Thursday, December 31, 2015

happy (almost!) new year

just popping in with one last post for the year, to wish everyone peace, joy, love, and LOTS of extra crafting time in 2016! ♥♥♥ i also realized i still had a few makes from 2015 that i hadn't shown off on m'blog yet... tho they have been on my instagram, so sorry if you're getting a "re-run" lol.

these are both colorburst paintings* on fairly large bits of watercolor paper (approx 10" square). for each of them i did a sort of light pencil sketch, then filled in with color, then did the outlining with black upholstery thread and the highest stitch-per-inch count on my sewing machine.

i realize that constitutes A LOT of sewing; in fact the snowflake one used an entire freshly wound bobbin! but to me this sort of repetitive craft activity is really soothing; it's creative enough to be engaging but there aren't a lot of *decisions* involved, kwim? so it's almost hypnotic, in a way; and the week before xmas, time to sit and let my mind float was thin on the ground, so i was especially thankful for it! if you're wondering, "hey lauren, what does one DO with two 10x10" holiday-themed watercolor paintings, anyway??!" my answer is this:

...make custom gift bags! obviously, lol. :) i always attach my giftbag panels with 4 or 5 small squares of foam tape, whether they are sparkly kid-based ones that feature cupcakes and the child's name spelled out in giant letters, or grown up ones like these. this means that the recipient can easily save the art without having to keep the bag for all eternity. or they can leave it intact and re-use the bag. in this case, the bags went to my mom and aunt and they held the pinecone houses and vintage paper trees from the other day. so now you know.


*one of my favorite ways to use color burst pigment powders is to pre-mix them in a deep-welled palette as fairly intense shades, then use them to paint and blend exactly like regular watercolors. they are quite seriously luscious... and a bit addictive, actually! ♥

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"my precious" (week 2)

remember, we're in the midst of a pretty fab two-week challenge at SOS; for "my precious" we're searching our stashes for something very special we've been hanging on to... maybe even, dare we say, hoarding??! we invite you to find something of that nature in your own collection, but then to actually *USE* said sacred papercraftyness in a project of your choice. this week, my "precious" item is item is once removed, so to speak. for christmas, i made a weekly planner for my mom, using trimmed down pages from the beautiful marjolein bastin calendars she had collected and saved over the years. over the summer, she did a big clear-out and decided it was "silly" to keep old calendars; so she gave them to me to use in collages or other artwork. which i did, though possibly not in the way she imagined, lol! :)

when my mom first gave me these, i knew immediately that i wanted to make them into something for her. i figured it ought to be USEFUL, to take away the "silliness" factor. i thought about a garden journal or a scrapbook, or notecards or... well, i thought about a lot of different ideas, but settled pretty quickly on a weekly planner. 

the thing about these is that you need quite a bit of art. i mean, there are 52 weeks in a year, obviously. but if the year doesn't happen to start or end on a sunday, that means you have 54 calendar pages, each of which, ideally, would face some "content". not to mention covers, endpapers, any filler bits you want to include. sometimes this is a big stumbling block, but in this case it was perfect because it meant i could use LOTS of the old calendar pages. 

i use an ancient copy of broderbund's printshop when i make planners because it has the perfect template. it means i'm kind of locked in to their size and shape... 6.5x8.25" pages... but i'm ok with that, and since most of the old calendar art was 12x12" it meant that i could fill the pages with borderless art, which is my favorite way to go.

i printed out the entire year's worth of pages on inexpensive, lightweight patterned papers trimmed to 8.5x11", my printer's favorite size. afterwards, i trimmed those down to about 7x8" and ran them through my xyron machine to coat the backs of them evenly with dry adhesive. then i stuck them to the back of my chosen art pages. only THEN did i trim the "composite" pages... (which have art on one side and a current 2016 week on the other) the finished page size. this last bit is important, because if you leave a xyroned page exactly the same size as when it went through the machine, there is always a tiny little bit of sticky adhesive film on the edge. always. yuck. so i like to run them through just slightly big, and adjust at the end.

