Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh the Creativity!!!

My "Wall Art" stamp camp was this past weekend and I'm happy to report that it was great fun! The creative process is incredible when 4 or 5 people are working together! I think everyone had some idea of what they wanted to do when they walked in the door, but the finished products were better than anyone could have imagined! Someone would have a dilemma of one sort or another and in an instant, she'd have at least a couple people chiming in with ideas on what could be done.

Now, before I show you the projects, I have to tell you that my lacking photography skills don't do any of them justice. They were all very impressive and I'm sure many people are going to have to spend a bit of time convincing others that they made their piece.

Most of the frames that were used were actually repurposed from already-made pieces of art, purchased on sale because, well, let's just say they were less than attractive. I really should have taken some "before" pictures. I think I had a few people a little scared when I took a single-edge razor blade and started cutting through the backing of the frames so everything could be taken apart. Some pieces come completely apart and are easy to cover with new paper, others, not so much. It really just depends on the glue and the construction, but for an average of about $12, it's a really, really economical way to have a frame, glass and matting ready to alter.

Tracy started out wanting to use "To the Nines" DSP to replicate the piece I posted earlier this month, but then she added a couple more layers and embellishments and had this wonderful piece to take home:

Gwen had a long, narrow frame that she filled with this:

Gayle didn't have her frame with her, but put together this cheery project:

Sue used a frame with a center plaque that was not going to budge, so she covered it with scrapbook paper and cut out some flowers from coordinating paper that ended up looking almost like they were painted on the glass:

Dale designed this to hang in her guest bath. The glass is not in place in this picture so the vellum that the verse is printed on looks a little "lumpy" in this picture, but the finished project looks so classy! The cream and black paper was gorgeous!

Cathy designed this "timely" piece with the Stampin' Up! "Cottage Wall" Designer Paper. She started out thinking she'd use a pretty Rich Razzleberry floral print, and as the afternoon progressed, so did her art! She tried several different embellishment ideas before settling on the gold-embossed medallion from the "Baroque Motifs" set. The 5/16" Jumbo brad in the center was also embossed--it was white in its "previous life." A little swim in Versamark and a couple dips in gold embossing powder and it made the perfect centerpiece.

When Lynne walked in the door, she was planning on making a name frame for her son and his fiance using "To the Nines" DSP. But after a little "consultation" with the group and puttering with different lettering sizes and embellishments, this is the wonderful gift she went home with:

I had "a little" hand in helping Lynne complete her project, although that wasn't always a good thing! Because we had spent so much time helping each other with "consultations," it was getting very close to supper time and Lynne still had a few more steps before she'd be finished. She needed holes punched in the ovals for the ribbon so I grabbed my Crop-A-Dile and started punching. Unfortunately, I was chatting while doing this and I ended up punching a hole in the BOTTOM instead of the top of the "Home" oval! I was panicked for a minute, but then I remembered "There are no mistakes, just opportunities for creativity!"

I have to admit I was at a loss for a minute, and then images from the Sale-a-Bration set, "Good Neighbors" popped into my head. A little stamping, a little paper piecing--and my favorite part--a teensy Real Red cardstock heart punch-out from the new Pinking Hearts border punch! Crisis averted!!

It just so happens that the house is tan with a green roof--how cool is that!

Hope you have a great day!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stamping on Walls

When I posted last week, talking about my Wall Art Stamp Camp, I had a couple emails from people who know the example I showed in that post is one I made to hang in my bathroom. The wall art piece is not the only stamping I have in that bathroom, and those emails encouraged me to share the other "project" that I've done in that space, so here goes!

(If you'd like the abridged version, scroll down to where you see the ********)

Up until about a year ago, I had been working to find replacement wallpaper for this bathroom. I absolutely loved the wallpaper I had in there, but little hands had gotten toothpaste on it and when I went to clean it off, well, the color of the wallpaper came with the toothpaste. Darn abrasive stuff! I lived with the damage for awhile, but knew that eventually I'd have to redo the walls. I'd occasionally thumb through wallpaper books when I was in a home improvement center, but never put a lot of effort into looking--until last February when I finally set a goal to find new paper by March 1st or come up with a Plan B and carry it out. I think I looked through every last book in each and every store that carried wallpaper, but it was the last day of February and I had no replacement, so devising a Plan B was in order.

