2017 Smash Journal

July 25, 2016

So Christmas in July is all over the place (how odd is it to have “Black Friday” sales right now?!) and it got me thinking about how busy I’ll be at the end of the year. Now, during the hazy, lazy days of summer, seems the best time to make my 2017 journal.

I don’t do a lot of what you’d call “art” journaling, per se; mostly I “smash” daily ephemera and photos, write captions and occasionally add rub-ons, stickers or penwork. My 2016 journal was made with colored cardstock, scrapbook paper and recycled book covers. This year I went with a scrappy fabric cover (naturally, as I’m obsessed with those right now!) and plain mixed media paper.

Yes, there is also bling. (Just a little!)

2017 journal front

The pages are sewn in, which isn’t usually difficult to do, but I made this so big (7×9) that I had a hard time fitting it in the sewing machine. So the page stitching got a little…wonky.

2017 journal wonky.jpg

Oh my goodness, that crazy, meandering line! It strongly reminds me of the path taken by an SUV in front of me the other day when I was driving to work. It was going 35 mph under the speed limit and swerving all over the place. When it finally pulled over so the huge line behind it could pass, it wasn’t a surprise to see the driver yakking on the phone. Which isn’t to say I was similarly distracted while sewing the pages into my book. I just had a lot of trouble wrestling the whole thing under the sewing needle, especially after the first four signatures were in! I could pick out those stitches and start over, but I’m actually okay with the wonky line. (If it were too neat, it would run the risk of being boring!)

Here’s the back:

2017 journal back

The inside is all leopard print. Which suddenly reminds me of the very early days of the internet (1982-ish?). I had an account with Q-Link, which eventually became America Online. Screen names were readily available and plentiful back then; you didn’t spend 20 minutes trying to figure out a handle nobody had taken, nor did you have to add a string of numbers to make yours unique. I chose “Leopardess” for my screen name, solely so I could use the tag line: “I’m usually spotted here.”

Yup, that was the height of hilarity back in ’82. (You kids get off my lawn!)

Back to the journal! As the paper is plain white, I plan to create backgrounds with chalks, watercolors, acrylics, etc as the year goes on. I die-cut 12 little tabs for the months on my Hello Kitty Sizzix Sidekick (the tab die is made by Quickcutz) and will add them as I go along. This way I won’t be limited to a certain number of pages per month. I do love tabs in a journal! They make it more casual and fun.

month tabs

It’s exciting to look at these representations of the upcoming year and try to imagine where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing each month! Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta do some Black Friday shopping…

The Humble Composition Book

July 17, 2016

What would we do without them?


It’s that time of year again – school supply shopping is upon us! I don’t know about you, but I adore school supplies, especially now that I no longer have to buy them. (But honestly, nothing compared to that fresh box of crayons at the beginning of the year! I always envied the kids whose parents bought them boxes that contained more than eight.)

I use a composition book in order to keep track of my Etsy sales and stats and buy a new one each year. Yes, it’s all there digitally, of course, but I’m a hands-on, book-lovin’ kind of gal, and because I stare at a computer screen for 12 hours at work, I don’t necessarily want to spend all my free time doing the same thing.

Each year I try to find a composition book that is somewhat prettier than the standard black & white or solid color offerings. But there’s not much out there that isn’t geared to kids or teens. Sometimes I decorate the cover, but I don’t always have the motivation or time to do so.

So enter…the composition book cover! I wanted one in the style of the scrappy notebooks I’ve been making, inspired by Carla Sonheim. The problem was in resolving the folded-over edges with a cover that has to have separate, sewn-down flaps. I took a page from my husband’s book (he’s always inventing new gadgets and gizmos!), and made a little paper model first. The process involved a lot of head-scratching and measuring and scribbling and fiddling, but I made it work!

heart comp 1

I made the hearts by ironing scraps onto double-sided fusible interfacing. I sewed rows of zig-zag stitching on the top heart and did some random straight-stitching on the bottom one. Then I used fabrics that coordinated with the hearts to create the cover.

heart comp 2

Creating the flaps was a little fiddly, but I managed to make them work!

heart comp 3

I wish I had thought of adding the button and elastic to hold it closed before I sewed the flaps down. It all worked out in the end, though, and turned out great for what was just supposed to be a prototype. I was inspired to make two mini comp book covers as well.

mini comp bright

“Hello, I’m tiny, but just as complicated to make as the large one!”

mini comp steampunk

“You knew there had to be a Steampunk version eventually!”

