We've had tons of snow here and the kids have had a week and a half off of school. By Friday it was clear that we all needed to get out of the house, and it actually was a pretty nice day.  We headed downtown to the Renwick Gallery, which had just reopened after a 2 year renovation with a really amazing exhibition called WONDER.  

All my mixed media artist friends MUST GO SEE THIS.  It was so cool!  

This installation was a recreation of the heat bloom from the Japanese typhoon/nuclear plant mess a couple years ago.  The lighting changed frequently making the entire dispose change to completely different colors.

This sculpture was made entirely of old tires (and teenagers).

This sculpture was all clear marbles and depicted the Chesapeake Bay and the rivers that form it.

This sculpture was made using a casting of an actual tree. It was made out of tiny blocks of wood and suspended from the ceiling.

This sculpture was made entirely of stacked cards.  Looks like glaciers, doesn't it?

This rainbow was made with hundreds of threads.  Both my camera and our eyes had a hard time adjusting - the colors were so powerful.

This was my favorite one - all made from twisted twigs.  You could not see any kind of glue or fasteners keeping it together.  They all looked plucked straight out of the woods already formed.

The Renwick is part of the Smithsonian, which means entrance is free.  Parts of the exhibit close in May and parts close in July - so there is still plenty of time to visit.  And the historic gallery is nearly across the street from the White House which provides more great photo ops :-)

My daughter on the outside seems like a jock - it's true, just check out the inventory of bags and shoes and other equipment in her room.  But on the inside she is pretty creative.  One creative outlet we share is making fun cakes together for her birthday.  We've made a giant pink airplane, a giant ice skate. a tie-dyed t-shirt, and a mountain with mountain climbers (the party was at an indoor climbing gym :-)).

This year, as we raced around town stocking up on survive-the-storm supplies, she mentioned it would be cool to make a cake that's rainbow on the inside.  We swung by Michael's and found this great kit, the Checkerboard Cake Kit from Wilton:

While we were there, we saw a super cool cake idea - a chalkboard cake.


Neither of us had used fondant before, but they had black fondant right there in the cake aisle (naturally) so we thought we'd give it a shot.  We found two great videos on line (here and here) that gave us a tad more confidence. For the cakes we used regular boxed white cake, and Wilton Icing Colors to make the batter super colorful. To stick the layers together and for the "crumb coat" I used my grandmother's cream cheese frosting which is fool proof (recipe below).  The fondant went on pretty well, and the "chalk" was not too hard either.  We would definitely try this one again!

World's Best Cream Cheese Frosting (from my Grandma Simpson):
1 box cream cheese (don't buy reduced fat!) (8 oz)
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 box confectioners/powdered sugar (16 oz)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring cream cheese and butter to room temperature (either naturally or using a microwave) and whip together with sugar and vanilla.  This is great for frosting cakes but might not be the best for piping decorations.  

Man! Has it really been nearly 6 weeks since I last posted here?  Sorry about that.  I've had a "real job" change which should give me more time for creative endeavors.  Lately that's been writing over at my other blog, Gals in Blue.  But hopefully as I settle into my new schedule there will be more time spent in the studio - like night before last....

Long ago, I purchased some black art deco links from MyELEMENTS.  Yvonne sells awesomely colorful components - and occasionally has "studio sweeps" that are crazy good deals.  Normally it's a mixed bag, but this sweep was a bag of these cool black links.  Looking back at the listing, the measuring tape is pretty prominent, but did I look closely at that important info when I hit "buy"?  No!

So in my mind I pictured links about this size:

When actually they are this size:

Hmmmm...what to do, what to do.  The bag o'links kicked around my studio for a while until finally an idea germinated.  I've been playing with chain mail a lot lately so had a ton of bright jump rings left over to play with.  Merely linking the links together didn't seem all that exciting, so on each jump ring I put 8 smaller jump rings.  They add some super subtle movement and sparkle, while still being very work appropriate.  And since the links are plastic it makes a big statement without weighing me down.

One other thing I didn't pay attention to?  The number of links - there are about 340!  If you would like some drop me a line and we can make a swap of some kind :-)

I am participating in the Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop.  You know what it re-taught me?  I am most creative when on a deadline.  Isn't that weird?  Maybe it's the confluence of my left- and right-brained selves...I create best on a schedule.

So with the close of a busy weekend, a crazy week ahead, and a looming blog hop deadline, I looked through my stash of goodies for ornament components.  This is made easier by the fact that so much of it is scattered across my work spaces.

I had an angel in mind, and an oblong lamp work bead I had made seemed fit for a body.  An enameled bead I made in a great class taught by the amazing Barbara Lewis ages ago fit both color and size-wise for the head.

I played around with a two piece pendant I got on the clearance rack at Michaels, and decided one half would make good wings, and a flattened cone bead would serve as a halo.  I added tiny wire wrapped seed beads, because I decided angels should have a little sparkle and jingle.  When I asked my daughter if it looked like an angel, I got a luke warm response.  Hmmmm.   Amongst the piles on my work bench was left over large jump rings - a much more obvious halo.  Yay!

Check out the other participants here, on the Art Bead Scene Blog

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