Sunday, March 31, 2019

happy lettering (part 2)

here are a few more sketchbook pages from the happy lettering challenge, which i found on instagram, and have enjoyed participating in (admittedly quite sporadically) throughout the month of march.

tombow dualbrush pens with a sort of neatened up version of the "scribbly ballpoint outline" i used on kite; plus some sunshine doodles to offset the fact that my lettering starts out MUCH bigger than it ends up, lol!

back to the divinely juicy ecoline pens, with an offset tombow shadow in N60 (my favorite grey for shadows!)

this might be my favorite entry for the entire month, and i think i'm the only person who even likes it, which is fine. this time, i handcut the letters from origami paper... stuck them down in my sketchbook... then outlined and shadowed them as if they were done in pen. i can imagine A LOT of ways to use this technique, so no doubt you'll be seeing it again in future!

turquoise and a touch of prussian blue colorburst, with plenty of sheer pearl liquid sparkle mixed in. it's hard to tell from the photos, but irl this is VERRRRRY glimmery indeed!

i wish i had used a slightly smaller brush for lettering the "lime" (in lime green obvs!) over the chartreuse colorburst lime doodle, but otherwise i quite like this one.

more flower doodles, not to mention a fern that is taking over the world, lol! with an offset .1mm pitt artist pen outline in lieu of shadow.

if you're interested in lettering, instagram is FULL 
of great examples, helpful vids and fun challenges, as well!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

happy lettering (part 1)

towards the beginning of the month i found the happy lettering challenge on instagram, and i've been playing along with their march prompts as time permits. this weekend seemed like a good time to round them up.

all my standard lettering go-to's right here: a rainbow of tombow dualbrush pens, outlined with the skinniest (.1mm) pitt artist pen, and a shadow with my favorite grey, tombow's N60.

i also like lettering with colorburst, or in this case, liquid metal... in yellow gold, with a coordinating marker outline and some stickles on top. 

very similar to rainbow, but with the blend across each letter (you need to leave quite a bit of room between!) a thicker outline and some posca paint pen dots.

well obviously, i couldn't resist a few flower doodles! in order to cheat and not have to letter BEHIND the flowers, i wrote spring in a very light shade of chartreuse tombow, so that my flowers would cover it without getting too tinted; then did the black outline at the very very end.

i had been wanting to try ecoline's brush pens and they do not disappoint... super juicy and a big tip that's exactly the right firmness! loads of funky/messy doodles on this one after i messed up the outline but didn't feel like starting over...

stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion... tomorrow!

Friday, March 29, 2019

we three... (it's a tricky one, lol!)

this fortnight's theme at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ is called "we three kings" but you don't actually need to include any kings in your card's design. we just want to see *THREE* of... well, something! for example, i've got three beautiful ornaments on my card, see?

baubles: various shades of blue colorburst (ken oliver crafts) painted onto strathmore watercolor paper; cut into bauble shapes; liquitex matte white modeling paste and fabercastell glass bead gel spread through some tim holtz stencils and outlined (when dry!) with a pitt artist pen; bauble hangers: clear jewel bling strips from eyelet outlet; patterned paper: doodlebug + some bright white sheet music from my stash; colored cardstock: gina k; glossy white kromekote: the paper cut; scraps of glossy silver paper from tonic studios as the bauble tops, distressed with a little colorbox chalk ink;

one of my favorite uses for leftover colorburst (i *always* mix too much when i watercolor, lol!) or for panels that come out a little differently than i expected, and get put to one side, is diecutting! because you know that you've now got a beautiful hand-painted piece of paper that will be different from everything premade! technically, only one of these pretty baubles was diecut (the smallest is from a set of elizabethcraft dies that i adore!) and the other two were handcut using templates i made a few years ago from clipart. i've used several different types of modeling paste through various stencils to get the raised designs. then i used a very fine-tipped black pen to emphasize some of the patterns so they'd stand out a bit more. i layered them over sheet music and a coordinating panel of patterned paper, then added eyelet outlet jewel bling strips to serve as hangers. there's room for a  sentiment on the front, and i might add one later; but for now it's blank because i like to have a couple of "unaffiliated" cards in december, that can serve as all-occasion cards or even thank you notes, if necessary.

stephanie also has a trio of loveliness to show off. why not hop over to ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ right now and see that?