The paper I was trying to replace was a faux-finish look, and there was a matching geometric border that I had used in a couple places in the room. I had (stubbornly, or maybe stupidly) hoped that I'd find a paper pattern that would allow me to go for the same look. Now, this is going to sound like I'm making it up but I swear it's the truth, but as I was returning the last wallpaper book to the shelf at the paint store, feeling totally defeated, there was a paint chip sample on the floor. Not wanting to have anyone slip on it, I picked it up--and had an epiphany!! The colors on the paint chip were the same tones as those in my old wallpaper!! Duh!!! Why didn't I think of this before??? The old wallpaper looked like faux finishing--I could do that myself!!

The paint chip I picked up was for exterior paint so I had to find suitable replacements of the latex variety, but I didn't leave the store until I had paint and supplies in hand--this project was going to get done! I knew I still had one little issue, that being the border that I had hoped to replace, but I figured I'd think of something. I took my paint home, feeling pretty happy about finally having a solution. I proceeded to work on getting supper started when I had my second epiphany of the day!! "Hey, dummy! What about STAMPING a border???" Really! I sometimes wonder about myself! I literally ran to my craft room, grabbed a few old catalogs and started looking for inspiration. I'll spare you the play-by-play of this step, but in the end I found a retired set in my "permanent collection" closet called "Beautiful Batik" that I thought would be perfect for the geometric look I wanted! I played with some different options by stamping cardstock with acrylic paint until I got a border combo that I liked.

Getting the old paper off wasn't too bad, but oh, removing the layers of old paste. . . what a project! The bath was in disarray for a couple weeks, but I really like what I ended up with. In fact, I guess I had replicated what I had pretty well, because some people didn't even notice that I had taken the paper down!

********Here's my other bathroom stamping project:

The "Beautiful Batik" stamps are a little rough around the edges by design, and I really like that because it helps hide the fact that all my lines aren't perfect and straight. I actually like that they're that way, because after all the work, I want people to know that I created this! (And fortunately, when you're actually in the room, the flaws aren't quite as noticeable as they are when you're only looking at a little bit of it.)

Now, okay, making a border using rubber stamps really isn't a revolutionary idea, but in the process of doing the stamping I had to create something else that just might be in the "revolutionary" category.

When I stamp on walls, I've discovered that using a piece of foam cushion purchased at the craft or fabric store is an absolute necessity! I cut the cushion into 3" squares, add acrylic or regular latex paint, and use that as a "stamp pad" when loading my stamp. It's SO much easier than applying the paint with a foam brush or other method. But when I was working on the border up around the ceiling, sometimes hanging onto two stamps and my "stamp pad," all while perched on a step stool, I needed to devise something else to help me out. The wrist pin cushion my mom used to use came to mind and I thought of this:

I used a great big needle to feed some 1/8" elastic through the foam so I would be able to keep my "stamp pad" on my wrist while I worked. I can't tell you how much faster I was able to move along once I had this! I ended up finishing my border, both around the ceiling and at chair rail height, in about two hours.

This is a closer look at the needle, elastic and foam that I used to make my "stamp pad":

In some areas, I had to do a little more "inventing" because I have little in's and out's where my stamp just wouldn't fit:

Once I finished the main portion of the stamping, I needed to alter my stamps so they would fit in the tight corners. I used that old 10-seconds-in-the-microwave trick, peeled the stamps off the blocks and trimmed them as necessary:

I was able to put the stamps back together (with the use of the microwave again) after finishing my little detail work.

I also have stamped walls in my craft room (naturally!) This is the project where I discovered that the foam cushion worked so nicely as a pad:

Even with all the different colors of (acrylic) paint, this border (using another retired set "Mixed Bouquet") was done in a jiffy! Since this border is just above eye level, I was able to hold the foam piece in one hand and tap-tap-tap-stamp with the other. A much better system than when I've stamped walls before.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spring Inspiration

Being that we were all talking groundhogs and spring a couple days ago, I got the itch to work on some cards with nice, light springtime colors. A Pottery Barn catalog came in the mail and I flipped through it thinking that there'd be all sorts of inspiration inside. I found that I was a little disappointed. The pages reminded me more of fall than spring, but I was determined to find something to use. There was really only one page that seemed remotely spring-like and I ripped it out before sending the rest of the catalog to the recyling bin: I saw Certainly Celery, Bashful Blue, and maybe Creamy Caramel in the pillows and went to my cardstock drawers to pull some colors. I was right about the Celery and Bashful Blue, but Creamy Caramel sitting next to them wasn't doing much so I swapped it for Kraft--that was going to be the color for my card base since the couch was the base for the pillows.

