Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stampaway Stencils Masks & Stamps Oh My! Guinea Pig Class

First I apologize for cutting one of my guests right out of this photo. It wasn't intentional. She's not trying to hide. (Or at least I don't think she was hiding; just pushed a little too far from the table.) And poor photography on my part is mostly to blame. This year I've got a large group of ladies joining me on my trip to Ohio for the Stampaway convention. And a lot of good eggs willing to give up a Sunday afternoon to help me time out each step of this sold out convention class. All good sports; all invaluable to me. A HUGE thank you ladies for your willingness to be my guinea pigs!!!!
And yes, that's my very own line of rubber stamps you see in the above photo. I'm pleased to announce I have a new set that includes some surprising new designs, so if you're interested, holler and tell me so!

As always I provided oodles of supplies, giving them way too many choices. But that's the whole point of these classes: find out what works, what doesn't, what's most popular, and what we can live without. (There weren't many things we could live without, so when the class begins at Stamp Your Art Out, I'll be watching the clock and keeping everyone on track so that their finished portfolios are as divine as these.

Look closely at all these photos and you'll spot the most popular stencil: Onomoto Holes from Coffee Break Designs. Whether they were using inks or paints, the results were all brilliant!

Most of these gals had never played with the masks from Tim Holtz and Heidi Swapp, so experimenting was lots of fun.

And the tiny word stencils from Stampers Anonymous were also a hit. Keep scrolling; you'll find them...above and below.

Let's talk about before, during and after so that you can appreciate how much fun this class really was for us all. The photo below was during the process while the photo above shows the end result. Can you see a difference?

Same thing here...the too-close shot below was during, but just look at the photo above and you can appreciate those final minutes of a class when just the tiniest little thing can totally transform art into a masterpiece.
Could we have used more time? Certainly. Lynda C. spotted something I never thought to introduce in this class, and everyone took their art in a whole new direction. I'm not telling what they played with; it's a surprise.

Think we had a lot of fun in this class? You're right, we did. And once again I forgot to suggest that the ladies use the Kleen Handz before we got started. The great thing about this product is that the more you use it, the cleaner your hands are at the end of the day. We used it throughout the 3 hour play time along with a hand cleaner bar and it worked wonders, so all's not lost because I'm getting forgetful.
Hope you've enjoyed this teaser. Now if I can just remember to take my camera out and use it during my 5 days at the convention, I'll have lots of photos to post when I return. You will come back and take a peek, won't you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

May I just say if you need to laugh I've found the TV show to make it happen. Wipeout is without a doubt the funniest thing. Now it could be because I'm totally exhausted by the time I sit down to watch an episode (I record them on the DVR and rarely watch them) but when the contestants start falling in the water, or getting knocked into the water, I'm falling all over myself, laughing hysterically. Mind you I don't want to be a contestant, not even for $50 large, and I don't really care which one wins each week...I watch it for sheer entertainment value. And I get my money's worth!
Did you know McDonald's had a birthday last week for the Happy Meal? You go McD's. I still buy kid's meals from time to time as a quick lunch, but not as often as I used to, and I know the trick-or-treaters will be disappointed with me this year. Every kid in the hood knows I give away those toys as well as candy. I'm the first stop on a lot of their lists. So this year, the early bird really will get the worm (ummm, toy) and when they're gone, they're gone. (Today I got a cow from Chick-fil-A, from their new Herd. )
First an update on the house. Drum roll please... we bought furniture!!! We picked out a sectional sofa with a chaise lounge on one end and a huge ottoman for the other. And we also seclected a counter-height table and chairs (leather on the seat backs and bottoms), a 42" round table for the 2 of us but it comes with a leaf turning it into a 54" oval when we have guests. Of course the sofa has to be built and shipped in, but it will arrive in Raleigh while I'm in Orlando. Then the local guy is going to overstuff the back cushions for me and it will be delivered while I'm in Cincinnati. As will the table and chairs, so I'll have some nice surprises when I return from my travels.
My travertine tiles for the backsplashes arrived last week and they were the wrong color. We returned those on Friday night and re-ordered new tiles that will be here Wednesday. Hope hubby remembered to reschedule the tile guy for this Friday. Now if only I could decide on a paint color!!! Don't even get me started. Yes, I'm still holding up that show. But with luck I'll make up my mind and the painters will come while I'm in OH. Keep your fingers crossed.
Yesterday's guinea pig class was phenomenal!!!! I'll try to post photos tomorrow. No kidding, it was just grand from beginning to end. Everyone did a fabulous job and I've tweaked it to perfection on timing, supplies to provide, etc. For the 32 lucky ladies who got into the class at Stamp Your Art Out, hang on because you're in for a real ride.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. I've got to start packing my supplies for Summer CHA. Not only will I be doing make & takes with bangles in beads Tues-Thurs next week, but I'll also be doing make & takes for the Consumer Super Craft Show all day Fri & Sat. Please, if you're headed to either show (or both) in Orlando, stop by and see me in booth 1712 (Indus Trading Company, located in General Crafts). We're going to be the happening place once again. And along with a different bangle each day, we're also making ornaments with our largest beads. Too much fun.
Come back tomorrow and check out the photos. I'm exhausted and think a nap sounds pretty good right now.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sorting, stashing, and laundry

