Thursday, December 27, 2012

Monster Surprise Balls

Rip them open 
the paper falls
treats and prizes
they're surprise balls!

New, cute and furry monster Surprise Balls in my Watermelon Party Shop.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Preschool Bullying?!

This topic is a bit out of the ordinary from my usual postings but it does include a craft project that may be helpful to other parents of young children who are experiencing bullying.

My daughter Delilah, started preschool this year and I am in shock at the degree of bullying in this day and age.  When I was growing up I was also a victim of bullying; but in preschool, the extent of it might have been just name calling like "stinky head" or "monkey brain" and other very silly things.  Needless to say, I was in utter shock when my mother (who drops off Delilah in the mornings) came home with a story about a bully in Delilah's class.  For the sake of anonymity, I will call the bully, Kim.

One morning, as I was getting Delilah dressed for school, she asked if she was wearing a dress.  When I told her yes, she got very excited and said "Yay! Kim is going to be so happy that I'm wearing a dress and she's going to be nice to me!  Kim only likes me when I'm wearing a dress." (What the #&*!!... was my internal reaction) So I calmed down and explained to her that it doesn't matter what Kim thinks and that people like Kim are called bullies and a bully is someone who isn't a true friend and... yada yada yada...

That same morning when my mom dropped Delilah off, she noticed that the first thing Delilah (and another girl does) is run to show Kim that they are wearing a dress.  So after looking Delilah up and down, Kim smugly says...(and here's the slap-in-the-face...) "you should have worn jeans".
So, now simple name calling has evolved into reverse-psychology bullying!

After a recent discussion with the teacher, it appears that Kim is actually notorious in the classroom for being a "mean girl".  Her mother is aware of the situation and is having a hard time teaching her manners and proper ways to behave.  I feel bad for Kim's mom as the thought of being the parent of a bully must be a tough position.  However, being the parent of a little girl who is being bullied isn't any better!  And the fear of what may come in the future is causing me to do everything in my power to prevent this situation from getting any worse.

With the help of my local librarian, I have found the following age appropriate books to be helpful in teaching my daughter the importance of anti-bullying, true friendship, kindness and self esteem.*

I used the book, Maisy Goes To Preschool to teach Delilah what should happen in school and what shouldn't - bullying.   I'm The Best, is good to teach that although it is great to like yourself for who you are, it is NOT good to brag about it.

Building self-esteem in my children through praise and commendation is important to me but I realize it is more important to teach them that TRUE self-confidence comes from honing their talents and learning things, not from being told that they're great just because they exist.  The first picture in this post is my children holding books that I had them make together.  I entitled the books, I Like You I Like Me.  Inside, they drew pictures of what they like about themselves and what they like about their friends, even Kim.

Thanks for reading this lengthy post and I'd love it if you could recommend any other books by leaving a comment.

*The January 2013 Awake! magazine also has a helpful article called, Raising Considerate Children in a Me-First World

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giveaway Winner!

Congrats to Beverley Collins, the 5th person to Like my page!  I am happy that Jane is going to a home of a long time fan of my work.

The winner was chosen using a random number generator as soon as I got to my "100 Likes" target.

It feels good to be able to give something to my fans at no cost; especially during this time when so many people spend huge amounts of money (that they don't have) on holiday shopping.  (On a side note, regarding holiday shopping:  I thought this article was so interesting.  How do you feel about it?  I personally think handmade gifts are obviously less expensive but much more meaningful).

Thanks so much to everyone who participated! My next giveaway (a secret surprise gift) will be given when I reach 150 Likes.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Art Doll Giveaway ~ Jane

To celebrate being published in the Art Doll Quarterly, Winter 2013 magazine, I have decided to offer an Art Doll giveaway!

The doll made for this event is Jane.  As you can see, Jane looks like she might have come right out of a Jane Austen novel, hence her name.  I love all of Austen's work and have long ago had the idea of making a doll inspired by one of her heroines.  Who do you think she could be?  Jane Austen herself?  Marianne Dashwood?  Emma Woodhouse? or maybe Fanny Price?...

Jane is dressed in a period appropriate (early 1800's) gown and hairdo.  Her body is made using paper mache and a paperclay overlay with several protective layers of Josefine varnish.  Her dress is also sealed with the amazingly flexible and soft extra matte varnish from Paverpol.  Her clothing and hair are made of the best papers I could find and they will withstand a lifetime when handled with care.  She comes complete with pantalet undergarments and blue "embroidered" shawl.   Except for the shawl, her clothing is irremovable. Jane can sit but she comes with a stand (not shown) for recommended posing on display (the alabaster vase shown is not included).

For a chance to win Jane, simply LIKE my M Ann M Creations page on Facebook.  Once I get to 100 likes, I will randomly choose a winner.  And if I should get more than 100 Likes, I will offer another prize! (I hope I haven't set my expectations too high -  but here's to wishing!).

 And here's the article from Art Doll Quarterly, Winter 2013.  Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Art Doll Quarterly Magazine

I am so pleased to share that I have been published in the Winter 2013 issue of Art Doll Quarterly magazine which is now in stores and available online for purchase.

