Thursday, July 26, 2012


Meet Cousin Spinnaker, once a curious fae enchanted with human invention, he died a sad and flightless death after his wings became caught in the gears of darling cuckoo clock.

He looks content in this image though, doesn't he?

Spinnaker is one of three fairies featured in my Fairy Photo Album, the second of my matchbox books for the swap I was telling you about.

The photo doesn't do him justice.  The flowers have large clear glitter flakes and his wings sparkle.

I took this photo about half way through the book making process.  I still have some finishing work to do before the "binding."  But it's coming along.

I feel a little like Spinnaker today though- flightless.  My mojo has wilted either due to the triple degree heat or the simple fact that each day brings a new crisis or the threat of one.  Little mini fires to keep us running.

Right after I posted last week my new file drawer came apart in my hand!  We'll get to that in a minute.  Then Friday arrived full of promise, until the nasty red wasp sting which swelled my arm up like a German sausage.  Then Saturday morning my son showed me his purple swollen thumb, which I knew had to be x-rayed.  So, with my arm swollen to the point of tingling fingers and no wrist, I hauled him off to the urgent care.  This time we returned home with a helpful page about sprained digits.

I still had dinner guests on the schedule and a date with our local Fresh Market and unknown to me, a date with the ac repairman!  Yes, after the urgent care and the grocery store I returned home to a busted ac.  The week can only improve!

Then 3 pediatric doctor appointments this week, one includes three sets of immunizations!

 Here's hoping next week runs a little smoother and my creative juices surge.

 Okay- Pity Party is OVER!  Sorry for that.

Let’s talk nuts and bolts now- literally.  You remember how proud I was of all my pretty filed papers?  Such happiness.  But right after I posted last week I reached down to retrieve some cardstock and the drawer front fell apart in my hands.  Really?!

Now, let’s be frank; paper is heavy!  Cardstock is even heavier.  But shouldn’t a crafting furniture manufacturer factor that into their designs???  I know, I know, I expect too much.  So, I spent the next 48 hours or so deliberating whether to return the wimpy thing or beef it up.  I shopped around for other options.  Apparently everybody else knows that cardstock is too heavy for file drawers because I couldn’t find another file drawer option for 12x12 sized cardstock.

 I looked at other options, like paper towers.  In fact, I found a very viable option on ebay for a reasonable price.  But there were three factors that gave pause to the idea of a paper tower.  The first consideration was the numerous packages of hanging files I had already purchased, opened, and tabbed.  They COULD NOT be returned.  Secondly, a paper tower does not conceal the paper behind a door.  After staring at a leaning tower of paper for so long, I have loved not having to look at the visual clutter of paper.  And goodness knows, I need all the help I can get de-cluttering!  Also, I like having a storage surface on top of my paper storage for those pretty bins that hold my pads.

So, that settled it!  I loaded up my tool caddy with a drill, liquid nails, some extra screws and four clamps.  I think the drawer will hold for a while.  I am sure the second one will fall apart eventually and I will need to beef it up as well.  Until then I will use my kid gloves.

Now, I have a fairy photo album to finish, and I think my Circus matchbook still needs some finishing touches.  That’s the goal any how.

Keep Calm and Carry On!
Another one of my fairies.  Should he be more modest??  Like Spinnaker, he is a work in progress.  I'll share the finished book next post!
PS:  The fae images are from Smeared Ink.  They are colored primarily with Copics and enhanced with glitter glue.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Circus Dreams

Did you enjoy the circus as a kid?  For me the circus is a bit of nostalgic fantasy.  I recall going to the circus a couple times, but the recollection is pretty hazy.  It may not be recollection, but fiction.  Who knows?  I am not doing any better with my children.  They bug me to go to the circus, but we never make it there.  It seems that the circus breezes in and out of town so quickly and our schedules are usually already full.  Then there is the question of price.  Like a gigantic circus balloon itself, the powers-that-be have inflated the price of a ticket to something that floats out of reach for most families.