Do you remember clotheslines? I certainly do. I have several memories, in fact. I mention this because yesterday on CBS Sunday Morning they did a segment on clotheslines in today's world and the disagreements they're causing. A woman has decided for the last 2 years to hang her laundry out to dry as her part in saving energy. Unfortunately her subdivision has a clause in the homeowner's association rules that clotheslines aren't allowed. Her line's been cut, and then cut into tiny pieces repeatedly over the last 2 years, yet she hangs a new one and continues her ritual...3 times a week according to a very unhappy neighbor.
My mother lives in the country and continues to use her clothesline almost daily. She has only one neighbor (an error in her judgment when she purchased her 12 acres and didn't think anyone would buy the 2 right beside her before she snatched them up). But with all the trees and grapevines I don't think anyone can see her line except those of us in the yard.

I can remember as a child helping with laundry when we no longer had a maid to do it. I'd unload that washer and sort it so that all the socks hung together, then the undies, t-shirts, shirts, pants, washclothes, towels, and finally sheets had a semblance of order. My sister would hang them up willy nilly and it drove me insane!!! I've got to admit, my mother seems to have no worries about sorting, so my sister came by it honestly.

But here's a question for you: assuming you had a clothesline, did you leave the pins out yearround or did you collect them in a bag? We did a little of both. Some of us used the bag, & some of us didn't. I'm naming no names, but you figure out who used it. If you left them out I guarantee they looked like the ones above. And did you hang out clothes yearround like the photo above with snow on the ground? Even my mother draws the line at snow and uses her dryer, thank goodness.

Of course now they have plastic clothespins so it's harder to tell who's a collector and who isn't. But other than my mother I don't know anyone with a line outside. My older brother might, up in the mountains; I should ask in my next email. I know he had one for the 25 years he lived in England; witnessed it myself. One of those poles with what looked like umbrella spokes, but still a line for laundry.
Which brings us to a favorite memory. I'm a strawberry-blonde which means my eyelashes are so blonde they're white, and when I don't wear mascara I'm a fright. But when I do wear it, I tend to ruin my washclothes trying to get that dark brown Maybelline off my lashes. And so, years ago when I would travel (like to visit my brother in England) I packed my own nasty looking washclothes.

One day he takes me sightseeing but his wife stays home to clean the house, do laundry, etc. And I'm sorry, but this is still funny to me. When we returned at the end of the day she was quite simply distraught and SO apologetic that she'd washed my face clothes 3 times (having walked into town for special detergents) with no luck at getting out the mascara stains. Well sir I laughed out loud, and I admit it, I'm smiling widely as I type this because it's still funny to me 25 years later. I explained that they'd been stained for years and she needn't have worried.
Well sir, that went over like a lead balloon. Not only did she fail to see the humor, but she was clearly upset that her neighbors had seen those nasty things hanging out on her line which surely caused them to question her laundry abilities. So the next day off she went on foot again, down to The Body Shop, where she purchased 3 black washclothes for me. She suggested (rather firmly) that I toss my rags and start using black from now on to avoid such laundry woes. And would you believe I did buy all black face clothes and used them for years? You'll find them now in my studio. I've gone back to bright, cheerful colors because my laundry doesn't hang on a line and no one sees them but me. And when they reach that frightful stage where even I don't want to use them anymore, they join the stash in the studio with all the rest.
But there's one more thing I want to say about laundry...
This weekend was a busy one as we sorted and packed, shopped and cleaned, all in an attempt to finish putting our house back together. We selected and ordered the tile for our backsplash: Polished travertine in the shape of embossed bricks that will arrive on Thursday. (Don't ask about the cost; sore subject today; let's wait til it's installed and divine, and then make a really big deal about the glory of it all, shall we?) We also cleaned out 3 closets, sorting out the winter items like comforters, quilts & throws, sweaters & sweatshirts, all of which were stuffed into those space bags with all the air vacuumed out and now reside somewhat tidily on a guestroom closet top shelf. Somehow in the sorting and relocation process our shoe storage units never made the cut back into the master closet. Don't ask. So they're currently sitting in the floor, barely inside the front guest room and it appears their new home will be inside that double closet. (Guess we'll have to plan ahead on shoes when we have overnight guests, like this weekend...)
So Saturday night late I decided to change the linens on our bed as part of this bedroom overhaul. Now you remember that I went for a couple of months with no washer & dryer, so my mother was doing all my laundry. As I climbed into bed on Saturday night, pulling up those pale yellow sheets, nestling down into those pillow cases, I was overwhelmed with the memories of my childhood. It's hard to imagine that with today's advertising blitzes on TV that my mother would remain faithful to Downy fabric softener, but boys & girls, she has indeed. And that fragrance, mixed with the scent of being dried on the line was simply the most wonderful thing after a hard day of labor. I slept like a baby. Which is why yesterday's piece on the morning TV show was so timely for me. A clothesline indeed.
I have no idea what my neighbors would think of a clothesline, though I can assure you there's not one anywhere in the subdivision. They need not worry about me of course because there's no way I'm climbing up and down those back steps to the basement level to get to the backyard when I want to do laundry. Nope. I'm quite pleased with my new LG brand washer & gas dryer. I like the music they play when a load is finished. I like all the chimes when I'm selecting the settings. And I like watching the lights flash across the display as it senses the load size and then determines how long it's going to run to dry a load. Why I can't imagine ignoring that dryer anymore than I can imagine my house clean enough to hire a cleaning service to bounce through the door once a week to keep it that way.
I like the idea of a clothesline and the smell of those crisp, clean linens. I like it so much that I might hire my mother to do my sheets for me. Yeah, like that's gonna happen. Kind of like I'm going to hire a cleaning service. I can see them now, pulling out their cell phones to take pictures because no one will believe them when they describe the size of the dust bunnies they found under my bed. I have a couple of friends who clean their houses before the maid comes each week and I'd be the same way. I know this about myself and I can live with it.
So tonight I'll finish that last guest room and then head back up to the studio because there's LOTS to be done up there. Kits are in various stages of packaging, I've got 2 classes scheduled this week, plus stamp club, plus preparation for my upcoming trip back to Orlando in 11 days. It hit me this weekend that I'm gone for 10 days and home for 2 before flying out again to Cincinnati. I'm telling myself not to panic. (It isn't working, but I keep repeating it to myself.)
I should climb back into bed, into the comfort of those Downy fresh sheets, pulling the covers over my head...
You'll know where to find me, right?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Masterpieces in Miniature

