Tree, part 1

I did a silly thing this weekend. I bought a stamp at Michael's out of the dollar bin. I belong to two hostess clubs, and have hundreds of stamps, I don't really need a new one, but...
I like this tree. So, to justify the dollar I spent on it, I am challenging myself to use it all week this week in my cards.

This is why people photograph their cards instead of scanning them. You can't see the gold in the brads or in the Krylon accent border. I may come back later with a photograph instead of a scan. Anyway, I used the tree in what Technique Junkies call the Depth of Field technique. there is only one tree on the stamp, I just stamped it three times, to create a little forest. I think this makes a nice masculine card. The paper is DCWV, and the sketch is from TechnoStamper.
I was very good and put away my toys when I finished playing with them.

Rich boyfriend

I was a good girl and did some cleaning off my desk, and I found a few scraps that were too small to keep, but too promising to throw away, so I made an ATC:

The red background was an early experiment in the bandanna technique, and the gold paper is a scrap that I painted (I will paint mustard cardstock sheets gold rather than buy gold cardstock), and the circle was a hole that I punched that was lying around, and the word bubble I hand cut from a snippet that I didn't think was big enough for anything - it was in the trach can already when I decided I needed a tiny bit of white. The image was one that I had created digitally for Red Hat Society birthday cards, and I just had one left over.

ATC to Greeting Card

Sometimes I make an ATC and it doesn't look like stand-alone art, it needs something else to be its reason. That's what happened to this card:

I started with the polymer clay flower and the gessoed background Susan sent me, and built up what looked nice, but it just seemed... I don't know. I finally gave up and slapped it on a card base, threw on a sentment, added a snippet of ribbon, and was gluing it all together when the cap came off my glue and poured onto the card.

I grabbed a wet rag, peeled off all the layers, and scrubbed the glue around, giving the card base an interesting texture, then glued it back together (a little off, I fear). Also, and I probably shouldn't admit this, but this looks a lot like the Blogger's Challenge sketch. I was going to do the Bloggers Challenge earlier, before the mail came, but then I forgot... or did I?

Body Armor ATC

While cleaning up yesterday, I found lots of cardstock that I had precut into ATC bases, and I shoved them all into a bag without looking at them too closely. Today, while making ATCs, I found this in the bag.

I don't think I've ever seen this before, and I don't think it is too recent (Ben is 13 now). I guarantee you this will be one of my most treasured ATCs in my collection.

FlowerSoft ATC

Today in the mail I received and envelope from Susan, with the Black Widow ATC she promised.

She also sent a nice selection of papers and ephemera. Among the papers were two rolling marble backgrounds that I had heard her describe the process, but this was the first time I had seen the result. She also sent some tiny terra cotta vases, among other things.

The vases triggered a memory of something that had been troubling me this week - the last kit that I got from Valerie, the garden kit. I had not done anything with the garden kit, mostly because there was only one thing in the kit I really really wanted, and even so, I didn't know what to do with it: Flower Soft. Flower Soft is a kind of fuzzy glitter that is intended to give a soft, dimensional effect to your cards, and I had received cards with Flower Soft, but since I don't often stamp flowers, I had never used it. As soon as I saw the vases, I knew what I had to do.

I didn't have any floral wire, so I grabbed some blue coated wire and colored it with a green Bic Mark-it. I then dipped the end in tacky glue and sprinkled on the Flower Soft. While my flowers were drying, I went to work on the background. The rolling marble backgrounds were very dark, not quite what I wanted for flowers, so I softened them a bit with a coat of gesso. I cut leaves and a base from green scraps (easy to find on my Clip It Up), added a couple of faux postage stamps from the garden kit, and I am really very happy with the results. I wonder if Susan would like this ATC?

Productive day

I ordered a Clip It Up online last week, with the hopes it would help me tame much of my crafting clutter. I have always liked the concept of browsing for my papers and embellishments the same way I browse for my clothes in a department store, but I cringed at the price. However, after spending a small fortune for stupid stuff for my daughter in her new college dorm room, I thought I deserved to spend a little on my own space.

As FlyLady says, the mess wasn't made in one day, so it wasn't going to get clean in one day either. I set a small goal, to clean out one box of paper scraps and get it mounted on the Clip It Up. I went downstairs with two sizes of ziplock bags and started sorting and tossing.

