Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stampfest: Prep Time in the Studio

Well here's a surprise...I'm late posting photos taken in the studio before I flew to Orlando to teach at Stampfest. Aren't I always a day late and a dollar short? Yep. There are conventions when I show up in my classrooms, collect tickets and pass out kits, and I'll have as many as 51 students in awe of my organizational skills. And then there are trips like this past weekend when I was continuing to dig in suitcases, looking for just the right baggie or box, even after class began. Forgive me.

On Wednesday night of last week I packed, and repacked, and repacked yet again, trying to squeeze everything into 2 suitcases I could check at no charge. Mind you they had to weigh in at 50 lb each, or less, and I did a lot of struggling with that packing. I hefted those heavy bags downstairs ... 2 suitcases and a huge box as my final pack. But I just couldn't live with it.

Mind you, I was up til 5:37am on Wed nite/Thurs morning. Went to bed for 2 hours and was back in there repacking those suitcases at 7:45am, managing to reconfigure everything into 2 suitcases. Quite the feat, let me tell you! And they both weighed in at exactly 50 lb each. (Don't even ask how much my carry-on weighed.)

So imagine me in my hotel room, pulling everything out, re-sorting supplies for each of my 3 classes, plus setting aside the supplies I'd brought for the Friday night make & take party. I was exhausted then and I'm exhausted now.
But don't for a minute think I do this by myself. It wouldn't be possible. Here's a snapshot of my friend Lynn, scribbling watercolor crayons onto release paper for the make & take party. I had to prepare for 130 people. with 10 to a table. Rather than trying to carry all my crayons with me, we scribbled the colors onto the equivalent of wax paper. I packed water reservoir brushes for everyone and with the images stamped on watercolor paper, my table worked very well. Wish I'd taken photos, but who had the time? We were making pins to wear with a new Just For Fun image of 3 flowers in a cluster. They used Adirondack Pigment Pens, Ranger's white pigment pen for polka dots, and the watercolor to complete their pins. Fabulous, quick and easy, and I saw lots of ladies wearing those pins over the next two days. A huge thank you to Sharon, who also helped scribble color, but slipped away before I thought to snap photos.
My studio consists of 3 farm tables for students, an 8' farm table that's my work area, and a countertop that's 9' long, all of which are covered and piled high prior to my classes. Here's one with supplies for several classes, sort of stacked in mid-assembly.

For all my students who took the Masterpieces in Miniature class, your tiny boxes were painted black by Joyce. Sorry the photo's blurred but she brought wine for us all to enjoy while we worked, and I think that explains why I was unable to hold the camera steady. Not saying it wasn't a great idea, just saying...

In this photo you can see antique ledger books (pages were ripped out), specimen boxes, blocks for the Chunky ATC's. reinkers, stencils, and so much more. And stacked on those shelves in the background are supplies for Stampaway classes. Which means there will be more kit preparation soon to come.

Later today I'll be posting LOTS of photos taken at Stampfest, so please check back.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You need a sense of humor to fly

It's time to start packing my bags, getting ready for my 4 days in Orlando, and someone was nice enough to share these photos and comments with me.

Flight attendants say the funniest things. Have you noticed? Here are some of my favorites:

"People, people, we're not picking out furniture here. Find a seat and get in it!"

and this one:

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis a flight attendant announced: "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because sure as hell everything has shifted after a landing like that."

And this is what a flight attendant said after an extremely hard landing in Amarillo, TX on a windy, bumpy day: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate."

Another good one:

The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while passengers exited, smile, and give them a "thanks for flying our airline". Because he'd hammered into the runway really hard he had a tough time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question? Did we land, or were we shot down?"

And you know how they caution you not to leave anything behind?

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please don't leave children or spouses...except for that gentleman over there."

I used to be terrified to fly but now that I'm on planes for multiple flights throughout the year, I don't mind so much. I don't like take off and I don't like landing. I don't like long flights from NC to CA because I hate to use the restroom on planes. I always ask for an aisle seat so I'm not crawling over anyone to get up. Yet it means getting up so my seat mates can go to the potty. Aisle seats also mean you'll be bumped during boarding and during refreshments.
There have been several flights when the pilot would announce sights out the windows on your left, or on your right, but I've not seen them. Seems the people who request the window seats don't actually want to sightsee, they want to sleep. And to do that, they close the window shades. Judging from the above photo, I'm kinda glad I'm not looking out the windows.

Now I'm not the best driver, but I think I could've done as well as this guy.

