Things I like

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Found a fun thing!

If you are like me, every morning you are deluged by emails from people and companies whose products you have either browsed or purchased.  I have a filter program which allows me to quickly unsubscribe if I want, but there are some I'm addicted to looking at!  And I'm always interested in what new products are being presented.

I couldn't resist clicking on the link to see what on earth a "stamper's secret weapon" might be.  I'm not much of a stamper, but curiosity is something I was born with.  Lo and behold, I found a product that is -- I'm sure by accident -- perfect for parchment craft!  It is shown to the right of this post... and I found it at Amazon.

This pad is soft on one side (can be used for embossing) and has a surface on the back side that can be used for perforating.  Now, please understand that this is NOT the professional grade product that I sell from PCA in my store... but it is something you can toss into your bag or your car to have handy for emergency parching while you're waiting for someone, or keep in your bedroom for late night parching practice if you are a beginner as I certainly am.  And if it gets beat up with this new use, you haven't broken the bank!

Of course it is a perfect surface for stamping (what it was designed for) but since my mind is always on parchment craft lately, it was a "eureka" moment for me.  I'm going to try to get this product into my store, but if you want one for now, please click on the Amazon link at the right... and of course, I'll get a tiny commission.  It's lightweight and easy to handle, and is even a good surface for the adult coloring that everyone seems to be doing these days,

Get one and try it!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Preserving memories my way

My grandmother only knew how to make one kind of cake.

When I was very small, she kept me while my mother worked as a substitute teacher.  It was World War II and all the male teachers had been drafted.  These were long days for a three-year-old and I'm sure I was a burden for my grandmother as she went about her daily chores.  This house was in the country, so there was a garden to tend and eggs to gather. I would churn butter for her in a wooden churn that was nearly as tall as I was, and crawl under the house for her to help find eggs the chickens had laid.   But once in awhile she would make a cake.

My grandmother's cake was a yellow cake, with flour, baking powder I guess, one egg, and sugar. Her frosting was always a thin, crusty mixture of sugar and water, maybe an egg white, with pineapple chunks mixed in.  It was a very, very sweet cake.  But when she mixed the batter, she'd ask me to help stir in the mixing bowl, which was a large green crock.

My mother ended up with many of my grandmother's dishes, and when she herself went into a nursing home a few years before her death, I asked her if I could have that green crock.  It was far back in the cabinet in her kitchen, and although it had been occasionally used to make cornbread and such, it was not going to be used anymore. She said yes, so I took it to my home in Houston.

Somehow after it came into my possession, it got broken.  Sixty-five years of use, at least, and in my house it got broken!  I was heartsick.

I saved a piece of it, which amounted to half the bowl, vowing to do something with it one day.  I tried making a painting of it, but that wasn't really preserving it and I was terrified that the piece I had left would get broken or lost.  I hung onto it.

Now, years later, I have come up with the solution, and I am happy to share it here.

I mounted it on an 11x14 wooden frame, by pouring plaster of Paris around the base. I added some modeling paste on top of that, and when that dried, I added a leveling product to fill in cracks.  I thought of making it into a planter (and I still might) but for now, I cut a piece of styrofoam to fit inside for artificial flowers.

I was going to buy flowers from Michael's, then I remembered, hey, I can make them!   I wanted large ones.  I looked on YouTube for ideas, but the only large flowers anyone was talking about were HUGE flowers -- not what I meant by large.  I finally scanned one of my flowers from one of my favorite punches, enlarged it to the size I wanted and cut it on my Force in two colors of yellow.  In my studio I still had stamens and stems from flower making several years ago  (that's why I keep everything within reach!) and gradually remembered how I did it.  I avoided using the glue gun, and tried other ways of putting them together but I think it's going to take the glue gun after all because they don't stand up exactly the way I want.  And I may add some greenery.

The last thing to decide was how to finish the frame.  I decided I wanted the entire focus to be on the crock itself, so I painted the frame and the plaster background the same creamy color,  similar to buff titanium.  The flowers, in yellow, are just perfect for this project.

The wood frame, with the heavy crock and even heavier plaster, will be difficult to hang and a plain old picture hanger was not going to work so I settled on large eye-hooks and a chain for hanging.  I was going to add a wooden support across the bottom but I don't think it needs it. If this comes apart someday after I'm dead and gone, I hope my granddaughters will value this enough to fix it.  It wouldn't be difficult.

This is my way of paying tribute to the memories I have of people who are now gone.  I have something beautiful to see every day.  In the last photo, and behind the crock in the frame, is a milking stool my granddad used during those same years.  I sanded that and painted it pink.  It now holds live ivy which adds even more to my studio.

I don't like visiting cemeteries.  I much prefer to surround myself with pleasant reminders of simpler times.

I love it!
But the flowers need more work.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

How to successfully punch shapes from thin tissue... without going nuts

I found a a beautiful paper napkin at the dollar store that I absolutely love, and I have collaged it onto just about every empty box I can find!  I even put it on one of those manikin heads you can find for wigs.

