Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Distelfinks Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft

Distelfinks Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft

 

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(5/5)

Pros: Gorgeous, and unique kit

Cons: Not a single one!

Isn’t this picture adorable?  It’s a paint-by-number craft kit from http://www.artyoucraft.com.    This adorable pair of love birds is called “Distelfinks” and is available in 8 different color combinations.  It’s just one of many designs available on their website.  Take a look, there’s something there for everyone!

What makes these kits different from the normal paint-by-number kits?  Well, the main difference is that you’re painting on wood, not a canvas.  So when you’re done, you have a sturdy piece of art that can hang on a wall, or lie flat on a table.  Use the varnish included in the kit to make it shine!

The other difference is that some of the designs have spots where you don’t paint anything.  You allow the wood to show through in its natural beauty.  This particular picture doesn’t have any un-painted spots, but others do.  For instance the Wheel Of Hearts has unpainted wheels and spokes on the sides.

The kit includes everything you need.  In this case, there are 10 canisters of paint.  9 bright colors and black, for touch-up work.  The paints are high-quality acrylics.  Easy to use, and easy to wash.  You also get two paintbrushes, a paper template that tells you where each color goes, sandpaper, a hanger, and clear instructions.  In fact, the instructions are some of the best I’ve seen in kits of this type.  They fully explain how to paint the picture, care for the brushes and paints, varnish the completed project, and hang it.

Teens through adults will enjoy this project.  Even some kids might enjoy it, but you’ll have to help them touch up any spots where they go outside the lines, and maybe help them with some of the smaller areas where it takes a bit of steady hand.

I like how mine came out, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing it.  The price for the kit is fair, given everything that comes with it, and the website’s customer service has been outstanding.  I highly recommend you take a look at http://www.artyoucraft.com if you enjoy paint-by-number kits.

Other paint by number kits:

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions
Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper
Wheel Of Hearts

Wheel Of Hearts Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft – fun and gorgeous!

Wheel Of Hearts Paint By Number Kit from ArtYouCraft

pic1

 

(5/5)

Pros: Beautiful pattern, fun to do, detailed instructions

Cons: None!

Take a look at this very pretty, very “different” paint-by-number kit.  Isn’t it adorable?  It’s called “Wheel Of Hearts” and it’s available in six different color combinations.  All of them are gorgeous.  Or, maybe this design isn’t your thing.  That’s Ok – they have seven other styles, in a total of 40 color combinations.

What makes this kit so different from other paint-by-number kits?  Well, the biggest difference is that you’re painting on wood, not on a canvas.  So when you’re finished you have a beautiful, sturdy piece of artwork.  You can hang it on a wall, or display it flat on a table.  Varnished to a high shine, it’s quite stunning, no matter where you place it.

The other thing that makes it different is that there are some spots purposely left unpainted.  In this case, it’s the four wheels and their spokes, on the sides.  Those are left unpainted, allowing the wood to show through.  It makes for a very attractive, and unique look.

Where does one find this kit?  On http://www.artyoucraft.com .  Take a look, you’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy.

What comes in the kit?  In this case, seven numbered paint canisters, plus an extra canister of black paint, used for touch-up work.  The 8.5″ by 11″ wood canvas with its black lines and circles, defining the pattern.  Two paint brushes, a paper template with the numbers filled in to show you which color goes where, a small piece of sandpaper to smooth the edges, a small color graphic showing the completed project, a small canister of varnish and a brush to apply it, a hanger, and an instruction sheet.

As far as the instructions go, these are the most complete and detailed instructions I’ve ever seen in a paint-by-number kit.  They explain everything you need to know.  How to maintain the consistency of the paint, how to care for the brushes, and how to apply the varnish.  I’ve done a lot of paint-by-number kits and have learned a bunch of tricks along the way.  But these instructions even taught me a thing or two.

In the end, if you use a steady hand and take your time, you can end up with a gorgeous finished product.  Teens through adults will enjoy doing these projects.  The spaces where the paint goes are pretty big, it’s not like there are thousands of tiny little spots to fill in.  Even some kids might enjoy doing a project like this.  You might just want to help them with the “touchup” portion of the project, where you correct any spots where they painted outside the lines.

I am thrilled with how this project came out, and I really enjoyed doing it.  I think the price for the kit is fair, given everything that comes with it.  And the website’s customer service has been impeccable.  I had some questions, and they were answered very quickly.

 

How did mine come out?

wheel-of-hearts

Other paint by number kits:

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions
Distelfinks
Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper

The Manson Media Collection

The MANSON Media Collection which includes the book “Death to Pigs” the 1973 MANSON on DVD and “Inside the MANSON Gang” on DVD

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See it at Amazon 

(5/5)

Pros: Actual footage of the Manson Gang right after the murders.

Cons: Set not intended for newcomers to the case.

‘We’re going to blow the cover right off the Manson Family story!

It’s DONE! The MANSON Book is Done! So everything you thought you knew about Charles Manson, the Family, Helter Skelter, the Tate and LaBianca massacres, the Crime and Trial of the 20th Century and the 1960s, guess again!”‘ 

Note this is an actual description of THE MANSON MEDIA COLLECTION, which is what my review centers around. and in no way shape or form do I plagiarise the authors work in anyway.  I do not attempt to nor am I capable of trying to explain the authors extensive research. and unique interpretations depicted in his films or presented in his written work  The information provided in my review is based on my own personal experience with the DVD documentaries “Manson”, “Inside The Manson Gang” and with the book “Death to Pigs”. Additional notes and links to the official website that is Hendrickson’s can be found at the bottom of this review!

This review is about the Manson media collection and its contents and purposes only. This limited release is meant to be used as a supplement. This limited release has been buried in a vault for over 40 years and is now available only to specific individuals. Distribution and authorization of the DVDS is exclusively determined by the author and only for a limited time. And when I say limited edition I mean limited..1 of the three products..INSIDE THE MANSON GANG is already unavailable!

