Ring Boxes for Valentine’s Day

small jewelry or ring box

Small ring boxes are a perfect gift for someone special. Their small size makes them great to place on your desk, nightstand or bathroom vanity. I use mine to hold rings and earrings at the end of the day, so I don’t have to put my jewelry away right away but at least I know where they are!

I’m adding these little jewelry boxes to my Etsy listings of custom designs and ones that are ready to ship. The pink one above can be found here.

Tiny Glass Boxes make Great Bridesmaid Gifts

bridesmaid giftOne of my most popular items are my Tiny Boxes, which sell great at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and all year long for Weddings. Brides love to give them out as bridesmaid gifts – being a useful item, colorful, long lasting and truly unique. Each one is hand crafted and can be made to fit the personality of the recipient or done in the colors to suit the wedding theme. They’re even great for that hard-to-please new Mother-in-law 🙂

Making Glass Invitation Boxes Full Time

Bat Mitzvah invite box

I’m making the leap to full time with Invite Boxes and Art Nites Classes!

After years of being an artist for other companies, I decided it was way past time that I take my art business seriously. I had tried it in the late 1990s and although I had a store on Amazon and sold on Ebay, it was hard for customers to find me. In recent years I’ve had a store on Etsy but never put up anything on it. The reason was fear that I would get too busy and not be able to handle my full-time job and a ton of boxes. Those of you who have followed my blog know that I don’t post often as when I do, I get lots of orders! So now, that’s great, bring them on 🙂

I am still doing my Art Nites classes as I love to teach. It’s so interesting to see how even in the first few minutes of a class, the individuality of each piece takes form. In the end, each painting is unique and that makes it so special. This summer I volunteered as a guest artist for a week at Camp Horizons – it was an amazing experience. I think my favorite memory of the week was when one camper shouted, “Thank you Anna!” as I left and when I looked over, lots of people were waving at me! The camp is connected in with the Color UnCorked at the Kerri Art Gallery; one of the places I teach classes at every month.

Keepsake Box with Removable Invitation

keepsakebox removable top
Sometimes I will make a box that will allow the customer to remove the invitation. It’s usually because I don’t have the invitation, or I have an imperfect one. I can still ship to the customer so that they receive the gift on time, and they save time not shipping another one to me. I make them with double panes of clear glass, and the customer can slide the invitation in.

The first time I made one like this was for a customer who said her brother was getting married–again! This was his third wedding and she said she didn’t expect this one to last either, so could I please make it so the woman can slide in a photo or something later 🙂

The next time was for someone who had red fingernail polish on when she slid the invitation into the envelope. It left scratches on the invitation and it was a type of paper where I couldn’t scrape at it without making more damage. We didn’t have time for her to send me another one before the wedding. A recent one was for a customer who was attending a wedding in Tanzania and didn’t have the opportunity to get a physical invitation until she arrived there.

I don’t make them this way all the time, because it’s more work for me and it may slide around later on. When I design one like this I have to align it correctly. I need to make sure it’s going to slide in nicely but not have so much room that it will move around each time someone opens the box and that it has enough room so the customer won’t damage the new one getting in! I’ve been making clips to hold the invitation on the inside of the lid.

So here’s how to remove and replace an invitation if you do get a removable insert box.

and to insert:

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Unusual Glass Terrariums

stained_glass_infinity_art

There’s a lot of interest in terrariums lately.  I’ve seen a lot of polygon shapes, hexagons, pentagons etc. Usually they’re done with just plain clear glass, one side left open so that you can fill it with a plant or put in a candle, glass bits or whatever you’d like to highlight.

On places like Pinterest, I’m seeing a lot of creatures trapped in mason jars. They’re swampy, dirty and dingy and thoroughly entrapped.

I’m enchanted with the trapped creatures, and I love to make terrariums, so I’ve decided to combine both! As far as I know, I’m the first person to combine these two ideas together. Let me know what you think!

Multiple Colors in an Invitation Box

Lately I’ve been making glass boxes with multiple colors for the tops and sides. I was always afraid to do them this way, but they’ve come out great! I think my hesitation stemmed from my thought that they wouldn’t be “serious” enough of the occasion, but now I feel they enhance the invitation and make it known that this was a special occasion. A box that shouts, “Look at me!” in a good way.

stained glass bat mitzvah giftstained glass wedding invitation box

Fun and Funky Bat Mitzvah Gift

stained glass keepsake box Abby_side Abby_frontI was recently asked to make a keepsake invitation box for a girl who’s “fun”. Her aunt asked me to make it “fun & funky” to fit her personality. The invitation itself was so colorful it was easy to design around. We decided to make sure it had lots of color, so I extended the bands of color around the sides of the box. I hear she loves it!

Art Nites and Renaissance Faires

Painting at Art NitesArt Nites is going to be at the Robin Hood Springtime Festival! We’re going to lead off a different painting every day. The Faire runs every Saturday, Sunday, and Memorial Day from May 21 to June 5, 2016 (11 am to 7pm). Combo Tickets to the festival/Art Nites painting will be available soon…more details to follow!

Art Nites Painting Event

Dogwood acrylic painting

I’m now finally teaching Art Nites Painting events! I had wanted to get into this for the past two years, bought $1,100 worth of easels, paint, canvas, brushes and aprons. Now, it’s actually happening! I’ve done my first two classes, which turned out great, and I’m on to more.

The Moon and the Monocle (in Willington, CT) is the location for the upcoming event, on March 31st starting at 6pm. The three hour class is $25.00 and includes all materials. Participants will leave with a finished painting!  If you know of someone who’s interested, they can register here

Lessons Learned from the Naked Cake

naked cake with fresh fruit

I’ve been asked to make another naked cake for two weeks from now! Here’s my first one above, made last summer. Well, technically this was my third one, I made two in preparation for this one and brought them in to work for comments and taste testing. I had made two versions: one completely from scratch and the other used a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor. The cake mix won! Obviously I added my own touches to the recipe, because that’s just what I do 🙂

I learned a lot from making these cakes. While they save you some time in decoration they have their own unique issues.

  • You MUST bake each layer so that they are the same color when they come out of the pan. Easier said than done! This means they can’t be on two different shelves in your oven, or they come out lighter or darker and this shows. You can see that my 6″ layer on top is slightly darker than the rest. It’s hard to gauge when baking because you can’t see the sides of your cake.
  • Try not to sugar your fruit on a hot day. This cake was done in July and the fruit was sweating as I was putting it on. I had made them the day before and left them on the counter. I had read NOT to put them in the fridge as this makes them get even more condensation and sweat further. Good advice!
  • I tried a few versions of the sugaring that I found online. In my opinion the best was warm water and unflavored gelatin. Just drag the fruit or leaves through it, and then into superfine sugar. I didn’t have superfine, so I put regular sugar into my food processor and whipped it around on low. Don’t use high, you might end up with cotton candy!
  • Filling: if you’re going to use a preserve for a filling you need to decide whether or not to let it drip out. On Pinterest I see ones where they let it just drip completely. If you don’t want it to come out, make sure to pipe a dam of frosting to hold it in.
  • What to use for fruit? I found the best were smaller fruits. I used grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and red currants. I used sage, grape leaves and vines and raspberry leaves from my garden. As an artist, I look for different shapes and different colors that still relate to one another. My favorite part of this was the sage leaves, the cascading currants and the grape vines trailing around.

It’s fun to create this type of cake. At first I was nervous that it wasn’t going to look good, but as soon as I started to put the fruit on, it magically came together and looked great. Have fun creating one – and I’ll post the next one after it’s made!

naked cake by Anna Harding