Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More Fun at the DIYBangles Booth

I wanted the ladies to get a chance to try multiple techniques on their bangles. This photo was taken on the second day of the show, and we were rolling inked bangles across stretched rubber bands, creating a madris plaid in a rainbow of colors. Lots of fun, especially when I let them use a pencil eraser to stamp matching polka dots in and around the stamped lines.
We even had a visit from the Diva, who brought her own bag of unmounted rubber stamps and graciously shared them with her neighbor. Plus, I got a bag of my own to keep. Now how fabulous is that!?
This photo was taken on the first day. I had used my Big Kick to cut out die-cuts of flowers using shelf liner, creating stickers. The ladies inked their bangles with one shade of Distress ink, added the flower stickers, and inked with a second color of ink. When they peeled off the flowers, they'd created a lovely floral bangle, and we added flower centers with my polka dot stamp from my own line of rubber stamps.
It didn't matter which technique we offered, we always had a crowd. Everyone was sent home with a tube of Diamond Glaze from JudiKins, so they could seal their bangles in their hotel rooms. My trick for this: glaze the outside first and hang it on the doorknob of the closet door. When dry, glaze the inside and edges and sit it on a table to finish drying. So simple, but wow, how the color intensifies after that glaze has been added. You can also seal them with Glossy Accents from Ranger, or Crystal Lacquer. The glaze seals & protects your inks and your stamped images.
Notice the finials in the foreground...these are finished bangles I packed and carried to the show for display. So many little time.

DIYBangles @ CHA - Part 1

Give a group of women (and a man or two) their choice of Ranger Distress ink pads and you never know what color they'll choose.
Show them how to roll the inked bangle over stretched rubber bands and they'll squeal with delight at the emerging pattern.
Warn them they're gonna have inky fingers and they never believe you.
But my oh my, how they love the finished product, inky fingers and all. Jay was a good sport, letting us take his photo while he created a bangle with all the ladies. And a fine job he did with it too!
Slice was giving away aprons in their booth on the other side of the convention center from us, yet traffic continued to move throughout the week. Maybe next time we should award prizes if they wear the item they make in our booth! Now there's a thought worth remembering.

Chicago in the Summertime

What a skyline! What heat! What humidity!! One late afternoon/early evening we passed a wedding party on the sidewalk in front of a park. I said it then and I'll repeat it now, I wouldn't have married Brad Pitt outdoors in that sweltering heat!
Vijay took us out to dinner every night, treating us to some of the best restaurants in town, where we enjoyed steak at Ram's that had been marinated in beer (can you believe it) to Italian (at Romano's I think) with portions large enough for two. Vijay dined on entrees that included lots of rice and pasta, but we girls enjoyed everything in sight. including dessert!
On our last night, after tearing down the booth and packing everything up to be shipped home, we ventured over to Navy Pier. Kelly had never been to Chicago, so we had to take her downtown where she shot all these fabulous photos. THANK YOU KELLY!! There was actually a breeze blowing so we dined in the little sidewalk cafe at Be Bop's and then walked to the end of the pier to be entertained by a live band and a group of people doing line dancing. What a great way to finish off a busy week. Vijay drove us over to the Shedd Auditorium where they filmed Night in the Museum with Ben Stiller, and from that side of the city the views were just incredible.
It was a lovely trip...seeing Vijay again, and meeting Kelly, his invaluable assistant for the first time, who flew in with him from Portland. Meeting Marilyn, a local lady who helped out in the booth with sales, and Becky, who led make & takes of earrings for 2 days with our new line of beads.
Lots more to share, including photos...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's Later Than You Think

If you know me well, you know I procrastinate...often, consistently, and I'm really good at it. The end result is that I lose a lot of sleep but I truly do some of my best work as the clock ticks down.

Last night when the last of the gals left the studio, my work began. It's easy enough to throw clothes in a suitcase, but packaging fragile bangles is different. They need to be wrapped and cushioned, tucked back in their boxes, and prepared to survive airline baggage handlers on their trip to Chicago.

Next comes packing of inks & reinkers; my wonderful impressed Penscore stamps as opposed to the wood mounted variety that weigh more and therefore cost more to take along; mesh, sequin waste, & dry-wall tape; studio washclothes (you wouldn't understand if you haven't played in my studio or classes); paper to protect table covers in the booth; and so much more.

Have I actually packed my suitcase? Nope.

Do I know where my carry-on bag is? Nope. Can't even remember if I finished unpacking it from my trip to Orlando 2 weeks ago.

Did I get to bed before 2am? Just barely.

Am I feeling anxious or nervous? Not in the least.

