April 12, 2008

Highlighting: June Crafts 'n Things

The mail carrier just delivered my subscription copy of the June 2008 issue of Crafts 'n Things. I must say that I was pretty excited. You see, several months ago, Managing Editor Dawn Gehring asked if I would consider being the "creative spirit" for this issue. This is the column in which they introduce "designers and other paper-industry personalities eager to share their insights into living creatively every day."(Can you hear that little voice saying, "Pinch me. This can't be true!") I provided answers to the questions that Dawn forwarded, but seeing this in print is pretty overwhelming. Here's the cover of the magazine, so you'll know what to look for on the magazine stand.

I hope that you will check out my projects in this issue too. First, on page 80, you'll find a card keeper made from manila envelops. It's one inky project! These are some of my favorite stamps, and I think that stamping with Ranger Jet Black Archival Ink and stippling with Ranger Adirondack Dye Ink Pads really shows them off.

You'll also find two cards on page 92 that I made using a faux encaustic technique. This is easily accomplished with Ranger Adirondack Color Wash, Ranger Clear Super Fine Detail Embossing Powder, the Ranger Non-Stick Craft Sheet, and your heat gun.

If you have not checked out Crafts 'n Things since Amos Craft Publishing acquired The Rubber Stamper, this would be a good time to do so. It appears to me that the magazine now contains just as many pages devoted to rubber stamping as were found in The Rubber Stamper plus other projects. (And I've been amazed at the number of ideas that I've found from what I would consider to be non-stamping projects.)

Crafts 'n Things is definitely an evolving magazine, and I've seen growth with each issue. I appreciated the fact that in the June issue the magazine decided to make the change to list stamp credits with projects in response to reader comments. I hope that those who are interested in insuring the availability of a magazine with a strong stamping interest will continue to send feedback and suggestions to Crafts 'n Things.

One last quote from the Creative Spirit article: Look for her (that would be me) "Hotel ATC Album" next (August) issue. I can't wait for you to see what I did with one stamp!

An Album about Me!

I’m probably like many people who scrapbook. Looking back over my albums, you’ll find few layouts that include me. Normally, I avoid the camera, but something happened that made me want to change that. You can find the reason in the layout, “No Way.”

I posted the layouts in reverse order so that the description would read in order from top to bottom. As I said in the first post, “Reflections: I Am Blessed,” I don’t plan to provide detailed descriptions about the techniques or the layouts, just whatever touches my fancy at the moment.

I wanted to use an album that was 11” x 8 ½” so that limited my choices. I’m usually not concerned about how my pages coordinate with the color of the album itself, but I wanted something for the title page and last page that wouldn’t fight with the green album and red paisley highlights. Beyond that, when you look at the album pages together, the style and colors are a little schizophrenic!

Now about the title page . . . Have you ever received a gift where you were almost as excited about the wrappings as the gift itself? The “L” and key as well as the stitched black ribbon under them decorated a gift bag from my friend
Holle. I knew that they would find their way to a future project and this was it. I painted the “L” with Ranger Red Pepper Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabber edged with Pitch Black Paint Dabber. I stamped the paisley haphazardly over the letter with Ranger Pearl Adirondack Metallics Acrylic Paint Dabber. The chipboard numbers and key were also highlighted with Paint Dabbers.

The hearts are freehand. I didn’t intend to include two shapes and sizes, but when the first one I cut was too large, I cut the center out. The solid shape heart seemed to need definition, so I stitched around the edge with black thread. (Having first learned to sew in what was then called home ec, I have to concentrate to sew randomly) “Me,” swirls, and arrows as well as all the die cuts in this album are by QuicKutz.

No Way

The seed idea for this album – a newsflash about an “elderly” woman feared to be the victim of foul play. The woman didn’t look elderly to me. After the commercial, I learned that she was 69. Elderly? My mental response: No way!

