My reviews are based on my personal experience with a product or event. I am not a professional product tester nor do I get paid for any of my blog posts.

The items that I post reviews on, have either been purchased on the internet or through a local vendor. Additionally I will review items that I got on sale, as a gift or as a sample from either the manufacurer or some other source.

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Review of Fine Arts Weekend Event at Art Supply Warehouse

I am always on the look out for ways to expose my kids to the fine arts, in a fun and enjoyable manner that goes beyond visiting the local museum.  So I was happy to find out that the local "Art Supply Warehouse" store was hosting a fine arts event on their property.  The event was free to the public which was a major boost to my pocket book.  Additionally, they encouraged children and adults of all ages to participate which meant they would have workshops that were child friendly.  This was a must attend event for my family.
The event itself is a three day event that offered different workshops on each day.  A family could attend each day and try a different art form.  There were also demonstrations put on by a variety of artists.  They also offered an opportunity to create a piece of art through their "Remaster The Masters" event to display on their "Catalyst" art class space wall.

We anticipated that we would probably spend the day at the event so my kids packed a light lunch and off we went to the "Fine Arts Weekend Event".  The first stop was at the store, so we could stock up on the art supplies we were low on.  The "Art Supply Warehouse" offers a 25% sale at least two times a year and this year it was timed at the same time as the fine arts event.  We have learned to shop first because at those prices they tend to run out of the things we need very quickly.

Once the shopping was completed, we went to the first demonstration which was sponsored by "Strathmore".

This was amixed media demonstration where the kind folks at Strathmore provided each participant with one of

their new mixed media pads to test out with watercolors, charcoals and pastels.   There were students of all ages taking this workshop.

If you are into junk journals, art journals, mixed media pieces, etc., you may find that these pads are great.  The instructor had samples of different materials that she used on these pads.  The first one was a page from her Strathmore Mixed Media Pad showing the use of Pan Pastels and Stencils.

The second was her Strathmore Mixed Media Pad showing the use of Golden's Acrylic and hot sticks.

The third was a sample of air brushing on the same pad.

The fourth was an actual in class project by one of the students using watercolor sticks put down in layers to get vibrant colors.  She used a lot of water and still the paper did not buckle, which I think is a plus.

The next workshop we attended was soft pastels workshop which was presented by Lon Dekkers and sponsored by Rembrandt.  You may wonder what is so special about these pastels, for us it is that they do not contain any heavy metals (such as cadmium, lead, and cobalt).  My daughter has certain allergies and these did not cause any reaction.  The colors are also very rich and easy to work with.
Lon showed how to use the side of the pastel to fill in larger areas in the drawing.
He also went over several different ways to use the pastels to create depth and light.
Lon Dekkers demonstrating the Rembrandt Soft Pastels
He was very patent with my teenager and happily answered all her questions.  She asked him to do a

whole apple without smudging the colors on the apple,

so she could better understand how the use of particular colors brought light and depth into the apple drawing.
My daughter's apple drawing

My daughters definitely loved this workshop and I am sure I will see a set of these soft pastels added to their Christmas wish lists.

The next workshop we attended was an oil painting workshop which featured paints from the "Jack Richeson Oil Paint - Shiva Collection".

The teacher, Jeff Morrow, for this workshop was a very patent artist.  Teaching oil painting to a group of

individuals of varied ages and experience is no easy task.  He taught us how to combine colors, use the
various tools and some different painting techniques.
He also shared tips with the students, one of which is to think about perspective when working on a painting.  This was helpful, since many of the students had never used oil paints before and were feeling bit nervous about working with them.  Another fun tip was that he showed us how the right frame can
Oil Painting without a frame.
change how a painting looks.  The above the painting is great.  However, when you add a frame
Oil Painting with a white frame.
it does change the way the finished painting looks.

 Another fun workshop we were able to attend was an "Artist Trading Card" workshop.   In this workshop we had the opportunity to try out the Daler Rowney's FW Acrylic Inks.

This workshop was taught by calligraphy artist and author, Lisa Engelbrecht,

who taught us some fun techniques for creating our own Artist Trading Cards.

I am a big fan of making "Artist Trading Cards" because of their size.   I find that Artist Trading Cards are a manageable craft project and allow me to try out a variety of textiles, materials, etc. on them within a short time span.
Lisa Engelbrecht Artist Trading Card Projects
Here are samples of some of the ones made by the workshop attendees.

and some by Lisa.  Lisa has a great blog that lists upcoming classes and events that she will be participating in.  She also has a blog post with a great tutorial on this type of fun lettering.

The "Fine Arts Event" also had a very cool "Remaster the Masters" project.  Where we got to create our t-shirts master pieces with the new sharpie paint colors.  The store provided us with a fun t-shirt to paint.

They had all the pens out and the colors were fabulous.

Here are just a few examples of some of the shirts people created.

The event lasted three days and offered many more workshops than we were able to attend.  My family appreciates stores like "Art Supply Warehouse" who give us a chance to try out different artistic mediums and provide these educational opportunities.  If you are interested in similar events,  I highly recommend checking out the online calendar of local art stores and museums who often sponsor similar events in your area.


A Review of the "American Girl Crafts" Mosaic Frame Kit

The American Girl dolls are pretty popular in my household and we have been blessed with another opportunity to test out one of their kits.  The "American Girl" line of craft kits by "E.K. Success" can be found at local craft stores, online and other retailers.  They vary in price and are geared to specific ages.   This particular kit is recommended for "American Girl" fans ages eight and up.  This "Mosaic Frame Kit" retails for about $19.99.

