Mind Wide Open Challenge

April 3, 2014

Mind Wide Open is back and this time the challenge isn’t a competition, but an exercise to expand your creativity. Gail provides focal images, backgrounds, color palettes and, if you need one, a word prompt. Choose your favorites and off you go!

This is the image I chose:

mwo image 2

Along with this color palette:

mwo palette

I do love a challenge, and this palette was particularly challenging! I discovered that “Scattered Straw” Distress Ink rubbed on a manila tag makes the last color in the column, and I highlighted the edges with “Weathered Wood” as it’s close to the middle color.

mwo april close

I stamped a lace background with “Brushed Pewter” metallic Distress Stain and colored a white daisy with chalk to emulate the second, pinkish color on the chart. The tag was finished with some ribbon, lace and flourishes made with “Gunmetal” Stickles.

mwo april

I can’t wait for the next one!  :)

Gelli Every Month!

March 25, 2014

So my bestest gal pal, Terri, and I have a long-standing tradition of creating artistic calendars for our personal use.  Each of us creates two calendar pages for each of six (alternating) months, changing out the months on alternate years.  This year I’m responsible for February, April, June, August, October and December.  Rather than, say, making them all ahead of time (I actually used to do this, honest!), I almost always end up making them at the last minute.

Ever since learning to use the Gelli Plate, I’ve been looking for projects in which to use the resulting (piles and piles of) prints.  Naturally the calendar pages sprang to mind!  For April, I managed to use one each of every kind of print made during the learning process: deli paper, kraft paper, book page and manila tag.  This is an homage to the Gelli plate!

april 2014

I was still in the “Gelli” mood when it was time to do June’s pages, but this time instead of using existing prints, I made some in colors and patterns specifically to use with the fun, beachy image.

june 2014


(The actual pages are not this color; I was wearing a hot pink T-shirt when I took the photos and the reflection of it gave them a pinkish tint.)

Hooray for spring, hooray for summer and hooray for Gelli!  Time to go make more prints, ’cause they haven’t quite piled up to the ceiling yet!

Hooked on Gelli

March 11, 2014

So my gal pal Terri finally talked me into a getting a Gelli plate.  We’d been considering them for awhile, but they’re a little costly, and we had agreed that blindly following the latest trends didn’t always work out so well for us.  (A testament to this is my large collection of gee-gaws and gadgets from past retreats and conventions that I went crazy for when demonstrated and are now gathering dust!)

Terri was the first to cave in, and thank goodness - she loves her new Gelli plate.  She talked me into getting one, too (granted, it didn’t take much arm-twisting: see above about my going crazy for the latest gee-gaws and gadgets).  We had an “art day” at her place a couple weeks ago and made dozens of fabulous prints with our plates.  I have since made at least a hundred more!  (I should mention it’s a bit addicting.)

gelli plate

My favorite surface to print on is deli wrap paper, and Terri very generously let me keep the rest of the box we’d been using while I learned to print.  Deli paper is large, fairly transparent (which makes it easy to tell when you’ve got a great print) and so versatile.  I love finding new ways to make marks in the paint for unique and colorful prints.  It’s always exciting to see what you get!

bubble wrap 1

Bubble wrap!  Isn’t this fabulous?  So unusual and organic.  It reminds me of something you’d find in the sea.

bubble wrap big

This is the result of pressing the bubble wrap onto a clean sheet after using it to mark the plate.  I love this look, too!  There are lots of colors because I didn’t clean my plate in between rollings, so dregs of paint from the previous batch were pulled up at the same time.

rubber ball 1

The marks on this sheet were made by rolling around a small ball (thank you for letting me steal your toy, kittehs!) that had been wrapped in a few rubber bands.

rubber ball 2If you leave a plain sheet next to your work surface, you can roll the rubber-band ball onto it to clean off the paint and make yet another interesting background.  (The colors behind the marks are from another printed sheet that is glued to the back of it.)

bubble wrap 2This is large bubble wrap plus rubber-band ball.

bubble wrap smallAnd small bubble wrap!

So, what to do with all those printed papers?  I needed to figure out something before they reached the ceiling.  I checked around a little and found a blogger who said they had glued the papers together back to back and used them as journal pages.  What a great idea!  I happened to have a set of 5″x7″ canvas book covers from the clearance aisle at Michael’s that were just the right size for a photo album.  Once the pages were glued together and cut, I sewed around the edges to make sure they didn’t separate and to add some texture and interest.  I also adhered printed deli paper to the canvas covers.  I didn’t think glue stick would work that well, so I glued the paper on with gel medium.  It took some time to dry, but it worked perfectly!

photo album

The heart was made from leftover scraps of patterned paper cut into squares, with “stitching” added with a black pen.  Though you can’t tell from the photo, the heart is mounted on foam tape to add dimension and pop it off the bubble-wrap printed background.

