Thursday, September 30, 2010

Visions of Fall

Ahh...well, it was triple digits all weekend long, but that didn't stop me from finally getting out all of my fall decorations and turning the INSIDE of my house into an autumn oasis!  Each year, I seem to accumulate a little bit more (which is fine by me, since this is my favorite time of year!) every year, the house looks just a little different.  It's always fun to figure out just where everything should go, and which things can be placed within the reach of my little grabby-handed twins without ending up damaged (and without the hands getting hurt).  

These are the only things that ended up in the girls' reach: a floral bouquet in a tin vase, and two foam pumpkins that we carved last year.  And while they were enthralled in the beginning and wanted to cart the pumpkins off to play with them, a warning that they might get put away was enough to make Makayla start keeping her sister in check whenever she sees her starting to touch them again!  

It was nice to find a more permanent home for my new fall banner, too (rather than on the blinds in my craft room).  It looks quite nice in the family room over the windows.  

And finally, a gorgeous arrangement on the island.  While it may not FEEL like fall outside, it can at least SMELL like fall inside!

Now I just need some more fall artwork from the kids to finish decorating the walls and windows!!  How do you and your family celebrate the changing of the seasons?  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tim Holtz Product Giveaway at Scrap with Stacy

If you've been reading here long at all, you know how much I *love* all things by Tim Holtz!!  If you'd like a chance to try his products out for yourself, jump over to Stacy's blog at Scrap With Stacy - she's having an awesome giveaway of Tim Holtz goodies, and it's open until October 31!!  So you have PLENTY of time to enter the giveaway.  Just click here (or the link over on my sidebar) to be taken to her link for the instructions on how to be entered.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday 09/22/2010

Oh my - I'm actually posting my Inspiration Wednesday post ON Wednesday!  And well before midnight!  LOL!!  That would be because A.) I started my page before Donna posted hers, and thus, B.) did not wait until so late in the day to start; and C.) did a more simple page this week.  That said, it was a VERY difficult page to photograph (although it does seem like MOST of my stuff is hard to photograph well with my camera)...indoors, the flash shone off the Glimmer Mist and acrylic paint of the leaves so brightly, yet outdoors in the natural light, I couldn't get the Glimmer Mist to sparkle hardly at all.  So I did my best to share some of hopefully you can get a feel for just how shimmery and warm this page really is!

I was glad I didn't wait for Donna to post hers this week, since I don't actually own any Pan Pastels (or any pastels, for that matter) I wouldn't have been able to do that part of the technique anyway.  I just did a simple coat of Ochre Yellow fluid acrylic paint (Golden brand) for the background.  I literally just put a couple drops of it right on the page, sprayed some water on the page, and used a wide brush to spread the paint over the entire page, letting it lighten toward the left part of the page.  Then I took 3 leaves I had previously cut from book text, using my Cricut (the Wild Card cartridge), and glued them down on the page.  I painted over them using Nickel Azo Gold fluid acrylic paint, building in layers, so that it is darker on the outer part of the leaves.  I love that you can see the brush strokes and the layers in some of the pictures - and that you can still see the book text through the paint - the leaves almost seem to have a 3-dimensional look to them.  

Then, I used a mask that I had cut on my Cricut (also Wild Card cartridge), using the Tim Holtz cut-your-own-mask sheets - that's the tree branch you see near the top of the page.  It's self-adhesive, so I stuck it to the page, and used my Tim Holtz distress inks in Orange Marmalade, Barn Door, and Vintage Photo over the  mask and around the edges of the entire page, before removing the mask.  I also went around the edges of the page with a little Walnut Ink distress ink.  I stamped the clock face using an acrylic stamp I made using the  cut-your-own-stamps acrylic stamp sheets for the Cricut (using the Graphically Speaking cartridge), in brown Staz-on.  I then used the same cartridge to cut clock hands from cardstock and glued them on top of the stamped image, and covered them in Glossy Accents, and glued the Tim Holtz metal "cherish" charm in the middle.  I stamped "gratitude" at the bottom of the page, and glued down two pieces of ruler ribbon on the page.  I spritzed the page with Tiger Lily Glimmer Mist - a gorgeous shade of orange with beautiful golden shimmer to it.  Finally, I added my quote and doodled a few lines around the edges using black india ink.