I like the fact that this obscurity adds to the collectability of the items. However my impression is that only a few specific individuals will actually buy this… so demand has to be extremely low here and it is my observation that unless you are already a super fan of this CASE and had time to familiarize yourself with the vast amount of elements connected to and concerning all the people involved…don’t even waste your time here…Although I like this and find it rather refreshing because it  reexamines an old and tired history and breathes new life back into it… to anyone else you’re going to be greatly unsatisfied and extremely disappointed..this is for serious  fans and collectors only!

This collection set has nothing to do with investigating whether or not Manson and his gang are guilty of murder. All were decided guilty in a court of law. Rather this set serves as a recorded account of the treacherous business and corruption of none other than our current United States Judicial System.

Robert Hendrickson’s first film was released in 1973 at select theatres receiving mixed ratings and reviews. The only available versions were limited and  on VHS tapes .most of these being unauthorized bootlegs that had horrible picture quality and sound.  In 2004 MANSON was officially re-released and digitally restored by the director.  His second movie was released straight to DVD 2007. The book entitled Death to Pigs in 2011.

Manson and The Manson Gang documentaries isn’t so much about the murders as it is about the people involved with the killings and others involved with those killers..this is about a lifestyle lived, a mindset shared, and the repercussions of living so free that nothing is off limits, no boundaries to stop these people from doing anything they wanted to do. All types of crimes …if you can think a crime up in your head this group committed them.

Being able to  see these people in the height of their madness is fascinating  and hearing them speak, watching how they lived, and understanding the way they think is downright chilling, I mean I want to know what makes people like this tick by listening to them explain it..since the  ranch  burned to the ground  only a few years after the arrests means finding actual video and sound of the Manson gang in their natural habitat is extremely rare and this is what makes Hendrickson’s work unique .

The book has the actual transcripts of all the interviews that were conducted during filming and ended up in the movie including the interviews that were cut. The book relies very heavily upon Hendrickson’s role as a film maker as well as what he personally experienced while making the documentary. A variety of interesting elements surround the Manson Case and just as many odd connections from a wide variety of differing paradoxes and historical irony is staggering.

I don’t need to see or hear about those murdered to enjoy this book…the most interesting  facts of the Manson case are about the Manson Family and ultimately Charles Manson himself. We already know about the murders and we’ve seen the crime scene photos that seem to be the center piece of every Manson documentary out there. Very little info about who the family was and how they lived.

Hendrickson makes some excellent points that really make you think..for example the killers used their victim’s blood to write messages on the walls and various objects at the crime scene..specifically “Pig” “Death to Pigs” and “Political Piggy”.  Also introduced as part of the prosecution’s  case was a Beatles  song “Piggies” (again referring to the establishment and therefore relating to the media Hollywood .involvement…) since Sharon Tate was an actress and her husband was a film maker and because of the prosecutions intent focus on the words “Helter Skelter”  Bugliosi’s natural instinct was to conclude..that the words written in blood referenced the victims themselves and their now mutilated bodies were the actual message intended…

Hendrickson states that the words Death To Pigs and Pigs were meant to warn and intimidate the police…who would ultimately be among the first at the crime scene. The word “Pig” written on the door was put there as a macabre greeting to the cops..aka pigs… ..since Manson and his family, (just previous to the killings) ,had been harassed, raided and arrested by the police on more than one occasion and were covering up the tracks they left (at an unrelated murder) by trying to get the police to think the black Muslims did the crimes. By making  a black panther paw on the wall in blood next to the words “political piggy”…then pig on the door at Sharon Tate’s house the reference here is that pig meant cops which is the title of the book.

I’d have to say that the author’s biggest gripe seems to be with Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” motive.. considerable time is spent on this that not only throws in reputable doubt that Bugliosi lied both on the stand by inventing a motive that would not only secure him a healthy win over the case and prosecution…but his insatiable desire to convict Manson at all costs… and by any means necessary….. including write and close the book on one of the most sensationalized crimes and trials of the 20th century. According to Hendrickson.. Vincent Bugliosi described the case as being so fantastically vast in magnitude that fully understanding all the variables was like peeling an onion with each layer revealing more and more complexity  and unusual. coincidences.

The prosecution’s case was indeed pretty cut and dry; Manson used powerful hallucinogenic drugs and repetitive mind control/programming  on his followers and convinced them to  kill for him  and then send a message to the establishment..i.e. elite Hollywood actors and law enforcement officials..by decoding a prophesy from a Beatles album..the song Piggies is about such established order..and by killing these specific individuals to spark a race war that would essentially be “Armageddon” and the annihilation of the white establishment…

Manson is an American icon of everything that is perceived as evil in our society. If you haven’t already tried to find out as much truth as you can as to what, why, and how something like this happened… If you haven’t read prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s  crime novel Helter Skelter or watched the movie of the same name this set is not for newcomers inexperienced with the intricacies of the case  I have watched all I could find concerning Manson on the internet including just about every  Charles Manson documentary and interviews, listened to interviews from the killers , listened to audio tapes of Manson talking  to people on the phone. I have watched the many parole hearings of Manson and that of those who were also convicted of the murders. I have. listened to the Beatles “White” album looking for “clues” (as Hendrickson describes it) and connecting it somehow to the Manson case or disconnecting it from the case..

The Manson Media Collection has such persons in mind in considering presenting evidence, historical truths, accurate information,  and documented facts. Unfortunately the Manson Gang was never allowed to testify in court to explain their versions of what they think really happened. It’s important to point out that this set release is told and explained  by a  journalist, a documentary film maker, writer, and producer but specifically the Manson Gang.

According to Hendrickson..his 1973 Manson movie was unfairly banned and it was banned against the US constitutions put in place to protect  freedom of speech. His movie was disregarded and forbidden in a ruling by a judge..to continue playing during the trials for fear of affecting the decisions of the jury. That went against the legal constitutional rights that exist as the law… also the fact that the judge super exceeded the law by silencing Manson from testifying and depriving him of his legal right to legally represent himself to put on his defense…. one of the more prominent themes from Mr. Hendrickson’s  book is the corruption and crimes that are committed by those of law enforcement…and it’s clear he thinks that they (the police) and prosecutor Bugliosi is by all intents and purposes, self serving  and ultimately full of shit …

(Lol..I find this undertone to be quite humorous in nature but also because quite possibly the information provided by the author here also makes perfect sense.)

