Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve and Handmade Ornaments

It's Christmas Eve!  I really can't believe it myself.  This year, the Christmas season has been filled with an unusual sense of both angst and anticipation in our family, and I've tried extra hard to not over-do things, so that I could simply spend every minute possible just soaking up as much family time as possible. A year ago, we were celebrating the completely unexpected addition of a newborn baby boy, Jeremiah, to our family - via legal guardianship.  And this year, we are preparing our hearts to say goodbye to him just four days after Christmas, as he will leave our family to travel across the country to begin his new life with his birth mother. It has been a difficult process, accepting this turn of events, but in the end, love has won out, and Jeremiah is a blessed little boy to have so many people who love him so much.  Needless to say, we will be clinging together as a family, making this year as special as possible.

Since I needed to make gifts as simple as possible this year, I made ornaments for teacher gifts and gift exchanges.  I thought I'd share a few with you.  These are quick to make and could be made at the last minute if you need a gift idea for a last-minute guest.   

For these cute musical heart ornaments, I started by cutting two facing hearts from music paper.  I cut Christmas words out of some Teresa Collins ribbon and adhered it to the front heart, then added an additional sentiment with my Dymo labeler.  I put the hearts together, right sides facing out, and began stitching them together with a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.  I left about a 1" opening, and stuffed them with Poly-fil, then completed stitching them closed.  I trimmed around the hearts with pinking shears.  I used Distress Ink to ink around the edges - on the one above, I just used a bit of Gathered Twigs, while on the one below, I used both Festive Berries and Gathered Twigs.  I took a length of jute string and stitched it on to the back of the ornament, using a straight stitch, going back and forth a couple times (you could also just put it between the hearts when stitching them together, but I like the look of the added stitching).  Finally, I spritzed the front of the ornaments with some Biscotti Perfect Pearls spray for a bit of shimmer.

On this third ornament, I used Tim Holtz's Sizzix die, Carved Ornaments 2, to cut the ornament from grunge board, with the Noel Movers & Shapers die in the middle to cut out the word.  I painted the ornament using the Snow Cap paint dabber and let it dry.  Then I applied Denim, Pool, and Snow Cap Mixative Adirondack alcohol inks, using Blending Solution to help move the inks around, on an ink applicator tool, on the ornament.  I used a silver leafing pen to color the letters of "NOEL" and the topper piece, as well as the edges of the ornament.  I used the Movers & Shapers holly leaf to cut several leaves, and I used the Tattered Pine Cone die to cut some pine branches - all from Core'dinations cardstock.  I sanded them, used the Snow Cap paint dabber on their edges, and dabbed them with Rock Candy Distress Stickles.  I wrapped a small piece of fake greenery around the bottom of the ornament and then began arranging the branches and holly leaves on the ornament.  I topped them with a pearl from Tim Holt's Ideaology line. Finally, I tied a piece of jute string and inked seam binding through the top of the ornament, and it was complete.

What do you do for last minute gifts?  Do you have a go-to handmade gift?  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Tags

One of the treats of the Christmas season each year is Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of Christmas.  Beginning December 1, each night for 12 nights, he posts a new tag - created that day - and boy, are they ever fantastic!  He's done them for 5 years now, though this is only my 2nd year participating.  I never can keep up with doing them at the same time as him, but I try to do at least some of them before the month is over.  So far, I've got these three finished.

I love how Tim had us use the embossing pad on the embossing folder to get this cool double-embossed effect on this tag.  And the pine cone die - wow - it takes a bit of learning, but it is SO much fun once you figure it out, and it can also be used to make cute little dried roses as well.  (Check out my Sizzix embossing folders review over on Craft Test Dummies to see a cute card I made with a dried rose on it using this die!!)

Day 2's tag had us using the Picket Fence Distress Stain over some Christmas Kraft Resist paper...two of my new loves!  And I just love how when you apply some Distress Ink over the Picket Fence Distress Stain, it takes on sort of a chalky look - totally cool!  I've had that little bow from Jenni Bowlin in my stash for ages...just waiting for the perfect project...and this was definitely it!  That reindeer couldn't be cuter...the little greenery wreath and that ivory bow on his neck are just too cute!

