block printed christmas wrap project

Thursday, December 15, 2011

This week, I don't know what happened, but I was seized by a fit of craftiness à la Martha Stewart. Maybe it was residual inspiration from my trip to Galbraith & Paul a couple of weeks ago. I corralled the kids and put them to work on making some Christmas wrap. I had a couple of rolls of kraft paper and some other supplies, it was raining, and I just didn't feel like going out to Target for the store bought stuff. The kids wound up having a blast with it, so it was a win-win. And I do think it adds a nice handmade touch to our gifts.
To do this project you will need:
-package of sticky-back foam sheets
-washable kids' paint such as Crayola
-paint brushes
-plastic plates to use as palettes
-small foam rollers (optional)
-wood scraps such as from a 1x4 board
-roll of kraft paper
The foam self-stick sheets we picked up at Michael's were on the thin side, so we doubled them up before cutting our shapes. Thicker is better for clear prints. Simple shapes work best (the bell/toilet plunger shape didn't make the cut). The most complicated shape was the Santa had because it requires 2 colors of paint.
We didn't have any rollers on hand so we used the spread & dunk method. Spread the paint fairly thin with a brush on the plate and dunk the stamp in it.
Coverage should look about like this- not too goopy. If you have rollers, roll on the paint and it will give a similar effect, more even to tell the truth, but we let go of our perfectionist tendencies for this. Or you can use a paintbrush to apply the paint thinly to the stamp.
Then stamp away, reloading between each stamping.
Hours of fun for the kiddos, especially if you have your Charlie Brown Christmas cd playing in the background and Christmasy junk food to nosh on.

in the christmas spirit at terrain

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It was a good day to get out of the studio. It was the first sunny day in a while, and a call from a friend to go meet for coffee at the Cafe at Terrain in Glen Mills, PA was all the enticing I needed.
I always liked the old Styers, the nursery that Anthropologie bought to transform into their flagship lifestyle garden store, but it was more of a nuts & bolts kind of place. It didn't have a cafe, much of a gift shop, or quite the panache that Terrain has. I miss the plant selection though.
The seasonal displays here are always so irresistible. (Go here to see fall's displays) This winter's theme: rustic & cozy.
A little tartan.
A little woodland.
Time to start some paperwhites and amaryllis.
Winterberries. Yes it's finally December. All we need now is a picturesque dusting of snow!

hand block printed textiles by galbraith & paul

Monday, December 5, 2011

We couldn't stay away. Beth & I made the trek again into Manayunk, PA for Galbraith and Paul's annual sample sale on Saturday. I swore I'd never come back to Manayunk after getting 2 parking tickets in one day last time, but I was so bummed-out that my camera didn't work then, that I was able to be persuaded. I just am so heartened to see a handmade business thriving right here in the USA and on this scale. People fly in for this sale. The fabric is highly sought-after. I'm sure they've felt the pressure to get the price down by taking production off-shore, but so far the fabrics are all made here.
It was the usual feeding frenzy with the piles of pillows and the "by the pound" scrap table seeing a lot of action. I was tempted to start a new decorating project, but I only just finished the padded headboard  using the smokebush printed linen I bought here last year.
Originally, Galbraith & Paul were known for their handmade paper lampshades. Now the lampshades are fabric. Room and Board carries the pillows & lampshades. They have also ventured into rugs and wallpaper.
 So mod- so fab!
A complicated pattern like this takes either multiple blocks and/or requires hand painting more than one color on a block. It requires skilled artisans to execute.
These are some of the "blocks".
The ink is applied with these little rollers.
Just like at the paint store!

My friend Beth's new best friend: Liz Galbraith. Mr Paul was working the register. Even Liz's little boys were helping customers.
A glimpse of future designs on the pin-up board in Liz's studio. The loveliness continues...

a pleasant hike along the delaware river

Sunday, December 4, 2011

We opted to skip the Black Friday sales last weekend. The cousins were in town and the weather was warm, so we decided to do a mini-hike in Old New Castle, DE along the Delaware River instead. To get to the start of the hike, you enter the town via rt 273/Delaware Street and take it past Jessop's Tavern and all the way to the end where there is a small parking lot and dock. Old New Castle itself is a historic 17th century town that is quaint to go exploring in, but today we chose to walk along the water through Battery Park and the paved trail that makes a short, doable 3 mile round trip.
click to enlarge map
The kids whined a little at the idea of a hike, but this is a great one for kids. Being close to the mouth of the river and the bay, the shore is sandy and covered with beachy stuff. There is a lot of driftwood to pick through, some shells, and a good amount of sea glass to find.
It's a picturesque walk despite the power plants visible across the way. 

Battery Park has some osage orange trees that have dropped their fruit. Although not an uncommon tree, we'd never noticed one or seen its distinctive fruit before. Not related to citrus trees at all, the osage orange is named so because of the pleasant citrusy smell of its fruit. They aren't edible are said to repel ants and look good in a bowl with gourds.
Once under way, we realized there must be some geocaches set up on the route. Sure enough, a check of the smartphone there were 3 to find which kept the kids going, even running, during the hike.
What kids doesn't like a treasure hunt?
Near the start of the hike was this old ticket booth from a now defunct railway line. We'll come back another time to tour the whole town and visit the Read House and the other historical sites. There is a garden tour in the summer that I haven't been to in years...