Welcome to my blog. Over the years that I have been stamping and paper crafting, I have so often been inspired by the ideas on other sites and blogs. I hope I can pay that back in some measure with my own. (In between laughs -- or cackles as my son calls it!)

August 31, 2014

End of Summer Sunflowers

This card is for my friend Hiroe's birthday.  Sunflowers always seem to be a transitional flower, between late summer and early fall.  It uses a variety of techniques:

  • The mottled green and beige background is one of my altered NatGeo pages.
  • The sunflower is a napkin design, decoupaged directly to the background.
  • The sentiment is from SU's 'Art of Life' set, stamped on to tissue paper and then adhered with ModPodge.  I chose this sentiment for Hiroe because her sweet, sunny disposition always brightens our day!
  • The swirls are by Sheena Douglass (from Crafter's Companion) and are heat embossed with SU olive green embossing powder.
  • I added some brown micro beads (by Martha Stewart) in to the center of the flower.
  • This is then matted on a mustard cardstock, then on to a moss green 5x7" card base.

I love bringing together many different techniques on to one card.

August 24, 2014

Altered NatGeo's

Have you heard of the technique where you use CitraSolv to alter the ink on National Geographic pages?  I took a course on it last year at Create -- and the instructor, Cathy Taylor, has YouTube videos posted.  There's a series of four videos, and really worth watching.

We decided to do this technique last week in the PRC art class that I co-teach.  Basically, the CitraSolv dissolves the ink on the clay-coated premium NatGeo papers, resulting in one of a kind designs that can be further processed, or used as is, for collage papers.  We had to do it in the parking lot because of the fumes...but the ladies had fun and we made some beautiful papers.  Here is just a small sampling from one magazine only; aren't they cool!
Next week we'll take the papers we made and further process them with stencils or paint.  I was doing up some samples for the class and here's a look.  These were hard to photograph because the glossy magazine pages kept reflecting the flash.

This first one is 8x10" uses a fish stencil from The Stencil Girl.  I used it on heavy Bristol paper and collaged several other papers to make a sea scene.
The second one is 8x10 also and uses leaf stencils (I think from Crafters Workshop).  I cut oak leaves from several different papers with cool patterns.  To some, I added a touch of metallic copper paint.  The quotation is heat embossed in black.  It was serendipity that the globe in the upper right was not dissolved by the CitraSolv; it echoes the quotation beautifully!
These next two are smaller scale, and use new fish and tiger stencils that I bought from iStencils.  In person, the backgrounds on these are amazing.  
And finally, two more.  The cityscape and reflection stencil is from the Stencil Girl; the aspen/birch trees are from The Crafters Workshop.  I added a bit of glitter to the cityscape reflection.

August 21, 2014

We all scream for ice cream!

My BFF Leona just loves ice cream!  Anytime we go anyplace, if there is an ice cream store nearby, I know we'll be stopping.  It was her birthday recently, so what better image to put on her card than an ice cream cone?

I zentangled the cone after drawing the outline freehand.  I then assembled it on to a glittery red card base and added an embossed red cherry on top.

This card makes me smile; I hope you enjoy it too!

August 20, 2014

Rocks in my Head?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I started volunteering at an art class at the People's Resource Center.  The co-teacher is Cheryl, who has been giving of her time and spirit here for four years.  Anyway, she came up with an idea to paint little rocks, and we wanted to try it out by making samples, to see if it would be good for the class.

Well...(hangs face in shame)...I couldn't be satisfied with the little rocks.  I went on a walk and got some bigger rocks :-)

I ended up decoupaging napkins with ModPodge to them, instead of painting them.  I LOVE how they turned out.

