Friday, October 31, 2008
I'm worried, as I do every year, that we don't have enough candy. We do of course, but what if I were to run out? So I'm forced to go buy another bag today, hopefully Smarties, since they're my favorites. Once all the Butterfingers and 3 Muskateers are gone, I'll start with the Smarties. That way I'm guaranteed to have candy leftover that I actually like.
We never did carve a pumpkin this year, but I've got my electric pumpkin on legs that looks like a spider on the porch along a few other decorations. Our skeleton normally hangs on a spring from the gutter so that it dangles, bobs & weaves in the wind. Right now it's hanging from the porch light right in the middle where everyone's gonna hit it, so that will be remedied shortly.
Yesterday a tiny neighbor asked if I'd be giving away toys again this year along with the candy. Of course I said; are you coming over? Big grins, and oh yes followed in a high squeaky voice. Some of you know that I buy a kid's meal for lunch and save the toys all year long for Halloween. I pull out the big wicker trunk and let them rummage through, choosing their own treat. But this year I've had few lunches out and the toy chest is frightfully shallow. I hate the thought of disappointing my little ghouls and goblins. Last year I had a tiny tot arrive really early with Dad who said "my wife and daughter say you have toys and that you were to be our first stop". Very funny. So if you're eating lunch out for the next 12 months, consider a kid's meal and start saving your stash.
Mini Cooper and Mercedes, our new Scottie puppies, were spayed this morning. The vet called moments ago to say they're in recovery, side by side, so they'll awaken to see one another. Now how sweet is that? I must say, they're not Duffy, and we suspected as much. But I highly recommend buying 2 puppies instead of one. They entertain one another all day and all night and it's like watching kittens to see those little nuts together. Mercedes takes after me and would rather sleep than breathe. At any hour of the day or night you can put her on the couch and within seconds she literally collapses onto her side to snooze. Mini prefers never to sleep, always sitting up, or climbing over her sister, or biting her sister, or whatever is required to make her play. The vet is worried that they'll only want to sleep tonight and the doorbell might be bothersome, so maybe I'll send them to the second floor family room with dad since you can't hear the bell up there.
Which reminds me. When we bought our house 6 years ago the second floor was completely unfinished. Within 6 months it was complete but we never thought about the doorbell. And here we are, 6 years later, and I continue to forget. Need to put that on the honey-do list.
November is blogging month and I've been challenged to post every single day. I'm wondering if I'm up to the challenge, but thinking I might give it a try. It may be ramblings and photos rather than crafting, but we'll see. I've already got a few ideas and can't wait for tomorrow.
I'm glad the weather's mild so my little trick-or-treaters will be out and about. Gotta get the camera ready because I tell you, some of them are just too precious. Did I mention this is my absolute FAVORITE holiday of the year? Love, love, love it. Gotta look for another bag of candy corn today. The 2 bags I bought went pretty fast and the 2 I got for my birthday went even faster.
Tomorrow is a big day with places to go and people to see. One of my candidates is in town and I've got my tickets and can't wait to stand in line for a few hours. But first there's a baby I've got to go see. It's the first of the month which means new magazines on the shelves so a trip to the bookstores is on my to-do list as well.
And may I just say, if you love a good read, I can't say enough incredible things about The Last Girls by Lee Smith. I thought her book Fair and Tender Ladies was as good as it gets, but the second one was even better. Now I can't wait to get back to the library and check out another...and another...and another.
Better start my to-do list now. Come back tomorrow, won't you?
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Now they're making a comeback in magazines and even in books. If you've reached that age where a pair of reading glasses is hanging around your neck, why not wrap some of your handmade beads on the lanyard and dress it up a bit?
Today I'm sharing just the basics with you, but you'll find oodles of possibilities once you get started.
