Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Odds and ends for the end of the month

I began fall and Halloween decorating last week. We have a full bath on the main floor. For many years it was our only bath, and we only had one floor. Seventeen years ago we remodeled, moving bedrooms upstairs and added another full bath. The tub in this photo has probably been used less than 10 times in those 17 years. It gets rinsed out when the bathroom is cleaned but doesn't need the scrubbing attention the upstairs that the other one requires.

I bought a spider web and spider, both heavy weight felt, at a craft store. I joined them by a strand of black yarn and decided to add the web to the shower curtain by way of one of the curtain's rings. I swear to you, the rings get washed when the curtain gets washed or changed, but I guess I can't remember the last time that happened....dust fell into the tub from the rings when I did this. Both bathrooms got a top to bottom scrubbing the following day.
If you're wondering what the circles are on the right, those are 5 round mirrors with red dotted ribbon running from hook to ceiling. I did that for Christmas and liked it so much, I left them that way. I normally don't use black towels in here, but I've added them and a black rug for Halloween.

The door needed a new wreath and the craft store had a sale PLUS...I had a birthday coupon to use! The square wire form appealed to me. The flowers and a few feathers are wired onto it. Once the glass is in the storm door, this will hang on the outside of the storm door. I plan to move the leaf on the left side and feather on the right so they don't create such a strong horizontal line. Other than that, I'm happy with it.
One of my nieces co-hosted a Painting with a Twist party this past weekend. Everyone brings wine and snacks (in my case, water, fruit and veggies as it was the night before a Weight Watcher weigh in), pays for the two hour session and paints a picture with acrylic paint.

To be honest, I am not thrilled with the subject but the event was fun and being among friends is always good. Here is my painting and then the group shot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Zenish Doodling on Note Cards

It is my understanding that "Zentangle" is a copyrighted term and since I don't want to get into trouble, I am not using that term here.

I guess I should not say that I wiped my nose with a Kleenex, used Windex to clean the mirror or added Hershey's to my grandson's milk without verifying those are the brands I've actually used. I'm not being a smart aleck (maybe just a little?) but we all tend to use a brand name for a generic object or process without meaning any harm, don't we?

Is it ironic that after these comments, today I have added watermarks to the photos I am sharing? I normally don't do this because I don't think anyone is going to take a photo I've shared and earn a zillion dollars off of it. I don't think anyone is going to earn a quarter of a zillion off today's photos, but they aren't for me so I am protecting them, somewhat. I think. I hope.

Enough banter, here we go. These are samples for note cards that will be blank inside. Originally I was going to leave all text off of them but that changed with the last few.

I began with this one. The shape of the flowers and leaves is from a template I've had for years. Remember when many people stenciled a border on their walls? I liked this but felt I went too far with the leaves, that their bold design overpowered the flowers. That lead to me adding color between the petals and I just wasn't thrilled.

 I started over with the same image but kept the doodling simpler.
The original thought was that the design should be a blank canvas to the sentiment that would be written inside. Congratulations! Happy Birthday! or Deepest Sympathy don't really conjure the same images in my mind, plus is the recipient male or female? A young adult or old ? (Note: old is always 15 years older than my current age) I really needed to keep things simple. 

After being hunched over paper drawing wavy lines and squiggles, I decided to add a few words.
Still not sure of this next one. What I had in mind didn't come out on paper. Sometimes that is a happy accident. This isn't really an accident, just a weird detour that I've left as is.
I am tempted to color in all of the circles in the next one, but I am presenting these as a coordinated set so everything stayed black and white. 
And finally, the last one which was really fun to draw. 
The circles were done in pencil with templates and were no longer close to perfect after going over them with the a Copic multiliner pen. If the hand made image isn't what someone is interested in, a computer program would do a better job. 

I am going to do more of these doodles and add color, probably lots of color, for my own use. My husband is relieved that I don't work well on vertical surfaces, therefore I won't do this directly on a wall anywhere. Oh, to be younger and have him gone for 8 hours....

For the record, he appreciates my art, he just doesn't like when he has to paint over it. Have I mentioned the tree I painted in the bathroom in work that had 3D birdhouses hanging from it? It takes a lot of white paint to cover a brown trunk and green leaves....who knew?  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Ghiradelli holder for Halloween

Since the sample I made here, I've been thinking about Halloween themed paper in my stash and remembered that I have some Martha Stewart punches bought a few years ago from HSN when a seasonally themed set came 4 or 5 times in one year. Some of those have been used often, a few, not so much. This was the case with the Halloween set even though I like it.

