Thursday, May 31, 2012


I have to admit to being a bit of an art slut.  As soon as I see an interesting project, I just have to go for it.  That's what happened recently when I saw my friend Teri's beaded cuff bracelet.  As soon as I got home I started ordering supplies.  They all arrived this week and I got to beading.  I didn't have to order any seed beads as I already have a stash of those.  Big surprise.  But I did get to spend a pleasant hour or two choosing some cabachons.  I ordered the brass bracelet blank, the material you actually do the beading on, the lining, the thread and the needles HERE.  They also have some very clear written directions, which were very helpful.  I got the cabachons HERE.

Teri was working from a book by Sherry Serafini, which, believe it or not, I do not own, but between seeing Teri's bracelet in person and reading some directions online I got the general idea. 

This is NOT difficult, but it is time consuming, and working with small beads and a very thin needle requires good lighting, so there was no 2:00am beading going on.  I'd work on it for an hour or so, go off to do something else, then pick it up again when I felt like it. 

You know I like to share my observations, so if this is something you'd like to try, I do have some thoughts that might help you.

You can't have too many needles and you MUST have a needle threader.  Working with these seed beads requires a #12 needle, which is very thin, very sharp, and easily bent.  I ordered a pack of 6 needles and went through 4 of them.

To have a really finished looking piece on the underside, I see now that having the lining (I used ultra suede) and the thread color match would have been much better.  But when I placed my order, the black ultrasuede I really wanted was out of stock, and being impatient (and an art slut) I just ordered what they had, which was grey.  I'd just as soon not have those black stitches visible, but it's hardly the end of the world. 

I have plenty of bracelet blanks so this won't be my last bracelet, but right now I'm thinking of ways to use this technique to make some bold dangly earrings.  Stay tuned.....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brushless Watercolor

That's the technique for this week's Compendium of Curiosities 2 challenge, found on page 49 in Tim's book (CC, Vol. 2).  You might be surprised when you see what is used for the color; I know I was.  It's quick and easy and has a lovely misty sort of look.  Since I'll soon be in the need of a greeting card, I thought I'd trim my piece down, mount it on a card base and be ready for the next happy occasion.

The yellow/orange background was achieved with Derwent's Inktense blocks.  I like using them for a first layer because although they blend beautifully when wet, once dry they are permanent and will not react with future layers.  Wendy Vecchi's "weeds" stamp is what I used for the technique, and then (shamelessly) lifted Linda's idea of then overstamping with archival ink to make the images pop.  I added the smaller version of the weeds on the bottom, but not with the brushless watercolor technique.  There, I just stamped them with distress inks.  There is some detailing with distress markers and gel pens, and a bit of ribbon and some buttons to embellish. 

This week (and all future weeks) one lucky participant will be chosen at random to receive a $25 gift certificate from a very generous sponsor, eclectic Paperie.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One Down, ????? To Go

I'm not on facebook very often, but yesterday I updated my status to tell the world that I was starting to fulfill my 2012 goal of finishing all my half (or less than) done projects.  That's how excited I was.  I was surprised at how many comments that posting generated.  Apparently I'm not alone in the "unfinished symphony" problem.  If I can do it, so can you.  Step away from the computer, DO NOT enter into any swaps or challenges this week, and get busy completing the unfinished.  You'll feel so much better.

My first project was the travel journal we began during the 2009 Tim Holtz/Wendy Vecchi cruise to Mexico.  On board we did all the foundation work....decorated the grungeboard pages, added some stamping, inking, etc., but I never got around to adding photos or any journaling.  I always keep a small notebook with me when I travel, so I had all the details I needed, and all the photos are on my computer, so it was just a matter of actually sitting down and DOING it.  Yesterday was the day.  Yea!

First of all, click HERE if you'd like to see what the journal looked like before I got started. (You'll have to scroll down when you get there to see the section on the journal.)   Look at it now!

There are enough tabbed pages to have a section for each day of the cruise, and each section also included pocket pages made from small brown paper bags.  The ribbons you see are attached to tags, inserted into each pocket.  You'll see more of that in a bit.

You can see here that I added a photo from my day in Los Angeles, prior to the cruise, some ephemera from the hotel, and a bit of journaling.  On the brown paper bag I glued down some Day 1 cruise notes that I cut from the newsletter you get every day on cruises.  These went on each bag.  If you journal or scrapbook it's a good idea to keep all the newletters if you cruise; bits and pieces of them come in very handy.

Here's a close up of the journaling tag that we made to insert in each bag pocket.  I had them all completed and just had to add the journaling.

Here are the front and back of the Day 1 tag.  Again, I used a bit of the daily newsletter as well as my own writing.  Thanks to my notetaking, I even could write down what I had for dinner each night.  In the greater scheme of things, is that information earth shattering?  No, of course not.  But I think it's those kinds of little details that make your journal or scrapbook pages come to life.  And in a million years I'd never have remembered our waiter's name, even though I did remember that he had a great personality and added a lot to our dinnertime fun.

In addition to the tags, the bag pockets are roomy enough to include other mementos, such as this welcoming letter from Scrapmap.  Other items that fit are additional photos, postcards, maps, etc.

This page shows photos of my workspace before we started working on this journal, and also me in the studio finishing up some decorating during my free time.  And you can see the journaling I added (computer generated on kraft cardstock).

Another bag pocket page.  In case you were wondering, all those pages were stamped using a fantastic foam alphabet set from way back when Tim worked with Junkitz.  No longer available, Tim had a few sets for sale, and I immediately scooped one up.  I use it a lot, and really love the look of it.

As I mentioned before, I always take notes when I vacation.  Although I used these notes in my journaling here, I didn't include every little detail.  So, I created a new bag pocket and inserted those notes inside.  Even though they really only amounted to scrawls in an old steno pad, I didn't want to lose anything I wrote. 