If you've been trying your hand at my background assignment, surely you've had a large piece of scrap paper on your work surface. The above photo shows a couple of the pieces I had from 2 different work tables. First look at the bottom piece that has lots of white still visible. Now look at the top sheet. It began much the same so I simply used my stylus tool tips and sponges already inked to fill in as much of the white as possible. Then I took one of stamps made with Penscore, inked it with Wild Plum and overstamped, giving it even more personality.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I've been to the NC State Fair, which was wonderful, though our feet were killing us by the time we left. Far too much walking, especially since we rushed into Gate 8 and all but ran to Gate 9 just 4 minutes before the pig racing began. The crowd had overflowed the bleechers so we could barely see them leave the starting gates, and in less than one minute it was over, the pigs were eating their cheese doodles, and we were off in a new direction. I was able to pick up another political sign for my yard and wore so many stickers on my shirt that a local TV station interviewed me. Yikes! And me with this dreadful haircut!!
We spent a few hours this past weekend at Mom's, celebrating both my birthday and my little brother's. Birthday cake, turkey & dressing, just too much to mention. And I'd brought my Pokeno game so we spent a couple of hours playing that, with lots of laughs. What a great way to spend a late afternoon/early evening. And my son won the big pot so he was pleased as punch.
As for studio time, I've been working on bangles for weeks and I'm not happy with any of them, but I have to pick out the ones I can live with and get them shipped to the West Coast pronto!
I've also been playing around with the assignment I posted for you over a week ago, so let's look at a few photos while I tell you what I've done up to this point.
This first photo is a finished piece...a time card which is heavy like a manila folder with red print. There are more photos further down of different pieces, but this is to give you an idea of where the assignment might have taken you.
First came direct-to-paper with dye inks, followed by a foam stamp & Ranger's Dabbers, which are acrylic paints that dry to a chalky feel. My third step was stenciling with white, followed by stenciling in a different direction with a different stencil in gold. Then I used a flower stencil and went back to my blue ink, and finally stamped a swirl in the green ink.
Lots of layers on this piece, but I was having fun and experimenting, just as you're meant to do.
My suggestion was to assemble a variety of papers, so the above photo shows mine: a small section of a state map, a strip from an old ledger book, the time card, a page from an Asian text book, a piece of the sports section from the local paper, a piece from an Asian newspaper, and a piece of sheet music. These were inked & stenciled in a variety of ways.
Friday, October 17, 2008
The best part for me was digging through all the backgrounds I've accumulated, trying to color coordinate the different elements of the pages. Then I got to choose the stamps I wanted to use and you know how I love shopping through all my images.
Of course I wound up with a stack of "favorite" backgrounds, and then I began stamping lots of images on them. So when assembly of the little pages started, I had far too much to choose from, so I decided I'd make two. And so it went. Why it was like eating potato chips...you can't stop with just one.
And the biggest surprise of all: I mailed the one with the least amount of stamping! Me, a stamper of 28 years! What's up with that? Of course I used inked backgrounds, and that counts, yet it was a shock to my system.
When you look at the photo above I'm sure you'll recognize one of the ATC's I posted yesterday has now become the roof of my house. I just loved the way I was able to find a perfect use for it. The body of the house is a sheet of ledger paper dated back to the late 1800's. Everyone is always shocked that I rip them out of the book, slather them with ink, and cut or tear them into bits. But they speak to me when I've played with them far more than they ever could if left in that old leather book.
When I began this little page I thought of this as the front, but who knows what the recipient will decide once it's in her hands. The little strips running along the right-hand side make me think of ticker tape tossed at parades. I bought 2 boxes of these strips at Art & Soul and I continue to find numerous ways to incorporate them into my work. On these two, I added crystals between the words for a little bling. And those of you who've taken what I lovingly call my Motherboard classes over the last few years will surely recognize that the houses on both sides of this page were created using that technique.
Now I have an assignment for you. This weekend, or next week, when you find time to play, I hope you'll make lots of backgrounds. Start with 3 colors of ink or paint and do several small pieces. Now remove one color and replace it with another. Everything changes as you lay them out side by side. Remove another color and replace it with a new one, and again, make several small pieces. Continue making them, but keep at least one of the original colors from your palette throughout this exercise.
Once you've got lots of backgrounds created using only ink, let's begin the transformation. Use some of the Ranger Dabbers with foam stamps. Introduce white or gold acrylic paint with stencils. Go back and apply one of your original inks using mesh.
Make at least a dozen background pieces, but two dozen would be far better. Use white cardstock, sheet music, pages torn from yesterday's newspaper, the menu from the local take-away restaurant, a receipt from the bottom of your purse, an old to-do list page you've dug out of the trash, envelopes from your junk mail. Simply look for surfaces that can be inked and use what you have on hand.