after all the pages were assembled, i used my bind-it-all to punch the holes and add the spiral binding. i'm fortunate enough to have a husband who's willing to assist in these projects, which is awesome because i honestly don't know how a person with less than three hands could manage all the steps. 

i hope you'll hop over to SOS to see the design team's gorgeous work, and start planning your own bid for papercrafting world domination! ♥♥♥

Monday, December 28, 2015

a wonderful christmas, followed by terrible news

good morning, everyone, i hope you've had a lovely holiday, if you celebrate xmas; or, alternately, just a particularly nice weekend! apologies for the radio silence over here, the run-up to the big day became incredibly busy with the finishing of some last minute gifts and projects, including a forest of fun vintage paper trees i made for my mother and aunt, of which i'm showing a few pics in this post. the pretty pinecone and glitter houses displayed with them were a serendipitous *steal* i lucked into (on sale less than half-price!) at michaels before the holiday, but after the trees were in the works... score! 

we had a fantastic if super-busy holiday with my family, followed by loads of cooking and travelling to visit with jeff's family. in between came the "terrible news" part, which... if you read crafty blogs you may already know, but if not, i'm sorry to be the one to tell you: our lovely blogging friend and SOS mastermind, leslie hanna, aka the crooked stamper, died suddenly on friday.

needless to say, all of her online friends-- and she had LOTS-- are reeling a bit from both the shock of such unexpected news and the sadness of the loss. i'm not even going to attempt any kind of eulogy here; i don't think i could do it at the best of times, and frankly i'm still very much in the processing phase. besides, if you knew leslie, you already know everything i'd say: that she was smart, talented, creative, incredibly productive, and funny as hell. she was also exceedingly generous, with her time, with her words, with encouragement for fellow crafters, and especially to any one new in the papercrafting or blogging spheres. she left fabulous comments, she'd drop everything to answer a question, or find you a link, or explain how to do this or that. and always in a way that made you feel that it wasn't a stupid question, that she had been there, too. she was, in fact, incredibly kind... but in such a matter-of-fact way that you almost didn't notice it except in retrospect. which is the essence of graciousness, really, isn't it? though if you said any of that to her, i suspect you'd get an *eyeroll* of epic proportions, lol. 

i suppose it might seem weird to grieve for a person one has never "met" in real life, but i think that my fellow craft bloggers will GET IT. i marvel constantly at the astonishing good luck of having made so many cool crafty friends online... too many to list, really, like leslie, and stephanie, and june, and amy, and all my lovely SOS sisters, and well, all of YOU reading this. the serendipity and good fortune of it never fails to blow my mind. i didn't really have any papercrafty friends irl when i started blogging, so it just felt AMAZING to me to suddenly have contact with people who spent a lot of time thinking about just the right adhesive; or taking photos of store window displays b/c the design *might* look cool on a card, or cutting out an advert from a magazine because the font was pretty. up until then i thought i might actually be the ONLY person in the world who did those things. then, in the crafty blogosphere i found my tribe, lol, and i'm grateful every day! ♥

i'll miss hanging out with leslie at SOS. i'll miss her you-better-not-be-drinking-coffee-unless-you-wanna-wear-it blog posts. i'll miss seeing pictures of bobra, the world's most handsome cat (just ask him!) in her instagram feed. i'll miss the little flurries of short-n-silly emails we'd exchange when we were both online at the same time. in the way of human nature, i expected, without really even thinking about it, that i'd have a few more years of all of that. i suppose we all take the good things --and the good people-- in our lives for granted, on some level. but it's probably not a bad idea to really *SEE* them once in awhile, and express our gratitude to each other and to the universe, whether it be inside our heads, or perhaps in a really long, somewhat meandering blog post, lol! :) i for one, am one of the luckiest beings alive, and being friends with leslie hanna for the last few years was both a pleasure and a privilege i will not soon forget. if there's a crafty afterlife, i figure she's already up there organizing the supplies and thinking up fun challenges for the other inhabitants. meanwhile, i think i'll go cry for a bit, and then make a card... both of which i hope are a fitting tribute.

ciao for the moment, darlings, 
and lots of love to you all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 precious...

