Monday, December 31, 2012



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vintage Ancestors, Adventurous and Murderous

My friend Lee (who I hope to actually meet some day) from Australia has been a part of all the collaborative art journals I've done over the past five years or so.  I love the way she started off her Vintage Ancestors book, with a tale of two young sisters who somehow turn into the murderous seniors that Arsenic and Old Lace was based on.  All ficticious of course, but what fun!  Here are Lee's pages, which I will build upon to continue the story.

So, Lee asks the question, how did these young girls become killers, and what in their background led them down such a path?

I introduced their father, one E.J. Jones, who just so happened (according to me) to be the inspiration for another film character, the one and only Indiana Jones.  Boy, did I have a blast concocting this story, and the artwork that accompanies it.

This particular Dr. Jones was an explorer, working in rain forests throughout the world, in search of medicinal plants.  Along the way he discovered some poisonous ones as well.  Oh, and he was always accompanied by his two young daughters.  Hmmmm.....could there be a connection there to Lee's story?
Here are closer looks at the pages.
The backgrounds were made by first scraping several earth tone colors of fluid acrylics over the paper.  Then some stamping (stamps by Dyan Reaveley and Wendy Vecchi).  The photo of Dr. Jones is in a holder made from Tim Holtz's cabinet card die.  The leaves and birds were cut from a Sizzix decorative strip called Birds and Branches.  The label holder is a very old Stampin' Up accessory that started out in life a vanilla color, but was distressed to look rusty with nothing more than acrylic paint (black and shades of brown).
The story was printed on vellum.  I made the little envelope for the specimen (Specimen B stamp by Wendy Vecchi, by the way) from deli wrap.
I added the number tab (I believe it is from a 7 Gypsies set) because Lee had an index tab on her page, and I thought it would be a nice element to continue.
In mid January this book goes to Pat, and I can't wait to see what my creative pal does with the continuing story of the surprisingly (or not) homicidal siblings.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Tradition

Most folks I know keep their calendars electronically.  Me, I like to see things in writing.  So, I have a pocket calendar I always have in my bag, and 12x12" wall calendars in my kitchen and studio.  The other day I was transferring dates from the 2012 versions to my 2013 calendars, and decided to start a new tradition for the end of the year.....recycling the old pages into colorful envelopes.  Certainly not an original idea, but I've never done it before, so new to me.  I dismantled the wall calendars (keeping only December for now), and got to it.

If you have a score board (there are several brands; here I used the Martha Stewart version) and a paper trimmer it couldn't be easier, but you can certainly use a stylus, ruler, and cutting mat to score your lines, and trim the papers by hand.

For envelopes that work with standard A2 cards (folded size 5 1/2 x 4 1/4") first cut your calendar pages to 8 3/8" squares.

Place your trimmed page, picture side down, on the scoring board like this:
You just have to make sure the points touch the center marks (6") before you start scoring.  This is what I mean:

You now score at the 3" mark on your board.  Then rotate the page so you can score the opposite side also at 3".  Next, score the two remaining sides at 3 5/8".  Your scoring will look like this (I darkened the score lines with a marker so you can see them):
Fold over the sides you scored at 3" first, and use a bone folder to get a good crisp fold.
Apply a line of adhesive on the lower edge of each flap and fold the bottom flap up.  I used my ATG, but a good quality glue stick will also work.

Your envelope is ready to receive whatever you're mailing.

All you need to do is apply two address labels so the P.O. isn't distracted by all the colors, LOL.
The first batch I made were from the 2012 Cloth Paper Scissors calendar, so they are especially beautiful, though my crappy photos don't do them justice.

But you can use any paper that is sturdy enough.  And if you can't get an 8 3/8" square out of your paper, you can always make a smaller envelope.  This one is just the right size for sending out an ATC, and it was made from the cover of a Dick Blick catalog.  (Note:  if you're making a smaller one, you will have to adjust where to line up your points on the scoring board.  For this envelope, they lined up at the 5 7/8" mark instead of 6").
I had lots of colorful strips left over after trimming my calendar pages, so I decided not to let them go to waste.  I wove them to create a substrate for some journal pages.  This is what the back looks like (because I forgot to take a photo of the front before I started throwing paint around):
And after applying collage elements, paint, stencils, inks, more paint, more stencils, more inks, some sprays, and even rub-ons, it is pretty much unrecognizable.  And still a work in progress.  But I plan to cut it in half and make it part of my 2013 Sketchbook Project....but that is a post for another day.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

To all my friends out there who celebrate this holiday, have a very merry Christmas, full of love and many blessings.  Enjoy your family and friends, and do try to make time for some art.