Naturally in light of these facts the treatment of Manson by the prison guards and later by the police..Manson builds up quite a hate and disgust for law enforcement as well as by that of the United States Government….at the time of the Tate killings..it was decided to be a revenge killing /cover up to throw police off the track (concerning another murder that took place shortly before the Tate murders…)..with constant raids to the Spahn Ranch, and continued harassment by police, there was also a building paranoia  about retaliation from the Black Panther militant group.

Personally, because of my extended interest with the Manson case and having exhausted the possibility of discovering new information by researching everything online,  you eventually run into a dead end..and are left to make up your own judgments…(gets old real fast…) and most of all the information available is written according to Bugliosi and with-out-a-doubt is factually misleading , fabricated and decidedly one-sided.

My overall impression and extended review:

A lot of effort is  put into this book to try and make it more intricate..by combining..multiple layers and writing techniques….this is one part movie script, one part interview, one part transcripts from the documentary, one part conspiracy theory, and one part the authors personal life as a filmmaker… Luckily I have an interest in how films are made and understand its importance  on how these elements impacted the films  content.

Otherwise I can see most people becoming annoyed and uninterested in how details like changing the video reel and getting the perfect angle etc…to be over descriptive , unnecessary, and downright boring as hell. Another issue I can see non-fans getting disappointed about is that the book looks like it will be loaded with lots of photographs,  (I actually expected full color photographs to be strewn throughout its pages myself upon ordering.) the book has little to no photos at all..

Although there are dozens of black and white photos of the Manson family members and key witnesses they are added to provide faces with the names. No new or uncut photographs of the victims are included in this book. Hendrickson explains  that the reason for this is because the two films actually serve as the books  pictures.

Whether this is just a good excuse for Hendrickson to save money by going the cheap way out is more likely the reason for absence of photography,  but because Hendrickson is so good at excusing  these shortcomings I quickly felt like it was for the best the book turned out like it did..

I actually  watched the two DVDs and tried following  along with the book…it syncs up perfectly….but instead of just being a copy of dialogue in the movie…the book also reveals additional information upon each segment used from the film as well as  lots of additional segments that are unrelated to the films contents.

However as I stated earlier..these aspects about the case like crime scene photos are no longer interesting or exciting to super fans..we have seen those hundreds and hundreds of times already since the first time we heard about Manson and Helter Skelter… I didn’t buy this media collection to just rehash what I know and learned about the case already…whats the fun in that? I bought the set to hopefully find  newly discovered evidence  that provides  additional insight on what the truth is behind what actually happened and why.

This media collection provides just the sort of complexity that makes this case interesting in a whole new way… I actually feel like because of this release I now am able to formulate a more accurate conclusion as to what I think actually happened now having heard both sides to the story.

I think to gain full appreciation for what Hendrickson has assembled for us to examine in the book  “DEATH TO PIGS” is having the two documentary films as a set together. Since the book was first published in 2011 more than 50 years after the Crime and Trial of the 20th century first gained international exposure, a lot has changed amongst our society. Many of the beliefs shared by the family concerning a world in revolution and war hasn’t really improved much historically and the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is just like the Vietnam conflict and protests of the 1960’s albeit in a different geographical location.

Hendrickson  insists that the US and its media presents itself to the American people that they are there to fight against terrorism..yet the mass majority of middle easterners insist it’s just merely “US occupation” disguised as a fight against terrorism. I imagine that the events of 911 having just happened at the time publication of his book was ready, weighed heavily on the authors mind and  it serves as the backdrop he uses to describe massive cover-ups by the US military and how the perceptions of the citizens of America is a result of extensive mind control programming our Government agencies have been using and implementing for hundreds of years.

He provides specific techniques that are being used and how to defend against it. Considering some of the current events of white police officers killing innocent minority’s  that have flooded the news lately and how these events  have sparked a great deal of anger once again at our law enforcement officers., we once again see the “Death To Pigs” concept of the Manson Gang   by the heinous crimes committed by the police  and sheds new light upon the “revolution” ideas that Manson and his gang insisted was  going on more than 50 years ago.  As we witness it taking place right before our very eyes. It is these circumstances surrounding us that made the Manson Crime and Trial so interesting to begin with and this is why the Manson case has remained the most sensational and iconic true-crime account in the annals of American History.

Review Conclusion and Final Thoughts: 

I really like the overall personality that is presented by the Author/Director, in his commentary included on the films but particularly of that which is projected by his writing style in his book Death To Pigs. He seems incredibly intelligent and exceptionally down to earth and yet again at times he comes off as being rather eccentric with his preoccupation of presenting the reader with several of his own brand of conspiracy theories. I didn’t feel like I was being forced fed and manipulated to believe him or not. Hendrickson only points out and presents to you possible motives that stand in direct contradiction to Vincent Bugliosi and his book Helter Skelter…even though it is apparent within his writings  that he concedes himself to be anti.Bugliosi and refers to him in a way that makes them sound like arch rivals.

After investigating the information provided through-out the book..it became clear why Hendrickson, dislikes Bugliosi…Hendrickson states that while the prosecution was scrambling to find any information they could about the Manson gang…He was already on location filming the family in person… according to multiple descriptions throughout the book…it is learned that while filming wrapped up at the Barker ranch, it was obvious he was playing with fire. After experiencing ,on a hot day, a smell that was so foul it had to be a dead body …in fear for his life he and his co producer fled Barker ranch in a panicked hurry…lucky to have completed his documentary and glad to get out alive…it was suggested by an attorney that he should contact Bugliosi and discuss with him the evidence collected in interviews of the notorious Manson gang and their accounts about their approval of acts as incomprehensible as murder.

Sadly Hendrickson got word from Bugliosi that he had no interest in viewing his film nor did he have any desire to discuss with him anything involving the case.  Well no wonder he thinks Bugliosi as a low life…the guy is not only ungrateful for Hendrickson’s ability to help but he’s  an arrogant asshole.  A belligerent self righteous  prick! A prime example of the kinds of people our judicial system has deciding the ultimate fate of peoples  lives and the authority to violate their rights and even kill them unjustly. And get away with it.