Here is tonight's creation:

The measurement and scoring directions are the same. The green card stock measures 3" x 8.5" and is scored at 2.5", 2.75", 5.5" and 5.75"

The band measures .75" by 9.75" and is scored at 3", 3.25", 6.25" and 6.5"

I used one of the M.S. stamps on the green card stock and another to cut out the spider inside. The spider is from a border punch so there could many spiders on my desk if I'm not careful! 

I used Stampin' Up punches and their Teeny Tiny Wishes to stamp 'happy halloween'. The circle punch is 2", the circle scallop is 2 3/8".

The only mistake I made on this prototype was cutting the black paper to fit behind the crow and fence. It is wide enough for the view from the front, but not wide enough when the holder is open. This will bother me so I will be more careful next time around.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Not as fast as once upon a time

Once upon a time the whole house would be cleaned in one day and a room full of furniture would have been rearranged, possibly with an unsatisfactory result and the whole room would be returned to the original layout.

Now I find that we are creatures of habit and if the couch is moved, we might hurt ourselves by dropping onto where it once was and landing hard on the floor. It is better to leave the layout as is.

Once upon a time I would get on my bike and ride for miles.

Yesterday I got on my bike with fat tires and coaster brakes for the first time in years and was happy to make it around the block without injury.
Once upon a time I would start a creative project and stay up as late as it took to complete it.

Last night I was drawing something in a Zentangle fashion but had to call it quits before my eyes zentangled.
Once upon a time I would have found a way to use everything in my stash.

Now I hope to to live long enough to use most of it....provided I stop adding to it (as if that will happen!)...but have learned it is ok to let go. Didn't Disney teach us this with Frozen?  Yesterday the fabric and yarn that I sorted in July and determined was never going to come to anything by my hands went to a new home. Hopefully the recipient will be as happy receiving as I was ditching, er...donating. I meant to type donating this stuff.
I am about to return to work on my Zenish-tangled drawings which may or may not become note cards. I have a few errands to run first and hubby is out of the house. Have no fear though, since I've slowed down on cleaning the house, I can leave him a note in the dust. 
Slower, but happier,
Gigi (aka Knitty)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ghiradelli chocolate holder

Surely you don't give someone a Ghiradelli chocolate that isn't in some sort of presentation card...

That was sarcasm if you don't know me. I will accept chocolate in any way that the health department approves and possibly in a few questionable manners.

I found a cute way to give these candy squares to someone on Dawn's Stamping Thoughts. Dawn does a great job explaining how to make her creations in her blog and on her videos. While I will probably make some with the snowflakes that she used, I'm not ready to think about snow yet. I used paper that didn't thrill me to make this using the dimensions she provided. The mauve-ish paper doesn't coordinate with anything I have.
Please watch Dawn's video for full instructions, but in a nutshell, the paper that holds the chocolate square is cut at 8.5" by 3". One end has been cut with a scallop tag punch, but that is a design feature, not a necessity. The paper strip is then scored at 2.5", 2.75", 5.5" and 5.75" 

The band that holds this together is cut at 9.25" by 3/4" and is scored at 3", 3.25", 6.25" and 6.5". Embellishments inside and out are up to you. 

Here is what I made next with Halloween in mind. I have stamps that I will use for the interior greeting and also for cute characters that may appear inside and definitely on the outside on top of a paper that has a plainer background. This goofy little monster was cut with a 1 3/8" circle punch on top of a scalloped circle (1 3/4" punch)
The chocolate square just sits inside. When the band is around the closed holder, it won't fall out.
Here is the exterior view. The scallop tag should have been cut at the other end of the paper strip since this is a one way print rather than an overall design.  This doesn't really matter but I will watch for that the next time. I have no excuse why I have the first one set up the same way, other than to say I am consistent.
Is everyone who comes to my door on Halloween getting one of these? No. 
Will a few special people get them? You bet!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Perfecting Techniques: Embossing, gluing and using very thin frames

I love Halloween. I'm not against the spooky stuff as long as it isn't done to unsuspecting people who don't like it or young kids who might be traumatized. What I really, really like though is the cute Halloween stuff.

