Author Archives: Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie

About Dana McCranie

Dana McCranie writes, prays, laughs, loves glitter and will hug you even if you try to shake her hand. You can often find her behind her camera, striving to build a photography business. You'll never find her as happy as she is dancing around her kitchen with her daughter, son and amazing husband.

knitting

The Top 5 Crafts I’ll Probably Never Master

knitting.jpgI love the art of creating. I think we are programmed to love making things. Those things could range from a beautiful painting to writing an awesome line of code. I believe the feeling at the end of either activity comes from the same place in our soul. It is that place where my desire to try new mediums of expression begins. That being said, recently I realized there are some crafts I’ve crossed off my list. Most of them I’ve tried, unsuccessfully. Below are the art forms I’m saying goodbye to for the time being, but I should mention that I’m also easily swayed by a good “try this new craft” argument.

1. Cross-stitch: I think cross-stitch is so beautiful. I cherish the pieces I have that were made by friends and family. I’ve tried cross-stitch several times but I think–much like my formal dancing days–my cross-stitch days are behind me. The work is so intricate that I find myself nervously waiting to mess up, and when I do I have no ability to quiet the frustration.  For the sake of the innocent ears in my home and my desire to not sound like a sailor to my children, I will put away my thread.

2. Pottery: I love the beauty of pottery with all my heart and soul. I remember trying to build a mug from clay in high school and it didn’t quite resemble a mug in the end. I visited my big brother at a pottery class he was taking and he was carving ships into his work. Ships, I say! I was equally as impressed and intimidated as I am by anyone who knows what to do with one of those spinning wheels.

3. Beading: Much like cross-stitch, the intricacy of this beautiful medium leaves me bewildered. I bought a beading loom after college and a friend showed me how to use it. My first bracelet was a smashing success. Then I started bracelet number two. I missed a bead, incurred a tangle and that was all she wrote. Do you see the trend that develops in my endeavors? I lack the ingredient of patience.

4. Knitting: I used to knit for a brief period and I often think my crochet love should translate nicely to knitting. Then I think of how much is required of my brain just to remember my crochet stitches. I also never learned how to finish my knitting projects appropriately, so that also left me dejected. I hated that I had to phone-in the finishing on my projects. I know I could probably learn that now, but then there are so many crochet techniques I’d like to learn.

5. Soap-making: I am a bit of a soap-making stalker. I research the steps that go into soap-making every few months. Of all the crafts I’ve listed, this is the one I long to try the most. There is just one thing holding me back: lye. Every time I read about the soaps I want to make, I see the warnings about how careful you must be with lye and I cannot stop envisioning myself stumbling like Lucille Ball around my kitchen, covered in this caustic ingredient.  

I haven’t totally given up hope. Maybe I will meet a new crafty friend that can stitch, throw, bead, knit and handle lye like a pro and that magical being will insist on teaching me.

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Altered Couture Magazine and its “Inspired by Alice” Challenge Draw Attention to the Art of Fashion

altered_couture_magazine_subscription_summer2011.jpgUntil recent years I don’t think I was able to really see art in fashion. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that because as a little girl I wanted to be a fashion designer and would draw dress after dress in a little fashion book I had. It is surprising to me, as a creative person, that it took so long for me to see the real artistry in clothing. I must confess the change in this view really can be credited to Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn and the constant flow of talent through the reality TV competition “Project Runway” every season. Once I started watching that show, that is when I started to see the art in fashion. That is also when I began to really wish Tim Gunn was my best friend, but I digress.

Altered Couture magazine is a celebration of the art of fashion, and with every page the publication seems to beg readers to find the art in their own closets, offering an artistic spin on an otherwise ordinary piece of clothing. I loved seeing a pair of basic Mary Jane shoes enhanced by a few scraps of printed fabric and beads.

By far my favorite feature in the May/June/July issue of the quarterly magazine is the “Inspired by Alice” challenge. Various artists interpreted “Alice in Wonderland” into fantastical fashion creations–each worthy of its own runway walk or at the very least a magical tea party. You can almost see a white rabbit peeking from under the next page, calling the reader to hurry to the next beautiful inspiration.