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Everybody Loves...

...SNAIL MAIL!!! Am I right? Ok, maybe not boring old bills and circulars, but any time there is a card or letter awaiting me in the mailbox, I am a happy camper. And all the more so if it's a handmade card which features some fab Eyelet Outlet Brads and/or Washi Tape!

Both of my cards were inspired by this brand new and completely adorable Snail Washi... and also feature our Mail Brads! Because everybody loves Snail + Mail, lol!

My first card, which is a portrait style A2 (by which I mean tall rather than wide) also uses Heart BradsHeart Arrow Tape and Skinny Yellow Tape.

My second card is landscape style and features more Mail Brads, plus Blue Dot Washi and Skinny Blue Dot Tape as well. I used my trusty nested heart dies on this one, too. And small alphabet stickers to make the sentiments on both cards.  

I hope today will find you receiving --or maybe even SENDING-- some beautiful snail mail of your own! ♥

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

SOS392: make an atc!

this week's challenge at shopping our stash is all about format! we want to see artist trading cards (2.5x3.5" rectangles) or artist trading coins (2.5" circles) with any theme, materials and technique you desire. i went with spring and collage. because it's SPRING... and i love collage, lol! :)

vintage images from old nature books, garden plans from a landscaping handbook and sheet music from my stash;  transparency bases: hambly; washi tape: eyelet outlet, little b, mt; rub-on transfers: basic grey; ink: colorbox; corner rounder: we r memory keepers; adhesives: elmers brand gluetape, scotch create gluestick

i made four traditional ATC cards because i was already committed to a swap with an instagram friend that specified 3 cards with a "spring" theme. my "extra" card is to swap with my SOS teammate donna!

all four of my cards are built on a base of hambly transparency scraps, then i made a background of torn vintage paper... in this case bits of garden plans and some sheet music. i added strips of torn washi tape with brick, wood and flower designs to the background add to the "gardeny" feeling; because to me spring means it's finally time to get out into the garden and get ready for the warm weather!

from a few different older books i chose images that signified spring to me: flowers, nesting birds, and a butterfly. i liked how my cards looked, but there was still an awful lot of bright white paper showing, so i felt like i needed one more element.

i don't know about you, but i still have a whole bunch of older rub-on transfers. some of them are still in awesome condtion and rub-on perfectly. others do not. the only problem is: you cannot actually tell which are which until you try to rub them on something. my solution is to cut them up and use them really loosely in collage backgrounds. which is what i did here. 

i hope you'll be inspired to make some artist trading cards or coins and swap with your friends OR use them as the centerpiece for your next card or journal page! be sure to check out all the gorgeous design team creations over at SOS! ♥

Monday, March 25, 2019

frida kahlo: appearances can be deceiving

i was super-excited to see the amazing frida kahlo exhibit that is currently at the brooklyn museum, and what made it even cooler was that i went with my friend linda brun while she was here for a visit! linda and i both love making little books, so the idea of making a small remembrance was already in my head before we even arrived at the museum. when we got there, i was somewhat flummoxed by the strict NO PHOTOGRAPHY policy for this exhibit. because there were so many amazing images, words and ideas i wanted to remember and convey when i made my book. *HOW* could i do that without pictures? as it turns out, i think the restriction actually helped me... because it forced me to work in completely different ways. and while that doesn't always feel comfortable, i think it almost always leads to some interesting epiphanies!