I had some small pieces left over from cutting out the pages for the album that were the perfect size for an ATC (Artist Trading Card).  So, on to my next project!  I will definitely be making more of these.

gelli atcI have big plans for a few more of the deli papers.  Recently Michael’s had a sale on photo boxes, which I like to use for studio storage.  They didn’t have any patterned ones that I especially liked, so I purchased several of the plain white ones.  I think the Gelli prints will look amazing on them; bonus: they’re thin enough to cover a box without causing issues with the lid fitting properly.  After that, I’ll need to come up with even more ideas, because my stack of prints is getting dangerously near the ceiling, and I make at least a dozen more of them per day!

Many thanks to Terri for encouraging me to try the Gelli Plate.  This is one “trendy” gee-gaw that was well worth the investment!

We have a new baby!

March 7, 2014

Of the feline variety, that is!  We’d been talking for a few weeks about getting a little pal for Taz, our feisty Lynx Point.  While perusing Petfinder a few days ago, I came across a “special needs” kitty sponsored by the local SPCA.  They were calling her “Broken Leg Kitten;” which was certainly descriptive, if nothing else! Someone had found her in a state park, dragging her right hind leg behind her, which they discovered had been broken for some time, poor little thing.  At first they were going to put her down to alleviate her misery. Then the SPCA got involved and instead, a specialist fixed her leg and she was groomed for adoption.  Hooray!

We feel so lucky to have her.  She’s the sweetest, most precious little girl kitty ever.  I fell in love the moment I saw her photo, and knew instantly on meeting her that she was going to come home with us.

junipurr 1

For now she has to live in our master bathroom, as she’s not allowed to put a lot of strain on her leg. They estimated she is about 7 or 8 months old, and she only weighs 5.2 lbs! (Not to worry; we will soon have her fattened up!)

Dude had cut a rectangle in the bottom of the door leading from our closet to the master bathroom quite some time ago, so the kitties can come and go as they please while we sleep. Instead of blocking that opening, we attached an old cabinet door with a screen there, so the other kitties can see and smell her while she recuperates.  Waphels, our brave boy, was the first to check her out.  He seems quite fascinated! Taz and Boo-Boo are keeping their distance for now.

junipurrr 2

We just brought her home today and she has a name already! Dude decided he wanted to honor our favorite month, June (our anniversary and his birthday month) and the fact that she starts purring the moment you touch her. Thus,  “Junipurrr”! (Dude made certain I knew that it’s spelled with three R’s.)  I suspected he got that from the “Juniper Breeze” liquid soap I put in the kitchen, but he claims he made it up.  Hmmm.  Anyway, meet Junipurrr!  (I feel silly typing that third R, but what are you gonna do?)

(I have to apologize for the quality of the photos; the light in our bathroom is not the best!  Video here; check it out!)

Next day – more photos.  We are letting her out of the bathroom for a couple hours at a time and she is having such a good time exploring and playing!

juni on track 1

juni on track 2

Valentine ATCs

January 13, 2014

I join every ATC swap at Artchix Studio that is offered.  Not only do you get beautiful ATCs in return, but Helga always adds some wonderful goodies from her store and decorates the packages so beautifully.  It’s like getting a gift in the mail!  Always, always look forward to it.

The first swap this year is for Valentine ATCs; the only requirement that you use something from Artchix Studio.   I looked through my collection of digital images and found a collage sheet with vintage ladies that have bird wings added to them.  This particular lady was wearing red and her hands were in the perfect position to hold a heart.

valentine atc


Rather than add a heart to the image, I did it in reverse by punching a heart-shaped hole in the ATC and backing it with some black & white gingham ribbon. The background features “Christmas Red” Stickles, part of a paper doily, a stamped crown and the letter Q and a heart stamped in red to evoke the feeling of a playing card.

I can’t wait to see what everyone else makes!  My ATC collection is growing to “hoarder” proportions…and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s on the Way!

December 31, 2013

Valentine’s Day, that is.  Can you believe it’s only six weeks from now?  It’s one of my favorite holidays to create for; right up my alley with the frou-frou and bling and pastel colors.  I’ve already gotten a good start with some “love coupon” books, the perfect gift for the guy or gal who has everything.  (Probably I should make some more suitable for guys?!  Yeah, good idea.)

Tea-stained and stenciled manila shipping tags comprise the covers, and the pages are sewn in with a simple long stitch.

cupid coupon sr


The paper inside is by Bazzill, called “Vintage Market.”  Soft pastel colors, florals and chevrons combined with ads, newspaper articles and dictionary definitions from 100+ years ago.  So pretty!

inside pages coupon sr



doves coupon sr

Yes, I’m Addicted

December 31, 2013

…to a video game, that is!  It’s an obsession that has lasted several months and isn’t likely to abate any time soon.  The game, which is free, is called “My Singing Monsters,” and when you first try it, you might think it’s pretty silly, shake your head and decide to move on.

