Pressed Flower Invitation Box

stained glass invitation box

It’s been  such a long time since I’ve posted – truth is, I’ve been so busy this year that I couldn’t take on any additional work, so I didn’t want to encourage it. This past Spring and Fall I was helping out with the CT Renaissance Faire for their Robin Hood and King Henry Vlll shows, painting sets. Now that it’s winter I can take on more of my own projects. So here’s a box that I did this earlier this year with pressed flowers. It’s for a Bat Mitzvah but does show two names – two girls had theirs together. I love using textured glass for the sides, this pattern is called “Thistle” and comes in amber, blue or clear. I only press some of the flowers myself as I haven’t had time to get into too many varieties of ones that press well. My mom presses some, and the rest come from a woman in  Washington State, except for the four-leaf clovers which I purchased online. Maybe it’s cheating to use GMO clovers – but they’re so cool!

Stained Glass Invitation Boxes with Pressed Flowers

stained glass with invitation

Several people have asked about my invitation boxes with pressed flowers and I realized today that I don’t have any pictures of them here! The only item I have with real flowers is a shadow box made with dried flowers from the bridal bouquets, but they are three-dimensional, not pressed flat.

Some of the flowers I press myself, after all, I am a member of my local garden club! I press some purple and blue hydrangeas, violas, larkspur, delphinium and some greenery. Some flowers my mom presses for me, hydrangeas and Queen Ann’s lace, mostly. The more exotic ones come from Washington state, from a mom who home schools her children. I recently was able to purchase real 4-leaf clovers!

As for the invitations, usually they are arranged onto the invitation itself, or sometimes into the border. Here’s a few:

pressed flowers on wedding invitation boxstained glass invitation box by anna harding

Rescue Dog The Home Inspection

finn-goofyface-sqSo, you say… home inspection? Yikes! If you’re going to get a rescue dog by a reputable shelter, expect to have someone come to your home to do a in-home inspection. Reading other people’s blogs made it sound intimidating. Some people were turned down because they had left aspirin on their coffee table, or had wood stairs without carpeting. I bought child proof cabinet locks and did our attic stairs with strips of adhesive sandpaper. Works well!

During the time Steve and I were running around the house trying to get it ready, I met a woman who was trying to become a foster parent for young children. We compared notes, and it was pretty much the same thing housewise:

  • make sure all medicines are locked away and out of reach
  • all lower cabinets have baby locks -you wouldn’t want a dog to binge on people food like crackers or cereal if it’s down in a lower cabinet
  • have closed lids on your trash
  • safe stairs -you don’t want your dog to slip and get injured
  • a gate for a door so you can isolate him in a room might also be a good idea
  • make sure to clean up clutter, you don’t want an avalance of books or junk to fall on your pet
  • have a dog bed or blanket for the pet to have it’s own area
  • and you have to have a play area outside that’s fenced or have a plan for his outdoor use and exercise

Some of the applications asked if we would crate the dog, or if we owned a crate (we were given one by my family) although I was never sure if they wanted you to crate or not to crate!  I personally think that locking an animal in a crate all day is no way for it to spend it’s life. If the crate is left open and becomes a safe haven for the pet if it needs security, that’s a different matter. Turned out that Finn didn’t really care for the crate, he’d go in it at night because he was asked to, but would never enter it on his own. He will go to his dog bed and stay there happily, though.

So here’s what we learned about the pet adoption process:

Most people sign up with a local shelter, get fully approved – application, reference check, phone interviews and house inspection. Then, once they’ve gotten approval, they’re at the top of the list to get a dog, and can get one right away. So we were doing it all wrong, since we were looking at the dogs, and then applying to all these different shelters. One shelter did say that if we were to pass a home inspection for a local shelter, that would suffice for them as well. Since the breeds we were trying for seemed kind of scarce we decided to keep doing it the way we were.

We also learned that while the dog might be listed at for say, Providence RI, you’ll see the same dog listed at as being in Springfield MA, only to learn that the dog is still in Tennessee! They cross-reference the dog with different states and different shelters so that they can get more exposure.

Your adoption fees help towards paying his transport, as well as medical care & shots, neutering, training and boarding. So when you add all that up, you’re really paying less than these things cost . You’re really getting a deal, especially compared to puppy stores, where here in CT you’ll find a “designer” breed (aka mutt) for about $1200.00! More on puppy mills and dog stores in an upcoming blog.

