Saturday, October 31, 2009

halloween cards (& blog candy winner!)

i don't usually "do" halloween, but when jolene surprised me with these *FABULOUS* recollections monsta stamps, i knew immediately that i had to use them to make cards for the nieces and nephew. (well, i mean, there are FOUR of them...and they are LITTLE perfect can ya get??!) these guys are hangin' out over at caardvarks today, where there's also additional holiday eye candy for your viewing pleasure!

(monstas: recollections clear stamps; text background: justrite "brayton uppercase" font set; patterned paper: bo bunny, kaiser, sassafras, basic grey, scrapbook wizard, gcd, autumn leaves; cardstock: core'dinations; black glossy cardstock: ranger; inks: colorbox & staz-on; ribbon: michaels; buttons: joann fabric; adhesives: xyron, tombow mono runner, 3m foam tape)

i based the entire set on this adorable sheet of bo-bunny paper, which i actually bought for its reverse side during the Great Purple Quest surrounding niece lindsay's birthday. i know it sounds nuts to say the whole thing's based on this when there is only one teeeeeeny circle of it used, but the color scheme, the cute-but-not-cutesy style, and the verrrrrrrry faint distressing all came directly from here. see?

to make the spooky "boo BOOOO boOOoOOOooO" text background behind the monstas i used the larger block of my justrite horizontal wood stampers set and all the B's and O's (& zeros & upside down Q's!!!) from the font set and the 2 3/8" round stamper set; then i stamped the whole thing on each color of basic grey solid paper...then lined up just underneath each block... (the JR's are easily aligned if you work pretty parallel and trim the edges) ...and stamped again to fill the space. i wanted each one to be the same...but different...and i don't have any halloween text stamps.

i made the "tombstone" by tracing a fancy colorbok chipboard frame (from darling june); the bats are hand-drawn & mounted on jewelry wire with foam tape. you can't really see it in the photo, but the b&w panels and the colored mats are attached to each other (& the card) with machine stitching. "happy halloween" is computer-generated in "westate" font & printed on avery clear labels; it's inside each card, as well. oh yeah, and everything with eyes has a googly eyes...except the bats, who have teeeeeeeeeeny purple pearls. you know, to make them more *realistic*! :)

ok so now that all the creative essplainin' stuff is over, let's get to the GOOD PART, ok?!?! by which i mean, of course,

who won the blog candy??!

the random number generator chose # 32

which means that Leah is the lucky winner!

(which is quite funny, since her nom d'blog is "LEAH THE ORANGE" & i had already turned this bit of text orange for halloween!)

please email me with your postal address, missus, so i can get your goodies in the mail ASAP!

many thanks to everyone who played & all to the darlings who linked to my giveaway! i ♥LOVED♥ reading all of your favorites and hope you had a chance to look at everyone else's answers, because there's some great stuff there!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

when the cat's away, the mouse, forced unwillingly into self-reliance, develops an increased sense of self-esteem!

by which i mean: i not only got out my grandmother's sewing machine, i learned how to wind the bobbin, (surprisingly easy!) replace the bobbin, (this took a couple of tries) re-thread the machine, (this took a number of tries...even with the booklet...and LHJ's phone tutorial...and a diagram i found online...) and--here's the FUN bit--i've been practicing sewing on paper!

it turns out, i am 100% consistent in my outlining: the slightly shaky, wonky, uneven style which characterizes my pen work is equally apparent in my sewing. i've decided it's charmingly naive, and i'm goin' with it! :)

on the other hand, my rounded corners still need serious work!

despite the fact that this 1970's kenmore does NOT love thick multi-layers of non-fabric, i can even do the cool ruffly ribbon technique now. turns out part of the secret is *NOT* to tack the ribbon with adhesive...which i'd NEVER have been able to do if i hadn't just read my lovely and amazing friend amy's blog post where she talked about hand-cranking the machine!!! (thanks, sista!)

i even started playing around with free-form stitch-doodling. i've gotten pretty good at stems and leaves, which i've used on my first official sewn card. want to see?

(kraft cardstock: hobby lobby; patterned paper: frances meyer, imagination project; brads: making memories; nested flower dies: cuttlebug/provocraft; pencils: prismacolor; ribbon, thread & tissue paper: michaels; adhesive: tombow mono runner)

so it's been a fruitful and educatin' week...BUT...i will still be verrrrrrrry pleased indeed when lovely husband jeff returns tonight!!!

ps: my BLOG CANDY GIVEAWAY closes at there's still a little time to leave me a "favorite" in the comments section. i'll randomly pick & announce a winner tomorrow morning!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

doin' the happy mail dance

because i got THIS yesterday from stef!!!