Collect all these "finished" pieces in a sheet protector, manila folder, large envelope, or a plastic storage container. Label it and everytime you have a few minutes to play, create more to add to your stash. Next week I'll reveal some of mine and then over the coming weeks, I'll give you new exercises for using them in your art.
It's time to play! Start gathering your papers, select your inks, dig through your stencils and other pattern-making supplies. The fun is about to begin.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
But I wanted to share a technique I've been playing with for a couple of weeks now. I began this as a background for ATC's, but I'll let you in on a secret. I've used my ATC-sized pieces on a journal page for a Row House Skinny page online swap, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. More on that another day.
For today's play you'll need glossy white cardstock, dye-based inks, stylus tools & tips or sponges, Penscore, pattern making supplies (listed below), rubber stamps and black ink. Optional items include a resist ink, bold image rubber stamps, and black cardstock.
The above photo shows my Colorbox Stylus tools and tips which I used for the direct-to-paper. If you're not fortunate enough to own these, cosmetic wedge sponges will work but it'll require some extra effort around curvy lines. You'll see my Penscore which has already been heated and pressed onto rubber stamps. I used a lot of different pieces and patterns for these little works of art. Just love this stuff! And you'll see a collection of bold image rubber stamps from Printworks and Stampers Anonymous. When I buy images like this people always wonder what I'm thinking, and I can't begin to tell you how versatile these are, or how useful they've been over the years in a variety of projects.
Above are 4 ATC-sized pieces of glossy white cardstock, stamped with Ancient Page Coal Black ink. Any permanent black ink will work. My goal here was to divide my work surface. I'll tell you a funny story about this. We did a little play with these very cards as my make & take at the Gary Burlin trade show. What I noticed was that how I had the stacks of pre-stamped cardstock laid out on the table was how the ladies chose to decorate them. Meaning if I had them turned vertically, with the pattern stamped along the left side, that's the way they inked them. And if I had them turned so that the stamped border went across the top, they left it in that position. I suggest you experiment a little. Stamp images running vertically and horizontally, making several base cards at once. When you're ready to proceed, do each one turned in a different direction and see which you like the best.
This photo shows one of the cards where both pieces of Penscore had been pressed into clay texture plates. These are very thin plastic sheets meant to be run through a pasta machine with your clay to impress the pattern. But I'll use anything with texture on my Penscore, with great results everytime.
The lower half of this card was stamped with Penscore that had been pressed onto a rubber stamp. It gives me a reverse image of the stamp and it's a favorite.
When I'm shopping for stamps, I'm drawn first to bold images because 99% of my stamping is to create backgrounds. The green portion of this card is a perfect example of why I love those bold images. I didn't buy this stamp to use for stamping. Instead I knew immediately that it would give me a reverse image on my Penscore for lots of drama. And I think I was right.
For this card I stuck with the blue and green inks, even stamping the word Imagine in blue rather than black.
For this card I wanted to showcase the resist pattern so I inked my bold images with the resist ink, used blue for the direct-to-paper, and then overstamped in blue on the lower half of the card using the same images of circle & dots, choosing to stamp the expression on the smaller border at the top.
I highly recommend keeping a supply of glossy white cardstock on hand at all times. Most people think it's for resist techniques only, but it's actually my preference for any direct-to-paper play.
Experiment with color combinations. You might discover your very own "pink".
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This is the first year I can remember that the State Fair wasn't already in progress on my actual birthday. Instead it's starting later this week. As a small child I thought the fair came just for my birthday. Seriously. It was as though the merry-go-round and the swings, the ferris wheel and the funhouse were all part of my big celebration. And if that weren't enough, every year the leaves on the trees began to change color just for me. Funny how our view of life changes with age, isn't it?