I should explain something about this particular box of paper. About four years ago, I had a very nice Stampin' Up demonstrator named Joy. I knew that I drove her crazy, because I would go to her workshops and want to change the projects she had precut and ready for us to make. I knew that she would refuse to cut new cardstock to suit my changes, so I would sneak into her scrap drawer to see if I could find a piece of cardstock the right size and color (I usually could, because all the scraps from precutting for the workshop would be in there). Anyway, her husband is in the Air Force, and they moved away. I would still get emails from her announcing the current specials, but not any more personal contact, so I was very surprised one day to get a large cardboard box in the mail from her. In it was a note, explaining that they were moving yet again, this time overseas, and she couldn't take everything with her, so she thought I might like the things she sent. The things she sent were the contents of her scrap drawer - hundreds of bits of cardstock, most smaller than a quarter sheet, all the SU colors, some stamped already, some scored, all the sorts of things sane people would consider worthless. To me, it was a treasure. I immediately made her a thank you card from the contents and some stamps she had sold me in the past, and planted the box next to my crafting desk, where it has lived until this morning. Often I would dig in there for a bit of cardstock, and more often I would throw my own scraps in, but the box stayed there, part of the sprawling clutter emanating from my desk.

I told myself that I was going to throw out everything that was smaller than an ATC, but I did make an exception for long strips an inch wide - those are good for borders and sentiments. I also found tons of white cardstock cut at 2.5 by 2.625 inches - I recall that almost every focal point in every one of Joys workshop projects were about that size. It's a size that accommodates a lot of SU stamps, so I kept those separate. I sorted all the bits by color, and I must say that although I threw away more than I saved, my Clip It Up was well used. I also found several things that I thought were gone forever. Tomorrow, I will get to work on my desk. I originally wanted to do the desk first, but the Clip It Up works best if the weight is balanced, so I wanted to get a lot of paper on the bottom tier before I started filling the top.

Anyway, after I did all that, he last thing I wanted to do is stamp, so I went upstairs to play with my beads. I had some bicone glass beads that I bought at Michael's, so I made this strap necklace:

I had made this pattern before, with expensive Swarovski AB crystal bicones, and it cost me nearly 20 bucks just for a bracelet. This necklace I made with cheap glass beads marked down on clearance, seed beads instead of delicas, and a cheap toggle from a findings kit I picked up at Tuesday Morning. This necklace cost me about 4 bucks to make, and I have lots of beads left over. Of course it doesn't shine like crystal, but I like it anyway, and it looks more casual, meaning I will be more likely to wear it.

Another challenge Halloween ATC

I'm not done yet - I should pace myself, shouldn't I? This uses a very loose interpretation of a sketch from CPS to make another ATC.

There are two things of note about this card. One is the cauldron. Some years ago, I did a digital tutorial on how to make a cauldron using the ellipse tool in Paint Shop Pro, and as I recalled that the little circles in the kit were supposed to be cauldron bubbles, I quickly applied what I knew about building a cauldron with ellipses to using my circle and oval punches.(I only discovered the punched cauldron in the kit after I had made my own). I used the greenish wrinkly stuff for the brew, and since I used the punchinella in the kit as a background layer, I ended up not using the cauldron bubbles at all.
The moon image is also from the kit; it is punched from yellow vellum. I don't have vellum tape, and I had read earlier on the SumOfAllATCs that one shouldn't use liquid glue on vellum, but that double-Stick tape was pretty good. I put a strip of double-stick tape behind the top third of the moon, which was good enough to hold it, but there was sticky showing through the eyes. That is why I glittered the eyes - it's hiding the sticky. The glitter is embossing glitter from CTMH. The leaves are paper confetti that I picked up at Target a couple of years ago, sponged with a little distress ink to tone down the brightness. I use some of it every fall, and I don't think I will ever run out.
I have not even begun to scratch the surface of what was in this kit. To see photos of the entire contents, and perhaps even grab one of the last few available, you should join TheSumOfAllATCs. They do swap more than just ATCs; the charm swap I've been going on about is hosted there, too.

