Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Centerpiece • Gold and Black

The change from Christmas to New Year's is quick so my centerpiece update must be quick as well. Santa certainly helped this year.

Thanks to my husband, under the tree I found a candelabra that I had blogged about earlier here.  I love its Scandinavian roots, modern lines and combination of black and wood. It was a natural to be used for New Year's. I combined that with a Santa surprise from my daughter. She gave me a set of 6 off-center tilt bowls from Crate and Barrel

We did use them for snacks at our Christmas party but I used them differently for New Year's. As I packed away some of the Christmas decor I saved all the gold balls and I filled the tilt bowls. That added the glam required for a New Year centerpiece.

I grabbed a length of black fabric from the stash to create a quick runner.  I wanted to get a gold ribbon about 4" wide to run down the center under all the elements but New Year's Eve is here and trip to the mall is not going to happen. The tablescape will stay as is.

And it is showcased with a new addition to our art collection.  I gave David a woodblock print by artist Lynita Shimizu title "My Happy Place - And Then It Snowed!". We love the stormy energy. I have blogged about Lynita here and you can see more of her work here.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, December 30, 2011

Whimsical Clock

2012 is winding down. It is a Friday. Tomorrow is New Years Eve. This clock (currently being showcased in New Designs in CB2) sums up how I feel about time today!

I am always on the prowl for the perfect clock.  I'd love this one in my office!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Tree Hunt- In Ad Design

So many of the cards I have designed over the years have included new twists on the classic Christmas Tree shape.  My daughter Karen sent me a couple of links today that compiled some of the creative applications of the same idea in the advertising world.  I love the series - almost a "Were's Waldo" for Christmas Trees!


Mercedes Benz

Hellmans - (Santa - not a tree!)




Publicis Singapore

Made me smile!
All are via daveibsen 5 blogs Before Lunch

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Salvaging an Old Maple Tree

We lost a gnarled old maple tree during the October snow storm. My husband tackled the cleanup and cut the massive trunk into sections.  We knew it was hollow because we have witnessed both owls and raccoons claiming it as home. The stump section offers great possibilities but for now, with the help of sons-in-laws and daughters we created a woodland sculpture.

We'll let it stay until we have a better idea possibly up on the patio. Thinking tables, planters, dividers.

It just reaffirms my love of wood.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Solutions • Blocking Sun Glare

We have a glorious sunroom with windows all around and no curtains or shades. For most of the year we have heavy leaf cover but on the shortest days of the year between 2:30 and 4 PM the sun shines right into the eyes of visiting friends and family. We knew that if Christmas was sunny this would be a problem. We used snowflakes to help mitigate the issue.

Daughters Amy and Karen and husband David all helped cut snowflakes as we watched football on the day before Christmas. We taped them to the upper third of the sliders on the southern side of the sunroom.

On some panes they were mixed with the three-dimesnional snowflakes made years earlier.

Christmas was bright and sunny ( with absolutely no snow!). It wasn't a perfect solution but it helped immensely. Next year I think I will experiment with frosted icicles made from contact paper.  

I have been cutting paper snowflakes since I was a kid.  Here is a link to a site with simple snowflake instructions in case you need them!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Table Centerpiece

The centerpiece on my Christmas table often has to change for the actual Christmas Dinner. I have several requirements when setting it up.

  • It must be low. Visiting is important and it happens across the table as well. An over-sized or too tall centerpiece interferes.
  • I need to be able to duplicate it or something similar for multiple tables. We ofter have 15-20 people for Christmas Dinner and although I set it up as one long table, the centerpiece is duplicated at both ends.
  • Affordable. This is always a plus at this time of year.
  • Easy to set-up. Timelines are tight.

Here is the 2011 Christmas dinner table. I had 18 for dinner.

My "company" dishes are plain white plates. I have 24 for large events. I have to use tablecloths because the second table is an ugly folding table. I went with deep green this year. I purchased 6" wide plaid ribbon with a gold trim that ran down the middle of both tables as a unifying element. I used a smaller version to make quick napkin rings. I don't have 18 red napkins but do have 12 red and 12 green so I alternated and used the plaid napkin rings.

In the center I used a crystal bowl of balls flanked by red candles in clear holders. I then laid a swag of fresh pine boughs. pine cones and more ornaments. Additionally, because Hanukkah and Christmas overlap this year, we added a Menorah and sang the traditional Jewish blessing. This happened after the photo shoot so it is missing here. It was a festive table but more so when it was surrounded by people enjoying each other's company. The table scape faded into the background and the conversation and food shined. I hope your holiday meal was as special.