My final posting on Stampfest showcases photos from my third class. Each kit contained lots of small boxes in different sizes and shapes, all painted black so that a dimensional collage could be built. Each little box was intended to feature individual works of art.
Supplies provided by me included lots of Ranger products: Dimensional Pearls, Alcohol Inks, Adirondack Pigment Pens, Distress Inks, and I even created a Wild Plum ink pad using their Cut N' Dry foam pad in a tin for a student who needed a totally unique color when she began her stencilling.

A favorite product of mine is the Magic Stamp (Penscore) by Clearsnap. Mark, shown here on the right, loves it as much as I do. And it turns out I'd introduced it to him the previous year in my Friday night make & take party. I know there are tons of products out there on the market, with new items being released throughout the year. But sometimes your best tools are those that you've had in your stash for over a decade.

Once again there were familiar faces who were not only present in my classes this year, but also students who came back after taking one of my classes last year. High praise for me when you consider the teaching roster this convention had to offer. So my thanks to each of you. And I had 2 gentlemen in this class, so kudos to both of you for joining the ranks of "Linda's Lovelies". Didn't we have fun?

This class was not only an opportunity to use lots of products, but also a class filled with tips for building multiple collages to mount on one surface. Some of my students had never been shown how to wrap glass with foil tape, and since they were given both microscope slides (very thin) and rectangles of glass cut at a glass distributor (far thicker), learning how to center the glass onto the tape so that's it's facing you created some great results.
I'd purchased silk flowers to dye with the Distress inks. And I'd loaded the inks into the Mist It's by Inspired Crafts. If you've never tried one of these spritzers, you don't know what you're missing!!! My tip for this part of the class was to spritz the flowers first with water and then with the ink. When the wet ink hits the dry flower you get droplets, but when the silk is wet, it blends beautifully. And if you want the flower darker, blot off some of the excess moisture and give it another spritz of ink.
Most of us have button collections courtesy of our mothers and grandmothers. I'm fortunate to have collections from both, but there are times I spot a container of buttons at a craft store in coordinating colors with a mix of sizes. I brought some of these buttons and we created some very dimensional flower centers by layering buttons in different sizes and colors. JudiKins is always gracious in providing me with the tiny tubes of Diamond Glaze for my classes, so everyone got at least one tube for this layering. The key to using Diamond Glaze successfully is to apply the adhesive and press for 45 seconds. This allows the bond to form and you'll get remarkable results every time.

Since returning home I've had a few emails from Mark and he was generous in sharing some of his stamping creations inspired by my class. He's been out shopping for stencils with fabulous results, don't you think?

