December 29, 2011

For the Dogs

Before we had kids, we had dogs, and those dogs were our babies and our pride and joy.  Two beautiful dalmatians full of zing and zest.  Baci and Junior.  Collectively, an important part of our family for 18 years.


They've been riding the Big Firetruck in the Sky (or wherever it is in Dog Heaven that dalmatians go) for 6 and 8 years now, but our menagerie of Christmas ornaments and decorations still reflect the love that we had for those two crazy moops.

My mom, not an animal person, couldn't help but embrace her grand-dogs on a crafty level and made them stockings to hang by the chimney with care.  I LOVE how she made one very spotty and one not so spotty in keeping with Baci and Junior's individual coats.

These dogs had sooooooo many nicknames.  I decided to document as many of those names I could remember and make a spread for my "Pets We've Known and Loved" scrapbook.  This is actually the first entry about our pets that I've made!  (You can read about the scrapbook's inception and the Beastie Boys themed page I made for it here.)

The Paper Company cardstock; K&Company patterned paper (hand cut title);
Balzer Designs/The Crafter's Workshop stencil; Tim Holtz Distress Inks;
Pigma Micron pen; Prang watercolors

The stencil I used as a template for all the nicknames is called "Fragmented Flower" and is available here.  I outlined and doodled the checkerboard pattern with pen after tracing out the inner areas.

Then I re-traced those areas on a separate sheet of cardstock, cut out the pieces and used various colors of distress ink to add color to the edges.

The titles were hand lettered and cut from patterned paper, and after each page was put together I inked the edges of the background paper and added some black watercolor paint splats to finish it off.

It's fun looking back on all those nicknames and how they all came about!  But, you know what?  I've thought of a few more since then!  So now I have to figure out how to add them in.  I think I've come up with a solution--stay tuned!

Thanks for visiting, and wishing you all wonderful and safe New Year's celebrations!

December 17, 2011

Art Journal Year End

In January I made a commitment to take some time for myself each day in the form of art journaling, motivated by artist/scrapbooker/teacher extraordinaire, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer.  I can't believe the year is coming to a close!

I wasn't completely diligent, making entries or additions every day, but I consider my undertaking a success, and look forward to continuing in 2012.  I've come to a crossroads, however.  A decision needs to be made:  Will I start a brand new book for 2012, or continue in this one as there are many blank pages left in it?  I don't know how much more this beloved book can handle!

The current journal I am using is more of a sketch book, and I've been willy-nilly taping pages together to create thickness and resistance to leak through.  I may get this one as recommended and loved by my guru, Julie.  I like that it has the same dimensions as the one I am currently using, but with paper that can handle the wetness of watercolor, a medium that I've come to find  I enjoy using.

But those blank pages will haunt me.  

I took an online art journaling class with Julie last month.  I blogged a little about it here, and you can learn more about it from her, here.  One of the last projects we did was to play with the alphabet.  We worked on just a few letters a day, and the whole of it looks pretty cool.  

 It gave me an idea of what to do with those extra pages.  I think I will collect letters, and if I have enough pages, possibly numbers, too.

It seems like it could be a fun little "in front of the TV" project, looking through magazines and junk mail, collecting letters of different sizes and fonts.  I can add any stamp sets I have.  I may collage all the letters outside the outlines I made, and fill in the letters with doodles or color.  I may have so many letters that the page ends up covered completely.  I may get fed up with the idea and scrap it!  Who knows?! 

But I do think I've just justified a brand new art journal!  Haha!  It seems appropriate to me to start off with a fresh book for a fresh year, no?  Yes!

December 11, 2011

Toilet Paper Art (?!?!?)

My daughter, Jillian, is a creative dynamo.  She always has been.  At age 3 she would cry that her Barbie didn't have a couch to sit on, suck up the tears, go draw one on paper and be completely satisfied to continue with her imaginative play.  Her aunt and uncle have talked a play-doh pizza she made at age 6 into the stuff of legends.  But in between the playdoh stage and the introduction to polymer clay there was...DUN-dun-duuuun....Toilet Paper! 

She and her friend, Kirsten, were so prolific when they'd get together.  These little sculptures of sopping wet toilet paper mush would constantly line the bathroom counter to air dry.  There would be dogs, chairs, bathtubs, cradles, baby chicks and ducklings, all waiting to dry before being embellished with felt pen faces and decorations of bits of string and this and that.  I loved and despised it all at the same time. 

I think this dog is the last standing relic of the toilet paper sculpting phase. 
I was surprised that she still has it!

I found an old picture of the girls from that era to commemorate the passing fad.  With guidance from the artiste, I made some wet toilet paper pulp, sculpted a heart to add to my layout, and molded some onto a couple large foam stamps to form the impressed letters "T" and "P".  Once dry, I painted the depressed area with acrylic paint and a very fine brush.  I used an empty toilet paper tube to stamp white paint circles onto my painted patterned paper as a variation on the theme.

