Sip & Paint at SeaZen Gallery

Hi All ⊗

I recently went to a paint and sip event at SeaZen Gallery in Belmar, New Jersey, which is the town I grew up in. The art gallery opened at the end of 2014 and displays art by Jay Alders and other local artists. I brought a bottle of wine to sip while a small group of four, including myself and my mother, learned how to paint. I have to admit, I was doing better sipping than I was painting!

The event was led by Amanda, who originally painted the space mermaid we were set to paint on our own. Amanda is a talented painter who studied special effects at the Douglas Education Center and now works part time at the art gallery teaching groups how to paint. 

Amanda poses with her finished painting.                                                                                         Photo credit: Jenna Mackiewicz
  • What are some tips you would give to first time painters?

As we all nervously sat down to begin painting, Amanda reassured us not to put pressure on ourselves or worry about our lack of painting skills. Negative thoughts are always a bad way to start creative work such as when painting on canvas. Amanda gave advice to “use light brush strokes, back and forth in one direction. Make sure your brush is damp but not too wet, or else the paint will dribble down the canvas.”

  • What type of art background do you have?

Not only does Amanda teach paint and sip events at SeaZen, she also wishes to have a career in real estate but plans to focus on art right now. “I went to the Douglas Education Center in Pennsylvania for the art program. I studied special effects and even learned from Dorian Cleavenger,” said Amanda.

Dorian Cleavenger is a well-known pseudo-realism artist who has previously worked for Disney and teaches a special effects program at Douglas Education Center. Cleavenger’s artwork was included in Star Wars Art: Visions, a book of artwork including more than 100 hand-picked artists by George Lucas to celebrate the very popular Star Wars movies.

  • Have you always wanted to teach DIY painting?

I would be surprised if Amanda only taught some paint and sip events at the gallery which is possibly why I wasn’t surprised when she told me more about her previous and future careers. “I actually used to work for a blow up doll company in California, I didn’t always teach paint and sip events,” said Amanda.

Amanda also mentioned she is hopefully starting a career in real estate, which is a big jump from the art scene. She was so helpful and encouraging when it came to explaining the process and actual of painting the space mermaid. To help us even more, she drew a circle on the canvas for where our planet should be placed.

My blank canvas with wine chilled and ready to go!                                                                        Photo credit: Jenna Mackiewicz

For two hours I laughed and tried my best to follow Amanda’s instructions. I have a lot of experience with knitting and other art crafts but painting is definitely something I have next to no skill in. The important thing to remember with paint and sip events is they are purely for fun and require no painting skills.

Here is a progression of my painting, although I didn’t exactly follow directions carefully. I decided to leave out the mermaid and change the shape of a few things.

The sky and ocean were the easiest parts.                                                       Photo credit: Jenna Mackiewicz 
The final outcome                                                                                                                  Photo credit: Jenna Mackiewicz


Although I wish I could change how this painting turned out, I am still thrilled to have a real canvas piece of art I painted myself. If you haven’t participated in a paint and sip event do so immediately!



DIY Linoleum Block Printmaking

Hi All! ⊗

One of my favorite projects from my high school art class was printmaking. I loved working extra hours outside of the class time by spending the hour and fifteen minutes I had for my lunch period, eating and working, in the art room on whatever project we had that week. This guide to printmaking will be done using a linoleum block carved with a speedball carving tool, a rubber brayer and printing ink. You will basically be carving a design of your choice into a stamp (the linoleum block) that can be reused over and over again! All of these items are fairly cheap if you order on Amazon, but if you can’t wait for them to be delivered feel free to visit a local store to pick them up.

First step: Pick your design and print it out!

Any design you chose will have to fit on your linoleum block. I am using a five inch by seven inch block. I am going to use half of the block for my design. If you choose a small design, like the size of a quarter, it will save space for more designs to fit on the block.

I am not the best free hand artist so I chose to print out my design and use a pencil and pen technique to transfer the design to the linoleum block. If you are a fantastic artist, draw your design out on paper then transfer it right on to the block.

