Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Play Time

I sound like a broken record when I tell you how busy I am, but it's fact not fiction. Imagine me one week ago, thinking I'm going out to dinner but instead spending a few hours in an appliance store selecting all new appliances for my kitchen. Now imagine picking out cabinets the next day and THEN meeting with a contractor. What's wrong with this picture? So when I tell you I'm busy, trust me.

And if that's not enough to keep me busy, I'm preparing for a class on Saturday. Now that's fun. I've been going through drawer after drawer, finding hidden treasures. New library cards, vintage prescriptions for the early 1900's, wine labels, cigarette cards and so much more. Mind you I don't need all those things for my class, but I'm sorting and hoping to store more "like" things together when everything's put away again.

Some of my best stash items will remain in my stash. Why cover up really good vintage ephemera with inks and paints, destroying that brittle old paper? Nope.

But Bingo cards? Sure, they can go. And time cards? Yep, those too. Remember my trip to California in January when I found foreign text books? Gonna yank a few pages out of those for sure!

And I've still got plenty of old ledger books, so again, I don't feel bad about pulling out a few pages to experiment on, though I'm not worried about covering them with ink. I've been doing it for years and simply love it. The same goes for my old books of sheet music. They're so dramatic when inked and painted.

New phone books have been delivered (far too many) plus I've got old ones to recycle that are being replaced, and I plan to play with pages from those as well. I love the look of glaze on those because they become translucent.
The ladies coming to play are in for a real treat. Lots of techniques, lots of fun. Wish you were here to join us. But since you're not, why don't you try something new on your own?

How about a little fun with decoupage? Punch some circles & squares of brightly colored paper. Cut a few strips. Have some fun with Mod Podge. Why I can just see a few containers decorated to within an inch of their lives, filled with Tiddly Winks and Bingo markers, game pieces and beads. Can't you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing green today? I am. When you think of St. Patrick's Day, do you think of shamrocks and 4-leaf clovers? Rainbows and pots of gold? Leprechauns and green beer? I think of all those, except the beer. I can honestly say I've never thought of beer in my life. But if you want to discuss Fuzzy Navels, I'm your gal.
I can remember wearing green as a child in school to avoid getting pinched. If you're making art today, I hope you'll include lots of green, but don't stop there.
While you're looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, remember rainbows aren't just in the sky. They're in boxes of chalk or crayons, in paints and inks, and so much more.

I love all these colorful fish, so cheerful to look at, and I wonder if they know just how lovely they are, swimming along like that. Do you think they see in color?

I'm inspired by these Rainbow Parrots and their vibrant colors. It makes me want to create art, playing with paints and inks. These birds make me think of the colors of Clearsnap's new Smooch paints. Vivid and fabulous.

And these gumballs remind me of Ranger's new alcohol inks in brights. Last month my stamp club made postcards to swap and I used those inks along with air in a can to create some fabulous postcards on glossy cardstock, just as Tim did at CHA. You know I do love bright colors.

My mother asked me recently if I ever looked for 4-leaf clovers. We don't have any clover in our own yard but I suppose I could venture across the property line to see what the neighbor's yard might yield. It's far too wet today for such endeavors, but I can certainly create a little art with a rainbow of my own. This month's swap for stamp club is to create 12 ATC's (artist trading cards) on the theme "3 of a Kind". That means I can use 3 colors, 3 stamped images, 3 embellishments, etc and I can see the rainbows coming to life already.
Speaking of my mother, we attended a memorial service for an old neighbor over the weekend. When I say old, I mean from the olden days of my childhood, not that he was old. His brothers gave moving eulogies, remembering happier times. They laughingly spoke of being terrors in the neighborhood, driving their mother crazy, to which my mother replied she could still hear her hollering at those 3 boys. Now I just have to say with all the hollering she did at the 4 of us, I can't imagine when she heard anyone else.
Edward spoke of them sitting on a nearby embankment with other neighborhood boys, playing ukuleles and singing Blue Moon as loudly as possible. I'm sorry to say I don't remember that, but sure wish I'd heard them.
A low fence separated our backyards and I can still hear him playing his trombone while I climbed our apple tree, played in the sandbox or on the swings. They were three big boys, much older than us, so we didn't actually play together. Yet when he spoke of playing in another neighbor's yard, I immediately knew the house because we also played in their yard.
You're only as old as you feel after all, so today, I hope you feel like a kid again. Put on something green...pinch anyone not wearing any...look for those 4-leaf clovers and pots of gold. Be a kid again every chance you get.
Here's hoping you find time today for a little play.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