This caused me to think. Sometimes I wish that I really “knew” my parents and grandparents, the facts and details of their lives and more importantly, the whys of what they did. What did my grandmother think when forced to “retire” from teaching to marry my grandfather. What was it like for my mother to grow up on a farm in Kansas? What were my father’s innermost thoughts when he served in the European theater during World War II? It’s too late for me to get answers to these questions, but with one of those “big” birthdays approaching – one that ends in a zero, I decided it was time to do an album to document this time in my life. I’m not 69, but I want my children to know that I’m nowhere close to elderly. My life is rich and full. I want them to know that, and I want to give them a glimpse of the reasons behind my involvement in the things I do.

I decided to use two of my favorites, paint and glitter, for this page. Ranger
Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers are so easy to use with foam stamps, and there is nothing more fun than playing with Ranger Stickles Glitter Glue. (I drew with the Stickles and at times smeared it around with the tip of my finger.) It’s amazing the depth that can be added by outlining with black and white pens and with the addition of a little glitter glue. Plain foam stamps gain a three dimensional quality with these simple additions.

I Still Love Being Your Wife

In a few months, we will celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary. What more can I say? After all these years, I still love being your wife!

When I first met other scrapbookers, scrapbooking consisted of flat stickers, paper, and decorative scissors. This layout reminds me of some of my lumpy early attempts and the questioning looks I received when I shared my dimensional designs.

Here, I wanted the focus to be on the title rather than the pictures. Embossing with Ranger
Vintage Photo Distress Embossing Powder produced an interesting grunge effect – the result of printing on a laser transparency with an inkjet printer. (The inkjet printer ink sits on top of the laser transparency and seeped under the Distress Embossing Powder when heated.)

It’s difficult to see, but there is subtle tone on tone stamping on the base cardstock. Ranger Distress Ink highlights provide a vintage touch that compliments the patterned paper. As for the rest of the elements, silk flowers and a scrap of inexpensive polyester lace misted with diluted Ranger Adirondack Color Wash complete the pages.

I'm One Proud Mom

My daughters are young adults, and our relationship is in transition. I am proud to be the mother of these two delightful young women.

I wanted to use recent pictures of my daughters, but the ones we’d taken on their last visit didn’t turn out well. When I looked in my stash and found these papers I’d created on a play day, I decided to tint my pictures to match. I painted the chipboard letters with
Ranger Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers to complement the surreal effect of the photos. I’m satisfied with the artsy effect and the poor photography is no longer the focus.

That’s What Teachers Do

When I started this album, I planned to do a layout that revolved around my teaching assignment. While I would rather not be in the spotlight, I hope that my daughters will look back in the future and see this as confirmation of the important part that teaching has played in my life.

I knew that I wanted the eye to be drawn across the page through journaling, but I also knew that I would have a difficult time in creating balanced text boxes. I experimented on the computer until I achieved the look that I wanted adding doodling around the printed text boxes and in “waves” across the page. Of course, after I covered the paper with
Ranger Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabbers, I had to go over the printed text and doodling again. I was pleased with the playful effect.


My teaching assignment involves seniors, but I also serve as a volunteer “academic coach.” This means that I spend my planning period and time before and after school working with athletes. This is a hodge podge of that part of my life. The improvement that we’ve seen in the GPAs for student athletes has been “unbelievable!”

A simple stamped background supports the playfulness of the title.

Absolutely Worth It

Ever found yourself doing something that you didn’t anticipate? I taught in the church weekday preschool and Sunday School over 20 years ago, but I never considered that I might be working with preschoolers at this stage of life. When I look in these pictures and see myself in strobing glasses or wearing a tiara, I am reminded anew that these precious little boys are worth it!

The background papers were created by scraping paint across the cardstock.

But I Don’t Even Like Punch

I should probably have added an exclamation point after the title. There is a pocket behind the punch bowl that explains how a woman who doesn’t like punch – that would be me – has ended up making the punch for church social occasions. (The recipes are hidden there too.)

The leaves were stamped with
Ranger Adirondack Acrylic Paint Dabber, and starbursts were added to the striped patterned paper with Ranger Adirondack Dye Ink. I like the way the jewels in the punched circles and on the leaves pick up the sparkle in the punch bowl.

