"Art is my vehicle through life; may we share the ride together." Ron Wickersham

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Purchases and Mail

This is one of the new products I found at the stamp convention a few weeks ago. It was advertised as a super strong glue for adhering embellishments, including fabric, felt, wood and metal. I've tested it out on several items I used in my western book (below) and a few other things. This is a great product! I especially like the idea that it's a glue stick and not a liquid glue! And the best part is it's inexpensive - $2.00! I haven't seen this in the craft stores yet - not sure how new it is, but you might want to keep an eye out for it.

This is another recent purchase - the Fiskars scallop border punch. I was having a hard time finding it in the stores, but a friend found it for me at Hobby Lobby! I love that it scallops and punches the holes at the same time - what a time-saver. At first I had a problem lining it up to punch a longer border, but (duh!) I finally turned the punch over and you can see what you're doing in the "window hole" on the underside. Now I can punch perfect borders. Talk about feeling silly...

Great mail arrived today. The third dress in the recent mingle I was in arrived this afternoon. This one is from Anne - thanks, Anne, I love it. This has several layers - from what I can tell, the backing is a paper with leaf inclusions on top of which she glued a text page, then a napkin and then the copper embellishments. The coppery-brown leaf ribbon is just perfect.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Western Cowgirl Book

It's finished! I've done all I'm going to do - this is one of those projects you could keep adding to and never be done, but I decided this is it! This was a fun project, a great souvenir of a fab art retreat and a very chunky book!

This is the front of my book. We used portions of a pair of jeans, using the pocket on the front and some strips within the book. I found the letter tiles at the stamp convention that weekend - serendipity! That's a real miniature horse horseshoe that Jeri provided! (I said I was done, but I might just add some fabric strips and ribbon to the coil binding...)

This is the first spread - see the wooden boot on the left that I posted about earlier. This spread has a small pocket insert, the front of which you can see on the right. There are two cowgirl tags inside the pocket and I added my nametag on the front.The pocket flap opens like a book and these cowgals are inside. They are blanket-stitched on the edges.On the left is the back side of the "pocket-book-insert". Those are real rusted horseshoe nails. On the right is a tag insert stamped with a cowgirl stamp I borrowed from a friend. I love that stamp! At the lower right is a button pin Jeri gave us.This shows the back of the tag with the next page. The hat is a little felt hat that came in our "kit" from Jeri which I had to hammer a bit to squish it to fit inside the book. In the upper left corner is a yellow rose made out of two layers of torn, distressed and rolled paper circles and inside is a little rose made out of fabric.

This spread is mainly pictures of famous cowboys and cowgirls, notably Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley on the left page.

Next we have a very handsome dude on the left. The right page has the other tag I made with Linda's instructions with a grungeboard scroll which was gessoed, painted and inked. The rusted star at the bottom is from Candy - she rusted those cheap little silver sheriff badges from the party store!

And, last but not least, the final spread. The left page has a pocket which holds a cute tag copied from one Autumn had made. She provided the darling photo of the little guy on his horse and the wording "Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys." I love it. On the right is the "wanted" page with copper foil tape surrounding the pony express poster and a grungy tag with a transparency image. Don't you love that barbed wire printed twill tape? The "don't fence me in" was cut from a Cosmo Cricket paper.

And so, another year, another Gathering, another book. I wonder what the theme will be next year!?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Artful Gathering

The above pin was made by Brenda and given to each of us. I think it's done on a "style stone" with a crackle finish and little beads on the sides. I added mine to the front of my western book.

Liane presented us with a house project on matboard. She is from New Mexico and, since we lived there for nineteen years, this is a project dear to my heart. We used just one sheet of paper! I'm not sure who makes this paper, but the background (adobe bricks) was enough to cover both sides. Then we cut out the images of the skull, chili ristra, boots, cactus and woven blanket from the remainder of the page and added them to the front and back.

This is the front - real turquoise bits were added to the skull and NM tag, twine was knotted and glued to the top of the ristra and a concho added to the lower right with strips of suede laced through.

On the back I added a scrap of suede and an arrowhead that Candy made for each of us out of polymer clay! It looks like a real one. I was recently in a "row house" swap and will display this unique NM casa with those houses.Whew, I think that's everything except for the western book. Can you believe all we fit in in just a few days? I have a few more little bits to add to my book, then I will post it tomorrow.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Artful Gathering cont'd

Jean from Florida made each of us this wonderful suede pouch, complete with fringe and a concho, to hold 25 cards which she also made featuring cowboys and cowgirls through the ages. The backs were printed with their history. I did the math and she made over 500 of these - wow, Jean, and thanks!