The first creation that caught my eye stood out before I even understood the challenge. It is a fantasy coat that begins with a fitted coat but then flows to the ground in a juxtaposition of assorted neckties sewn together. The coat also has trinkets and other interesting details, but the necktie skirt on this jacket is what really takes it from ordinary to fantastic.

Throughout the challenge pages you’ll find altered jewelry, hair accessories and amazing fashion inspired by this legendary story. Be sure not to miss the Queen of Hearts vest and whatever you do, don’t take advice from that Hatter.

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Tapping Into My Childhood Arts and Crafts Memories Again Through My Daughter

art_color_paint_and_brush.jpgWhen I was young I looked forward to many events, but there was one local festival I waited for all year. It was a Shrimp Festival my hometown still hosts annually. Most people look forward to eating shrimp while walking around downtown, or the wonderful music playing on the pier. Others came for the many art tents where artists showcase their talents.

When I was young, I looked forward to the craft street. There was one side street that always hosted a litany of kid-friendly crafts, my favorite being the one and only spin art! I couldn’t wait to get over to the spin art guy, who was usually set up between the tents where you could buy sponge alligators on sticks and personalized belts. I still remember the paints and how they eased out of old condiment bottles onto the paper as it seemed to rotate at the speed of light. At the end, I was always fascinated by the result. I felt like I had something so unique and amazing.

There are so many crafting moments from my childhood that I have clear memories of like this. Do you find that when you reflect on learning art your memory brightens? I had kind of forgotten how palpable these memories were until my daughter grew into a wee little crafter herself. Now, I am surrounded by all the crafting fun of my youth. When she first showed an interest in crafting, I went to the store and as I walked the aisles I was so giddy I was probably giggling out loud. Living on the same aisle are Shrinky Dinks, suncatchers, paint by number artwork and of course, spin art. We own two spin art kits; before you think I bought one for myself, one was a gift. However, it did open up the possibility for quite the spin art party.

Having children puts us in touch with our former selves in so many ways. I expected that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much happiness creating art with my child would bring. She and I connect on this level and it is a common ground we share. It is a place where our hearts meet in a common love. Some days I get caught up in the mire of life and will refuse a craft because of the mess. Then I think back on those feelings I had and still have at the thought of creating something beautiful and I have to let go of the mess and seize the creative moment with my daughter and her sweet, open heart.

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Inspirational Art Doll Quarterly Magazine Appeals to the Artist in Us All

doll_cindee_moyer_delicate_dandelion.jpgWhen I think of doll making, one person usually comes to mind: Marie Osmond. My mind drifts to an infomercial with her holding up little dolls that are a little too lifelike for my taste. This was the only image I could really associate with doll making until I picked up Art Doll Quarterly magazine. Even though I’ve never tried to make a doll myself, this magazine still called to me because of the amazing artistry revealed on every page.

The more I dive into different styles of crafting and their dedicated publications, the more I am impressed by the tight-knit communities that exist in these art forms. Art Doll Quarterly introduces a community of artists whose vision, creativity and attention to detail are astounding.

I must be honest and admit that some of the dolls in the magazine are a little scary. This is not really a bad thing, though, as I believe it is the intention of certain artists to elicit this response. Some of the dolls are made with such whimsy and humor, like David H. Everett’s big white goose named Betty. She is featured among several other barnyard creations in the May/June/July issue of Art Doll Quarterly.

My favorite dolls were created by Cindee Moyer and their names are Papillon & The Delicate Dandelion. The Delicate Dandelion (see photo above) reminds me of a beautiful silent film star who has stepped for the first time into Technicolor. She has hair of soft, yellow feathery tufts and her eyes portray a mixture of melancholy and mystery. Papillon is just an incredible sight. The doll is leaning forward and has a headdress of branches with butterflies perched about them. She looks as if she has been crying because of how beautiful she finds the world. I think that is another gift of these works, you get to create your own stories for them as well.