This World Is Not My Home

Sometimes I feel the need to wax philosophical – to try to make sense of things that don’t make any sense at all.

I'm not sure why the background pages look like they are different colors, but they really aren't. The title was printed on a laser transparency with an inkjet printer. (Using a laser transparency allows me to heat set the black embossing powder. I intentionally overheated in several places to warp the transparency so that it wouldn’t lie flat.) The background was created by applying gesso for subtle texture changes and colored with Ranger
Adirondack Dye Inks (Mountain Rose, Peach Bellini, and Sunshine Yellow .)

Technology Shapes Friendships

Ten years ago, the computer had no bearing on my relationships other than when I typed an occasional letter. Five years ago, I participated in internet groups that revolved around common interests. Now, technology plays an integral part in my friendships (documented further in a page not included in this album) and provides an easy way to maintain contact. I can’t help but wonder what twist technology will bring in the next five years, but I plan to be ready!

Deli paper was painted for a textured “grass.” After I dabbed the Ranger
Adirondack Copper Metallic Acrylic Paint Dabber onto the background cardstock through Punchinello, I liked the effect on the Punchinello and tore it into pieces to include in the layout. The houses were constructed from scraps with pen added details.

If You Think Zoning Doesn't Matter

Our home of 16+ years is in a small subdivision in a rural area on a lot that is about an acre. The location is picture perfect for our simple lifestyle. (Well, not everything’s perfect. It’s probably a good thing I don’t know whose idea it was to construct the one entrance on a fatal curve over a part of the creek that is prone to flooding, but that’s another story.)

We are not golfers, but our lot backs against a public golf course and provides a serene country view. A developer bought the golf course and unbeknownst to us, last summer received approval from the planning commission for annexation and zoning for multi-family construction. That’s when the struggle began.

I realize that in many areas of the country development of this nature would be welcome, but we have serious concerns. We’re past the fact that we bought a home with a golf course view that would be encircled by other construction. What we question is the nature on the development and the impact on our property values.

At this point in time, single family “attached” housing is planned. I realize that there are many parts of the country where condominiums are attractive, but this is not one of them. We have serious concerns about the market for this type of product. An unoccupied condominium project stands within a few miles of our homes. Construction was halted months ago, and no buyer has been found for this eyesore. Closer to town in an area that we would have considered highly desirable, a comprehensive plan that included retail, business, and condominiums was abandoned recently for lack of interest. Based on sales in our area over the last five years, we have every reason to fear that condominiums will not sell. We also know that could mean a quick change in zoning to apartments. So much for the value of homes set on large lots in a peaceful little neighborhood. We could always hope that the market would improve for multi-story multi-family living in an area with minimal amenities.

The five month struggle documented in this layout is now nine months long with no end in sight. The city council subsequently rejected the annexation/zoning recommendation from the planning commission for lack of a general plan, a requirement under their own zoning laws. The planning commission took care of that this week by a change in wording from a prerequisite “general plan and any applicable local area plans” to a ”comprehensive plan or applicable local area plan.” I’ve always heard about the power of words, but this change in conjunctions is more than a subtle shift in meaning. So much for state law. We don’t have a local area plan either, but I’m sure it will take little time for the planning commission to whip one up since citizen input and state statutes for studies that should be considered in planning have always been ignored. After all, we’ve always done it thus way.

One positive change has resulted. The required legal notice can no longer be hidden in unreadable mini type in the local paper. We’ve just begun work on a blog to provide information on this issue. I’d rather spend my time on time on other things, but we’ve got to do what we can to protect the investment we have in our home.

I scanned a few of many newspaper articles for the background for this layout. The “icicles” were cut from the plastic liner that comes under our favorite pizza and painted with Ranger
Adirondack Silver Metallic Acrylic Paint Dabber. “Zoning” was also stamped with the Silver Metallic Dabber, outlined with white and black pens, Use of the silver paint to edge the picture added to the starkness of the layout – my intended result.

A Few of My Favorites

It can be difficult to scrapbook things that don’t go together. The challenge is met here through the red QuicKutz subtitles, random doodling with red and white pens, and stamps that draw the images together.

