Author Archives: marion

About marion

I first wrote and sketched as a child growing up in Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, New York. I received her first recognition for my creativity when I won the New York City Schools Art Award and participated in my first art exhibit in downtown Manhattan. I was fourteen and a half when I moved to Cyprus with my family. I experienced culture shock but I continued to write about and sketch the sights and sounds of another country and many other things. I am a creative person. I write children's and Young Adult fiction and nonfiction. I write historical and Coming of Age Young Adult novels. I also write picture books and art books for elementary school children. I am in the process of writing a fictionalized biography of a member of the Belgian Resistance who also fought for the US Army during World War II. I worked as a freelance editor for two local companies: College Prowler and SterlingHouse Publisher. I also worked as an assistant literary agent for Lee Shore Agency. I was attending Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program at the time and the experience was invaluable. My course work toward my Master of Arts degree in turn helped me at work. As an assistant literary agent, I reviewed all incoming manuscripts, cultivated a relationship with the writers we contracted and marketed our books to book publishers for sale. I “freelanced” my editing skills which included working with the manuscript acquisitions editor, selecting book covers with the art department, writing the book jacket blurb, reading film scripts and executing general office duties as assigned. Oh, by the way, I edited books, too. I even utilized Adobe InDesign for the editing that I did for College Prowler. I’ve also reviewed published books and conducted research. I have published nonfiction articles and books online and in print. As an artist, I have exhibited my mixed media drawings and collages nationally and regionally and have worked as a freelance designer and calligrapher. I have a BA in Studio Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and a MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University.

Lazy Day Crafts: Paper Bag Buddies

Lazy Day Crafts: Paper Bag Buddies
Paper Bag Buddies

Paper Bag Buddies

Materials:

Lunch size paper bags, brown or white

Newspaper

String

Tape

Scraps of construction paper

Paste or glue

Ribbon and/or yarn

Sequins, buttons, seeds (for eyes, nose mouth)

Crayon and/or markers and/or colored pencils

Clip art

Scissors

Pipe cleaners (for whiskers)

Wiggle eyes

 

Project:

  1. Choose the pet or animal you will make
  2. Stuff 1/3 of the bag tightly with crumbled or strips of newspaper to form the head (about two or three sheets).
  3. Gather the bag at the base of the head. Tie it securely with string or yarn.
  4. Stuff the rest of the bag with more newspaper and tape the bottom of the bag closed.
  5. Cut eyes, nose, mouth, and paws from construction paper or use sequins, buttons or seeds. Use pipe cleaners for the whiskers.
  6. Tie a ribbon or piece of yarn around the neck.
  7. Add buttons or other decorations to dress up you paper bag pet.

Alternative Project:

Make a paper bag person. Use yarn for hair and wiggle eyes. Follow the directions above.

 

Share Button

Lazy Day Crafts: Sgrafitto

Lazy Day Crafts: Sgrafitto
Sgrafitto

Sgrafitto

Sgrafitto is an etching technique that uses a pointed tool to scratch through a covered surface to show the art work beneath it.

Materials:

Wax crayons (Do not use black)

India ink or back poster paint

Pointed tool for etching such as a knitting needle or a toothpick

Cardboard or mat board

Brush

 

  1. Draw and color various abstract shapes on the cardboard or mat board. Make sure to use a heavy hand and leave a thick layer of wax crayon.
  2. Paint the cardboard or mat board with India ink or black poster paint. Allow the surface to dry completely. If the wax crayons show through, you need a second coat of paint or ink. Allow this coat to dry.
  3. Select the pointed tool you will use. You can experiment with different tools on a scrap of cardboard and then decide which one is best for your work of art.
  4. Have an image or design in mind or draw one on sketch paper first. Etch the design directly on the painted cardboard or mat board using various strokes: long, short, or circular going in various directions: horizontal, vertical or diagonal. Etch deeply enough to penetrate the first layer of ink or poster paint.
  5. Frame the Sgrafitto and don’t forget to etch your name in the lower right-hand corner.