there's a super-cool challenge that starts at shopping our stash today; so cool, in fact, that we're going to make it last *TWO WEEKS*! (well that and apparently there's some sort of little holiday on friday which we thought might be distracting or something...?) anyhow, it's called "my precious" and we'd like to see projects on which you've used some special, amazing, totally hoarded item that you never actually planned to use, lol. because we all have some of those, am i right?

my precious: a scrap of sparkly asian peony glitter giftwrap that is no longer being sold by papaya (WAAAAAAHHHHH!); patterned paper: basic grey; flower petals plucked from one of my holiday garlands because they were exactly the right shade of pink; pearl brad: american crafts; ink: colorbox; adhesives: elmers brand gluedot runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

one of mine (because YES, i have lots!) is this gorgeous scrap of papaya art glitter giftwrap, which they are no longer selling. papaya seems to be no longer selling any giftwrap, as a matter of fact, which is really sad, because it was my favorite! frankly, i *always* saved even the tiny scraps because it's beautiful, it's glittery, and yeah, it was fairly expensive, as well. but now i really am sort of hoarding it, since i know i won't be getting any more. ah well. the only constant in life is change, so we have to go with the flow.

i used the current sketch saturday sketch (#392) because it's so lovely:

oh and actually there is ONE more constant: the SOS gals will *always* have awesome projects to inspire you... why not check those out right now, darlings! ♥

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

let it snow! (but only on in a papercrafting context!)

that's our challenge at shopping our stash this week, "let it snow", no doubt you'll have sussed that we want to see projects with snowmen, snowflakes, snowy landscapes... or, well, any other way you can think of to include snow. i went with snowflakes, in lots of different colors. such as red, white and teal:

various shades of blue:

even some green ones:

this is my "kid card" for the year, hence the mass-production. the idea came from one of the amazing make-n-takes miss elisabeth featured at the paper anthology anniversary party a few weeks ago, and i knew as soon as i saw it that it was fancy enough to impress some of my favorite xmas card recipients (aka the nieces and nephews!) but easy enough to make eight of. which i did:

this card is a GREAT way to use up scraps, which is what i did; but i'll list as many patterned papers as i know: echo park, pebbles, my mind's eye, doodlebug, creative imaginations, american crafts, hambly, ki memories, dcwv, we r memory keepers, making memories, love elsie... ok that's about it... most of these are out of print anyway, so even if i knew who made 'em you couldn't buy them; the main thing is, you can use pretty literally ANY combination you like together. these A2 cards need a 2" square, a 2.5", a 3" and a 3.5" ...but again you can scale up or down, add layers or subtract, this is super-flexible! glitter paper scraps are all american crafts POW (my new fave!) it's textural and glittery and SUPER-shiny, but diecuts perfectly, even with the thinnest dies; cardbases are plain white index stock from staples; elmers gluetape runner and 3m foam tape for adhesives. and that's IT... easy peasy! ♥ 

obviously you don't need to make more than one project. but if you need a bunch of cards, i highly recommend this fun origami-based design, which you can learn in about 15 seconds from one of the many instructional videos out there. meanwhile, there's lots more inspiration from my lovely teamies at SOS; treat yourself to an eyeful of that, won't you, darings?!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

big bumper blog of december daily doings

more xmassy ATCs anyone? ok, be a sport and say, "YES" because if you don't, the rest of this post falls a bit flat. thanks! here ya go:

a day that i had lunch with my friend josh, during which the primary topic of conversation was the upcoming doctor who christmas show. obviously. because that's how we roll! :0

a doodle/stencil/lettering creation that i made in honor of our current "sisters with heart in art" prompt which is "holiday symbolism".

i spent wednesday afternoon at paper anthology in kenvil, nj, teaching a super-fun class with a bunch of especially lovely ladies! we made three holiday cards using various techniques with colorburst pigment powders. the big snowburst is an extra panel from one of them, which featured emboss-resist and some suuuuuuuuuuuuper loose stamping. it's folded into a pocket that holds the blue panel which is a combination of a few shades of blue, diluted and mixed with a (homemade) colorburst mist. 

