Tuesday, July 27, 2010

make your own mustache cookie cutter

i was searching for a mustache cookie cutter for dom's 3rd birthday and i couldn't come across one that i really liked, so after googling a bunch of cookie cutter websites, i decided that maybe i can search for cookie cutter tutorials instead.  i saw a bunch of  tutorials, from step by step instructions to videos.  the tutorial that i chose to follow was from juggling frogs - "make your own cookie cutter from clip art and a foil pan".

so here's my version:

"make your own mustache cookie cutter":

first you're going to need the following:
  • food grade aluminum ( i used oven liners or protectors, because they have less creases and steps - they have a smoother surface, and they are easier to cut) - can also be found at your local hardware store.
  • scissors
  • ruler (preferrably longer than 12 inches)
  • pliers (i got mine from the dollar store - it's a long nose with a wire cutter)
  • a drawing or a clip art of a mustache
  • thread
  • safety gloves 
  • safety goggles/glasses

here's a photo of some of my supplies:

first, i cut two strips approximately 1" inch thick (because the oven protector is thinner, these strips are used for extra support / strength - if you use a thicker piece of aluminum, you might not need these extra strips).  then, i cut one strip approximately under 3 inches (this strip is used, so that the extra edges can be folded over one another)

place the two strips directly in the middle of the thicker (3 in) strip.  lightly score and fold over the extra edges over one another, using the ruler as a guide.

if you have an image that you'd like to replicate, use a simple string, twine, or thread to measure around the silhouette - this will give you an approximate length.  use the string to measure how long your strip will be (remember to leave the strip about 1 to 2 inches longer than the string).

when you are done folding and measuring the lenght of the strip, attach both ends together - let them overlap.  cut one of the ends in a triangular shape and slide it inside the other folded end.

gently fold the aluminum in the middle of the overlapped section to secure the ends. (you can also use permanent double-sided tape to secure the ends - but this must be clamped and will need to set for a few days)

use the first folded section as one end of the mustache, then fold the opposite end. (be careful not to crease the aluminum too much or it could tear, besides you don't need these areas to be really crisp, because the dough changes in shape slightly after it's cooked)

here's the order of the folds to make your very own simple mustache (i found it easier to do it free-handed but feel free to use an image as a guide):

shape the rest of the sheet to resemble a mustache, lips, heart  or even a mask!

here's dominic having a little fun with the finished cookie cutter...

and here are the cookies my friend and i made:

the cookies (above) are made with a slightly smaller cookie cutter (i think the 8 inch cookie might've been to ambitious for a first time sugar icing decorator (aka. moi).  besides, i don't think the parents would appreciate the sugar content of that behemoth either - lol!

thanks delio for helping me make the shortbread dough and piping the icing while i texturized it (specially for giving me the idea to texturize it), and thanks kat for sending me the link for the sugar icing recipe!

i hope you found this useful!  thanks to juggling frogs for the inspiration - i'm so happy with the result!  here's another tutorial that i found helpful by peggy weaver;:  "cookie and gumpaste cutter" - this one uses copper instead of aluminum.

happy tuesday!
xo, carla

Sunday, July 25, 2010

artist feature: kira shaimanova

i was introduced to kira's work through one of my friends.  i fell in love with this:

"sweet talk"

i started following kira's blog and was inspired by her passion and patience in creating these wonderful 3d illustrations.  she is a very talented canadian, whose hands create the most unique and beautifully haunting pieces of art! 

let's learn more about kira shaimanova!

CD (me):  where are you from, and what made you love what you do?

KS (kira shaimanova):  i'm a toronto illustrator, but i originated from russia.  i'm practically canadian, since i moved here at the young age of five.  i always knew i wanted to be an artist of some sort, and had an interest in sculpture way back in high school.  i had the hardest time trying to find my own unique style.  i was going back and forth between different mediums like acrylic and oil paint, to ink pen, and mix media pieces for years on end.  while in university, i took a class outside of school during the summer - simply for fun.  it was a doll making class that lasted for about a month.  as i started making the head of my doll, i thought, "oh my God!  this is it, this is what i'm going to do".  i fell in love instantly.  i found a way to incorporate these doll characters into sets and photograph them into an illustration form.

 "big hero"

CD:  what drew you into the world of art?  do you have any childhood memories about it?

KS:  my mother was an artist way before me, so i guess you can say i have the artist gene in my family.  although my mother didn't continue her art career and stopped in her early 20's, i was motivated to make this career happen.  my parents got to see my art flourish throughout the years, like early on in elementary school, teachers would approach my mom and tell her i have a talent for art.  they would compare my drawings to other students in the class.

"helping hand"

CD:  how did your studies influence you and your work?