Hendrickson never blatantly insults Bugliosi outright…in fact the mass majority of the time he simply refers to him in the third person..for example..he refers to Bugliosi as just “a certain prosecutor” or as the “lead prosecutor involved with the case”..which in a sense says more about the authors true feelings about his role in the case… Hendrickson by this time had already completed his 1973 MANSON film and was later nominated for an academy award…unfortunately it’s all about who reaches the market first who makes the bigger impact.  What is presented as the absolute truth to the public which was no other than  Bugliosi’s hit true crime novel HELTER SKELTER

It would seem that had Hendricks film been allowed to play during the trials, its commercial success would have been massively improved. This would be a filmmakers shot at becoming a noteworthy contender in the movie business as a director. I get the sense that because of the extenuating circumstances Hendrickson’s real potential to make it big was taken from him by a judge who made rulings that were later decided by a team of legal consultants to be unconstitutional and therefore illegal. Had he knew that at the time…he would have been able to distribute his film as he intended it to be.

Hendrickson’s bad luck situation and Manson movie is now what is left.. a once struggling independent filmmaker with dreams of making it big stolen away from him by a corrupt judicial system and significant role as part of the “establishment”.. However perhaps now with the completion of his book and re-release of his 1973 MANSON FILM and recently released subsequent companion film  INSIDE THE MANSON GANG…He has successfully proved himself on the hardcore Manson enthusiast as reputable and honest expert. There is no need to take HIS word for anything…because the footage will show… it isn’t about what he thinks…the evidence presented is coming straight from the horses mouths…the only people in the world who actually know the truth, The people who were there . THE MANSON FAMILY GANG.

Additional Notes and Interesting product info:: 

This set was signed by the filmmaker Robert Hendrickson….and personally issued to me, with my name hand printed right on the DVD cover. I actually saw the 1973 Manson documentary before it was removed from youtube…and was quite surprised. The book is over 540 pages.

Shot in 1970-71 the production of this film is actually mentioned in Vincent Bugliosi’s true crime classic “Helter Skelter”. Hendrickson and crew caught the Manson family at the height of its madness in the wake of the Tate/LaBianca/Hinman murders and Manson’s subsequent arrest

.Shot on location at Spahn Ranch and featuring extensive interviews with key “family” members such as Squeaky Fromme, Sandra Good, Bruce Davis & Steve ‘Clem’ Grogan as well as Manson prosecutor Bugliosi himself and ex-family members Paul Watkins and Brooks Poston.

http://www.exclusivefilms.com/index.htm

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions (Paint by number kit)

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions

puppy pbn box

 

See it at Amazon  (ignore the fact that their listing says “needlecraft” )

(4/5)

Pros: relaxing activity that yields a great-looking result

Cons: a few mistakes on the board

I enjoy craft kits.  And I have absolutely no natural talent.  Therefore, adult-sized paint by number kits are a great way for me to be able to paint something pretty.  There are a few brands out there.  This review is for a picture called “Afternoon Nap” by the Dimensions company.

Dimensions products come with canvas boards that are of high quality.  However, I’ve read some reviews where people complained that theirs arrived bent.  I’ve not had this happen, but I would simply call the company and (I presume) they would send me a replacement.  Your board should be completely flat.

The board has the design drawn on it, in a light gray color.  The design is broken into teeny tiny spots, which must be filled in with the correct color paint.  In this case, 12 paints are provided, but there are 24 different colors in this design.  This is because Dimensions kits require mixing colors.  So, there are 12 numbered paints.  And 12 colors (indicated by letters) that can only be achieved by mixing two paints together.

While they provide instructions how to do this, they do not provide any container for the mixed product.  I ended up using paint canisters that I had left over from previously completed kits.  However, you’ll need to think about what you’ll use to contain the mixed paint, before you get started.

The need to mix the paints adds another level of complication to the kit.  While the actual mixing isn’t difficult, the problem is that if you run out of your mixed paint before you finish with it, you’ll be stuck trying to re-mix and achieve the same shade.  Not so easy.  I am always finding little spots that need touch-up, and if you don’t have any more of the mixed color to do the touch-up, you’re stuck.  I ended up using colors that were “close enough” to do the touch-ups, but the results aren’t always ideal.

Dimensions kits come with one paintbrush, and it’s a bit too thick for some of the fine detail work.  I suggest buying a few high-quality acrylic brushes in various thicknesses before you get started.

Back to the board for a moment.  Dimensions does one thing that’s really smart.  The spaces on the board for the lightest color (in this case, a bright white) are not labeled.  The purpose of this is to make it easier to use the lightest color.  After all, the light paints require several coats in order to cover the labels and the outlines.  So by leaving off the labels for the lightest spots, it’s one less thing to worry about covering up.  The problem is that no one is perfect, not even the folks at Dimensions.  They make mistakes.  Like leaving a spot un-labeled on the board.  So when you come across an unlabeled spot, you have to make sure it’s supposed to be for the lightest color, rather than a mistake.

Another problem I had is that their design did not go all the way to the edges of the board.  They stopped about an inch away from the border.  I suppose they figured that everyone would frame their pictures and cover up that last inch?  All I know is, I want my picture to go all the way to the edge, so I extrapolated.

Finally, in this particular picture, they used an all-black background.  I found this to be a bit boring.  So I added some brown shading to my background.

Other than these few issues, I enjoyed my time painting “Afternoon Nap” and am pleased with the result.  The picture looks great – just as good as the one on the box, I think.  This is a small painting – only 11 X 14, which means you can complete the project rather quickly – just a couple weeks, if you spend a couple hours at a time.

I wouldn’t think this is a great project for kids.  The spaces are extremely small, and the need to mix paints adds a level of complication.  This project is for adults with patience, and a steady hand, who don’t mind detailed work.

At a cost of around $15, this is a great kit – my napping puppy and I are very happy with it!