not the book...that's my art journal, obviously...the card, i mean. don't you LOVE IT?!? just those hilarious "prisoner" birds alone would've been enough for me...but then there's the divine embossed spider web...and those BATS (!!!) ...and all the inky smudgey goodness...lemme just say: if this thing was *edible* it wouldn't have even lasted long enough for me to take a photo! :)

but why is the card IN THE BOOK? well, i think i mentioned that some days this thing is for art and some days it's a journal. last night, when i came home from work to an empty house, in the rain and gloom, and found this waiting for me, it was seriously the highlight of my day. by a considerable margin. so i wanted to commemorate that by saving it in my book. i glued it in with great excitement, and proceded to use some blank space inside the card to write what a nice surprise it was, and how lucky i am to have a friend like stef...and then suddenly it occurred to me: I SHOULD'VE TAKEN A PHOTO...DUHHHHH! but then i figured, hey--everybody here already KNOWS me--they will totally "get" why the card is in the book! (note the old-skool metal clip holding the book open--classy! but seriously, it's the only way to keep the thing from folding shut.)

did i mention the card was not *alone* in the envelope?! nooooooooooo sirree bob. because the lovely stef is the type of person who, if she knows, for example that you've just acquired a cuttlebug...she will send you some embossing folders..."just because"! she's also the type of person who will know exactly WHICH embossing folders you would really really like:

behold: paisleys (which i loooooooooove), a cool frame and border (INFINITELY useful), and a gorgeous seashore collage. (how *ME* is that??!?) i cannot wait to try these puppies out!

thank you, thank you, thank you miss stephanie for the lovely goodies...but mostly...thank you for one of the best gifts i've EVER received, which is:


ps: more cuttlebug news...thanks to the many excellent and helpful suggestions i received in response to THIS POST, on tuesday i got my very first order (of MANY, i suspect) from cut at home. i used my october 40% VIP coupon to get nestabilities' labels 8. i think this weekend will be pretty much entirely devoted to serious and scientific cuttlebug experimentation. and chocolate. you know, just to honor the holiday. ;)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

52Q: 41 (passionate & inspired)

i am now jusssssssssssst about caught up on 52Q. i only have last week's and this week's to do, which i figure makes me merely my "normal" amount of behind, and thus order is restored in the laurniverse. :)

question 41: when you close your eyes and imagine yourself as passionate, giddy, inspired and joyful...what are you doing/creating in that moment?

this question was posted by another of emily falconbridge's guest hostesses, denise aka boho girl, and she had this to say about it, "Someone once asked me this question and I find that when I meditate on this thought, it always gently helps me move into the direction of doing things that I truly love doing. Sometimes in the beautiful chaos of life, we tend to forget such things."

(materials front & back: patterned paper & diecuts: k& co; clipart bird: anahata katkin; journaling card & rub-ons: making memories; inks: colorbox; other: needlepoint yarn, manual typewriter; adhesives: uhu gluestick, tombow monoadhesive runner, 3m foam tape)

(this is the first card ALL YEAR on which i have let something hang over the edge...i have grave concerns for this poor birdie's tail, but i just couldn't bear to cut it off in advance...we'll see how how long it lasts...)

of course, to answer the question, i needed to approximate the conditions described (that is, being joyfully creative) so i decided to make a free-form collage using a bunch of random "inspiring things". while i was working, i thought about the question, and tried to decide what makes a "great art day" better than an ordinary one? and what exactly makes some completed projects feel more exciting or "successful" than others? then i wrote my answer on the back.

text reads, "i think the most magical and addictive thing about making art is attempting to transform an insubstantial idea or mental image into something real. *THAT* is what i keep chasing!"

i'm not sure i've completely captured what i was trying to express, but this is by far the closest i've ever come, (having contemplated the topic off and on for the last few years) so i'm pretty pleased... for now. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

52Q: 37 (spark)

ok, you know how sometimes i get fixated on a particular theme or set of supplies and just keep usin' them over and over*?! yeah, well, at the moment it's these gorgeous birdcages! i love them. i could probably devote myself to them full-time for about a week and still come up with new stuff to make. but this time, they are even more than usually appropriate, as this particular 52Q happens to have been posed by "guest questioner" rhonna farrer! :)

question 37: what sparks my creativity?

