Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Foliage Photos

Sometimes I like to play photographer. Last week, we experienced a few Indian summer days - it reached 80 degrees at one point! In the middle of October. With the beautiful fall foliage and weather like that, I had to get outside and take it in. 

I hightailed it to one of my favorite parks after work. The sun was gleaming through the trees along the Eerie canal, illuminating the multitude of autumn colors. It felt so good to be outside again after accepting the fate of colder weather. 

My toes were happy to see the light of day again. Soon they'll be hidden beneath socks and boots. 

I was surprised by the fun details I came across. Tree bark dotted with amber sap, unusual looking toadstools, fluffy milkweed, a couple wandering ducks. Oh, and a snake that scared the crap out of me. I nearly stepped on it, trying to get a closeup of a tree. When enjoying nature, look before you step. Lesson learned!

There was beauty everywhere I looked. These are some of my favorite photos from that day. The colors drastically shifted as the sun set.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:8

Thursday, October 25, 2012

AIGA Upstate NY Design Crawl

Last night was the upstate NY Design Crawl, held simultaneously in Rochester, Syracuse, and Troy. It was a chance for designers and creative professionals to tour local studios and see other artists at work in their unique environments. Our evening took place in the Village Gate, one of my favorite "artsy" areas of town. I didn't realize there were so many designers under one roof. 

Myself and about 10 coworkers attended. Our first stop was at Minerva, a creative design, marketing and interactive studio. The place was packed.

They provided some stylish glasses to sport while we mingled. I was having some deep thoughts. We all agreed that we would like to work in their space - a modern industrial loft with lots of windows. It was great meeting Mike and the Minerva design team. It's always inspiring to see what other desingers are up to. 

Next stop, a screen printing demonstration by Hope Mountain News. These guys love to design and screen print. They obviously appreciate it as a craft and a hobby. You gotta have some serious parience to lay down ink, one by one, by hand, wait for it to dry, then on to the next. It does produce a beautiful graphic technique with gorgeous color. Reminded me of the screen printing that I did with Alex, on burlap and fabric. We only used one image and one color per print with a stencil method. There's nothing like using a jar of real ink and creating with your hands. 

The last stop was definitely my favorite. We toured Pistachio Press, my friends who printed the wedding invitation I designed this summer. Rachel and Jake are a husband and wife team who design and produce the most beautiful letter press pieces you ever saw. They share a space with Booksmart Studio, who print and bind books (in a nutshell). My bro in law, David, used to work there.

I was ready to move in as soon as I saw their space. Heart be still. Such a crafty-vintage-art-filled place. I even spotted some milk glass pieces. How I would love to work with letter press every day. 

They had a variety of work on display, including Sari & Travis' wedding set - hooray!

 Some of the team checking it out. 

My "big brother" Daryl. 

We even got to print a holiday card! Here's Cassandra, running the press. Use those muscles! 

Jake, helping me line it up perfectly. Getting my hands on a press was the highlight of my evening. It made me long to go back to my print making classes in college. I would gladly clean all the plates and rollers and deal with inky hands and clothing if I could spend a week printing to my hearts content again! 

They have some of the most adorable pieces for sale in their shop. I was inspired everywhere I looked. 

Of course, we had to try on some mustaches. 

We ended the evening at Good Luck Restaurant, one of my favorite "posh" places to go out. The atmosphere, food and drinks are so unique and never disappoint. Definitely a cool place for a special occasion or date night. We tried the autumn sangria, and it was absolutely delicious. I may need to try to replicate the recipe. The food was outstanding as well - savory flavors, unique combinations and always a beautiful family-style presentation.

It was a fun evening to gather with other local creatives, celebrate what we do every day and gain inspiration. Designers unite!

Thank you, Cassandra and Heather for sharing some of your photos :) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Season's Change

Today was one of those beautiful fall days when I just had to go outside, stop to admire the changing leaves, breathe in the crisp air and feel the change of season. The sun was peering through the trees in the late afternoon and I had to snap a couple photos. 

Brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red are taking over what used to be green. 

One of our trees is completely and stunningly golden now. 

As gorgeous as the autumn leaves are, you know what that means... fall yard cleanup is on the way. 

A few tiny pink hydrangeas are still making an appearance. Their colors are darker and richer now. 

I took this photo downtown last weekend. I just love the look of ivy scaling an old brick building with this rustic door. If someone needs a spot for wedding/senior photos, this is a good one.

This time of year always embodies change. Change in weather. Change in landscape. Change in daylight hours.

I'm reminded Nichole Nordeman's song, "Every Season":

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer 

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn 

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter 

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring

The autumn verse is especially pertinent to my life right now.

Still I notice You when change begins and I am braced for colder winds. I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come.

The song's end is a beautiful reminder and encouragement that the Lord is making me new and re-creating who He wants me to be, through every season of life.

So it is with You and how You make me new with every season's change. And so it will be as You are re-creating me.

I'm so thankful that He is. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

DIY Soy Candles

I've been wanting to make soy candles (and get a jump on some Christmas gifts), ever since Christy and Kimi made candle favors for my 30th birthday party.

They used baby food jars, covered with fabric and string - so adorable! 

I enlisted Christy's help one Sunday "crafternoon" and she showed me how easy it is to pour your own soy wax candles.

I bought a few bags of soy wax from AC Moore (using coupons of course), wicks, and liquid candle scents (in vanilla and cinnamon). The tutorial we used can be found here

I had a whole stash of thrifted glass punch glasses that were just waiting for a project like this. 

We started by setting the wicks in place with wooden ice cream sticks. Christy set to work drilling small holes in each one to keep it steady. 

Next, we heated the wax in small batches in boil-proof plastic bags in a pot of boiling water. Stir until all flakes are dissolved. My assistant always looks like she's up to something! 
Set the melted bag of wax into a glass container, large enough to hold all of it. Mix in a few drops of scented oil and stir with a chop stick or skewer. Carefully pour the hot wax into a glass measuring cup.

Carefully pour the measured wax into the vessel and keep the wick centered. I filled each punch glass with 4 ounces of wax.

Repeat the process until all your containers are full. I ended up filling 24 punch glasses. The process went pretty quickly once we got going. 

Transport the candles to a tray or heat resistant surface to set. Keep them as still as possible. They start to set pretty soon and begin to turn white again. 

Once the candles are completely cooled, remove the ice cream sticks from the wicks and trim the wicks down (still need to do that).

These turned out even better than I imagined and we had so much fun making them! I would definitely use soy wax again. Now I need to figure out a cute way to package them up and gift them. 

"Christmas Candles! Do we have more of these?" The Target Lady would be proud. If you're looking for a great homemade gift, these candles are sure to light up any recipients day!

A special thank you you Christy the "Craftinista" for her candle making lesson, photography skills and a wonderful crafternoon!