 

 

Share Button

Lazy Day Crafts: Painted Rocks

Lazy Day Crafts: Painted Rocks

 

Materials:

Rocks preferably with a relatively smooth surface

Poster or acrylic paints

Brushes of various widths

Container for water

Palette or disposable smooth surface like wax paper

Soap

Paper towels

Newspaper or something similar to cover the surface of your work space

 

  1. Wash rocks thoroughly and dry. If rocks are very dirty, soak in a bucket of sudsy water, rinse and dry. Cover your work space
  2. Think of a design for the rock. Sometimes the rock suggests a design or an object. Stripes, dots, stars, swirls, circles are some ideas you can use alone or in combination.
  3. Select colors of paint and squeeze a small amount (about the size of a quarter to start) on the palette or wax paper.
  4. Prime the rock white if you selected lighter colors or brown if you selected darker colors. This step isn’t required but it makes the colors adhere to the rock better if there is a basic layer of paint to paint your design. Paint one side at a time and allow the rock to dry. Turn over and paint the other side.
  5. If you can’t think of a design, lay the paints on the surface randomly. Overlap the colors and see them run into each other.
  6.  Paint one side at a time and allow the design to dry. Turn over and paint the other side.
  7. Use your rocks to decorate your desk or your bedroom’s window sill.

VARIATION: Select yarn or string in different colors and dip into glue. Wrap around the rock in different directions. Allow the glue to dry.

VARIATION: Create rock creatures by gluing paper, pipe cleaners, pompoms, buttons and more

Share Button

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Nature’s Collage

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Nature’s Collage
Nature's Collage

Nature’s Collage

The craft NATURE COLLAGE is adapted from the project “World of Nature/Spring Mural Collage” found in the Arts and Crafts Activities Desk Book by Joyce Novis Laskin and published by Parker Publishing Company in 1971.

MATERIALS:

White glue or glue stick

cardboard any size

Scissors

Any combination of: poster or acrylic paints, brushes, fabric scraps, newspapers, magazines, photos, pen and ink, crayons, construction paper, tissue paper, brown paper bags, ribbon, buttons, etc.

Objects from nature: leaves, twigs, bark, shells, pebbles, seeds from plants, etc.

1. A collage is a composition or picture made by attaching different found objects and materials to a surface. That surface is often (but not always) flat. Like all forms of art, the first step in making a collage involves thinking. What will the collage be about?

2. Decide the size of the collage. Glue, draw or paint everything on the cardboard so it is important to decide if you want a large or a small collage. Use a large sheet or cut it in half.

3. Next, decide if you want the design to flow across the cardboard (horizontally), from the top to the bottom (vertically) or from corner to corner (diagonally).To create depth, larger objects should stand in front of smaller ones. It is smart to work from the back to the front of the collage so glue the smaller objects first. This gives the person looking at the collage a feeling of depth. “Depth” means that you can see objects in back of the objects that are in front of the scene that you are creating.

4. Collect the materials that you will be using. Different materials make up a collage.  This collage project has one main subject (nature) so collect many objects from and about nature. Photographs, drawings of objects from nature (the sun, butterflies, bees, birds, clouds, etc.) can also be used.

Use cut paper, too. Cut the paper into different shapes suggesting nature (i.e., leaves and flowers) using scissors. This will produce paper edges that are wavy, zigzagged or straight.

Or fold the paper once. Turn the paper on the other side and fold again in the other direction. Tear the paper along the fold. Continue to fold and tear the paper into shapes. This creates ragged paper edges which will look different from the papers cut with scissors.

Glue the papers down and overlap them. The layers of tissue paper will show the color and shape of the paper or board underneath and create pretty designs.

5. Glue the materials to the cardboard. If you are not sure about the design, glue them to a piece of paper like construction paper before you decide to use them in the collage. If you decide that you can, glue the paper with the objects to the cardboard.

6. Frame the collage and hang on your bedroom wall!

VARIATION:

SEASHELLS: Find a couple of seashells. The kinds that are sort of flat are the best for this idea. Choose two or three colors of paint and squeeze some on a palette or piece of wax paper. Brush the paint on one side of the shell. Experiment with the amount of paint. Print the shell on a piece of construction paper by rolling it and pressing. Do this with the other colors and shells, occasionally overlapping some of the shells to create a pattern. To add another dimension to the shells, glue tiny seeds or pebbles on the ends of the printed shells. When the paint is dry, cut the printed shells and glue to the cardboard along with the other objects collected. (See the Summer Camp for Kids: Nature Prints tutorial on this website for more information.)

The collage below includes a drawing of a flower, a sun print of leaves and twigs, a part of a nature print of leaves and rubber stamped leaves.The background consists of assorted cut paper.