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to play with me in hot, humid Orlando. I had one student who stayed as I cleaned up after this class, telling me it was the first class she'd ever taken, and just how much she enjoyed it. I know classes seem expensive even when economic times aren't strained, but watching demos and flipping the pages of magazines will never be the same as hands-on play time in a class.
On Saturday and Sunday I was working in the Just For Fun booth at the convention, showing the crowds how to recycle their greeting cards using JFF's frame stamps and templates. I'll post photos of those for you over the holiday weekend because if you're like me, you love seeing a new twist on an old favorite.
Melinda Doster is another NC gal who travels to these conventions to teach and we were roommates for the 4 day weekend. She sat beside me in the booth showing the convention goers how to use the frames & templates with rubber stamps and inks while I actually led a make & take. Her tips and hints were fabulous, and making a card with me from an old greeting card just gave them a bit of hands-on play to take home along with their purchases.
Next time you see that a convention is coming your way, I urge you to buy a ticket and join the fun. So many booths offer demos as well as make & take projects so you're sure to learn a few tricks. And consider at least one class. It's a great way to learn something new but it also gives you a chance to make a new friend or two.
And that's never a bad thing in the world of rubber stamping. I should know; I've been doing this for 29 years!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Creating A Little Magic with Stamps & Stencils

Wanna see what fun looks like in a glass-topped box? Then scroll with me and check out all the gaiety we captured in a two hour class.
Recognize a color you might also have chosen? See a stencil you're just mad about?

Can you think outside the box your instructor gives you and go with something other than straight lines?

What would a class be at a rubber stamp convention if you weren't given some fabulous stamps to use in your framed collage?

I love it when my students pack bling. My photography leaves a lot to be desired since I was using my cell phone, but trust me, the above masterpiece had several highlights using bling.

I love surprises and walking around the classroom while everyone was hard at work was so inspiring to me. But when they began to come together for the end result, I was in awe of the vision these ladies brought to the table.

I dare say they'll be trying their hands at my techniques from now on, and who knows, they may come up with a little something extra to surprise me when next we meet.

Next time you visit your local stamp store or craft store, walk the aisles and really look at the displays on the shelves. Consider color pairings. Look at obscure shapes. Try to imagine the impossible.

You should always make time for play. And if you've forgotten how, go knock on your neighbor's door and ask if you can borrow their child for a couple of hours. I promise you can put a child in a chair with a pad of paper, a basket of crayons, pencils and watercolors, and they'll show you how to have a good time.

If you're looking for a bit of fun with stamping supplies, follow me into a classroom. We'll play with inks and paints, stamps and stencils, create a little magic, get our fingers inky, and sure enough, we've had quite a lot of fun.
Playing with ink is always fun. Adding a few surprise elements just adds to the excitement.

Learning how to take a lot of bright, vibrant backgrounds and turn them into works of art is sure to make you cheerful.

And the color choices made by a group of women is always a surprise to me. One lady used all pastel colors for a truly unique look while some chose bold colors I myself would've packed. The class description said to bring 3-5 of your favorite dye-based ink colors, so no one could go wrong.

Some followed my example and took their color palettes in at least two, but sometimes three directions. And the results were phenomenal. Others created every piece the same so I'd dig through my personal stash and find a piece that was exactly what they needed.

I'm missing some photos obviously, but I'll tell you one thing I find in every class. We always have fun and we're always pleased as punch with the final product.

And there are always people who truly love color...so much so that their finished art matches their ensemble. Just look at the above photo. The proof is in the pudding.

If you're not having fun in one of my classes, you're doing something wrong. And I haven't seen anyone do anything wrong in my decades of teaching, ever!

There were 27 ladies in my 11am class, filling 3 long tables, and working with products they'd never touched, so we were having lots of fun. The ladies above with their backs to the camera were selecting stamps for the final pieces of their Specimen Box Collages.

I hate to refer to classes as favorites, but my specimen box collages have always been tops on my list. We played with inks and stencils, Ranger's Dabbers & Dimensional Pearls, foam stamps, paint and sponges. I brought about 100 of my favorite stencils and it was interesting to see which ones were used the most.
I knew they'd have the most fun creating the backgrounds but I also knew they'd need an equal amount of time to assemble the finished piece. While they were hard at work, I'd collect products to demo the next step. All heads would look up as I'd show them my gathered supplies and what they'd be doing next. Sure enough, they'd realize the next layer might be even more fun so they'd stop where they were and move ahead with me.

Building the collages are always my favorite...you've created far too many individual pieces to squeeze into your box, so selecting your favorites becomes quite a challenge. But my gals always rise to every challenge, and as you see above, they excelled!
Here's hoping you'll look for me at the next convention coming to your town. I was amazed to find a couple of gals in my classes who were also from NC but had traveled to FL for the convention. Look for a bit of madness in your own backyard, but never rule out a road trip.
More photos still to come from my third class at Stampfest, so do come visit again.