KS:  school definitely helped my development as an artist.  i got to learn all types of mediums and find out what it is i loved to draw.  i am also a big fan of art history classes.  i've taken them all throughout  high school and university.  it is a great benefit to learn about past artists and how various types of art and genres came to be.

"freshly cut bouquet"

CD:   what is your approach to designing and creating your artwork?

KS:  for me, starting a piece of artwork is all about a great concept and a visually intriguing image.   once i have my idea, way before my sketch even comes along, i like to get a rough picture in my mind of lighting and the mood of the piece.  the mood is quite important to me, because people react to colors and how bright and vibrant a piece is versus a mysterious take on an image.  then, i can figure out my composition, and try many variations of the same sketch until i come along something that's visually intriguing.  i try not to do too many sketches of the characters because i love experimenting with their expressions when i start the sculpting process.

"save the prey"

CD:  what is/are your favorite medium/s to work with?

KS:  my favorite, believe it or not, is working with acrylic paint and getting to paint the dolls.  the sculpting process is my second favorite, but actually seeing the little people come to life is amazing.  i never really know what color eyes or hair they'll have in the end.  i just go with the flow, and get a vibe of what details each character needs.

CD:  can you describe your process in creating a 3D illustration and the final photo?

  1. concept and sketch
  2. sculpt or make the heads first (a few layers of clay)
  3. create the bodies while the heads dry
  4. hands and feet are last, they are added after the body is dry
  5. the dolls are all sanded down to get the smooth skin
  6. they get painted, and details are added:  hair, eye lashes, etc.
  7. the clothing is sewn or glued together
  8. the background and set gets created with practically anything (shoe boxes, cardboard, wood, etc.)
  9. then i need to figure out the lighting i pictured in my mind
  10. i shoot the piece about 2-3 different times, with different lighting approaches until i am happy with the result
kira's creative space:

work in progress, sculpting the head of ella for "cooking with heart":

details added after the head is dry:

the finished product:
 "cooking with heart"
    CD:  aside form the project being part of your thesis at school, what drove you to create the "chivalry is dead" series?  what was your inspiration?

    KS:  for the thesis, we had to come up with 3 different concept ideas to propose to the professors at the beginning of the 4th year.  in the summer time, i had an idea of doing something with chivalry - how everyone  claims chivalry is dead in today's day and age.  i couldn't think of a unique twist on the concept, so i dropped the idea.  after submitting about 7 different ideas, over a 2 week period, my professor, jody hewgill, a well known illustrator, had rejected everything claiming it wasn't strong enough, or it's been done before.  on the last day of proposing ideas, it just came to me and the end of class to mix chivalry with zombies.  so in the end, my concept from the summer time finally clicked in my mind.

     "portrait of a lady with fox" by jody hewgill

    CD:  do you have a favorite among your sculptural illustrations?  which one is it?  what's the story behind it?

    KS:  i love the second piece i did in series, called " be my umbrella".  this piece is showing chivalry to animals, birds in this case, versus only showing acts of kindness towards others.  normally, the scenario would be a gentleman holding an umbrella over his lover to protect her from the rain.  in this case, the zombie's coat is the shelter, and the ribs are in a form of a cage, a safe haven for the birds.

    "be my umbrella"

    CD:  are there any artists that inspire you to create?  if so, who are they? and why?

    KS:  oh, i have plenty of artist that inspire me.  i do wish that one day to reach the success that chris sickels has, or liz lomax - both sculpture illustrators.  i found out about them, after i started my sculpture illustration venture.  it's nice to see different approaches to sculpture illustration.  although, we all use similar mediums, the styles are all so distinctive.  sickel's and lomax's characters and settings are all so unique, and wonderful to look at (versus 2D art).  i think it's definitely time for the world to see new forms of illustration.  sickels and lomax are pretty much the foremost founders of this new style of art.

     "the seeder" by chris sickels

    "the tooth fairy" by liz lomax

    CD:  could you give us five words to describe yourself?

    KS:  driven, friendly, punctual, easy-going, and goofy.

    CD:  can you tell us something funny that happened to you recently?

    KS:  druing my graduation, i was supposed to walk over to shake hands with the dean of OCAD university, and two other honorary doctorates on stage, but as soon as they called my name and got on stage,  i turned to anita kunz, who was also on stage, and waved to her instead.  i was so happy she came to my graduation, and i got to talk to her after the ceremony, such a sweet lady and a brilliant artist.

    "the puppet master" by anita kunz

    CD:  what is your favorite or most inspirational place?

