, 2009

Altered Board Book Tutorial

Looking for my Sew, Mama, Sew Giveaway?

Just scroll down (a long way) or click here!


I love to collect little books, make little books, alter little books. Anything to do with books that I can hold in the palm of my hand.

I thought I would share the basic steps I take when altering children's board books. You can use the altered board book as a mini scrapbook devoted to one of your children, or give a page for each family member; perhaps as a mini journal, favorite quote or Bible verse book, or a storybook (I have made up lots of stories about my kids and created altered books 'illustrating' the story - kids love to hear about themselves!), the uses are endless.

Here are the supplies you will need for this altered board book tutorial:

Children's board book
Sandpaper (fine grit works well, but any sandpaper will work) or an electrical sander
Craft paint - your choice of color
Paint brush
Heat Tool or hair dryer
Image of your child (I print onto Matte photo paper and trimmed around the image)
Scraps of scrapbook paper, left over bits of paper from other projects, painted papers, fabric scraps,
Rub On wordsglue stick
Staz On ink
Rubber Stamps - Star by Stampin' Up; Heart in script - From the 'Romance Heart Cube' by Christine Adolph


Water soluble oil pastels
Lead pencil

Project time: 2-3 sittings of 60 minutes

Level: Intermediate collage skill

Step 1

Choose a board book to be altered. I like to use ones that come free with kids meals, books that my children have out grown or ones that they have doubles of. I also look for ones that have less than 10 spreads.

Step 2

Using either sandpaper or an electrical sander sand the cover and pages of the board book. Don't remove all the image on the pages, it is a nice effect to see some of the original images showing through.

Step 3

Paint a layer of gesso on each page. You will need to dry the pages with a heat tool before moving on to gesso the next page or your pages will stick together.

Step 4

To add a little color to your page, paint a layer of watered down craft paint over the dried gesso. I like to use a different color for each page.

Step 5

Firstly, decorate the front cover of the book. Add stamps with Staz On ink. To tone the stamps down add a second layer of watered down gesso (or white craft paint).

Step 6

Choose the collage elements you want to use. Print and trim the photograph of your child (or pet, or whatever else you want your book to focus on). Lay them out on the book cover, move them around until you are pleased with the composition. Glue everything in place, starting with the lower layers and building upwards. Color the edges with pastels and rub with your finger.

Step 7

Choose the words you want to use on the cover to convey what your book is all about. You can add words by gluing on printed words, writing with a gel pen or, in this case, using 'Rub Ons'.

Step 8

To use a Rub On: Cut the words you plan to use from the Rub On sheet. Discard the protective backing sheet.

Step 9

Lay the words out where it works well with the composition. Don't be afraid to lay the words vertical!

Step 10

Using the popsicle tool that comes with the Rub on sheet burnish the words. The words will turn from black to gray as they adhere to the book's surface.

Step 11

When you think words have transferred to the board book, remove the plastic cover.

Step 12

Add some finishing touches to your collage book cover - for example, if some of the papers are too bright, tone them back by adding a wash of watered down gesso.

Step 13

Add some doodles or lines with a lead pencil and perhaps some more pastels, if you had not added them already.

Step 14

When the cover is done, turn your attention to the inner pages. Add some stamps to the pages. IDEA: Consider adding a different stamp to each page spread, if you do then pick your stamps out ahead of time and line them up. That way you can save time and work in a conveyor belt style!

Step 15

Add some pastels and lead pencil doodles to the stamped areas on that inner pages.

Step 16

Once your inner pages are decorated with stamps and color, it is time to add other images. You will need an image for each page, so take some time to plan your images picks and arrange them on the page. When you glue them in, it is a nice idea to sand them lightly on the edges - that helps the photos to blend into the page well.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial. I would love to hear from you if you did, or if you have and questions about any of the steps. I have been doing this kind of art work for a number of years now and sometimes I don't realize what seems obvious now to me may be the one nugget that someone else needs to hear. I want to learn to do better tutorials, so your feedback is helpful.

December 04, 2009

Author Book Signing

I took my girls to meet the author and illustrator of the Fancy Nancy stories - Jane O'Conner and Robin Preiss Glasser.

I thought it would be a little affair at the small indie bookstore, Blue Willow bookshop that it was being hosted by. Little did I know! It was huge! So huge that the 'event' took place in a school gym! There were possibly 300 Momma's and their 'all dressed in pink' daughters with stacks of books to be signed. They had color coded lines to coordinate the signing lines so there wasn't a mad rush, mommy fighting and leg pains from standing for hours!

We drove an hour to get there, it was cold and after the reading and some fun and games we waited over an hour for our 12 second book signing experience - but it was so worth it. My girls loved following along with the book as the author read, they were tickled by the costumes worn by both Ms. O'Conner and Glasser, they got their book signed and now they really understand the difference between an author and an illustrator.

This was a good reminder to me that sometimes it is better to make the effort and do something out of the ordinary than not bother and stay at home! To make the memories (and bring my camera) than to let life sail by uneventfully.


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