Monday, February 16, 2015

Fire In Ice Sculptures At Frederick Maryland's First Saturday

The town was hopping, people were shopping, and we enjoyed the excellent cold weather festivities! As we walked through huge crowds in the historic section of Frederick Maryland's downtown, we quickly noticed that the cars were filling up the roads. Yes sir, the amount of strolling people on the sidewalks was much larger than usual. That is due to the February 'Fire In Ice!' event presented by the Downtown Frederick Partnership. One of the biggest First Saturday events of the year and what great luck to find ourselves here tonight! Wow! We were off to enjoy the ice sculptures! 

Thankfully the weather was mild compared to the freezing weather we have been enduring. We loved how the ice sculptures looked radiant with their icy sparkle and shine. When the sun sets, the skies darken, and the city lights come on. The ice begins to reflect surrounding colors, and the night's magic begins. The stunning ice swan below was one of my two very favorites of the night! Love love love it! So graceful and regal! This one got quite a bit of attention from the crowds with lots of phones snapping up a photo op. There is actually a little girl in a pink coat on the other side of the swan giving it that hot color pop.

When walking along Carroll Creek by the frozen water we came upon a series of ice signs... ice advertisements? Uh where were the sculptures? Seemed like this would have been the ideal spot to showcase some great ice art. Hmmmm... we are moving on. Hoping to find some real ice sculptures along the streets of town, we then found this sledding penguin hanging out on a street corner.

Then we spied a happy waving lobster! Alright! Nice! We got some real ice sculptures!

There was a swimming fish that looked similar to a past year's fish sculpture we have seen.

Check out the sculpture below! I absolutely loved this fantastic lonely goat ice sculpture! This is my other most favorite ice sculpture of the evening! Look at the handsome details! The pointy long horns were exquisite. Plus being a Capricorn I thought it was a sensational idea for a gorgeous ice sculpture! 

Sitting quietly on the Market and Church Street's corner we found this sweet little snowflake.

At the Market and Patrick Street corner was a chilly pineapple ice sculpture.

As the afternoon light became the evening glow the ice began to reflect its surrounding colors and lights. Notice how you can see right through this ice cameo to the people chatting on the other side.

The nationally known restaurant 'Volt' was hosting a lively family friendly fire pit roasted marshmallow party in their courtyard for kids and adults. Since I was really interested in viewing the spectacular old mansion from other angles we strolled right in. I am sure someday we will have a great meal in this famed foodie destination! For now let's enjoy the great outdoor space.

Adult peeps were lined up in the Volt courtyard to get drinks served from a whiskey bar ice sculpture. 

The front entrance to 'Volt'... I could stare at those luscious architectural details all day!

Close to those grand front entrance steps  'Volt' had a colorful Maryland flag ice sculpture on display.

Next up we passed an ice fairy chillin' in front of a warm shop window.

Speaking of shops we did go inside and enjoy a few that night. We went into one of my all-time fav stores for kitchen decor "Relish" and chatted with the owner Hallie. I have a number of her cool vintage retro pieces at home. Then hubby and I crossed the street and bought some non-toxic deodorants in 'Terressentials.' Both shops are located on Patrick St.

We also checked out two new-to-us establishments downtown. The 'Treaty General Store' where we purchased a vintage style recycled piece of glassware. Then we wandered through an amazing vintage Industrial Home decor store where I took hubby's photo near a huge spotlight floor lamp. No surprise that when walking down Market St., I peered into the rock shop 'Earthly Elements' longing to own all of the huge amethysts and crystals in the window!

There was a shamrock in front of Bushwaller's Irish Pub of course.

Then we saw an ice sculpture on Market Street representing world peace that I actually wish was a permanent addition to the town... perhaps one made from glass!

In front of the jewelry store there was a great big shiny diamond.

We also saw this big black Cadillac hearse parked in front of a cake shop called Cakes To Die For. Peering into their shop window there was many a goth looking cake on their shelves.

On the walk to our non-funeral style car we passed this familiar floating head below...

and then this trippy head in front of Zebop's groovy shop... and so we kept truckin'.

