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BookSmithStudio.com | Nikki Smith Book & Visual Artist

Handmade books and various art explorations

Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

Fabric Postcards! (Plus, a child’s 1st recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies)

January 13th, 2012 by Nikki Smith

These formerly unfinished-objects are UFO’s no more!  I finally finished two of my three-plus fabric postcards for the Cloth Paper Scissors fabric postcard challenge and got them in the mail today.  On time.  Early, even!

Fabric Postcards by Nikki Smith

The top one has one of my “wee planets” printed on white muslin and stitched to this fun, fuzzy fabric from my stash.  It reminds me of a blizzard!  The perfect backdrop for my Wee Winter Hotel planet — wish you were here!

Now this one is one of my favorite methods for binding books – the caterpillar stitch!  I thought it would be fun to do on a fabric postcard, too.  It looks amazing wrapped around the covers and spine of a book.  The fabric is from a pair of pants I bought years ago with absolutely zero intention to ever wear — I knew they’d be part of an art project some day.  I finally found the one!

I love adding dimension to a piece!  This was such a fuzzy green yarn – perfect for this little critter.  The accent beads were added last for extra texture and life.  It was fun to finally up-cycle this fabric into something artsy!  (And honestly, I never fit into those pants anyway…  Now they have a purpose!)

Back of caterpillar stitch fabric postcard by Nikki Smith

I know that only the front of the postcards will be photographed for the magazine, but I had fun creating the backs, too.  Mom taught me an easy blanket stitch (do I have that right?) to hold this one together.  It was decorative, and much better than what I was going to attempt on my sewing machine.  While she finished hand embroidering a few inches quickly on the demo fabric when she was teaching me, it took me all day to do the real thing.  Not that it was that hard for me, but that I could only do it for a minute here and a minute there around chasing kiddos and trying to squeeze some real work in the day, too.   I didn’t want the postcard backs to be blah, so I added a graphic element in the corner from my Wee Downtown Bryan planet and then an unusual or creative use for peanut butter on each postcard.

Why peanut butter?  My mom (a.k.a. Grandma) also taught my little toddler how to make her first cookies this week.  They have three ingredients -one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar and an egg.  A simple recipe that can hold a toddler’s attention without getting too complicated or long.  She loved making cookies with Grandma!  (And they were delicious, too!)

Peanut butter cookie recipe - Child's first cookies

P.S.  If you would like to make these cookies with your little one, here is the recipe:

Child’s First Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 egg

Mix 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 egg together.
Roll dough into one inch balls between your palms.
Pour some more sugar on a plate and then roll each ball in the sugar so it is coated.
Place on cookie sheet two inches apart.
Use the flat side of a fork to press down on each ball in two directions to form a criss-cross pattern and flatten the cookie a bit.
PARENT STEP:  Bake for 7 to 8 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool and enjoy!

P.P.S.  Oh, and if you hurry, there’s still time to send in a fabric postcard for the Cloth Paper Scissors reader challenge!  Entries are due in their office by Jan. 20th.  The details of the challenge are here.  Or just make and send one to a friend for fun!  Also, the post office has priority mail envelopes with clear windows in front if you go overboard like I did and aren’t sure if it will survive the postal machinery.  Go on, you know it will be fun to do and your recipient will love it, too!

We each create our own worlds… (Self Portrait)

August 27th, 2011 by Nikki Smith

This Cloth Paper Scissors reader challenge was a journey of self-discovery for me.  I tossed around a dozen different ideas before I realized that the portraits I truly love are those that reflect both the individual and their passions.  Particularly, the artist at work in their medium.  At that point, I knew that my self-portrait needed to include my passion for book arts and wee planet photography.  And me too, of course…somehow.  I chose to include several mini-me figures creating the artwork, because that is how I see myself: creating.  From there, the project took on a life of it’s own!

What began as a tunnel book morphed into more of an open diorama for the feeling of space and light which always lifts my spirits.  With one of my wee planet creations and a panoramic cloudy sky as a stage, I set to work.  Torn paper clouds are layered across the bottom.  One mini-me is painting the sky while another me is wielding scissors (with my eyes closed – well, why not?)


Every cloud has a silver lining – mine is strung with tissue paper birds!  I loved the idea of a mini-me “auditioning” birds for the sky, so my basket is also full of birds and I’m holding one end of the silver thread.

The line of birds is continued on the back of the piece where another mini-me holds a business card with my contact info, and a second card with many of my roles in life: Artist, Entrepreneur, Business Owner, Mom, Optimist, Multi-Tasker, Avid Reader, Dreamer, Power-Tool Girl, I’ll Sleep Tomorrow…

I’m not sure what this piece says about me.  Do I have my head in the clouds?  Do I dream big?  Perhaps that I know we each create our own worlds and, despite obstacles and obligations, mine will be filled with art, creativity and a love of life!

Thanks to Flickr users John Benson and Shutter41 for kindly sharing their bird photos copyright-free with a Creative Commons attribution license.  All other photography and images are my own.  Big thanks to my husband Joseph for the great idea of photographing my self-portrait against a backdrop of cotton “clouds.”  The perfect finishing touch!

And for a little more eye candy, check out these fabulous portraits by other artists:

Nicole Caulfield, Self-Portrait with Still Life.  (Colored pencils)

Self Portrait, Nicole Parrish (Above & Below)

Self Portrait, Rachel Hammond

Self Portrait, Marybeth Rothman (encaustic and mixed media painting)

Typography Portrait; Artist? Found on ImageSpark.com

Mixed-media Portrait; Artist? Found Here

Did you enjoy these?  More amazing portraits can be seen at this link. Preview below:

Dragon Flames – Ice Resin Paper Home

July 1st, 2011 by Nikki Smith

Meet my pet dragon:

My Pet Dragon

The inspiration for this home was two-fold: our broken A/C with temps above 100 degrees, and fire which can both warm and destroy.

It was 103° outside, two small kiddos at home, the A/C didn’t work (and the repair company that worked on it didn’t return our calls for over a week!), and then I made the mistake of cooking something on the stove-top…I should have had a PBJ sandwich…

Ice-resin paper home

This piece is constructed from tissue paper treated with ice resin which creates a translucent effect.  An inner support was built out of a transparency sheet cut and hinged to shape, and flame-colored parchment leaves form a separate base and perfect accent.

This is one of my entries in the Cloth Paper Scissors “Home Sweet Home” challenge.

I have a burnin' desire...oh oh oh, heart's on fire...

Hot summer days, winter evenings by the fireside…What memories does this evoke for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Somethin’ Fishy (Heads or Tails)

July 1st, 2011 by Nikki Smith

Though maybe I should have called this piece “Living in a Fishbowl…”

Somethin' Fishy (heads)

This home is a tribute to those who have lost homes due to flooding.  It uses two of my favorite techniques, printing digital imagery on tissue paper (not as hard as you might think!) and ice resin paper which creates the coolest translucent effect!   An inner support was built out of a transparency sheet cut and hinged to shape.  A child’s toy fish is on the roof for a finishing touch.

This is one of my entries in the Cloth Paper Scissors “Home Sweet Home” challenge.

Somethin' Fishy (tails)

Confession: OK, it’s my daughter’s fish toy.  What’s the craziest thing you’ve swiped for an art project?  Leave a comment and let me know!

UPDATE:  This piece was published in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors!  🙂