Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Somerset Holidays & Celebrations

Stampington & Company has been providing leading publications for the art community since 1994. If you have ever looked for idea books in a craft store you are sure to have seen their publications such as The Stamper's Sampler, Somerset Studios, Belle Armoire, Somerset Memories, Art Doll Quarterly, and Take Ten, just to name a few. Stampington & Company also offers several special publications that are released biannually and annually – Somerset Holidays & Celebrations is one of these.

The Somerset Holidays & Celebrations publication by Stampington & Company is a 144-page soft bound book packed with over 200 project ideas for special occasions throughout the year. Some of the featured holidays are Christmas, Halloween, Easter and Valentine's Day. While many of the ideas in this book can be adapted for any occasion, I was a little disappointed that I did not find anything that was specifically for Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays. The last chapter of the book called "Through The Year" is where you’ll find ideas for Birthday, Baby Shower, St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day, and so much more.

One of the things that always catches my attention about any of the Stampington & Company works, is the fantastic photography and layout of their publications. A great amount of care is taken to provide top quality detailed images of the projects being demonstrated.

When you open the Somerset Holidays & Celebrations book you will first notice a letter from the Managing Editor who will get you into the holiday spirit and give you an overview of some of the talent you will find throughout this publication. On the following two pages you will find a detailed “Table of Contents”. Each holiday or celebration is broken into chapters making it easy to find the project or artist you are looking for. Within each chapter (or holiday), you will find several artists with a story to tell about their featured project. I really enjoy this part of the book because it brings the projects to life and adds insight as to how the idea may have come about. Each artist also adds a Tools & Materials list; Techniques (how to complete the project); and Tips. At the end of each chapter you will also find a “Gallery”. On these pages you will find projects and general instructions from many different artists.

Our family does not celebrate Halloween so this was a chapter that I devoted the least amount of my time to reading, ironically it was where I was inspired for my first project. The Sparkle Spoons project by Natalie Hansen would make a unique gift for my mother-in-law this Christmas. I did not have any spoons that were tarnished so I used some from my kitchen drawer and added black paint to the spoon to give it a more worn look. I then followed the instructions that Natalie included with her project. This was a really quick and easy project to complete and just goes to prove that you can find inspiration wherever you look.

Title: Wall Hanger
Products used: Cardstock (Prism Prismatics)
Black Paint (Apple Barrel)
Ink (Ranger)
Glitter (Amy’s Magid)
Diamond Glaze (Judikins)
Paper Ribbon

Whenever I go shopping I can usually pick out the most expensive dress on the rack or the most expensive shoes. A similar thing happens when I look through idea books like Somerset Holidays & Celebrations; I can find the most elaborate projects. I have always admired the look of pendants and ornaments made from microscope slides. Since I have a large supply of these items I decided it was time to make some of these beautiful pieces of art. One item that I was completely unfamiliar with was soldering tools. I did not have a clue where to start, so I decided to enlist my husband for help with this project.

I wanted my pieces to sparkle so after stamping the snowflake image onto the slide with Staz-on, I sandwiched Stickles glitter glue in between two slides and laid aside to dry. Once my pieces were dry it was time to start the soldering process. I figured this would also be easy since I had seen so many people create beautiful pieces of art using this process. Even Deb Denton, a contributing artist to the Somerset Holidays & Celebrations book, said that it could be done!

If you are like me and have never soldered anything before in your life, and maybe don’t even know what a soldering gun looks like, then please read on because I have some helpful tips:

  • Use only copper tape. The silver tape is apparently made from aluminum and will not work!
  • To achieve the silver look around the edge of your piece you must wrap the edges in the copper tape. Be sure to smooth the tape and edges after it’s applied. Next comes the hard part …… it’s actually not hard but it takes a little practice to get the solder to adhere smoothly.
  • Hold the piece firmly, we used a multi function craft vise to hold the slide, then using the iron melt the solder onto the face of the copper tape using at least a 30 watt soldering iron. CAUTION – this iron will get very hot – 900 – 1200 deg F. As the solder starts to melt it can be spread or “pushed” along the front face and outside edge of the copper tape to provide an even covering. It is not necessary to cover the back face of the copper tape unless you plan to display both sides of the slide.
  • Be sure to use .050 thickness resin core solder to ensure the solder melts easily and spreads smoothly. As previously stated this process is more advanced and requires a steady hand due to the solder being a metal that is heated up hot enough to become a to liquid form. After the solder is spread onto the front face and edge of the of the slide, we attached (using solder) some small rings to the top and bottom of each slide to allow the slides to be attached together.

Snowflake-Hanger-upclose Snowflake-Hanger
Title: Snowflake Ornaments
Products used: Microscope Slides (Ranger)
Stamp (Stampin Up)
Ink (Staz on)
Glitter Glue (Stickles)
Copper Tape (Ranger)
Beads (So Charming)
Jump Ring
Organdy Ribbon

I wanted to create a little different look for this piece so I stamped my snowman image and colored it in with markers. I then cut out the image the size of the slide and applied Stickles to the image before sandwiching it between two slides. Once it was dry, I added copper tape around the edge of the ornament and instead of the using the above process, we only soldered a jump ring to the top of the piece. I did not want the look of the copper tape so I used a Krylon silver pen to alter the color of the tape to give a faux solder look to the ornament.

Title: Snowman Ornament
Products used: Microscope Slides (Ranger)
Cardstock (Matte Kote)
Stamp (Stampin Up)
Ink (Whispers)
Markers (Bic Mark It)
Glitter Glue (Stickles)
Copper Tape (Ranger)

While the ornament project was a little more advanced than what I had originally intended it was something I probably would have never attempted had it not been for the Somerset Holiday & Celebrations 2008 book by Stampington & Company. I love the look of the soldered ornaments and would readily attempt to volunteer my husband to help me try this again. He was such a good sport about helping and after all, practice does make perfect!

All of this proves one thing, the projects in this book are designed for all levels of crafters of all ages. You will also find a vast array of mediums and styles used throughout the book; everything from traditional styles – to Victorian – to the most bizarre. There is something for everyone in this book and I am sure that you can find plenty of inspiration for years to come when you purchase the Somerset Holidays & Celebrations book from Stampington & Company.

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