Here is my finished product:

puppy pbn2

 

Other paint by number kits:

Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Distelfinks
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Taj Mahal by Schipper
Wheel Of Hearts

Schipper Taj Mahal Paint By Number Kit – just takes some patience and a steady hand

Schipper Taj Mahal Paint By Number Kit

 

 

pic2

 

See it at Amazon 

(4.5/5)

Pros: With some patience and a steady hand you can have a gorgeous outcome

Cons: Only one brush provided, and not a very good one

I love tigers.  I love crafts.  When I saw the Schipper Taj Mahal Paint By Number Kit, it was a no-brainer.  A beautiful depiction of the Taj Mahal, with reflecting water, guarded by two gorgeous tigers.  How could I not buy it???

Thus, for the past 6 months, my hobby has been painting.  Well, painting-by-number, that is.  Sure, as kids you probably did craft sets of this type.  But I’m thrilled to say that thanks to brands like Schipper, the craft can now be enjoyed by adults.  Adults with steady hands and a lot of patience, that is.

This particular set is a “triptych” – that is – a 3-part set.  The small pieces on the right and left are 19.5″ tall x 8″ wide.  The large piece in the middle is the same height, but nearly 16″ wide.  Put together, it’s quite a large painting!

How many different colors do you see?  Well, there are supposed to be 42 different colors, but my painting only has 41.  Why?  Because I had some trouble with the paints.  My own fault, because I bought the kit a few months before I actually started it.  Acrylic paints are wonderful to work with – when they are fresh.  They mix easily, spread easily, can be blended, and wash off with just a touch of water.  But once they get old and dried out, they can be a pain.  As long as you catch them “in time” they can be rehydrated with water.  In my case, when I opened the kit, about half of the paints were dried out and needed rehydrating.  Luckily, most of them were able to be saved by watering, and mixing, over the course of a few days.  However, two of them were beyond help.  Basically, the paint was one gelatinous mass – think “gummy bear” – and simply wouldn’t take the water.  One of the colors was vital but I was able to substitute it with a color from another kit I had done earlier.  The replacement color being ‘close enough’.  The other color was not vital, so I simply eliminated it.  Wherever that color was called for, I simply substituted a different color.  Since this color appeared only in the sky, and there were so many different shades of blue/purple to choose from, I don’t feel my picture has suffered.

But the point I’m trying to make is – buy the kit when you know you’ll have time to work on it.  Don’t buy it then stick it in a closet for 6 months or the paints will give you trouble.  (Note: you could order replacement paints from Schipper, if you need to).

So – you’ve bought your kit, and you’re ready to go.  What do you need to know?

  • Schipper paint canisters come un-numbered.  The first thing you’ll need to do is apply little numbered stickers (provided) to the tops of the paint canisters.  Not a huge deal, but take care to number them in the correct order!

 

  • Paints work best when they’re thinned with water and a bit drippy.  So keep clean water nearby, and use toothpicks as stirrers.

 

  • Remember that the point is to cover the numbers completely as well as the lines separating the different spots.  In other words, despite your childhood memories of coloring, you’re not trying to “stay within the lines” this time; instead you need to paint over the lines.  This frequently requires multiple coats, especially with the light-colored paints.  Whites and yellows take 4 or 5 coats to completely cover the numbers and the lines.

 

  • Certain areas of the picture lend themselves to “fuzzy borders”.  By this I mean that it doesn’t much matter if the borders of the trees, skies, and fur are perfect or not.  Feel free to get loose with the brush and improvise a bit.  But other areas should be outlined perfectly, like the sides of buildings and columns.  For these areas, you want a steady hand, a slow pace, and very small paintbrush.  I even use a toothpick at times for extreme details.

 

  • Schipper provides only one paint brush, and it’s not the best quality.  You’ll want to buy a few good-quality brushes, in several different thicknesses.  Trust me, for large areas of sky, you’ll want to nice, thick brush.  But for most of the detailed work, you’ll want a thin brush, and I also use a “dotter” which is a brush with just a few small strands, great for teeny little dots of color.

 

  • The Schipper canvas is very high-quality – coated in such a way that helps deliver smooth coverage.  Just make sure you put enough paint on the brush.  You want the paint to glide over the surface.  If your brush is too dry, you won’t get a smooth finish.

 

  • Schipper provides a paper template – and this is vital.  Because once you cover a spot on the canvas, you won’t know what number it was, if you need to make corrections or provide additional coverage.  If you buy a kit that does not provide a paper template, make your own by photocopying the canvas before you get started.

 

  • My board had no errors that I noticed.  What do I mean by error – a spot with no number, a spot with an illegible number, or a spot with two numbers.  I’ve seen those types of errors before but not in this kit.  If you do find an error, just take a look at the picture on the box’s cover to try to figure out what color is called for.

 

  • Schipper does a great job with the instructions.  They come in multiple languages.  The English instructions are clear and comprehensive.  And they provide contact information in case you have any questions or run into any problems.

 

  • If you decide to purchase a paint by number kit, make sure it’s a picture you love.  It’s a lot of fun to work on a project you really like, and watch the picture “come alive” as you move forward. I am happy to report that Schipper kits come out exactly like the photo on the box cover.  So choose one you adore, and have fun!

 

Considering buying a kit for kids?  I would suggest that this particular kit might be too big, and too detailed with too many teeny tiny spots for kids.  Unless you’ve got a kid who is very patient, stick with kits designed for kids – they have much larger spots and fewer colors.

To give you some idea of the detail – take a look at this picture – it shows the middle section in progress:

 

taj_tiger_middle_half2

 

Check online before buying as the same kit will go for a wide range of prices.  This kit is  currently listed on Amazon for over $100, but I paid about $50 for it from an online crafts store.  Check places like oakridgehobbies.com and ebay before shelling out big bucks!

So how did mine come out?

taj_tiger_finished2

 

Other paint by number kits:

Afternoon Nap by Dimensions
Bengal Tiger by Schipper
Distelfinks
Japanese Garden by Bucilla
Siberian Tiger by Plaid
Wheel Of Hearts

Ouija Funds Go Here

Ouija Embossed Black Bi-Fold Wallet

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See it at Amazon 

(5/5)

Pros: Authentic Ouija product from Hasbro

Cons: I don’t think it’s genuine leather

This Ouija wallet is actually pretty nice..it’s a thin leather..(it’s Polyurethane) but it has embroidery (Embossing as well) on the front and on the back.

