Friday, December 7, 2012

Glitter Goof?

While wrapping Christmas presents today I realized I had made a judgment error of historic proportions – not an error with any lasting social repercussions, just an error that would wink at me for the duration  of my life in this dwelling.

The error in my judgment has humble beginnings in the cavernous boxstore- Sam’s.  So many poor decisions are born there!  Before entering the store I had wound my mental clock tightly knowing the persistent tick would remind my feet to keep moving and remind myself of the task at hand.  Raspberries, that’s all I need-  Just several boxes of raspberries.  Then I would charge onto the next errand at full tilt.

I paused momentarily at the bright shiny aisle promising joy and happiness.  Shelves of ribbon, tinsel, and scotch tape heralded the approaching holiday.  “Just the raspberries….” I reminded myself and then fell into step with the steady ticking of my mental clock.  I hastened to the produce department.

After selecting my berries I had to pass by the Christmas aisle again, and just as Odysseus allowed the siren’s song to lull him to shore, I allowed the bright sparkle of holiday glitter to cast its magic.  Heeding its call, I put 5 rolls of holiday cheer in my buggy.  That’s 250 yards of instant holiday cheer and sophistication.  This year’s packages would be magazine-worthy!

The spell held until I cut the plastic barrier away from the ribbon.  The glitter floated to the floor and dusted the gifts like a powdery snowfall.  Tiny specks embedded themselves in my jeans and attached to my very spores.  The magic of Christmas will certainly linger now.

Perhaps it’s okay if a few hundred specks escape the jaws of my vacuum today.  Maybe the universe is trying to remind me to find the magic every day.

I hope you find the magic in the mundane today.-  Renee

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting in (Stamping) Gear!

I have missed my blog.  I have missed my art time.  My world has been a blur of school carnivals and Halloween and laundry.  All my good intentions vanished- like so many things around here!  But, I pushed aside the clutter, like an adventurer cutting aside the jungle, and found my work space.  It was still there!  All the paint spatters, dried Superglue, and neglected tools welcomed me back.  But what happens when dead paint brushes greet you?  You know, the ones that you assured yourself you would wash as soon as you put them down.  Instead you felt the need for just one more quick embellishment, one more stamped image, then the phone rang…  Now the bristles are a blue plastic mass.

Well, I can’t give you a NEW paint brush, but I can help you restore your paint encrusted bristles to working order.  Ready for this?  White vinegar.  Yep.  Pour some white vinegar in a glass and soak the bristles.  After the paint has softened and some of it has dropped out of the bristles, use your finger nails to clean the bristles.  Then wash the brush well in soapy water.  This has saved many a paint brush at my house.

After dropping my encrusted paintbrushes in vinegar, stashing all my beading supplies, scraping polymer clay off the floor, and vacuuming up all the tiny paper clippings  I finally had space (physical and emotional) to play.  Of course by this time it’s nearly bedtime, but I determined to “carry on”. 

Some time back while visiting my sister-in-law in Dallas I came across an intriguing new stamp toy.  Bright green gears and cogs promised to open new rubber stamping windows!  I couldn’t wait to begin.  Of course I opened it as soon as possible to run my fingers over the smooth plastic and turn the cling stamps over in my palms- but I had not actually made anything with the contraption.

So, with the mission to conquer the Stamping Gear (by Inkadinkado) I pulled up my rolling chair, spread out the pieces before me, and grabbed a supply of white typing paper.  I tried to find some stamped samples online in galleries, but there didn’t seem to be much out there.  So, I began to play with the tools.  I have learned a few things about the Gear which I will share with you.  There is so much potential here, and I hope Inkadinkado will exploit it.  Can you imagine a set of cling “gears and mechanisms” to go with the Stamping Gear?  And a new selection of sizes and smaller cling stamps could make the contraption more applicable for card making enthusiasts.  (Hint, hint Inkadinkado! )

Here are a few basic observations I made while playing.

*When making an image to go on a card, reach for one of the gear shaped pieces, the ring or oval, rather than the smaller cogs.  While the cogs look smaller, the diameter of the stamped image is much larger than what results from the interior of the gears.

*Use a fast drying ink to prevent smears and smudges.

*Use a juicy inkpad.  This technique uses a lot of ink!  Think about it, when stamping a closed pattern you will be stamping your image 32 times!