first, let me tell you the nuts and bolts stuff:  this book is 6" tall and 5" wide. it's got 18 pages that range from 2 x 4" up to 4.5 x 5" some of which are neatly trimmed with a paper cutter, while others have randomly torn edges. its single signature is bound with a 6-hole pamphlet stitch, using waxed floss. traditionally, you'd keep the stitching hidden inside the cover of the book, but i sometimes like to stitch right through the cover and let the mechanics of the binding be part of the design, which is what i did here. (this is either lazy or innovative, depending on your perspective!) instead of trimming the ends of the floss and weaving them in, i left them long and tied a few small "milagro" charms i found in a funky shop in encinitas, california, on vacation last month. 

the cover is made from very thin chipboard, like the kind from which cereal boxes are made. (i sometimes use a cereal box for this if i don't have any "clean" cardboard on hand!) i wrapped the chipboard with an oversized index page from an old atlas and used some floral illustrations from a calendar as the interior endpapers. i decorated the outside with a jungle illustration, a few fussy cut magazine images and a vintage daisy applique that i got a few years ago at a thrift store in the same brooklyn neighborhood as the museum is in-- park slope. that is what you call "full circle" right there, lol!

since i knew i wouldn't have my own photos to work with, i was secretly hoping the museum's gift shop would have lots of amazing postcards and greeting cards. ahem. they did not. at this point, i was starting to think there was no way to make a *VISUAL* book, since i had no actual images to use. but luckily i'm a very stubborn person!

as i was going through the exhibit, i got glared at by some of my fellow attendees for typing into my phone. i think people thought i was texting continuously, but really what i was doing was making notes! and this turned out to be the "twist" that made this project different than anything else i had ever made. because instead of photographs, what i had when i got home was about 15 short emails that contained quotes from and about frida, snippets of her letters, phrases she used a lot, descriptions of many of the objects in the show, notes about her clothing, her hair, the plaster casts in which she recuperated after the many spinal surgeries she went through after being struck by a trolley. in short, i wrote about the articles and artworks in the show instead of photographing them.

so instead of starting with images, i was starting with words this time. i narrowed down to about a dozen of the quotes i thought were most meaningful, and then tried to find images that conveyed similar feelings to those inspired by the show.

i did get one postcard in the giftshop (the b&w image of frida and diego above) and i found two brochures at the museum which had photos of frida, including the image i used on the front cover. for everything else, i just kind of improvised.

since i love collage, i have a pretty good collection of falling-apart old books and magazines that i buy at garage sales. the worse shape they are, the better i like them, lol! because i usually get them really cheaply ...and...i don't have to feel guilty about cutting them up. i realize this whole subject --cutting up books-- freaks some people out. so much so that years and years ago, i wrote a post about my experience at a local book sale, when i found out what usually happens to the leftover books at book sales. it's archived here, if you'd like to read it, but spoiler alert: most leftover books at sales are recycled or discarded... in other words, the day after the sale, they will no longer be "books" in their current state. that was the turning point for me!

so i started looking through some of my "collage books" for images that would work. i knew i wanted some exotic plants, birds and animals, since frida used so many in her paintings. the exhibit featured some of her clothing, which had bright colors, beads, pleats and beautiful embroidery, so i looked for that as well. i also looked at nearly everything i have that's in spanish, for obvious reasons, lol. and it seemed like maps would give a sense of place; so then, i reasoned, old maps would maybe give a sense of the time in which frida lived? 

but i tried not to be too literal about my selection of images... basically if it "felt right" i put it aside. there were a few images i wanted that i couldn't find. i wanted a row of tall cacti, like the cactus fence at frida's home, casa azul; and also an artists' palette. in the end, i did without them. but... i found the large blue wing image that's on the front of the book on the cover of an art magazine, and it's the same shade as the blue of casa azul. i also had a fun kawaii version of frida (above) from a set of playing cards my friend stephanie gave me for xmas. i couldn't quite bear to cut it up or staple it, so i made a little pocket from a glassine envelope to serve as one of the book's pages.