Once you have printed out or drawn your design and fit it to where you want on the block, take a pencil and shade the back side of the paper entirely. Make sure to sharpen your pencil so the graphite is dark.

The finished print will be a reversed image of your design, so be mindful of this if you have letters or numbers. Tape down your design to the linoleum. With a ball point pen, trace over the lines of your design pressing hard, but not hard enough to create a rip in the paper. Remove the paper and your design will hopefully be entirely transferred on to the linoleum. Check that all of your design has been transferred before you move on to the next step.

Unfortunately, my printer was running low on ink so I had to make some adjustments to my kitty design.

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

Second step: Carve out your design!

Using caution and a bench hook, begin to carve your design into the linoleum. Always cut away from your hands and your body. It is easy to slip and cut yourself with the sharp edges of the blade. Depending on which parts of your design you want raised, carve on or around the lines you have just transferred to the linoleum.

Always use a safe amount of pressure to carve. If your lines are too thin or too shallow, later when you apply the ink it will fill in the lines and they will not show on your print. We will do a test print later to make sure every line of the design transfers. Remember you can always come back to carve deeper into the linoleum to make a line more defined.

Use the largest blade attachment, in this case #5, to carve out large chunks at a time. Below you can see how I carved away large portions using the #5 attachment. Do not worry about having a flat surface where you have carved. The brayer will only cover the raised planes of the linoleum with ink. For the finer details in the face and corners, I used the #2 and #1 attachments.

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

Third step: Rolling and printing!

Have your ink and whatever you are printing on ready. I like to start with a piece of paper to test out my design. This way you can go back to clean up any lines that are not to your liking. Using any color ink, begin to roll your brayer into the ink.

Make sure to have an even coat on the brayer before rolling. Roll the brayer over your linoleum design, covering every part evenly. Place the block face down on to your test piece of paper and firmly press with your hands in a circular motion over the entire block. Carefully remove the block and your print will finally be done!

With printmaking, the point is to create multiple copies of your design. Each print will look a little bit different. The linoleum block is reusable so clean off the ink with soap and water when you are finished printing.

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

As with any art project done by hand, there comes a few unavoidable style mishaps. Sometimes the ink will spread unevenly over the linoleum as you apply it. The ink can be unevenly applied, a fine detail could be filled with ink if you use too much, or you may forget to reverse your image like I did the first time. You will most likely not have a perfect print each time, that is just the nature of printmaking.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below! Also, I would love to see any block prints you have made using these steps.

Infinity Scarf for Beginners

Hi All! ⊗

I recently took a trip to A.C. Moore to buy one specific item: a mason jar or two for my succulents. As always, I ended up buying more yarn than I know what to do with. I will admit it has honestly become a real spending problem. I would rather not tell you how many different colors and textures of yarn I have amassed. I found a funky, lime yellow skein of yarn by of one of my favorite brands, Bernat, on sale! How could I not buy it? Below is a simple knitted pattern for the stylish infinity scarf.

I am using a #6 super bulky yarn made by Bernat. Bernat Blanket yarn comes in a ton of solid and multi-color styles, so pick whichever you like best! Begin by casting on 25 stitches using size 11 straight needles.

First Row: K1, P1, repeat until the last stitch, K1 (repeat all rows).

Below I have knitted a couple of rows with the knit one, purl one pattern. Repeat the same pattern on both sides of the work. When working on either side of the piece, you will be knitting the purl stitches and purling the knit stitches.  This stitch pattern is one of my favorites for a scarf, besides stockinette, because it creates a thick scarf with some natural gaps between the stitches.

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

If you knit while watching a show on TV, like I do, you will often lose your place. Above you can see the difference between the knitted stitches and purled stitches. If you lose your place and forget if your next move should be to purl or knit just check if there is a bump in the stitch! No bump, move your working yarn to the front and purl. If there is a bump, simply knit the stitch.