I love how this last photo shows the texture of the leaves!!  They were so simple to do, but I just love them!!  They make me happy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday 9/15/2010

As usual, I'm posting my Inspiration Wednesday work on Thursday - because by the time Donna gets HER video up, and I take care of all my homeschooling duties, children who need feeding, household stuff, etc...I just can't manage to get it all done (or posted) by the end of Wednesday!!  LOL  I suppose if I just did my own thing and started first thing on Wednesday mornings, I could...but what fun would THAT be?  I wanna try whatever technique Donna is I wait for her to post her video and then I get to play along!!

So this week, we painted the background with fluid acrylics using a palette knife!  Totally a cool look!  I love the lines and texture it gives the background.  I didn't have the color of green I wanted, so I had to mix up some Hansa Yellow Medium, Phthalo Green (blue shade), and Yellow Ochre (all Golden fluid acrylics) to get just the right shade I was aiming for.  My pictures don't quite show it right - it's a little bit more olive-colored in real life.  My inspiration for the color was actually the shade of green in the patterned paper I used to make the flower at the bottom of the page (more on that in a bit).

I love this quote - it came from a women's devotional book I have.  I have been working with my 5-year old a LOT lately on focusing more on others' needs than on his own, and on paying more attention to giving than to getting - so this thought has been on my mind lately.

This twisted paper swirly thing - not exactly sure WHAT to call it - was something that Donna Salazar taught during her Tuesday Tutorial a couple nights ago (you should definitely check those out - free online video classes - live - every other Tuesday - there's a link on my left sidebar).  I tore three pieces of book text into about 2.5 inch-wide strips, coated them in Liquitex Gloss Medium & Varnish (she used a Beacon Fast Finish Decoupage, I believe), then gently twisted them one at a time.  I formed a peak at the top, and a sort of flattened part at the other end.  After forming all three and having curved them the way I wanted, I gently twisted all three together and smooshed the flattened bottom ends together, then laid them on my non-stick craft mat to dry.  Once they were dry (I used my heat gun to sort of speed up this process), I spritzed the now-one-piece swirly with some Tiger Lily Glimmer Mist and some homemade magenta colored shimmer mist.  It's hard to catch just how shimmery it really is, in photos - but let me tell you, it really shimmers!  I adhered it to the page using Beacon 3-in-1 Craft Glue (love that stuff!).

The bird, I cut out of the same patterned paper that I used to make this beautiful rose.  I outlined the bird using my dip pen and black india ink, just as I used for writing my quote.  Notice the eye of the bird - I added a drop of Glossy Accents to give it a dimensional look.  I also added several drops of the Glossy Accents to the flower petals to make it look like drops of dew or rain on the flower.  The Accents go on a little cloudy-looking, but dry crystal clear and very glossy, giving a very cool look.  Glossy Accents can also be used as an adhesive and will even adhere paper to metal.

Now - the flower!  This is my newest fun technique!!!  And SO easy it's ridiculous!  I still can't believe I never knew until now how to make these!  Can I just say how much I adore You-Tube?  You can really learn just about anything there - I've learned how to sew, how to knit, and many many other skills by watching videos people have posted on You-Tube.  Anyway, apparently this technique was originally a flower that Tim Holtz made using a Sizzix flower die; however, a very creative woman figured out a way to make them even faster using her Cricut and the George & Basic Shapes cartridge - which is the cartridge that comes with the orginal Cricut...the one I just happen to have.  However, I would imagine you could find a flower shape on MANY of the Cricut cartridges that would work with this technique.  THREE cut flowers is ALL it takes, a few snips of your scissors, some curling of the petals around a pencil or paintbrush, and a hot glue gun - and you've got yourself a GORGEOUS, 3-dimensional rose!  

So...that's this week Inspiration Journal entry.  I hope you enjoyed it...and I hope you do something to express your own creativity this week!  I promise you that the more you take the time to practice being creative, the more you will find your creative impulses exploding in your mind!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Featured on One Pretty Thing! (again!)