I’ll probably add a button/elastic closure to these as well. I’m not sure why I made these, actually, since I don’t yet own any mini comp books. (I’ve got a small notebook standing in for the photos, but it’s not quite the right size.) Clearly it’s time to do some back-to-school shopping!

Inspired by Carla Sonheim

June 14, 2016

About a year ago, it occurred to me I needed – okay, wanted  – to update my library of instructional mixed media art books. It had been quite a long time since I’d bought one and I knew there must be a bunch out there I hadn’t seen. One of those I purchased has lingered in my “to be read” pile since then and I just pulled it out a couple weeks ago.

Art Making, Collections and Obsessions by Lynne Perrella is an excellent book and I wish I’d picked it up earlier! It was fascinating to read about what other artists collect, and at least one example of finished work by each of 35 artists is included. So much inspiration! One photo in particular made me go “oooooh” as soon as I saw it. These little sewn journals by Carla Sonheim are just so precious I couldn’t wait to try making one!


Because I was fairly obsessed with rag quilting last year, I have a lot of fabric scraps, and this seemed like the perfect project to use some of those up. The little books are entirely sewn together, even the inside pages. Normally this would intimidate me, as I am not a seamstress by any means! But the loose, scrappy nature appeals wonderfully to my haphazard, imprecise style of creating, and once I tried one, I was hooked!

Carla’s journals feature her own artwork printed onto fabric and are quite appealing in their simplicity. I decided to use a vintage photo as the focus for my first foray, but I just couldn’t keep things simple. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw on a bunch of frou-frou! I managed to avoid glitter (for a change), but couldn’t resist some flowers and bling.

sewn journey journal

The photo, background map and “Artful Journey” were printed onto iron-on fabric sheets (these are the best – very sturdy and opaque and the printing comes out beautifully); the rest are fabrics from my scrap pile. I made a few little “errors” along the way, but I won’t point them out if you pretend not to notice them. Anyway, the free-style, scrappy nature of this process means a little flub here and there can easily be chalked up to artistic expression. 🙂

Of course, I could hardly wait to make another! This time I used my own art for the cover; part of a collaged postcard I’d created a few years ago for a swap. It was a blast picking out fabrics to go with the image. I’m afraid I’ve become a little obsessed with the leopard print! It’s great as a “neutral” for resting the eye from bright colors, while being a bit unexpected.

create sewn journal side

This project is SO MUCH FUN and I cannot wait to make a whole pile of these little treasures!

Criminal Case Fan Art

May 4, 2016

So I’ve been hooked on this online game, Criminal Case, for about the past year. In case you’re not one of the ten million who play this game, the premise is that you’re a homicide detective in the Grimsborough Police Dept. Work your way up through the ranks solving crimes while choosing how you look, what you wear, and for extra fun, what kind of animal will be your “police dog.” Your pet helps by searching out advantages in the game, such as energy and experience points. (Good doggy!)

In the lower ranks, dogs are the only choices, but as you progress through the game, other, more exotic options become available, like monkey, raccoon, giraffe, even an ostrich! Each animal has its own capabilities and advantages, but to me, none is so awesome (and so darned cute!) as the tiger.

tai gu close

Ever since I got the tiger, I’ve never looked back. Oh, they try to tempt me with mountain goats and robot cats, but nothing is as awesome as my big kitty friend. So in honor of this faithful police pet, I created a little homage made from Gelli-printed papers glued to a book board, enhanced with markers, gel pens, charcoal pencil and lined with washi tape. It measures 6″ wide by 7″ tall.

tai gu

Yep, I’m a total Criminal Case addict, and not ashamed to admit it! (Gotta run now; my current case isn’t gonna solve itself!

Update: This piece has been featured on the “>Criminal Case fan page!

