Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My inner voice is speaking

Throughout my life, people have told me that I should paint, knit, sew, etc for a living. I don't have the right mind set to be commissioned to make things and charge for them. The comments I've heard at craft shows while sitting with friends who were vendors made me want to scream. Someone who has sewn on a few buttons and bought 3 yards of lace for $1 from the bargain bin thinks a hand sewn, smocked baby dress made of Swiss batiste is overpriced at $50. That price doesn't cover materials and the hours put into it, even at minimum wage.

My creative hobbies are almost as important to me as breathing. I have never spent more than a few days away from creating something.  I learn while creating even if I occasionally want to scream and rip things apart, figuratively and literally. Sometimes an effort is "good enough" depending on the item's purpose, but if a person always stops at "good enough", you don't really grow and learn.

The woman who made the beautifully smocked infant's dress might not have made mistakes on that particular gown that needed to be undone and restitched, but she had many dozens of that style completed in her history of sewing and smocking, not to mentioned hundreds of hours of teaching both. She smiled at my frustration with the comments we overheard. She had learned to tune them out and listen to her own voice.

What does my voice tell me?

When I look at a finished item,  it is okay to appreciate it for what it is and how well it is done, perhaps the biggest accomplishment sometimes being that it is FINALLY done. A recent sweater threatened to be on needles forever...or so it seemed. But that voice inside? That voice said forget about "seems" and look at the arm seams. They aren't terrible but they could be better. Taking them out and restitching isn't the answer because the problem that I see was in the knit pattern itself, the way decreases were shaped, started and stopped. If that made no sense to you, just know that many things in life aren't obvious until after you've gone the distance. I'm not going to knit new sleeves, I will just know to do them differently next time.

I'm not being negative by seeing my mistakes, or if not actual mistakes, areas that could be improved. If I were a negative person, I wouldn't pick up the needles, brushes or scissors again. My inner voice reminds me that I am not in competition with anyone but myself. My goal is to try to be better today than yesterday, and that applies to everything in life.

Getting better one day at a time has led to Weight Watcher success (my weight loss journey is here), improvement through practice and repetition in my crafts, and in my outlook toward the world. If you aren't careful, the media and angry voices in social media and on the streets can make you think the world is coming to an ugly end. It isn't though, not any time soon because I have too many projects to finish and techniques to perfect!

Coloring on black

Recently, in a live class taught by Vanilla Arts instructor Amy, we colored this image with Prismacolor pencils.

The stars didn't originally have rhinestones and silver ink, I dropped something on this at home and my fix made things worse. Next time around coloring this, things will go better. Even with my oopses (in class and at home) this reaffirmed that I like coloring on black.

Another artist whose work I follow is Sandy Allnock. This post of hers led me to playing with Fine Tec Pearl Colors on Amy's image. This was my first time playing with these pigments. Shades of violet weren't in the kit I bought and I didn't attempt to mix shades before applying them to the paper. Sometimes I'm too stubborn for my own good. I wanted to play with this last night but something had irritated one eye to the point where it only felt okay if I kept it shut. That is my reason and excuse for not attempting to blend colors on a palette.

The Fine Tec paints look very similar in their tray which is not labelled. Here is a shot of the tray with the color names and samples below.  When 5 out of 12 colors so closely resemble each other dry, don't you think the tray should identify the colors?

They were fun to work with, but perhaps the technique used for the Prismacolor work (sky color radiating behind the moon) wasn't the best choice for this.

The pearl colors look like the moon is glowing like a fireball to me. Maybe its a meteor! 

Live and learn, and have fun coloring!

Diorama Anniversary Card

I goofed while making this and didn't keep my notes, but I do have the basic directions. The folds and center panel of this diorama card are made the same was as this card described on my previous blog. If you've made "card in a box" designs before where the card looks like an open box with items sticking out of the top, you'll recognize this card's assembly, especially in the third photo. 

I started out with the front and back pieces cut at 3" by 8.5".  Each strip of paper was scored at 2" from both ends. That becomes the sides of this box. 

I messed up every possible way on my first attempt of this card, including putting the adhesive strips to attach the front piece of card stock to the back (bottom). This wouldn't matter if the same paper was used for both front and back, but the card is pushed over flat to mail (see the last photo) and it just didn't look right to me seeing plain paper sides with the front panel which was a printed paper in my first attempt. 

My original opening was punched out with circles, but I didn't like that look. I tried a label die with scrolls on the ends but it just didn't fit the size of the paper well and I didn't want to re-draft the dimensions. The paper cutter I use is from Stampin Up but other brands are equally handy when it comes to cutting out a window within a piece of paper. 

After scrapping my first attempt, I decided to use white card stock and do some all over stamping on the front piece and on the inner panel. The dimensions of that inner panel are 3" by 6.5" and each end is scored at 1" so that it sits in the middle of the depth of the finished box. 