When I saw the card that Darlene DeVries made here on her blog I had to try it too. She has an accompanying YouTube video that was helpful.

Here is my recreation of her card:
Not bad, especially without comparing mine to hers, but there is room for improvement. 

The cat, slime and spider stamps are all part of a set called Trick or Treat by Simon Says Stamp. The word Halloween is from a die set called Halloween, and the narrow green frame is a wafer thin die from a set called This is the Life, both from Simon Says Stamp. 

The first time I attempt a new project or recipe, I try to follow the directions exactly. Now I know what I will try differently the next time, and will share what didn't work well for me. First off, the very narrow green frame made me a little nuttier than normal! The die was placed on the Sizzix magnetic platform onto a piece of white card stock cut to the specified size. Once cut, I had the inner rectangle where the stamping is done, the tiny border and the white frame. Because they are all cut from one piece of card stock, they should go back together snugly, like a puzzle. As you can see in this photo, some black (the card base) shows between the green frame and the inner white rectangle. I like that frame but the next time I try this, I will color it and adhere it to a piece of card stock the size of the overall rectangle. I can always use the frame and inner rectangle elsewhere. Then again, maybe I will draw the rectangle with a fluorescent green Copic maker.

The green color used on the frame and slime is Radiant Neon Pigment Ink in Electric Green. Per directions, I used UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel) on the green areas and used the heat gun to get a shiny, thick surface. Well I tried to anyway. I went over both the frame and the slime image with a Versamarker and more UTEE but really don't feel my result came anywhere close to Darlene's. I will definitely practice this again because thick, shiny slime is a technique I need in my bag of tricks! 

In order to look like Darlene's card, the cat should have been stamped further up from the bottom of the rectangular cut, but the only downside of my position is the word Halloween isn't quite as prominent in appearance this way.

About that word Halloween....wow! Wow happens to be the name of the black glitter embossing powder that was used. I think I want it in every color! Unfortunately my photo doesn't show how nice this glittered word looks. Here's another angle that gives a slightly better view of the sparkle.
I mentioned glue in this entry's title. I use a variety of adhesives. My go-to stick-um is most often Scotch brand's Adhesive Dot Roller. I sometimes use Tombow Multi (used by Darlene), sometimes Sakura's Quickie Glue (it looks like a pen), and when I want something strong that I know will stay put through anything, I use Scor Tape by Sookwang.

The stamp set used includes a dog that is semi-wrapped as a mummy and the die set includes shapes for cutting out both the cat and dog. I have an idea brewing that I hope to get to in a few days. We don't really need to have meals or clean laundry while I'm in the mood for this, do we? 

Perfecting Techniques: Choosing paper for cards

I liked this card as soon as I saw it online. It is cut from Sizzix die #659690. This die cuts the entire card, not just the face the that you see here. A crease is made for folding as the card is cut.
I have quite a few Christmas prints, but the paper is lightweight. This was not a good choice. The card had no body and the word jingle did not release well. I tried gluing the thin paper over a ready made blank card. That didn't go well either. The print paper tore along the crease as I trying to align things.

I ran this die again but cut the print paper in half after the card was cut. If I am going to use up the thin paper that I have on hand, I think I will try shimming under the work jingle before I run it through the Big Shot and see how that goes. It took quite a bit of time to get the word out and salvage the letters that came out in four pieces: the j-i are one piece, the n-g-l-e remain connected and then there are the two dots for the first two letters.
The phrase "all the way" as shown in the first photo does not come with the die. I will probably use the phrase on the interior of the card, either printed on the computer or free-handing the greeting. The two views in the above photo are not finished cards. They need to be glued to a card and I'm not certain of the use of the bell for the dot over the "i". If I use them, these cards will be hand delivered.

Next experiment will be cutting this out of solid core card stock in Christmasy colors (I hate have white show in the fold when the card is creased) and using a Christmas print on the interior of the card that will be visible through the jingle cut out. The front of that card might be too fragile though. Hmm, see why experimentation is necessary?


Using a heavier weight card stock made removing and saving the letters much easier.
I decided the card needs a backing and shouldn't be used as a window to the interior of the card. 
What was the first thing I did today? Cut the card out of the lightweight paper...again. 
The bell here is white with glitter on it. I outlined the letters with a Sakura pen called Star glaze. Another bit of advice: If you decide to add a bell, make sure it has a clapper inside. This one is a dud and I didn't notice it until I had it on the card. Maybe I wasn't really awake this morning. 