The "Mosaic Frame Kit" comes complete with:

  • A project & idea booklet
  • Acrylic Frame
  • 142 Patterned Shapes
  • 1 Green Square Stencil
  • 1 Pink Circle Stencil
  • 24 Clear Plastic Bubble Stickers
  • 16 Self Adhesive gems
  • 3 Ribbons
  • Adhesive Foam Squares

The instructions include some drawings that make it fun for the crafter to follow, without having to stop

and read the whole booklet.  However, the booklet does offer some great tips and ideas for personalizing the projects.  There is even instructions for creating a fun scavenger hunt game to entertain the kids.
The colorful papers in the kit are actually pre cut shapes that the kids can use to decorate their frame

The clear bubble stickers are pretty neat and a nice finish to the pictures and/or die cuts used in the project.

The frame itself is really cute, it is made from acrylic which is safer for the kids to craft with.

Making the project is pretty easy, just choose some pictures.  My girls found it easier to hold the photo stencil to decide which pictures to use.

Or you can use the frame to see how the pictures will look.

Once the kids have picked out the pictures, then they just need to cut them out.  The pictures are pretty small so if you are working with younger children, then I would recommend cutting the pictures out for them.  If you have one of those fun inch sized square punches, then those will work too.  The project took about 30 minutes total to make and came out great.

You can also add pins and other mementos as embellishments onto the frame like my daughter did below.
The American Girl Mosaic Frame Kit  with embellishments

If you are looking for a fun quick and easy craft for your "American Girl" fan, then this kit will not disappoint. It is super easy and a fun memory project for your own "American Girl" to do.  The finished project is so cute.

●  Lay everything out so you can pick your colors, shapes and photos.
●  If you are using the kit for younger children, you can help avoid frustration by using either the enclosed adhesive foam squares or use glue dots (my personal favorite).
●  Use up those fun stickers and buttons you  have around the house to use as accents for this fun frame.

A review of some of the Stampendous Embossing Powders


The "Painting with Powder" line of embossing powders by Stampendous offers the user an opportunity to paint a surface in a manner similar to working with chalks or other media.  The more well known technique to painting with embossing powder is "Fran's Painting with Powder Technique™" which you can view on the Stampendous you tube channel.  The powders are used to create fun abstract paintings on various objects but using her special technique and these embossing powders.  This is being promoted as a fun way to use embossing powders to create a different type of art.  

The kit they sent me was the "Scenic Selection" which comes with 14 jars in a variety of colors, which 

are: white, star dust, clear bark, olive, lettuce, periwinkle, baby blue, clear lemon, sunny yellow, golden sand, honey, paprika, chinese red, and ruby red. 
This kit has a helpful "Tips & Technique" chart and comes with two scoop straws to aid in the use of the embossing powders.

The manufacturer recommends using the Versamark™ Clear slow drying ink with these embossing powders to get the best results.

  For my first project I decided to use the embossing powders on a glass ornament to see if it would work.
I used one of the stamps enclosed in the kit, the "VersaMark" ink pad and some of the embossing colors.
I stamped the image onto a clean glass ornament and applied the powders.  Since it was a curved surface, I had a little trouble getting a clear image.
I decided to keep the image as is and a little more embossing powder in certain areas to give it some definition.

I also added a little glitter to the embossing powder to give it some sparkle.  I heated it carefully (to not allow too much of the glitter to fly away).  It is a bit difficult to see the sparkle on the picture but it looks great hanging in the window.

For the next project, I decided to try my hand at the "Fran's Painting with Powder Technique"™.  In case you have not already figured it out, I do not have very much experience with embossing powders.  However, I decided to give it a try anyway.  I applied the VersaMark pad all over the board.

Then added each color, starting with the lightest.

Then adding more color,

until I ended up with this finished gift tag which looks similar to the sample on the packaging label.

For my third project, I decided to make a card for a friend.  I also decided to test the powders on different colors of paper to see how the embossing colors would look on them.
Here is how the colors look on a black board.  Interestingly enough, the lighter yellow embossing powders on the top left corner, look green on the black background.
Here is a sample on regular card board.  Again, the yellow colors on the top right corner do not look yellow but kind of a yellow green.
And here is what the embossing powder looks like on cold press water color paper.  Because of the texture of the water color paper, it almost looks like chalk.  The colors showed up fabulously.
I used these samples to make the third project which is a card for a friend.

I also wanted to try these powders on wood to see how they would work.  So I gathered my supplies
and started by painting the wood box with some copper paint (#664 Metallic Copper) from Plaid.
I let the paint dry over night.  Then I applied the VersaMark pad all over the top part of the box.  Then I added the embossing colors, from lightest to dark, until I was satisfied. Here is what it looked like before I heat set the embossing powder.
And here is what it looked like once I heat set the embossing powders.

 I did not like how the blue came out on the box so I decided to see if the green colors were sufficiently opaque to cover the blue embossing powder.  I like this look much better.

I added some leaf cut shells, a button, and a special cross (that a friend sent to me) to the box.  So I was able to use these same powders to make a faux enamel type of box by mixing these powders with some mica and glitter.  Then by overlaying some of the colors to make them pop a little bit more.  It worked great and the box looks exactly the way I wanted it to.

The embossing powders are a mixture that ranges from translucent to opaque.  This allows for some interesting results, depending on the surface you are going to use them on.  The embossing powders can be used on paper, wood, glass, and a variety of other surfaces.  

  • Some of the colors are opaque which is great for covering darker surfaces.
  • Some of the colors are more translucent which lends well to working on lighter surfaces and glass, however you may want to use an opaque color underneath to make the top color show better.
  • These powders can be layered onto different surfaces.
  • You can add a variety of materials like mica, glitter, etc. to the embossing powder to create additional special effects.  There are directions on the Stampendous website for mixing embossing colors to create different effects.
  • The sunny yellow and white turn a strange color when used on dark surfaces, so be mindful of that when planning out your project.