I used a Stampin Up stamp called Something Lacy but I messed up on that too. I didn't get a clear impression so I turned it over and stamped again. The back side of this inner window doesn't look bad, but the flaps bugged me so I cut paper used in one of the birds to make strips to cover up the ugliness. The stamp used on the front of the card was a large one that I've had for many years. The name and maker are long forgotten. I used a variety of small ink pads from Ranger to color the stamp before applying it to the paper.

I don't always make envelopes to go with handmade cards but this card seemed to call for it.

I will use this technique again but will change it up a bit. I will make the window on the inner layer slightly smaller so that it is more visible. I think embellishments on both the outer and inner windows could make an interesting composition, especially if the overlap the openings a bit. 

Back to my beginning comment about not keeping my notes:  This card wasn't cut at the dimensions listed, it is a bit smaller. I thought 2" sides were too deep so I cut them to be 1.5" deep. That means the front and back were cut at 3" x 8" and scored 1.5" from each end. The inner piece of card stock remained at 3" x 6.5" but was scored at .75" from each end. 

Anytime dimensions are changed, math can be scary so I'll put it his way: Three inches is the height of the card. If you want a taller card, cut all three pieces of paper at that number. Decide how wide you want the face of the card and how deep you want the sides. The face is 5" on my card and each side is 1.5" deep.  5" + 1.5" + 1.5" = 8"  To make the inner panel fit at half the depth of this card, the measure for the face needs to remain the same and the sides need to be half of whatever you chose for the depth of your card. 5" + .75" + .75" = 6.5"

If I wanted to fit a 4" x 6" photo on the inside of the card with a depth of 1.5", I would cut the front and back strips at 4" x 9"  (4" is the height, the width is 1.5" + 6"+ 1.5" = 9") and the inner panel would be cut at 4" x 7" ( .75" + 6" + .75" = 7.5")

Monday, October 19, 2015

Another "Top This" Hat

Months ago I wrote about making a knitted hat from DMC's "Top This" line. That post is here. When I saw the bunny hat in pink, I needed to make it for my granddaughter. 

This was done in a little over 3 hours. The yarn changes on its own and the bunny (or other stuffed decorations in their line) tie onto the completed hat. I could probably be talked into making one of each design because they're all so dang cute.  ( Other hat toppers here )

Speaking of cute, I do believe my granddaughter is asking "Really, Gigi???" as I took this photo.

When she can roll her eyes, I'll be in serious trouble!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A summer sweater, done in 48* weather

Last spring I kept seeing a sweater in ads in knitting magazines. The pattern was only offered in a book, not a single pattern download. I decided I had to have it anyway and tracked down a store 40 minutes from home that carried it. I could have saved myself money by having the store send it to me but traveling to the store with my sister-in-law (we were destined to be relatives!) was fun. Shopping and lunch ensued and all was good.

The particular yarn called for was not available, but Pediboo by Frog Tree was a good match when I did a sample gauge. The pattern that I fell in love with soon showed me that it wasn't going to become something I would actually wear. While not truly lacy, much of the front was too revealing and would have required a camisole. Would I want to wear a camisole under a sweater in the summer? Probably not. I followed the basic sweater pattern bus skipped their pattern directions and inserted my own.

It took me longer to knit than expected. The pattern wasn't difficult but not paying attention twice while knitting socially (a.k.a. talking too much!) resulted in ripping back a number of rows. Other projects impeded the completion of this and due to working on size 2 needles, progress was destined to be slow. I like how it turned out though. In fact, I LOVE it. 

The color is off in the photo below (indoor overhead lighting) but this photo shows the design well. 

This panel is 55 stitches wide so I figured out the center of the written pattern and used markers to figure out placement. The two foundation rows and 8 row repeat are spelled out below.

It was 48* when I left my knitting group this afternoon. I finished the sweater before I went, so technically the sweater was probably completed while the temp was around 40*F.  With luck, I will wear this at least once this week without it being hidden under a jacket, then it will be ready for me when I take a vacation to warmer weather in February.

And for the record, I did wear a camisole under this but not because of modesty. I was cold!

