February 24, 2009

journal background bonanza

Last Saturday, I took my journals and supplies off to Frenzy Stamper in Scottsdale (my favorite store!), to take advantage of Debbie's work area. She has open lab time whenever there's not a class or event scheduled. (here are pics of the store's work area taken during a class... I wish I could spread out like this at home!) Of course, I schlepped totally too much stuff with me- two tote bags full of paper and markers, and my pink Artbin case (it's so cute- check it out here- and useful- it holds quite a bit of stuff!) full of paint, stamps, gel medium, etc. I say too much paper because I didn't even LOOK at most of the paper I took, but if I hadn't had it available, I am sure I would have needed it!

It was really nice to spread out (I took up about three entire tables- LOL!) and work without fear of cats or dogs getting into my stuff... I worked for a few hours, and completed about 8 backgrounds in two different journals. Of course, I had to buy a couple small things while I was there, but I controlled myself; I did NOT buy any of the new Tim Holtz stamps (yet) but there's always next time! (He just introduced 12 new stamp sets... check them out on his blog. I really like at least 4 of them, but I think I've narrowed it down to just the one or two that I like best, and will get them eventually.)

What do you do if you don't like a background you've painted?? why, you paint over it again, of course!! these pages were originally done a few weeks ago, and were a strange brownish-pink color, with some light blue stenciled and masked designs... I liked the designs, but hated the color, so I painted over them, leaving enough of the original design peeking thru so you can still see it. The underlying design on the lefthand page was made using snowflake-shaped paper doilies from the dollar store (you can sort of see them in the middle and towards the bottom of the page), and the righthand page was made using letter stencils (upper right corner, underneath the exclamation point) and a dot stencil (lower right corner). Now I love the colors, and the pages look way better with more layers of paint. for me, the moral of the story is: when in doubt, keep adding layers! These two pages are from my composition book journal (one of those black and white notebooks you can pick up for 99 cents at back-to-school time). The lefthand page is covered with various papers in one of my favorite color combinations, with a couple black acrylic paint stamped accents. The origami paper is from the Kelly Kilmer stash I bought a few months ago- would you believe I hadn't actually used any of it till I used these small pieces?? (Wow, I hadn't realized I bought that paper way back in October!!) I was "saving it" for something special (as so many of us artistic types do- I collect lots more things than I will ever be able to use) but finally decided it was time to start using it! (my pages are special, right?? LOL! that's a bit of a joke, but it is true- why NOT use the good materials for my own projects?!?) The right-hand page has a gray painted background, stamping, and a bit of scrapbook paper on... These two pages don't "go together" at all, but I kind of like that, actually- they don't need to match; those colors and papers were what I felt like using at the time.
This page is also covered with paper, along with a bit of paint and black acrylic stamping. The mulberry and lime green color combo is NOT something I would have thought worked at all, but with the gray and black added, I like it a lot! And, I've already finished up two of these pages since then, too! Since I usually work on backgrounds and the actual "journaling" separately, it's especially nice to have backgrounds ready to use when I feel like writing... I will definitely have to have another "background bonanaza" soon! (edit: I just realized that 4 photos don't exactly make a "bonanza" but I didn't want to make this post any longer... for more pics, check out my Flickr page.)

February 18, 2009

cut and paste therapy

I was in an icky sort of nervous mood this afternoon when I got home from work, so I headed into my art studio for some cut and paste therapy... it's a sure-fire way for me to relax and de-stress! (I do have projects to work on, but de-stressing was more important.) Making journaling backgrounds is a good way to relax, and then when I feel like writing on the pages, they'll be ready. This is a two-page spread in my large spiral-bound journal that will eventually be about Charles Darwin's 200th birthday (I think). I didn't like the paint on these pages originally, but I dry-brushed on some gesso, and voila! a softer, more muted background. A few stencils and foam craft stamps, and the pages were ready for a random border of paper. (they were painted already when I started working on them today- today was all about pasting and doodling.)
Right-hand page... for the border, I used vintage book paper and wallpaper, magazine clippings, scrapbook paper, and "scraps" left after punching images out of cardstock.
Left-hand page. After gluing on the scraps, I started doodling on the border, to add more detail... my doodling is sort of an OCD obsessive sort of thing that also helps me to relax.
An "extreme close-up" of the OCD doodling on the border- gold pen, Sharpie marker, and souffle pens work magic on my mood, and on my journal pages.
A glued page in my composition book... scraps left over from the journal spread above, with some added details of red. (to be totally truthful, the largest red circle was added to cover up a wrinkle in the green paper, then I decided I liked how it looked so I added more.)
another glued page in the compositon book... the border on this page started out as a baby wipe that I used to wipe paint off my brush. Random bits and images added from various piles of stuff on my desk.
large journal page... the background was painted ages ago, and was waiting to be finished. (I do that a lot; I hardly ever make a page from start to finish in one sitting.) I found the phrenology head somewhere on the internet (I don't remember exactly where, sorry!), then added journaling with white Signo pen and Sharpie poster paint marker. So- a couple hours of cutting, pasting, and writing, and I'm good to go thru the rest of my work week! (now if I could just get that swap project finished...)

