I’m Totally Ready for Christmas Now

November 16, 2014

Okay, I’m really not. But my desk at work will be quite festive very soon! I went shopping with my BFF, Terri, and found this beautiful sparkly reindeer at Michael’s. Given his weight, I think he’s made of resin, with a burlap texture and a silvery-gold coating of glitter. Reindeer are my favorite icons of the holiday season, and with a 40% off sale and a 25% coupon to boot, I simply could not resist him!

In the next aisle, we found Christmas picks on sale, and I chose one in shades of green and indigo with glittery accents. I didn’t have ribbon to match, so I dyed white seam binding with Distress Ink reinkers (Worn Lipstick and Broken China) to make the perfect color ribbon for the reindeer’s neck. After tying a fluffy bow and adding leaves and berries from the pick, I glued an Artchix Studio image onto a tag I’d colored with Distress Ink and inserted an eyelet so I could tie it on with a length of green embroidery floss.

close up deer

Couldn’t resist adding a shawl of wide satiny lace around the deer’s shoulders, just for a little added extra shabby chic flair. The photo doesn’t do him justice at all; he’s really such a beauty!

deer plain

While photographing him, I ran across a dish of purple glass pebbles that had come out of a heart-shaped bottle I’d found at the thrift store a few weeks ago. I had left them outside in the rain and weather because they were covered with a yucky oily substance from the bottle. Now nice and clean, they seemed perfect for my deer to stand in. Serendipity!

deer pebbles

It’s Not Like Coasting

November 10, 2014

The minute I saw these coasters, I fell in love! They’re so pretty and cute and such a quick and fun way to use up fabric scraps to make something practical that everyone can  use.

Presuming you’re not challenged in some way, that is.

Apparently I am. Oh, she makes it look so easy! And it probably IS easy! Just not for me.

I used strips from a “random” jelly roll purchased from an Ebay seller who puts them together from leftover fabrics for about a third the price of a “matchy-matchy” jelly roll. My first problem, which I did not realize right off the bat, is that the talented lady who makes these coasters used strips that are a yard long. My strips were only 22″. I wondered why my coasters were turning out so small! Hers are 5″ across; my first four measured just barely 4″.

While sewing the first coaster, I forgot her admonishment to keep everything loose so that the sides wouldn’t curl up.  So of course the sides curled up, and I got what looks like a tiny sombrero.  (Or, “cat bed,” as Dude called it.)

coaster 1

What a mess, right? Undaunted, I tried again, this time aiming for “loose,” and ended up with one that didn’t curl, but also wasn’t actually attached in several areas.

coaster 2

So small! So puffy! And why did I continue to use blue thread?  It doesn’t go with those colors at all!

Apparently I instantly forgot about the blue thread thing, and continued on, making a third coaster that looked even worse with the blue thread. On the bright side, it wasn’t too tight and wasn’t too loose. Still too small. But ugh, that blue thread!

coaster 3

Alas, what I didn’t know was that this was to be the last coaster that ended up almost round. For, while I did wise up and put light pink thread in the machine for the last coaster, which helped the appearance considerably, the poor thing ended up looking like a puffy oval pancake.

coaster 4

Yikes.

Afterwards, I figured out the whole size thing and decided to attach strips together to make the coasters bigger. I just knew that would help with the whole “roundness” problem, too. Just knew it!

Alas, it did not.

Here’s my first attempt with the longer strips.  A good size now, but again not loose enough and so it curled on the edges.  Also, what the heck happened on the right there? It’s like the end pieces decided to make a run for it.

bigger sadder coaster 1

Bright side: If I ever get a 6″ cat, it will have the perfect place to nap.

Believe it or not, the second attempt was even worse. I managed to make it mostly flat, but it’s so lopsided it looks like someone chopped the edge off with a cleaver.

bigger sadder coasters 2

Also, I stooopidly thought I could skip trimming off the selvage edge because it would “disappear” into the coils. But no, there it is, waving like a little ingredients list, advising everyone that the coaster is made of “fabric.”