We all made nametags with the kits Autumn brought - these included the pre-cut cardstock, images, words, mica and fibers. I am going to add this to one of the pages in my western book.

Autumn also did a canvas hanging project which I loved. First we glued old book pages to the unstretched canvas and, after drying it, peeled portions off by sticking tape in places and peeling off. This gave a great texture. We then added pieces of torn fabric and an image with fusible webbing. Embellishments are paper or fabric flowers, buttons, and hand-stitching. The hangers were made from regular wire coat hangers! These two were her samples - I haven't finished mine but will post them later.

Linda showed us how to make two large tags using a Tim Holtz embossing technique and Cosmo Cricket papers. This is one of mine - the other is in my book.

Cher brought wooden boot cutouts and papers for us to embellish a cowboy boot. See the boot decorations on either side? These are actually made with a maple leaf punch! I've added this to a page in my book as well and you will see a better photo when I post the book pages.

You can see we were busy, busy, busy! But what fun we had. More tomorrow...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Artful Gathering report

The retreat I attended last week with one of my online groups, AAWA, was FANTASTIC! This group has about 43 online members and 21 attended the Artful Gathering from all over the country! This is the third annual get-together and Jeri Aaron (super list mom and Gathering organizer outdoes herself every year). (Check out her great blog here.) For the past three years, this has been held over the same weekend that Heirloom Productions holds a stamp convention in Grapevine, TX, and we attend that for one day. (That's another report.)

The host hotel is within walking distance of the convention and close to the airport. Even though I live within 10 miles I stayed at the hotel so as not to miss a thing! From Thursday through Sunday we took over the hotel conference room and CREATED! We each had half a "skinny" table and, the best part, we were able to leave our Stuff there all weekend. We could come and go whenever we wanted; ate lots; went to bed as early or as late as we wished; and laughed tons.

Each year the retreat has a theme and it was western this year. Jeri always designs and kits a tremendous book project around the theme and one entire day is spent on that. Other members design smaller projects or demos and lots of gals bring goodies for everyone. Here's a photo (thanks Linda) of what part of the room looked like - bet it never looks like that for other conventions!

One of our members who couldn't come this year (Sue Wickham of Lily Pepper Primitives) made Jeri this darling fabric collage (above)and Jeri attached it to a denim shirt for the "come in western gear" challenge. Sue makes beautiful art and also made a similar wallhanging as the prize for the challenge. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of that, but here is a tiny little hanging Sue made for each attendee - I just love it!

Every year we do a swap of small art keeping to the given theme. These are the western 3"x5" "skinnies" we did this year. When they are all attached with the binder ring, it's such a cute, fat booklet to remember the gathering.

Here is the awesome western altered wand Joan made for each of us! Imagine making 21 of these things. Thank you so much Joan! Can you see the empty bullet casings on one of the strings and folded beer bottlecaps on another? I just love all the details she managed to incorporate.

I will share more tomorrow!

I'm back

I think I'm finally back in the swing of things. It seems like I've been going non-stop since over a week ago.

Our whirlwind trip this week took us to San Francisco for one night and then on to Chicago for one night before returning home. Our son turned 32 on July 23 so we went to dinner with him and met his girlfriend of 6 months. Early the next morning we were on to Chicago where we had dinner with three of our daughters and one boyfriend. And then at 4 am on Thursday we left for home! Our other daughter had a three-hour layover at DFW airport on Monday afternoon on her way to Argentina, so I also had dinner with her that night. So, how many people can say they had dinner with all 5 of their children in three different cities all over the US in three days? Glad I went, but am exhausted.

We only had a few daylight hours in SF but luckily our hotel was within a few blocks of a super store, Britex Fabrics. This fabric store has been around for over 50 years and takes up all four floor of its building. I had visited it some 20 years ago and it hasn't changed much since then. Although they aren't inexpensive, you can find probably just about any fabric, notion or ribbon in this store. The first floor housed woolens, cottons, linens, etc; second floor was devoted to home dec fabrics; third floor (my fav) was all ribbons, buttons and notions - walls and walls of them; and the top floor had remnants, faux furs, leathers etc.

Here is a postcard I picked up to give you an idea of the eye candy this place offers - beautiful and arranged by color.

I was so overwhelmed that this is all I bought - two darling ribbons I've never seen before. You really need to go prepared with a list! The top ribbon is like a measuring tape and pleated - love red and white. The other one I couldn't resist since I am in a round robin book swap and one of the themes is "cupcakes."