First up is a large and heavy rock.  In addition to using a Monet-inspired waterlily napkin, I added some butterflies on the front.  The butterfly napkin was in a goody bag of collage materials that I got in Liesel Lund's class last week.  Both Liesel and Helen Shafer Garcia used stamped or cut out words in their work.  Since I had decided the large rock would be a doorstop (I like to leave my front door open to catch the breezes, but often it blows shut), I built on the word idea and stamped words like "Welcome, Home, Family, Love, Hearth, Shelter, Haven" with black StazOn ink on to tissue paper.  All of my instructors last week at Create had emphasized the virtues of translucent materials for collage.  After the Monet and butterfly layer dried, I tore the stamped words from the tissue and decoupaged them on, both top and bottom.  I made sure that the words Welcome, Home and Family were visible on top.  I then added two coats of poly varnish.  For this project you need to be patient and allow drying time before you can do the top and bottom surfaces of the rock.  I really like this piece -- and it will be used as a doorstop in my front hall.


My second rock was medium sized.  It's actually pretty heavy, so it might work as a doorstop, or a giant paperweight.  But, I think I'll end up placing it by some flowerpots on my front porch, just as a decorative element.  For this, I used a sunflower-patterned napkin.  I used gold Smooch paint to add a bit of a glimmer to the petals.  Then I finished it with poly varnish also.  This one was hard to photograph due to the shine; it looks prettier in person.

My third rock was smaller.  I used a black floral print napkin and stamped my name on tissue.  The tan part of the design is the natural rock color showing through.  This will be a paperweight on my home office desk.

I love how the mixed media techniques help me transform these rocks into little art pieces.  The alphabet stamps used are retired Stampin' Up sets.  Whether or not we actually do this project with the class, I had fun playing and love the end result.

August 17, 2014

Create Retreat - Day 4 - Repeat After Me

On Saturday evening I took a 3 hour class taught by Mary Beth Shaw of Stencil Girl fame.  I was hoping to learn more ways to use my collection of stencils, and I did!

We started by using acrylic paints and stencils to create a variety of patterned papers.  These would then be used on a 6x6 wooden base to create a small piece of artwork.  A new trick, to me, was to use a stencil to help define the layout of the patterned papers on the art piece.

Here is my finished piece.  I snuck in a tiny bit of zentangling on it.  I think this might be the only piece I've ever actually finished in all my years at Create, which usually is so heavily focused on teaching technique that I go home with half-finished works.  Trena was also in this class and her beautiful piece is shown second.

In the first step where we created our own patterned paper, one of mine turned out so well that I couldn't bear to cut it up, so I kept it whole.  Love it.

Create Retreat - Day 3 - Color Pencil Journaling

On the third day of classes at Create, I took a class taught by Helen Shafer Garcia, "Color Pencil Journaling".  Helen is a very talented artist and a fantastic instructor.

Helen taught us how to capture the likeness of an object by following its lines and shapes, without lifting our pencils or erasing.  (Shhh...I cheated.)  We then used a water-based Tombow marker to outline it, purposely smearing the ink with water to add depth and shadows.  The next step was to add color with watercolors.  Finally, we went over it with colored pencils to add definition and more shading.   We also did a second piece, where we cut words out of a dictionary page and then drew an image inspired by those words.  Another good method to break the "getting started" block.  Here's Helen with the art from the whole class.

For my first piece, I worked from a children's toucan sticker and a tiger lily pilfered from the hotel's plantings in the parking lot to create my composition.  I love the images on the stickers; they were reduced to their essence.  I'll use that trick again when I need a shape.

Create Retreat - Day 2 - Gelli Print Joy

I had registered for a class on gelli plate printing, taught by Kari McKnight-Holbrook.  She is a fun, lively instructor.  I had never used a gelli plate before, and I can confidently say that I am now hooked.

We used 12" deli paper to print on with acrylic paints that were brayered on to the gelli plate.  It's perfect to adhere to a firmer substrate or to collage with matte medium, as it can be translucent.  A quick trip to a restaurant supply store is in my future next week!  We also used a lot of stencils for patterns.  In 6 hours, I made about 50 prints.  I only tossed two.  (Shhhh...don't tell Kari; she thinks you can salvage anything...but when you put the alphabet stencil down backwards, it's not too usable, LOL.)  I am loving my stack of papers!  Here is just a very small sampling.