::sigh::

So that’s it. I was gonna make super awesome gifts for all my co-workers, using only a few strips of fabric, some thread, some time and someone else’s ingenuity! Now they’ll probably have to settle for something dumb, like a cheap coffee mug with Santa on it filled with chalky chocolate.

grumpy mug

::cue sad trombone noise::

Compendium Challenge 13: Part Deux

October 25, 2014

At the last minute, I went ahead and made another album while I waited for the laundry to wash and dry. Our fluffy lil’ Junipurr has a lot of sparkle and sass, so I added lots of Distress Stickles to sparkle things up. The flourishes are grungeboard colored with Tea Dye Distress ink and enhanced with Tarnished Brass Distress Stickles. The letters are a stick-on alphabet that used to be striped green and yellow; I dyed them with Espresso alcohol ink and added Shabby Shutters Distress Stickles.

junipurr journal 1

Unfortunately these photos aren’t the best; it was dark when I finished and I had to use my Daylight lamp instead of the real daylight to photograph. I look forward to filling it with pictures of cute lil’ Junipurr!

Don’t forget to join us over at Linda’s for these fun challenges; you can win a prize from one of the great sponsors (this time it’s Inspiration Emporium), and get so much inspiration from the Curiosity Crew!

junipurr journal 2

Compendium Challenge: Lucky 13!

October 24, 2014

Over at Linda Ledbetter’s, we’re continuing the fun bi-weekly challenges of creating every project in Tim Holtz’s latest book Compendium of Curiosities 3. Each challenge is sponsored and prizes are to be won! This time we are decorating Tim’s “worn cover” and the sponsor is Inspiration Emporium, with a very generous prize for the winner and a nice discount for anyone who participates!

I learned to make rag quilts last month and once I knew it was going to become somewhat of an obsession (::ahem:: – WHAT giant fabric stash?), I decided to make a sewing journal to document all my projects. It’s almost full already, with fabric swatches, photos and journaling, so I decided a second volume is in order.

Enter Tim’s Worn Cover and ring binder system. I just love the small size and thickness of these covers and that you can either add the ring binding piece or sew the pages in.

I found two images of the same pretty lady sitting at her sewing machine that I just fell in love with. This one is slated to grace the cover of my first sewing journal as soon as I have the insides done:

lunagirl02

Isn’t she just gorgeous? I love the flowers strewn about and the excited expression on her face. Probably I don’t have the same expression while I’m sewing (have to concentrate so I don’t stab myself too awfully much with pins), but I certainly feel it!

She looks a little less thrilled  in her second pose (maybe a pin got her already), but just as lovely. This is the image I decided to use on my worn cover:

sewing woman

I started by tearing and distressing a corrugated cardboard piece for the background layer, then painted it pink with mint green streaks. I used Walnut Stain Distress ink to color two grungeboard flourishes and letters. All that was needed then was a bit of lace and a flower. I tied the ring binder into the book with a length of seam binding that I’d colored with Vintage Photo and Worn Lipstick Distress Inks. Everything then got a good few swipes of the Walnut Stain ink to tie it all together and make it look well-used and grungy.

sewing journal 1

The ribbon was still a little damp when I took the photos; it has since dried to a beautiful soft pink color.

I have two different worn covers left to play with; I think the next one is going to be a photo album to hold pictures of our newest little feline friend, Junipurr. (It’s only fair, since I already have an album devoted to Taz!)

sewing journal 2

Two Worlds Collide: Compendium Challenge #12

October 10, 2014

I’ve been taking part in the bi-weekly challenges over at Linda Ledbetter’s blog, where we’ve been working our way through Tim Holtz’s third installment of Compendium of Curiosities book. Unfortunately I couldn’t participate last time because the challenge was to use one of the current colors of Distress Embossing Powder, and I only had a few of the discontinued ones. (I’m going to hoard those until retirement and then sell ‘em for a million bucks on Ebay!)

