Things I like

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So after Christmas cards, what shall I make?

As I have said before, I am fascinated with little houses.  Little houses to live in, little houses made of clay, of wood, and this week I'm making them of paper.  These are only about 3"x3".

Last night I made three little houses of parchment.  That's even more fun, because the doors, facings, shutters and other decorations can be embossed while the little house is still flat.  I figured that out when I made one of chipboard, and then later was gluing on doors and shutters... it takes a pair of tweezers and steady hands.  So the next ones get all that before the folding and the gluing! (Sometimes I'm slow at figuring out things.)

I have lots of templates for little houses, but I found one on Pinterest that I really, really like.  I have cut several from cardstock and chipboard on my Pazzles, and embossed by hand three of them last night from parchment.  As I work, I think of new things to add to each.  The paper houses are difficult to keep "square" so I do that with another piece of paper sized to the floor, glued from the top before the roof is added.  Before I cut more, I am going to add the floor to the original piece.

The cardstock houses have Duralar clear plastic windows, and I designed the shutters and rooftop with Corel Draw.  Obviously the chipboard houses are the most sturdy, and then I paint them and add glitter (or not).  One has snow (white embossing powder) and one has "grass" (Flower Soft.)  It would be easy to add a battery-powered tea light inside.  I am thinking of spray painting one with the mirror spray paint I bought for no reason.

I got a catalog from Nasco and among all the pages of paper products, I saw patterns that include roofing, bricks, etc.  The only problem is the patterns are on glossy paper.  Glossy isn't my thing.
Then I remembered I can do the same thing in CorelDraw, and design what I want for the house as I go.  I'm not doing this in mass quantity!  But Nasco is a great place to get nearly everything for crafting, and they sell in quantity for classrooms.

I saw some things in that catalog that I nearly ordered -- but I stopped myself!  First, I need to finish finding proper places for the thousands of dollars of "stuff" I have already!

Monday, December 21, 2015

How to keep your craft room neat

The first way, of course, is not to do anything in there after you've straightened up!

For some reason, after a project, in which I am totally focused and adding things I forgot I had each time I open another drawer, I turn around and see that it looks like a tornado has hit!  I don't know how that happens, but there always seems to be a day at least of cleanup!

I just finished making dozens of Christmas cards (all different) and saving pictures of things I found on the Internet along the way with more ideas for future projects, and this week is the week of cleanup.  Which means reorganizing.  Which leads to finding things I forgot I had, ergo more ideas for more things to make.  I am determined to use up and/or give away everything I've accumulated during the years, but since I keep getting more stuff, it's like one step forward, two steps back!

Last week I saw the most astounding craft table online. (See photograph) So I've been busy trying to create just that situation with a large piece of plexiglass I have on hand.  It has come to the point in my life that if something is not in a clear box or other see-through container, I will forget about it. Everything is labeled, even the drawers.  This comes from excess possessions, I am sure.

I laid the piece of plexiglass atop a rolling cart I bought some time back.  It has metal shelves, and holds plastic drawers on each level.  On top of the drawers I put some drawer organizers which allow for little stuff that I can now see through the table top.  The only thing is the plexiglass is much wider than the cart and I am going to have to stabilize the ends with something.  As soon as I find my yardstick, I'll figure out what length and then go back to Home Depot for 2x4s or something like that, I think if I create a u-shaped support for each end, that will work.  There's nothing I can do to expand the space I have, so I keep finding new ways to store things where they are easy to get to and visible at the same time.  Visible is very important to me these days.

One thing your craft room has to have is a large trash can.  Some things I used to save -- like bits of leftover cardstock (maybe could be used for trim one day?) I have come to be able to just let it go; there is only so much time in the day and the days fly by.  We have a recycle pickup every other week and paper is definitely a recycle item.

Often I find wasted space in my craft area.  There are things I don't want to discard (like all my clay tools) but don't plan to use them anytime soon.  These are items that can be removed from view and even moved someplace else, like the garage.  But let me recommend you create an inventory of sorts, so you can (1) remember they exist and (2) where you put them.  And be careful that just thinking about that doesn't start you off on a new rabbit trail.... like "hey, I think I'll do clay stuff today."  You don't get anywhere like that!