Thank you, Rachel, for featuring my rock Tic-Tac-Toe game on the Daily DIY feature on One Pretty Thing this afternoon!!  Welcome, One Pretty Thing readers!!  I hope you find lots of other inspiration here as well!  Go ahead and sign up to be a "follower" of my blog - when we hit 50 followers, I'll be holding a giveaway!!  (Not telling what it'll be, but I promise it will be good!)

Guess what I'm doing right now?  Why, watching Donna's Inspiration Wednesday video, of course!!  And hopefully, later, I'll be working in my own Inspiration Journal!!  (cooperation from children and husband required...)

Go forth and be creative!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Banner

Every year about this time, I start missing "home," - the midwest, that is - or anywhere, really, that has four seasons a year.  I grew up in the midwest, and fall has always been my very favorite time of year.  I never did like the hot, humid summers...but come mid- to late-September, the temperatures started to drop, the evenings began to cool, we could start wearing jeans and sweaters again...and soon the leaves would start to turn.  I loved the crispness of the mornings, the crunch of the fallen leaves under my feet, and the warm scents of cinnamon, cloves and ginger in the kitchen as my mom began to bake fall treats.  

Living in a southern California desert for over a decade now, I have never forgotten what fall feels like - even though we never really get to experience its glory here.  Each year, when this time rolls around again, I start chomping at the bit to bring out my fall decorations and make the inside of my house feel like fall - even if I can't do anything about the outdoors.  And this year, I decided I wanted to make a banner to go along with my ever-growing stash of decorations.  So this past weekend, one of my crafty friends (who also grew up in a  4-season climate, though doesn't miss it *quite* as much as me) came and spent an entire day getting inky and glue-y and crafty together, and we each made a fall banner...each of which turned out completely different, I might add - totally reflecting our personalities.  :)  

One of my FAVORITE parts of this was that I learned how to make not one, but TWO different kinds of paper flowers - which you can see on both end pieces of the banner...the rolled flowers, and the roses.  Aren't they gorgeous??!!  I LOVE them and will be making LOTS of them, I just know!  Also loved using Glimmer Mist on the burlap - SO cool!  And loved, as usual, using my Distrezz-it-All (on the cardboard backings of all the banner pieces) the banner a grungier look.  Oh yeah - and my newest tool - my hot-set jewel-setter - SOOOO cool!!  That is FUN!  So easy to add gorgeous crystals to any project!!  I finally finished adding my final ribbon touches to mine tonight, and had a really hard time getting good pictures of it (right now, it's just hanging from some wall hangers above my blinds on my slider - it won't be staying there).  I REALLY need a DSLR with a wide-angle lens!!!  

Free Video Tutorial TONIGHT!

Hi all - I've been busy making my fingers happy (they're all inky and painty and stuff)!  I'll have pictures to show soon!!!  In the meantime, if you want some AWESOME inspiration, Donna Salazar is offering her free bi-weekly Tuesday Tutorial tonight at 5:30 PST on U-Stream.  I always watch (even though the kids are usually running around driving me crazy, since that is right around dinner time), and try to join the chat - and she always gives away free stuff near the end of the hour-long stuff is good!  :)  And even if you can't watch the video live, she does record them, so you can always go check it out on U-Stream at a later time.  Also, in case you ever wondered, she's the one from whom I learned how to make the cool paper flowers I've used in my Inspiration Journal - there's a link to the tutorial on her blog (click her name above, and it will take you to her blog..the flower tute is on the left side, a little ways down).

Have a creative evening!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Young Boy's Handmade Birthday Gift

I don't know about you, but whenever one or more of my children gets invited to a friend's birthday party, I never seem to have a problem thinking up handmade gift-ideas for little girls, no matter the age.  But when it comes to little boys, once they're past the baby/toddler stage, it gets increasingly difficult to think of handmade  gift ideas.  So this week, as we approached today's party for my son's friend's party, a little boy turning 5 years old - a little boy who is ALL STAR-WARS these days, I had NO IDEA what to make.  His mom suggested a Star Wars pillow case...but I had no Star Wars fabric on hand, and really no money to go get any at the I wanted to come up with an idea using things I had on hand.