Back at Carroll Creek there was a line of folks waiting to get their photo taken sitting on this 'Ice Throne' which I thought was a great idea. The Queen would have loved for her photo to be taken on this cold hard love seat since it was near to Valentines Day... Alas being that we were really hungry we did not want to wait in line and fight the photo op crowd at that moment. Maybe next year I will sit upon thine icy throne! 

We began to discuss that during the evening we noticed there were more 'typographic ice sign ads' for businesses than artistic 3D objects d'art sculpturesThat is disappointing and sad as each sign is one less opportunity for a creative ice sculpture in my mind. To be honest we were we not the only ones who observed the blatant advertising signage pretending to be sculpture. We heard others sarcastically faking their "Oh's and Ahh's" as they passed these ice signs and then adding a few unsavory comments to boot. The people's opinion was that the ads were a lame excuse for sculpture. Kind of a fake out. 

I do understand that this special evening is to bring shoppers into downtown during the slow winter months so I hope everyone did a brisk business. I just don't want the organizers to lose sight of what brings all the folks like us out on cold winter's nights en mass... actually getting to view real three dimensional ice sculpture. Let's support more inventive ice creations by ice sculpture artists for everyone to enjoy while they shop and dine. Moving forward into the future of 'Fire In Ice' night hopefully there are less of these ad signs. It can only give the event a bad name to just have ice advertising. Stores may lose those crowds since there will be nothing left to see and that would be a real meltdown of a good thing.  "Art not ads"... 

I feel at this point if I posted photos of those 'store name ice signs' it would actually be bad publicity for them. So I will finish with only one photo of a ice sign because it is a worthy group which supports the arts in Frederick. I previously shared this same event in 2013 here on the blog when we came across the ice sculptures on a Sunday. Even as they began to slightly melt, you can see the shape of the ice sculpture art reflected the shop's main business activity, and they were not a lettered sign molded from ice. 

Overall we had a wonderful evening strolling through the historic downtown area that we love so much, and we were very grateful that we stumbled upon such a cool event once again. We had tried to dine at some of the downtown restaurants that evening as well. Woefully we found out it would be a two hour wait without having previously made reservations for 'Fire In Ice' night. Lesson... next year make reservations ahead of time! Since with all that walking we really had worked up an appetite we headed to our car to purchase food at Wegman's Food Store and bring it home to eat. Through the car window we passed two wonderfully executed ice sculptures on East St. of a bird, and a butterfly. Wish we had gotten photos of those two lovely piece of art for you! Once again the serendipity of being there during this 'First Saturday' in February for 'Fire In Ice' was perfect. Thank you Frederick for all that you do to make life fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stringfellows Font Free Cheat Sheet For The Matching Ornaments Saves You Time

I was just using the Stringfellows Font and pulled up my little cheat sheet. This is so I know what letter to hit for the matching ornament that I want to use in my design. Thought I might as well share it with you. Especially since I posted how I used this wonderful handmade Stringfellows typeface just the other day. Click on my image above and download this time saver for yourself. Happy designing!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stringfellows Is My New Favorite Handmade Font

I want to share with you this awesome handmade font designed by Nicky Laatz which she called 'Stringfellows'! Absolutely gorgeous!!! We bought this font and I actually used it on a couple of projects last year. And I have a feeling that it is going to show up on a few more designs this year too! I am totally in love with this typeface! 

Now you are in luck! I just found out that you can get this font for 10% off its regular price over at 'Creative Market' during their Top 100 feature sale. Although I assure you that the 'Stringfellows Typeface' is worth every bit of its full price tag that we paid too.

When hubby and I recently redesigned the 'Ben Sherman Classical Guitar' website to make it responsive on phones I used this typeface on the page button links that you see below. I am so happy with the look! I think 'Stringfellows' fit perfectly with the modern handmade feel I created for the website.

'Stringfellows' comes with lots of useful glyphs, words, and ornaments, in addition to the usual alphabet and numbers. This typeface is so much fun to play with when designing! Nicky did such a super job that this font became 'Creative Market's' number one selling product for 2014! Wow! You go girl! 

Below is the fresh new header I created for my Food blog 'The Queen's Table.' As you can see this versatile handmade typeface also goes fantastic with the Nicky Laatz watercolor effect kits. Love her watercolor Photoshop styles! Super quick and easy! These genius design kits are such a time saver!