Halloween ATC

I thought I would see if I could do a challenge sketch at ATC size. This one from Priscilla looked pretty complicated, but I just reworked a few things to come up with this card:
Halloween ATC
The image and the pumpkin are from the kit. The paper twine is from Ikea, and the cardstock is all SU except the piece in the cuttlebugged background. That part was made using the technique I used for my deco fan.

Halloween kit

I received my Halloween Kit in the mail today from Valerie, and decided that instead of burying all these goodies in my stash like I did with my last kit, I would resolve to use some of it right away. I started hitting my favorite challenge blogs for inspiration, and was moved to try this Techno Stamper sketch.
The little broom and the shiny crinkly stuff came from the kit. The cat stamp is from and old craft kit my daughter received as a gift many years ago, and the moon is punched out of a postcard (image of a large yellow flower). Cardstock is CTMH and the halloween paper is DCWV.

Versatile bead

Shelly asked me how I made my beaded beads for my beaded bead charms. I found this tutorial online, and thought I'd try it, even though I don't have most of the beads she names, and I really was hoping to not have to buy more. After I made it through the first two rows, I just went my own way with it. Basically, it's your ordinary peyote stitch beaded bead, only instead of increasing the size of the rows by adding more beads to each row, you put in bigger beads. The tut writer lists 5 different sizes of beads, and just don't have that many. I have seed beads (10/0), E beads (6/0), and a lot of much larger beads, because I bought them for wire wrapping, and traditionally don't string beads. The charm on the left has only two sizes of bead on it (and one really big one holding up the center).
That isn't really true - I started out with beading as a Girl Scout leader, making beady critters with those huge pony beads. They worked up quickly, and I was happy making camp crafts and figured jewelry would just be too time-consuming. Thus, I know all the stitches, it just isn't until recently that I made anything wearable with them.
I would recommend doing that if you are thinking about getting into beading but aren't sure you can do those tiny maneuvers - buy some pony beads, and master the stitches using them. I prefer curling ribbon as the cord for pony beads, as the slick surface allows the beads to slide on easily, but the ribbing keeps them from falling off.

beading necklaces

After I embarrassed myself with my previous jewelry experiment, I thought I would try something a little more challenging. I found a nice pattern on the web, started playing with it, and found out that I just didn't have the right size beads, so I just started playing around with the beads that I had, and came up with a pattern that I liked. The first one I made is the silver one you see below, and I liked it so much, I tried making a different one with different colors.

The scan does not show the shine in either of these two necklaces, but they are very glittery in real life. The silvery one is made with metallic silver glass seed beds and clear glass E beads. I used a two needle method, so it whipped up fairly quickly. The second one used gold seed beads and iridescent E beads, and it shows the pattern more clearly. I avoided a clasp by joining the ends; they are long enough to slip over the head. I like this so much I might have to get red seed beads and make it for my red hat friends and family.

Charmed out

After I scanned the beaded charms in the previous post, I measured them and decided that they were too big - the swap is for one inch charms. So I made more that were smaller. I will send some of each of the three types of charms I've made, and since I will then have charms left over, I am making earrings out of them. They look pretty good on ear wires.

Also, I got sick of making charms. I wasted a few minutes today making something else, ANYTHING else:

Yes, it is a simple strand of beads on an elastic cord to make a bracelet. I'm slumming now.

Beaded bead

I was doubting whether my store-bought beads would suffice, so I decided to try something I'd read about but never done - making a be4aded bead, which is to say, stitching little beads together to make a bigger bead. The above shows my results thus far. They are taking about an hour each to make. Each charm has three different size beads in it, from my stash, ranging from seed beads to 6mm beads. They look more symmetrical in real life, they are a little angled in my scanner bed.

Another Charm

This was the second style of charm I tried making. It's basically three store-bought beads on a hand coiled and wrapped wire, and it looks very nice, I think (the colors are better IRL). However, I'm wondering if I did enough. Is this the equivalent of putting a sticker on a piece of cardstock and calling it an ATC? I wonder if I really need to do more handcrafting.

Back to the drawing board...

Charming dilemma

I signed up to be in a charm swap, so I need to make charms that showcase who I am artistically. Obviously, this was going to involve wire warping, because that is one of my "things", and I decided also to use washers, because using found objects in my work is another one of my "things".