I decided I wanted to top one of the containers with a flower made from one of my favorite punches. This is very thin tissue indeed, particularly after having removed the inner white lining from the napkin.

I slid it into the punch, and this is what I got:
 Not only did it not punch properly, I had a dickens of a time getting it out of the punch.   So disappointed I was!

I refused to give up, and to make this flower to position it where I want I was going to need more than one of these shapes.  Then I thought, why not just "fool" the punch, and lay the tissue on top of a piece of cardstock?  Not adhered to it, because I want only the tissue for this particular project.  And it worked! Here was the result.. and it gave me, of course, extra flower shapes from the cardstock for a future use.

Simple solution, right?

I love my EK punches, but they are getting a bit cranky.  I had to use some WD40 on them this week because the springs were not too springy anymore.

SO happy at having found this solution!

Happy long weekend.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Craft packs are now available as part of the studio clearance!

Studio clearance going on.  Really!

 It's been fun coordinating all these things and making extra die cuts to supplement, as well as cutting out pop-up bases for step cards or whatever anyone would care to use them for.  However, the biggest problem I can see (these are heavy-duty boxes, about 9x12x2) is the shipping cost.  eBay really encourages free shipping but I don't quite know how to price them reasonably and offer shipping too.  I'll figure it out.

The browns and all their accompaniments are my favorites.

Because I have the parchment craft supplies site, and now the studio clearance, I have been trying to tie it all together so that once I have all this put up, I'll have time to PLAY!  I want to get back to painting, and collaging, and have some female heads in foam that I found at JoAnn's that I am anxious to play with.

I also have created some 5x7 bullet journals to include with the craft packs, just for the last six months of the year to introduce people to the idea of bullet journals.  I love using mine, and I really do need a way to look at the month as a whole when remembering all the commitments I have -- including what day my mini-Aussie gets her heartworm meds.  Anyway, I am taking more photos of the craft packs later today.  That is, after I finish hassling with the eBay store inputs.

Do you also set up self-imposed deadlines?  I'm really bad about that!  Balance -- time to play -- is essential.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

No wall space? Build one!

I think I'm finally happy with my studio arrangement!

Sure, I've organized, re-organized, boxed up, donated or thrown away bunches in the past several years.  But one thing I realized: if it's not attractive to me, I can't accomplish anything in here.

I've been making lots of paper houses and working on a design that I can share.  That means lots and lots of trial cuts and changes, so that also means I have dozens of little houses.  And I want to SEE them, so I set up some displays just for me.  Not only do I like to look at what I've made, I get inspiration for more projects.  I found little people on eBay and of course, the houses have to fit the people, right?

But for my own satisfaction, I had to divide the studio into specific task areas. By that I mean separate the papercrafting area from the painting space.  To do that required a wall.  When this studio was built I never thought much about the need for wall space for displaying things, because I filled up the walls with shelves.  And I never thought about leaving space for a do-nothing area.  (Once in awhile I do need to turn my brain off and rest.)

I found some fence boards in the garage, left over from our new fence last year necessitated by a windstorm.  It occurred to me that I could use them to frame a pegboard wall, attach it to my workbench with a 2x2, and I even added a hinge to the wall so I could "open" it if I needed to expand one or more of the areas.   This pegboard wall is just for the latest thing I made, or painted, or collaged, until it finds its ultimate home.  Sometimes things need to "sit" awhile before I decide whether I'm going to add to it.  And sometimes I need to sit too!

The plastic you can see is hanging over from the painting area.  (I have learned to cover as much as possible when I'm slinging paint around.) I learned from Bob Burridge to use 4ply plastic and I use it for everything.

I also built a three-panel divider and covered it with burlap, and I pin more inspiration there.  So when I come into the tiny studio, I am met with reminders of why I do all this and not just stunned by the chaos!

In the first photos above, you see that I had to find places for my scroll saw as well as my cutters, which meant then I needed a work table smaller than I've used before.  For now it's a card table but that will probably change.  My original 30x72 table just wasn't working anymore.

There is just no way, with all the years of creating things and accumulating tools and materials, that I can have one of those little neat craft areas one finds on Pinterest!  That might work for someone just starting out, or someone who does only one type of activity.  In my case, I run a parchment craft supplies business, create greeting cards, and construct die cuts for papercraft packs soon to be offered on my site.  Which is why I've been behind on blogging.

I'll try and do better!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Organizing a la Tiffany Spaulding

Some time back I bought some of those giant page protector-type pages that are divided for craft supplies, but I could not justify paying -- at that time $90 -- for the binder they fit in.  I placed them in a regular 3-ring binder that certainly wasn't deep enough to hold the pages but it gave me a place to start.  You can see how messy that was.

Then I ran across her organization "classes" on YouTube and became inspired to make a binder from chipboard.  I covered it with Contac paper and suspended three dowels in the sides, with little screw eyes to hold them in place.  I can easily add things this way.  Her particular binder has about 7 3-ring binder things (no clue what to call them.) glued in the back and if I ever find such things I may change my construction.  But for now, this is much neater.
At this point I had not figured out how to keep the dowels from slipping out, or how to also make them easy to remove.