©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, December 23, 2011

DIY Christmas Card 2011 Design

I have shared with you all of the Christmas Card designs I made over the past three decades. Today, all my friends and family should have their 2011 Marji Roy card in hand. I can now share it here online as well. This year I chose to depart from my classic tree theme and instead embrace Santa Claus.

I took a geometrically inspired Santa face and hid our holiday message under his flip up hat.

For years I had been wanting to use a flip up Santa hat but my designs always fell short of expectations. My design this year was directly inspired by a card I saw on Etsy that created a geometric Santa face with the signature triangle hat. I loved the graphic elements of this design by Tim Creations on Etsy.

I started from that point and modified it in a variety of ways. First I switched the design to be a flip up hat with the fold along the top. I then extended the hat to the right to soften the image, made the nose and mustache three-dimensional with a foam sticker, added cut curves to the beard and real rouge to the checks. The end result is a jolly fellow full of personality and holiday wishes. The plan is to publish a step-by-step tutorial next November. It makes sense to stagger designs by a year. Then the recipients of my cards still have the surprise of seeing what I created this year. 

I send the same message to all my readers that is inside the card. 

Ho Ho Ho!
Be Jolly and Enjoy!

Happy Holidays to All!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Taylor's Favorite Ornament

Christmas is special when you get to experience it with children. Taylor at 2 1/2 is overjoyed with it all this year. He loves the tree and all the ornaments.

One of the joys of a tree covered in handmade ornaments is that few are breakable.  Most aren't bothered by the attention of little hands. Taylor's favorite? It is the ornaments David and I designed and built back in 1975 when we first began Wood That Works... a tiny, wooden train set crafted from scraps of trim David acquired from the dumpster of a wood company....

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Perfect Christmas Tree

Yesterday was the day to decorate the tree. We travelled to the local tree farm and trudged through the fields looking for the perfect tree. The search was challenging because so many of the trees were over grown but we succeeded. David found the perfect tree, about 11 feet tall and not too fat and Amy cut it down. Taylor at 2 1/2 was much more interested in the horses in a neighboring field. We had been planning on trimming the tree to about 9 feet but instead decided to place right in the center of the window wall at the peak.  We got to use the entire height and it fit beautifully.

I got to hang the new ornaments I made this year and they really do look nice on the green. I switched to red wood beads for the garland and it offset the red beads well.

Our tree is covered with handmade ornaments and many are small. I designed this series to be large to help balance the visual impact.  

Here are photos of a few of the designs that I did not create tutorials. However the steps were the same for all and if you follow the tutorial for one you will see the many design possibilities for using aluminum screening as an ornament base. Here is the zig-zag tree....

And the contemporary spiral......

And perpendicular circles.....

I wanted to try and design an angel as well. So many ideas but never enough time.  I consider that being blessed!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gift Wrapping Made Easy

Crossing things off the list. Today I started wrapping. I don't do designer packages. Although beautiful, it is a designer thing I just don't have time for. I look for ways to make wrapping easy.

I have a couple of guidelines.

  • I stick to the red,green gold color theme. Then my ribbons and bows match.
  • I use the cheap curly ribbon as a base and add a sticky bow.
  • I use lots of different patterns but it looks fine because there is a common color theme.
  • I wear reindeer antlers or a Santa hat.
  • I listen to Christmas Carols, sing a little (definitely not a talent), and dance a lot - more like prancing. I am a reindeer after all.

David made me the ribbon dispenser that saves me oodles of time. He took a scrap board, drilled holes and inserted dowels. The ribbon comes off easily with no tangling. It is a great, simple solution.

What do you do to make wrapping part of the celebration?

©Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gifts to Give • More Christmas Patterns

Today I am making duplicates, triplicates and more. The various ornaments I have blogged about are being produced in numbers starting today. I'll give these a gifts to friends and family. But while I am working I am enjoying the patterns caused by replication.

The first two are from the window screen series of ornaments shown earlier in tutorials here and here.

The last is more of the Tomoko Fuse's Sprial Origami shown here. I am crafting them in blue and silver for Jewish friends.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Friday, December 16, 2011

Patterns of Christmas

I am finishing up making all my cards today but I keep stopping to take photos. One of the things I love about making all these cards is the patterns.

Each step of the way, I line the cards up as I complete a step. The patterns are wonderful. This year I photographed them as I progressed through the process.

Is it my love of geometry and shapes...or is that I am a little more OCD than I thought? Hmmm.