This layout was created last month as part of the Cocoa Daisy Fall Crop for one of the challenges.

Thanks for visiting!

December 01, 2011

Hard Working Man

My husband is one of the hardest working people I know.  Having his own business means he wears the hats of at least 5 people.  He also does freelance graphic and design work, helps around the house, is an amazing father, husband, and pet daddy.  The amount of stuff he gets done in a 24-hour period amazes me.  He never complains.  He is gracious and happy, funny, affectionate and kind.

When I look around at the things I'm responsible for around here, and note that I slack on housework, laundry, etc. (but make plenty of time for my hobbies) I realize how disparate the workload is.  He holds so many reins and works 14-, 16-, 18-hour days.  All so we can eat, sleep, play, and live virtually carefree.

I created this layout for an online crop event at Cocoa Daisy a couple weeks ago.  The challenge was put forth by Anja Wade, one of their amazingly talented Design Team members, to garner inspiration from a collection of gig posters she put together. 

Here is the one I chose:

This Elliott Smith poster spoke to me because Mike sports the same chin beard, I love the colors, and when he and I lived in San Diego we would sometimes go hang at the Belly Up and listen to great music.

And here is the layout I created:

I used Photoscape to change this photo of us first to black and white, then to the contrasty blue tone.  I wish I could tell you exactly how I did it, but let me assure you it was pretty simple (hence me being able to do it!) and that for being a free downloadable photo editing software, Photoscape has a lot of cool filters and color shifting tools to play around with.  A definite score for this girl with a broken CD drive and an unloaded Photoshop disk. 

I printed it out on a couple pieces of white 8x11 cardstock, pieced it together, hand cut the title, wrote out my journaling, and voila! 

And guess what?  I won that challenge!  Hooray for me!  And Hooray for Cocoa Daisy! :)  Thank you so very much for the honor, the inspiration, and the fun!

I'll share some of the other challenge layouts from the crop soon!
Thanks for visiting!

November 17, 2011

Turkey Hunt

It's getting close to the Big Day, Thanksgiving, my most favorite holiday of the year!  A day of delicious food, family, and gratitudes galore, steeped in traditions that without might make the day seem less than whole.

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep the little ones entertained with all the cooking and football and napping that is happening around the house.  When my kiddos were small we spent some time making pinecone turkeys.  You know, with the construction paper feathers tucked in between the scale-esque seed wings?

We went on a walk to gather up a few pinecones for the project, and I was surprised at how small some of them were.  Easter egg sized, really.  *Ding!!* And that's when the idea for the annual turkey hunt was born.  We collected even more pinecones and made quite a gaggle of gobblers.  (Technically, a group of turkeys is called a "rafter" but my fondness for alliteration sometimes trumps *ahem* truths.)

As is the case with the springtime egg hunt, the turkey hunt will start off with the birds being hidden by the grownups, but the game usually continues as the kids then take turns hiding them for each other!  Ah, a little respite for the chefs and sports fans as the little ones entertain themselves for a while!

By the end of the long weekend, we would pack the turkeys up till the following year, keeping our rafter in the rafters.  

A fun tradition, indeed!  So, will you be making some turkeys for your own hunt this year?

November 14, 2011

30 Days in Your (Art) Journal

I am two weeks into a 30 day online class from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer about the daily practice of art journaling.  I have been fascinated with this concept for about a year now, and in January started an art journal at the encouragement of Julie's Art Journal Every Day online community.

Art Journal Every Day

The things that make Julie's concept of art journaling so doable are a) there are no mistakes and b) spend just 10 minutes a day.  I started out really strong, enjoying the daily ritual, experimenting with paint and sketches, writing in a bit of the day's happenings.

While I've kept at it, adding to my art journal here and there, I admit that my practice changed as time went on.  I wanted to spend more and more time on each session, time I just didn't have.  So instead of limiting myself to the 10 minutes, I'd just skip day after day, waiting for an opportunity to play around without a time constraint.

A couple months ago I had a mind to change the focus of the journal, and use it as a life book/catch all.  I started adding To-do lists and grocery lists to blank pages, just trying to get back into the habit of cracking it open on a daily basis.   Not. Very. Inspiring.

When Julie announced that she would do an online art journaling class, I thought that would be just the thing I needed--having someone hold my hand and inspire me to get back to the basic premise of "just 10 minutes a day".  Boy, was I right!

Julie's video lessons are always so straight forward, and getting to see her talk through her process with the choices she makes is really helpful.  She really makes you feel that there are no wrong choices, no bad decisions.  And, she is sticking to that 10 minutes!  She sets a timer at the beginning of each lesson, and off we go.  After the video she types up a bullet list of take home points, and she always lists supplies she used and substitution possibilities so that you really tap into your creativity and don't feel like you need to go out and buy a bunch of stuff.  

Here is what I've accomplished in the past couple of weeks:

I am thoroughly enjoying myself!  I can't get over the culminating results of what only 10 minutes a day can become!  If you would like to join in or check it out, click here or on the "30 Days" icon on the right column of this blog.  