(software: broderbund printshop; patterned paper: city streets, gretchen thomas, designer digitals; birdcage brushes & distressed edge toolkit: rhonna farrer house of three; hipster plume korners & edges #4: anna aspnes, designer digitals; spots-n-dots brushes: katie pertiet, designer digitals; fonts: dirty ego & marcelle script; for the physical version to hang on my 52Q bookring, i printed this on kodak premium glossy photopaper, glued it to the front and back of a playing card, cut out around, punched a hole, and inked the edges)

the "creative spark" is fascinating to me. because when mine's turned up on high flame...pretty much anything can inspire me. and when it's absent, almost nothing does. ali edwards did a BRILLIANT post on this topic, last spring, i think. (i've searched but cannot seem to find it; if you know the one i mean, a link would be AWESOME!) anyway, it was about the natural ebb and flow of creativity and how, just as with tides, the EBB is actually as important as the FLOW! the times when we're feeling less inspired are completely valid and valuable; they're like the recharging mechanism for our creative batteries. those are good times to organize, to read books and magazines, to take a class, to enjoy looking at other people's work...or maybe even just get caught up on all the "real life" stuff that needs we can ditch it when the muse returns!!! ;)

so tell me...what sparks *YOUR* creativity?!

*speaking of most reliable & beloved supplies...there's still time to enter my blog candy giveaway! just tell me a "FAVORITE THING" down at this post!

Monday, October 26, 2009

monday blues...i haz dem...

not as bad as

just goes to show ya:
NEVER turn your back onna garden gnome.

(and don't even get me started
on those diabolical

have a happy...and *SAFE*...monday, darlings!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

52Q: 39 (joy)

i'm still crackin' on with the 52Q's here...this was an especially easy and fun one!

question 39: what brings me joy?
(materials, front & back: patterned paper: creative imaginations, prima, vintage ledger paper; bird stamp: pink paislee; rub-ons: k&co; thickers: american crafts; arrow sticker: sassafras; inks: colorbox; pencils: prismacolor; adhesives: uhu gluestick)

top tip for outlining stickers that are already adhered: instead of a pen or marker, use a VERY sharp colored pencil, and go slowly. the tip of the pencil has more traction on the paper, and is thus less likely to slip and ruin your completed work...also, the color won't bleed into the material of your stickers!

this is one of my favorite photos from our myrtle beach vacation in june. it illustrates two of lovely husband jeff's loveliest attributes: the ability to be silly at the drop of a hat, and the willingness to do so in public if it'll make me happy. oh and there's a third one, actually: he gave permission for me to blog this photo, not once but twice...even though he's a bit embarrassed for the world at large to see him posing as a statue. now see, THAT is true love for ya!!! :)

(something else which brings me joy is givin' away BLOG CANDY! you still have until midnight next friday (10/30) to enter the draw by leaving me a "favorite things" comment on THIS POST! tell *everyone*!!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

52Q: 40 (taken for granted)

since emily falconbridge has just welcomed a lovely new baby into her family, she's been having guest artists pose 52Q questions. this one, by tara whitney, is a corker!

question 40: what am i taking for granted?

this is something i think about quite a bit anyway, and i LOVE having the chance to commemorate it in a lasting way in my set of 52Q cards. coincidentally, this question went live the day after the plumber arrived early to do some scheduled work and the water was turned off at "getting ready" time...rather than after i'd already left for work. i can tell you i was a bit annoyed about having to brush my teeth and wash my face in bottled water, and boooooooy was i glad my hair was clean!!! but even as i was griping & grumbling, it occurred to me that only people who've lived their entire lives with clean, reliable, hot and cold running water conveniently piped into several locations in their homes would whine so very comprehensively about its absence for ONE MORNING! it made me think about all the other stuff i only really notice when there's something wrong with it...and boy, that's a pretty long list! i've typed a bunch of them as the background for the front of my card:

(materials front & back: notebook paper; mme patterned paper; heidi swapp ghost letters; colorbox ink; dymo labels; manual typewriter)

text on back reads, "i like to think i am a mindful & appreciative person, but when i get a tiny cold or the water is turned off for half a day, i whine as loudly and as thoroughly as any other person whose circumstances are so fortunate they don't even notice anymore...a better question is probably:


in a completely unrelated matter, i made this the other day at work. it's the new candidate for WEIRDEST THING I'VE EVER MADE and so, as you'll have guessed, it's my favorite right now:

to answer the three questions i suspect are most prominent in your mind right now:

1. yes, it is a collage of notebook paper. i took one page from every notebook & tablet i could find at work. who knew there'd be so much variety in paper color and line width?!

2. yes, i am going to do more to it. it's actually the background for a text-based thingie i am making for my friend paul's birthday card. (but i do also love it plain, which is why i took its pic!)

3. yes, i am really*REALLY*reallllllllly weird. thank you for noticing!!! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

52Q: 38 (eating)

meanwhile, back at 52Q HQ i've made another (digi)card...only slightly behind everyone else. (i call that a WIN, people!!!) here it comes now:

question 38: what are you eating right now?

front reads, "i eat a variety of healthy, nutritious foods; high in fiber & vitamins, low in calories and fat. until 10pm when i become the..."


(software: broderbund printshop; photos: front=printshop; back=lauren; font: ck typewriter; photo paper: kodak premium high gloss)

alas, this is a 100% true life confession. i am healthy and conscientious all day long. then late at night (you know, the VERY worst time you could possibly eat junk!) i crave warm bread, sugar and butter with an intensity that cannot be denied. which is why when *I* do the grocery shopping only rye or pumpernickel is purchased for lhj's lunchtime sandwiches. because ANYTHING vaguely toastable--from whole wheat pitas (disappointingly hard & crispy) to zucchini bread (surprisingly delicious) --will magically become cinnamon toast at bedtime.

i actually have another 52Q card finished, which i'll post tomorrow. in the meantime, why not leave a comment on THIS POST and score a chance at winnin' some tasty blog candy? (cinnamon toast not included.) (sorry!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

walkin' tall

ladies and gentlemen, it's the 20th of the october, 2009, so for the very last time may i wish you a:



on this occasion we are sponsored by a company called nikki sivils, scrapbooker, purveyor of fine papers, albums, rubber stamps and other scrappy accoutrements, who are providing a lovely and generous prize to our lucky winner. the challenge is TALL CARDS! easy-peasy, right?! ok, yeah, it WAS, actually...but not until after i spent about 3 days running rings around myself logically. over-thinkin' it, thy name is lauren!

as you know, i've been digi-dabbling for a while now, but i don't think i've made a hybrid card yet. this one started as an experiement with some gorgeous rhonna farrer brushes. eventually a wider and more text-based version became a fancy label for mailing birthday presents. (many of my digi-experiments become address labels for some reason; i guess because they are always useful and yet hard to be over-critical about??) while i was pondering what would fill a vertical rectangle nicely, these lovely birdcages sprang to mind. i planned to start from scratch, but when i looked at the saved label i realized that it already had nearly every element i wanted to just needed to be re-sized and re-shaped! so that's what i did.

i printed two copies of the inner panel on glossy photo paper. one i trimmed to size. from the other i carefully cut out the birdcages. i mounted them on foam tape for extra dimension, and layered the panel onto coordinating paper and then a glossy black cardbase. i liked the look of it, just was not alllllll that exciting to me. i considered going back and re-formatting the whole thing, so as to leave room for embellishments, when it hit me: the cages are black with lots of dangly beady bits--wouldn't it be great if they were encrusted with real jet crystals??!

it took over an hour to cut and paste a prima flourish into pieces of the correct size and shape to adorn all three cages, but it was worth every second! this card has soooo much sparkle and shine and dimension it's almost a bit sinful, really. but in a gooooooooood way.

(software: broderbund printshop; birdcage brushes and inked edge tool kit: rhonna farrer, house of 3; spots and dots brushes: katie pertiet, designer digitals; indian summer nights background paper (re-colored): marcie reckinger, funky playground; glossy photo paper: kodak premium; patterned paper: bo bunny; glossy black cardstock: ranger; black crystals: prima; lines of bling: heidi swapp; rhinestone flourish: oriental trading co; ink: colorbox; adhesives: tombow mono runner & 3m foam tape)

here's a close-up from the side so you can see the beads a bit better. it's still not as cool as the thing looks in real life, but short of inviting you all to new jersey for a personal glimpse of said masterpiece* i guess this will have to do!

you have until midnight, 10-31, to make a *brand new* tall card and submit a direct link to your creation via mr. linky. as per usual, all the rules and regs are on the varks' blog, as are pics of the prize, and an even more than usually amazing array of fabulous crew caards! why not stop by and drool awhile??!

but first: scroll down to THIS POST and enter the draw for my blog candy!

*though OF COURSE you'd be most welcome! just let me know so i can stock up on diet soda and beef jerky! :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

favorite things blog candy

i haven't done blog candy in a while, but commemorating my last caardvarks challenge seems like the perfect occasion!

this time it's not so much "latest and greatest" as "tried and true". i've gathered some of my very favorite supplies together, these are the same things i buy and use over and over! there's a set of my all time favorite autumn leaves clear stamps (rhonna farrer's divine flourishes), heidi swapp & prima florals, american crafts mini-mark rub-ons, making memories alphabet rubs, ki & lil davis & heidi chipboard, mambi bling icons, ghost alphas, dimensional stickers, buttons, a small accordian album, ribbon slides, a cuttlebug die...and...well, there's a load of fun stuff here, ok?! i've also done a bit of paring down in m'stash, so i've thrown a 1-quart baggie full of flowers from every conceivable maker, one of miscellaneous ribbon, one of nekkid chipboard, and a k&co tin full of assorted decorated chipboard bits that is stuffed as full as i could get it and still lock closed!

it looks like this and completely fills a medium-sized priority mail box:

since the best day of the entire year to give away candy obviously
i'll close the comments at midnight on the 30th
and announce a randomly picked winner the next morning.

i'll ship worldwide and you can enter as many times as you'd like, but to be eligible, you must leave a comment telling me one of YOUR favorite things: it can be an addictive papercrafting supply or technique, it can be the proudest project you've ever made (leave a link so we can all come see it!), it can be your favorite book or movie, it can be a "must" read blog or website (again, an addy would be excellent!), it can be an event or holiday or other "real life" adventure...

...just tell me a favorite of some kind!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

fond farewell and favorite things

if you've been over to caardvarks today, you've already heard the big news: the challenge that begins on tuesday, 10-20, will be my last as a caard crew member. it's a bittersweet moment for me. it's been nearly 2 1/2 years, and wow--what a fabulous experience! i've met people from all over the world, made dear friends, been inspired and challenged and astonished by the sheer amount of talent out there! not to mention learning countless things about papercrafting and computering and...well, it's been one heck of a ride and i'll treasure the memory forever.

but one of the things that makes caardvarks truly GREAT is the fact that they never rest on their laurels: there are always new challenges to be set, new ideas to explore, and fresh faces to be discovered! wait'll you meet the new team on 11-1: TRUST ME, you'll be blown away!!! as for myself, i am excited at the prospect of free time, creating without a deadline, and just generally seeing what comes next!

flicking through my personal archives this morning to choose a few faves, an informal count reveals i've made 169 caards and half a dozen projects for a total of 87 challenges and special events. i've done regular challenges, micro-challenges, the massively awesome 10-day, 10-k (two weeks after i made the team!), cardmaps' holiday special, lovefest, sketchfest, 2 blog hops (in the space of a month!), and over a dozen product-sponsored galleries. sheesh. no wonder i'm a bit tired, eh?! and it all happened, like most of the best things in my life, pretty much by accident.

i stumbled upon caardvarks one afternoon in june, 2007. at that time, i'd never done a challenge; i didn't even have a blog. i was excited to find 'varks because the only challenge blogs i'd seen (like the effer dares and "how much is too much") were for scrapbookers, not card-makers. i wanted to join in, but i didn't--and don't--really scrap, as such. as it happened, the day i found caardvarks was the day before the deadline of their first ever design team call. as i read the qualifications and responsibilities i got more and more excited. "i think i could DO THAT!" i said to lovely husband jeff, "i think i would LOVE THAT!" of course i knew i'd never be picked--i mean, i hadn't even participated on the site yet--but it just seemed waaaaaay too cool not to try. in a fit of the most astonishing chutzpah, i wrote in and sent links to my lifetime moments gallery. several days later i went back to see who'd been chosen and what the new challenge was. i was *literally* speechless staring at the screen and seeing my name.

i owe a GIANT thank you to caardvarks' owner and head designer jenyfur pohl. not only did she devise this whole magnificent idea in the first place, she works constantly and tirelessly devising challenges, securing prizes, finding sponsorship, recruiting fabulous talent, spreading the word and sharing the love! choosing me for the team was a magnificent and tremendously generous leap of faith on her part, and i cannot thank her enough!

then there is ms. nathalia castellon. believe me when i say to you that it's impossible to overestimate the vital role of this lovely lady. in addition to all the fabulous techno-wizardry she does to keep the site going, on any given day she also supplies incalcuable amounts of help, advice, inspiration, organization, problem-solving, question-answering, mojo-kickstarting, pep-talking and den-mothering to both crew-members and readers. it's not for the first or last time that i send a hearty, "thanks, n!" her way.

finally to the rest of my fellow crew-members past, present and future...and each and every one of the fabulous caardvark readers, i am enormously in your debt for the boatloads of inspiration, encouragement, and friendship you have extended to me on a daily basis. it is TRULY the very best part of this whole wonderful experience and a genuine treasure to me! i won't say goodbye...and you won't have a chance to miss me...'cause i'm not GOING anywhere!!! i'll still be here makin' stuff and postin' it and generally rambling and being silly; and i'll still be around to see what YOU are doing (hopefully a bit more OFTEN, even!); in the meantime i will just say from the bottom of my heart,


ps: tune in tomorrow...if ya like...CANDY...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

i've picked up ANOTHER bug!

...but THIS ONE...i kinda like! ;)

first lemme just say a ♥MASSIVE♥ thank you to june and tracy. two years ago, when i'd just started blogging, i solicited advice about diecutting machines: who had 'em, how much did they use them, how content were they with compatiblity of dies, what variety of material could they cut, and about a zillion other questions. june had just "met" me and to tracy i was just a friend of june's, but those two answered all of them...and sent links and emails...and did not let slip so much as ONE SOUND of disappointment or disparagement when i decided that i didn't need a diecutter right then. for this and so much else i am appreciative and grateful to these lovely and talented ladies!!!

flash forward to the present: i've FINALLY taken the leap!

a combination of seriously good michaels' coupons and half-price clearance alphabets finally lured me a couple of weeks ago. i'm embarrassed to say that by virtue of no time, last week's cold from hell, and a teeny bit of uncharacteristic techno-fear, i only got the c-bug out and played with it (until waAaaAaaaAAy too late) last night, and so far i've confined myself to using a nested flower die and seeing how many different things i can use it on and the relative coolness of each.

here's an example of how THAT'S going:

(successful materials so far...vaguely l to r from back: chipboard covered in paper, denim (!!!), acetate, old book pages, funky fake-cork-covered wallpaper swatch, bits of very thin old leatherette-type-stuff, magazine pages & tissue paper (many many layers of each, cut simultaneously) and corrugated cardboard)

clearly i am one of the last to the cuttlebug party, so once again i will throw myself on the good graces of you veterans out there for any help, advice, tricks, tips or warnings you'd like to share. and of course...if you've got any product or accessory MUST HAVES that i...ummmmmm...must have... make with the recommendations, darlings!

Friday, October 16, 2009

the very first day i ever cut up a book

by lauren
avid bibliophile
aged 45 1/4

it was a few years ago, after our local library's annual blow-out used book sale which takes place in *3* multi-roomed buildings of the local national guard armory. (so it's BIIIIIIIIIG, ok? we're talkin' thousands & thousands of books!) (heaven!) i happened to be there at the very end of the last day of the sale.

which is how i saw the boy scouts. about a dozen of 'em, with stout cardboard boxes and handtrucks, swarming the periphery of the ancillary room in which i browsed. vaguely pondering their presence, i either asked or overheard that they were waiting for the sale to end, since their troop had been promised the unsold merchandise.

"how nice," i thought to myself, "these fine lads are going to take the leftover books to hospitals and shelters and nursing homes, and bring the joy of reading to the lonely and less fortunate amongst us!"


they were taking them to a paper pulping facility in north jersey. the covers and bindings would be discarded, and the minced, liquified, bleached & sterilized mass once called *pages* would be sold to companies who use recycled paper in their products. the scouts were getting something like $5 for every 100 lbs of pulp, which they'd earmarked for camping trips and other pricey endeavors.

now, up to this point, i had always resisted the books i craved for *immoral* purposes--by which i mean, the ones i didn't want to read, i just wanted to make cards or...well something ...from their pretty text-filled pages and lovely vintage illustrations. i wouldn't even let myself contemplate fully what i *would* make because that would be DESTROYING BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!! i mean, ya might as well be a crazy nazi illiterate with an offensive banner and a well-stoked bonfire, right??!?!?!

until i heard about the pulping.


in a flash it occurred to me that the volumes surrounding me were, in the next few days, going to cease to exist, no matter what i did or didn't do. they'd either become cut-price toilet paper & grocery sacks, OR...just maybe...i would make a few of them into...... well...... art? and somehow that made all the difference to me. i bought a couple of books. i tried to choose ones that had bits i liked, but were kind of messy and falling apart anyway. ones missing covers, or which had pages coming out, or with lots of notes in them. (you know, ones that already looked less like books, and more like a collection of pretty paper!) i took them home. i framed some illustrations. i made a small collage, and then a bigger one, and then a lot more. and yeah, technically, i AM "cuttin' up books"...but i genuinely feel like i've saved some really lovely words and images from true destruction.

speakin' of words and images, here's a page from the other night i cannot resist showing you, but DO NOT tell lhj, ok?! 'cause things like this make him cringe and then BLUSH!!! :)

(miscellaneous postie notes; heidi swapp ghost letters & heart; scrap of making memories glitter paper; provocraft roller stamp; colorbox & staz-on ink; sharpie pen; staples; tombow mono roller)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the long-awaited NEW art journal!!!

long-awaited by me, i mean! i do not think the world at large has been bereft in the absence of my having a daily visual journal--but i have really missed this habit and i'm excited to be getting back in the swing of it!

in the past, i've either used existing blank books (usually adding in my own pages, too) or made my own out of chipboard and index stock hung from a giant book ring. this time i've done something different, it's kind of a cross between art journaling and altered book. i found this 1947 "girls' mystery" at a library book sale for 50 cents. i fully admit buying it for the title and cover! while contemplating the start of this project, it suddenly came to me that i'd really enjoy using it every day and then getting to keep it--in an utterly different form--when it's full. i confess i am very slightly worried about the spine standing up to 6 months or so hard labor...but as my friend josh likes to say, "we'll burn that bridge when we come to it."

since i'm not sure i want to alter the fabulous existing art on the front, i figured i'd make a nice title page instead of a fancy cover for my book. mick-n-keef, the custom monsta stamps my lovely friend gina, of tyggereye art* carved for me, seemed like the perfect hosts for this sort of least that's what THEY SAID...and they're pretty convincing!

(mustard moon, basic grey, ki & creative imaginations patterned paper; staz-on & colorbox inks; zig pen; text typed on avery clear labels)

text reads,
M: welcome to my book!
K: duuuuuuuude! *OUR* book!!
M: whatever.

of course, after the title page, the most important preparatory page of ANY volume is the fruit sticker page. so obviously that was the next thing i made:'s a work in progress...

my plan for this book is partly to save memories or ephemera i love from day-to-day life, partly as a sort of "technique lab" to try out and experiement with new supplies and effects, and partly to have a place to use some of the weird little ideas that just really aren't going to work in more traditional projects.

naturally i love it when i make a page that's gorgeous and clever and perfect, but secretly...shhhhhh!...i kind of love the "ugly" pages even more. ugly pages tell me that i'm being REALLY free and having fun and trying new stuff whether or not i know if they're gonna "work". in a kinda sorta way ugly pages me... THE POINT of art journalling! in this spirit, i thought for once i'd share a couple of mine with you.

ugly flower page:

(vintage flowers and ribbon; colorbox inks; copic outliners; making memories eyelets; ranger stickles)

ok, this reallllllllllllly did not come out smellin' like a rose, did it? ...BUT...i learned A LOT of stuff this day! i learned that my pale chalk green ink is far too pale to make a visible/appealing background over text (which it emphatically DOESN'T obscure...good to know...) and under flowers. i learned that my pretty vintage silver flowers SEEM quite textural, but don't really have enough height to be used to "stamp" a flower image; however, if you outline and embellish them afterwards with more ink and black stickles they do look pretty cool...though optimally this wouldn't be done over text or failed stencilling experiments. and finally i learned that my idea to ruffle vintage silver ribbon and add silver flowers secured with eyelets, actually *IS* a good one...but again, a bit too much when layered on the same page as the other ideas.

ugly text page:

(heidi swapp alphabet stamps; provocraft roller stamp; vinyl letter sheet from staples; dymo labels; colorbox & psx inks; zig pen)

again, i had A LOT of ideas that i tried out all at the same time. almost all of them sort of work, i think...they just don't really work TOGETHER. but at some point in the future i will use the background of a sheet of vinyl letter stickers as a stencil again. and i love the look of the heidi swapp funky alphas stamped multiple times and then outlined a bit wonkily in pen. also, i think i've proved that if you use a big bold font and dark ink over book text, you can read it just fine. good to know.

on the other hand, some pages do come out rather well. and that doesn't actively UPSET me! :)

new york collage page:

(mrs. grossman & sanrio stickers; magazine bits; uhu gluestick)

one of my immediate FAVORITE parts of using a pre-printed book is the opportunity to incorporate the existing text. chapter one, which is entitled "new york" begins, "new york glittered in the sun on this fine sunday. what a city!" i couldn't agree more or improve upon that statement in any way. so i just added some stickers and bits of magazine and called it a day!

collage made entirely from the ziplock bag of
mysteriously saved objects:
(miscellaneous ephemera; red giftwrap; bam pop logo from tear strip; dymo labels; ek success butterfly & circle punches; tombow mono runner & uhu gluestick)

when i say i am a "paperholic" it's true that like many crafty types, i LOVE patterned paper and art paper and giftwrap. but i also love claim check tickets and old packaging and clever advertising that comes in the mail and fortunes from cookies and mysterious labels and... i am a paperholic, ok?! seriously. but would i be willing to create an entire book-length, six-month project purely in order to justify saving all of these things and glueing them down and calling them "collage ephemera"?? of course not.** it IS a nice side-benefit, though, dontcha think??!

*she has a fabulous blog AND a lovely shop! and YES--she takes custom stamp orders!

**yeah. totally.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

gina was right--it IS a giftbag!

the princess digi-page i made for niece lindsay last week, that is. after debating for a day or so i finally realized that it did just need to be *slightly* smaller, so that it'd fit on the front of the glossy purple generic giftbag i bought at michaels; then i could add gems to the frame and cut duplicates of some of the more prominent icons... (the princess, slipper, clouds, frog, etc) they could be popped up on foam tape for more dimension and interest. and of course stickles are always a good idea on these occasions, aren't they?! when the embellishing was complete, i mounted the entire panel to the bag using blu-tack so that it could be removed and hung on the birthday princess' bedroom wall if desired; then i decorated the bag with sparkly ribbon, pretty flowers, and some wired pom poms until it was worthy of being filled with princessy presents. mission accomplished.