*The Gears and Cogs both have triangular shaped holes in them that make it easy to stay on pattern.  For example, when stamping at every second notch you can just proceed to the next triangle.  Or for stamping every fourth position skip one triangle.  You’ll see what I mean when you try it.

*When you intend to stamp along the outer edge of a cog or gear and are placing your stamp on the paddle, keep in mind the triangular notches that extend out from the gears and cogs.  Be sure to place your stamp far enough from the edge of the paddle so that the notch doesn’t interfere with stamping.

 *Try it out on typing paper first!   I have started my very own notebook filled with samples and notes about how I accomplished the look.  I will share a few pages with you.
Here I recorded the tools and patterns I used.  The two tone image shows the effect of off-setting the second stamp image.

Again showing the use of two colors.  I started with just the image on the right, then I repeated that and stamped inbetween each branch with the citronelle ink. I took notes of tools and patterns.

The last three images:  The first two show the difference between a completely closed pattern, meaning I stamped at every notch and an open pattern where I stamped at every fourth notch.  The last shows where I began recording the stamp placement and orientation on the paddle.

Well, duties call.  But throughout the next week I plan to keep experimenting with my Stamping Gear.  If you own a Stamping Gear I would love to see some of your creations and hear some of your tips.

Happy Weekend!-  Renee                                                             

Friday, October 19, 2012

Candy Corn Turkey

Happy Friday!

I have visions of candy corn and turkey dancing through my head, as is evident in my Candy Corn Grumpy Turkey.  I didn't mean to give him candy corn for his tail feathers; it just sort of happened.  But I like it.  I think it makes a statement.

I awoke several times in the night to the aroma of slow cooked pork.  Yes, I have been reading creepy books at bedtime, but not last night and there are no pigs in the book either.  The aroma was no figment of my imagination.  The smell wafted from my kitchen where I was indeed slow cooking pork for a tailgating dish.  Yuummmm.  'Tis the season for tailgating, and Halloween candy, and Thanksgiving meal planning (which means I may need to test run some recipes tee hee), and bulging blue jeans!!  AARGGH!  The pounds just creep up on you, don't they?  So, that means it is also the season for blowing the dust off the exercise equipment and tossing those musty workout clothes with a Bounce sheet before putting them back into rotation.  But with the start of the season comes the promise of great things.  Great meals and a little extra bending room in the waist of my favorite bluejeans.  So, I am excited.

I am also excited about my newest skulls.  Several have already found new homes, but a few remain to be adopted.  You can find them in my Etsy shop today.  More to come.  In the past I focused on the earrings, (and some prefer the earrings.  I have already done some custom earrings for those who had bought some last year.  So, if earrings are your thing, just ask!) but this year I have been enjoying the versatility of the pendant -more room to play and more ways to incorporate other materials.  I finally gave in and bought a jar of Renaissance wax to seal my steel.  Anyone have any tips about using this stuff?  I am just winging it at this point.  I also found a punch and die tool at Michaels that is supposed to work on 16 gauge material.  Let's hope it is as sturdy as it looks.  I'll get back with you on that one.

I hope you all have a fabulous Fall Weekend.  Enjoy a cocoa, a lager, a game, or just the sound of the leaves rustling across the patio and the song of the wind chimes as Autumn announces her arrival.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Express Lane Rant

How’s that speedy check-out lane working for you?  Do you find that half the time you want to use one none are open?  While I stand in an open express lane,  I find myself covertly counting the number of items in the basket before mine.  (On the whole the public tends to underestimate the number of products it is buying.)  And when I commit to one of these “quick” lines, I know that I have accepted a gamble, usually a losing one at that.

I have tried to cut my losses.  I have tried to create a system for determining which line will move the fastest.  There are so many variables:  the types of items being purchased, the cashier, the customer, coupons, sales events, even the time of day.  (You know, when it’s finally your chance to put your package of Tampons on the counter only to have the checker turn off the light because her shift is over, or it’s break time.)  I remember once last year when I thought I had made a brilliant choice.  I chose the line with the woman purchasing a gift card.  How long can that take?  Well, it turns out she was purchasing THIRTY of them!  SEPARATELY!  Thirty items in the ten and under lane.  Well, I guess since she paid separately she found the loophole.  But if I had seen thirty women purchasing single gift cards, I would have stood behind five people instead.  At least the cashier resented that her “express lane” status had been abused and she apologized to me.