Just so graphic!

Seventy! Done! Ho Ho Ho!

Now signing, addressing stamping and mailing!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Card Construction Zone

All decorating has come to a stop as I buckle down and make the 70 cards I need. My desk is production central.

The design was done awhile ago and I know I promised a step by step guide. It occurred to me that I really don't want to share my completed design until my friends and family have received theirs. Part of the joy is the wonder in what I will create and I don't want to spoil their opening of the card. By the time these cards are delivered, it will be way too late for a step-by-step guide. I have taken the pictures and I will share them - next year!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Decorating • Quick but Beautiful

December is a wonderful but busy time of the year. I love to have my house decorated for the holidays but as I set out I have some guidelines to follow....

  • Quick to set up, quick to take down -  There are still only so many hours in a day and it isn't going to change for the season!
  • Keep it cheap - I'll give to a good cause instead of paying big bucks for decorations. The method is to shop the end of season sales. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
  • Incorporate Nature - greens, pine cones, berries, etc.
  • Avoid Kitschy - This one I will break for something that catches my fancy but I prefer decorations that add holiday spirit without being curtsey.
  • Tradition and family trumps all - even things that don't match my style.  The ornaments my kids made for me go on the tree. The special decor from family is used.
  • Keep storage in mind - I do have some storage space so this isn't a strong rule but I truly appreciate holiday decor that folds flat, stores small.  

How do I meet these guidelines?
Here is what I did today - Christmas balls. No secret I love spheres and have blogged a lot about them.  I have large tub of Christmas balls purchased at the end of the season when they are close to free.  I scatter them through out the house....

Nine hang from my candelabra.....

In the evening, with the candles lit, it truly glows.

I fill clear bowls with a variety of colors and sizes and place them around the house....

I fill cylinders with balls and place them in tight spots to add a touch of the holiday spirit....

Yes, even the bathroom needs a little sparkle.

All this takes about fifteen minutes to set up and fifteen minutes to take down in January. They do take space to store but I just put them in plastic grocery bags all gathered together in a Rubbermaid Storage Tub placed at the top of the garage until next year.  Even the mice don't bother them!

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Entry Done!

Today was day two of the holiday decorating. I happened to take the pickup truck to work this morning and as I was driving home I noticed some Winter Berry bushes on the side of the road. I knew the clippers were in the back so I pulled over, snipped a few branches and was off.  My afternoon project had been decided!

Years ago I used to buy greenery arrangements for the door stoop but at some point I just started making my own. It is especially easy this year because of all the tree damage from earlier storms.  I had a choice of pine boughs already down, gathered some Mountain Laurel, the clippers and set up shop on the tailgate of the truck.

I used white pine, hemlock, and some unidentified pine along with laurel branches for the greens. Into that I added the Winter Berry, some pinecones hit with a touch of white paint, and a few silk poinsettias for added color. I made two arrangements, one for each side of the door.

I used to place them at the front of the portico but once the snow starts, they would get buried. Even before the snow flies, the deer and turkeys would start munching on them.  The turkeys will still come up on the stoop. The deer don't.

After I placed them, I felt they needed more punch. This is the first Christmas with our house painted this beautiful shade of blue green (Benjamin Moore #2136-30 Amazon Green) and the deep green pine was lost in the depths.  I went out and clipped some bare tree branches, spayed painted them white and added them to the arrangement. Great addition. They pop against the deep green (which I still think looks more blue! Benjamin Moore how about Mallard Blue for a new name?) Wonderful color whatever the name.

I kid you not! This was last winter from inside looking out at that same corner. I expect the same just as soon as those Winter Berries are spotted.

Christmas Dinner?

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Paper Snowflakes Stars Galore

Years ago my mom taught me how to make paper snowflake stars. I have made many over the years, given many away but kept a fair number for me. When we added our sunroom with all its glorious windows I started hanging them in the windows.  I love the look especially with the sun creating contrasts.

The collection has grown and I now hang them in groups of 5-7. I make them in a variety of sizes but all from plain white copier paper.

Inexpensive and effective.  It takes awhile to make each one so if you want a collection like mine, consider having a party and teaching everyone how to make them.  

Tonight I got a special treat. I got to watch the moon rise through the stars.

Day One of holiday home decorating is done! You'll learn I am of the group that decorates slowly through out the month. The holiday grows around us as the spirit grows within us. 

I am not going to do my own tutorial because there are many already posted. Here is a link to a great tutorial on wikihow. Check it out and make a windowful of snowflake stars for yourself.

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©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy