Tuesday, November 25, 2014

free is good!

it's also the subject of this week's challenge at shopping our stash: we want you to make a project which incorporates something you got for free... and please be sure to TELL US in your post what it is and where it came from!  it just so happens my mother recently gave me a couple of the most wonderfully kitschy red doilies, made of some sort of funky plasticized paper, that i absolutely fell in love with; so my choice was pretty clear, and the embellishment for my december journal cover was completed in record time!

funky red vintage doilies of mysterious origin that my mom found in her dining room cupboard; flowers cut from an old christmas card; lace cardstock paper by k and co; red chipboard thickers; hambly snowflake transparency; chipboard book covers wrapped in vintage music paper; little scrap of pink tulle i found; ink: colorbox; adhesives: elmers gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

as you can see, just remembering how much fun i had doing december daily last year was enough to make me cave pretty quickly on the subject of whether or not i was making a december journal for myself this year. because of course just making the blank books for my etsy shop wasn't quite satisfying enough, i really wanted one i could keep and work in, so i whipped up one more 5x7" ringbound book. i had some pretty cool vintagey things leftover, so most of the pages are made up of scraps, old greeting cards, sheet music, etc. there are also a few "outtakes" from the other books: pages accidentally trimmed too small, or ones with the hole punched in the wrong spot. there's nowhere near enough pages here, but i know from experience that there'll be days i'll want to build something from the ground up, so i didn't get too caught up in the numbers.

did you notice the "over cover" built on a piece of transparency? i suppose, since this is my own book, i could've just embellished the music-wrapped chipboard, couldn't i? but i had a piece of hambly snowflake print that was serendipitously the perfect size, and i couldn't resist.

should i be embarrassed at nabbing the very coolest vintage ornament page from one of my old christmas ideals magazines to use as endpapers? naaaaaaaaaah. there are at least three styles of bauble in this photo that i actually own, and since they'll be hanging happily on my vintage tree again this year, clearly i HAD TO have this photo page for my own book! 

being as thanksgiving weekend is nearly upon us here in the states, bringing its heaping helpings of travel and family and food and fun with it, this challenge will span two weeks; thus you'll have twice as long to jump in and play! meanwhile, be sure to check out the awesome work of my sos teammates! ♥

Sunday, November 23, 2014

xmas books-a-million!

ok, technically, there are only six, but "books-half-a-dozen" sounds waaaaaaaaaaaay too lame, so i took the liberty of exercising a little artistic license! the six books in question are part of some december journal kits i've put into my etsy shop, they look a little something like this:

book covers made of heavy weight chipboard and covered in vintage sheet music from my stash; each music cover has an "over cover" made of a 5.5 x 7.5" piece of hambly transparency that i've decorated with bits of vintage illustration, cut up christmas cards, washi tape, prima, basic grey and petaloo florals and velvet leaves, bits of ribbon and doily... pretty much anything pretty and xmassy that fell under my eye was fair game! :)

they have 25 pages each, made up of some vintage papers backed with patterned paper, some double sided cardstock weight christmas patterns, pocket pages (also made from double-sided cardstock patterns), and some larger old christmas cards trimmed down to fit the 5 x 7" page format. i also made mini christmas ephemera packs (quite a bit smaller than my regular sized ones) to include with each journal, there's a selection of different sized, shaped and themed holiday book pages, music paper, postcards, decorative seals, and even some music-bedecked chipboard reindeer that i diecut especially for this.

i made three of the books in landscape orientation*...

...and three in portrait orientation. this is the size and shape of the december daily book i made and worked in last year, and it seemed like just the right size to be able to fit in lots of nice bits and bobs; but not so big that i felt like i was struggling to fill the pages.

i've been on the fence about whether or not to do december daily again this year, but the more i look at these the more i kind of feel myself leaning towards, "yes"... hmmmmm... where did i put that extra music paper...

*there being quite a few primary school teachers in my family, we refer to these as hotdog and hamburger, lol!