I wanted an airy component for this spring card, and I had been wanting to try the "Vitalized Vellum" technique that I had read about. I grabbed my Celery and Bashful ink spots, and then the Apricot one too (to simulate sunshine!!) and added color to my vellum cardstock. I used a dauber to blend the edges of color, being careful not to distort or muddy the colors. Then I used the solid image stamps from the "For All You Do" set (butterfly, medium and small flowers) and proceeded to stamp some of the color OFF the vellum. This gives a shadowy effect that makes a great background that is SO much cheaper than colored vellum found in some stores--and "vitalized vellum comes in any color and pattern you wish!!

This technique worked quite well in my catalog-picture-inspired card:

The vellum piece (once it's dry) gets mounted on a piece of Whisper White so the pattern shows through a bit better. The craft card base pattern is stamped with Versamark, while the focal point is stamped with Certainly Celery. The Thank You is done in Ballet Blue.

Those of you who really know the ribbon section of the Stampin' Up catalog might notice that it seems that I used Bashful Blue 5/8" grosgrain ribbon. Normally that wouldn't be very notable--except that there IS NO such ribbon!! To create the effect of wider ribbon, all I did was use 2 pieces of the Bashful Blue 1/4" grosgrain side-by-side and then cover the center "seam" with a piece of Celery 1/4" grosgrain. Problem solved!! Where there's a will, there's a way!!

February Stamp Camp: Wall Art

Our February calendar has settled in a bit (for us anyway!) and I finally have details for Stamp Camp this month. The theme this time around is "Wall Art: Inspirational Quotes or Name Frames." The dates for the two camps are Friday, February 19th (6:30-10 PM) or Saturday, February 20th (1-4:30 PM). This camp is unlike any I've held recently in that you will be chosing the type of project you want to do. And because the subject and where you decide to display this project are things only you will know, you will also be chosing the colors and details you will incorporate.

Decisions! Decisions!! Will you do a inspirational quote, or will you make a name frame to give as a gift or display yourself? Name frames make wonderful wedding or baby gifts, or are perfect decor for a child's room. No matter which you choose, you'll have fun creating a special one-of-a-kind piece and I'll help with the assembly.

The piece below is an example of an inspirational quote art piece that I have hanging in my home. I chose the frame and colors to coordinate with my decor, and embellished the quote with the "Baroque Motifs" stamp set and pieces from the Pretties kit.

If you choose to do a piece that uses a quote, you will need to decide on the quote, find a frame you like, and paper colors that will work for you. I can help you with those choices if you like.

This next piece is an example of a name frame that I did for a child's room. The printed paper is from the "Tall Tales" Designer Series Paper pack. Embellishments include pieces punched with the Large Star punch and Magnetic Movers & Shapers Big Shot Die. I added a Star Designer brad to the center of the large star.

Cost for this camp is $15 plus the cost of your frame and paper. Included in the camp fee are chipboard for letters and layers, and embellishments (ribbon, brads, cardstock for printing, stamping or letters). Materials (Designer Series Paper, Simply Scrappin' Kits, etc) you order from me qualify for a 25% discount, but must be ordered by February 15 in order to arrive in time for camp.

Registration deadline is Monday, February 15, and is limited to 4 participants in each session. Make sure you get your registration fee to me ASAP to reserve your spot. I can help you with locating a frame that will work for your project--all you need to do is ask.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kids' Valentine class

Sunday I taught a Kid's Community Education Valentine-making class. I love kid's classes--kids are so carefree when they work! They rarely feel the need to copy samples, or if they do, they don't stress about making theirs EXACTLY like the sample. And they always find such interesting ways to use whatever materials I put out for them. All I had to do Sunday was give them a few tips about using the punches and adhesive products I brought along and then stand back. For the next two hours, the girls created personalized valentines for family members and friends, giggling the whole time!