Photo credit: Dakota Burr, for Mackieknitz

Depending on how snug to the neck you want your scarf to be, continue knitting until the scarf is about 60-70 inches long. Above I have added six rows of stockinette just to break up the pattern and give it a more interesting look. When you have reached the desired length, you may begin to cast off. Leave a tail with the yarn long enough to weave both ends of the scarf together with a large sewing needle. Make sure to twist one end of the scarf upside down to give the scarf the final infinity look.

If you have any questions or want to post a photo of your own scarf with this pattern, do so below in the comments!

Treats and Valentine’s and Ornaments, Oh My!

Hi All! ⊗

Here are some posts I found over the Internet that I think are crafty and fun. If I had the time between going to classes and doing homework I would turn my living room and kitchen into a mess doing all of them! Also, I’ve included a few links that are great do-it-yourself gifts for your special one on Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Cards

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Photo credit: A Beautiful Mess, Emma Chapman

This DIY project comes from A Beautiful Mess and just in time for Valentine’s Day. Explore the rest of the website, created by crafty sisters Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, to find a ton of amazing tips on similar DIY projects like this one! These Valentine’s Day cards were made with a few different techniques that are simple and fun. You will need a few different materials for this such as crayons, glitter, water color paint, paint brushes, and construction paper. This project may get messy, so be sure to protect anything you don’t want paint, glue, or glitter on.


Himmeli Ornament

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Photo credit: Vintage Revivals

This traditional Finnish and Swedish Christmas ornament is one of the easiest and most aesthetically pleasing projects I’ve seen in a long time! My apartment is always in need of another way to make it seem less drab, so when I found this on Vintage Revivals I had to share it with all of you. This ornament can be completely customized with bright colors and your own designs to complete any room.


Sweet Treats

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Photo credit: Happy Brown House, Sara McClure

If you’re like me, one of your favorite things to do is bake sweet treats. I am a big fan of Oreo’s and this recipe  from Sara McClure’s blog, Happy Brown House, is perfect for Valentine’s Day treats.  You will need a few items such as Oreo’s, candy melts, sprinkles, and parchment paper. Your special one will love the gift of eating these delicious homemade treats!


Homemade Chalk

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Photo credit: Sweet Paul

Take a trip back to your childhood summers by going out and tagging the sidewalk with some of your own street art! My mother always thought sidewalk chalk was too messy and never allowed it in the house when I was a kid, so now that I’m a junior in college with my own apartment I can have all the chalk I want. Mwuahaha! You will need a few things found in most homes but also some extra things from the store. Check out the full list at the source, Sweet Paul.


Braided Bracelet

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Photo credit: Honestly WTF

Put your macrame skills to the test with this hexagon nut braided bracelet! Some of the bracelets and necklaces I see in popular boutiques are made of cheap material and way too expensive. I love DIY jewelry but it can be difficult to braid and add beads, or in this case hexagon nuts, at the same time. With enough practice anything can become second nature, so don’t get upset if your project doesn’t look exactly as this one from Honestly WTF.


Hi all! ⊗

After a difficult time of figuring out how to navigate this site, I’m able to finally create a post to introduce myself. Hoorah! Being an English major, I am not as tech savvy as most of my classmates who are journalism majors so bare with me!

Last year, I decided to work towards adding a minor to my studies and after some research of the programs I chose journalism. A lot of the skills I have learned from three years of English classes at Rowan University have helped me in my journalism classes… Until I had to create this blog. At the first mention of html I knew I was out of my depth.

One of my favorite things to do in my free time is knit! This usually gets a few weird looks from those who assume knitting is usually an interest of grandmothers. “Do-it-yourself” projects are not only fun and rewarding but are inexpensive. Especially when you have to decide whether to spend your last 5 dollars on lunch or yet another set of double pointed needles because your friends dog used the last pair as a chew toy (thanks, Delilah). 

In the next few weeks, I will be posting tips and projects for beginners as well as those who already know the basics. Possibly including the occasional post of funny or cute things, not always related to knitting, I find over the Internet. I will also be sharing how to create the projects I am currently working on such as the simple beginners scarf and hat I finished recently (See selfie below).                                                                                                             IMG_4048

A lot of links to Rowan and public events in the local area for DIY projects will be soon to come!