As you most likely know, this past year Tim Holtz decided not to do the 12 Tags of Christmas; instead he did the 12 Tags of 2012.  Although this was enjoyed, many people, myself included, missed the Christmas tags.  The good folks who run ATT (All Things Tim yahoo group) put together a tag contest, challenging us to come up with an original Christmas tag, chock full of Tim's products and/or techiques.

21 members entered tags; all members could vote.  Only one vote per person, and the participants could NOT vote for their own tag.  Oh, and all entries were posted without identifying the creators, so it was really anonymous.  And we weren't allowed to post our work on blogs, photo sharing sites, FB, etc.  No, I did not win anything, and truth be told, I didn't expect to.  After viewing all the tags I found several I honestly liked much better than my own, LOL.  However, I did manage to scare up a few votes, which was nice.  A couple of the tags did not get any votes at all, and that made me feel sad.  Yes, some stood out from the rest, but none were poorly done.  This is why I don't care for contests in general, avoid reality shows (can't stand when people are voted off), and try to compete only with myself.

The voting being over, the results made public, so now I can share my tag, which I named Metallic Christmas.  Not as in heavy metal, but that everything on this tag sparkles and shimmers in some way.

The single snowflakes, snowflake border, snowman and joy are all Tim Holtz die cuts.  The background was embossed with aTim embossing folder and sprayed with several colors of Perfect Pearls mists.  The snowman was covered with a generous coat of Wendy Vecchi's embossing paste, and then sprinkled with distress stickles clear rock candy dry glitter (say that five times fast).  His hat was painted black, and while still wet covered with some generic gold glitter.  The trim on the bottom, origin unknown, has been lying around in my ribbon stash for ages.  I'm not positive, but I think the tinsel on the top is a Tim product as well.  It was out of its packaging, so I just don't recall. The word JOY was painted silver.  Then I dabbed it in spots with clear embossing ink and sprinkled silver powder in those spots.  I think that gave it a distressed, antique look.
Well, as the snowman is saying, may this holiday season, and the year to come bring you much JOY.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Another Weekend Surrounded by Lace

Three days, who knows how many snippets of fabric, how many yards of lace and ribbon, buttons and beads, and I actually have my pages for Elena completed.  I'm just loving this Vintage Lace round robin I'm in.  Thanks, Sox, for starting this!

Elena selected Paris as her theme, and after gathering my supplies and a few potential images to print on fabric covered paper, I got down to the fun part.....arranging and rearranging everything.  Sew a little.  Arrange a little.  Sew some more.  Go on a hunt for more "stuff."  More arranging.  More hunting.  More sewing.  And yes, a little bit of glueing too.  I don't have to mail the page out until the 15th of January, but wanted to give myself plenty of time; unlike many of my pals, I do not work well under pressure.

Here is the double spread, followed by each side.

The interesting thing (well, to me, anyway) is that I did not start out with this cream/pink/green color scheme in mind.  It just kind of evolved.  And I'm loving it, which amazes me because I am so not a pink person.
Now a few closeups.
I drew an outline of the Eiffel Tower on canvas and then
machine stitched around it and inside it to create this
crazy lopsided thing (that I love in spite of its deformity)
 I've had this image on my computer for years, and something
about it just said "Paris" to me, so I finally got to use it (printed
on some paper backed fabric)
 Ages ago, someone sent me this piece of fabric as part of a
swap, I think.  The colors and French writing made it a no-
brainer for this project

 I myself have never been to Paris, but this quote seems to
sum up what so many others have told me about that city

Some tulle and fabric flowers, fabric scraps and bead trim used here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Ancestor, Found

I mentioned before that one of the latest round robins I'm in is called Vintage Ancestors.  It is so much fun, because we're all searching the internet, garage sales, and flea markets for cabinet cards (or making faux ones) and giving everyone an ancestor with a back story.  I am having the best time with this, and have been working on my friend Sox's book.  Sox started things off with a relative who was a circus performer and though I didn't start out with that in mind, I gave her one who was also quite the rebel.

Without further ado, the tale of Claudine Romanov-Mercurio, gypsy, dancer, actress, runaway, and so much more.

Here is the photo that started it all:

First, a quick look at my two page spread:

Where is the cabinet card?  Well, it's hiding behind the narrative.  I printed the story on transparency film.  Originally I was just going to put it over the second page, but decided to back the transparency with vellum, which also makes it easier to read.  Time to backtrack a bit.
The title, "A Misspent Youth," continues on page two, with the question, "Or was it?"  The story answers that question.
The first page consists of many tags and other memorabilia that our wayward Claudine collected in her youthful travels.  They are strung together and pop out of their pockets easily so they can be looked at.
The transparency, vellum, and underlying page were machine stitched together on one side so the story can be lifted to reveal page two.
And this is Claudine's story:
You just have to love a project that allows you to be both artist and storyteller.  Can't wait to get my next victim, I mean book.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keep It Simple

If, like me, you enjoy making your own cards to send out you probably face the same challenges I do. Of course you want your cards to be attractive, but you don't want to spend an hour + on each one.  Nor do you want to have to pay extra postage because you added 1/2 a pound and 3/4 of an inch of embellishments.  Here are some cards that have color, texture, and layers, yet fit in a standard greeting card envelope and are flat enough and light enough to take a single first class stamp.