I have a huge box of jewelry supplies -- beads, findings, pendants, and bezels.  Last week I needed a chain for a project I was working on, and dug the huge container out from under my bed.  Then I got all fired up about jewelry, but I tamped that down quickly because for one thing, I hardly ever wear jewelry, and too, I have dozens of pretty bracelets that I have made that I don't know what to do with. But I am now thinking of taking the jewelry supplies out to the studio and putting them instead into a see-through drawer in case I need something.

A few years ago a new mother began saving all her baby food bottles for me, and I was happy to get them because they are great for mixing acrylic paint and saving it while working on a particular project.  This year I dug them out again, cleaned them up, and they will be little vessels for hand scrubs my daughter makes!  They're easy to label, and wrap with a bow and square of paper or cloth.
See?  There was a reason to keep those.  But little by little, things are getting used and moved on out.

The next idea bubbling up from somewhere is to put together "craft packs" which include an assortment of materials at a low price.  I see some on various websites that cater to scrapbookers, but what I have in mind is more a mixed media melange.  Customers would only need their own scissors and glue to make use of them.  Stay tuned.

Friday, November 6, 2015

10 ways to know if you are a craft/mixed media junkie

There are some addictions we just have to acknowledge, and decide whether or not there is a real downside.  Here are some ways to know whether you are addicted to the habit of crafting:

  • 1.  You see a bottle or jar someone is getting ready to throw away and your heart beats a little faster.
  • 2.  A package comes in the mail; inside is corrugated cardboard or tissue and you grab it to save for someday.
  • 3.  You see a new paint additive in the hardware store and you immediately think of ways to use it.
  • 4.  The neighbors put something on the lawn for the weekly heavy pick-up and you really want to go examine it before the truck comes.  Sometimes you do, and you bring it inside.
  • 5.  You go to regularly to see what new products there are this week, even if you don't order anything.  Mostly you realize you already have that.
  • 6.  When you go to Amazon just to order something simple, like coffee or a book, you end up clicking on all the recommended items that relate to making stuff.
  • 7.  Your craft room is full of things you cannot use in a lifetime.  You obsess over organization.
  • 8.  You spend entirely too much time on Pinterest in the DIY sections, and hours on YouTube watching tutorials.
  • 9.  You want to order every new die cutting machine that comes on the market.
  • 10. You pore over every craft store mailer just in case there's something they have at 40% off this week that you don't have yet.

And there are lots more signs, like when shopping you drift over to the craft supplies area just because.

Well, these things certainly apply to me, and to a few of my acquaintances.  I think that's one of the reasons there are so many exchanges and swaps online for cards and handmade gifts.  And the groups!  There are so many exciting things to learn from other people.

But here is the downside:

There is only so much time in a day, not to mention a lifetime.  In my case, I figure I have maybe a decade left, and assuming I can still create things during the remainder of my years, I still won't be able to use everything I have accumulated in the many ways I can imagine.  I have been working on de-stashing for several years now, yet it seems that each new fascination or project requires maybe one more product... so for that reason, I have lots and lots of supplies, every type of adhesive that exists on the planet (except silicone glue.  What is that anyway?  I keep meaning to do a search on Amazon and get some.) and every type of paper made.  I have even learned to make paper, so I have the screen and supplies for that too.

And painting substrates: I have canvases, cardboard, mat board, board-board, and watercolor paper. I have fabric paint of all types.

Oh, and speaking of fabric, last year I learned to hook rugs, so I have those supplies, and then I saw a video about rag rugs so I am building a frame for that.  I'm done making quilts.

I have supplies for making art journals, scrapbooks, binding machines, brads and I LOVE making little books.  I have clay and clay molds.  I have the oven for that.  I have woodworking supplies and carving knives.  And I'm not even talking yet about the Dremels.

Recently I discovered parchment craft, so I set up an online store for that since I found supplies hard to get in the USA. That's taking time (and another addiction) too.