Friday, November 21, 2014

anyone for a christmas feast?

ok, yeah, i know, here in the united states we have a thanksgiving feast to enjoy first, but today is friday, and at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ between january and november, friday means, "it's time to make a christmas card!" we've got a brand new theme this week, would you believe it's our last official prompt of the year? how is that even possible?! i have no idea, but i can tell you that the feeling of, "omg! it's the middle of november already!" is easier to cope with when you're sitting next to a box with 48+ finished holiday cards in it. anyway, in honor of thanksgiving and the rapid approach of the official holiday treats season, we are looking for cards that have some sort of FOOD on them: christmas cookies, plum pudding, a wassail bowl, buche de noel, gingerbread houses, the grinch carving a roast beast; you get the idea, right? there are lots of fun ways to take this. i went with sweets, because... well... i almost always do... in both art AND in life! :)
patterned paper: hambly, we r memory keepers, making memories; sentiment sticker: fancy pants; florals: prima, making memories and recollections; very cool plastic-but-really-looking candy cane from miss ros, ta v much!; scrap of seambinding of unknown origin; white glossy cardstock: paper accents; adhesives: elmers gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, gluedots, sewing machine

i used the gorgeous current cardabilities sketch (#111) to help arrange my card:

i've still got a little stash of hambly paper and transparencies that i'm not so much hoarding as using judiciously. but then, i'm pretty sure that's what all hoarders think, isn't it? (uh oh.) the amazing miss stephanie who knows me very well indeed-- and yet still likes me, bless her!-- has helped to increase it this year, so it may be a while yet before i really feel the absence of that fine company, but it's still quite sad when something fab reaches an ending, don't you think? on the other hand, it's all the more reason to enjoy and appreciate good things while they last! i knew i wanted to use one of the VERY realistic candy canes (they are actually twisted strands of some sort of high-end plastic and thus quite lightweight!) that my lovely friend ros sent me a year or two ago, and when i found the hambly holiday paper with the candy jars, it seemed like the perfect match!

meanwhile, the aforesaid stephanie has made the most awesome and original card you can imagine... or maybe you can't imagine it... so really, you should just go see it, darlings, at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

more miscellany

...a new header for the blog. this one's got A LOT of color, doesn't it? maybe too much? i dunno, but it was so much fun to aimlessly play around in photoshop on a recent road trip (don't worry, i was a passenger!) and the result definitely brightens up the top of my page. the background is a real-life collage i made last summer, scanned and forgot about; i found it in a file on my laptop whilst looking for something else entirely.

...a LOT of small crochet and knitting projects, maybe too many to realistically complete before christmas. but then i always get carried away by "project lust" especially around the holidays! at the moment i'm working on another version of a crocheted rainbow purse for a special young lady; it's loosely based on the pattern for this adorable change purse, which stephanie* found for me.

...to the roof literally being ripped off our house (!!!) and replaced with a new one; one that doesn't have badly retro-fitted, leaky skylights. it will be so cool to only worry about my *HAIR* the next time it rains! (ps: holy wow, roofing guys work HARD, in all kinds of weather and crummy conditions, twenty feet up in the air; yet another job you could not pay me any amount of money to do!)

...my first-ever "victorian christmas" card class last sunday at paper anthology in kenvil, nj. i had the nicest group of students you could possibly imagine, who made the whole experience SO MUCH FUN! i'll be teaching the same three cards again on wednesday, december 3rd and saturday, december 13th; i'd love for you to come!

...quite sheepishly... that a typography junkie like myself had never heard of corita kent until i saw this morning's google doodle! (how was that even POSSIBLE?!)

...the delight with which my husband is preparing to cook TWO thanksgiving dinners, two days in a row. we'll be at his parents' house in maryland next thursday; then home again on friday, where we'll be joined by most of my family. i should mention that all of the above was his own idea, it's something he's done other years, and it's kind of like his own personal version of playing in the world series or running a marathon. except his sport is *COOKING*!  (mine is washing dishes, lol!)

...holiday journal kits to list in my etsy shop. i LOVED working in one of these last year for december daily, and i had a blast making something similar for the lovely amy tsuruta, so i'm pretty excited to be able to share them! each one will feature a little collection of holiday ephemera, some music paper, and a hand-made ring-bound book with 25+ pages composed of a mix of vintage christmas illustrations, christmassy patterned papers, and write-able patterns (like stripes, notebook patterns, graph paper, etc) for journaling. at the moment i'm covering the chipboard covers with vintage sheet music; then they'll get with fun endpapers, and a remove-able decorated cover that's built on a sturdy piece of transparency. so folks who want to jump right in with a pre-made book, can use the cover provided; those wanting something more personal can re-purpose the transparency as a page, instead, and build their own collage on the front of the book! hoping to get these into the shop over the weekend.

