Thursday, July 31, 2008

Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so

My son is having an influence on me. Scary, isn't it? I mean, that a teenage boy would be having an influence on his mother ...

So he's all into manga and anime, right? (For those of you who are blissfully unaware of what that is, it's basically Japanese comics and animated cartoons, but, trust me, these aren't your basic Peanuts and Scooby Doo.) And he's teaching himself Japanese. So I don't know if it's that or if I just got interested from seeing other people's artwork, but I've become very enamoured of the Japanese/Asian look lately for my cards.

You want proof? Well, you've probably already noticed it, but here are two cards I've done lately that will settle any doubts you may have had:

This first card is one I did yesterday (yay, I made it into the loft and actually DID something!). On the sidebar of the SCS Weekly Newsletter there was a link to a "Blintz Base card topper" tutorial, and I looked it up because a Blintz is a kind of pancake and I was curious how you could use a pancake on a card ;-). Well, turns out that the Blintz Base is the base fold for most origami (yeah, I know, not a very Japanese name, is it?), and of course I became immediately interested in it. It is super easy to do (I shouldn't admit that, I should make it look like it was really hard and I managed to master it, lol), especially if you ignore doing all the scoring and just do most of the folding by hand. Well, at least if you're not good at getting the scores in the right place. Click here for the link to the tutorial.

I used SU's "Ginger Blossoms" paper for the Blintz part, and regular SU cardstock that I stamped on for the other bits. The Sakura (cherry blossom) stamp is from Hanko Designs, as is the punch I used to punch them out with. (They weren't made to go together, but they worked pretty well.) The sentiment is from Art Neko. The girl is from Stone House Stamps. Oh, and I used the detail flower from the SU set "A Beautiful Thing" as well as the sakura stamp on the plain CS to spiff it up a bit. I confess I don't know if pearls are very Japanese, but the punched out sakura needed something, and the pearls were just the thing. Oh, well, can't be perfect all the time, ay? ;-)

The next card is one I made last Friday when Aidan's girl-friend was over. It was hard not to be Japanese-ally inspired when they were watching a Final Fantasy flick in Japanese, y'know? So I pulled out this Orchid Poem stamp from Art Neko, stamped it with Adirondack Archival Black on watercolor paper and let it dry. Then I smooshed three colors of Distress Inks on my non-stick craft sheet (two purples and a pink -- sorry I can't remember exactly which ones at the moment! bad girl!), misted the cardstock with water and sponged the Distress Inks onto the wet watercolor paper in swirling motions (i.e. "burnished"). Then I dried it with a heat tool, mounted it on copper and Elegant Eggplant CS and mounted THAT on PP from a pad of paper I got at (I think) Michael's called "Zen Garden". Or "Zen Something-or-Other." Not that I'm a "Zen" person, but it was oriental stuff, and I can't help what they call things. Anyway, I slapped that onto an Elegant Eggplant cardbase, punched some Edo (plum blossoms) out of Elegant Eggplant and copper (punch is from Hanko), slapped 'em on there, and voila! a Japanese-style card. At least mostly.

So I'm trying to make cards to sell at this Craft Fair coming up in October. And I find that I'm having trouble making cards "to sell," i.e., that I think will please the general populace and will fly off the table. I do so much better when I make what I feel inspired to make rather than what I think will sell. Anyone have an opinion on what they think I should do? 'Cause, I mean, I could make a million Asian-influence cards and if nobody in my neck of the woods is into that, I'll be sitting there with a million Asian-influence cards that they ooh and ahh over, but nobody buys. And yet, if I can't get inspired to make little cutesy Happy Birthday cards, very few of those are going to get made. Know what I mean? Am I being a Stubborn Artist? Should I just suck up and make the saleable cards? What is your opinion?

Until next time,
Happy Stampin'!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Confessions ...

First of all, I have to confess I have no pictures to show today. I've had a migraine for three days (I promise I'm not trying to copy you, Mary Jo!!), and haven't even looked in the general direction of the craft loft, much less entered to make anything. I do have a couple of cards I haven't shown you yet, but I haven't scanned them yet and migraines are NOT conducive to playing with imaging programs.

Fortunately the migraine has abated, and now I'm just left with the "medicine hangover", which makes me grumpy.

So I have some confessions to make today, after spending hours browsing other people's blogs, looking at my own e-mails, shopping online, etc.

- I can shop online, even with a migraine. I discovered a stamp store that had lots of Asian images and, yes, bought stuff, even though I already have a ton of Asian images I haven't used yet, and even though I really shouldn't be spending that money.

- I don't get the whole rage with "hand drawn" looking stamps. They aren't quite "cutesy" (well, most of them), but they just leave me flat. And yet they're the huge "in" thing right now. What am I missing? Why don't I get it? Is there something wrong with me? Actually, I'm not too disturbed that I don't get it, but I just wish I knew what it was I wasn't getting.