I skipped ahead a few days to Day 6 for this one - and I swapped out techniques, too, for one he showed us a couple years ago.  While the metal tape, embossing, coloring and clear embossing powder on top are from this year, I decided to color the metal with alcohol inks instead of paint dabbers (though I did paint the wreath with paint dabbers).  I absolutely LOVE the look of the clear embossing powder over the embossed,  colored and sanded metal - my first time trying this - but definitely NOT my last!  Totally in love with this look!

And I especially love how you can add the Distress Ink over the alcohol ink, and because of the clear embossing powder, the Distress is sealed in and gives the tag a vintage feel.  

I'm still hoping to get a few more tags done before December is over.  I also have a couple handmade ornaments to show you in another post!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Darcie's Printable Shrink Plastic

Ornament made using Darcie's Ink Jet Printable
Shrink Plastic Project CD, "Nifty Gifty"
I just LOVE Christmas time...I think from about October 1 through the end of the year is my absolute favorite time of year.  From the minute the leaves start turning and the temperature starts dropping, through the last notes of "Oh Holy Night," and "Baby, It's Cold Outside," I am in awe at the beauty both inside and outside.  I'm such a sensory-oriented person, and the beautiful sights, wonderful scents, tempting tastes, memorable sounds, and delightful textures of this time of year just envelop me in a blanket of familiarity and comfort that leaves me feeling so full of joy and warmth. (And to be honest, I do feel a little let down when January comes around, because I just love these 4 months SO much...I'm always a little sad when they're finally over.)  

Anyway, I've been loving getting into the Christmas spirit, making handmade gifts for loved ones, decorating the house, looking at decorations with my little ones.  I wanted to share these fun little things I made using a fun new (to me) product I reviewed for Craft Test Dummies.  My review is posted today, so make sure you go check it out to see how I made these!!

Cardinal embellishment made with Darcie's Ink Jet
Printable Shrink Plastic Project CD, "Nifty Gifty"

I just love the little cardinal ornament - I made it for one of my kids' bible study teachers as a little Christmas "thank you" gift.  And the card - oh my goodness - I think that little shrink plastic cardinal adds just the right "pop" to the card!!  I haven't decided yet who I'll send it to, but I might end up making more of them, because I just love it so much, and it was so easy to make!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Art Journal - 30 Days: Days 20-24

It's been a few days...we've been busy finishing up Thanksgiving leftovers and getting back into our routine around here!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

So by now, our 30 days of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's 30 Days In Your Journal workshop is over.  (insert very sad face here)  What a fabulous 30 days it was.  I'm playing catch-up with my posts (and in my journal, as I skipped a few of the last days due to the holiday).  If you really want to get in the practice of playing in your art journal every single day, I really encourage you to give Julie's class a try.  I wouldn't say it's heavy on technique like some other classes I've taken - if you're looking for something with a ton of new techniques, I can recommend some other classes - but this class is more about helping you get in the practice of "showing up" every day in your journal - even when you don't feel like it (and trust me, there were days I didn't feel like it). 

This spread is a prime example of not feeling like it.  If you'll notice, my first entry is the 20th, and the next is the 23rd.  I had a really hard time getting going on this page.  And some of my journaling is about exactly that - my frustration with myself, my "missing mojo," etc.  I think we all go through periods like this, when we just don't feel like creating - and it's especially bad when there are deadlines to meet.  My fellow classmates and I had a great discussion on the private class message board about how we deal with this issue, and there were some great suggestions made as to how to deal with it.

But...eventually, I made it through the page - and in the end, I love how it turned out.  There's something to be said for pushing through the frustration and continuing to "just show up" in your journal.

Personally, I was able to clean and organize my entire studio while my mojo was missing!  LOL  

What about you?  What do YOU do when you don't feel like creating?  Do you try a different project?  Do you, like me, start sorting and organizing your supplies, hoping to find some inspiration in a long-forgotten supply?  Do you leave the studio altogether and go do something else?  

Leave me a comment letting me know what YOU do to find your mojo when it goes missing - I'd love to hear!


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