I started brainstorming with my OWN 5 year old son what things he really likes to do...and we came up with the fact that he really enjoys playing games.  So as I was laying in bed Thursday night, about to fall asleep, this idea came to me (and remember how I said I'm NOT one of those creative people who has to keep a notebook by my bedside to write down ideas?  Yeah - now I am!).  Anyway, I jotted it down before I drifted into never-never land, so that I wouldn't forget, and on Friday, Anthony and I made it a reality.

It was SUPER EASY.  I took a piece of 12x12 canvas (or duck cloth - whatever they call it in YOUR fabric store), and serged the edges so they won't fray.  Meanwhile, I sent my son out to our back yard (which is unfinished) to find rocks, while I painted tic-tac-toe lines on the canvas, using regular acrylic craft paint.  While that dried, my son and I went through the rocks and picked the ones that were relatively close in size and had at least one flat-enough side so that we'd be able to paint an X or O on it.

We washed the rocks, dried them thoroughly, and let them dry in the sun for a little while.  Meanwhile, I found a cloth, drawstring bag (have no idea what it came from), and used foam stamps with white acrylic paint to stamp, "Boys will be boys" on one side, and the child's name on the other side.  Once the rocks had dried, Anthony helped me paint the X's and O's on them.  He loved that it was something he could actually help with.

After it was all finished, we put the rocks in the bag, rolled up the canvas and added it to the bag, and pulled the drawstring closed.  I made a "card" using a shipping tag and distress inks and added it to the outside of the bag (wish I would've taken a pic of that).  Anthony LOVED how it all turned out - he asked me, "So when do you think I could get a gift like this??"  I said, "Well, maybe for Christmas!"  He thought for a minute, and then said, "Well...which wrapping paper will it be in?"  LOL

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday (er...Thursday...9/9/10)

I really thought it was just I was really relieved to hear Donna say in her video this week that she often  thinks she's going to hate her Inspiration Journal pages in the beginning, but at some point during the process, she starts to love them.  Because that almost always happens to me, it seems.  I started this weeks' technique late last night, and continued early this morning...and stopped when this is what I had:

Don't hate...I can tell you are as enthusiastic about it as I was!!  LOL  Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?!  So let me back up just a bit and explain how I got there.  I started by using matte gel medium to basically decoupage the entire two pages with pieces of torn book pages.  The look was actually pretty cool - I should've taken a pic of THAT!  I left that to dry overnight (partly because it was after 1:00 a.m. when I finished, but mostly because my hubby would've been pretty unhappy with me for running my heat gun at that hour).  This morning, I woke early enough before we had to leave for Bible study that I was able to work some more on it.  Now, in Donna's video, she used Tattered Angel's new Glimmer Glaze.  I don't have any, and I don't have any money to buy any.  BUT, I do have this: 

AND... thought was that I could attempt to create my OWN version of Glimmer Glaze.  See my experimenting?  I was definitely getting shimmer!!

Donna did drippage with hers.  She used a paintbrush...which I tried, but I didn't really get the effect I wanted.  So I decided to try something different...after all, that's what this whole Inspiration Journal experience is about, right?  First I tried sponging it on.  It didn't really give the effect I wanted either.

So then I went to the kitchen and found a frosting bottle.  I put a couple buttons in the bottom to use for mixing "balls," then poured in some of the pearlized paint, some re-inker drops, and some glazing liquid.  And I shook and mixed.  And I tested.  And I added more color.  And finally I had the color and consistency I wanted...and I did drippage.  And I sprayed water.  And I heat gunned.

And after all of THAT, my paper was falling apart...leading me to have to add some packing tape to the middle of the centerfold...and fortunately, the paint mixture adhered over the packing tape.  And all of THAT is what got me to those pictures you see above...and where I left things when I went to Bible study, wondering what on earth I was going to do next!!