Go check out this typeface and  Nicky Laatz's other handmade design elements in her Creative Market Store. Below is a great design she made to promote the typeface using a watercolor mask. I know that you will certainly fall in love with 'Stringfellows' and Nicky's sense of design too! Have fun fellow designers!!!!

Check out my next post here with a free cheat sheet for the Stringfellows ornaments!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hannah Mermaid Dreams Fantasy Into Reality

Photo copyright Kristian Schmidt 2012

Your eyes do not deceive you... a magical mythical mermaid has taken form in our modern realm. With numerous creative undersea adventures, this mermaid travels the globe to be the focal point of stunning imagery in print and in film. The ethereal  'Hannah Mermaid,' is the world's premier professional mermaid and underwater dancer. In thoughtful collaboration with photographers and filmmakers worldwide, Hannah Fraser brings attention to the endangered species of the world's oceans in a most daring and alluring way. I have asked Hannah to allow me to use some of the images from her website to highlight her unique life's work. Hannah has graciously given me permission to share with you some of the most spectacular and exquisite photographs you will ever view. Dive in and enjoy! Lose yourself in the videos lower down on this page and enter an enchanted world few of us get to experience or even understand. You will be entirely mesmerized! Artists paint and illustrate lovely mermaids... although they cannot compare to the reality of this visionary fantasy come true!

Photo copyright Kristian Schmidt 2012

Many of the talented photographers and filmmakers who work with Hannah share her mission to help the creatures of our world's seas. Links to the talented photographers' sites are at the end of this post. Be sure to visit these accomplished professionals and you will be amazed and fascinated at what you will see! You will find an abundance of incredible images in their underwater portfolios. 

Photo copyright Kristian Schmidt 2012

Beyond Hannah's obvious natural beauty there is much she had to learn and endure to give those photos underwater magic. Imagine holding your breath underwater. How did your face look? Kinda like a puffer fish? How long can you do breathe underwater before popping up to get air? Training herself as a young girl in underwater breathing techniques, Hannah Fraser now does free diving, has her scuba certificate, and knows how to buddy breathe when on deep dives wearing her tail. On one photo shoot she had to be tied to a rock on the cold ocean floor only getting air from her buddy in between takes. In addition to needing a constant source of air, you must consider that ocean currents, waves, sharp rocks, and sharks, can be hazards in this unyielding environment too. Yet, what results is this extraordinary miraculous communion with whales and manta rays, captured by the tenacious photographers and filmmakers of the daring Hannah Mermaid. Totally comfortable in her under sea environment, Hannah's art and skill makes what she does look completely effortless. Hannah easily reflects natural emotion and fluid elegance interacting with her large sea companions.

Photo copyright Shawn Heinrichs 2012

Hannah Mermaid's true gift is that she allows us to imagine we could be freely floating beneath the sea among the captivating creatures along with her. Hannah comments, "I'd like to help awaken people to their personal experience of creative play, where the lines of fantasy and reality blend. Being a mermaid is my lifelong expression of joy. I hope everyone finds their own passion...  and lives it!" 

Photo copyright

Always drawn to the sea, this creative goddess drew her first mermaid at 3 years old, and constructed her first mermaid tail at age nine from an orange tablecloth. Child soul vision made manifest!

"Hannah age 9" Credit:

Hannah continues to create the handmade gorgeous sparkling tails she wears herself! 

Photo credit:
Observe the sensational gifted work Hannah does in making her own mermaid tails in the photo collage above! She does not make mermaid tails for anyone else as the money needed for materials, the difficulty in fitting to the body, and it's taking four months of time to construct is prohibitive... unless you have $20,000.00! There are tips on her FAQ page if you'd like to give it a try at your house!

Painting copyright by Hannah Fraser

A modern Renaissance woman Hannah is a fashion model, performance artist, environmental activist, artist, costume designer, photographer, educator, and a professional mermaid. Pretty darn cool!

Photo credit:

Living as a mermaid is a vision Hannah has held in her mind since childhood. She lives her unique dream with passion! Be sure to go to the Hannah Mermaid website and read the FAQ page to learn more interesting details about being an actual professional mermaid. Not your average job; there are many variables to consider before making the plunge.