Two Mermaids Are Better Than One

April 24, 2016

I have been seriously neglecting my Etsy shop lately (seriously! Neglecting!), but inspiration struck when I was shopping Michael’s bead sale a couple of weeks ago and found these awesome anchor-shaped turquoise-colored beads.

anchor beads

I was so inspired, in fact, that I made not one book, but two! The first features a mermaid pieced together from Gelli printed papers, using a stained glass pattern. I am still debating whether to list this in my shop; it took many hours to make and turned out so nice I think I might keep it!

mermaid side

I had originally planned to put a piece of “fishing net” along the bottom edge of the cover, but attempts to make my own net from embroidery floss turned out a little clunky. Fortunately I found the swirly rhinestone stickers in my stash; they add such a nice feeling of the moving ocean. I like the way the anchor beads are set off by the “pearls” on either end.

mermaid front

Before I found the rhinestones, I had told Dude about my failure to create an aesthetically-pleasing fish net. Unaware that I had found a substitute, he surprised me the next day by bringing home a plastic net bag full of onions! The bag is bright yellow. I mean, really, really bright yellow. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I likely couldn’t use it, but then I got the idea to try and color it with alcohol ink. It worked! I was attempting to make it a pretty ocean blue, but it turned out green instead. I think I like that better.

sea dreams side

And here is where I must apologize to anyone who has run into me personally in the last week or so (especially my poor dentist!), as Dude and I have been eating many, many onions. (They are so delicious fried up crispy in butter and salted!)

I still have a big piece of the netting bag left, plus a few remaining anchor beads, so maybe a third mermaid book will soon be in the works!

sea dreams front

What Does the Fox Say?

April 2, 2016

Honestly, I don’t know. Do they yip? Bark? Doesn’t matter; I think they’re awesome and cute and combine the best physical traits of cats and dogs. Once, on an early weekend trip to the grocery store, I saw two red foxes frolicking in the grass a couple hundred yards from the side of our rural road. They were fascinating to watch and so pretty.

So my thoughts turned to foxes when I discovered Lenna Andrews is hosting swaps again, after a long hiatus, and I couldn’t wait to join in the opportunity to add to my extensive ATC collection. There isn’t a subject theme, but the ATCs must be either sunset colors or ocean colors. I’m normally drawn to ocean colors (and am in fact working on a mermaid themed project at the moment), but I’ve been a bit obsessed with foxes lately, and their coloring is more conducive to those of a sunset.

fox atc

I started by making a bunch of Gelli prints with sunset colors, then found a photo of a fox, traced it, and added some fun touches, like a big ol’ heart. The design was transferred to the various printed papers, then each piece was cut out and glued into place with matte medium. The pieces were outlined with a black pen, then shaded with charcoal pencil.

What do my foxes say? Well, you’d have to look at the back of each card to find out; they have unique personalities and different thoughts to share!

all fox atcs

Steampunk Easter

March 26, 2016

Ranger is having a challenge to decorate Easter Eggs using Ranger products, and their examples are so cool – check them out!

When I think of Ranger, the first person that springs to mind is Tim Holtz. I’ve been a long-time fan, and love the story of how he got into the business – resisting at first! – and went on to become such an amazing and inspiring artist.

When I think of Tim Holtz, I think vintage, grungy and distressed, and wouldn’t you know it, Steampunk goes so well with that aesthetic. So I knew I was going to do a Steampunk egg and began by running metal tape through my Sizzix with Tim’s Riveted Metal embossing folder. I cut it into pieces and covered a silver Easter egg from the craft store, rubbing down any wrinkles. (With their unending curves, eggs are quite a challenge to cover with anything!)

I painted the egg with metallic bronze Distress paint, rubbed with black permanent ink to highlight the “rivets” then dabbed on some minty green paint here and there to mimic copper that has begun to rust. Somewhere along the line, I decided to make my egg into a balloon.  Little did I know what challenges lay ahead with that decision!

close up egg

I created a net out of black cord, which involved a lot of pauses to ponder and considerable head-scratching. (Which cord goes where, now?) The net was literally nailed onto the egg near the bottom so it would hang straight (thank you, Tim hammer!) and then I covered the nailed edges with gears created with  Tim’s gear die.