 

Share Button

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Prints from Nature

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Prints from Nature

The craft NATURE PRINTS was adapted from the project “From the Yard/Nature Prints” found in All-Around-the-House Art and Craft Book by Patricia Z. Wirtenberg and published by Houghton Mifflin Company in1968

Materials:

Leaves, bark, twigs

Printer’s inks or poster or acrylic paints in various colors (cheaper to use)

Drawing pencils (optional)

Rice or bond paper in white or various light colors (works best with poster/acrylic paints)

Brown wrapping paper or construction paper for use with printer’s inks

Brayer (or roller)

Piece of glass

Newspaper

Solvent for cleaning brayer and glass if using printer’s inks unless using water-soluble printer’s inks

  1. Collect fresh leaves from the trees or bushes in your neighborhood or yard. You will need some to experiment with and some for the last print. Other objects such as tree bark (if it’s easy to peel off) and even some twigs will work along with the leaves, too.
  2. Cover your work surface with newspaper. Lay down the glass and brayer on the work surface. Select the paints or inks that you will use. Acrylic or poster paints are less expensive than oil-based printer’s inks and easier to clean up after use.
  3. You can squeeze one color for each leaf or squeeze two or three colors side-by-side on the glass. The leaves in the samples shown used one or two or three colors at one time.
  4. Roll the paint or inks on the glass until the pigment covers the brayer. If you are using more than one color, let the colors run into each other. Roll the brayer over the leaf several times and turning the leaf over, lay it on a piece of paper like rice paper or bond paper. Use your hand to press the leaf so that it prints on the paper. Paper that is not too thick or too thin is the best to use if using acrylic or poster paints. Printer’s inks can use a slightly heavier paper like construction or brown wrapping paper.
  5. Remove the leaf and see how it printed on the paper. Experiment until you have a print that you like. Experiment with other materials from nature combined with the leaves.
  6. To create a mixed media design, color the whites of the leaves or the background paper or outline the printed leaves with colored pencils. See the two samples below.
  7. Frame the print or using old note card stationery, make note cards or poster cards of the printed leaves. They make a thoughtful gift for people who still write notes!
Share Button

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Textured Rubbings

Two-Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Textured Rubbings

Materials:

Thin paper like rice paper or bond paper

Any kind of crayons including Wax crayons

Graphite

Textured surfaces: chain link fences, tombstones, bricks, sidewalks, gratings, certain fabrics

 

  1. Find an interesting raised surface to rub. For the first rubbing, select a surface and rub with either the graphite or one of the wax crayons.
  2. For the second rubbing, rub with a different wax crayon on another surface or on the same surface. The shift the paper up or down or sideways, rubbing the surface with another color or the graphite.
  3. For the third rubbing, select two or three colors and two or three surfaces to rub. Use only one sheet of paper for this. Select a color and rub the first surface with it. Rub the second surface with a second crayon. Rub the third surface with a third color or the graphite.
  4. Do you notice a pattern created with the different colors and surfaces? Insert your best rubbing in a poster frame and hang on the wall of your bedroom.
  5. Alternative Project: Rubbings also make great greeting or note cards. Cut a blank piece of paper in half. Cut the rubbing and paste it to the front of the folded paper.  Cut the rubbing smaller still and you can make gift tags the same way as the greeting card.

 

For more ideas on rubbings:

All-Around-the-House Art and Craft Book by Patricia Z. Wirtenberg

Arts and Crafts Activities Desk Book by Joyce Novis Laskin.

Share Button

Two -Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Make It Abstract

Two -Dimensional Ideas on Paper: Make It Abstract
Make It Abstract

Make It Abstract

 MATERIALS:

Markers

Pencils

Crayons

Construction or bond paper

PROJECT:

  1. Find interesting objects in your home and trace them.
  2. Arrange them on construction or bond paper creating an abstract design.
  3. Trace the objects with markers or pencils or crayons. Trace one object at a time, adding objects as you go or lay them all down and trace them.
  4. Remove the objects from the paper. Choose three colors or two colors plus black. Now add patterns to the traced objects: dots, stripes, zigzags, checks or color some of the areas in the design.
  5. Mat the abstract design and display it or use it as a cover for a favorite book.

 

VARIATION:

Trace one object, turning the paper as you trace. Or overlap the object by placing it vertically, horizontally, upside down, etc.

Share Button

Time for a Family Road Trip! 

Time for a Family Road Trip! 
NOT JUST FOR THE BEACH

NOT JUST FOR THE BEACH

Deciding on a family road trips are often daunting challenges, not to mention an exercise in patience.  However if you prepare ahead of time, you will experience some of the most memorable experiences of your family’s life.

Here are some quick and easy tips for making your family road trip a fun and safe one.