I always arrive more than an hour early because I don't want to miss a flight due to some hangup in the security lines. Once my bags and my person have been searched, I put my footies back in my bag, slip on my shoes, and head to my gate to find the perfect seat. I like to sit near the windows, watching the little trains come out with the luggage, and I'm always looking to see if my bags are going onboard. This isn't anything I'd want to see, even though I'm sure it was an empty container.
I'll be posting photos of the studio this weekend in it's current state, with one table stacked far too high with supplies. And I've got 3 gals coming over tonight to help pack my kits so I'll get photos of the production lines, just so you can appreciate how much effort goes into my teaching. And then, with luck, I'll have photos of the kits, all pretty and ready for their unveiling. (I'm not going to panic because my stencils & spritzers haven't arrived.)
Check back and see how the magic happens.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Juggling, Family Reunions, and more...

I'm a master at juggling...trying to get everything done in a timely manner, staying on top of deadlines, and always missing a few. Sort of like a juggler who keeps all those balls up in the air and then one drops to the ground. That's me. I'm asked to do so many things and every once in a while, one slips past me. Can't be helped. I do what I can.
Just now my top priority is to finish my kits for Stampfest which is next weekend. I'm not there yet, but I continue to plod along.
Last night I went to bed about 10:30pm and slept great til 1:40am. Once awake I kept thinking of all the things still to be done and within minutes I knew I'd never go back to sleep. Picture me creeping along in the dark, past the puppies in the living room, up the stairs and into the studio. Nearly killed myself coming back down in the dark of night. Thought by the feel of the bottom step that surely I'd reach the floor. Wrong. Seriously, I very nearly broke my neck. Now wouldn't that have been something!?
So by the time I made it back to the bedroom I was very nearly wide awake. But you know me, sleep is never far off when I'm exhausted. I spent 2 hours sorting through clip art, old photos & postcards, looking for more ephemera to pack into my kits. I should have my head examined, but I just can't help myself. If a little is good and a lot is great, then surely too much is gonna be fabulous!!
This weekend we went to a family reunion for my mother's side of the family. The crowd is far smaller than in years past, but still, so many Crockers under one roof...remarkable. And the really remarkable part was that I recognized lots of faces even if I didn't remember all their names.
Mother was the only one who fried chicken, though someone stopped by a barbecue place and picked some up, along with barbecue, slaw & boiled potatoes. Not the same as homemade, let me tell you. She also baked a strawberry cake, a coconut cake, a banana pudding, a chocolate pie, a lemon pie, several vegetables, deviled eggs and made 2 gallons of lemonade.
So we're eating lunch and I see that she's got someone else's coconut cake on her dessert plate. What in the world? She says she can eat her own cooking any time. True enough, but why stray from the best?
The main thing I noticed were that all the small toddlers and little kids were girls. How about that? And twins everywhere, from each generation. Little old ladies in their 80's, still dressing alike, and 5 year olds in matching outfits as well. Too cute.
And thinking of twins makes me think about the twinchies we're swapping at stamp club on Thursday night. So yes, last night I began work on mine. (Technically it was today since it was around 2:30am, but you know what I mean.)
I began with an 11" x 17" sheet of white cardstock and proceeded to play with inks and paints, stamps & stencils, dabbers and more, making one of my trademark "motherboards". But no saving it to make copies this time. Instead I cut half of it into 2"x 2" squares. And then I started opening drawers, trying different stamp images with black ink. The big butterfly stamp from JudiKins didn't give me the look I wanted. The lace from Old Town Crafts was much better. But my favorite was a botanical stamp and in the bright light of day I can't remember whose it is, so don't ask til Thursday night. I also stamped a few with Oriental images that I liked a lot and can't wait to begin the embellishing.
The backgrounds were so pretty I hated to cover them up with stamped images, but I did it anyway. And now I'm adding clip art and postage stamps, buttons, wire & seed beads. I have no real plan for the finished pieces; instead I'm going where the art takes me.
And isn't that always the best? Letting creativity lead you in new directions, pulling from my various stashes of ephemera to make some truly one-of-a-kind art...that's my favorite play time.
I'm having a sinking spell now, wishing I'd slept through the night, but I can't say that I regret my play time. No sirree. In fact, I wish I'd had more! Maybe the next time I can't sleep I'll try counting all the desserts at the reunion instead of ticking off tasks yet to do. Of course that will probably make me hungry rather than sleepy.
Wish me luck with that.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Successful Guinea Pig Class

I'm blessed to have some of the most incredible friends, including those willing to be my guinea pigs for upcoming classes. I'm flying to Orlando on the 25th to teach 3 classes at Stampfest and wanted to do a dry-run of my Chunky ATC class. So I sent out invitations to a handful of my local ladies, and what fun we had last night.
If you've ever taken one of my convention classes you know that I might have as many as 51 in a class. And that means I have to be on my toes, timing every sequence of a project to guarantee that everyone has fun, leaves with a finished work of art, and didn't feel too rushed.