Recognize the gold bow? That was around a box of Valentine candy. By outlining with a red pen, this became the perfect titleholder for rub-on “favorites.”

Notice that these pages appear wider than 11 x 8 ½? They are. All my “favorites” wouldn’t fit on two pages, so I added a page that was just 3 ½ inches wide between them. I used the “hot knife” point from my Walnut Hollow Creative Versa-Tool to trim the page protector to the proper size. (Think a very hot Exacto knife.) Cutting with the hot blade fuses the pages together, an easy way to cut the perfect size.

An Unexpected Pasttime - NASCAR

People are generally surprised to find out that I’m a NASCAR enthusiast. My interest started in an attempt to share one of husband’s favorite pastimes, but now I have to admit that I’m a real fan. I have plenty of clothes with the number 24 to prove it!

Two things: Check out the stamping on “Fan.” This enhances the title and ties nicely to the patterned paper under it. The chipboard “24” was painted with Ranger Distress Crackle Paint. For big cracks, apply a thick coat as I did. A thinner coat will result in smaller cracks. The key is to apply Distress Ink when the paint is dry to highlight the cracks.

Reflections - I Am Blessed

This is the final page of the album, but I’m going to start here so that anyone reading will find the information in order from top to bottom. I don’t plan to provide detailed description of the techniques or layouts, just whatever touches my fancy at the moment.

A simple page. QuicKutz title and “Reflections” journaling on a transparency. (Looking back as I write this, I realize that all die cuts in this album are by QuicKutz.) The “flowers” were cut from patterned paper and attached with eyelets. The strips of patterned paper and hand “stitching” at the bottom lend the appearance of fabric.

April 5, 2008

Speaking of Michael deMeng

It's a looooong way from my house to any of the big name art retreats or workshops, so when I saw that Michael deMeng would teach at Random Arts last spring, I decided that it would be worth the six hour drive (each way) to attend.
Michael is the author of the recent release, Secrets of Rusty Things: Transforming Found Objects into Art. His work focuses on the "transformation" of the common into works of art. While Michael's art tends to take a turn to the "dark" side, I was primarily interested in gaining information about the basics of three dimensional construction.
One of the classes that I took was assemblage (pronounced as you would collage.) We began with a plain cigar box and used Liquid Nails to attach the pieces and parts that would find new purpose in our work. (Yes, that is a plastic pig on the front of my creation!) The transformation came in how Michael mixed and applied the Golden acrylics. (This alone was worth the price of the workshop.)
While I was thrilled with my project and all that I had learned, I know that my box was a puzzle to some of my friends (and that's to put it mildly!) I think the important thing was that everyone who participated was able to work within the comfort of his or her own style. Believe it or not, there were some whose work had a clean, elegant look, there were a couple that had a folk art touch, and then there was mine. Whatever the style, I think that each of us left with a satisfying experience and affirmation from a great teacher.

Above: the outside and inside of my project
Below: a closer look at the inside of the box

By the way, I noticed that Michael will be at Random Arts again this spring. Check out his "Found Object Book Assemblage" and "Morpheus Box" here. You would not be disappointed in any class you took from him.

A Happy Detour to Random Arts

What comes to mind when you consider a vacation to Asheville, NC? Biltmore Estates? The Montford or Grove Park Historic District? The art deco structures in downtown? These are a few of the many reasons Asheville is a fabulous tourist destination, but when my husband mentioned a trip, my first thought was Random Arts. How could I resist the opportunity to return to Saluda! Just 30 miles southeast of Asheville and a straight shot down Interstate 26, I knew this was a must add destination to our trip.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending two Michael deMeng workshops at Random Arts. (More on that in the next post.) Saluda is a quaint town that is worth a visit on its own merits. This trip, the cherry trees were in full bloom, and the main street stores, as always, invited strolling consideration.