Included in the fee for the class were materials for 10 cards, 5-3X3 and 5 A2-sized cards with envelopes. (Toward the end of the class they complained that the envelope glue tasted yucky--I showed them how to use an Aquapainter so they could avoid the "yucky." That was a hit!) I had a small display board there with a few very simple samples that I literally put together in about 20 minutes. When I first started as a demo, I held a kid's scrapbooking class that I spent a week preparing for, only to have the kids practically trample my samples as they collected materials for their own ideas. I have to admit I was a little hurt--I thought my ideas were pretty cute, yet no one used any of them. I learned my lesson from that class and don't prep as much for kids as I do for my adults. Here are the quick cards I had on the board Sunday:

It wouldn't be Valentine's Day (at least in my mind!) without paper lace doilies and ribbon!

Re-purposing household items is a fun way to add variety to cards. A few cuts transform a flattened mini-muffin liner into a 3-D flower! When I saw these liners I knew the girls might find fun ways to incorporate them into their card designs and they did. They thought it was really neat when I showed them that I made the leaves for the flower with 2 of the medium-sized hearts from the "Heart to Heart" punch, by just trimming away a portion of each heart.

I gave each girl 2 of the new Real Red "Sending Love" epoxy brads and challenged them to find a way to use both of them before the end of the class. Of course, they easily met my challenge--yet none of them used their brads the way I did here.
I had two retired alphabet sets on the table with all the stamp sets I brought. I knew the girls would enjoy using them on their cards. Alphabets have always been a hit in kid classes. It started to sound like an episode of "Wheel of Fortune" as they called out the letters that they were looking for!!

I took my Big Shot and the scallop circle die with me, just in case anyone wanted to turn one of their cards into a circle. No one took me up on the offer, although one girl made a kangaroo-shaped card!! (The hinge of the card was the edge of the kangaroo's tail.) I told you they get creative!!

My 3 X 3 samples were ultra-quickies. This one was a little window card. . .

This one, using a long-retired set that I purchased before I was a demo, just has a little grosgrain ribbon detail and some red-marker coloring.

All the little hearts that come out of the Pinking Hearts Border punch were a hit, although the girls need a little more strength to operate the punch well. You can't tell from this picture but the red strip of cardstock is adhered to the inside of the card, and the top edge of the red also is punched with the border punch.
It was a great afternoon. It got me in the mood to work on my Valentines! The kid's class on the schedule is in March and is entitled, "Paper Magic." I told the girls I hope to stamp with them again then!

Momentous January Occasion Successful!!

Okay, in keeping with "tradition," let me start by apologizing for my infrequent posts. Just way too much "bon bon eating" going on here!! (Man! Don't I wish!!) Ski racing season, snow, stamping events, snow, a visiting puppy, snow AND cold, a broken van, a broken furnace, and then the pressure of coming up with something memorable to mark a big milestone in our family--my husband's 50th birthday!!

Several of our friends have reached "50" before us, and we've had a hand in hosting or helping with a few of their parties. While they were fun, Mike would mention from time to time that he didn't want a party for his 50th. He didn't even want to hear that word that comes after 49!! But I knew I still had to do something out of the ordinary to mark the day. I tossed around planning a weekend get-away or a shower of gifts but then came up with a way to sort of do a "party in a box."

I contacted friends, family and co-workers and had them send me memories, funny stories and well-wishes for Mike. Then, off to the craft room it was! Armed with my Big Shot and lots of colorful paper, I fashioned 50 little boxes (courtesy of the Big Shot Matchbox die!) and filled each one with a story or memory that had been sent in.

Marty's, a local pizzeria that specializes in huge party pizzas, was kind enough to give me a box that I decorated to hold all the little boxes:

(The message on the front cover: "It's your day, and because you're not 49 anymore, 50 reminders that life is good!")

I had the box waiting for us at the restaurant where we were going for dinner Friday night. I numbered the little boxes because I thought Mike would open a few of the boxes at the restaurant and save the rest for when we got home--the numbers would help keep track of which ones had already been opened. But as it worked out, Mike and the kids went through every single box while we were at dinner! I don't really know how long we were there--I have a feeling it might have been a little longer than the wait staff wanted--all I was concerned with was Mike's reaction to his "gift," and being that he went through all the boxes again the next day, I'd say he was happy with his celebration. We continued the "party" Sunday with a special dinner at home, breaking out a very old bottle of wine that we had been saving for a special occasion.

In all, I'd say it was a very dignified way to mark the big day. No black balloons, no over-the-hill signs on the front lawn--but I did allow the kids the one thing they'd been wanting to get Mike for years: An "old geezer" cane--that I have a feeling will "re-appear" one day next June. Guess turn-around is fair play, huh?

Happy Monday, everyone!

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