...everyone who reads this an absolutely lovely rest of the week, darlings! ♥♥♥

*amongst her many other talents, stephanie is world-beatingly good at finding and pointing out things she knows her friends and family will love. she also provides a more general service for the world at large with her awesome link love posts every thursday. obviously you should be reading her blog EVERY day, but if you want to know a great day to start, i'd go with thursday. hey wait a minute... TODAY'S THURSDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (gee... what are the odds...? off you go!) :) :) :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

47 patterned papers on ONE card??!

ok, yeah, i realize that sounds like AT LEAST forty too many... even for me! :) but there's a method to my madness, i promise. so bear with me for one second whilst i explain that this week's challenge at shopping our stash is called, "thankful" and we'd like to see either thank you cards OR a thanksgiving themed project. now that's out of the way, here's my card:

patterned paper scraps of waaaaaaaaaaaay too many manufacturers to even consider listing, but really, you can use absolutely ANYTHING at all that you have; black foam thickers: american crafts; glossy black cardstock: ranger; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape runner, sewing machine

see? admit it: it's not nearly as nuts as you thought it was going to be, right? i'd love to claim that *I* dreamt up the whole idea, but actually i saw this amazing piece of paper sculpture on pinterest and found out it was by a french artist called maud vantours*. my first thought was, "what an amazingly simply but dramatic thing to do with paper!" but-- obviously** --my second thought was, "that'd make a great card!"! the original uses all solid papers, arranged in a similar clustered rainbow design. but the name of the blog is "shopping our stash"; the point is to creatively employ stuff we've already got; and this might be the best way ever to use up a LOT of really small patterned paper scraps. which, believe me, i've got!

admittedly, it's not what you'd call a fast process, to fold each scrap into a neatly pointed triangle and attach them all in cascading layers. also, your finished card will be HEAVY... this one measures 5x7 and weighs nearly two ounces without even an envelope. but this is exactly the kind of repetitive task that i find relaxing rather than tedious; plus, as you can see, even a maximalist like myself wasn't tempted to add anything but the most spare of sentiments to the finished panel! for a less intensive construction process, i suppose one could just cut and layer flat trianges (or circles or hexagons!) but i have to tell you that the texture of this thing is actually even cooler in real life, and i'd be reluctant to give that up for the 21-cents an extra ounce of first class postage will cost.

if you're interested in seeing a step-by-step demonstration of how i put this thing together, plus a second (similar) card version, scroll down to the post below for a little mini-tutorial. meanwhile, there are plenty more SOS design team members, whose ideas and energy make me feel extremely THANKFUL each and every week, so why pop over not see what they've made for your inspiration? ♥

*to see more of maud vantours' bold masterpieces of creatively cut, folded and stacked paper shapes, click the geometrie section of her blog and be sure to scroll all the way down!

**because hey, that's what i do, i make cards! :)

how to make a rainbow out of folded paper scraps!

if you haven't read the post above this one, with my card for this week's "thankful" challenge at shopping our stash, you have no idea what the heck i'm talking about, so here's a quick synopsis: i saw an amazing and sculptural paper collage by maud vantours on pinterest, i decided to make a card-sized version and i learned a lot of things in the process that i'd love to share with you! so let's get started:

grab your stuff
you'll need: paper-weight scraps of various sizes in a rainbow of colors (or whatever palette you've chosen), your favorite dry adhesive, scissors, and a panel of cardstock approximately 1/4" bigger than you'd like your finished rainbow panel to be (because we'll be trimming it slightly at the end)

start folding triangles
use any size and shape of paper you'd like, but i do suggest PAPER rather than cardstock, because it folds easier and weighs less... and this will be a bulky card! it's important that the bottom edge be straight, as this is what's going to compose the pointy bit of the triangle. place a little stripe of adhesive on the lower left edge and lower right edge, then fold one corner up, forming a perpendicular 90-degree angle to the bottom, as pictured. 

now you're getting the point
the other edge needs to meet the first one pretty closely, and you can see that if the bottom edge of the paper wasn't straight, the point won't be sharp. which will matter. 