I didn't have any wingnuts, but I finally decided to use the screw eyes.  They are easy to remove.

Further,Tiffany Spaulding's classes had even more ideas and I ended up not only sorting things by color, but taking inventory -- and classifying -- the entire contents of my studio.  Let me enthusiastically recommend her organization classes.  I think I have indicated before that I live with my daughter and her family, and they probably have not spent an hour in my studio in the past six years, so they have no clue what is out there or where to find anything.  Well, now they do!  I listed every item, from embellishments to power tools in a key format, which shows not only what there is but where it is.

Tiffany's idea to number boxes, much like a library system, means I no longer have to have things in view in order to remember they exist!

The embellishments I use most often I have placed in drawer organizers under a fiberglass-topped work station, and photographed them for myself actually.  I have spent far too much valuable time looking for things and now that is over!

See how helpful?  I have tiny charms that can be used in mixed media as well as in the little window cards I like to make.  And all those sequins for shaker cards...

She also suggested something that makes perfect sense: why not just keep 5 or 6 pages of each color of paper within reach and store the remaining stock (catalogued of course) for replenishing later.  I am also creating some craft packs to be donated to nursing homes or schools.  I have enough materials to start my own distribution center.

This has been very helpful to me, since I jump from making greeting cards to now, making little paper houses and furniture.  And finally I am beginning to work on the several albums I must finish, which include many old pictures from my mother's collection as well as my own.  I have some collage projects that are waiting to be completed and I really would like to get back to painting.

My studio is now efficiently arranged with work tables for specific tasks.  I have an area for painting, for gluing, for constructing and for "thinking."

AND I just received the new cutter, the KNK Force, which is an amazing piece of equipment that cuts not only paper but plastic and thin wood.  I'm still learning what it can do.  (If you buy one through my link, I'll get a commission of course, but in any case, go look at it!)  It is brand new and the software is in beta form but is being worked on to the point that everything should be complete by the end of the year, I hope. For now, it will perform the basic functions of cutting, engraving and embossing. There is a Facebook group made up of all of us who just received our machines and are finding out what it can do.  There is some amazing creativity on display.

Back to work!  I am working with tiny people (commonly used in model train set-ups) to populate my tiny houses.  I will have to modify some of them with clay and paint to get the kind of positions I need them to have, and that will be fun!

So little time, so much to play with!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

So much to play with, so little time.... random thoughts

As I re-re-organize after completing a major project, I always find things I forgot I had.
Not as messy as it looks!

I found a big stock of white tissue paper that I've probably had for a long time, and decided to cover all those little boxes I saved from Christmas.  Each time someone got a small technology gift or something else with a clever box, I grabbed it and so this week was the time to either cover them, paint them, or toss them.

I decided to spray paint the tissue paper until it was soggy, then let it dry overnight.  I cut or ripped it up into pieces and using ModPodge, covered all the little boxes I could find.  For now, I just have them stacked around the studio (space is still at a premium) until I decide to use them as containers.

Even with labels, I have trouble finding things that are not in clear containers, so I'm not sure yet how I will use them.  Some will hold finished greeting cards, some will be shipped off with craft packs I am making up, and some will stay around just for decoration.

While I was on my ModPodging projects, I covered a cheap wood frame that I had bought years ago for a future project, so that I could display the photo of my little doggies, both of whom passed away from old age within the last several years.  They were my studio companions for a long time and just recently I decided to get another little friend and adopted a Mini-Aussie rescue, a 7-year-old female named Lady.  She is what is called a "velcro-dog" so she stays with me every minute.  I need that.  It gives me someone to talk to besides myself as I work.
Lady, my Mini-Aussie

Friday, January 8, 2016

Four Free Parchment Craft Patterns for Beginners

At I have uploaded a pdf of a few simple designs for beginners (like me.)

Since I discovered this craft last spring, I started the web store with minimal inventory, and I think the beginner kits are the very best thing going.  I've just ordered more, because I really would like to see more US parchers (which is what we are called in the UK.)  Most of the templates are sized a bit differently than we American cardmakers use, but you can easily make your own envelopes to fit.
Or, as I have done, adapt the size to A2.

I carry only PCA materials, and can order anything to add to someone's order or to my inventory if it becomes a popular item.  I'm not looking to stock a warehouse, just enough to get us all supplied with the necessities.

This beginner kit teaches you how to use templates, as well as parchment
 and the basic small embossing tool.  

Like other mixed media enthusiasts, I already had a few embossing tools for metal or clay, and I find those work too.  (You have to start with something!)  But as I follow the parchment artists from around the world, I am amazed at what they can do with the proper tools.  So, I do have a few shaped perforating tools and different sizes of the embossing tools as well.

Please tell all the papercrafters and cardmakers you know in the US to join me in learning this new craft.  It is really gorgeous.  Visit what I have at and let me know what you think.