(dingbat font: db once upon a time from scrap-n-fonts; formatted in broderbund printshop, colored in adobe photoshop; giftbag, ribbon, pom pom trim, silk flowers & tissue paper: michaels; cardstock: staples; other: tiny black beads, stickles, foam tape, blu-tack, hot glue)

with the giftbag sorted, that meant i was free to use the castle dingbat i had already supersized and paper-pieced as the centerpiece of a card. so i did:

(dingbat font: db once upon a time from scrap-n-fonts; formatted & printed in broderbund printshop then used as a template; patterned paper: sei, bo bunny, crate, gcd, prima, scrapbook wizard, provocraft; purple pearls: recollections; decorative pins: making memories; pen: zig; inks: colorbox; adhesives: xyron, tombow mono runner, uhu gluestick, 3m foam tape)

by now you'll have concluded that the choice of purple tones for the princess and her accoutrements was not an accident. miss lindsay informed me several months ago that her favorite color is now purple, rather than pink. she still likes pink...but it's not her favorite. this was a bit of a challenge, i must admit, as purple isn't *my* favorite color. nor, seemingly, is it the favorite color of the world's patterned paper designers. but i muddled through somehow, and i am fairly pleased with the results. i just hope the birthday girl approves!!! :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

that jolene is just TOO MUCH!

jolene johnston, i mean. my lovely friend and fellow caardvark. she's just one of those people who always knows when you need a little lift, a funny joke, or an encouraging comment. or, for example, if she's in a store and she sees something that's just totally "YOU"...the next thing you know, the postman is at your door bringing it to you! like this:

and of course, she'd never THINK of sending a gift without one of her fabulous, 'specially-for-you, handmade cards:

in this case, since she knows how much i ♥LOVE♥ monstas, she made this for me. the inside says EXACTLY the sort of thing that if you were having a record-breakingly crappy day, and you read it, it'd cheer you up immediately. but she doesn't stop there. oh no. because if a card made with cool monsta stamps would make you smile...clearly you would also need to OWN the monsta stamps in question, right?!

yeah. she got me my own set! :) (prepare yourself, t'internet, for A LOT of hand-stamped monsta cards originating from this vicinity...and don't say you weren't warned, ok?!) and now, clearly it's time for me to break these babies out of their plastic package captivity and let them wreak some havoc on my ink pads. but first let me just say:

thank you thank you
thank you, jolene!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

speakin' of cats...

those of you who remember the dear old beloved comic strip BLOOM COUNTY will recognize bill the cat. in our home, bill is the living representation of being "properly sick" which i mean having given up the struggle to fight a cold or other ailment and resigned oneself to laying about waiting for either death or wellness to triumph.

in this case it's an achey fevery cold i got from a co-worker. happily, it's the first one in AGES that has actually knocked me on my butt. hopefully, it'll be short. in the meantime, i'm goin' back to bed.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

yet again, i cannot think of a snappy title!

that's twice in two weeks. next time i go to bj's i'm gonna spring for the giant FAMILY SIZED box of blogpost titles, so i don't keep running out--it's embarrassing! :)

fortunately i have a rather funny cheezburger saved up from a couple of weeks ago, which will hopefully atone for my shortcomings!

hope you are having a wonderful week!

if you're having kind of a crummy week...
i hope *TODAY* will be the day it suddenly gets
A LOT better!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

baby, take a bow!

don't you love the name of this CAARDVARKS challenge? it's almost as good as the idea of devoting the next couple of weeks to making be-ribboned cards, actually...and how cool is that?!

today's card is rather a departure for's pink and girlie and sparkly and flowery...quite a stretch, eh?!!!? ;) but when i saw this gorgeous may arts sheer wired ribbon, studded with pretty fabric butterflies and tiny white pearls, of course i COULD NOT resist having it, any more than i could stop myself from designing a whole card around it!

(butterfly wired ribbon: may arts; patterned paper & stickers: dena/creative imaginations; cardstock: core'dinations; sparkly chipboard letters: making memories; letter stickers: basic grey; adhesives: tombow mono runner, 3m foam tape, low-temp hot glue gun)

it *IS* slightly unusual for me to use all papers from the same collection, but i love this creative imaginations pack, and it's got such a nice variety of scale and pattern that i didn't really need to go looking for anything else. a combination of stickers and chipboard for my sentiment and i was all set!

here's a closer picture of one of the butterflies. i wanted to make it look like they were perching on the card, so i twisted the ribbon up quite tightly underneath them, and broke out my trusty hot glue gun to tack them in place.

be sure to check out the VARKS blog for details of how to link up your gorgeous brand-new ribbon card for a shot at some fabulous may arts goodies of your very own! (trust me, you WANT 'EM!!!) oh yeah, and don't forget to stop by our flickr gallery to see the fabulous design team projects!