on thursday, we went to the best memorial service i've ever attended. which sounds SOOOOOOOOOOO WRONG, doesn't it? but the honoree was 97, lived the most wonderful and adventurous life you can imagine, and was only poorly for about the last two months of that. you know how it's fashionable to say that a service is the celebration of person's life? well, this one really was exactly that
bon voyage, betty, you will be remembered and missed!

earlier this week we met up with our friends the carsons for dinner and to check out the annual gingerbread contest at peddlers' village in lahaska, pa. as always, the creations were ♥AMAZING♥ and i was inspired to try to re-create one of my faves as a tiny atc-sized painting. i kind of like the results, but WOW... working this small is hard, people!!! 
miniaturist painters of the world, i salute you!!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

UFO sighting... shopping our stash! not cuddly aliens from far away planets, but "UnFinished Objects"; you know the kind we mean, everyone has one or two half-colored images, things that got fussy-cut but never used, origami trees that were surplus to requirements. well, this week we want you to retrieve one of them, *finish* it up... and use it on a card or project! sound like fun? here's mine:

i painted several ornaments and other xmassy things over the summer, and i used some of them, but for some reason these two ornaments were still on their original watercolor paper, not outlined, not cut out and not used; just sitting in one of my embellishment envelopes. i'm not sure how or why it happened, but i definitely felt that they needed to go on a card right now! so here they are:

watercolor ornaments painted with artists loft watercolors on strathmore paper outlined in faber castell pitt pen; patterned paper: hambly; glossy white cardstock: paper accents; silver glitter paper: american crafts; gems and silver sticky pearls: recollections; seam binding and lace from my stash; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

i used the very awesome crooked stamper sketch challenge #11 which looks like this, except i rotated it 90 degrees clockwise:

need more inspiration? well the SOS team have been rounding up their own UFO's all week. why not stop by and enjoy them right now?! ♥

Monday, December 7, 2015

sanity is *probably* pretty dull... least i imagine it would be; i'd have no way of knowing, obviously! ;) but at the moment, december daily is ♥FUN♥ so i'm just gonna keep on keepin' on until it isn't. maybe it'll be 25 days, maybe just the next week, who can say? meanwhile:

a day on which we did nothing xmassy, but my friend kim came for a rare and treasured overnight visit, during which we talked until we were hoarse, watched the magnificently adorable "shaun the sheep" movie, and ate a truly embarrassing amount of indian food. the perfect saturday, basically! ♥♥♥

so my BIL bought a plain, undecorated, pre-lit wreath in the after-xmas sales last year. a plain, undecorated, FIVE FOOT wreath. $55 worth of michaels-had-xmas-decor-70%off-last-weekend stems and garlands later, it looked like this. (the wreath model is my sister amie, who is about 5'2"; the wreath is kind of angled b/c in addition to being BIG it's quite heavy; luckily i'm decor, not logistics; my BIL and bro were in charge of hanging it in the window of their vaulted-ceilinged foyer. coincidentally i chose to not use anything *breakable* on this particular wreath. reason...)

sunday's weather was absolutely ♥GLORIOUS♥ here in central nj, so we headed over to jeff's godfather's christmas tree farm, which is always a fun day out! (btw, i love how the sunshine seems to be emanating from the punched hole for the book ring. totally serendipitous but it makes me grin every time i see it!) 

ps: yes, i know the days are out of order, because i wanted shaun to be at the top. i mean... i love my sister... 
but he's SHAUN THE SHEEP!!! :) :) :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

may have actually lost my mind

i decided with regret --but very sensibly-- in the middle of november that i was not going to do "december daily" this year because of time constraints. so what did i do tuesday night??! made an ATC-sized december daily minibook. obviously. oh well, sleep is over-rated, right?

 the cover
vintage sheet music, glittery colorburst mini-ornament, thickers, a doily... your basic laureny tool kit right there! :)

about our jacquie lawson advent calendar, something my entire multi-generational family has enjoyed for the last 3 or 4 years; the tiny pic is an image from this year's version, the background is a vintage illustration.