Here's a peek at one of the dolls who is featured in the article.

I will provide more images from the magazine in my next blog post along with information on how you can win a very special art doll!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Can't wait 'till next year....

I had such a good time at the Stamford, CT Art-Is You Art Retreat that I wished I could have stayed a couple of more days.  And I already can't wait 'till next year!  Sallianne and Ellen are two of the most generous and dedicated women I know to put these Art Retreats together which has grown (in more than quadruple its numbers!) in just a few years. Their hard work and persistence paid off as they, with every event, help the mixed media art world meet and come together.

All of 2011 I planned (and saved $) to be able to take two classes and participate as a vendor at the Art Trunk.  It was waaay worth it!  The teachers graciously and happily shared their techniques, and the vending night left me with empty boxes to bring home.  Here are pics of what I made in the classes and some new M Ann M Creations/Watermelon Party Shop items that were for sale at the Art Trunk.

Jodi Ohl's - Confessions of the HeART workshop

For this workshop, Jodi asked the students to tell our secrets to the canvas by revealing only bits and pieces of our most sacred thoughts through blocks of hidden treasures, painted treasures and unique 3d elements as we created a painted block collage entitled, “Confessions of the HeART”.

We were supposed to prepare beforehand with the theme of the class in mind; but I really don't have any secrets like that to tell.  So I went into the class just thinking "I'd paint some flowers and birds or something".  So the results of my work don't really portray any secrets...but then much as I complain about being a mom (something that I REALLY didn't see in my future just a couple of years ago)....the truth is, I love my children more than anything and I am so happy they came into my life.  More important, I really feel that the TIME they came into my life (8 years into marriage and after some rough times) was truly a blessing. These 2 tiny people are like a glue for this little family of 4.

Doreen Kassel - Charming Music Box Sculptures

Oh boy, did I have delusions of productivity going into this class!.  The music mechanism I chose to purchase beforehand played Row, Row, Row Your Boat.  I also brought with me, to the class, a vision of a sailboat surrounded with waves and a little girl and boy sitting in the boat rowing oars and splashing the water.   Little did I know that I DO NOT like working with polymer clay and I DO NOT like working with oil paints.  I had never really used these two mediums before so realizing my vision was not going to work out as planned, I simplified my project theme and ended up with this little sailor instead.  I think he came out quite well and so cute, thanks to help from Doreen and my fellow classmates.

Here are some of the items that I made to be sold, first, at the Art Trunk.  Whatever didn't sell is now available at either of my Etsy shops. and

Paper and Tulle Dress on a wire dress form

Pumpkin, Snowman and Sunflower Surprise Balls

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Art is...You East Coast Mixed Media Art Retreat

I'm so excited the Art Is...You retreat in Stamford, CT is this week!  Make the trip if you can.  The Art Trunk (vending night) is worth the trip alone for mixed media artists and crafters.  It might be too late to register for workshops but make a day out of it and go to the mall, the movies or a museum in the day time and stop by the Art Trunk at night, from 6-10 pm on Saturday, October 6.  I will personally take a few amazing classes and then participate as a vendor.  I will have some new surprise ball designs for sale and other never-before-seen great paper project kits!  I will post all of my new offerings on this blog and on ETSY after the event.  Hope to see you at Art is...!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Handmade Dress Form

When I made my paper cancan dress, I was asked to send it along with something to display it on in the exhibit.  I searched the internet for days looking for an inexpensive, light weight, non-plastic dress form but I couldn't find anything!  So I decided to make my own.  If you'd like to make your own too, you will need to have a dress form to begin with - yeah, this kind of defeats the purpose of needing to make your own - but in my case, I was able to borrow a dress form to use as my "mold".

Here are some work in progress photos and instructions.  The dress form took about three weeks from start to finish because I wanted to make sure it was completely dry in between the steps.  I also made a stand for the dress form using a wooden curtain rod and a wire basket; but the following steps are instructions on how to make the dress form to simply sit atop a table, desk or dresser.  I didn't take enough photos but I hope you get the idea.

Dress form (to use as a mold)
Large plastic garbage bag
Masking tape (2 rolls)
Heavy duty scissors
Paper pulp
Newspaper or plastic bags
Paper mache (I used vintage sheet music and 3/4 school glue + 1/4 water to make the paper mache)
Varnish or other sealer

Step 1:  Drape the dress form with the large plastic garbage bag.

Step 2:  Cover the dress form with masking tape.  (I used an entire roll of 2" tape just for this step).  Since my dress form has arms and a longer torso than I needed,  I ended up with three openings that would later be closed up.

Step 3: Cover the dress form with paper pulp.  It is necessary to apply the pulp with the dress form laying on the ground so that it doesn't drip off.  I applied pulp to the front side first and let it dry for three days.  Then I applied pulp to the back side and let it dry for three days again.