Besides, who needs a circus when life itself consists of three rings of chaos- on a good day? Take yesterday for instance.  At 9:30 the kids and I troop downstairs to the car to make a "quick trip to Michael's".  My daughter wanted to decorate a birthday cake for her daddy.  She baked a chocolate mint cake and planned to cover it in light green fondant and embellish it with the Green Lantern symbol.  My son had made Star Wars cookies and needed icing.  Rather than Martha Stewart it the whole way, I decided to take a short cut- the cake decorating aisle at Michael's.

We did NOT get to Michael's.  The car would not start.  AAA came to my rescue, only to inform me that I needed a tow truck- not a battery jump.  So, three hours later- that's three hours of pacing in front of my windows- the tow truck finally arrived.  During that three hours I worried about how to pick up my grandmother for dinner, prepare dinner, finish the birthday desserts, and pick up my car. After watching my car disappear down the road I surrendered to the need to cut my losses.

I pulled out the mixer- again.  (Remember, we had already made the cookies!  Thank goodness we baked the cake a day early.)  I made a batch of royal icing.  Then kids descended upon me!  How can two kids feel like an invading army of locusts?  With their four hands flailing and the threat of permanently coloring every surface in my kitchen looming over me I felt as though I should be beating off an army of locusts.  (If you have ever used paste food coloring, you know how messy it can be.)  But, we managed to mix several colors and get them into ziploc baggies without tie-dying my countertops. 


   And then, I took a deep breath and turned them loose!

Yep!  I needed a shower and the peace that comes from steamy enclosures.  Good thing I took the shower when I did.  Shortly after stepping out of the shower I heard a clatter, frantic voices laced with imminent tears, and a flurry of activity.  The tray of decorated cookies had collapsed throwing my children’s sugared artwork onto the floor.   Tie-Fighters crumbled, bounty hunters fell, and even Yoda lost appendages! 

We salvaged what we could, finished icing cookies – which meant simply squeezing on coils of royal frosting, meticulousness had become boring- then frosted the cake.  Needless to say, my hopes of seeing my art studio died with the car in the morning.

But back to the magic of the circus- despite the fact that I have no strong memories or fantasies about the circus, I have been drawn to circus images lately.  And when I signed up to swap Matchbook Cover books at the Smeared and Smudged blog, I saw a chance to explore this theme.  I am committed to making two of these books.  I have finished one. Please visit my Flickr photo stream to see all the pages.  There is a link at the bottom of my blog.  (If it doesn't work, please let me know.)

Also, I signed up this week to take a Copic Certification class in August.  I am so excited!  I guess this week has been more productive than I thought.

It really helps to take a step back and evaluate each week.  I hope you get a chance to do the same.  It’s like sitting on the trapeze and looking downward- when you can see all the rings simultaneously, the chaos seems to disappear.

Be the best Ring Master you can be this week- after all, it’s your show!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Under Construction

My hubby left town for two days.  That's one night folks.  That's really only a several hour differential from the normal schedule, but my crazy side took over anyway.  It's not unusual for me to tackle some project at home while he is away- in fact it's often the norm when I am not bogged down in other obligations.  So this time it was my studio space- AGAIN. 

I am sure I suffer from some psychosis in which organizing the hobby space is actually more of a hobby than the activity itself.  But you all saw my space a few weeks ago.  Finally, the chaos overwhelmed me.  In an attempt to "clean up," I found myself moving furniture and dragging the offspring to Michael's and Target for some magic storage space.  You know the kind.  Hermione mastered it with her little purse in Harry Potter, and Mary Poppins set the original example with her magical carpet bag.  I always hope to find that particular storage solution on the furniture aisle and on sale, or at least not exempt by the current coupon.

So, on trip number one I brought home some file drawers for my 12x12 paper.  A couple years ago I put together a space for my children, giving them each a desk for crafting and some cube storage.  It has worked out quite well, and with a 40% discount it was pretty economical.  So, I bought the same storage furniture for myself.  Jetmax makes it.