I'm excited to be going to CHA. I'm excited to unveil my new bracelet designs and lead make & take projects showing store owners how to decorate them for classes. I'm looking forward to my free time on the show floor to see all the new ideas and products now on the market. And I'm excited at the prospect of running into old friends like MaryJo McGraw and Tim Holtz. MaryJo has been such a mentor to me over the years, encouraging me and guiding my career, trying her best to turn me into a business woman and not just another artist. And Tim, dear, dear Tim, who starts laughing and joking as soon as he sees me, never failing to show me a new trick or two or ten. And I've got to visit my friend Robin Beam who's demoing for not one, but two vendors this year.Who am I forgetting?

Did I pack my express passes for picking up my badges and class tickets? Yikes! I forgot to print my boarding passes, but I've done that now. I'm packing the cameras and praying that I remember to use them!

And now I'm signing off til I return home on the 21st. Keep stamping. Be creative. And come back to see me next week!

Bangles + Friends = FABULOUS FUN!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I've got some really talented and amazing friends in my stamp club. Everyone had such a good time last night, and as usual, I had more fun than anyone.

When it came time for show & tell I started pulling out all these finished bangles, looking for honest assessment, and of course I got it. Some people like color on the inside of the bangle; some don't. Some like it on the edges; some don't. Trust me, if you ever work as a designer, involve all your artistic friends! They know what works and what doesn't, and after months working on bangles, you tend to lose sight of a specific design because your studio is filled with too many options. Translation: the more I looked at some of them, the more I grew to question what I was thinking when I made them. So passing them around a table with 8 very creative, artsy gals touching and turning and truly examining them, you get valuable feedback.

I could do a MasterCard commercial!

Cleaning the studio to prepare for guests: Zero Dollars

Passing around your artwork for one and all to see: Zero Dollars

Finding out which bangles are going to CHA: Priceless!!

And now for the really funny part of last night's fun... We decided which bangle should be a make & take at the show and yes, everyone was willing to get inky and give it a try. Sizes were selected, ink colors were chosen, and in less than 2 minutes they were finished. And there I stand, with my mouth open, thinking that went really fast. Which is good for a make & take if you've got a crowd, or even if you're trying to attract one.

So I asked if they'd mind doing a different technique, and of course everyone's willing, so they grab a second bangle, and select 2 colors of ink. Now this is what makes these gals priceless: they're anxious to experiment and try their own ideas, even if the end result is less than what they hoped, or in some cases, far better than I imagined. These are not "cookie cutter" gals who mimic what the next person is doing. No Way! They play designer and just like me, they're getting inky and having fun doing it. Now this one took far longer to complete. Doesn't mean it was a bad thing, or that it can't be done as a make & take; just means it's best to do when things are slow in the booth.

I'm kicking myself today for not taking pictures last night. I wish all of you could've seen the fun we were having. It was like one of my guinea pig classes where students are subjected to a mock class and I'm pleased to announce that everyone made me proud and left with 2 bangles.

My plan for next month's meeting is to share something I learned at CHA in someone else's make & take. Now doesn't that sound exciting?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So much to do, little time...

I'm expecting a crowd tonight for stamp club and the studio is pretty much ready. Tonight's project is what else...bangle bracelets! I've narrowed down my make & take at CHA to a choice of about 5 techniques, and tonight the lucky ladies of STARS are going to help me decide which two will be the winners.

Of course I haven't finished packing for my trip tomorrow to Chicago, so that's got to be finished tonight for sure. Last night I wrapped my linen blouses in tissue paper and tucked them inside dry cleaner bags to help with the wrinkling, but toiletries, shoes, curling irons, etc still need to be used again before they can go in the bag.

Each of my decorated bangles needs to be packaged carefully to avoid damage in transit. Do I try to carry them all in my carry-on bag? I don't think they'd fit, but I suppose I could try that. Tuck in my toothbrush, and my journal, and my pj's, and at least one change of clothes. I sure learned the hard way that luggage can be lost...for 3 days in fact! What a nightmare that was to be hired by Just For Fun to do the make & take at Winter CHA in Vegas, only to have my clothes, toiletries, and art supplies lost somewhere between NC and NV for 3 full days and nights.

I'm flying American and get to check one bag at no charge, plus my carry-on, so I could manage with a fairly small bag. But what about all the goodies I'll be bringing back from the show? Gotta take a big bag for all that loot.

Have you noticed that black luggage is the most popular? A few years ago I used my Ranger Acrylic Dabbers to add polka dots to my luggage, making it easy to spot, but now those bags are tattered and worn to the point that I'm not confident the contents would arrive unharmed. Last month I purchased these bright green luggage tags, knowing I'd recognize my bags right away. Only one made it back home. Well, actually, only one made it back home on my bags. But I watched a guy grab his black bag off the carousel and I swear it had my green tag attached to it. Yes, I got both my bags with my contents inside, but I'm telling you, one of my tags found a new home.