I can remember the year my mother had a cake made for me with a doll in the center. The entire cake looked like her gown with ruffles and bows, and that pretty doll sticking up in the center. But now I can't remember if the doll had red hair or blonde and it's making me crazy that my memories are fading away. When I was little my hair was a beautiful shade of red called strawberry blonde. Over the years the red pigment turned to blonde and it's now changing over to white. Thank goodness the blonde hairs still outnumber the white ones!! I don't ever plan to color my hair, so when the blonde is gone, it's gone. But there are days I find old photos of my family when I was little and I look in wonder at that gorgeous red hair and remember how I hated it growing up. I couldn't wear pink and all the other little girls wore it constantly. On me it was just frightful. So instead our photo album shows me in lots of yellow while my little sister wore the pink.
I'm thinking that's exactly why I don't use pink in my art. I love yellow, orange & red, or yellow, aqua & teal. But not pink and not true blue. Earlier this year I took at class at Art & Soul with Traci Bautista and loved all the pink she used. So I mixed my white and red acrylic paints and used pink on every single page of the journal I created. And I'll tell you a secret...I love that pink! I never used it before and I haven't used it since, but now I know the possibilities exist.
One year my mother let me have a huge party for my birthday, inviting over about a dozen girlfriends who were staying overnight. I remember my mother brought in a huge washtub filled with water so we could bob for apples. I was wearing a boy's white shirt (probably my big brother's) with the long tails outside my yellow shorts, and mascara, probably for the first time. Everyone was dressed up as a sort of early Halloween/birthday party. Kathy Davis pushed my head right under the water when I went for an apple and I'd never been so furious with anyone in all my life. And the strange thing is, I don't remember another thing about that party. Just lots of decorations strung throughout the house and that big washtub of apples in the purple den. I don't know what my mother was thinking when she painted that room, but I can still see that color on the walls.
My bedroom was on the second and ran almost the full length of the house, from the front going 2/3 of the way to the back. My older brother's room was at the very back of the house overlooking the apple tree. I wanted a yellow room, and my mother painted it the exact shade of yellow I now have in my studio. I can still remember when she dyed all my throw rugs, bedding, etc in the washing machine with Rit Dye in the brightest orange you've ever seen. Again, she was showing me that anything is possible and I believe it to this day.
My second phone call of the day was my mother and step-father, both on the phone, singing Happy Birthday in unison, and carrying quite a lovely tune as I laughed out loud. My third call of the day was to my 87 year old mother-in-law, who shares the same birthday as me. What are the chances of that? I told her we were birthday twins which made her laugh. She went out to lunch yesterday at the country club with some of the "girls" she used to work with at the courthouse. Today she was going out to lunch again and tomorrow it's off to the hairdressers and the doctor for a cortizone shot in her knee. I'm penciled in on her social calendar for Sunday, which means lunch at her favorite restaurant in the Holiday Inn, and back to her apartment to cut her birthday cake, assuming she'll share. I'm not joking when I tell you I've baked many a cake and she's let us start for home without offering to cut them. Forgetful? Or maybe wanting it all for herself? Who knows.
As for me, I have no special plans today. I'd like to watch last night's Dancing with the Stars results show and see who was sent home. And I still haven't watched CSI but I'm pretty sure poor Warrick is dead and gone, so that hardly seems appropriate for birthday viewing. Instead I'll do as I did last night and continue reading my library book by NC author Lee Smith. It's a book of letters written by a young girl born near the turn of the century and I'm intriqued by each and every one of them.
When I think back to my early childhood I remember visiting my mother's parents in a house with no indoor plumbing. We went out in the yard to pump water or to the outhouse to use the bathroom, and I can still see the old wringer washer in an outbuilding where they did the laundry. My mother used to tell us stories of sleeping 3 to a bed, and waking to find frost on the quilts where it had blown through the cracks in the walls during the night. Can you even imagine?
So I read this book and marvel at how the world has changed, and how it continues to do so. We take so much for granted in our lives. Generations come and go, telling their stories, leaving pieces of themselves behind. Will my son remember the funny stories my mother tells? Or the stories that I tell?
If I were going to have cake tonight, which I'm not, there would be another candle on it. But I've lived and experienced so much in the last 12 months that the addition of a single candle couldn't possibly sum it up to my satisfaction. I've got about 5 rubber stamps of birthday candles with stripes and dots and different patterns. I might just stamp a few of those on a page of my journal to mark this occasion and make notes of all the changes I can remember, like using pink in my art for the very first time. It doesn't mean you're going to see me wearing pink EVER, but you might see it on paper or canvas because I feel it marks the turning of a page in my life.