we made our annual pilgrimage to toys-r-us in honor of toys for tots. jeff and i have done this for a number of years and we always love it! again a vintage paper base with a current photo on top.
(tomorrow, 12/6, is the deadline for donating new unwrapped toys, which can be left at any toys-r-us location nationwide, plus hundreds of other local businesses; you can also give cash online via TRU or the toys for tots website until 12/24.)

kind of a funky day. my mom's very close and longtime friend betty died a couple of weeks ago --at the age of 97!!!-- (she was nearly a whole generation older than my mother) and my mom is in charge of packing up her apartment, taking care of her bequests, etc, so on thursday we tackled the christmas decor, some books, and a few other bits and bobs; not what you'd call a "happy" occasion, except that betty's life was so full of wonderful travels and adventures that we can't help but marvel... and hope that we will leave as many friends with fond memories! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

it's *DECEMBER* you guys!!!

...and since we ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ are committed to "taking december back", that means we're wrapping up our 2015 season and preparing to write out, address and mail the *48* unique and wonderful cards we made this year! i can't believe how fast the time has flown by, but that's what happens when you're having fun, eh?! meanwhile, stephanie and i each have one more card to show off. here's mine:

background is vintage text paper with stenciled timholtz harlequin design in white modeling paste and a bit of pale green colorburst brushed on top augmented with bits of relections' rhinestone flourishes; ornament is various shades of red colorburst blended on watercolor paper, with tim holtz flourishes stenciled on top using glittery champage viva decor embossing paste; holly leaves cut from a greeting card; seambinding from my stash; adhesives: elmers gluestick and tape runner, 3m foam tape, sewing machine

my card-making "process" is generally to get out way too much stuff-- (i like to have lots of choices) --which means that there will even be leftovers when i'm making leftovers cards, lol! which is what happened last week, so i've used them here: a blendy colorburst ornament topped with glitter embossing paste; holly leaves cut from an old greeting card; remnants of rhinestone flourishes i "trimmed down" to fit on smaller cards; all on top of a piece of vintage textpaper with some experimental inky stencilling. i never expected *ALL* of these elements to wind up on one card... but i like the result! :)

many thanks and lots of love to everyone who played along with us at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ this year! we've got one last link-up over there that'll stay live until xmas eve, so go on and show off your latest creations, grab some inspiration, and just generally cheer each other on! we'll be back bright and early on january 1, 2016 with loads more holiday hijinks and we hope to see you then! ♥♥♥

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

still not stamping... shopping our stash, i mean. since the current challenge encompassed (US) thanksgiving weekend with its myriad (but potentially craft-time-unfriendly) treats, we've made the "no stamping" challenge a two-week affair, and thus you still have loads of time to jump in! here's another card i made:

patterned paper: basic grey, prima, glitz + some vintage sheet music and half a doily from my stash; the texture-y heart is white modelling paste thru a tim holtz stencil on strathmore paper... highlighted by koi watercolor paints... with scraps of an old sewin pattern messily stuck down with liquitex gloss medium... and a little clear glitter sprinkled on while it was still wet... so now ya know, lol; washi sticker strips: heidi swapp; floral + leaf:prima; ink for edges: colorbox; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape, 3m foam tape, gluedots, sewing machine

before you say anything, YES, at some point i will once again make cards that aren't pink!!! well, probably. i mean, i assume so... yeah, it's bound to happen. in the meantime, i needed another anniversary card and i had a bunch of the stuff i didn't use last week still sitting in a pile, so this is what happened. and i have to say i kinda ♥LOVE♥ it. heck, i love (gah*) pink for that matter! this card uses an experimental/serendipitous combination of stencil + watercolor + torn sewing pattern + glitter background scenario that evolved whilst i was "cleaning up" from various other projects. these rarely morph into full-blown use-able pages or cards, but they're FAB♥U♥LOUS for selectively cutting... say... a heart; which can then be used very harmoniously (imo) on a more "mainstream" project. so don't be afraid to go a little nuts with your supplies, it might just lead to something interesting!

there is always something interesting over at SOS for your inspiration; why not check out the amazing creations of my fellow design team members right now, darlings?!

*as miss leslie would put it, lol! :)