Even though I didn’t take part in that challenge, I was very busy with creative work. It all started when my bestest gal pal, Terri, decided she wanted to try quilting. She and I are paper artists, for the most part, so this was quite a departure! Also, I am not a “precision and perfection” kinda gal by any means, nor do I have the patience for any project that takes weeks or months. Hours to completion is more my speed, so the idea of quilting didn’t really appeal at all. But then I discovered the wonderful, fun and highly satisfying world of rag quilts! What is a rag quilt? Only the best way for a beginner (or impatient, non-perfect, non-sewer) to make a beautiful and useful quilt in hours instead of days! The quilt is constructed by sewing squares or strips together, seam side out, then snipping the seams so they’ll fray in the wash. The end result has a lovely, soft, shabby-chic look, and the best part is that you can be a little “wonky” with the construction and it won’t even be noticeable!

When I get into any new creative endeavor, I tend to go nuts and make zillions of them.  Happened with book making, soaping, knitting, felted handbags, gelli plate printing…the list goes on. Rag quilts are no exception; I have made five of them in the last two weeks and have plans for at least five more. I think they’re going to make amazing holiday gifts; suitable for both genders and all ages. The creativity and fun are in picking out fabrics and laying them out together, and the construction is so easy and quick.

Here are four of the rag quilts I’ve made so far. I have given each of them a name; it seemed appropriate to name them instead of having to refer to “that one with the orange-y fabrics” or whatever. The first one was made with flannel fabric donated to me by a lovely gal I met on Etsy. When she heard I wanted to try rag quilting, she insisted on sending me a box full of pre-cut squares! She had made her first quilt with donated fabric and wanted to “pay it forward.”  Thank you, Deb! I will remember your kindness every time I snuggle up under “Kiddy Pool.” Isn’t it cute and fun?

kiddy pool

My husband named it “Kiddy Pool” because it’s mostly blue and because of the rubber duckies swimming in one of the squares!

My husband also named the next one, which is almost big enough to fit a queen-sized bed. (I got ambitious after making a small one and wanted to go big this time!) I told him it had a vibrant, tropical vibe and he immediately said “Hawaiian Punch.”  (Sure, why not?) I made it from fabric gotten for a song from an Etsy seller who had long strips left over from other projects.

hawaiian punch

My favorite so far is a little throw made from pre-cut squares from yet another Etsy seller. (It’s so convenient to use pre-cut squares; it saves a lot of time and my cutting skills are still very amateurish!) This one is called “Manitou Blue,” named after the street my friend Terri lives on. This one is for her.  :)

manitou blue

Finally, the rag quilt I made for my niece’s Sweet Sixteen birthday earlier this week. It took a LONG time to cut, sew and clip all those hearts (and the letters spelling her name), but it was so worth it. I love this so much I decided to make a similar quilt (without the name) in a size to cover the bed in our guest room, which is decorated in the shabby-chic style.

i heart muffins front

So what does all this have to do with the Compendium of Curiosities challenge? Mixed media, baby! The challenge this time is hand-tinting photographs with Distress ink products. I LOVE hand-tinting photographs; I learned how to do this back in 2005 at a convention from Tim himself. The method described in the Compendium is slightly different now in that it uses updated products, but the technique is much the same. I had forgotten just how enjoyable the process is and I hand-tinted many, many photos in the last few days.

Because I’ve been so into rag quilting, it occurred to me that it would be fun to make a mixed-media project using a rag quilted piece as the base of a wall hanging, and then add all my “usual” fun stuff to that. Two worlds colliding!

hanging 1 girl 1

hanging 2 flower

hanging 1 girl 2

hanging 1 key

hanging 2 girl

hanging 2 butterfly

I picked up four coordinating fat quarters from Joann’s, pieced together the hanging and sewed it “rag quilt” style, with the lovely, shabby-chic frayed edges. Then it was just a matter of adding the tinted photos and some pretty embellishments, like a flower, lace, beaded hat pins, metal key and a paper butterfly colored with chalk.

hanging 1 close

It turned out so pretty and was so much fun to make and I still had more tinted photos.  Soooo…

hanging 2 girl 2

…I made a second one! This time I added some Stickles flourishes. Can’t go long without getting out the Stickles!