Step 4: When the pulp dried, I measured and marked a line all around the bottom edge.  This is a very important step to ensure that the form will sit level when complete.
Step 5:  When the paper pulp dries it will be very tight to the dress form so the easiest way to cut off the pulp is with a "t" shaped incision in the back.  You will be cutting through the layer of pulp, masking tape and the plastic bag as these are all stuck to together now.  Be very careful when making your cuts so as not to damage the dress form underneath.  Tip: To ensure that you do not cut into the dress form "mold" when slipping the sharp scissors under the plastic bag, cover the tips of the blades with tape.  Remember that the tape is there so you wouldn't want to close the scissors all the way when cutting.
Step 6:  Carefully slip off the dried pulp over the neck.  You may have to slip your hand underneath the layers to loosen it up and off the mannequin.  Don't worry if you make cracks or holes as these can be repaired (during step 8).

Step 7:  Cut off the excess paper pulp/tape/plastic along the marked line on the bottom.

Step 8: Close off the incision mark (and any cracks you may have made) with more tape and paper pulp.  Let it dry for three days.

Step 9:  Tightly fill in the empty cavity of the form with crumpled newspaper to make it solid and sturdy. (You can use plastic bags instead).

Step 10: Close off the arms and bottom openings with cardboard circles/ovals, tape and paper pulp.  Let dry completely.

Step 11:  Cover the dress form with the paper mache.  Make sure the paper mache is not dripping wet as it will make the paper pulp soft and cause the form to cave in. Be very careful when handling the dress form at this point because the moisture from the paper mache will seep into the pulp and make it vulnerable to cave-ins.

Step 12:   When the paper mache is dry (about two days later) apply a protective coating of varnish or sealer.

Time and patience was needed to make this dress form out of paper pulp and paper mache.  If you'd like an easier method, I've heard of people making them using just duct tape!  And there are so many pretty duct tape patterns and colors on the market that I'm sure it would come out just as nice.  Making a dress form from scratch was quite an undertaking but it was well worth the results!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Paper Animal Art

I came across a series of children's books that are beautifully written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins.  All of the creatures in his books are created using a collage of carefully chosen papers.  My favorite book of his is titled "Actual Size" in which some animals are displayed at their entire actual size while others can only be featured by what fits on the page of the 11" x 9" book.  I like this book best because it shows close ups of the paper revealing it's unique texture and makeup.  Here are a few images from his books and website.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aquatic Surprise Balls

Three new and super cute surprise balls available at my Watermelon Party shop on Etsy.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Clown Surprise Ball

Instead of the ordinary (and sometimes boring) gift bag party favor at your next children's party, why not give surprise balls?!  They are tons of fun for kids to unwind and they make great party decorations before being handed out.  The Clown Surprise Balls would be a great party favor idea for a circus or carnival themed party.  They are available on Etsy to purchase but if you're on a budget and have time to spare, why not give it a try and make them yourself!  I'm happy to show you how to make one...

Crepe paper
Small prizes
Tissue paper (white and colored)
Red tissue paper fringe
Pom pom
Pipe cleaner
Scrapbook paper
Button (or mounting tape)
Construction paper (in red, pink and black)

Small leaf punch
Small star punch
1" circle punch
Tacky glue


Step 1:  Wrap the prizes with the crepe paper.  I usually use one color crepe paper for each prize.   The clown surprise ball is made using 6 prizes.  Wrap each prize generously with the crepe paper before adding the next prize.  Add a small dot of glue to the end of the last strip of crepe paper to secure it.

Step 2:  Wrap the completed surprise ball with one sheet of colorful tissue paper and pinch the paper around the ball until it is able to stay by itself.

Step 3:  Wrap a small circle of white tissue paper (about 7") around the ball and pinch in place.

Step 4: Glue the colorful paper to the white paper where the two meet.

Step 5: Place it down so that the papers dry flat.  Once dry, trim off the excess colorful paper or scrunch it up to the desired look and fullness of the clowns collar.

Step 6:  Cut a semi-circle shape out of the decorative scrapbook paper and form it into a cone shaped hat.  Keep the hat closed with glue or tape.  Glue the hat to the top of the ball.  Tip: Before gluing the hat in place, it's a fun idea to fill the hat with a couple of sealed candies for an extra surprise!

Step 7:  Glue the pom-pom and pipe cleaner in place.

Step 8: Pick which side of the clown's head you would like to be the face and glue on the button (or mounting tape) in the middle. This will serve as a base to give the nose more dimension.

Step 9:  Glue the tissue paper fringe around the middle of the ball for the clowns hair.

Step 10: Punch out the red nose, black eyes and pink cheek shapes using the circle, star and leaf punches respectively.

Step 11: Cut off one tip of each star for the eyes and the stem of the leaf for the cheeks.

 Step 12:  Glue the red circle over the button and glue the eyes and cheeks in place.

Step 13:  You are done!  The only thing left to do is let your guests have fun!

The Clown Surprise Ball was made in answer to a request from a customer.  I am always glad to work on new ideas and I welcome custom orders.  It's so fun to be put up to the challenge and discover new ways to work with paper! So what kind of surprise ball would you like to see?  Here is another customer idea; a giant ladybug with 20 prizes inside!

I am glad to share ideas with you to make for your own events but please do not reproduce with the intent to sell. Thanks.