Stitch code:
C6F =  3 sts to Cable Needle (CN) held in front, K3, K3 from CN
C6B = 3 sts to CN held in back, K3, K3 from CN
T5F = 3 sts to CN held in front, P2, K3 from CN
T5B = 2 sts to CN held in back, K3, P2 from CN

Foundation row of pattern area (55 sts). These two rows prepare the area for the cable pattern.
Row 1: P4,  K6,  P2,  K1,  P2,  (K3,  P4,  K6,  P4,  K6,  P2),  P2,  K1,  P2,  K6,  P4
Row 2: K4,  P6,  K2,  P1,  K2,  (K2,  P6,  K4,  P6,  K4,  P3),  K2,  P1,  K2,  P6,  K4

Pattern Rows: (directions in parentheses are the crossed cables)

Row 1:  P4,  K6,  P2,  K1,  P2,  (K3,  P4,  C6F,  P4,  C6F,  P2),  P2,  K1,  P2,  K6,  P4

Row 2:  K4,  P6,  K2,  P1,  K2,  (K2,  P6,  K4,  P6,  K4,  P3),  K2,  P1,  K2,  P6,  K4

Row 3:  P4,  C6B,  P2,  K1, P2,  (T5F,  T5B,  T5F,  T5B,  T5F),  P2,  K1,  P2,  C6F,  P4

Row 4:  K4,  P6,  K2,  P1,  K2,  (P3,  K4,  P6,  K4,  P6,  K2),  K2,  P1,  K2,  P6,  K4

Row 5:  P4,  K6,  P2,  K1,  P2,  (P2,  C6B,  P4,  C6B,  P4,  K3),  P2,  K1,  P2,  K6,  P4

Row 6:  K4,  P6,  K2,  P1,  K2,  (P3,  K4,  P6,  K4,  P6,  K2),  K2,  P1,  K2,  P6,  K4

Row 7:  P4,  C6B,  P2,  K1, P2,  (T5B,  T5F,  T5B,  T5F,  T5B),  P2,  K1,  P2,  C6F,  P4

Row 8:  K4,  P6,  K2,  P1,  K2,  (K2,  P6,  K4,  P6,  K4,  P3),  K2,  P1,  K2,  P6,  K4

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Curvy Keepsake Pumpkin

Pumpkins are in the air, in our coffee creamer (not mine, truthfully) and on the shelves of paper crafters.

The pumpkin is made using Stampin' Up's Curvy Keepsake die. The pointed part of her hat is two pieces of black paper cut with Stampin' Up's Tree punch. The brim of her hat is a 2.5" circle with a slit made using Word Window punch. The brim is layered over Stampin' Up's Spiderweb doily. I drew a face on both sides of the pumpkin and added a bow (misc Halloween print paper; bow created with Bow Builder punch).

When I make her again (I'm calling this a 'her' because the spiderweb looks lacy and the bow seems feminine), I will draw the face before I curve the flaps and assemble the pumpkin. I might cut the tree shaped pieces free hand, making them both taller and a bit wider. The upper tips of the hat and glued together, the lower part is spread and placed over the handle formed when the keepsake box is assembled. The tree trunk of the punch is folded under the circular brim with a small glue dot holding it in place.

Remember when ladies work small hats with netted veils? I might need to make a vampish pumpkin with the spiderweb doily dipped down over her face. She might need a beauty mark on her face too.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Retirement card

My son asked if I could make a retirement card for a co-worker. After asking a few questions about her post-employment plans, I made this:

The car is a Sizzix die that I have had forever (one of the original thick dies that came in a plastic case) and had only used once.

The headlights are part of the die, punched out, with white glitter paper behind them. Happy Retirement is from Stampin' Up's Teeny Tiny Wishes stamp set, cut with their Word Window punch. There is a sheet of velum behind the car's windshield to make it look more like glass (in my mind anyway) and the star with the hole punched out on the calendar highlights the woman's last day or work.

This sentiment was the inside greeting, mounted on map scrapbook paper to match the cover.

I'm happy to hear that the woman was touched by this and that my son was happy to present this to his fellow coworkers to sign. I made it larger than my typical cards so that 40+ people could sign the card.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hogs and Kisses

Last weekend I learned how to make a card that could hold a gift card or cash. My Stampin' Up demonstrator taught this and I knew it was a card I would make more than once.

There are many tutorials available online that feature this or something very similar, often called a pop up gift card holder. This particular card began with a strip of double sided paper, cut at 5.25" x 8 3/8".  Score lines are at 2.25", 3.25", 4.25" and 8.25". The basic card below was done in class so I don't have step by step photos, nor do I have permission to use the directions that were given to us. If you are a card maker or a frequent viewer of Pinterest, you can probably figure out the how, where and why of this. 

I stuck my WW card in place to how you where a gift card would go. That flap has double-sided tape at the bottom holding it together. If you taped at the mountain crease, you wouldn't be able to insert a card or cash. We used the Word Window punch to create the opening but other punches or just a scissor cut would work. 

The notches on the other flap were made to hold the card closed. To close it more securely, an additional embellishment (such as the one I used on the belly band) could be attached to the flap between those notches, placed so that it overlapped the left side flap of the card. I made a belly band instead. At the time I left the class, I did not have an inside greeting or exterior embellishment. I didn't know when or how I would use this card.