First, prepare a checklist of items you will need.  This will include first aid kit, food, snacks, drinks, and lots of toys, coloring books, paper and crayons, a portable DVD player  so your kids can watch their favorite movies; and a cooler.

DESTINATION

DESTINATION

A good idea is to ask the kids what games they would like to take, within limits of course.

Ensure that the snacks are healthy snacks.  Too many sugar snacks can have the kids bouncing off the car seats.  Remember, this is a relaxing family vacation and you want to avoid the kids getting bored or repeatedly asking you when you are going to arrive.

Check online to print out games for the road that you and the kids can play along the way and don’t forget to bring puzzles and riddles, too.

In addition, if you have very young children you will need to take the diaper bag and wipes for the occasional spills, blankets and pillows if applicable and a favorite item or stuffed animal for the young ones is a good idea as well.

URBAN LANDSCAPE

URBAN LANDSCAPE

Second, decide on the destination and then contact AAA for a trip ticket.  Ask for the scenic route, one that is much more calming and pleasing to the eye, especially the driver!

Third, as you check out the planned route you may want to check online to find gas stations along the way that offer the cheapest gas.  Also if there are any points of interest along the route mark them on the map and plan to stop at these sites.

Fourth, while on the road make sure that you make pit stops regularly. This will allow the kids to run around and let off some steam, while allowing the adults to stretch and re-energize.  Bring along a football or soccer ball so that the entire family can have some fun while exercising at the same time.

Finally, it is very important to discuss safety concerns.  This includes having the car checked at your local mechanic or gas station.  Change the oil and filter; inflate the tires (don’t forget the spare tire, too); and replace windshield wipers (if needed).
Take these precautions and you will know that your  car is in great condition before you head out.

In addition, you may want to place the following items in your trunk: a lawn chair, extra blanket, emergency road kit, umbrellas, water, flashlight and batteries, a battery-powered radio, and windshield wiper cleaner.  In the glove compartment include a first aid kit and cell phone charger.  Keep all medications in a Ziploc bag in the glove compartment as well.

SUMMER MUST-HAVE

SUMMER MUST-HAVE

Another good idea is to take a list of telephone numbers including the hotel or motel where you are staying as well as those of family and friends you may need to contact.

If you enjoy scrapbooking, this road trip will be a perfect opportunity to add new treasures to the book.  As you make stops at some scenic sites, ask the kids to find an item they would like to include in the scrapbook.  Or if the kids point out something along the way that they find fascinating, take a picture of it to include in the scrapbook as well.

Engage the kids in the decision-making and allow them to decide what they would like to bring.  Have them pack their clothes (check the suitcases afterwards) so they feel part of the overall experience. Planning ahead of time for a family road trip will save you time, stress, and money.  And the kids will enjoy this adventure, too!

Share Button

Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

Some  weekend getaways exist in the most populated destinations in the US.  Here are a few to consider.

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

EMPIRE STATE BUILDING

I’ll Take Manhattan.  You can spend a fabulous weekend in New York City and stay either at the Marriott Hotel on Broadway,  which is right near the Theater District; or you can book a weekend at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Perhaps you would like to stay at the Mandarin Hotel and Spa where you can both be pampered for the weekend. No matter what your budget is; Manhattan is more than accommodating.

Manhattan has something to offer everyone but it is also considered one of the most romantic spots in the U.S.  Whether you enjoy dinner in your hotel suite or dine at any one of the five-star restaurants, the night is always young for lovers who seek solitude in a city that hosts millions of tourists each year.  Whether you take a carriage ride through Central Park, enjoy an opera or symphonic performance at Lincoln Center, or walk along Fifth Avenue during the evening hours; the city offers something for everyone.

cable-car-near-knob-hill-and-powell-street-san-francisco-california

CABLE CAR NEAR KNOB HILL AND POWELL STREET SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco. With its rolling hills, fantastic cuisine, and friendly people; San Francisco offers hotel stays that are sure to enhance your romantic side.  Among the most notable hotels are the Fairmont hotel, in the Nob Hill area; the Mandarin Oriental, which is known for its best views of the Bay and the city; or the downtown W San Francisco hotel that is close to cable cars, shopping, restaurants, and theaters.

Stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf and stop by Ghirardelli Square where you can pick up some of their famous chocolate before having dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants there such as McCormick and Kuleto’s, where the panoramic view of the Bay, as well as Alcatraz island; both of which give a stunning backdrop.  You may also wish to stop by O’Neill’s Irish Pub for an after-dinner drink. You may leave your heart here after departing this great city by the Bay.

m-m-world-las-vegas-

M & M WORLD LAS VEGAS

Las Vegas. Time will stand still at this resort destination.  With a myriad of hotels to choose from you can enjoy your time here without having to worry about time, because there are no clocks in the casinos.

With great weather year round (hot, but always dry), you can wile away the early morning hours at the hotel’s pool and enjoy the evening attending a fabulous show or visit lady luck at the casino.

Whether you take a stay at the Venetian Hotel and enjoy a romantic ride on a gondola; enjoy the Spa and Salon at the Hotel Bellagio; or marvel at the lush indoor gardens, aquarium, and the Secret Garden at the Mirage; Las Vegas is both affordable for any budget and is the perfect weekend romantic getaway.

Lake Istokpoga Lake Placid

SUN SETTING OVER LAKE ISTOKPOGA IN LAKE PLACID

Lake Placid.  Far away from the maddening crowd, you will find comfort and romance at the Mirror Lake Inn.  With gorgeous mountain and lake views, fireplace, and very large tubs, you will find food and lodgings more than satisfactory.  In fact, they are quite conducive to a romantic weekend.

Among the many things you might like to do is to take a walk to the neighboring town of Lake Placid, only two miles away. Here you will find shops along Main Street and you can stop at the Cottage for lunch.  Swimming, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking are some of the activities available at Mirror Lake Inn.

The calm and quiet ambiance of this Inn is the perfect weekend getaway destination for couples yet families can also enjoy the surroundings.

 

 

Share Button

Family Camping Fun

Family Camping Fun

While getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the reasons families choose to go camping, for kids – it’s the greatest adventure.   If you are planning a family camping trip this summer, here are some tips that will make sure your vacation is both a safe and fun experience.

FAMILY CAMPING WITH TENT AND CAMP FIRE

FAMILY CAMPING WITH TENT AND CAMP FIRE

Pre-camping preparation. If you have small children, you may want to select a tent that will accommodate all if you comfortably. On the other hand, if you are camping with older children, buy more pup tents to give them some sense of independence.

Another great tip is to practice assembling the tents in your backyard avoiding wasting time at the camp site.

CAMPER

CAMPER

  1. Selecting a campsite. Depending upon whether you decide to “rough it” or choose a campsite that is close to amenities, you can research the many campsites online that offer comprehensive information on the area. This will enable you to decide not only what equipment, clothing, and food you need to take, but the available hiking areas and points of interest as well. Ensure that the campsite you select is an official campsite area.  Moreover, when researching camping sites it’s a good idea to look for those areas that are on the high ground.  Thus, if it rains, your tent and equipment will not become water-logged.
CAMPING WITH CAMPFIRE AND TENT

CAMPING WITH CAMPFIRE AND TENT

  1. Make a checklist. This is very important so that you do not forget anything on your camping trip. Among the items on your checklist, some of the more important items you will need are:

* Cooking gear such as a frying pan, a few pots, a bucket, barbecue grill or stove, bags with a Ziploc, and cooking utensils.  In addition, food containers and canned goods are best.  It is also recommended that you prepare meals at home and package them in containers for the trip.  Also bring water, a can opener, hot water kettle and coffee pot, and a cooler with a block of ice.

* Packing proper clothing is also essential.  Depending upon the site, wearing light layers is a good idea as well as packing some sweaters and jackets for the evening hours.  Extra socks, hats, and gloves may also be warranted. If you intend to engage in some hiking, proper hiking boots are necessary.

* Sleeping bags, first aid kit, flashlights, cell phone, garbage bags, toiletries, sunscreen, ointments, a map of the area, insect repellent, games for the kids, and rain wear.

For a complete checklist on what to bring on a camping trip, there are many camping websites that offer a myriad of suggestions.

ARMY KNIFE

ARMY KNIFE

  1. When you reach the camp site, choose an area to set up the tents. Make sure there are no rocks or debris in that area.  Most campgrounds will post warning signs or instructions about specific animals and vegetation.
FIRE WITH LOGS

FIRE WITH LOGS

5.When preparing a campfire, set it up further away from the tents. After you have roasted the marshmallows, sang songs, and told ghost stories; douse the fire before going to bed.

Finally, enjoy the entire camping experience.  Sleeping under the stars, communing with nature, and relishing the time spent with family will not only bring a family closer together, but the memories of this experience will last forever.

 

Share Button
http://amzn.to/2fkf5xC