February 16, 2009

Spoiler alert!! Valentine Mail-Art

I forgot about President's Day (no mail, darn it!), so some of my Valentine mail may be really late in getting to its destination, but I can't wait any longer to show my postcards to you!! I started them out with a large piece of corrugated cardboard and peeled off the outside layer to expose the wavy insides (every once in a while I go thru the recycle container at work, looking for cardboard boxes... not every box is the same type of cardboard- some tear apart easier than others).

After I exposed the corrugated layer, I painted the whole piece with acrylic paint and gesso- dry brushing gesso, red, pink, light blue, and green over the entire thing. Then, I cut 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 pieces for the postcards, and went from there. (fyi, these pics were done using the scanner, not the camera, so the colors definitely look better in person.)

For these two, I used a Stampington rubber stamp (Scroll heart) with heat embossing in pirate's gold... The paper and stickers are all from the Basic Grey Sugared line... I love the look of Basic Grey papers, but for some reason I've always been afraid of using them- maybe because there's so many patterns, it scares me a little. I really like the way it turned out on my postcards, mixing it up with the paint and the rubber stamp.
The tickets came from my favorite store, Frenzy Stamper. Debbie has rolls of blank tickets on tons of colors; since they're blank, you can stamp anything you can fit onto them! (Frenzy Stamper is definitely one of those stores that I can't go into without spending money, but she has such good stuff, I can't help it!!)
After getting the basic design elements together, I brushed gold paint on the edges to finish them off. On the reverse, I glued watercolor paper for writing the sentiment and address... (since some of the cardboard still had the box company logo on... I figured that wouldn't really add too much to the romance of the design.)
I also mixed it up on a couple of them with manila shipping tags, ribbon, fibers, and more of the Basic Grey stickers. These tags caused some consternation for the postal worker at my local PO... she looked at them, made a face, and said "ooooh, this isn't good..." What, I can't mail them?? Everything's glued! "oh, but these small tags aren't secured; they'll get torn off- wouldn't you like to tape them down with scotch tape??" Heck, no, I wouldn't! I spent all this time making them, and now you think I want to plaster scotch tape all over them??
And yes, I know I was taking my chances, but I have faith in our Postal System... thru rain, sleet, snow, dark of night, and all that, right?? I think they can handle a few little cardboard postcards! (PS- please let me know if your postcard got to you in one piece, so I know whether or not my faith was justified!! LOL!!)

February 13, 2009

eeeeep!! you MUST click this link!

my teeth hurt, the pics on this blog are so sweet!! The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee... check it out here.

February 11, 2009

sneak peeks...

...of the latest creations to arise from the chaos of my art studio. I barely got it straightened up from the last project, and it's already a shambles again--so is the kitchen table and island at the moment, too! (I've tried, really I have, but I can't find anyplace better to heat-emboss than the kitchen counter.) These close-ups are all I want to show of my valentine mail-art, till the recipients get them- I want them to be surprised, after all, and I know some ofthem read my blog. Hopefully all the cards will make it to their destinations safely- I never know what the Post Office thinks about this kind of mail, but I will find out tomorrow! (can you guess from the photos what I used for the base of the cards?? It's something that you can find pretty much everywhere, but it's not a "traditional" papercrafting supply.)
Paper, paint, stamping (and embossing), glue, and scissors- it was definitely my kind of project!! I will be really interested to hear what the recipients think of them; they're certainly not the usual "pretty" Valentine's Day cards you can find in a store, that's for sure!

February 09, 2009

Monday links...

...that I don't want to lose. I was blog-hopping, as usual, and if I don't save them, I'll never find them again, cause I have no idea how I found them in the first place!

These two links: Mexico Connect (Day of the Dead Index) which has links to lots of other Day of the Dead info and articles;

and this one: The Dead Come to Life in Mexican Folk Art.

Maybe this will be the year I actually put up a Day of the Dead shrine in our house and visit some of the local celebrations... (Act!! and Explore!! and Home!! it fits all three of my words for the year!)

February 07, 2009

who knew, continued... (a bit of a rant)

who knew that canine dentists would be soooo very expensive?!? I took a personal day off work yesterday to drive Bisbee up to Scottsdale to the dental specialist our vet recommended. We waited about 30 minutes till we got in to see him; he looked at her mouth, asked a couple questions, then proceeded to tell me he would need to clean her teeth and take x-rays before he could tell exactly what was wrong... and that this all would require general anaesthesia, and that it would cost over $900!! (Mind you, that expense is all before diagnosing whether she really has a cracked tooth, and then add to that whatever it would cost to fix whatever might or might not be wrong!)