For the Love of Books...and Spring

I'm one of those people who loves to read, sometimes reading two books at once. And that's exactly what happened last week. I set off for the library where I checked out 5 books, including a new one by a local author named Clyde Edgerton. One of my favorite books in the world was written by him, titled Walking Across Egypt. I'd check it out at the library ever so often and finally found a copy of my very own, which I've continued to read every few years. I'm sorry to say his new one wasn't a favorite and I won't go searching for it in the future. And that's too bad.

On my trips to the local library I usually add books to my "request" list and 2 days after bringing Clyde home, I received the call that "A Good Thief's Guide to Paris" was waiting for me. Off I dashed to get it and "The Bible Salesman" waited patiently on my nightstand as I hurried through my new mystery. It was a 7-day loan after all. I finished it on Monday and last night I finished the other.

Now that means a new trip to the library tonight because I'll need something to read at bedtime. Do we have a library in our house? Yep, just off Clayton's study. Do we also have more books lining the built-in bookcases up in the family room? Yep. And is my studio overflowing with craft books? You betcha. But there's something about the hunt up and down all those aisles that draws me back week after week. I can't help myself.

As for my craft books, I received an email from Amazon 2 days ago, with a suggestion of a new book for me, based on my previous purchases. I clicked over to that screen and found that I've bought 135 craft books from Amazon. Mind you that doesn't count the ones I've bought in stores. Well I must say, that was quite staggering. I've still got that slack-jawed, glazed over look in my eyes just thinking about that. Holy Hannah. That's a lotta books.

A friend and I have discussed whether we should get rid of our magazines. Have mercy, I can't bring myself to do it. I've got every single issue of Somerset Studio and I couldn't possibly part with a single one of them. I've still got really old issues of magazines like Rubberstampmadness and some that are no longer in business. I have given away some magazines, like Vamp Stamp News or Scrap N Stamp, but not my treasures like anything published by Stampington. You can't imagine how many times I've gone searching through the hundreds of magazines on my 3 bookcases, looking for inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, it seems all the women's magazines now have newsletters via email, and they've all found their way into my inbox. I'm truly not sure how that happened. Some days I delete them with barely a glance, but this week I was struck by the colors of Spring, namely Citrus.

Growing up yellow and orange were my favorite colors. And while my kitchen would look peculiar with anything orange, I've gotta tell you, these napkins tied with simple ribbons really speak to me. I think I could pull it off with a lunch out on the patio.

And aren't these little pots fabulous, again tied with ribbon? I can absolutely see myself doing this! They'd make such lovely gifts, just as they are, don't you think?

This little vignette is just so lovely I can hardly stand it! And it's so me. All my colors...little pots, greenery, fresh flowers. I'm telling you, this really appeals to me. Why it makes me want to rush right out to Home Depot and buy some new pots and a few tiny plants, and then swing by the grocery store for a bouquet of fresh flowers.