Monday, July 21, 2008

CHA update

Forgot to post some of the new products I've been hearing about at summer CHA. The best overview I've seen online is at www.craftcritique.com, complete with lots of photos.

Some of the things I'm most excited about:

Stickles in all Distress Ink colors
Metallic Crackle Paint
Versamark in champagne and frost
new Donna Downey stamps for Art Declassified
Claudine Hellmuth's new art supplies including paints and medium

I'm sure we will be hearing about lots more!

Hello and goodbye again

I'm back from my retreat, but tomorrow I fly out early to San Francisco to meet up with my husband who was visiting on the west coast with a friend. Our son lives in SF and his birthday is Wed., so we will see him and take him to dinner. Then on Wed. morning early we will fly to Chicago and meet up with our three daughters who live there and have dinner with them before returning to Dallas early Thursday morning. Ah, the joys of flying on a SW pass - free, but you gotta come and go when the flights are open...

The retreat was amazing - 21 creative and fun women from an online group, some of whom had never met in person - all creating wonderful western-themed projects together. We made the western assemblage that I had created and posted here awhile ago, as well as a huge western matboard book, some great western tags and some hanging fabric canvases with cute hangers made from, yes, regular coat hangers. I will post photos of all these fantastic projects when I return.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Goodbye for a few days

I'm off to a stamping retreat with an online group - 23 members from all over the country will be gathering in Grapevine to attend the Heirloom stamp convention and have our own mini-retreat. This is our third annual gathering and the theme this year is western. We will be making several projects - assemblage, a book, tags, a canvas and a few others. The most fun, however, will be getting to know some members we haven't yet met personally and renewing friendships with those we have met. This will be such an awesome weekend. "See" you Sunday night.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Diamond Scoop Swap

My local art group - EATS (Enjoying Art Together Sisterhood) - had our monthly meeting tonight and we revealed and swapped our diamond scoops. One of our members gave each of us a plain, metal scoop last month to alter for a partner. I'm not sure where she discovered these but they are actually used by jewelers (or maybe diamond merchants) to scoop loose diamonds. (Unfortunately they came without the extras - LOL!) Here's a photo of the unadorned scoop.
This was definitely a challenge for some of the members, but the finished projects were all unique and gorgeous.

Because my swap partner reads my blog regularly, I had to wait til tonight to post my altered scoop. Here is what I did, using alcohol inks, a stamped image for the background sprayed with Glimmer Mist (hard to see the pretty irridescent shine in the scan), a vintage image and pearl and alpha bead embellishments. The color in the scan is faded out, but the background matches the ribbon and is a lovely shade of green.

And this is the one I received from Karen. I love it - on the back (which I didn't photograph), she attached a piece of yellow and white checkered fabric with the imprinted words "all things grow with love" and she also used the same fabric to wrap the little package for presentation. Thanks Karen!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Two Awards

My friend and very talented artist, Vicki Chrisman, honored me with these two awards today on her blog, which you just have to visit here. She does the most amazing albums, cards and projects and takes beautiful photographs as well. I just love reading her tales of art, family and life in general. She makes you feel like a longtime friend.
So, here are the rules that go along with the awards:
1. You post the award logos on your blog.
2. You link back to the person who awarded them to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 people whose blogs you admire and add links back to their blogs.
4. Leave a message for the nominees on their blogs.
And, here are my nominees for inspirational blogs and very talented artists:
So spend some time browsing these lovely blogs! And thanks again to Miss Vicki for nominating me!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I don't do mornings

Anyone who knows me personally will attest to the fact that I'm definitely a nightowl, not a morning person! Here's what happened on Thursday to prove the point.

I went to my chiropractor and while he was adjusting me he asked if I'd had trouble with one of my feet. Confused, I answered no. He then told me I was wearing two different shoes! I was so embarassed! At least they were both black and about the same kind of sole - hence why I never noticed while walking. Needless to say, I will be checking my feet in the future before leaving home for a morning appointment!

I've been busy kitting for a class I taught this week as well as for the assemblage project I will be teaching at my online group's retreat next week. Time consuming and definitely not as much fun as making the projects.

Finished a project for a local swap but can't post until these are exchanged.

Hope everyone is having a fun weekend. Today it's supposed to get to 103 and North Texans are advised to stay inside!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last spread in last altered book!