The image to the left is what I will probably turn in. It looks a little plain to me, but I want to tell you all something - it is a lot harder to wrap that bead into the center of a washer than you would think. There is a compromise you have to make when choosing the gauge of the wire. I tried thinner wire, and it looked and felt cheesy. heavier wire just wouldn't fit. I thought about using colored wire, but I didn't have any the right gauge. I tried embellishing the washer, with Stazon and with alcohol inks Sharpies, and I will tell you that those things wear off metal with handling, even the brief handling involved in assembling the charm. The center charm is one where I reapplied Sharpie to the washer after I assembled the charm, and it is already coming off, even though I haven't done anything more strenuous to it than carry it upstairs and lay it in the scanner bed. It also does not look that great to me.

The third charm showing, the purple one, is one of my experiments in changing the layout of the bead and washer. I like it for an earring, not so much for a charm (charms need to be smaller, an inch or less), and, like the previous one, the ink isn't staying.

I"m open to suggestions. Really. Please.

Fair day

I went to the fair today to demo and to see how my entries did. I was supposed to demo wire work, but when I got to the fair, I realized I left all my tools at home. You can't do much with wire without the tools.

Fortunately, I had my beloved micron pen on hand and some white ATC blanks. I just sat there for two hours and zentangled. most people were not particularly impressed, nor did I think they should be, but a few were intrigued, and a pleasant young man from Taiwan asked for one, for his scrapbook of his tour of the US. I was happy to give him one, and felt that his interest alone justified the trip.

Anyway, after my shift was up, I looked around to see how my entries did, and compare them to the ones that won.

As you can see the deco fan placed senond in the ATC division. I knew a vintage collage would take first place, but seriously, it was a Campbell Kid glued to a soup label and aged with a little ink. It's just too trite.

I didn't really think my greeting card would win, but when I saw the card that did win that class, I could have kicked myself. It was a tri shutter card (like I made for my mom three weeks ago) decorated with dahlia fold flowers (dahlia fold is what I used to make my deco fan last week) Aaargh!

I was surprised that my necklace placed third in its class, but I didn't see what it was competing against. The bracelet I entered was prettier, but it was competing against bracelets of all types, not just wire work, and as I looked at the winners, all simply strung pieces, I saw that what wins in the Prince William County Fair is not fancy technique, but expensive beads and findings.

I can't really complain - to place with two of my six entries is pretty darn good, especially since it's my first time entering stuff in the fair. I'm psyched and ready for next year - I've got the code now!

Recycled materials card

Sometimes a person needs a challenge to get the creative juices flowing. Fortunately, there are a lot of blogs out there issuing the challenges. This challenge is from Card Positioning Systems, which exists exclusively (as far as I can tell) to create layout sketches with which to challenge people. I have been watching others play this game, and now I want to play too.

This card doesn’t have any stamping or ink, and it does use found materials. The words, as you may have guessed were cut sale flyers in my newspaper, and the background is a variation of the Gesso Off technique that I learned from Technique Junkies, using black gesso instead of white, and using a slick postcard instead of ordinary colored cardstock.. There really aren’t black smudges on the card, it just scanned that way; there are plenty of black smudges on my hands, though.

origami dress card

Another card for the Techno Stamper weekly challenge:

I found the directions to make the little origami dress on YouTube. A 10yo girl does it, either in Italian or Spanish, I'm not sure which one. I thought the little ribbon was a nice touch.

The papers on the top and the sentiment are from TAC. Although it may look like three different papers were used, the papers come with three different designs artfully layered and ready for scrapbooking; all I had to use was a portion of a single sheet.

Digital Challenge

Susan, one of my swapping friends, asked for some digital art help. She had three images that she wanted to combine into one. I have pretty good Paint Shop Pro skills, so I offered to give it a shot. Here are the three images:

That first one is a real eye-opener, isn't it?

I used the scratch remover to eliminate the text on the body, and the deformation tool to squeeze the breasts a little closer together. I reduced the color saturation and increased the brightness and contrast to get the body to match the face.

On the necklace, I just erased everything in the picture that wasn't the actual necklace.