Thanks for visiting and letting me share with you!

November 03, 2011

The Eyes of Lost

This past summer we found that the TV series LOST was available for streaming through Netflix and made an almost nightly ritual of watching it as a family.  The kids, 14 year old J-Girl and 12 year old J-Boy, were so into it, and it was really cool to watch a "real" show with them.  My babies are growin' up!

And I am ruined for watching live TV.  I can't deal with all the commercials, so love my DVR and Netflix, and can't fight the indulgence of watching multiple episodes at a time, or at least not having to wait a suspenseful week for the next installment.

Watching this way, there may be some artistic subtleties that would go unnoticed if having to wait seven days for the next episode.  In LOST, you might be surprised how many opening scenes begin with a close up shot of someone's eye.  We would laugh every time!  It became a family inside joke to the point that we were screwing around with the cell phone camera and taking pictures of each others eyes one day.  At that point, I knew a scrapbook page was in order.

When the creative lovelies over at Punky Scraps put together a challenge including of all things, a picture of your eye, I knew I had found my muse!  While only 2 items needed to be included to fulfill the challenge, I think I got all but one on this page.

Here's the list of elements they challenged to be included in the layout:

     Hessian/Mesh (I had to look that one up: hessian=burlap)
     A tag
     Steampunk imagery
     Your own handwriting
     Black mist
     A picture of your eye(s); what do they say/mean to you?
     Lace of any kind

And here is my resulting layout:

Bazzill Cardstock; My Mind's Eye and DCWV papers; StazOn and Distress Inks; Stampin' Up and unknown stamps; found mesh, burlap, and transparent box; Elco 19g wire; Craft Essentials paint; Sharpie, Uniball, and Stampin' Up pens

Ok, so the fun began when I printed out the pictures of our eyes.  J-Girl had just opened a new package of sewing machine needles and I found the plastic packaging under the dining room table and toyed with the idea of doodling a TV set to go over one of the eyes to play up the visual of what the essence of this story is.

I didn't have any black mist, so I diluted some black acrylic paint in a little mister bottle.  The result is kind of gray, and if you have seen the show, perhaps you will recognize my ode to the Smoke Monster.

I was multi-tasking as we combed through thrift stores and costume shops last month.  I was hunting for one of  those  lapel pins with wings that commercial pilots used to give kids when they'd fly for the first time (back when a budding aviator could tour the cockpit!).  No luck, but while surfing the net last week, I came across an awesome alternative idea and instructions for making DIY paperclips over at The Sweetest Occasion.  I had found the perfect way to incorporate metal into my project, get an airplane on it, and give a nod to that fateful flight number:

I will definitely have to work with making more paperclips!  It was very empowering to wrangle that metal into the shape I wanted it to be.  In that respect, I have always admired metal working artists; to take a medium that is seemingly impervious to change and heat it and pound it into submission at the mercy of the artist's imagination--incredible!

Thank you for visiting!

October 26, 2011

The Raven

You know what they say about the best laid plans...well, I ran into a snag early on in my Halloween themed scrapbook venture.  Somewhere in the mix of transitioning from film to digital cameras, a boy's diagnosis of autism, a crashed hard drive, and a particularly splashy dolphin named Cindy (the only sea mammal I've ever held a grudge against--at least for this long) I found that I was MISSING three precious years of Halloween photos.

I was in denial for a long time.  How could they really be missing?  And, was I really in such a stupor when my son was diagnosed with autism on October 26, 2006 that I took no pictures of a proud Mario and his loving sister, Sailor Mars, on Halloween five days later??  {OMG!  Today is the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis!}

After a year of maniacal and fruitless searching, I came to terms with the loss and devised a plan.  I would mix in Halloween themed pages and lore between the years' pages so the big chronological gap would not be so noticeable.  I have kept this book as a close companion to keep me inspired, though I haven't created much from it's contents yet.

In it there is an excerpt from Edgar Allan Poe's famous 1845 poem, The Raven.  "Once upon a midnight dreary".....I created an homage to this famous work:

Cardstock:  Bazzill Basics; Paper:  Cloud 9; Ink:  StazOn, Inkadinkadoo; Stamps: Stampin' Up; Paint:  Plaid; Pen:  Sakura Pigma Micron, Marvy Calligraphy             

The bird himself was so flat looking, straight from my printer (and Google Images--thank you Naama!).  I used some glossy paint to add some detail to the wing, feet, beak, and eye.

I didn't have black glossy paint, but this midnight blue was worth a gamble, and I am quite pleased with the results!

The windows, while looking as if they required a steady hand, were simply tapped on with an old credit card dipped in brown paint.  I used a silver ink pad and my finger to add frost to the window pains and some misty fog crossing in front of the painted moon.

Oh, and good news!  My neighbor (yes, you, Pearl-my lone follower!) found a picture from one of the missing years!  2005:  the Pretty Witch and the Fireman!  Hooray!  

Thank you for visiting!