Yesterday, I encountered an enabler.  Yep.  An express-lane cashier who exacerbated the wait.  I admit that I did not thoroughly consider all the variables.  But it was well past 5:00, the time that I lock my door to the crazy world and refuse to participate until the masses have settled down in front of their televisions.  And so when I got in line behind the single elderly woman in her Wal-Mart-provided motorized scooter in the “20 Item” line, I was simply ticking away the seconds until I could get home and put some supper on the table.

Those seconds ticked into minutes and I craned my head around to find her scooter’s basket already full to the brim with those offensive white Wal-Mart bags.  She still had another 8 items on the conveyer belt, and that’s when the monetary transaction games began.  “How much do I owe?  Oh.  Well put those two items on then.  Now how much do I owe?”  She paid the first bill of $100.00.  Then everything else needed to be rung up as another transaction, but maybe she didn’t want all of it. 

At that point I was glowering, shifting weight from one tired foot to the other, shooting red laser beams from my eyeballs at the “twenty items” sign hoping to disintegrate it, mentally calculating how much more time I would be there versus getting in another line behind several people, all the while pretending to humor my children by listening to at least parts of what they had to say. 

I spent 15 minutes being “next in line” before I changed lines and found a spot behind two other customers.  I paid for my 12 items with a thirty second swipe of the credit card and left with the octogenarian customer and the senior citizen cashier still tying up the express lane.  Old age may rob our senior citizens of their mobility, continence, and basic good manners, but it endows them with cajones the size of steroidal watermelons and tunnel vision.  (I say this with love and a smile, because I am VERY close to one of these described octogenarians.)

And that is my rant this week.  Avoid discount box stores after 5:00.  Never fall for a lane that is doubly hexed.  And NEVER NEVER take those check-out signs at face value.

Wooden Butterfly Skull- pendant
Cherry blossom detail
Oh, yeah, last week I gave you a tiny peek at my current projects.  They progressed a little slower than I hoped this week, but here’s what I have to show today.  (I have a few more still under construction. Once I have those complete I will begin putting them on Etsy.)  Feel free to leave feedback.  I learned that white is good in theory only.  All polymer clay artists will tell you that white is only white while it is in the package.  I knew that.  What I didn’t count on was how difficult it is to photograph white!  Suggestions are welcome!

Cherry Blossom Field Skull - pendant

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Here's a peek at what I have been up to this week, but just a peek!  When October arrives I can't help but start creating skulls.  They are a little Day of the Deadish and a whole lot of cute.  I really like mixing materials, and I hope to experiment more with that this year.  Check out my Etsy site where you can find a few resident skulls right now.  But the newbies haven't been listed yet.  They will be arriving soon, like in the next week.  So be sure to visit a few times.
This was one card I just had to hold on to for a while.  I LOVE this image from Tiddly Inks.
It's not just skulls that have kept me busy these days.  Nope.  I had a wee bit of surgery which gave me some extra time to play with Copics- and it gave me a BUNCH of reasons to make Thank-You cards.  And what says thank you better than Copics?  And since I had so much "down time" I decided to add to my colorful collection of markers.  They arrived and now I am busy creating some crafty storage for them. But I promise to save that for another post.  

I also have to give a huge shout out to my Mom!  She earned her OTCH during my blogging absence.  An OTCH- one of those acronyms that I have no idea what it means.  I do know it is incredibly difficult to achieve and in the sixty years our local dog training club has existed only five people have earned one.  And while a simple little card cannot possibly be adequate congratulations, I nonetheless felt inspired to drop one in the mail.  The image is a personal favorite from Smeared Ink. I love all their little Grumpies!  I also LOVE the dew drops- the clear and metallic pink plastic embellishments on the front.  They bring an element of fun.  And you can't see it in this photo, but the black strip at the top and bottom is actually glitter tape from Michael's.  I found it on a Halloween end cap and knew I had to have it.  I think I will have to buy another roll or two!

Have a great weekend!-  Renee

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn Carrion

Fall arrived this month on the wings of a vulture to scavenge the smoldering remnants of summer.  Her stomach rumbles in the gray clouds that shroud the sky.  Green turns yellow in her shadow and the earth’s fever cools.  Autumn promises rest in her golden embrace, a prelude to the crystalline months to come.  “Winter is coming.”

All photos taken by R. Griffin.

While racing through a day’s errands last week I came to a screeching halt to observe this errant carrion in my neighborhood.  The iphone could not do it justice and I rushed home to fetch my camera.  Creepy.  Powerful.