Thursday, August 30, 2012

Octopode Dreams

 Happy Thursday!  It's been a crazy week leading into a crazy month.  I attended Copic class last weekend and now how a beautiful certificate to show for it.  I can't wait to receive my digital badge to place on my blog.  Of course, I will probably need some special class for people with computer learning difficulties to install the little bugger.

Speaking of Copic coloring- I actually started this card last week- before the class.  I was making this card for the TOFF challenge.  I think I am just now slipping in under the deadline.  The idea actually came to me in a rush and then I didn't know how to finish it off.  Don't you hate it when that happens?

The central image is from Saturated Canary.  I fell in love with her because she reminds me of my daughter who inhales very hefty volumes in a single sitting- often long after "lights out."  Then I used some of our most famous and infamous characters along the border.  (I threw the elephant in for sheer fun.)  All the characters along the edge are from the talented pen of Miss Lily Chivers of Octopode Factory fame.  If you have never visited her online shop and blog, you should.

Enjoy your week.-  Renee

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lament for the Bibliophile

A work in progress.  The caption will read, "Book lovers never go to bed alone."  The main image is from Saturated Canary and the smaller images are all from Octopode Factory.

When I saw the sign over the storefront inside of a low-end mall I wanted to reject the notion as illogical.  What would a first-edition bookstore be doing inside a low-rent mall, any mall for that matter?  What cell phone-distracted, under-age consumer will pause for even the blink of an eye, unless to snap a picture of this archaic relic and post on Facebook with the accompanying “LOL?”  But there it sat, a shop filled with books.  And not just any books, books in clear plastic baggies with their top flaps neatly taped down and marked with little rectangular stickers - books proudly bearing their “first edition” status.

I reminisced about a past in which my husband and I frequented such haunts.  We sought them out.  We looked for gems and spent hours rifling pages and scrutinizing the early pages, searching for pedigrees and histories.  Some of our first dates and much of our early years of marriage were spent inside the hallowed walls of bookstores:  new ones, old ones, little ones, huge ones, insignificant shanties, and even one trip to the revered City Lights in San Francisco.
So today, we stepped back in time and stepped up to the glass case to peer through and point out titles and authors before diverging ways to sift through the titles on the shelves.  We picked up two books for our children and left.

As we passed back out into the mall with its frenetic carpet and kiosks devoted cellular media, I realized how much the thought of bringing my kids to the mall to buy a book excited me.  Even as a teen shopping with my friends, I always stopped in at the bookstore, until all the bookstores left the malls.

The death of the printed page has been predicted with regularity, and at I times I think I see it coming.  We lost Borders a year or so ago and the small independent bookstores are nearly extinct.  Thank goodness we still have two large bookstores in town.   But the book collectors, ironically, must resort to the internet to acquire specimens.  How can books cast a spell over potential bibliophiles via cyber space?  Is the bibliophile just another DoDo bird in the making? Are my husband and I the last of a dying breed?   We are not avid collectors, just two booklovers who enjoy stumbling upon an uncommon find every now and then, breathing in the dust and must of a book that has seen many more years than we.

This week, I hope you get lost in a book,  or at the very least a magazine with actual pages.   You know the kind that molt subscription cards and hawk perfumes along their edges.  Let’s see an e-reader do that!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Better Procrastinor?

Hello, my name is Renee and I am a procrastinator.  To all you impacted by my procrastination, I apologize.  For all the birthday cards I mailed late or never sent, I am sorry.  For those of you waiting on a phone call that never came, please forgive me.  To my better half who bears the brunt of my disability- I am forever indebted. 

And while I readily admit my flaw and am fully repentant for disappointing my friends, family, and acquaintances, I do NOT apologize for the ugly disability itself.  Nope.

Here I am, owning it.  Yes, I put off doing some things, but in the meantime I am doing many others.  I could be having breakfast with my elderly grandmother, reading my son a book, cooking a meal, folding a load of laundry, conducting a children’s activity, attending a meeting, or watching my niece and nephews.  And while these activities may not be important to some, they have value that could stretch much further into the future than a freshly pressed pair of khakis or a clean toilet.