We're all artists and storytellers in our own way, leaving our mark on this earth. Years from now when I'm gone will something from my studio turn up in an antique store? Everytime I buy old photos to use in my art I'm amazed that families let these go with the "junk" of estate sales, as though they have no value. I think of my own mother with one school photo of herself as a child, which she still hasn't found by the way.
If you've never kept a journal, perhaps its time to start one. Write down your funny stories, your secrets, your memories. Go through your boxes of family photos and identify everyone on the back with a photosafe pen or pencil. Future generations will thank you for it. Share your talent with a child, whether one in your family or one living next door. Carry a pad of paper and some crayons in your purse. You never know when you'll have a few minutes to play. Fold paper and cut out a chain of paper dolls. Start saving your scraps of cardstock to make paper chains. Write a letter and send it through the mail. Do something today because you can and consider it a gift to me.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The first photo here is a cover I made Saturday for another of the 5x8 legal pads. But if you're not interested in covering note pads, try some of these techniques and make a totally different project. Click on the photo to enlarge it and really look at the detail. I've used lots of things and I'm still not sure it's finished.
Let's begin with a list of supplies you'll need for this. Feel free to substitute your favorites for anything not readily available in your studio. I've got mirror board, but aluminum flashing tape adhered to cardstock will also work, my Xyron & Sizzix Big Kick, a Cuttlebug embossing folder, alcohol inks, a tablet, white card stock cut to fit as the cover, scrapbook paper, stickers, wrapping paper, expoxy word stickers, Design Adhesives, variegated leafing, Perfect Pearls & tiny wand, a button and some Weldbond adhesive or any glue that will hold a button and dry clear.
Perhaps you've seen mirror board in your craft store. I know AC Moore carries it on the aisle with construction paper, poster board & origami paper, just over from the scrapbook section. If you don't have this, but you do have a roll of aluminum flashing tape, simply adhere some to cardstock of any color. If you're looking for this tape in Home Depot, check the roofing aisle near the actual rolls of flashing. Do NOT let them steer you to plumbing. Wrong tape. If you have a Harbor Freight nearby, it's packaged 3 rolls of 3" width for far less than you'll find one 2" roll at Home Depot. Sorry guys, I love your store, but I save all those extra dollars to purchase rubber stamps. It's a rule!
I've cut the mirror board into rectangles that will fit the embossing folder. I think this one is called Pebbles. Simply sandwich it inside the folder, sandwich it on your Sizzix and run it through to impress the texture.
I've used a punch and created numerous flowers for upcoming projects. I like these just as they are in silver, but for my notepad I've used Ranger's Acohol Inks for more impact. My husband has asked me to emboss enough rectangles to cover a fullsize legal pad for him, mounted onto black so that they look like panes of a window. Should be cool, huh?
If you don't have a Xyron use any adhesive of your choice to adhere your papers. I use mine for everything, no matter how small, running multiple pieces through at once. Here the front cover is going through.
You'll see that I've trimmed the back cover following the scrollwork pattern. This piece will completely cover the back of my tablet and wrap to the front, overlapping for a more dramatic look.
Because I've run this through the Xyron, placement is key. If you're good with an Exacto knife, cut your paper wider than necessary, adhere it, and then trim along the edges. But if you take your time, even paper cut exactly to size can be adhered with no problem.
Here are just a few of the things I thought might be used on the cover. When I ran the patterned paper through the Xyron, I also added 2 of the journaling tickets and a small piece of white cardstock. Rather than running the lightweight floral wrapping paper through and wrinkling it, I used white cardstock. Once the adhesive was applied to it, I placed the wrapping paper on top, smoothed it down, and trimmed off the portion I wanted.
The next time you're out shopping, be sure to check the clearance section of the store. I found these stickers over a year ago, knowing I'd find a use for them one of these days, and sure enough, I did. In this photo you can also see that I stamped a sentiment onto my journaling ticket.
This last photo shows off the Design Adhesive Nouveau Leaves pattern. I simply cut them apart on the strip, placing them down individually where needed. The 2 on the left have been covered in leafing and the one on the right is covered with Ranger's Perfect Pearls.