It took forever to get the chains to hang correctly, and please try not to notice they still aren’t quite right. I had mistakenly thought the challenge ended Sunday, and once I realized it ended a day earlier, I really had to scramble to get this done. (There may or may not have been tears as the clock counted down the minutes!)

steam egg 3

Tim Holtz copper jump rings attach the chains to the basket, which is cardstock covered with Tim Holtz metallic sticker strips that I colored with Ranger alcohol ink and rubbed with permanent ink to highlight the raised stars. The flag at the top is made with Tim Holtz tissue tape wrapped around a Tim Holtz memo pin. (Man, Tim is everywhere on this egg!)

It had just started to rain when I went outside to photograph this, so I didn’t have time to get the best pictures, but at least I got it done! (No more tears! LOL)

steampunk egg 1

Gelli Gone Wild!

March 16, 2016

So I’ve been continuing my love affair with making art by piecing together printed papers onto painted canvas. It’s so easy and so much fun and there are so many possibilities!

I finished this large (11×14) angel canvas the other day. The background is metallic lavender with metallic green stars; a bit difficult to see in a photograph. I liked the idea of 3-D elements, so I added rhinestones and a layered silk & paper flower. “She cast her radiance and her fragrance over me,” is from The Little Prince. The quote refers to a flower, but I think it could apply to the angel as well.

finished angel

Now after all those soft colors, my next project turned out bright and bold! I decided to create an homage to my feisty feline, Taz, because, well…it’s what I do! (I may or may not have an entire wall of the living room devoted to artwork featuring Taz, not only by myself but by quite a few other artists!)

I started by tracing my favorite photo of Taz to get the main features down, then added a little bird pal I’d modified from a stained glass pattern. The image was divided into sections with some fancy “doodling”, starting with her precious little heart. (It is precious! No matter how feisty she gets…)

The pieces took quite awhile to cut out and adhere, but it was super fun and I love the colorful result.

taz in the garden

Diane Salter Inspired

March 7, 2016

So the latest issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine has a wonderful article by Diane Salter, in which she makes beautiful art using those many Gelli printed papers we all have stacked up throughout the entire house (not just me?). Her sample piece is a cute vignette of teacups with a bird perched on top. I’ve been into foxes lately, so I chose a fox stained-glass pattern to use as my guide, not trusting myself to free-hand cut anything more complicated than a triangle!

(Foxes are awesome, aren’t they? Like the perfect balance between a cat and a dog. Only you can’t really keep one as a pet. Alas.)

I already had a gigantic stack of prints on deli paper, but this project requires something more opaque. So I forced myself to spend an evening making more Gelli prints on plain copy paper. My husband finally said, “Do you think you have enough? There are probably 100 here. Also, there is paint all over the kitchen.”

My answer? There are never enough.

So here’s what finally came about. I used the cover cut off a large old book as the substrate; gessoed and painted the background and used a Fude pen for the details. Diane uses a Pitt pen, but I didn’t have one of those and all the others I tried soon petered out on the matte-medium covered surface. (Pitt pens are on my shopping list!) I just love his little pink foots.

wild fox

This was super, super fun! I’m currently working on an angel on a large canvas with pearl paint in the background and softer colors. The first work I ever saw of Diane’s was this angel and I just fell in love with it. Mine won’t be anywhere near like hers, but I’m so inspired by her techniques!

diane angel

B is for…

February 21, 2016

So a friend at work asked me to make a card for her sister. It was for a very special occasion, and she wanted it to be “over the top.”

bday 1

Now, does her sister like pink? I don’t know. But this card is SUPER PINK. And over the top, just like my friend requested. I started with pink cardstock, added pink checkered paper, piled on pink flowers and glittered the heck out of some painted pink chipboard letters.

bday 2

So, what’s the occasion? Not her birthday. Not her anniversary. Not even Valentine’s Day. It’s to commemorate the day she beat breast cancer! (Hooray!)

The pink is, of course, the “official” color of the famous breast cancer charity, and the B represents her new “ta-tas”. She opted for a smaller cup size than nature had given her and is reportedly quite happy with them. Thus, a “B” day celebration!

bday 3

(I won’t mention my husband’s idea for how I could “enhance” the B to better represent the subject…but I’m sure you can imagine.)