Let me just remind you that I am NOT an engineer and I suffered immensely through Physical Sciences in school.  So imagine my disappointment after building these file drawers to discover they cannot be stacked.  The manufacturer did not print that on the packaging.  Nope.  But it just stands to reason that after loading a $27 particle board box with 30# of cardstock it will tip when you open the drawer.  (Too bad I didn't reason through that beforehand.)

I have worked it out though.  I bought two of those drawers and they sit side by side- on the ground.  Actually, I put a piece of non-skid rubber shelf liner underneath them.  Then I stacked bins of cardstock tablets on top.  They seem to be staying put for the moment.

Now, for trip number two.  With two grouchy sleepy kids in tow I headed out for Target and Michael's again.  I needed more hanging files for those nifty file drawers and another plastic crate for the cardstock pads.  But Target didn't have anymore cheap plastic crates like I bought last week.  Nope.  They had a full aisle of fabulous modular storage furniture.  (It might even be magic!)

If you haven't seen Target's modular plastic "ITSO" line let me describe it.  The base unit is a plastic cube.  It comes with plastic pins to enable you to fasten multiple cubes together.  There are two advantages to this method.  The first is that you won't need any tools.  The second, if you decide the pins aren't sturdy enough, you could replace them with some short nuts and bolts. 

Each base unit has holes to enable you to snap shelves into place.  There are three heights you can choose for the shelf which means you can configure the cube to your liking.  Then they sell attractive storage bins/drawers/organizers that fit all the configurations.  I have included some photos below.

So, do I have a recommendation???  It's a little early to tell about durability, but my money is on the Target line.  It is attractive and comes in three colors, black, tan/taupe, and white.  There are NUMEROUS possibilities for completing each cube from inexpensive plastic bins (which I bought for my ink sprays) and nicer fabric covered bins- which look more polished.  I am already dreaming up ways to class up the exterior.  Think fabric covered boards, or cork, or painted panels with hooks- since there are holes in the four corners I could easily bolt on a board.  You can even purchase dry erase cabinet doors that fit on these cubes.  But all that will have to wait for another business trip.

In the meantime, I need to address all the things I ignored in the last 48 hours- and finish putting away all my toys.
Here are the two Michael's file drawers on the bottom
 with two ITSO collapsible bins on top.  The bins fit into the ITSO cube.  I have chosen to use them as a standalone unit.  They are the perfect size for pads of 12x12 cardstock.

Doesn't the cardstock look pretty when it is filed and neat?  Now, I just have to finish making tabs and filing it!

These are two ITSO cubes stacked.  I inserted two shelves in the top one and one shelf on the bottom.  By the way, you can see the Michael's units that I constructed for my kids in the background.  They look nice, but they are not as practical as I would like.

This is a compartmentalized fabric covered drawer for the ITSO units.

This is one of the less expensive plastic bins for the ITSO unit.

This is the side of the unit.  I just wanted to show where the holes are that allow you to connect more units.  I hope to take advantage of these holes to get creative with some hardward at a later date.   

This is the six cube unit from Michael's.  The one complaint I have is that you are stuck with these large compartments.  They work great for the kids because we use them to store puzzles and toys which work great in the bins and in the shelves.  But I worry that I will always be digging for what I need with this design.  We will see.

If you are looking to improve the organization of your craft space, I hope you find some of my observations helpful.  Feel free to email me if you have questions.  I am far from done.  I will continue to experiment and change things.  Because like I told my daughter, a consistent mess is proof that I haven't found the right system yet.

I will also post some completion photos next.  I am so excited about having a clean and pretty area to work in!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bookmark the Memories

 Hello friends.  Here it is, 10:00 pm- later by the time I actually post this- on a Friday night.  The close of a week, which leaves me to consider, what have I treasured this week? Which memory will imbed itself into my addled brain?  Sad truth is, I don't know.  But I do know which memories I would like to take to the old home with me.

Certainly time spent with family.  I had the fam over for Fourth of July.  We tend to take gatherings like that for granted.  But I know that my 85 year-old grandmother won't be around forever.  Heck, none of us will be.  So I know how important it is to gather together, break bread, and just be with one another.