But if you've taken a class with me you also know that I give you WAY TOO MUCH STUFF, and this class will certainly be guilty of that. Not only did I have the kits packed with far more ephemera than they could possibly use, but I kept thinking of more things they might like to add. So while they're digging through their stashes, I'm saying "what about this?" or "hey, look what else I found". Drove them insane.

If I gave you more than a dozen color choices, would you struggle to choose 2 or 3? Turned out that wasn't an issue at all. But giving you 12-14 photos was indeed too much. Too bad; kits are already packed and I'm not about to go unpacking those. How about a few die cuts that can be inked and added to your collage? Oh yeah, they wanted more and more of those. And what about a brand new die cut of a tiny little bird, courtesy of Lynda and Stampin' Up? You betcha! Just check out these photos and look at those little cuties.

One funny coincidence...I gave each of the gals an identical photo of a bunch of kids in an old car. And if you look closely you'll see that 3 of them used that very photo inside Tim's Ornate Plates. What are the chances? It was a surprise to them and to me.

We also played around with the Mist-It from InspiredCrafts, and that was some of the most fun we had. We sprayed paper flowers, silk flowers, grungeboard, cardstock, corrugated cardboard and more, using more than one color on each, and getting some fabulous results. And the dimensional flowers they created with all these different layers were just magnificent!!

Adding the metal embellishments from Tim's Idea-ology line was also a lot of fun. The end results were certainly varied as one put her game spinner on a philosophy tag while another added it to a token. Someone else liked it with the gears and sprockets but also tried it as the hands on a watch face. Too clever.

And of course we went on scavenger hunts for sparkle and bling. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. So I'll be making a few additions to my kits thanks to last night's ladies and their participation. I'm still trying to come up with a clever packaging idea that won't damage those old ledger sheets from 1899. Wish me luck with that since I'm flying. And of course the ladies in Orlando will also be guinea pigs of a different variety because I'll be able to tweak this class yet again before I fly off to the next convention. It should probably be illegal to have this much fun.
I've placed orders this week for oodles of supplies for all 3 Stampfest classes as well as all 3 Stampaway classes and I can hardly wait for the boxes to start arriving. My specimen boxes for the stencil class in FL await their stuffing. (Wonder if I can get some of my gals to come back and help out with that?) And my Miniature Masterpiece class kits need to be prepared (painting is needed on dozens of little boxes). I ordered just over 100 stencils and when those arrive, yet more kits will be packed for the third class. Now doesn't all that sound like fun? Clearly you know where I can be found for the next 12 days.
Now for those inquiring minds who want to know...the first floor is still a disaster. My new pantry has shelves. No cans or boxes, bottles or jars, but shelves galore. And that means the new table saw is no longer residing in my half of the garage, so my car is parked inside, out of the heat & elements. Guest room #1 is done and the bed is made, though the lamp for the nightstand is still MIA. (Not a problem unless I have unexpected guests who hope to read in bed.) They'll have to be grateful that I found pillows and linens!

I still haven't found the toaster or the can opener, the pots & pans, the mixing bowls or measuring cups. And today I'm happy to let them continue hiding out. I don't want to be tempted to bake a cake since I also can't find the instruction manual that came with my new convection oven. (Give me strength)
The $1.89 bunch of spinach I bought 2 days ago is wilted. I remember reading in the also missing book that came with my new fridge about adjusting the humidity levels in the 4 drawers for fruits, vegetables, and meats. Remember reading it; just don't remember what it said. And the spinach will attest to that. Not sure if I exposed it to too much or too little, but I killed it as surely as if I'd sat it out on the deck railing. (Have mercy) We all know I didn't want to eat it anyway.
If you're in the Orlando area from 6/26-6/28 I hope you'll come see me at the convention. Even if you aren't taking one of my classes, be sure to stop by the Just For Fun booth where I'll be leading make & takes and say hello while you play.
In the meantime, I'm making a mess in the studio...and loving every minute of it!