I don't want to admit that I'm sometimes a procrastinator so let's just assume I had an extremely busy week and that is why I didn't make a gushy anniversary card for my son and daughter-in-law. Actually, gushy cards aren't my style.  I really had been looking for ideas and pondering various phrases and images but nothing felt right to me.

Early in the week, I was at my favorite scrapbooking store for Copic Club taught by Amy. I found these stickers (Mrs Grossman) and thought the color would work with the paper. I used Stampin' Up circle and scallop circle punches to dress up the belly band, and on the inside, the Happy Anniversary is part of Stampin' Up's Teeny Tiny Wishes set of stamps. The Hogs & Kisses is from Stephanie Barnard's (Stamps of Life) PiggyBank2Stamp set.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Book Club Decorations

A few of my knitting friends and I are avid readers. While we do mention what we're reading while at our knitting sessions, we don't get into deep discussions about the books. That is what a book club is for, so we began one this month. The inaugural meeting was here last Monday.

Back in June, I wrote about making these crepe paper flowers from a kit. Using more of the stem pieces and paper that looks like it came from a dictionary, I made these flowers:

I had enough paper to make more flowers but I was running short on time. They looked fine among the food on the table, tall enough and large enough to be noticed without being in the way.

I also made these cute little "books" from Hershey Nuggets. 

Do you know what is wrong with "cute" food? Nobody wants to disturb it. Nothing like being a Weight Watcher member with lots of leftover candy on the table! 
You can find dimensions on other blogs but I think you may want to experiment and find what works best for you. For a ballpark measurement, I'd suggest your page strips be 1" wide and close to 4" long. The "cover" of the book started out at 1.5" x 2.25". I trimmed the sides after the candy was attached because I thought the cover was too large. 

I don't know if the shiny paper on the candy was the problem or if the tape dispenser and later glue dots just weren't cooperating, but in the end I used double sided tape by Sookwang. Many of the original directions don't tell you to crease the white page strip, but that is what worked best for me.


I removed the backing on one side of the tape at a time, wrapping it around one candy, including the underside,

I snugged the second candy up against the finished half before rolling the page strip over.

One piece of tape was enough to hold the candies onto the open cover of the book.

If you don't want to write on your blank pages, a strip of ribbon or a sliver of colored paper would be a cute book mark to add.

I printed the name of our book club on the left candy and the book title on the right. I goofed on the title...the book was Orphan Train, a Novel by Christina Baker Kline. I mistakenly wrote "The Orphan Train".  Thankfully the book club members are all pacifists and nobody shot me.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Copic Markers & Prismacolor Pencils

Wow, September really flew for me, how about you?

The month was full of birthdays and anniversaries, including my own. It also signaled the start of my grandson's public school education and my return to elective classes, mostly through Vanilla Arts. I've been doing instructor Amy's online classes for three months and live classes just resumed this month at Remember When? Scrapbooking <--that link is for the store's Facebook page. If it doesn't open for you but you live within driving distance of Macomb, Michigan, you should visit Shannon's store.  (Location here)

The following works of art are all results of classes with Amy. The first one is from her live Copic Club. As my labels states, this was colored with Copic markers and fine details were added with Prismacolor pencils. Copic Club is a monthly class, good for everyone from a beginner to seasoned Copic colorist.

This was also done in a live class, The Art of Coloring, also held monthly. This series is for those who have a knowledge of how to use the markers and pencils. One of the main lessons in coloring this flag was about shading. The red stripes and the blue background behind the stars have a base color of Copic, but this is mostly colored pencil work.

Another live, monthly class is Art Journaling. The pages below have gesso, three shades of Izink colors, water, a paint marker, and a few cutout embellishments: the bird, the leaves, the word Autumn and the quote.

And the final share today is the online class for the month through Patreon. The image is offered for free for a month (this one no longer available as it is now October) on the Vanilla Arts site, but for a small fee through Patreon, you get step by step lessons on how to color it all. 

I love glass and never imagined I would be able to color it and have it resemble glass. Since showing this work to Amy, I've been given a few pointers on how to improve my work but haven't had the chance to do that yet. Perhaps another blog post soon will show the difference. 

Looking like a bottle of ink already

Some reflection on the glass

Base colors in Copics of the Hydrangea

Stem and leaves done

Close up of the petals before colored pencil details

Close up of a leaf after pencil work

 The finished piece....or almost finished as I plan to do a little more work on it

I do not gain anything by promoting Vanilla Arts or Remember When? Scrapbooking.  I simply love what I am doing and know that when I read about things that interest me, I'm happy to hear the how and where things are created.

Even if you are no where near Macomb, MI and don't see yourself participating in online classes, I hope this post shows you what Copic markers and Prismacolor pencils are capable of doing.

Go forth and color your world!