I have never had much success with Etsy, but I am about to start making little craft packs, and various die cut shapes and putting them up for sale somewhere.  I recently sent a lot of my hand-made greeting cards to a nursing home I know about, so the staff can give residents birthday cards when they need one.  I like that idea.  An acquaintance of mine is doing paper crafting on a volunteer basis in another senior center, so I sent a big pack of "stuff" to her,  I don't mind sharing because my stock of that sort of thing is boundless.  On my "to-do" list this week is to contact local activity directors of nursing homes to see if they could use things like this.

There are so many things I want to make.  Each time I go into the studio I see something I have been planning to do, but since I'm in the middle of whatever I'm doing right now, of course I can't get to it. I have photo albums and scrapbooks of my own that need finishing.  I recently found some sketches I did of my granddaughters when they were babies and I thought saving those all together in one scrapbook would be a great idea.  I went to a used bookstore and found a big hard-back childrens' book and gessoed it to use for that purpose.  I started it.  It remains unfinished.

So to me, this is the downside.  I see other people quite happy to relax once in awhile, to just read or watch TV and sometimes I envy them,  But my addiction compels me to keep trying to finish all these fun projects.  I think my fantasy is that if I keep at it, I will finally use up all of my supplies and then I can relax and do nothing.

By the way, I just ordered a new super-duper does-everything cutter! I can't wait til it gets here!  Just think,.. then I can make stencils, more wood ornaments and frames, templates, engrave more materials....

Now I have to go find that silicone glue.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How to keep your pens from drying out

You know how those white gel pens dry out so fast, right?  And how when you have a favorite ballpoint pen and the cap gets lost, the pen dries out sooner than you'd like?

Well!  I just found a second use for the great tool caps I sell on!  Last night I was working with a white pen, tracing a design, and misplaced the cap.  I realized then and there, that my extra tool caps could serve more than one purpose. 

Just thought I'd pass that along!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Two simple parchment designs for a beginner

 This card is from Linda Williams book on beginning parchment craft.  I mounted it on a light blue cardstock after coloring the back with Prismacolor pencils.

This card is from a PCA Christmas template and I painted the back with red Pan Pastel.  Pan Pastels blend nicely on parchment, but this time I used only the one color.  Then I decorated my tree with gemstones.  I plan to do future trees with additional colors, and some rhinestones.  You could certainly use pearls too.  Also, in parchment craft, you can get really creative with additional background patterns, cutouts etc.  I didn't want to detract from the tree itself on this one, since I tend to be rather simple!

I'm making many others this week, which I will post as they are complete.  One thing to remember when learning this craft is not to hesitate to throw away your mistakes!  It's why you need to have plenty of parchment on hand.  Get it here in the US from me -- it's why I carry it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's October -- and we're shipping!

My recent networking since the birth of Parchment Craft USA has connected me with some tutors (unfortunately not near by) so I'm basically still on my own, learning this craft!  But at least now I have the inventory for other beginners.  So come by the site and see what you need to get going on this addictive zen-type craft!

My own creations are definitely those of a newbie.  Don't be critical.  I'm getting there!
I much prefer white work.  Adding backgrounds is next.

Yes, it's time for Christmas art.  These two were framed with die-cut pieces left over from scrapbooking.

This one is my favorite.  The paper is actually kraft color with gold spots... but here the scanner shows you only one.

This one was colored with oil pastels.  Not sure I like it.  I prefer Prismacolor pencils.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Parchment Craft USA is up -- shipping after October 1st!

Finally found the solution to getting parchment craft products in the US!

I started carrying them myself.  So if you are interested in learning all about parchment craft, which is quite popular in other parts of the world but not so much yet in the US -- go check out the site for not only products to be shipped throughout the continental US actually from the US, but tips and tricks and other resources.

There are also some shortcuts in embossing parchment background patterns with the Make the Cut software that I love so much.  But I do enjoy the quiet meditative process of handwork and I am learning.  Self-taught of course, because there are no tutors anyplace around here.

By the way, I never found the gesso, but I did find my car keys. They were underneath some files for my art journal.  No clue how that happened.