But by the time I got home, after spending a wonderful time in the fellowship of true friends and in God's word, I knew exactly what my pages were going to be about.  You see, my Inspiration Journal is not just about art or about me learning new techniques.  It's also about me, as a person, and where I am in my life.  It reflects my soul, my heart, the inner parts of me that sometimes simple words in a written journal just can't do.  And over the past few months, one of the toughest things I've had to deal with and one of the things that has caused me more tears and gripping heartbreak than just about anything else in my recent past is struggling with broken friendships.  I was upset just yesterday about something, and one of my dear friends reminded me, "A true friend loves at ALL times."  (Proverbs 17:17)  Not just when it's convenient.  Not just when it's easy.  And I am SO thankful for the friendships I have with genuine, authentic women, who put forth their true selves, who DO love me all the time, who are real and authentic, who don't wear masks or put on falsehoods.  And that's how this page evolved.  :)

I don't remember where I found the quote, but I have it written in a journal where I jot down quotes that I come across that I love.  The flowers are some discontinued Prima flowers that I received in one of Donna's recent grab bags.  The quotes are cut from a Nicole Nordeman book (can't remember the name at the moment).  The writing and drawing is done in india ink.  The stems are of various ribbons and twines.  

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Worth it!

Some days, when I'm working on projects, it seems like nothing goes right.  Today was one of those days.  It started off to be a good, productive day.  Anthony and I were done with his homeschooling by 11, and he and the girls went outside to play - the weather was positively gorgeous!  So I had some quiet inside time, with all the windows open, to work on sewing.  I already had completed a dress that was to be a birthday gift that a friend of mine had ordered for her sweet to-be-5-year old daughter.  

I had also finished a scrappy flower matching hair barrette, which was a gift from me.  (Don't actually have a picture of that.)  Today I needed to complete the matching doll dress her mom ordered, and I wanted to make a scrappy flower pony tail for the doll, to match the dress, as a gift from me as well.

Right from the start, things just didn't go my way.  I wasn't using a pattern - since I didn't actually use a pattern for the little girl's dress - and all I knew of the doll was that it was an 18" doll - and I sort of assumed, since I knew the girl HAD an American Doll, that the dress was FOR the American Doll.  Oops.  So I had the side seams sewn and serged, when I vaguely remembered something about her mom trying to get some other type of doll for her daughter...and thought it might be a good idea if I could actually SEE the doll to make sure the dress I was making would actually FIT the doll before I went any further.  GOOD THING.  

She brought the doll over - which I immediately swooned over and fell head over heels in love with, by the way - and I was right...the dress didn't fit.  Since the doll was to be a gift, it was no problem to leave the doll with me...which she did...and I went to work.  First, I realized that besides being too tight, the dress was way too initially, I tried to just shorten the existing dress and make it work.  Which would  have worked, had I not cut the arm holes unevenly.  Oops.  So I cut some more, and it was a little shorter than I wanted, but I thought I could still make it work.  So I went to do the rolled hem edge on the bottom.  Except my serger was doing something funky to the fabric and pretty much ruining it.  I tried adjusting tensions, etc., to no avail.  Well, shoot.  I adjusted some more, practiced on some scraps, again to no avail...and then it finally dawned on me.  While I had unthreaded the left needle - I had never actually removed it.  DUH.  So it was making an unnecessary and damaging row of holes in the fabric.  SIGH.  Scrap that dress altogether and just start over.

So I started over.  This time it went much better...and I took notes on my computer, just in case this mom (or anyone else) ever asks me again to make a dress for a Natural Buddies doll (and this ended up being a 16" doll, not an 18" one), so I never have to figure this out again!  

I finally got the dress done, and went to reach for a safety pin so I could pull the ribbon through the strap tubes - only to knock over a little basket that holds my india ink and a few little jars of colored india-style dip-pen ink.  That don't have tight-fitting lids.  They fell to the floor.  The turquoise see where this is going, right?  (THANK GOD the doll, the dresses, and the hair flowers were NO WHERE NEARBY when this happened!)  Turquoise is one of my favorite colors - but it was EVERYWHERE.  It took me forever to clean it all up - and even longer to scrub and slough my hands (in fact, I still have it under and around my fingernails).