As I have shirked some activities lately I have replaced them.  I used to try to get up a little early to write or sketch or catch up on blog reading.  Lately though I am too tired to roll out of bed and do those things.  So, instead I shuffle down the hall, hit the brew switch on the coffee pot, and then check out some small portion of the morning paper.  It was on one of those mornings last week that I encountered John Perry’s piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How to be a Better Procrastinator” in which he offers advice to those of us who most need it.

Let’s assume a few readers may also be afflicted with the twisted gene that causes procrastination.  You may think the article sounds like a good read and so you put it on your to do list- right up there with lose 6 pounds, clean out the attic, and read Moby Dick.  You might get around to that list, or you might find yourself ironing work shirts, packing lunches, and bathing stinky family pets instead.  So, I will pass on Mr. Perry’s advice in an abbreviated format.  For the complete article, follow the link.

1.    When someone suggests minimizing your commitments, don’t listen.   You need something to do while putting off other things.
2.   Don’t feel bad about procrastination.  Depression never helped anyone accomplish anything.
3.   Don’t fantasize about perfection.
4.   Be honest with yourself and others.

So, you may have noticed that last week’s blog entry never appeared.  I procrastinated!  But I did create a few things in its place.

If you have read my profile you know that I flit from hobby to hobby at intervals.  This week I felt inspired to come back to some of my jewelry making adventures.  This pair of earrings includes some polymer clay findings from my stash.  I made these for a friend; I hope she likes them as much as I do.

I also made a few cards in the past couple weeks.  I purchased the All Occasions Grumpies set from Smeared Ink and they are soooo much fun to play with!  Here is one of the cards I made with the grumpies set.  I colored my Grumpy with Copics and used circles to mat the image.  The dripping “goo” edge is the perfect finishing touch.  It’s a Martha Stewart paper punch.

  I have some new tools and toys on the way, including fresh ink pads.  I can’t wait to find them on my doorstep!

Enjoy your week!       Renee

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Die Cuts Daze

A window card using my original image of an Angler fish.

I have 112 reasons to stay inside and play this week.  Don’t worry; I won’t list them.  The 112 reasons of which I speak radiate off the man-made surface of my deck like shimmering poltergeists.  Between laundering loads of pool towels & swim attire and attempting to disengage my children from the electronic tentacles that have ensnared them, I have managed to complete and mail both matchbooks.

I eliminated all the white space I had left in my Circus Dreams book and added the image of a hot air balloon to the final interior panel.  I stamped the balloon twice and used foam to lift the image off the page.  But I could see my foam and I didn’t like that.  So, I used a bit of yarn around the hot air balloon and allowed it to trail after the balloon like tether ropes.  But the hot air balloon made the book bulky and the matchbox flap no longer held it closed.  So, a bit of decorative elastic ribbon became a rubber band of sorts.

The second book, the Fairy Photo Album, turned out very well.  I mounted each of the fairies on black and allowed a portion of each fairy to extend beyond the page’s edges.  I also solved the scoring problem I had with the first book- scoring layers of paper to lay open.  I mod-podged a fabric edge to each page to allow for greater flexibility- so the layers won’t want to separate.  I also added vellum in between each page since I used glitter and liquid pearls.  But the extra thickness took up so much space on the brad shanks that the book doesn’t lay open.  Oh well.  I am learning.  If you want to see the books in their entirety, you can find them on my Flickr photostream.

When I make another homemade book of any type, I will definitely keep the fabric edging idea.  It worked well and I don’t worry about the binding material tearing holes in the pages over time.

And after fussing over where holes should be punched and where score lines should fall, I have retreated to the simplicity of my Sizzix and Cuttlebug.

I admit to being slightly addicted to the concept of die cutting.  But I believe in old school die cutting.  You know, the kind with no cords or cartridges or computers.  With old school mechanical die cutting systems I can continue to crank out seasonal cards in a post-apocalyptic future, because even zombies have Hallmark moments. 

And so this week I have begun to explore new ways to use my dies.  I even found some great tutorials online.  I bought an online class and have gleaned some great tips, products, and methods I plan to try soon.  I am a recent convert to the online class craze; and I am so glad to be one! 

The interior of my Angler Fish card.
Until next time, I leave you with the immortal words of Dori- a wise little fish,  "Just keep swimming.."