Monday, September 7, 2015

With a spirit so willing...

I lost a gallon of gesso somehow.

It seems impossible, but I don't see it anywhere.

Yesterday I lost the C plate to my Cuttlebug, and while I was using it.  Still haven't found it.

Several months ago I lost my complete set of keys -- car, house -- and it was quite costly to replace that key and remote for the car.  I found the keys last week.  They were in a box under my bed where I had several folders of things saved for my art journals.

No idea how the keys got in there really, although I can surmise.  And I still need the gesso and the C plate.  I'm optimistic that at least one of them will reappear.

I wrote recently that this getting old process is wearing thin, and this is the sort of thing I'm talking about.  I still have lots of projects I want to complete while I'm still able, and I feel as though I will be able for a while yet.

I found a large square children's book at a used bookstore last week to make an art journal.  The book doesn't have many pages, it's about 12x12 and is perfect for what I want to do.  Thus, the need for
gesso to begin preparing the pages.

When this sort of thing happens, my creative urges get overrun with frustration and a feeling really close to anger which can quickly move into depression.  Then I start questioning what the heck am I trying to do here?  Do I really need to make this particular journal now?  Of course not!  But the anger comes from feeling that things are a little more out of control now.  To be using something and have it disappear, well, that happens more and more lately.  I have a lot of things going on right now, none of which would seem essential to anyone else.

My focus the past several months (has it been that long?) has been learning parchment craft, which is so relaxing and meditative.  In the evening with something on television or an audio book for company, I trace and emboss until it's time for lights out.  It feels like I've only been doing this for a month at the most, however, this is September and I see some files I downloaded in May on the topic.
This is what I mean about feeling out of control.  The time is whipping by and I am trying my best to keep up.

(During the past month too, I had a bout with a computer crypto virus which wiped out all my photographs and clip art, and believe me, there was a lot.  I got the virus off my computer, thanks to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, and thanks to Carbonite, most of the files were restored.  After that I upgraded that computer to Windows 7 from Vista, and this studio computer from 7 to Windows 10. Now I find that they are both old enough to be slowed down by these newer operating systems, and of course Best Buy would like to sell me a new desktop computer.  But really, what do I need a computer for?  Just think about it!)

I have a smart phone.  I have a tablet.  Both of those things can blog, or read Facebook funny quotes, and check Twitter to see whether a tornado is coming our way.  I can't do graphic arts or use my cutters on those things but the computers I have still work (as I am currently demonstrating.)  But because I am retired (translation: too old for anyone to hire) the desperate need for a whiz-bang computer is really just not here.  As I daily remind myself.

You see, when people say "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," it's not always about sex.  It sometimes applies to people like me with an inborn entrepreneurial bent, and we are absolutely driven to create, or produce, or do whatever it is we can do.

Keeping busy is a good thing, at least it is for me.  But now I have to deal with all the things that go with it because of the change in my circumstances, putting it kindly.

I really do wish I could find that gesso.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Have you tried embossing on parchment?

I only began seriously trying to make greeting cards earlier this year.  I have a mailing list for the extras, as it seems there are many groups operating to mail cards to various people, whether they are residents of nursing homes or hospitals, some even to people actively serving in the military.  I find that I make a new card for specific friends of mine rather than drawing from the stack of premade cards I have done.

Lately I have tried my hand at embossing on Pergamano parchment.  This stuff is not cheap!  I can do a few patterns at a time, and am experimenting with mounting them but haven't yet mastered the art of making one as beautiful as those found on Pinterest, but I am always certain I'll get there.

I have purchased the proper tools, one at a time, and already have misplaced one that I really use a lot.. but I am certain it is someplace in my bedcovers, since that's where I do most of this as I watch tv at night.  Lots to do, so little time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Do you have favorite things to find uses for?