I am feeling so very pleased with myself tonight! I finished my last spread in the last altered book of the round robin swap. It's not due until July 15th so I'm ahead of schedule!
This last book's theme was "games" and I did these pages on Bunco. It's hard to see in the scan, but I added pink and clear rhinestones all over the page to add some bling for "ladies' night out." I also used my brand-new Fiskars scallop border punch - I love this punch and had looked all over for it. My friend finally found it at Hobby Lobby and bought it for me for an early birthday present. I love how it scallops and makes the holes in one pass!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Soldered Ornament

Now that I'm off my soap box from the post below, I can post the ornament I made last night for a collaborative gift for a friend. Everyone is making small ornaments to be put on a specially-made tree to thank her for all her work and support of a group we are in. (I can't say more as this is a surprise.)

I used an image from one of Kris Hubrick's digital collage sheets (check them out here at Retro Art Cafe) adding the handwritten "queen" for the front of the charm. The back has a piece cut from a Graphic 45 patterned paper called "Copacetic." The crossword pattern and cherries are part of the paper. I just added the words which I cut from an ad in a magazine - they were perfect and just the right size and color.

The charm was soldered and I then added a crown charm to the jump ring and tied on black and white polka dot ribbon. I love doing these soldered charms, but I need to practice more - adding the jump ring is the hardest part!

What you probably didn't know about plastic bags

I've been browsing the web this afternoon - too hot to do much else - and I've come across some things that fit right into my recycling nature.

Plastic bags - if you do any shopping at all, you know that these just seem to multiply. We even use them for doggie pick-up bags, but there are always more. I take them to the recycling boxes around town too.

Did you know:

that plastic bags are a petroleum product and, hence, increase our dependence on oil?

that 500 Billion to 1 Trillion(! ) of these are used worldwide each year?

that 100 Billion are used annually in the US alone?

that only 2% are recycled in the US and only 1% worldwide?

that it takes 450 to 1000 years for plastic bags to break down?

that it costs $.17 in San Francisco to "handle" each discarded bag, i.e. litter?

There's lots more unnerving information, but I think I've got your attention. So, PLEASE, recycle these things or, better yet, buy some earth-friendly reusable bags and take them with you every time you shop.

Now here are two women I found that are reusing plastic bags very creatively by upcycling them into handmade handbags! Check out this store in Milwaukee, Paper Boat, which features the crocheted purses of Cara Taylor. You can find out more about them and purchase them online at Cara Taylor Handbags here. And this gal, Kristin J, is doing the same thing, but knitting the bags. It takes about 50 bags to make each purse, so that's 50 more kept out of our landfills. (Disclaimer: I don't know either artist nor do I profit from this - I just find it very interesting!) And, if you send 50 colored bags to Cara (see more info on her site), she will make you a small change purse for free!

Here's another creative gal - and she's still a teenager to boot! She made her prom dress out of 101 recycled Skittles wrappers - and it's actually pretty cute! You can read about it and see photos here. Watch out "Project Runway" - this girl is creative!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Western 3" x 5"s

Here is my western-themed 3" x 5" for the upcoming retreat swap. I made 23 of these - one for each attendee. When they are all swapped, we will each have 23 different 3x5s to bind into a little fat book, either with rings or maybe the Bind-It-All. I can't wait to see all the other ones!
This little baby was way more time-consuming than I intended. Originally I was going to use the cowgirl stamp (Queen's Dresser Drawers) directly on a background, but it was too detailed to show up. So I then stamped it on cream cardstock with Adirondack Espresso ink and cut each one out. The words are also on this stamp, so I cut them out separately.
The background was made using Claudine Hellmuth's "peeled paint" technique where you paint one coat of acrylic paint (this is the blue layer above), then you generously swipe petroleum jelly (Vaseline) on this layer once it's dry. Immediately after adding the Vaseline you coat with another layer of acrylic paint in another color (creamy ivory above). Once this is dry you wipe it and the Vaseline acts as a resist - the paint will wipe off where the Vaseline was. If your project remains a little greasy, you can wipe it with a baby-wipe. I like how this technique gives a very aged look and you can use whatever colors you wish.
I tore a piece of bandana print paper for the bottom and glued on the stamped piece and the words. I covered the back with another piece of bandana print paper. To make sure everything stayed together and to also give some more texture, I sewed around all four sides with brown thread.
I didn't have enough of the barbed wire twill to do much, so I cut small pieces and stapled them to the upper right corner. I tore denim strips and tied through the conchos and used glue dots to attach.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekend of Art

I had a really productive weekend of art. I am almost finished a set of 23 western 3"x5" collages that will be swapped at the western retreat I'm attending later this month. I also made a soldered collage charm for a friend (well, I still have to solder it, but the collage work is done). I'll be posting these items in the next day or two.