once i had my selection of pages, i had a pretty good idea of what size my book needed to be. i had planned to make a book about the size of that cool playing card, but it would've meant cutting a lot of medium-sized images quite small; so i did a re-think, midstream. (this is why i always make my pages first and my covers LAST!)

i folded my pages and arranged them in order. then i thought about how to add all of those snippets of text i had made notes of in the exhibit. my first idea was to type them, on vellum, so i could layer them right over my pages and still see the images underneath. but that made the text very small indeed. so i kept the vellum idea but used a medium-sized set of wood-mount alphabet stamps to add the text. i considered staples and handstitching to attach the vellum pieces, but in the end, i used my sewing machine.

i am still not sure the recycled sari silk ribbon with which i have tied the book shut is quite right. so i haven't attached it permanently. i'm hoping to have a brainwave at some point, where i suddenly figure out what to use as the "real" closure. in the meantime, i find that i prefer to display the book standing open, as it is in the first photo of this post. who knows, maybe that is the answer, afterall? maybe some books are not meant to close flat. frida kahlo's life was definitely not ordinary, so maybe this book shouldn't be, either. ♥

"appearances can be deceiving" will remain at the brooklyn museum until may 12, 2019. it is a very, very good idea to book tickets in advance, especially if you go towards the end of the run. for this special exhibition, the museum is also open on mondays and tuesdays, though you will only have access to the first floor on those days. there is NO photography allowed within the exhibit and you will be asked to check any large bags or backpacks.

Friday, March 22, 2019

season's tweetings

we're still rockin' with the robins, prancin' with the penguins or possibly even attending a flamingo fiesta this fortnight at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ and you still have until wednesday evening to join the fun, which we hope you will! here's what i made this week:

patterned papers, distressing tool and frosty poinsettia: prima marketing; border punches: recollections; washi tape: october afternoon; pinecone stickers: bo bunny; velvet leaves: petaloo; adhesives: elmers brand taperunner, 3m foam tape, gluedots, sewing machine

yes, i've gone very distressed and shabby chic, with papers from prima's "santa baby" and "sweet peppermint" collections, not to mention that lusciously frosted, dimensional poinsettia! i've added in a washi tape sentiment, a few punched borders, velvetty leaves and ancient clear pinecone stickers. at the very end, i felt like there was not enough of the darker red from the flower to anchor the design, so i slipped in a burgundy mat before adding lots (and lots!) of machine stitching.

there miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight be a little prize this time; and i know for sure that stephanie has made an awesome card... so you should probably hop over to ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ right now, darlings!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Happy Easter Bunnies

There are several adorable varieties of Eyelet Outlet bunny brads, including Pastel Rabbits and Chocolate Bunnies but the realistic looking Rabbit Brads might just be my favorite!

I use my nested dies most often to cut perfect circles which I then attach to whatever project I'm making. But it's just as easy to use them to create negative space, like these layered windows which frame up my adorable Rabbit Brads. I punched strips of grass in a couple shades of green for the bunnies to hide behind, then added some Mini Stitched Flowers and a Mini Butterfly to complete the scene. A strip of Pink Bunny Washi Tape dresses up the top layer of my card and a simple typed sentiment finishes it off.

I hope you'll be inspired to use your favorite dies in fun new ways!

Friday, March 15, 2019

rockin' robin

this fortnight at ♥Jingle Belles♥ we are celebrating our fine, festive, feathered friends by asking you to make a brand new holiday card and #putabirdonit or, just in case you don't speak hashtag, "put a bird on it" lol! here's my card:

patterned paper and frames: simple stories; cardstock critter and bird stickers: doodlebug; sentiment journal cards: elle's studio; glossy white kromekote cardstock: the paper cut; adhesives: elmers brand taperunner, 3m foam tape

i don't think i've ever made an xmas card with a charcoal grey background before, but this holiday lights paper from simple stories just seemed to set off my little collage of words (from elle's studio) and (doodlebug) critters and birds so well, i couldn't resist!

hop over to ♥Jingle Belles♥ and see stephanie's bird-based beauty, not to mention a pic of the little prize that might just be on offer to one random cardmaker who links up with us this time. you know... if you like that sorta thing...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

When Irish Frogs Are Smiling

Sunday is St. Patrick's Day and since I happen to be about 60% Irish, here are a couple of timely cards, all dressed in green, featuring our adorable Eyelet Outlet Frog Brads!