My first glance inside Random Arts was, as in my prior experience, a sensory overload. First, I walked through to get an overview of what was in stock. Then, it was a leisurely review for initial shopping choices followed by systematic investigation of every nook and cranny. Every place I looked, there were new treasures as well as samples that had me drooling. This was the best shopping fix since I was in Saluda last spring!
The shopping is great, but the thing that really makes Random Arts special is the owner, Jane Powell. Featured in the September/October 2007 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Jane and her staff make any visit to Random Arts a heartwarming experience. They exude enthusiasm for their craft and treat each customer as a special guest.
I knew that Jane should be busy packing for the shop's upcoming road trip, but she made me feel like there was nothing that she would rather do than to chat (and pose for the picture below.) The shop has a great selection of stamps, beautiful handmade papers, and unique items that can be used for embellishment or the foundation for a project, but it is the people who make this a place I consider a must visit.

If you, like me, find that travel takes you nearby, you'll want to detour to Random Arts in Saluda. You won't regret it!

April 4, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas

I remember singing this song as a child - holding the note for "five golden rings" then singing faster and faster as I counted down to the "partridge in a pear tree." I never had a problem remembering the first five items, but I've always gotten confused with the numbers that go with maids a milkin' and lords a leapin'. When I found the "Days of Christmas" cubes by Stampington, I looked forward to creating a Christmas keepsake (2007 November Rubber Stamper) to help me keep the days straight.
From the beginning, I envisioned a monochromatic project in shades of aqua.When I saw a black plastic frame with 12 small openings at the dollar store, I knew that I'd found the perfect format.

First, I painted the frame with Ranger Adirondack Aqua Paint Dabber and edged with Stream Paint Dabber. The veins (Pool Paint Dabber) and crackle (Stream Paint Dabber) were stamped with the Stampendous Faux Finish Quad Cube. I sprayed inexpensive white bridal flowers and leaves with a Ranger Inkssentials Mini Mister filled with 1/3 Ranger Adirondack Stream Color Wash to 2/3 water.
To create the background paper for stamping, I misted watercolor paper to dampen and stamped the Stampendous Marble Texture Cube with Ranger Adirondack Aqua and Pool Ink misting to blend the colors. I then stamped the images with Ranger Adirondack Stream Ink and embossed with Ranger Super Fine Detail Clear Powder. I used my waterbrush to add color to the images misting to blend and mute the colors for a subtle effect. The center section was created in the same manner with Bring Roses (PSX) and Lace Corner (Stampabilities.) You can see the detail here.

"Love" and "gave to me" (Hero Arts Artistic Lowercase & Uppercase Alphabets) were stamped on a transparency with Ranger Big & Bossy Clear Ink and embossed with Ranger Turquoise Embossing Powder. "My" was stamped and embossed on watercolor paper then attached to an acrylic circle tag. "True" was die cut with the QuicKutz Maddie Anne alphabet and edged with a Ranger Adirondack Pigment Stream Pen.
This inexpensive project - less than $2 - is the perfect reminder of Christmas past and a carefree childhood.

Sister "Secret"

The Rubber Stamper asked me to submit several layouts for the July 2007 issue, but when I found out that only one page would be published from each designer, I asked them to use the "Secret" layout. I'm not sure what her older sister was doing - probably telling jokes or subtlely tickling, but this was one of the few photos of our younger daughter with her mouth open when she had braces. You can follow the progression of the photo shoot from the top to bottom right to explosive laughter on the left.

I created the look of mulberry paper with the Inkadinkado stamp and Ranger Adirondack Purple Twilight and Eggplant Inks. By lightly misting the inked stamp with water, the effect is a watercolor look. You may continue to mist and stamp without reinking as long as ink remains on your stamp. Then heat set. A Filigree Heart (The Artful Stamper) is stamped under the letter "e" in secret in the same way.
I stamped the Large Romantic Swirl (
B Line Designs) onto a transparency with a Purple Twilight Ranger Adirondack Acrylic Dabber, and "Secret" (Making Memories Fab Font Alphabet) was stamped with a Pitch Black Paint Dabber. The focal picture was edged with Cool Perl and Purple Twilight Paint Dabbers. Tip: Use Ranger's Inkssentials Matte Accents in attach transparencies. You only need a dot or two under the paint where it won't be noticed.