hanging 2

Won’t you join us at Linda’s? We’re having a wonderful time creating our way through Tim’s Compendium; there’s so much inspiration from the design team and the possibility of winning a fabulous prize package during each challenge! The sponsor of Challenge 12 is The Funky Junky Boutique, for all your “frilly and funky” projects!

hanging 2 close

Dedicated

September 13, 2014

So, as mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been involved in an online art retreat the past few weeks sponsored by the Art Is…You folks. Been having so much fun learning and interacting with other participants and taking part in swaps and challenges.  It’s the next best thing to being there – and quite a bit less time-consuming and expensive, too!  :)

One of my favorite classes so far is by Lesley Venable; she shows how to make this very cool assemblage, called “Captured,” using two cigar boxes and a mint tin.

lesley captured

Isn’t it awesome? I was instantly inspired! My first task was to gather three containers that would nest well together. I started with a nice-sized cigar box from my collection.

ded cigar box

Unfortunately I didn’t have another cigar box small enough to fit inside it. I did have a Maya Road tin filled with chipboard crowns, however!

ded maya tin

And while I did have a mint tin, I didn’t like the way it looked inside the other tin. So instead I grabbed the cover off a little wooden box of alphabet stamps.

ded stamp box

The boxes fit well together. I initially tried it out this way, with the tin horizontal, but eventually decided it looked better placed vertically.

ded nesting boxes

My inspiration was this photograph of a pretty Victorian lady.  I just love the intensity of her gaze; she looks like a no-nonsense type who’s fiercely devoted to a cause. I decided she owned her own business, left to her when her husband died. Against all convention and advice, she was determined to run the business her own way and dedicated to making it work and honoring her late husband’s memory. Thus, I named my piece “Dedication.”

ded pretty gal

My lady has a hard nose for business, so I used reproduction antique ledger paper for the background in the cigar box. But she also has a softer, more feminine side, so I lined the inside of the tin with the top layer of a beautiful floral napkin. Lesley used excelsior to fill her outside box, but since I didn’t have anything similar, I decided to use rows of buttons on each side instead. I layered a variety of small decorative buttons onto large plain wood buttons stained with alcohol ink. I’ve had this particular pretty button for literally years and finally found a use for it!

dead lovely button

After much painting, staining, and gathering of metal enhancements, such as a large crown for the top, two filigree corner pieces and four Tim Holtz box feet, which I highlighted with white paint, my box finally started to come together. I made a stamped banner for the title, added some sanded brads and thought I was done. But then, looking at it later (you must never call a piece done until you’ve gone away for awhile and come back later!), I realized it needed some height on the top. I dug through my “accouterments” drawer and found a plastic drawer pull, one of a set of four I’d found at a thrift store a few years ago. Plastic = tacky, but it had a good shape.

ded ugly drawer pull

A coat of chocolate brown paint, some highlighting with walnut Distress stain, and it was perfect for the top of the assemblage.

dead painted pull

One of the products we retreat attendees received in our “treasure box,” mailed to us ahead of time, is something called Apoxie Clay. This is a wonderful substance that can be used in a myriad of ways. Lesley showed us how to use it to attach certain hard-to-adhere items to her assemblage, and thank goodness I had some! The metal crown I used (found at Michael’s) is curved, and there weren’t many surfaces the tiny edges could grip onto because of the placement. Apoxie Clay was perfect to fill in the curved surface and adhere the crown to the boxes. There’s no way that baby’s coming off!

Anyway, here is “Dedication” in all its glory. It’s fairly different from Lesley’s version, but all the tricks and tips she shared came into play in one way or another.

ded full front

The tin was colored with alcohol inks, as were parts of the crown. Confession: I hadn’t planned to put buttons on the top, but I accidentally spilled some paint next to the drawer pull and made a mess trying to clean it up! So voila, a couple of buttons.

ded full top buttons

Shhh! If anyone asks, I meant to put those there the entire time.

ded full angle

Thank you, Lesley, for an amazing and fun class. I was so inspired, had a great time making this and can’t wait to see where the Reality Retreat takes us next!