For the head, I erased everything but the head, and drew in new shoulders (ellipse). I then merged the head image with the body, and used the push tool to blend the colors. I finally applied the necklace with a little drop shadow.

Final result:

Actually, this isn't the final result, Susan asked me to change the eye color (easy to do with the color replacer), so only she and I have seen that version. After reading Susan's description of what she plans to do with the image, this should be a very cool ATC.

Here is the finished card:

circular art flow

You may recall that Lisa Vollrath's Ten Two Studios celebrated their 4th anniversary, and that she sold a collage sheet to celebrate, and invited her fans to create art with it. You may also recall that I accepted that challenge, and made a card. Lisa, in turn, not only posted all the art samples she received on her site, but created a second set of collage images by selecting a square portion of each artist's submission and offering them as a collection of 3 inch square collages. Those of us who contributed to the collect were given the privelege of downloading the collage images for free. Of course, once i had them, I had to do something with them, so I made this little book. I don't feel up to scanning all twenty pages, but here is a little peek:

The pages are pretty much as they were on the collage sheets, except for my glitter (doesn't show here) and my words, all cut out of magazines and boxes that were within my reach. It is interesting to cut out random words and glue them down, and then read what you've created - it's like taking a rorshach test.

Money isn't everything - challenge card

Now that I have a blog, I guess I can do challenges. This one is for the Techno Stamper's Monday Lunch challenge, and I normally wouldn't bother except that this card was screaming to be made. I had the stamp, and I couldn't even remember why I bought it, much how I was going to use it, and the money paper - it was lying on the floor, literally, because someone missed the trash can. it nearly assembeld itself - I just added glue (well, gold embossing powder too).

New header

This is my artistic endeavor for today. Do you like it?

I had to change my blog layout, because too many people were missing the Blogger navigation bar at the top. Heck, even I was missing it - I had to go to other people's blogs to get to it, so I could put a new post on my own blog. Pretty messed up, eh?

The cat is not amused

Sometimes I doodle and I know that what I am drawing is not good but I keep going, wondering why I'm even bothering and then I stop and look at what I've done and think, "Oh!"

Deco Fan

I don’t really think of myself as an artist. I’m really more of a crafter. When you do a craft, it is like cooking – use the same recipe, you get the same results.

I made an Artist Trading Card for a deco fan swap. It has a lot of steps, but if I follow the steps again, I will end up with another of the same card. I could make dozens of them, in theory. Here is the card (ink is darker in real life):

There are three main parts to making this card. First, the background:

1. Take off-white cardstock, cover with a coat of Mod Podge.
2. Tear up small pieces of text. I used a phone book.
3. Apply the torn pieces to the wet Mod Podge.
4. Apply another coat of Mod Podge.
5. Cover the cardstock with waxed paper.
6. Dry emboss with an embossing folder.
7. Let dry.
8. Sand the raised areas.
9. Sponge distress ink onto the sanded areas (I used broken China) and edges.
10. Trim to 2.5 by 3.125 inches.

Next I needed to make the fans. I knew I was going to use teabag folding, but I needed the right paper. I didn’t have a paper that I liked, so I made mine.

11. Take green patterned scrapbooking paper, and ink the back with distress ink. (Broken China and Pine Needles)
12. Punch circles out of the paper. (4 for each fan)
13. Apply distress ink to the edges of the front of the paper.
14. Give a light Pearl Ex wash.
15. Fold each circle using the Dahlia fold.
16. Glue in place on the background.
Now it is time to embellish the card. It also needed a backing, as the background is too textured to write upon.
17. Using 5 inches of copper wire, make a wire wrapped eye on one end, and coil the other end.
18. Tie a few inches of ribbon in the eye for a “wrist strap”.(it's not glued down, it just happenes to be laying that way in the scan)
19. Glue copper piece in place with E6000.
20. Cut backing cardstock to 2.5 by 3.5 inches.
21. Punch a scalloped edge on one side.
22. Glue embossed panel in place.

As you can see, there are a lot of steps, a lot of different materials, and a lot of skills in play to make this card. As long as it took to make this card (hours and hours), it would be too precious to me for me to trade it away if it were the only one, but as it happened, I made seven at the same time – one for me to keep, and six to send in for the swap.