Perfecting techniques: Copics on Vellum

Lately I've been making things against deadlines rather than taking the time to play with the tools that I have and work on technique.  I've heard and read mixed reviews on using Copic markers on Vellum. Today I took the time to see for myself whether or not I would like the look.

I began with Core'dinations vellum, Tulip Trio Oval stamp by Northwoods Rubber Stamps, Versa Magic in Cloud White by Tsukineko, and Ranger's UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel). After using the heat gun and allowing the vellum to cool, I turned it over to begin coloring on the back side. I tested color choices on a small scrap of vellum. Colors that may have been lovely on white paper were sometimes lost on the vellum.  I didn't do much shading, using only two markers per colored area, and I didn't work the area very much as I don't know that vellum would hold up.

I didn't think to take photos along the way but here is my result against a few different backgrounds. First is the side that I colored, the wrong side which will go against card stock when I finish this as a card.
Here is the right side against the same yellow card stock.  
Here it is against pink

And against blue

And lastly, against white
I thought I was going to use this over white paper until I tried it. The fine white embossing detail is lost against white. I think the leaves look best against the blue paper but I'm not sure that is the best choice for the tulips. I think more experimenting is necessary, maybe even against black or another dark color.

The markers I used for the tulips were R43, R46, Y17, YR24, V17 and BV17. The leaves were done with YG07, YG23 and G97. Stems were YG95 and YG97. The ribbon and oval are B14 and B18.

Bottom line: I like the look and will try it again. Next time I will use regular embossing powder so as not to be so lumpy on the flowers. Embossing is obviously another technique I need to work on.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Giving money creatively

On my previous blog I shared how I gave one of the young boys in our family a gift of money. That is shown here along with an alpaca fence sitter that hubby cut and assembled and I painted. Adults in our extended family don't usually exchange birthday gifts but when we do, they are fun.

The children of my nieces are all great kids and while I do keep in touch with their parents and grandma (my sis-in-law), I don't see the kids often enough to know what they already have and what they might want for birthday gifts. I've resorted to giving them cash. I sort of feel this is a cop out, but kids love to shop for themselves and their moms aren't making exchanges because three relatives bought the same toy or the wrong size shirt. There is certainly nothing wrong with putting cash or a check in a card, but that isn't me. I have a reputation to uphold, even if only in my own mind. 

This weekend we will be going to a birthday party for a young man who is turning five. His cousin will be there and since she didn't get a birthday gift from us yet, I prepared something for her as well.

For the young man, I used small pieces of tape to make a string of dollar bills. The bill on one end had a small hole in the end, perfect for attaching decorative twine that ran around the axle of a small car.
I folded the bills back and forth inside a small box that I covered with Kraft paper. 
With the top of flip top box tucked into the base, the car was placed on top. 
This black ribbon with the white stitching reminded me a blacktop highway, perfect for the tying up the package with a car attached.
The E is his initial, the 5 is his magic number this birthday. I think he will enjoy pulling that car off the top with all those ones attached. 

The young lady is a preteen, going on 20-something as girls often seem to do. I thought I'd give her something a little more sophisticated. I started with a Prima Donna stamped image called Lorena.
The complete image is on the left. The middle is what I used, cutting out the upper layer of skirt and leaving a bit of the sides. On the right is a piece of acetate (from a package of clear cling stamps) with the folds of the skirt drawn on with a Sharpie marker.

Prismacolor pencils were used to color Lorena. The sides of her skirt are light green but it doesn't show up well in this photo.
I used the cut out part of the skirt as a template and cut out that portion on a card. With the card closed, I played around with how to place the bills on the side of the card. The cash would become the print fabric of Lorena's skirt.
The cash was lightly taped in place. I used a tape runner to close the card, avoiding the bottom area where the money is. The card won't actually be opened until my great-niece is ready to remove the cash. Whether that happens immediately or after she gets home is up to her.

Here is the finished card. I added clear glitter accents to the bottom of her skirt, around the neckline and her headband. Before attaching Lorena to the front of the card I used Tim Holtz stencils (Burlap and Jute) with Color Box chalks (stamp pads) to add a little color and design to the background. The greeting was done with Stampin Up punches, oval and scalloped oval.
I hope the kids enjoy their gifts as much as I enjoyed making them.