Spooky Time

September 7, 2014

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been enjoying the very first online art retreat sponsored by the Art Is…You folks. I had been reading about their retreats for a few years now and always wanted to attend one, but they’ve just been a little too far away. Now there’s an online retreat, and it’s been really fun! We’re learning via video, chatting in a forum and taking part in challenges and swaps. One of the best parts was a box that arrived ahead of time filled with all manner of artsy goodies!

The swap is for Halloween or fall themed tags. We were sent tags in our box to use, if we wished, but were also allowed to use larger ones for the swap. I decided on the larger size and made two sets of three. They’re all similar, design-wise, but I used different images and color combinations for each.

owl tag 1

The background was made by covering the tag with either Spiced Marmalade or Dried Marigold Distress ink, then splashing with water droplets to create a mottled effect. I used an “ink blot” stamp and black Memories ink to create a nice overall texture.

owl tag 2

The images are mounted on corrugated cardboard from which I tore the top layer, then painted either purple with forest green highlights, or forest green with purple highlights.

owl tag 3

The black with white swirls layer is washi tape, and below I’ve added black Dresden which I covered with Versamark ink and then dusted with either Interference Blue or Interference Purple Pearl-Ex powder. The effect, which is difficult to see in a photo, is a soft metallic glow.

owl tag 4

Amazingly, I did not use Stickles on these, given that I use Stickles at the slightest opportunity, but I made up for it by die-cutting the letters from glitter cardstock using a Tim Holtz alphabet die. Seam binding ribbon and a couple of steel grey eyelets in the top corners were the finishing touch. These were so much fun to make and I’m excited to see the spooky creations I receive in return!

CC#3 Challenge 10: Is it TIME for Winter Yet?

September 4, 2014

At Linda Ledbetter’s fun and welcoming blog, we’ve been working our way through Tim Holtz’s Compendium of Curiosities 3, and her talented Curiosity Crew always makes a wonderful variety of projects to inspire. Check it out – and don’t forget to check out the great discount at this challenge’s sponsor, The Funky Junky Boutique!

Here in Florida, the heat of summer can get a bit…well, tedious. Fall is on the way, but it will be at least two more months before we can expect temperatures even approaching what you’d call “chilly.” So when it was announced over at Linda’s that it’s TIME to create with an assemblage clock, I was very much inspired by those who did a Christmas theme. It may have been well over ten years since I’ve seen snow, but the thought of cooler weather is quite refreshing right now!

I decided to go with “shabby chic” style and colors for my clock, and also decided to do a general winter theme, so it could be left out before and after the holidays. I wanted a pretty woodland setting, so the first thing I did was cut the silhouette of a deer from cardstock, paint it white and then load it up with Stickles. Because Stickles! Also, shabby chic means pink, aqua, minty green. Since I was doing the outside of the clock in the pale aqua (to make it look icy) and the little trees were green, the deer just HAD to be pink!  (HAD TO.)

winter clock closeup

I spray-dyed the bottle-brush trees, flicked white paint on them to resemble snow, and set them on a bed of white Styrofoam packing peanuts covered with texture paste and mica chips. The background is sheet music; I was fortunate to find a part that reads “saw the sky at night; sky of deepest night…” What could be more perfect for the sky in the background? I colored some snowflake buttons with alcohol ink and mounted them on foam dots and the inside was done.

The outside took a very long time to create, but I am so happy with the result. Started with a coat of gesso, then the pale aqua paint (a color called “Parrot Blue” mixed with white), then embossed it here and there with glitter embossing powder and dabbed with texture paste to resemble snow.

Added my usual embellishments: girly stuff like a flower, a cute little banner outlined with eucalyptus Stickles, grungeboard flourishes covered with silver Stickles, and my clock was finally done!

winter clock front

I thought about putting some “stuff” on the top, but I really like the frosty, snowy look and didn’t want to cover that up. This was definitely a challenge (I am not so good at the 3-dimensional stuff!) and it took two days to get it all done, but I am so glad for these challenges that make us think outside our 2-dimensional boxes!

winter clock angle

CC3 Challenge #9

August 29, 2014

Hard to believe we’re already on Challenge #9 in lovely Linda Ledbetter’s Compendium of Curiosities 3 challenge! This time we are to use Tim Holtz Framelits (a stamp and matching die set) in our creations as we turn to page 63 of A Compendium of Curiosities Vol. 3. You can play along too! Head on over to the Studio L3 blog and join in the fun anytime. The Inspiration Emporium is sponsoring this challenge and you could win $50 to spend at the store! (If you just can’t wait to shop, check out the blog for a great discount.)