Here are two of my favorites.  The first aspen trees is the final "cleanup" image.  Often the cleanup image is a sacrifice, just to get the plate clean for the next set of colors.  But I love how it turned out.  The second has a warm glazing over it.  I had never used acrylic glazing medium (you add just a drop of paint to tint it).  It is a wonderful thing!   I added the stamped words in copper embossing when I got home:  "Oh good gigantic smile of the old earth this autumn morning" (Browning).

Create Retreat - Day 1 - Secret Imaginings Class

This past week, I attended the Create Mixed Media Retreat in the Chicago area.  Luckily I live in easy commuting distance so it helped to keep expenses down.  I had a great time, but after four full classes, I am pooped!  Who knew that creativity could be so tiring?  It was also fun to take three of the classes with my stamping buddy and artist, Trena.

My first class was "Secret Imaginings" taught by Liesel Lund.  She was a great, cheerful instructor.

We started with soft music and meditative writing, about what we would want to be and such, if we could be anything.  We then used those imaginings to inspire three different collage style pieces of art.  It's a method I had never done before, but it was a useful springboard to the creative process.

I didn't really finish any of these pieces...but I like the direction they are headed.  They all need more work, but I'll share what my "secret imaging was".  I was a fairy, who lived in a toadstool house in a beautiful meadow.  I rode my dragonfly and especially liked the wind in my hair in the autumn.  I created art and would spread joy to people by sharing that passion.  After a long day of this, I settled in to have a great cup of coffee and read and dream about where to travel next.

We've had a beautiful summer here in Chicago, not too hot!  I think as temperatures cool and we get the winter snows, I'll play in the craft room and finish out these pieces.  My favorite so far is the autumn one; I love the rich colors.They'll then be folded in half into a book format.

August 10, 2014

Volunteering at PRC Art Class

About a month ago, I started volunteering at the local People's Resource Center art class.  The PRC gives assistance of many kinds (food, clothing, job hunting help, computer training) to the families that it serves in our county.

For the art class, I'm assisting the teacher, Cheryl, and helping to come up with project ideas and generally helping the ladies in the class.  Well, for the past couple weeks we have been building on the zentangling and bringing that to the class, to try their hands at it, and use their zentangled creations on cards.

Here are some of the samples that I made for the class.


The card with the turtle is actually going to be a birthday card for my friend Jenny in our walking group.  She collects turtles so this one is especially for her.

August 9, 2014

Found my Zen with Zentangling

Some months ago I discovered images of Zentangles online.  How cool, I thought. So I tried to self-teach myself how to zentangle, which is essentially a very deliberate, structured and repetitive doodle.

I found it to be very relaxing, which is odd given a pretty intense concentration level that you need when you do it.  But, I was hooked!  And it is immensely portable; you just need paper and a pen or pencil.

Here are a couple examples that I did a while back.  First, my crazy bird.  I love this quirky, bold fella.  I did him in my art journal, so unfortunately he hasn't been turned in to a card yet.  Not sure if he ever will be.

I also traced my hand and zentangled it in a henna color.  It reminds me very much of the Indian art of "mehndi" that you see done with henna on hands and elsewhere to decorate the body.

As layoffs were happening at work, I traced and zentangled hands of my Product Management and IT team members.  I added customized doodles to reflect their personalities and interests.  Very therapeutic, and a farewell gift to my co-workers.

August 8, 2014

I've returned!

So it has been 19 months since I posted.  Wow.

Once I left the Crafter's Companion design team I just kinda stopped.

Well, a new transition has happened in my life and I'm laid off from OfficeMax due to the Office Depot merger and subsequent decision to move the headquarters to Florida, from Illinois.  So, right now I have a little more time...and I think I will start focusing on my art more, blogging and sharing my creations again.

So, hopefully you'll be hearing a little more from me :-)