By now I expect everyone knows that premade journal cards are my very favorite cardmaking "secret" so it's no surprise that I have employed them here. These particular ones happen to be from Doodlebug Design; I love their clear bright colors. I changed the "Happy" to "Hoppy" on the sentiment flag with the help of a green jewel brad, and added a handsome pair of Frog Brads as well as one of the cattails and waterlillies which come in the same set. A green Heart Enamel completes the little scene.

For my second card, just a single Frog Brad, a few purple Heart Enamels, and a strip of Stripe Tape trimmed with some Skinny Glitter Tape.

I hope all of my Irish friends will enjoy a very Happy St. Patrick's Day... but then EVERYBODY is Irish on March 17th! ♥

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SOS391: forever friends

it's time for another new (fortnightly!) challenge at shopping our stash, and the brief is super simple: make something honoring friendship! i made a card... SURPRISE! :)

i guess it was just a matter of time before the chameleon from mft's "polynesian paradise" stamp set ditched the adorable hula girl and set off in quest of a solo career, right? and it must be said, he seems to be stepping confidently into his starring role as the eponymous hero of my friendship card! want to hear a funny chameleon coincidence? about half an hour after i had finished making this card, i received this photo via text from my bff, which leads to a pattern for tiny crocheted chameleons! what are the odds of those two things happening back to back?!

on the other hand, the chances of you finding awesome inspiration from my fabulous friends on the SOS blog are pretty much 100%, so you should really head over there right now, darlings! ♥

Sunday, March 10, 2019

woohoo... another travel book!

midway through my california trip, my friend and co-conspirator barb admired by travel book and said something along the lines that it seemed like a really EASY way to make a travel scrapbook, and someday even she might want to try it. which of course was all the excuse i needed to come home and make a second one, just for her!

the size, shape and format of this book is exactly the same as the book i made for myself; which is to say that the covers are 4.5 x 9.5" and the pages are just a tiny bit smaller. this seems like kind of a weird shape, until you realize that it makes it possible able to just punch one hole and add the brochures and things we all tend to accumulate on vacation. which explains the one-ring. because although i love a nice spiral binding, it means you have to wait until the very very end to attach everything. and meanwhile you have a suitcase full of precious papers and postcards getting literally bent out of shape. i covered sturdy chipboard panels with a fun pastel cactus patterned paper and added the title of the book on a postcard from the trip, which i mounted on a hambly transparency dolled up with a bit of washi tape.

since i was making barb's book AFTER the trip, i had the luxury of being able to print and add photos from the jump. so i chose one shot i liked for each of the labeled pages which represent each day of the trip as well as a few themes like food, accommodations, weather, etc. 

i formatted the photos to be the same size and shape as the labelled pages (4.25 x 8.5") and printed them on inkjet transparency sheets, so that you can see the pages beneath... right through the photos. i love this effect. and it always impresses non-papercrafters, because they can't quiiiiiiiite figure out how you made the pics SEE-THROUGH! :)

of course, barb can add traditional or mini photographs to her pages, or even just punch a hole in 4 x 6" prints from the drugstore and make them be their own pages. i love that this style of book is so casual you don't have to do ANY fussing or fancy footwork! i cannot wait to see what fun things barb adds to make it HERS! ♥