Admittedly I had some trouble this time; I love the butterfly stamps, but for some reason I couldn’t get a good image to come out. I tried Distress ink, permanent ink, pigment ink with embossing, you name it – but it was not my day for a good stamping! I did have the best luck with permanent ink, but it didn’t look that great on the papers I tried. Then inspiration struck. Butterflies are transparent, right? Why not stamp on a transparency?

Voila! Finally I achieved the look I was trying for. I turned the transparency over and colored the back side with Ranger alcohol inks. (Do not try to color permanent ink with alcohol inks, or a giant slushy mess will result! Don’t ask me how I know this.) Problem was, mounting them on a surface took away the beauty of the transparent look. What to do, what to do? Then it struck me.

About a week ago, Amazon’s “Gold Box Deal of the Day” was a heat laminator. Regular price $80; gold box deal price – an astonishing $18 – delivered!!!  Absolutely no way I could pass that up. I’ve been a laminating fool ever since it arrived, and having so much fun making book covers, magnets, bookmarks, etc. It occurred to me that laminating would make my butterflies strong enough to work as jewelry components; then they could dangle in the air and the transparent effect would be preserved.

Now I am not a jewelry maker by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have some beading wire and random beads lying around. I decided on earrings, as the butterflies were the perfect size. A run through the laminator and then another through my Sizzix Big Shot with the framelits die, and they were ready to go!

butterfly earrings 3

 Not too bad for my first try at earrings! I didn’t have any ear wires as I don’t have pierced ears myself, so I had to run to the store and pick those up. Since I couldn’t show these on a “real” ear, I made a little display for them out of cardstock covered with crumpled tissue paper and then outlined with silver Stickles. Because Stickles always have to show up somewhere in my creations!

butterfly earrings 1

Now all I have to do is decide who to give these to.  I’m the only one of my friends who doesn’t have pierced ears!

butterfly earrings 2

CC3 Challenge #8

August 11, 2014

We’re having so much fun over at Linda Ledbetter’s taking part in the Tim Holtz Compendium of Curiosities 3 challenges! This time we’re doing a technique called Faded Layers, which involves alcohol ink, a stencil and a willingness to be patient while the technique works its magic!

This challenge’s sponsor is the Funky Junkie Boutique.  Want a nice discount? Visit the challenge page, adore all the eye candy, and consider joining us; we are having a blast.

The Faded Layers technique, because it is made with alcohol ink, results in bright, fun colors.  These colors made me think of celebrations, and as our newest kitten, Junipurrr, is one year old this month, I thought it would be fun to have a party for her! First thing was to make a cute little banner using one of Tim’s alphabet dies and pink glitter paper. The edges are outlined with Stickles.

party banner

See those pretty, colorful circles?  Those are the Faded Layers technique, made with Tim’s Burlap stencil and several different alcohol inks.

I added a burst of color elsewhere by cutting glitter paper with Tim’s rosette die and topping it with an inked paper flower.  And, of course, Stickles.

rosette

What’s a party without dancing?  This cute ballerina started out wearing white, but that’s way too boring for this shindig!  I colored her skirt with a purple Slick Writer and a silver paint pen.

ballerina

So what is this all adding up to? Only the cutest, most festive party hat ever!

hat sideThe hat is rolled-up cardstock, which I painted metallic silver, then added lots of circles punched from the Faded Layers paper, washi tape, lace, felt flower trim, patterned paper, rhinestones and yarn. Also, did I mention Stickles?

Happy birthday to Junipurrr, and to all the August-born Tim Holtz fans!

hat front


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