I watch all those bags riding around on the carousel with ribbons &lace, string & tape, all sorts of things their owners will recognize. But I worry those dangling ribbons will tangle in the mechanism on the conveyor belt and mine will be stuck, never to be seen again. I hate to paint on my brand new set of American Tourister luggage, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Do you
collect buttons? Doesn't everyone? My mother gave me a jar of buttons and then continued to add to my collection over the years, so I admit I'm a real fan of those colorful little orbs and love to dig through bowls of them from time to time.

If you've got a bag, box, jar, bowl, or drawer full of buttons why not play with them? Check out these fabulous little button flowers for a little inspiration. Want a few more ideas? Add buttons to the center of silk or paper flowers; decorate the cover of a journal; stitch a few on a ribbon bookmark; make a doll or ornament with buttons.

Think like a kid and have some fun!

Summertime Sweets

I'm not sure why, but summertime makes me think of candy. Two of the ladies who took my Gypsy Pendant class at Stampfest gave me a gift bag as a thank you. Inside was a card, a container of trail mix, and a lovely little gift box of salt water taffy. Half was lemon (divine) and the other half was the color of watermelon (green & pink). I saved those for last, thinking they wouldn't be my favorites, but was I ever wrong!!

Do you remember eating BB Bats & Kits when you were little? I'd walk home from school everyday in the Five Points area of Raleigh, stopping at the Northside Drugstore, where I'd spend my change from lunch on those 2 candies. My favorites were strawberry and banana, but chocolate would do in a pinch. And that taffy tasted EXACTLY like those little Kits, which is making me want some right now!

Find a little mom & pop store and look for those old penny candies. No doubt they'll cost more than a penny now, but hey, they're worth it!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Oh Goody! Goodies from Clearsnap

The long weekend has come and gone. I had my hot dogs and watermelon, plus a couple of popsicles for good measure. Now it's time to put the finishing touches on lots of projects.

Over the weekend I decorated more bangles for my upcoming article in the Decorative Painter magazine. My deadline is July 31st, so I've been busy with those and think I've narrowed it down to a few favorites.

I also received a big box of supplies from Clearsnap while I was in Orlando, so this weekend I spread those out and began to play around with some of their new products. These were sent to me for a teaching gig at the end of September in Cleveland, but once I saw those Crafter's Ink pads I had to test them on my wooden bangles. Sure enough, they're fabulous!!! And they've got a stylus tool with foam stamp tips in polka dots, squares, circles, etc that are too much fun! I shouldn't have any trouble designing some projects using all these new toys.
I wish all of you could come play in the studio for the next week. That's where I'll be, covered in ink & paint, with stencils, cheesecloth, rubber stamps and more scattered on every flat surface.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th of July!!

Holiday weekends are such fun, aren't they? I've got the burger patties made, the hot dogs and buns, the fries & chips, and I've even got a seedless watermelon chilling. Haven't bought any sparklers but I'm sure we'll sit on the back deck and watch fireworks along with everyone else in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, there are suitcases to be unpacked from my trip to Orlando, bangles to be completed for my upcoming trip to Chicago, and lots of general fun to be had in the studio.

I'm pulling out the paints, inks, pencils, crayons, watercolors, & more so expect to see a riot of color in the next few days as new photos are posted.

I got the new issue of Somerset Life yesterday and so far I've only taken the time to flip pages. But I must tell you, it's so inspiring! Can't wait to sit down with my post-it flags and my journal, making notes of things I want to try...things I'd like to see displayed in my studio...stashes that are tucked away in drawers need to be shown the light of day so they can find their way into my artwork.

Don't you just love it when art calls out your name loudly? I can hear it calling me now!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Cross Structure Book

I know those photos of the fabric persona journal are fabulous, but just look at this glorious book I made in the Albie Smith class. I've photographed the spine first to show off my beading, and the flash shows off the true colors of the book. In the subsequent photos you're seeing the signature covers which are decorated with stencils and stamps. I think it's just amazing that using 4 colors I have pages with such a variety of hues. And the signature pages themselves are individual works of art, with more color and pattern.

A wonderful class. A wonderful instructor. So glad I made the trip to Art & Soul in VA this year.

My Fabric Persona Book

As promised days ago, here's my dazzling book made in the Keely Barham class at Art & Soul in May. Pay particular attention to the doll on the cover; you'll see all the beads added along the right side to hide my dreadful stitches. The most fun was adding all the embellishments to the book, both front & back covers as well as on the doll itself. Fun, fun class.

We were told to bring buttons & embellishments so the word beads and skate key turned out to be perfect. And did you notice the 2 buttons that look like little red pencils? Now how fabulous are they? A gift from my mother ages ago when she passed along her button collection to me.

I still haven't pulled out the new sewing machine. Too much travel & teaching on my itinerary, but I'll get to it and surprise you by offering a class on this journal with my very own twist.