The inside has a Ouija card that is inside the section for photo ID’s..I thought the card was just paper..it’s not, it is actual leather stitched in. The leather feels soft and it has several compartments to fit cards pics and whatever else you want to slide in there.

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This wallet I am using for display purposes only but I did experiment with it by sliding all my cards from my real wallet..and they fit very snugly. Nothing should slip out from this wallet such as credit cards when opening it up up-side down.

download (1)

The nicest feature I liked was this is actually an official Ouija product from Hasbro.  I found that to be a very nice surprise and was unexpected upon ordering. There is also manufacturing numbers to prove the items authenticity. I am very happy with this item and I will use it to save up and store my Ouija fun money!

WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR “CHOLESTEROL” NUMBERS? CONSIDER EATING MORE EGG YOLKS!

Eggs in basket

Chicken Eggs

 

(5/5)

Pros:  My recent “science experiment” – and my doctor’s general “take” – suggest that chicken eggs (including the yolks) are unlikely to worsen “cholesterol” levels in most people. Moreover, eggs constitute a relatively affordable, low-fat source of protein and other nutrients.

Cons:  None for me.

Prefatory note: I’ve never taken any sort of “cholesterol” drug (e.g., “statin”). Also note that the “eggs” that I’ve eaten have always been of the most commonly available (not the costlier “organic”) variety in American supermarkets.

Speaking as a 60-year-old, six-foot-one, 163-pound male, I’ve got one or two health concerns (primarily some idiopathic [evidently largely genetically influenced] “foot” neuropathy that’s intermittently uncomfortable but doesn’t significantly hinder my mobility), which I’m striving to ameliorate through several means. But, on the proverbial good side, I’ve also got various things for which to be thankful – including satisfactory “cholesterol” [and normal “blood-sugar” and “blood-pressure”] numbers that make it possible for me to continue avoiding any prescription medications.

As far back as the mid-1960s, I can recall people being advised by doctors or sundry “experts” to reduce or even eliminate their consumption of eggs (not only the faultless whites but particularly the cholesterol-containing yolks) in order to improve their cholesterol numbers and cardiovascular health. In more recent years, however, advice from analogous sources has been confusingly inconsistent. But the general impression I’ve derived is that only a modest minority of the population could actually find their LDL (the so-called “bad-cholesterol”) number worsened by the consumption of “dietary” cholesterol – e.g., egg yolks.

A couple of months ago, I decided to arrange (with my doctor’s cooperation) a little “science experiment” of sorts: I would increase my longstanding consumption of egg yolks from just one per day to exactly four per day (two at lunch, and two at dinner). Then – about two months later – I would see how my borderline-healthy “cholesterol” levels responded.

Mind, I never prepare my eggs with any “cooking” oil or fat; instead, I always basically poach them. Nor do I subsequently add any “butter” (instead, I add a bit of black pepper plus perhaps a modicum of the “light” version of Kraft’s Miracle Whip.) Also, I was steadfastly careful not to change any other aspects of my daily routine – and I’m speaking not only of the “dietary” but also the “exercise” and “lifestyle” components. For I wanted to discover precisely what effect quadrupling my egg-yolk consumption would have on the following (loosely speaking) “cholesterol” numbers: LDL (“bad” cholesterol); HDL (“good” cholesterol); and triglycerides.

The following two typical “lipid-panel” tests were done via my longstanding primary-care physician’s office, which promptly sent my blood samples to a particular nearby Quest Diagnostics lab:

May 19, 2014 (after having eaten approximately one egg yolk daily for many, many months):

CHOLESTEROL TOTAL: 214

HDL-CHOLESTEROL: 85

TRIGLYCERIDES: 78

LDL-CHOLESTEROL: 113

 

July 10, 2014 (after having eaten four egg yolks daily since May 19th):

CHOLESTEROL TOTAL: 197

HDL-CHOLESTEROL: 86

TRIGLYCERIDES: 36

LDL-CHOLESTEROL: 104

Being merely an average (?!) layperson, I don’t hereby mean to postulate any scrupulously “scientific” conclusions. But I do find the above numbers intriguing; and I’m frankly more confident than ever that I myself – and presumably the majority of the population – should henceforth relish eating a reasonable daily number of whole eggs without fretting about any ostensibly bad health consequences.

Note that, for many years, I’ve pretty strictly limited my daily consumption of saturated fat. Also – somewhat more for basic “budgetary” reasons than pretentious “philosophical” ones – I’ve long eaten relatively little “meat” (much less than the average American, anyway). Instead, eggs (formerly mostly just the whites) have constituted my main source of “non-vegetarian” food. Additionally – at both lunch and dinner – I always eat a sensibly sized serving of beans (not only for supplementary protein but also for fiber to promote dietary-tract regularity); mixed “frozen” vegetables; shelled English walnuts; and about two or three tablespoons of peanut butter (always Smuckers “Creamy Natural,” which contains a smidgen of salt as its only added ingredient). [However, for some years I’ve generally eschewed bread – not because I don’t savor it, but because it always raised my bodyweight somewhat above the reportedly “ideal” level. So, I’ve alternatively learned to relish “natural” peanut putter [not to mention blueberries and chilled bananas] in much the way other folks relish ice cream or pudding. And I alternatively derive my daily “grains” with “hot,” “natural” cereal including old-fashioned oatmeal and wheat germ.]

Also, since about five months ago [when I reluctantly gave up coffee (that reportedly prevents Alzheimer’s in mice but isn’t ideal for “peripheral neuropathy” sufferers)], I’ve been eating not only the usual banana or two but also some (“frozen”) blueberries [because they reportedly prevent Alzheimer’s in rats] together with my longstanding consumption of “old-fashioned” (not “instant”) oatmeal (and/or some wheat germ and sometimes a sprinkling of ground flax seed). Note: Although my lab-determined blood-sugar numbers have long placed me in “fully normal” range, I’ve recently gone so far as to totally stop my longstanding modest consumption of “one to several” teaspoons per day of ordinary “table sugar” (on the assumption that topping my oatmeal/wheat germ not with “refined” sugar but rather a sensible amount of natural berries should be more healthful generally).