You can only imagine how I felt when the swap host announced that she wanted all the cards for the swap to be DIFFERENT.

It never fails

As you may recall, I lost my Micron 01 pen, so I bought another. Of course, the day after I bought the second one, I found the first one in my purse. Who puts pens in their purse? Did I think I was going to write with it? But seriously, I remember putting it in there, because I thought I might have to wait for my daughter's plane to land last week, and wanted to doodle while I was waiting.

The problem with zentangles is that they don't have a point of view, so I can't really consider them art. If they have a point of view, then they lose their value as zentangles. I think I resent having quality materials go into something that has no value after it is complete. I understand about using the best pen and paper to make the zentangles, as it causes the artist to focus on the process and take it seriously, but when it is done - what am I supposed to do? Keep it as a record of my journey? Throw it away? Gift it to someone who thinks anything hand drawn is art?

Black on black

I took a piece of cereal box and gessoed it with black gesso. I then drew on it with a black ballpoint pen. Don't ask me what I was thinking. However, This scan doesn't really show what it looks like under sunlight - the gesso has a very matte finish, and the ballpoint ink has a red metallic shine to it.

I might have to try this again with a red metallic pen or maybe a copper one.

Zentangle horse

I tore apart my house and car and still couldn’t find my Micron 01 pen, so I went to Michael’s and bought a new one. I had a coupon, so it cost me less than two bucks. I don’t know why I don’t just buy a case of them.

Sharpie Ultrafine point markers have a nice line, but they bleed through regular paper. I’ve tried the Pilot Precise, but to be honest, it skips. You don’t want to spend money for an ultrafine line, and then have your drawing ruined by a pen that can’t produce a constant flow.

The Sakura Micron 01 is the only one I really like for zentangles. They also make a 005 pen, but I’ve heard that the tip is very fragile, and I tend to press a bit to hard, so I decided to dodge that bullet. The 01 is good enough for my needs.

I started making these horses for a horse swap, but I began losing interest in the horses before I had enough for the swap. I will probably RAK one to the host, and I guess the other two are up for grabs.

Digital Tri Shutter ATC

When I was making the tri shutter card, it occurred to me that I was doing it the hard way – it would be much easier to decorate the pages before I folded them. Taking it to the next logical step, it occurred to me that the tri shutter ATC could be created digitally, 3 to a page, and then all I would need to do is cut them out and fold them.

I just downloaded some beautiful digital papers from The Sum of All Crafts this morning, so I used a piece for the base of my card. The Sum of All Crafts has downloads every day, and a few days ago, some vintage nude bodybuilders were posted to the site. All of Valerie’s subscribers got very excited and wanted to do a swap using these images. I was all for doing a male nude swap too, but I’m not so big a fan of vintage images, so I googled some hotties and worked with those.

You would think that it would be simple to just plaster my digital base with images, but it does take some thought. You have to consider how the card will look closed, as well as open, and you have to make sure the elements don’t crease in the wrong places. I was very concerned that the guys on my card would look like they were playing with each other. That could be interesting in a different way, but it was not the look I was going for.

Anyway, as I was finishing and cutting this ATC, I remembered why I don’t like doing digital ATCs. There really is no point to printing and mailing them. I could just as easily send you the digital file and let you print and cut them out yourself.

So, here is the deal. Here is a digital representation of the card closed. If you want to see the complete tri shutter ATC, you have to email me for the file, print it out yourself, and cut and score it. It is a 7.5” x 3.5” jpg, 200 dpi, and I don’t have the copyright to any of the images (in case you were wondering).

Tri Shutter ATC

Judy challenged me to come up with the dimensions for the tri shutter ATC (see previous post if you don't know what a tri shutter card is), so I went to work and made up the diagram (not to scale). The solid lines are where you cut and the dashed lines are where you score.

I then made up an ATC with the scraps off my desk (not usually a good idea for creating art, but it does clear my desk a little). That is why the front image has nothing to do with anything going on inside the card. I should no better than to glue things in place before I'm finished composing - unless someone requests it, this card will wind up in the trash. I find it difficult enough with an ATC to try and say something interesting on that tiny canvas; tripling the area does not make it any easier to to be interesting.