These are the same design with different papers.  All are from a current Stampin' Up Christmas pack.  I just cut triangles, inked the edges with brown ink, and glued one on top of the other.  The ribbon has a simple knot and is wrapped around the tree, which is then attached to a different piece of patterned paper.  I made as many of these variations as there were patterns in the pack.  The star was punched from glitter paper, also from SU, and which I've had in my stash for a few years.  It is attached with a pop dot.  And just so you know, no rulers or paper cutters were used to make the triangles.  They were all eyeballed and cut with a scissors.

The triangle gave me an idea for another card which is different, but no less simple.

For this one I got to use some patterned paper I've had for ages, and added the holly leaves and numbers (both Tim Holtz movers and shapers dies).  The berries are three little brads I pressed into ink and then embossing glitter for a little bling.
Another way to simplify your card making is to use leftovers.  The next card also started out with triangles, but I had this Tim Holtz reindeer lying around, already cut, painted and glittered, unused in another project, so.....
BTW, the reindeer had been colored with tarnished brass distress stain, then covered with glue n seal, then sprinkled with distress rock candy dry glitter.  His hat and scarf were also cut from snippets of left over projects.  And this one also fit into a regular envelope and required no extra postage.
Although making tags in the #8 size seems to be the most popular, I like using a smaller (I think it's a #5) tag because with just a tiny bit of trimming on the bottom, it fits perfectly on the mat for a standard card.  People often ask what to do with their tags.  Well, with just a bit of paper and adhesive you can turn it into a lovely card.  The tag was already done.  Another hint:  if you like participating in challenges, come autumn, start doing your challenge pieces on this size tag and in a holiday theme.  By early December you'll have done all the heavy work on a stash of beautiful and unique cards.  The next two cards began as tags, and I admit, they will require some extra postage.  But they took about two minutes to put together, so well worth it.

I also make Hanukkah cards, which is always a challenge.  There just aren't that many stamps, papers, and embellishments available for this holiday, and I don't want to use the same few items I do have over and over each year, so a little improvising is always in order.  This year, I pulled out an old school cutting tool.  I wonder, with all the dies, punches, and cutting machines available, how many of you remember the Coluzzle?  I used it with the small oval template, cutting in every slot. Starting with the smallest one, I used every other resulting half oval to form the menorrah, which is how I got all the candle holders to line up.  The leftover paper was cut (again, eyeballed) to create the stem and base.  As for the Hanukkah greeting, that was computer generated.

Hint:  if you attach the greeting first, centering it on the top of the card, it is then easy to line up the stem of the menorrah so that all the other parts wind up in the right place, none are hanging over the edge of the card, and there is room for the center candle to be taller than the rest, as it must be.  You really don't want to know how I figured that out.

Friday, December 7, 2012

House Rules

Last year, while working on a totally unrelated project, I cut some extras from Tim Holtz's Artful Dwellings die.  I was playing around with them, and put them together to create a little three dimensional birdhouse.  And there it sat, always on or near my work table in it's unfinished state.  Until this week, when Simon Says Stamp and Show announced their latest rules. Create a house, alter a house, stamp a house, do anything related to a house.  Also, on the Wendy Vecchi yahoo group we have an ongoing challenge to use Wendy's products on a holiday project, so this qualifies for that as well.

I'm happy I waited a year because now I have Wendy Vecchi's yummy embossing paste and Tim's equally yummy rock candy dry glitter, and I used  both to make the snow.

I love the texture of the embossing paste and the sparkle that the dry glitter adds.  The shingled roof was made from strips of different shades of brown cardstock.
The house was covered with some of Tim's tissue wrap, which was distressed with a few brown distress inks.  Before assembling, I cut the circle on the front piece and attached a stick (it goes through the opening and is glued to the back wall) to form the perch. 
The bird, the nest, the wreath and the pinecones were all found in various places that specialize in scaled down objects for doll houses.  That bird, by the way, was a horrid purple color, but a tiny bit of paint fixed that problem.
This is a bit blurry, but it's the only photo I have that shows what's in the bird's nest (besides the bird, of course).
Yep, my faux cardinal is sitting on some faux eggs.  Never toss your broken jewelry is all I'm saying.