I’m so glad I didn’t.

As stated so eloquently in my favorite review of the game, “I approve highly of this game and recommend it, not only as a winsome past time, but as a panacea for generalized anxiety disorder.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

In a nutshell, you start with an island that is devoid of life, save for a few trees.  You purchase eggs to hatch monsters – yes, monsters that sing! and play instruments! – and later you can breed monsters to create new and even better creatures.  As your experience grows, along with the monsters, who reward you with gold coins for feeding and pampering them, you can discover new islands and new monsters and, more importantly, new songs!

Even more exciting is the ability to “purchase” plants, structures, paths, statues and other objects to beautify and personalize your landscape.  This is where your creativity really sings!  Another fun feature is that you can view and vote for the islands of other players. I have to tell you, I’ve been impressed to discover a number of “Martha Stewart Monster Decorators” out there!

Like a good animated Disney movie, this game appeals to all ages and is highly entertaining.  And did I mention it’s free? It started as an app for mobile devices last year, and a few months ago was made available on the Big Fish game site for pc’s.

Thanks, Big Fish!  I’m hooked!  (Pun totally intended.)

Here’s a look at my “Cold Island,” a work in progress.  (Click to see larger.) For the next week or so, it is all dressed up for the holidays!

xmas island

Dia de los Gatos

October 29, 2013

Or, how to make your pet into a Day of the Dead celebrant!  I used one of my favorite images of Taz, our wild & pretty kitty.

step 1

step 2

Just place the image face-down and rub the back of it with Citra-Solv. It works quickly and has a pleasant smell, unlike other solvents. And when you’re finished, you can clean your brushes with it.  I love this stuff!

Now, for those of us who can’t draw worth a darn, this makes the perfect basis for your painting.  No guesswork involved!

step 3

Bright, happy colors are the order of the day here.  This is a celebration!

step 4

Of course, these do not need to resemble “real” bones whatsoever. I like Sakura’s “Gelly Roll” white pen; it works beautifully to outline, then just fill in with white paint.

step 5

This will provide a “dam” between the white bones and the black background.  I forgot to include a photo to illustrate painting the rest of the cat black, so just pretend it’s here.  :)

step 6

Consult “Day of the Dead” images to get an idea of how to decorate the skull.

step 7

I chose a palette of aqua, fuchsia, bright orange, yellow and lime green.

step 8

step 9

step 10

step 11

step 12

step 13

Ahh, much better. She looks really scary now!


step 14

And there you have it!  I mounted the painting on some bright background papers. Let the festivities begin!

dia de los gatos sr

Practical and Pretty

October 21, 2013

So I picked up a bunch of these handy post-it notepads last year from Pick Your Plum and finally got around to decorating them.  I think they’ll make perfect Secret Santa gifts for the gals in my office!



The pads, which measure 3×5, contain plain notepaper, a set of full-size yellow sticky notes and five colors of sticky “flags”.  Each pad had a plain chipboard cover and included a little pen, which is held in with a loop of elastic.



They were so much fun to decorate!  I used my favorite black & white gingham ribbon to make a nice border on all the inside back covers that show beneath the pen.  It was a great way to showcase images that are too small for “full-size” projects and use up some of my mulberry paper and printed tissue scraps.




Well, I’m off to finish a (completely unrelated) Halloween project that involves chemicals and messiness and just plain all-around fun.  I’ve been experimenting with solvent transfers, which have proved to be quite exciting!

Cigars – 5 Cents

October 3, 2013

Which was probably the going price when I first decorated this wooden cigar box back in 2001.  I ran across it a couple weeks ago while reorganizing my studio, and I have to tell you, it was pretty awful.  I’d basically just copied pictures and quotes from a Tracy Porter book and glued them all down, along with tissue and lace papers, using some sort of high-gloss substance that encased it all in a shiny, resin-like shell. Nothing was distinct about any of the elements; they were all pale pastel colors that seemed to blend into one another. Worse, some of the pictures were photos of textural embellishments, such as pom-poms and paper flowers, which is a ridiculous substitute for actual textural embellishments!

Happily, I forgot to take photos of the monstrosity before I sat down to rework it.  (Because I’m easily embarrassed, even though I’ve come a long way in the last 12 years!)

The first thing the box needed was a good sanding and a coat of gesso on the lid. Then I applied a napkin with a pink rose design. Next came a bit of torn mulberry paper, a pretty image in a rose frame cut from a book, two die cut parchment doilies, ribbon, lace, rhinestones and glitter.

rose cigar box 1

I improved the rest of the box by covering the front with velvet ribbon and lace and the sides and back with washi tape.  A bit of pink lace with a chipboard butterfly hanging in the front makes it easy to pull up the lid.

rose cigar box 2

I’ve been collecting pretty boxes to store things in my newly reorganized studio; I think this one will be perfect to hold my collection of die cuts.


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