Saturday, March 9, 2019

lettering: step-by-step

warning: if you're not into hand lettering, this post is probably waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too detailed for you, so feel free to skip it entirely OR catch the much faster flip-a-gram version on facebook or instagram! ♥

step 1: basic letters
i like tombow dualbrush pens for this, they have a brush tip on one end and a writing tip on the other, plus they come in like 90+ colors. here i've used a light green for "march" and for "hello" i used mint green, on which i picked up a little bit of dark green that i scribbled onto a piece of acrylic plastic. if you're concerned about super-neat spacing, you can measure or add guidelines. i'm a bit lazy about that so i tend to mostly wing it. sometimes, though, i will start at the edge of the page and spell a word like "march" BACKWARDS so it ends right at the edge like it does here. on these occasions, i generally take the precaution of writing the word on a piece of scrap paper, because trust me, it is not that natural to spell even common words backwards, and you can end up with MRACH much more easily than you might imagine. (ask me how i know!!!!!)

step 2: grey shadows
to decide where they go, you choose either the left or right of all the vertical lines, plus the top or bottom of all the horizontals. you can place them right next to the basic letters (as in "march") or with a small gap of white in between (as in "hello").

step 3: a little shading?
this step is completely optional, but you can use the next shade of green and either the brush tip ("march") or the writing tip ("hello") to add a little more shading. since this is related to the shadow, it's probably best to do it on the same side as your grey shadow. if the contrast is a bit too much, you can use the original shade of marker, or a blender pen, to downplay it a bit.

step 4: outline
i like faber-castell's pitt artist pens for this, in either the S (.3mm) or XS (.1mm) nibs. they are fairly permanent, but every once in a while i somehow manage to smear them, which is why i now do the shadows and shading BEFORE i outline. you'll notice there are some tiny gaps of white, don't worry, you just go back in with the original marker and a quick stroke along the white bits and VOILA... flawless! which means this is a great time to correct wonky lines or weird shapes; outline where the line SHOULD be, not necessarily where it is right now... if you see what i mean?

step 5: more about outlining
 i could write an entire post just about this subject, but the main things to know is: you get better at it by practicing and practicing; then practicing even more. outline your own lettering, outline lettering and pictures in magazines, outline anything and everything. also, for a really smooth line, you only want to move the pen in one direction... either you push it away from you, OR you pull it towards you, but not both. it turns out, i'm a "puller". and seriously, from the very second i figured that out, my outlining game improved by leaps and bounds! you may also want to turn the paper around as you work, so you can slide your hand along more smoothly. finally, before you start each section of outlining, you want to know where you're going to pick up your pen for a break. 
(i realize that when you're just reading this, it sounds very abstract, but hopefully, it'll come back to you when you're actually outlining something, and then it'll make sense!)

step 6: highlights
i like a white posca paint pen for this. the medium (used in "march") and fine points (in "hello") are my favorite sizes. as with the shadows, you kind of want to pick one area that the light would be hitting, and consistently place your highlights there on each letter. in this case, i'm up towards the top of each letter, and i've kind of echoed the curves a bit. 

step 7: enhanced shadow?
another entirely optional step. i used the writing tip of the same shade of grey tombow to add some motion lines in the original shadow, but you could use black, white, or a coordinating shade of green; and it could be dots or stitching instead of the parallel lines. i stayed just on the word "march" for this, since it has the chunkier letters and thus can stand more visual weight.

step 8: add some doodles?
again optional, but usually quite fun! in this case, both the shamrock and the scattered hearts are purely decorative, but i have been known to add hearts, stars or little dots to cover up smudges on my paper. in drastically mess cases, i've been known to splatter watercolor with a fan brush! ;)

i hope you'll be inspired to try a bit of handlettering on your own. there are sooooooo many great examples on pinterest, instagram and youtube; whether you like videos, static pics or even examples of entire alphabets, you will be sure to find inspiration. also, magazines and websites with cool type and graphics are awesome; you can even mimic your favorite computer font or set of alphabet stamps. the possibilities are endless!