I finally got the straps put on, got the dress on the doll, got her sweater put back on (which amazingly, matched her dress perfectly!), and got her hair pony made.  And once I saw how completely beautiful she looked, and how precious she was next to her soon-to-be mommy's dress...the day of disasters was ALL WORTH IT!  I only wish I could be there tomorrow morning to see her face light up when she gets to open her gifts!!!  (I'm certain her mommy will take LOTS of photos and I will get to experience it secondhand!)

Finally - last week's Inspiration Journal work!!

Seeing as TOMORROW is Inspiration Wednesday already...I figured I'd better hurry up and get LAST WEEK'S entry in my Inspiration Journal posted!!  I have been so busy being creative that I haven't had the time to sit and edit pictures or blog about them.  Hmm...must figure out better scheduling so that I can fit that in.  

So last week, Donna introduced us to her AMAZING array of watercolor crayons - hers are Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons, which look positively wonderful and I hope to try them one day soon.  I have, in my stash, two tins of Stampin' Up! watercolor crayons - so I was at least able to play with the technique, if not necessarily get the exact same quality of results (for example, mine wouldn't maintain color over gesso, like hers did).  Anyway, I loved this technique SO much - I had never used my watercolor crayons like this.  Mainly, I had used them for coloring in stamps - such a limited use!!  This was WAY more fun!!  I loved how they blended together, and I love how the crayon strokes just disappear completely when you add the water and start painting.

Like Donna did, I started out with a bit of clear embossing, to give some resist once I added the watercolor crayons.  The stamp I used ended up being too fine in detail, so much of it just looks like large areas of embossing powder - but lesson learned.  It still looks pretty cool, I think.  I also used one of my new EK Success (Michael's had them 40% off) edge punches along this side - LOVE the look!!

On the first side of the insert, I continued the color scheme and the quote (which I got off of a Tim Holtz stamp), added a Donna Downey canvas tab (using my Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher), and added a Tim Holtz acrylic tile which I backed with coordinating patterned paper.  I outlined the insert using my india ink pen (as I did most of this entire entry).

On the second side of the insert, I liked the bird idea, so I cut one from chipboard using my Cricut, glued it to the insert, and gesso'd the entire insert.  This time, for some reason, the watercolor crayons DID work (while on my main page, the gesso resisted the crayons).  I love how you can still sort of see the lines behind the paint and gesso - it was originally a receipt-tag or something like that.  I printed the word "dream" on my Brother labeler, cut the letters apart, and stuck them on the bird, then outlined everything with my india ink pen.  I added a few Prima flowers and the orange ball trim (all of which had arrived JUST THAT DAY in some AWESOME grab bags from Donna Downey's website).  (Read:  If you ever get the chance to get one - or four - of those $5 grab bags - they are so TOTALLY worth it!!!)

In the upper left hand of the left page, I attempted to stamp a floral-divider kind of stamp by Tim Holtz.  But despite a couple times of trying, I could not get the center of the image to stamp well.  So...I was innovative...and took a different stamp (Prima, I think?)...which was also floral and similar in look...I inked with Versamark, and heat embossed with black embossing powder.  Then I used my india ink to write "Dream" along the edge.  Overall, I ended up loving the look.  Happy accidents...they are the best!

On the lower part of the left page, I added part of a paper doily (also from a grab bag), which I had spritzed with Glimmer Mist and then rubbed over with some light brown chalk ink.  I ran the doily through my Xyron 900 to add adhesive to the entire back easily, rather than messing around with any kind of wet glue for such a delicate piece.  I stamped the umbrella man and word quote in charcoal chalk ink, but wanted the words to be bolder, so I went over them with india ink.  (Note - behind the words, you can see some of the drippage effect, from when I sprayed the page with water after I painted the watercolored areas - SO cool!!)  I, of course, had to finish up by adding a tag with the date.

So, tomorrow is another Inspiration Wednesday!  I'm just going to go ahead and say it - I probably won't get mine posted ON Wednesday!  LOL  I did do lots of creative things over the weekend, so hopefully I can get some of those things posted soon too.

Have YOU been playing and being creative???


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