Also, I’ve continued my longstanding consumption of two to three gel capsules of pharmaceutical-grade (highly purified) fish oil daily. [This might have something to do with my above-noted “triglycerides” number remaining rather low (always within a range between about 36 and 78), but I’m not really sure.]

Incidentally, I’ve never taken any “blood-pressure” medication (my diastolic and systolic numbers have long been within “normal range,” and they’ve remained there since I’ve increased my daily consumption of whole eggs).

If you or a loved one happen to have any concerns about your daily consumption of “cholesterol” – perchance in the form of eggs – you might want to discuss this with your doctor. My doctor’s general take on “eggs“ has been, from the outset: “I think they’re good for you!”

Nobody Cares About Your Stick Figure Family!

“YOUR STICK FIGURE FAMILY WAS DELICIOUS” Decal

YOUR STICK FIGURE FAMILY Was Delicious Decal T-Rex Nobody cares about YOUR STICK FIGURE FAMILY Funny Vinyl Sticker 8"x5"See it at Amazon 

(3.5/5)

Pros: Freaking hilarious!

Cons: Difficult to put on. Sticker may stick to backing when applying.

Are you one of those people who are stuck at the lights in traffic and notice the car in front of you has a complete stick-figure family stuck to their back window, and just looking at it evokes a lump in your throat as you imagine the loving family bonds that each sweet character represents? Does it give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside to know that family loves each other so much that they feel the need to “shout it to the world?”

If so, this sticker is NOT for you. I am a hater of these warm fuzzy family stickers that depict the perfectly happy family. I am however, a lover of dinosaurs and Jurassic Park movies. What better way to celebrate a love of dinosaurs and a hatred for stick-figure families, than combining the two in bloody limb-ripping carnage?! It basically depicts a T-Rex and two raptors making short work of someone’s beloved stick-figure family in no uncertain terms. Once I found this sticker I just had to have it!

This sticker is a great way to get your point across, while not coming over as “too offensive” to those loving people who advertise their family to everyone who passes by. If you’re into dark humor, this is perfect!

Dinosaur Decal 2

This fits on any window you choose, but is most popular on the rear window. It must be placed so as not obstruct the driver’s view and not obstruct the rear-wiper (if you have one).

Amazon gives you a large picture of it to look at, making you think this sticker is absolutely HUGE, but it’s not that big at all. It is 8” wide and stands just a tick over 5”. T-Rex is about 3½” x 4” and stands out nicely on the sticker. If someone is parked close enough to the back of the car, the writing can be read easily enough but is more difficult to read farther away. I got mine for $2.75 from Amazon with free shipping. I had an Amazon Prime Membership trial so I didn’t have to make any other purchases to get free shipping on this item.

Dinosaur Decal 4

APPLYING: I did find the instructions somewhat confusing, especially when it referred to “masking tape”. This is just the blue backing. I did better when watching some YouTube videos of how to apply these properly and it was far easier to understand than the weird instructions that were included in the envelope (yes, it was delivered in a green envelope).

For best results, don’t apply when your surface window is cold. The sticker may not stick well if you do. On the other hand, don’t apply to a boiling hot window either, as it may bubble up too much. I learned through tuitorials that 55°F and over is the best temperature to apply.

Clean the window with window cleaner before applying, this goes without saying. It also goes without saying that the sticker goes on the OUTSIDE of the car, not inside like your registration sticker!

The video’s made it look easy, and were applied in mere seconds. I had a different experience. I cleaned the window, dried it then smoothed the blue backing paper out with a credit card (as instructed). This didn’t seem to do much. I carefully peeled the backing paper away and placed the sticker where I wanted it, gently smoothing the sticker on the window with a credit card, using smooth strokes, from the center to the outer edges until it was fully applied. Great, huh?

Dinosaur Decal 3

This is where I had a problem. Once I smoothed this sticker on the window, I tried to peel the clear backing from the sticker quite gently. The sticker came right up with the backing paper! Turns out the backing paper was stickier than the actual sticker.

I spent a half hour gently picking at the edges of the sticker from the backing paper and pressing them on the window, while being careful not to break it. Some of the sticker pieces were quite thin (it’s a stick-figure family after all!) I managed not to break them and just took my time as I peeled the backing off from left to right. EVERY piece of the sticker caught and came up with the backing paper, it was quite frustrating.

I ended up having more success by peeling it from top to bottom. This seemed to leave the sticker parts on the window where they were supposed to be. I ended up with a couple of small bubbles on the T-Rex, but by that stage I didn’t give a rat’s armpit. I was just glad to get it on all in one piece!

All in all I was very happy with the result. The sticker looks sharp and well-cut as you can kind of see from our car window pictures. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon picture will have you believe, but still big enough that it can be seen from the driver who had parked right up your butt at the traffic lights.

Dinosaur Decal

I wrote this review after only 24 hours of applying it to our car. So far it seems to have stuck pretty well, and I hope it stays on there without it peeling off anytime soon. I’m quite satisfied with it; I only wish the damn sticker would have stayed on the car when peeling the backing paper off like it was supposed to! I’ll dock it a star for that, and a half a star for the size. I wish it was just a bit bigger. Still, if you have a sick sense of humor like me you’ll overlook the faults and enjoy the sticker! Perhaps I just got a faulty one?

Be careful out there on the road while displaying your cheerful stick-figure family, I might just have to send T-Rex after them!

Brookpace Fine Art Manhattan Collection: James Dean In Recline

Brookpace Fine Art Manhattan Collection – James Dean With Camera – Large

77707184-5e64-4d4b-b906-2d4e3ff5830c-1See it @ Brookpace Fine Art.co.uk 

(5/5)

Pros: Great photograph of Dean.  Composition one of superb casual elegance.  Beveled mirror frame evokes best of Deco and Hollywood Regency styles.

Cons: Hey… it’s James DEAN!