I loved flipping through the pages of this magazine and seeing not only the artistry, but also the stories that accompany these amazing creations. For almost every doll, you will find the story that inspired them. Being able to behold a beautiful piece of art and then to get a glimpse into the artist’s mind regarding his or her work is truly a priceless gift that serves to inspire any creative person, no matter which crafting community they belong to.

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The Journey of Art Bloggers and the Community That Follows

artful_blogging_magazine_summer2011.jpgI admit it: I’ve created and abandoned several personal blogs. Am I the only one to approach personal blogging like a fickle and fair-weathered friend?

I may have abandoned some of my own, but I am a faithful follower of others. Especially art blogs and blogs that showcase the creativity of others. I personally love The Nester and her approach to making the home beautiful without having a huge budget or the anvil of perfectionism on your back. I also marvel at the many talents of Ree Drummond, showcased at her wonderful site The Pioneer Woman. One thing I’ve learned about bloggers and their readers is that they are a loyal community.

When I used to think about the blog world, sometimes it seems so overwhelming and foreign. It was something I knew about, but didn’t really participate in or particularly understand. Even when I tried creating my own blogs, they all died off and now that I’ve followed faithful bloggers I know why. I didn’t have a clear vision or purpose to serve readers.

That is one thing every blogger featured in Artful Blogging magazine has in common: One magazine article might introduce someone with a completely different style from the next, but each blogger brings a passion–and a vision for sharing that passion–to his or her blog. The clarity of that vision translates, and is the thing that draws readers to the community and keeps them there.

In the summer issue of Artful Blogging (published quarterly), Susan Duane explains how the vision of her blog–Hometown Girl–naturally evolved from her approach to life. A friend pointed out to her that her blog and her online shop both reflect something she strives to live out: a dedication to simplicity. Once Duane’s friend pointed out this theme in her life and work, the blogger began to realize how far back it reached into her past. By approaching life in a more simplistic way, Duane and her family find more meaning in every day moments. This theme runs throughout her blog and makes it nothing short of delightful.

Throughout Artful Blogging magazine, you discover bloggers coming to realizations about life through their blogs. They might start their blog with one intention, but it seems they gain so much more in the process. They gain insight and personal growth, and they definitely gain community.

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Quilting Arts Magazine Showcases Amazing Portrait-Style Quilts and How to Make Them

quilting_arts_magazine_subscription_june-july2011.jpgMy favorite quilt is a hodgepodge of squares sewn together by my grandmother with a peachy-pink backing. I’ve used it until the batting is starting to pour out.

Quilting is something I’ve always respected and always wanted to learn. I’ve definitely always regarded it as an art form, but my appreciation for it increased even more after reading the June/July 2011 issue of Quilting Arts magazine. This issue presents something I’ve never seen before called portrait-style quilts.

As a photographer and paper-crafter, I thought I’d seen it all when it came to showcasing photos, but this issue turned that perception upside down. The cover of the magazine draws you in to this world with a shot of a quilt inspired by a photo of an adorable dog on a leash. Scraps of fabric are juxtaposed in just the right way and then stitched to create this amazing image. As you dive into the issue you will see the depth and precision of this art.

Page after page is dedicated to showcasing what these fabric artists are creating. In the beautiful spirit of sharing their craft, the artists have taken the time to dissect their pieces and provide detailed instructions on how you can go about creating your own portrait-style quilt. In reading the directions, I discovered quickly that these projects are not for the faint of heart. However, when you see the results you will be as amazed at what uniting photography and quilting can produce.

The reason I love this issue is that instead of just showcasing this art form in one article, Quilting Arts has given a comprehensive look by showcasing different artists and their varying approaches. There is no better way to learn a skill, in my opinion, than to learn from many different experts and then set out on your own journey with the gift of that collected knowledge. The issue convinced this non-quilter with minimal sewing skills that this is a journey worth taking.