Photo copyright Shawn Heinrichs 2012

Hannah explains her life mission in this way: "Being in the ocean is where I feel the most free and expressive. You can feel the connection and abundance of life around you as they move with the same currents, work symbiotically to survive, and adapt to suit their environment. Most sea animals are curious and interested in the humans that enter their world with respect. The ocean is the birthplace of life on Earth, and if I can be a visual link to inspire other humans who have become disconnected from this amazing world, I feel I have done something worthwhile."

The whale population has been pushed towards extinction and even with bans on hunting whales, many nations continue to kill these gentle giants. A film short called 'Betrayal' speaks to the sadness, starring Hannah Fraser and humpback whales, it was filmed by Shawn Heinrichs and is on Vimeo. 

The whale shark in photo below is the world's largest fish and was part of the first conservation fashion shoot between Sean Heinrichs, Kristian Schmidt, and Hannah Fraser.

Photo copyright Shawn Heinrichs 2012

The gentle lyrical Manta Rays are often wrongly confused with the sting ray that killed Steve Irwin. Divers and snorkelers know better, and look forward to their exciting encounters with this huge graceful animal. Unfortunately the Mantas are being over fished for their gills, and their limited reproductive biology cannot keep up with the demand. Witness the video below to see the elegance of Hannah Fraser and the manta together in 'Mantas Last Dance.'

Mantas Last Dance from Blue Sphere Media on Vimeo.

Along with bringing attention to whales and manta rays by her spectacular photo shoots and film work, Hannah dedicates a percentage of her earnings as a mermaid towards ocean conservation charities. Some of the key people involved in the conservation process have been photographer Kristian SchmidtShawn Heinrichs, Richard Branson, Blue Sphere Foundation and the un-named capable crews of people that are needed to create such important artistic projects. Many dedicate their time and work towards the end goal of protection for these magnificent giants of the sea. Below the brilliant Emmy Award winning film maker and photographer Shawn Heinrichs talks about making an underwater film, and his concern to protect the endangered creatures of the sea that propels his work forward. Please go to this Blue Sphere Media blog page to view more images and learn more about the environmental projects of Shawn Heinrichs. Now is the time to bring your voice to help these creatures of the sea thrive and survive by clicking through the links listed at the end of this post.

The making of "Mantas Last Dance" from NINETEEN87 on Vimeo.

I hope you have enjoyed this peek at an unusual performance artist that creates not only fantasy art in real life, but uses her beauty and talent to bring sobering attention to the oceans' environmental issues! Please visit Hannah Fraser's website to learn more about her inspiring work and continuing creative projects. May your dream bring you as much joy as this living mermaid brings to others!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Unicorn Love And My Magical Garden Spire Totem

Fell in love with an object at first sight one evening. Living in the material world can do that to you sometimes! Actually it's an object d'art! So I guess that makes it better! You see... Once upon a time an enchanted Unicorn was living in a small tea shop, in the fancy cups section, within a mystical tall glass garden totem. It sparkled and shined, calling me to take it home. In a wink of an eye, I was immediately entranced by this very unique recycled glass creation. Unicorns are quite magical and represent all that is good. So naturally I made my plan to make the fabulous creature part of our happy home. Alas the store was not open and I stared through the window, longing for the beautiful glass Unicorn shimmering under the streetlights to be mine. I asked the King if he thought we would have enough time to stop back in Frederick the next day on route to our already planned destination. He thought it was possible, if we left home early. Please, no one buy my Unicorn treasure before I return to the little shop in downtown Frederick called "Voila!"

Excited, grateful, and relieved was how I felt when I saw the gleaming Unicorn still waiting for me in the window as we approached the next day! We immediately asked the sales person to remove it from the window display. After we made our purchase, I clutched my royal Unicorn scepter as we walked to the car, and lovingly wrapped it with the additional fabric from a jacket in the back seat. I was told that the garden totems they had displayed were made by two retired art teachers, Veronica Nehemias and Gail Padgett. They call their gorgeous glass work 'Garden Spires.' A perfect name for something sold in the Frederick area since the charming town is known for its church spires. These two artists certainly have a sense of whimsical design. They succeeded in making the different found objects relate to one another and create an object of beauty in my spire. Art lovingly envisioned from discarded items! Well done! 