This shows just how nice and chunky my journal became.  I even have a few more spots on some of the pages for additional photos, so I just may go back and see if there are any I'd like to include.

I have a whole lot left to finish, but having this one finally completed has been great motivation for me to continue, until my "to-do" list is empty.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Another Two-Fer

Before I get into today's challenge(s) piece, I just noticed that my last blog post was my 600th.  And I wonder why my laundry never gets done.  Who knew?  Well, here's to having the right priorities, and onward to the next 600 posts. 

This week's Compendium of Curiosities 2 challenge can be found on page 38 of Tim's second book.  It is called Tissue Wrap Collage, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I have.  As an added bonus, The Funkie Junkie's Boutique is the sponsor, so there is a chance of winning a gift certificate.  Just sayin'.

When Linda announced the challenge I already had an (unexecuted) idea for the current Make Art! challenge on the Wendy Vecchi yahoo group, so I used the tissue wrap technique for my background and some Wendy stamps for the rest.  The challenge there was to make a tag and include a house.

So, here is my tag, ready to go out to the next person I know who is moving to a new home. 

Tim's Branch Tree die (cut from grungeboard) is what I used for the tissue wrap collage.  With a little snipping, I transformed Wendy's Art Market stamp (from the Destination Art set) into a pickup truck, hauling a house (which is also a Wendy stamp (from the Homemade Art set), also edited somewhat.  Both pieces were stamped with archival black ink on scraps of manila tag, and colored with distress markers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Two Projects, Three Challenges, and a Cool Technique

I know I said no more challenges or swaps until I finished some old projects, but I couldn't resist this month's tag in Tim's 12 Tags of 2012.  It features the beautiful faux porcelain technique, and it found me in the mood to haul out the melt pot.

I don't like copying Tim's tags exactly, so I just concentrate on the techniques, and my tag includes the faux porcelain flowers (I also used Primas, plus some others found in my stash), as well as the tissue paper background.  Instead of a spool, I placed my bouquet in one of Wendy Vecchi's art parts....the flower pot, which was gessoed, inked with the new peacock feathers distress ink, dusty concord and (also new) shaded lilac.  It was then stamped with one of Wendy's fab backgrounds with berry purple archival ink.

The sentiment is a Wendy stamp.  Next, a close up of the flowers.  The small ones started out purple, but the others were white, and I tinted them with two of the new distress inks.....shaded lilac and squeezed lemonade (which is a great yellow) before dipping them in the melted UTEE.  Please click on the link to Tim's blog (above) to see the step by step details for this technique.

Since digging out the melt pot and actually using it is not an everyday event around here, I wound up making way more flowers than I needed, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to participate in the current challenge over at the Wendy yahoo group.  The theme is ATCs and the only rule, other than sticking to the theme is to use at least one of Wendy's stamps.  I did that, and more, and also included more art parts than you'd think would fit on a 2 1/2 x 3 1/2" piece.

The scallops, leaves and vase are all art parts.  Actually the vase started out in life as the base for a lamp, but I easily sliced off the lampshade.  I used pretty much the same colors on it as I did on the flower pot and added a dusting of lemon sparkle perfect pearls (which goes so well with the touches of squeezed lemonade distress ink I used throughout the ATC. 

I tried faux porcelain flowers once before with less success.  The difference this time, I think, is that I really filled the melt pot with UTEE.  It works much better if you can actually submerge the flowers into the UTEE.  It still requires a little finesse, and Tim's blog has some helpful hints,.

As luck would have it, this week's challenge at Simon Says Stamp and Show is "anything goes."  So, I'm submitting the ATC there as well.

And now, back to working on some of my unfinished "masterpieces," LOL.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Circus Maximum

I just returned from a wonderful long weekend in Connecticut, learning new techniques and just being inspired by Lynne Perrella and Anne Bagby.  Our theme was the circus, the workshop was called Circus Maximum, and we just had the most fun with it.  Bright colors, great images, and background techniques galore.  I've taken many classes with Lynne, but this was my first experience with Ann, and she was just full of the best ideas.  And like Lynne, Anne is a proponent of the low tech, low cost approach to mixed media.....and there is nothing low about the results!

We stayed at the lovely Interlaken Inn, about 2 1/2 hours out of NYC, and worth the trip.  We had people coming from the west coast, the south, the midwest, so I guess Pat and I didn't have that long a trip. Although, hauling several tons of art supplies on Metro North is not my idea of a good time.

Some shots of the grounds:
Beautiful metal sculptures everywhere!

On Friday is was all about Ann.  We worked on backgrounds, and our substrate was......are you ready?......deli paper!  It was all about layers.  Acrylics, applied with brushes, brayers, scrapers, razors, etc.  Then stamps, stencils, hand lettering, more paint, portfolio pastels, figures and shapes, and on and on.

Here are some that Pat did.

And here are some of mine.

We did a lot of blotting between layers, and even the blotting paper would eventually become something usable.

On Saturday, Lynne took over, and we created pieces on wrapped canvas.  Here is my happy couple:

They were done on 11x14 canvases.  The images are very old (medieval? renaissance?), and have nothing to do with the circus.  The theme was created with the embellishments, color choices, and everything else done to alter them.  I'm not even sure I'm finished, but am very happy with them as is.

On Sunday we did some more work on Ann's backgrounds and then did what Lynne called "speed collage," a fun way to create a long narrow banner, working quickly and without letting too much thinking get in the way.  I haven't taken pictures of those pieces yet, so there may be a Circus Maximum, Part 2.

Some random shots of our large and well lit workspace (which was open to us 24/7), and some of the wonderful pieces my classmates worked on.

The tags we wore to help us remember everyone's names needed a little extra help to stay adhered.