I would like to be old and able to recall the night my eight year old son set off ALL the fireworks.  I am not talking about sparklers.  No, he didn't even see one this year.  I am talking about the progression from screaming dragons and wild cats, to bottle rockets, to something in a box half the size of him.  He walked forward with that large box cradled in his arms with the grill lighter in one hand, set it down on the plywood, lit the fuse and backed away- just a little... with me urging him to come back just a little further.  And he repeated this until every big box had been lit and every sparkling star had been shot.

I would also like to recall the moment we sat at the table and I taught him to snap beans.  He doesn't like green beans, or any other vegetable for that matter.  But we try.  So I made him put down the electronic games just long enough to snap a pound of beans with me today.  And it seemed like the world found its groove, like things were finally in place.  Surely days were meant for quiet things like snapping beans with your children.

And even more amazing were the two hours I spent speed cleaning with my children this morning.  I will forever wonder how I managed to get them to Windex the windows, clean the cabinet doors, and vacuum the floors all in a single morning.  

Did I mention sewing with my daughter?  We have declared July "Sewing Month".  I helped her make a really cute i-pod holster/carrier.  She even did a little basic applique.  I created a cute wine bag.  When I showed it off to my husband he remarked that it "was nice, but we probably would never use it."  I know.  I thought the same thing.  But it's the process that matters, right?  That's what I tell myself about nearly every project I undertake.

Yes, it has been a good week, despite the sadness of my sister losing a furry family member, and the urgent needs that come with company- family and other wise- to clean house and cook.  There were moments where I lost sight of the happiness that surrounds me.  But here, at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I can see the forest through the trees.

This week has been a difficult one for carving out time to create, but I have managed a couple small projects, and tonight I will share them with you.   Both projects feature images from Stampotique, a small rubber stamp company I discovered several years ago.  I saw a challenge this week, from them, to "Think Outside the Box".  I have attempted just that.  The first is a card that is not square or rectangular.  That is why it is outside of the box for me.  I rarely work odd-shaped cards.

 This has always been one of my favorite images.  I shape-cut the card and then shape cut a panel to adhere.  I used bubble wrap with yellow paint to create some pattern and texture on the panel.  I also swiped a black ink pad across the edges.  I then cut a smaller panel from patterned cardstock, and yet a smaller one from blue.  I used stamps to create texture and to create the sentiment.  I stamped the image on white and colored her with colored pencils and some paint.  I added a ruffled bit of elastic and some inked flowers in the lower left corner.

In the interior, I added a small matted image of her boots.

 This is my actual submission for the Stampotiquechallenge:  SDC57 "Outisde the box"

My second project outside of the box this week was a bookmark.  I just received the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel, and it occurred to me that I could use a really cool bookmark.  (Don't get me started about the book itself- as I am an English Major and former Lit and Comp teacher, I am deeply conflicted over this series.)  So, I grabbed the Stampotique Fairy image that I purchased for my daughter a couple years ago.

One of my more recent lessons has been the importance of persevering, even when I think that the project is a failure in its infancy.  That isn't to say that an ugly duckling always turns into a beautiful swan.  But usually the end product is better than my worst fears in the beginning.  And so it is with this bookmark.  From the inital application of colors I began to doubt myself.  But knowing what my recent experiences with CT's workshops have taught me, I carried on. 

 The fairy's hair consists of punched flowers and her wings have been glitterfied!  The background began with Dylusion ink sprays with rubber stamping on top for some depth.  I also added some rub-ons from Basic Grey and some doodling.  Also, at the bottom, our fairy stands upon a Sizzix toadstool.  I mod podged the whole thing.  That in itself can be tricky.  You should be aware that the Dylusion ink sprays will reactivate when wet. This actually works in my favor, as I like to muddy them up a bit.

 Well Friday has rolled into Saturday.  For those of
 you noticing the time gap- don't worry.  I didn't stroke out, nor did you.  I took a break to watch some television with my hubby.

I still have some tricks up my sleeve, and tomorrow the carriage regains its squash-ish state of being.  So... until next week,
                       and treasure the little moments.