Just today I read an article in the paper about cheapskates. Seriously, an entire article telling me how some woman is saving the scraps of bagels from her kids' plates to use as toppings on a pizza. As we live and breathe... How's this economy ever gonna get moving if we've come to this? I'll tell you how. People like me will keep shopping on Amazon.com and subscribing to magazines and their email lists. And we'll see these fabulous photos and think we need that little bit of sunshine in our lives, because truly, we do.
But I can't keep the economy moving on my own, so just consider a tiny potted plant or a small bouquet of fresh flowers. If you're headed to the doctor or dentist or hairdresser this week, take along a small something to say thank you. Pull out your stamps and inks, or sort through your stack of pretty papers and find something that says Spring. Make a tiny something to give away. You'll feel as good as the person who receives it. Hmmm, Target is right next door to Home Depot. I wonder if their Dollar Spot has any pretty little pots?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snow, and the one that got away

If you live in NC you know we don't often see snow, and even when we do, it's not enough to build a decent snowman or provide reason enough to pull out the sleds. But one thing you can rely on: if it snows, or there's a chance of snow, the schools are closed. That's right. One week ago we got a whopping 2" of snow and schools were closed. Mind you the roads were fine where I drove, but clearly there must have been danger lurking somewhere to keep the school buses parked. Was it lovely? Absolutely! And I did see one snowman, built by my neighbor, which lasted through Wednesday when the temps hit 70 and it melted away.
Want to know what weather is like in NC? One week ago today we had snow and today they're calling for a high of 81 degrees. Now I ask you, where else but here could you find such fluctuation? Fine by me; I'm in open-toed shoes with no trouser socks.
And if you're wondering about "the one that got away", I'm referring to a class I pitched for Stampaway. Out of the 4 I submitted, they chose all but one. These photos show the Specimen Box Collage that wasn't selected.

Which of course means lucky contestants willing to drive to the studio are in for a fabulous class! And for those of you far, far away, don't fret. If you sign up for my class at Stamp Your Art Out on Wednesday night, August 5th, you'll be making very similar art in an accordion book tucked inside a portfolio. And best of all, you'll be playing with even more toys and creating even better backgrounds. Think of these photos as steps 1-4, knowing there are brand new Tim Holtz masks and Claudine Hellmuth paints to use in steps 5-8. Ooh, how exciting!

My favorite part about these specimen box collages is the assemblage itself. If you look closely at these photos you'll notice the backgrounds are the same, but the focal images are different. That's because when I begin to build my collage, I try multiple possibilities before narrowing it down to my favorite. There are two photos of each box but the final layout is different on each.

And that means when I teach this class in the studio it will take more time to assemble all the pieces than it did to create the backgrounds. Doesn't seem possible, yet it's true. I worked for hours trying to decide on the placement that pleased me most.
If you're local, this class is scheduled for Saturday, April 4th, beginning at 10 am. Do let me know if you're interested. The size of this specimen box is 8x12, which is a big one, giving you lots of space to fill with lots of backgrounds. And we all know creating backgrounds is my very favorite thing.
In the last week we've had the house measured for hardwood flooring and sized up for wiring the televisions, DVR's, etc to hide all the wires in the walls. I've also been plundering in multiple boxes in the studio sorting out finished works of art from supplies and trash. Yes, trash. One can is full, another is over half filled, and there are still lots of boxes to open. Wonder if it's possible to do a decent job sorting while watching Dancing With the Stars? Hmm, I'm gonna find out tonight.
Fed Ex delivered a case of bangles on Friday and there are multiple boxes on the way with more goodies from a recent order. (brand new Tim Holtz rubber stamps & rulers, fibers, dabbers, and Claudine's sticky-back canvas, just to name a few) I'm also working on another order for more new product. Now doesn't that make you want to rush on over to the studio? I thought so.
Stamp club is making ATC's this month so I've got to tidy up a surface to work on and get mine started. The theme is "Three of a Kind", meaning 3 colors of paper or 3 colors of ink/paint, 3 brads, 3 eyelets, 3 flowers...anything you want so long as it's repeated 3 times on each. My tiny mind is whirring away with the choices. Somewhere I have a rubber stamp of 3 dancing chickens wearing pearls, and another of 3 hippos wearing tutus in a chorus line. Hey, they'd qualify for 3 of a kind! And I can always add Crystal Lacquer, Diamond Glaze, or Glossy Accents to give the pearls dimension, or Stickles to give the tutus a little sparkle. Ahh, don't you just love creating a little art? Or a lot of art? Looks like I'm gonna be forced to get my finers inky today.