Hearing opportunity knock is one of life’s great moments.  Our weekend village shop-crawl was initially fruitless – which can be preferable to when multiple bric-a-brac begs to follow you home.  Our raucous, yet respectable retail rampage led to a sullen and distressed vendor whose lease was pending expiration.  My initial assessment of the place screamed ‘gift shop’, until I turned and saw the gleaming image behind the register.

Intrigue

Even from a distance, the large, framed photograph had an ethereal composition that dominated the space. Its substantial wooden frame was lined with four rectangular slabs of beveled mirror that both reflected and refracted the room’s natural light in subtle rainbow hues.  Reclining within was a candid B&W photograph of 1950s Hollywood icon James Dean – the Marilyn Monroe of his gender.

At the moment of exposure, Dean gives the camera a penetrating stare – though not one of mirth or malice, but of vulnerable bad-boy innocence.  The depth-of-field is such that Dean himself is the only subject in focus, which adds to the photo’s impactive ambiance.  The image even offers its own Where’s Waldo moment by featuring a collection of 50s detective mysteries – including one of Gardner’s Perry Mason novels – in the bookcase behind his right shoulder.

Getting A Clue

Upon closer inspection, the only indication of its origin was a small, oval sticker in the upper-left corner of the glass.  Brookpace Fine Art, a British purveyor of ‘high quality decorative pictures’ was responsible for the sum of these formidable parts.  With a web address present, it was clear that the photograph didn’t have a lot of age, but it sure looked the part of a retro-minimalist piece in the late Hollywood Regency style.

The Manhattan Collection frames successfully combine the angular simplicity of Art Deco with the bling of Hollywood Regency.
The Manhattan Collection mirror frames successfully combine the angular simplicity of Art Deco with the elegance and bling of Hollywood Regency.

A visit to Brookpace solved the mystery.  James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn are all part of The Manhattan Collection – mirrored, hand-finished frames surrounding both candid and professional images of three American actors prominent during Hollywood’s 1950s Golden Age in decline.

A generic Hollywood category features an eclectic assortment of celebrities from Twiggy to Louis Armstrong.  Sean Connery as James Bond poses with his Aston Martin in the Cars category, while images of New York’s Chrysler building and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge span the collection’s City Architecture facet.  A total of 177 black-and-white photographs occupy seven categories – the exception being a dabble of captivating color shots of Marilyn Monroe.

Harried Haggler

After some spirited horse-trading, we settled upon the sum of $50.00 – substantially beneath the shop’s sticker-price of $300.00 (all prices US).  James and his Hollywood friends can still be found at Brookpace in various sizes, priced appropriately.  When converted from the British pound, the “Large” 24 x 32-inch (listed size – actual measure:  26-1/2 x 34-1/4) version of James Dean With Camera sells for $386.00.

Cleans Up Nicely

Throughout the process of Jimmy’s rejuvenation, I was impressed with the quality of the piece.  The wooden, satin-black frame is substantial.  Masonite is used in place of the usual cardboard backing.  A strong and secure wall-mount is necessary to support the entity’s 17 lbs. of iconic tinsel-town awesomeness – an appropriate description, once each of its elegant surfaces were restored to their original gleaming brilliance.

Brookpace_logo

Brookpace Lascelles
Unit 10, 1000 N. Circular Road
Staples Corner
London, UK

www.brookpace.co.uk

Do you believe – in art?

The Art of Edward Gordon

 

Copied, printed and published with permission from artist Edward Gordon and can be viewed along with many other works at gordongallery.com

“Can you ship this to Japan? ” the tall Oriental man asked? ” Of course” I replied. The buyer was referring to a sixteen-thousand-dollar, larger-than-life, bronze boar that he thought might look good outside his restaurant in Japan. The pig is an important symbol in Japanese culture representing bravery, gallantry, and loyalty.

I completed the sale and passed the overseas shipping nightmare on to the manager.

Whether it be in the form of wall art, statuary, or even simple hand-painted gourds, most people enjoy art in one form or another. I didn’t sell a single work but what the buyer wasn’t thrilled, and very eager to take the piece home, or to his office – and he or she knew exactly where it was going to hang, or set.

Over the years I’ve been exposed to the works of extremely talented artists. Edward Gordon, reviewed here, is one such artist. But I’ll let him introduce himself.

 

My goal is to make paintings so realistic, that viewers are drawn into the imaginary space and share in the peaceful feeling that I try and incorporate into each work. I relish the subtleties of light reflection combined with architectural details that falls somewhere between realism and surrealism. There is something mystical yet serene in the quiet light found in interior spaces, presented in harmony with the luminescent effect in the sky. ” 

Edward Gordon.

Edward Gordon was born in Ocean City, New Jersey in 1940, and received his BA from Rutgers.  He is the recipient of many awards and the subject of many feature articles including The Artists Magazine, The Artist’s Illustrated Encyclopedia, Spotlight Magazine and American Artist Magazine. His work can be seen in public and private collections in North America and Europe.

I came to know Mr. Gordon’s artwork when I worked in an art gallery in Scottsdale Az.  We didn’t represent Mr. Gordon’s work as we were primarily an impressionist gallery, however, I personally would have loved to have had his work in our gallery.

The above work is entitled Last Light, depicting the end of a crisp winter day when the snow turns that very special Maxfield Parrish blue.

The glowing Tiffany lamp warms the setting and casts a soft radiance over the reading chair and coverlet, without obscuring the beautiful star-studded night. The collection of books include “Great Plays by William Shakespeare” –  but no one will know that until you point it out.

This work is signed by the artist and is offered unframed or framed in Clear Pine, Antique Gold, Traditional Walnut, Dark Mahogany, or the framer’s choice.

All prints are Giclee ( pronounced  zhee-clay) on Somerset paper with Iris Equipois inks. Giclee is a French word for ” a spraying of ink”.  Each piece of paper is hand-mounted onto a drum, which rotates during the printing process. Exact calculations of hue, value and density are achieved by directing four million droplets of ink through the spraying nozzles producing five-hundred-twelve chromatic changes with three million colors possible.

I am told it this is a first for a review site. Gee, I hope so. I see it the same way I would a book, a bag of Dorito’s or drapes. It’s a commodity. Gordon is the ‘author’, the canvas is the ‘book’, I liked this product because. . .