trim the top
this is a good time to get rid of any excess paper, since it will make the card a little less bulky. it's also a great idea to burnish the folds as you go along, so they'll stay flat and look more precise.

repeat... and repeat... and repeat
you'll need more of these than you think, and you'll need the most of whatever color you plan to put on the bottom. it's a great idea to vary the size of your scraps. i like a fair amount of variety in terms of pattern and color, too, but that's more of a personal preference. (afterall, maud vantours uses all solid papers; she's even done some that are mostly white, and they look AMAZING!)

prep your panel
fill the bottom edge with strips of paper that will coordinate with the colors you plan to use there; it will help you reduce how many tiny (but lumpy!) triangles you need to seamlessly cover the entire length of the panel.

start stacking the triangles
be fairly generous with your adhesive, but don't go crazy. you'll get the hang of staggering the triangles, of changing sizes, and overlapping them by different amounts as you go along, there really aren't many MUSTS here. except: DO try to keep the vertical middle lines as straight as you possibly can and DO let some of your triangles overlap each of the outer edges of the panel.

keep stacking
if you're making a rainbow or ombre effect, it's good to decide before you start which direction you'd like your color to transition; so you can keep on track as you build your layers.

and KEEP stacking
...until the entire panel is covered, with at least a few triangles hanging over each edge.

trim the excess
i use my guillotine paper cutter to get a nice straight edge, about 1/8 inch inside the panel, but if you're careful you can use scissors or a craft knife. i like to sew around the edges of the panel, just for extra security, but i can tell you that even my workhorse of a machine, equipped with upholstery level of needle and thread, needed a bit of encouragement to get through many adhesive-coated layers. (though by the second card i'd realized i needed to use the thinnest papers and the least overlapping right around the edges, which helped!)

et VOILA: rainbow goodness... times two!

questions? feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email; i'll do my best to help! 
happy (RAINBOW) crafting, darlings!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

swear if you dare??!

that's the latest challenge (#21) at the sisterhood of snarky stampers, with whom i'm excited to be guest designing* this fortnight:

ok, technically it's called, "p is for profanity" but either way, i'm pretty sure you can already see what the snarks are looking for, right? yepper, this is your official chance to go all the way with the sarcastic greeting card; an in-your-face journal page; an atc that asks the musical question, "WTF?" (with or without the initials!) or, if you're like me, you can take a more humorous approach. i made two cards, although if this fabulous unity stamp that stephanie found was available as a digi, there might've been three. meanwhile, the first card is my favorite, because, well, it's got 1960's sewing pattern ladies speaking in 2014 slang, lol! what's not to love about that?

ladies and sewing pattern info from a 1965 simplicity magazine; patterned paper: amy tangerine/american crafts and basic grey; alphabet stamps: studio g; black glossy cardstock: ranger; ink: colorbox and ranger archival; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape

the next one is jeff's favorite**. in fact, of the elebenty zillion ideas i "tested" on him, it's the only one at which he laughed out loud. although in my defense (sort of) quite a few of the others were fired at him whilst we drove down an especially traffic-laden, construction-based stretch of I-95 through philadelphia, where i seriously doubt that john cleese performing his entire repertoire of silly walks would have received more than a tense smile. but this guy got an actual chuckle, so i had to draw and color a more polished version to make into a card:

cupcakes drawn with faber castell pitt pens (S and XS) on strathmore watercolor paper and colored with tombow markers; patterned paper: dear lizzy/american crafts and basic grey; alphabet stamps: studio g; white glossy cardstock: ranger; caption typed on a scrap of avery clear label; ink: colorbox and ranger archival; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape

and now i hope you'll check out the awesome creations of the snarky sisterhood although possibly it's best not to be accompanied by any tiny little friends or great big bosses, since i'll remind you that this week, "p is for profanity" and those ladies take their work seriously! ♥

*i won SoSS challenge #19, "h is for hopeful halloween" an honor of which i'm particularly proud, because a pink halloween card was a brand new frontier for me.

**during the creative process, we had a totally serious conversation concerning the relative merits of the cupcake saying "eat me" vs "bite me"; at one point jeff suggested he should say, "go frost yourself!" (complete with a very convincing "joe pesci in goodfellas" accent) which remains the sentimental favorite around here, for obvious reasons! :)