Halloween Pics – Dog and Cat

Pics I took of my dog Finn and my cat Grand Nagus Zek. I call them Finn Fatale and Zombie Zek. While I admit to some photoshop work, the eyes (and reflection) were original and were the inspiration for the piece.

I entered the pic below into the petco contest. If we win, I’ll donate any prize to the American Lab Rescue. So please click on the photo to get to Petco’s Facebook and vote! While Finn isn’t a lab (we think he’s mostly springer spaniel) the ALR was the rescue that took him in when he was a stray in Alabama.

Anna’s Little Stained Glass Boxes

These are some of my little stained glass boxes. I make them with different tops – some I call “jewel top”, some “shell top” and others have pressed flowers or cast or stamped charms .  They are 2″ x 3″ and are a great size for a hostess gift or birthday present. Most people tell me they use them as a ring box on their dresser or bathroom vanity.

Stained Glass boxes for Bat Mitzvah Invitations

Here’s a few of the stained glass boxes that I’ve made for Bat Mitzvah invitations. They are fun to make, each one comes out different, which keeps me interested as an artist.

They take me about 4-5 hours to do, and that’s not including going to the fabric store for the fabric to make the padded inserts! I also include seashells, crystals, semi-precious stones, beads – whatever looks good!

Anna Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

We closed our pool yesterday, just in time for the drizzle to start. Feeling cold, I went inside for the first hot cocoa of the year. I used my new mugs that I just bought at the Big E from Bear Hills Pottery in Newtown, CT.  I like to make my own mix; usually I put in the extra dark cocoa but alas, none was found in the cupboard. I had to make do with regular cocoa powder. Here’s how I do it:

Anna’s Hot Chocolate Mix

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer Hershey’s dark)

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup powdered milk (nonfat)

1 tsp. powdered vanilla (yes, there IS such a thing!)

pinch salt (heightens flavor)

Mix all together and store.

To use: I nuke 1 cup water and add 2 generous tablespoons of mix.

Stir and enjoy!

Stained Glass Bar Mitzvah Boxes

I usually make boxes for the boys with something other than the invitation on top. I figure most boys are going to grow out of looking at it pretty quickly. Surprisingly a lot of moms tell me that the boys do use their boxes, keeping their watches, nice pens, baseball cards, usb sticks or just plain junk in them. Sometimes I go with a stone agate for the top, other times people are able to tell me what he’s into like sports, music, etc.

What I love about doing these invitation boxes is that each and every one comes out different – I’ve even done three sets of twins in the past, and each of those were customized to the tastes of the individual. That’s what makes it fun as an artist, these are all unique.

Stained Glass Wedding Invitation Boxes

I’ve been asked to show some of the stained glass invitation boxes that I’m known for. When I first moved to Connecticut I worked at a picture framing gallery in West Hartford. They graciously let me sell my stained glass gift boxes (they got commission, of course!). One day a customer came in and wanted a stained glass box with a wedding invitation put into the top. It came out great, and I’ve been making them ever since! The store had a huge Jewish clientele so naturally I expanded into making bar mitzvah and bad mitzvah boxes as well. I’ll show some of these in another post. This pic above shows a wedding invitation that had a peacock on it. I colored it in lightly and then added real peacock feathers. The invitation is sandwiched between an iridized “glue chip” clear glass and a piece of clear glass on top. The sides of the box were iridized black “waterglass” and I used a black patina on the solder.

This one above was a real challenge: the bridesmaid brought me REAL dried flowers, not pressed flat but natural. I had to come up with a way to display them properly AND make sure that if they shed or had a piece that fell off, it wouldn’t remain in there forever. So I hinged the top to make a lid, it pressure fits in and good ol’ gravity will keep it in place.

Terrariums micro worlds

stained glass house

Stained glass terrariums can be a world unto themselves. Wardian cases become self sustaining worlds, providing their own environments for life. In 1827 amateur botanist Nathaniel Ward began an
experiment in a closed glass case. His plants survived for several years without additional care, such as being watered! This study led to the development of Wardian Cases which are the ancestors of today’s terrariums. Perfect for growing ferns or orchids, they are meant to be watered infrequently, and kept out of direct sunlight.

This piece was designed to open from the top, and I’ve designed a forked rod to keep one side of the roof open in case it needs ventilation. It’s also a good practice to seal with an aquarium grade silicon to prevent leaks. I typically go with a solid color where the soil is. A clear color may look good early on, but they can tend to get a little scummy over time!

I also like to build ones that hang on the wall or ones that resemble a geodesic dome. Thanks, Bucky!

Next ones will be Wardian designed, Bucky Balls, fully enclosed!