I received the last altered book for the swap for my online group. This book is for Carol and her theme is "games." I finished two spreads today.

The first is "Fun and games - take time to play." For the background on this spread I swiped Rocket Red Brilliance ink straight from the inkpad directly on the pages. I triangle folded a center page so that it would form a pocket on the left page of the spread. I glued on two little plastic checker pieces so this pocket can be closed. I glued four star-shaped playing cards under the triangle. I made a diagonal cut across the next page and folded it in half toward the center of the book, forming a vertical pocket which holds a picture of a game board and directions for Triominoes. The right page has a tag attached which folds out for the word "play."

Since I am the last of four people to work in this book, I was at a loss as to what to do for the next spread, as it seemed that all the "games" had been used. Then I started thinking of ballgames and I came up with this baseball spread. The background was painted with a watery wash of green acrylic paint. On the left page I used a baseball printed paper and attached a copy of the song sheet cover for the song "Take me out to the ballgame." I sewed this on with red embroidery floss to mimic the stitching on the balls. The right page has two different baseball-themed papers with the lyrics of the song attached. The various words which are scattered mostly on the left page were cut from another patterned paper. I "tipped in" the Cracker Jack packaging and "prizes."

Still one more spread to do before the July 15th deadline!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you all will have a wonderful day no matter what your plans are. In the spirit of the day, I made this patriotic tag yesterday to share with you today.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Western Assemblage

I'm part of an online group that has a "retreat" near here in Grapevine TX every summer that coincides with the Heirloom Productions Stamp Convention. This year 23 of us will attend in just a few weeks. Our "leader", Jeri, sets a theme every year and designs a book for us to work on. Several of us also present smaller projects.

This year the theme is "Western" and I will "teach" a small assemblage in the top of an Altoid mint tin. I was having trouble coming up with a central image for this piece until I went back to my mom's recently and was going through old family photos. Lo and behold, I came across this photo of my dad from the early 1940's. I knew instantly that I wanted to use it in my Western assemblage.

I rusted the tin with a two-part Rust Antiquing kit from Sophisticated Finishes. Then I added Cosmo Cricket "Amarillo" red paper, a torn piece of corrugated cardboard and a small piece of Wild West ribbon (from Michael's $1 spot last year). The rusty star is wired on through the two holes in the tin; a piece of twine was wound in a circle and tied with a torn strip of bandana print fabric; the boots are a decorative button with the shank removed; and a piece of "barbed wire" cording was glued in the upper left corner.

I hope everyone will enjoy this project.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Odds and ends

I haven't been very good at keeping up with my blog lately. Alot of deadlines have just kinda crept up on me.

I finally finished my huge sewing project for my friend, Debbie. I delivered the very last pillow today! Once she gets the four valances hung I will try to get a photo of the whole ensemble to post.

Yesterday was a fun-filled day with two girlfriends. We made a road trip to Waxahachie which is a typical small Texas town (county seat, actually) with the usual courthouse in the middle of the downtown square with cute shops around. We spent the day browsing the gift shops, antique shops and, the real reason for our visit, a large scrapbook store. What I'd like to know is how a town of about 20,000 can support two scrapbook stores (we didn't make it to the other one) and a large metroplex like Dallas/Ft. Worth has only one remaining scrapbook store!

We had a great time and found lots of goodies. I didn't see anything really new, but there were lots of beautiful papers, chipboard elements, ribbons, inks etc. I did find the new Ranger white pen which I've been searching for. Also bought a cute BoBunny word album - "BEACH" which I plan to make for our family Christmas in Mexico this year.

We had a delicious lunch - apricot chicken salad with a mini orange muffin and spiced orange tea. We searched for the famous cupcake place, but they were closed. We did find an old-fashioned freezer-style Coke machine with small bottles. You put your money in and then move the bottle through the maze to get it out. And there was a bottlecap opener thingy on the side. Anyone remember these? The funniest thing was that this was inside an old-fashioned barber shop! Someone told us to check it out, or we never would have known.

I found the sweetest little baby doll shoe in one of the stores. There was only this one tiny shoe in a bag tied with pink ribbon - I couldn't resist. The photo makes it look big, but it's less than 1 1/2 inches long. Then I found this tag which was a little pricey, especially since I could easily make one, but I bought it for the darling photo. Isn't that toddler precious?