    KS:  i don't have a specific place, but it's anywhere, around creative people.  i get really inspired being around other artists, and seeing what projects they're working on.  it makes you more driven.  it's totally different socializing with people outside the creative field.  people in the arts think alike, and bond easily, we all see the world in a different light, it's a very beautiful thing.

    detail of frames from "mop head"

    CD:  what keeps you motivated and what made you realize that this was your calling?

    KS:  i like to get to know working artists/illustrators in the field.  seeing what they've gone through when they've started out, and how they were able to reach their goals.  it's motivating to know that if your follow their lead, you can make it too.

    i realized art was my calling around the time i was in high school.  i had been doing art all of my life, but on the side, i did modelling for 3 years, dance classes for 5 years, and competitive figure skating for 10 years.  i slowly dropped out of everything, because i knew i wasn't passionate about dance and skating, as i was passionate about art.  i didn't exactly know where i was going to go with it, but i knew i needed to continue, and only focus on art.

     "mop head"

    CD:  could you share some of your goals with us?  future projects, etc.?

    KS:   i just want to be a successful illustrator, and artist.  i want to inspire other to follow their artistic dreams.  i have the most respect for people who chose an artistic career, over a 9-5 job they hate for the rest of their lives.  if you love it, and it makes you so happy, why not create, for life.

     "lady gaga superstar"

    as for future projects, a group of illustrators and i are planning a group show for the late 2010, or early 2011.  it will be a themed show that's in the works.

     "friday night poker"

    CD:  do you have any advice for all aspiring artists?

    KS:  think of your career as a marriage, a life-long commitment.  there will always be ups and downs, but in the end if you really love it, it is worth working hard for, and you end up learning something new each day.  i still haven't made it to the top, but i will do anything to get there.  you just need to keep creating non-stop, and learn from the people who are already in the position you wish to be in, one day.  everyone has an e-mail address, don't be afraid to ask for advice.

    to see more of kira's work and stay updated on her new creations visit the following links:




    i hope you enjoyed this interview.  happy sunday everyone!
    xo, carla

    all images in this post are courtesy and with the permission of kira shaimanova.  if you wish to re-blog or publish this photo at any photo sharing websites, please contact her at kira@kirashaimanova.comthank you!

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    dom's photo shoot

    so happy that one of our friends, lemai, wanted to do a photo shoot with dom.  she is one of the most talented and gifted people i know; and the owner of the cutest bunnies in the whole world!!!

    on the day of the shoot, we met her at evergreen cultural center in coquitlam, went for a walk around the man-made lake, it was a lot of fun!

    here are some of my favorite photos of the day:

    at the playground,

     fun with bubbles and leaves,

    i absolutely love the candids!

    i hope you enjoyed these, there are more amazing photos at lemai's blog:  http://lemaiphoto.com/

    happy weekend!
    xo,  carla

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    blood-thirsty nail art

    sorry, i've been out of the loop for a while, it was quite a busy for a bit there...  i'm finishing up an artist feature and it will be up soon.  in the meantime, here's another nail art post.  hope you like it!

    this nail art was inspired by an image by yaptus that i saw a couple of months ago. 

    i just had to recreate it one day... halloween is too far away, so i decided to wear it when i go see a horror film of some sort (i know... i'm a goof).  i love horror movies, specially vampire flicks!

    almost two weeks ago, i went to see eclipse with my hubby, and of course i had to rock these:

    i used my trusty base coat, then "320 rapid ruby" by rimmel on the tips, and topped it off with the seche vite top coat!

    hope you are having a fun week!  happy tuesday!
    xo, carla

    Monday, July 12, 2010


    my alphabet walk assignment was for "d"...

    so, i did a walk-through at work and found some that i hope you'll like:

    my original idea for "d", would be a million photos of our son, dominic, but i figured it might be a little too much.  so, here's one of my favorite photos instead:

     "dom and the dandelion"

    this photo was taken during one of our walks on a cool early summer evening, we stopped to play at the playground nearby.  dom and i saw some dandelions, and the fun began!

    dandelions remind me of a  conversation my husband and i had, when i was still pregnant with dominic.  my hubby joked that we should name our son, daniel or dan.  as in "DAN DE LEON"!  it would've been a funny antonym, but i'm glad that we didn't (hubby is such a goof)... LOL!

    i hope you are enjoying the alphabet blog hop!  thanks again piper (one sydney road) for making this happen and helping us all meet new friends!


    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    alphabet walk update

    hello everyone!

    i just wanted to remind you of the "alphabet walk blog hop" hosted by piper of one sydney road.  please click on the photo to take you to the blogs that are participating... 

    it starts on monday, july 12, and i am one of the participating blogs that day.  so, i hope you stop by for a visit.  i am so excited to visit new blogs and meet new friends.

    happy saturday!
    xo, carla