There must be some things that fascinate you.   I can't be the only one.   There are several that I absolutely love.
1.  I love magnets, magnetic clips, magnetic strips, little magnets to put into greeting cards or little boxes, magnets to use to keep things handy.
2.  Dowels are another thing for me, particularly small ones, an inch or smaller.  There are so many things to make with them.  They can even be cut small and used to mix paint.  But I use them when I build little houses, holders for hanging things,  (attach them to hooks) , help polymer clay dolls stand up, make frames... all day I can think of new uses.
3.  Wood of any kind.  It is almost impossible for me to let go of any piece of wood.  I find scraps handy for making shims, make-shift shelves between two storage containers, little planks to support those flimsy wire shelves, and I use pieces of masonite not only as substrates for painting but as bookends or sturdy dividers between 12x12 cardstock packs or even canvases.   And then when it's down to nearly splinters, it can serve as kindling in the fireplace.  Sawdust is even good in the garden.  (I obviously love trees.)
4.  Glass bottles and jars.  Baby food jars, wine bottles, mayonnaise containers when they used to be glass.  Paint them or not, they are things I love to see in my studio, just being around.  Obviously they are handy for uses in painting and to wash brushes, but you can make little terrariums,  root plants in them, grow a sweet potato vine, store things, fill them with buttons, baubles and beads!

Actually,  containers of any kind.  For a long time I saved them all but I had to temper that.   There's only so many one person can ever get around to using, not to mention finding space for.

5. Pens, pencils and markers of all kinds.  Notebooks.  Legal pads.  No explanation necessary there.

What are some of yours?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Finding new ways to use old stash

People like me who work with all kinds of mixed media tend to be hoarders, and since I am in what my friend Mary calls my "twilight years" I decided this year to begin seriously de-stashing and it's amazing how much more efficiently the items I do work with can be stored.

When I moved here five years ago, things just got tossed into storage bins here and there, with no real thought to saving space.  I have kept (and accumulated more) things since then, and the chaos has contributed to my already stressful existence.  I am feeling really good now about the changes I made in the studio and the choices I am making about what to keep.

Do I really need a hundred baby food jars for paint?  Why not just a half dozen?  And those coffee cans for washing brushes, why not just one or two?  It's hard to let go of things I "might want to make something with some day," but now I'm either using them for sure, or tossing them.  Or sharing them with other artists.

In the process, I have found things I forgot about and am having fun creating a bit differently.  I'm finally enjoying monoprinting.  I'm making greeting cards, and prepping card fronts from these results.

Change is good.  Aging, not so much.  I'm slow, I'm getting a third as much done as I plan, but ideas still abound and I'm having a good time.

I will try to confine my comments about the complications of aging in my other blog, Klothospin.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's projects at a snail's pace.

I have received several dozen emails from various sources with links to Valentine's projects, and downloaded a few.  And I decided I would make my granddaughters' valentines for school this year.  One needed 22, the older one needed 25.

This used to be simple.  It took me TWO WEEKS.

This is starting to not be funny anymore.  There are so many projects I have in mind, and I have to remember that I probably cannot get to all of them in the time frame I normally would.  Adjusting to aging is very, very difficult for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Paper swap

I am taking part in another paper swap hosted by Donna of CollageUnleashed Yahoo Group.

What happens is we each create papers, letter-size, decorated both sides with paint, stamps, ink, stencils or collage, and this time we are doing two sets of 20 each. We send them to her before her deadline and she parcels them out to all of us; we each get 40 pretty papers to either bind for a journal or whatever.  Some I have saved for large collage projects.

In any case, it has been a couple of years since we did this -- or at least since I participated.  (I don't always check all my group messages.)  I decided now would be a good time to jump in, and set about preparing to make my papers.  I had some 80 lb paper and of course lots and lots of paint and stencils.  Or so I thought.

The first thing that happened was I couldn't find the paper.  I have reorganized my studio several times in the past several years, and have been working with wood, and clay, and canvases. (I do spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things, it seems.)  So I ordered another ream online.  It's way more than I'll ever need and of course I'll find my other paper later.  I will give it to my granddaughters for drawing.

I set aside the time to begin; I looked for appropriate spray bottles, watercolor which doesn't clog the spray bottles, and got ready to paint.

I somehow didn't remember what to do.

Anything I sketched, or sprayed didn't really look like what I have done in the past, and I wouldn't want to send to anyone.  What on earth was I to do?