I'm actually pretty miffed that they didn't tell me when I called to make the appointment that all those costs would need to be incurred before diagnosing anything (and believe me, I did ask). And when I said "I can't afford that," he proceeded to (maybe innocently enough) make me feel guilty about not being able to afford it! (read the following in a placating tone of voice) "Now, I'm only trying to help your doggie, after all..." and "well, how much did you expect it to cost?" Not that much, that's for sure!!! Don't get me wrong, we love our pets, and I would do a lot for them, but we certainly don't have that kind of money, even without the awful state of the economy right now... I wish we had endless funds to spend, but really, who has that kind of money?!?

So, we came back home, I brushed both dogs' teeth (they like the beef-flavored toothpaste a lot), no more super-huge rawhide bones for either dog, and we'll keep an eye on her to see if it gets worse... if so, we'll go back to our regular vet and go from there.

On a totally different subject, we're halfway thru another marathon of Deadwood episodes- we're into season two, and waiting to find out how the annexation of the town to the Dakota territory will turn out. Seems the politicians are only in it for the money, and there's opportunists coming into town to capitalize on the political unrest... not so different in the late 1800s as what goes on today, I guess, just with less bathing, and (maybe) more whiskey!

February 05, 2009

who knew???

who knew there were animal dental specialists, and that a dog could chip its tooth by chewing on a rawhide bone?? It just defies explanation... but, Bisbee is going to the doggy dentist tomorrow, to have a chip on one of her upper canine teeth looked at. We have no idea how it happened; she could have banged her head on the coffee table playing with Sedona, or chipped it on one of those infernal pieces of gravel she's always trying to eat. Hopefully it's nothing too terribly serious (or too expensive- did you know they can do root canals and crowns on dogs?!? I've been reading lots of canine dental info on the web, and it's making me a bit nervous about what to believe.

She has lots of years of chewing ahead of her (just no more ice cubes or big, honking huge chew bones, to be on the safe side--), so cross your fingers that it's something minor.

on the other hand, during all that surfing, I did find an interesting blog- Your Pet's Best Friend- (written by a vet) : check it out here.

February 03, 2009

weekend entertainment in pictures...

It was a typical weekend around here... a little laundry, some television, snacks, the usual. This pic is of my latest flea market finds. Saturday morning, I got up early (6 am!!) and headed out to a flea market at one of the Valley's antique malls- the dealers were set up in the parking lot of the Merchant Square antique mall. It was pretty nice, to be "flea-ing" again; Arizona's flea markets don't compare to the ones back in the Midwest (I have actually thought about traveling back home to visit a couple flea markets: Elkhorn, WI and Sandwich, IL are two of my favorites!), but this one was okay. The entire stack of sheet music was $1; no idea what I'll do with it all, but I just love the square dancing couple on the front of that folk music book! The vintage novel is from the 1930s, and is by an author that I happen to collect- a great find for $3!! (the stories remind me of Phyllis Whitney: mystery/romance novels, set against a backdrop of country estates in the Northeast.) The small flowers are felt decorations on handmade bridge tallies; I have no idea what I'll do with them either, but I had to have them. And, the giant protractor is a teaching aid, I think, and for no purpose at all- just because it was fun!! (for $1, I couldn't pass it up!!) I didn't have time to go through the antique mall itself, so I will definitely have to go back.
I had to take a photograph of this... for a few brief minutes, Arizona was winning the SuperBowl! It was a sad loss...
...but at least the snacks were good! Homemade potato skins, and chili-cheese nachos (with extra jalapenos, of course!!)
...this is a very rare photo of the elusive, endangered, Southwestern Shel-ephant... (only seen in the desert during laundry season.) We had some fun at Sedona's expense while folding the laundry... our dogs are so patient! (sometimes, anyway!!)

February 02, 2009

Monday links

Multiple links to one blog, actually: Posie Gets Cozy...the first craft-related blog I actually ever read, I think, when I was first exploring the world of blogs and the online crafting community. One of my friends (who had never heard of a blog- can you believe it??) recently asked what a blog was, and the best way I could answer was "you know when it's dark out, and you can see into someone's window, to get a glimpse of their life?? That's sort of what a blog is..."

For me, the world of blogging is a great source of inspiration, and it's a wonderful way to get to "know" people from all over the world- I follow blogs from South Africa, England, and all parts of the US. Reading blogs is also sometimes a source of frustration- sometimes I read a blog post and think, "how CAN this person do all these wonderful things, keep their house clean, and do all the other mundane things that go along with keeping a house, and their life, pulled together?? Why can't I do things that effortlessly??" (yes, I know intellectually that blogging is mostly just small snippets of someone's life, and there are probably piles of dirty laundry somewhere outside the margin of the beautiful photos... usually this feeling of frustration is my cue to get off the internet, slow down, and focus on my own thing, not all the external eye-candy.)

Posie Gets Cozy will always be one of my favorite blogs, though... Alicia has a wonderful writing style, and a very honest way of putting things. (Not to mention the photos of cute crafts, cute home decorating, and the extremely cute Corgi and cat that share their life!) Read this post and this article (somewhat hard to read, but well worth the eye strain!) for an intro to her wonderful, REAL, writing style and her cute, crafty life.

(and don't forget to check out the Pets category of posts for the cute corgi and the cat...)