Arriving home after a hike, I unwrapped the Unicorn spire. Then placed it in different large pots in the sunroom, till I found just the right spot for this radiant beauty. Since I have grand kids, the placement must be considered carefully due to the delicate nature of such a glass item. Pieced together with non colored glass items, I particularly love the monochromatic look of this dazzling garden spire. The handsome mix of frosted and clear glass is perfect, and I am quite fond of the small perfume bottle on top. A vintage mix of plates, vases, serving cups, and perhaps a glass shade, this spire picks up the light of the sun differently during various times of the day. An inspired arrangement as the Unicorn sitting inside made it totally magical! Love it! Every time I look upon that little frosty Unicorn I smile. It has become a sparkling focal point in our sunroom. 

I had seen inventive garden ornaments for the first time a few weeks before, when my sister in law had posted photos of the china and glass totems she had seen while walking the Shepardstown W.V. garden tour. Here's a few of her photos of those unpredictable one of a kind garden spires in their natural element. Hmmm some have tags from the seller.

When I viewed these photos she shared I thought it was a fantastic and creative idea. I hoped to acquire one myself someday for the little Hobbit House. So much fun! It's cheerfulness on a stick!

Wow! My power to manifest is amazing! I now have my own gorgeous garden totem with a stunning Unicorn to enjoy! Little did I know it would be made by the same artists who made the ones that you see here, as I just checked out the name on those hang tags. Yes, they are made by 'Garden Spires.'

Cool. I also really love their Garden Spires with the stacked fanciful tea pots, cups, and saucers. They remind me of the Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland. Definitely need one of those too! Other totems have a completely silly sense of humor with chickens or squirrels under glass. Who knew?

You can see there are usually vases or bottles on the bottom of these garden spires to hold the rod that goes into the ground. The heavy metal rod comes with the purchase of the Garden Spires.

After all of this I am considering making a garden totem myself, as my daughter likes to hang out at auctions, where she reports anything made of glass goes pretty cheaply. Perhaps when we are cleaning out the basement this winter, I shall discover some other interesting glass or china for my own totem project. I'll be saving those wine bottles! In the interim I searched the internet for some information on this "new to me" D.I.Y. craft project.

I found a wonderful tutorial at a blog called October Farm, for making your own glass garden totems. The writer at October Farm recommended having your plates and cups face downward so they do not pool with water if placed in outside gardens. That way you keep away mosquitos. I have also read on craft forums one should use GE CLEAR Silicone II caulk which is made for doors and windows. Another option is using 'Aleenes Outdoor glue' for your project. Everyone suggests that you be sure to clean the area to be glued with alcohol first. I might opt to wear latex gloves to keep the glue off my skin and to grip to the breakable glass or china. Another blog called 'The Empress Of Dirt 'also has a tutorial and videos for making glass garden totems here. That's a great name!

Seems I opened up a whole new world of art investigating this crafty upcycling project for my sunroom and garden. I have gathered videos on various recycled garden art projects with tips and techniques, in case you are now thinking of making your own funky junk glass garden spikes, as there are number of creative ways to use the discarded plates and vases. Some of the people may not have the best sense of design, but you can still get the basic idea of how putting old glass objects together works for making something new.
The upside down glass bowl mushroom that you see in this video below would look cool in a trio of various sizes among garden plantings, other spike designs, fairies, and maybe a garden gnome, or two.

Garden flowers made from recycled plates might look good in the fairy garden too if they matched whatever color family you chose for your totem and mushroom designs. 

Go wild! You could even make huge reclaimed glass art sculptures as seen in the video below. It really gets the mind to thinking! Time to look at old stuff in a new way!

Upcycling makes great re-use of all kinds of decorative objects. Perhaps old junk can even save the world! Well at least it's a great way to hang onto those semi-precious glass and china items other members in your house might think are useless trash! I will let you know If I get a collection of found objects together to make my enchanted mythical Unicorn a friend! It could happen! Sweet dreams, and believe in your power of visualizing and manifesting. Magic happens, and so does art!

Photo credits: Crystal and Brande.