I know! I've always been good at monkey-see-monkey-do, so I went to the file of papers I had received two years ago that are still pretty and unused, and it finally jogged my memory.  (I guess this is another sign of old age.  Seems there's a new sign every day.)  Okay.  So what I want to do, I said, is paint one color, and make a design of some sort in another color.  A pattern.

I began to paint, and using watercolor on a paper that is not watercolor paper can be a really sloppy experience.  The paper was curling, taking forever to dry so that I could do the second side, and stencils were not working at all.  No shapes at all, just dribbles.

Gesso.  I forgot about that.  I use that all the time on canvases, so I had plenty on hand.  I started over, gessoing both sides of the first 20 pieces of paper.  And eureka, the paint began to behave.  Even using gesso and the bigger brush got me started thinking better about what I would like to do.

This has been really a surprising experience for me -- I, who have created art journal after art journal in the past four years, had very little memory of how it is done.  I have made many other things since then, and this process just somehow got pushed into a deep crack of my memory department.

I have two more weeks to finish, and let's all hope it goes smoothly from now on.

On another note, I found a big container of all my previously created art journals that has been stored outside, with ten inches of water in it!  The container's lid had blown off before the last rain, and nobody had noticed.  Devastating.  I thought they'll never dry, the pages will glue to themselves, and we'll have no history of my better days.   I set them out to dry in the sun, and every now and then I go and turn a few more pages. We are not expecting rain for a few days.

The pages are not going to stick together after all, which I feared.  And why not?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Catching up on ought-to-do's

Since I have been working with my stash of yarn, and at the same time clearing out things to donate, I have decided to spend part of this day reviewing my fabric stash, separating the quilting strips from bundles of fabric.  I like to have things where I can find them, but it is getting ridiculous in my tiny bedroom with everything in arm's reach or close to it.  Some of this will fill the drawers of my refinished chest.

Antique Chest

One of the things I got from my parents' home was a chest of drawers that has a story of its own.  I painted it -- it is now its third color -- in two tones of blue.  This chest was part of a bedroom set my parents bought when they married, and it probably came from Sears.  That makes it an antique, I suppose, purchased in the '40s.

The bedroom set was originally a mahogany color, and when I was a teenager it was passed on to me, and I painted it apple green to match the wallpaper in my bedroom.  When I left home, my mother reclaimed it and painted it a peach color.  I photographed the knobs before I finished this new incarnation of the chest, as a reminder of its history.

Studio companion

Yesterday I took little Spike to the doggy doctor and learned he has congestive heart failure and some other issues, and since he is at least 15 years old, this is to be expected.  But there's a lot of life in him still, so I opted for a bit of medication to make him comfortable.  He isn't miserable, and as long as he isn't, I intend to love him awhile longer.

He follows me everywhere still, although he was so angry about the doctor visit yesterday he threatened to bite me as I tried to put him in the car, and again when we got home.  It took awhile before he forgave me and wagged his tail at me tentatively about an hour later. He did not like the x-rays yesterday apparently, in addition to the full comprehensive exam.  His arthritis is his main discomfort, and there is medication for that.
He should not try to climb stairs anymore and I carry him up with me if I am going to stay any length of time, such as at bedtime.

This morning he's not eating much, probably because I ground up his medication and added it to the ground-up chicken bones that he loves,  and he can tell I guess.  Obviously his sense of smell hasn't lessened any.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Rug Hooking - a new challenge

In my attempt to use up the supplies I have on hand, (so as to make room for more, no doubt) I decided to take my excess yarn left over from last year's crocheting and make a big rug.  One big rug.

There are other posts elsewhere  -- and I will write a Kindle book on the subject -- about all the disasters and/or lessons that I learned about this topic.  I also have been making rag rugs from leftover quilt strips. And this week I am going back to painting.

But all in all, following the recent death of my dad, I will mostly be ruminating and my New Year's resolutions include doing more writing and less Facebooking.  So the posts here will most likely become a diary of sorts, on topics ranging from new projects to issues I am facing.

This turned into a wall hanging, I think.

Stay tuned.