- I don't understand the whole rage with coloring stamped images. But I will confess this is because I'm coloring-challenged and jealous of all the people who know how to make their coloring look good. I stamp because I'm NOT an artist, at least drawing-wise, and I don't know the first thing about "shading" and "highlighting" so I want my stamps to do that for me. And now all of a sudden I'm supposed to have all these Copic markers and be an artist and know just how to make my stamped images look like I drew them by hand and watercolored them. Thank goodness for tutorials! Maybe I'll manage to learn a little bit.

- I don't like "chain mail" e-mails. I don't like being told that if I forward this e-mail to x number of people I'll be blessed, have an "in" with God (I already have that through Christ, thank you), I'll know who my true friends are, etc. Some of these e-mails have great sentiments, but be forewarned: If you send me one, I may or may not read it, and I definitely will not be forwarding it on. (I'm sorry, I got, like, three of these today and it exasperated me even though I dearly love the people who sent them to me.)

- I will never, ever be able to stop spending money on rubber/clear stamps and accessories. It's a horrible addiction (horrible because I really am not a millionaire who can afford to do this), and it causes strife in my marriage and yet I can't seem to stop. If I could stop we could have nicer home decor and things of that nature. Or maybe we could have more money in our retirement fund. Instead I have a whole craft loft stuffed full of things I don't use nearly as much as I should.

So those are a few of my confessions for today. I probably just offended everybody on the planet, but since everybody on the planet doesn't even know I exist, much less read my insignificant little blog, then I'm not too worried, though I DON'T want to lose my 17 subscribers. I do love you all!

I will end on an upbeat note. If you have stuck with me through this post, I'll reward you with a link to a really fun non-stamping blog called "It's Lovely, I'll Take It" that I found through the New Zealand Herald yesterday. It's not a New Zealand blog, but someone had posted a picture from the blog on the "Sideswipe" feature in the Herald. It's a blog dedicated to poor choices in pictures that people put on their real estate listings, and it is both funny and scary. I spent an hour and a half looking at it even with a migraine yesterday, so you have to know it's good!

Tomorrow I have my periodic checkup with the neurologist (boy, will we have a thing or two to talk about, like why none of my meds seem to work these days), and Friday I get to go have my allergy skin tests done (woot -- not). Hopefully I'll also find some time to do some stamping! Or at least to scan the card(s) I have to show you!

Thanks for putting up with my post-migraine gripes!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yay! We can has hurricane!

If you're not an "I Can Has Cheezburger?" fan, you won't get that title, so my apologies.

We finally got the much anticipated and much-given-up-on rain bands from Hurricane Dolly this afternoon! Yay! Actually, they hit just as I was driving to the allergist, and they were not pleasant little rainshowers. The first squall hit with ferocity -- high winds, blinding rain. Yes, I wanted rain, but I also wanted to be safe while driving! Thankfully I made it to the allergist's and back, and we got nicely drenched from here to there and back again. At one point I thought it looked a bit tornadic, but fortunately it was just heavy rain lowering to the earth, and not a swirling vortex of death or anything. Which was fortunate, because I was in a long line of cars waiting to turn right at a semi-rural intersection and it would've been a bit difficult to get the heck out of Dodge and find shelter anywhere!

(And, BTW, I'm not trying to make light of the hurricane -- I know it's caused damage and created heartache for a lot of people, so that's not something I discount. I'm just glad we got some rain. If the hurricane had to hit, I'm glad somebody got something positive out of it!)

Anyway, on to card-making. Obviously today I haven't had much chance to be crafty, but I will show you the card I made yesterday for the TechnoStamper challenge this week. I struggled like heck to get the squares lined up on the window. I was using a square punch, you'd think this would be easy, but noooooo! Not for Miss Straight-Line Challenged. So, in my crafting as in my housework ... I don't do windows. Everything on this card is SU, even the ribbon. Wow, haven't done that in awhile!

The allergist seemed like a very knowledgeable guy, and was very nice. He spent lots of time listening to me, asking questions, explaining things. I'll be having a skin test next week on Friday, and we'll go from there. I'm sure hoping we can get things cleared up and straightened out! Sounds like there is hope!

Okay, Aidan has been cleaning up around here for the visit of his female friend tomorrow afternoon, and he wants me to check his handiwork. Hey, if it gets him to clean my house, she can come over any time!!

Happy crafting! Oh, and puhleeze leave comments on my blog! I hate to resort to begging, but it's so sad to see that little "0 comments" at the end of a post. If you're getting this by e-mail, you can click the title of the post and it will take you there, and just scroll down to the bottom to leave a comment. I've gone in and made it so that anyone can comment, you don't have to have a Google or Blogger account. Thank you!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No Mojo today ...

But I did have some yesterday, as I mentioned, so I will show you one of those cards. I decided the second one needs tweaking somehow, so I'll have to doctor it up a bit before I think it's ready for its' debut on the world stage.

So here's the one that's ready to show off:
I was using an old PageMaps: CardMaps gate-fold sketch, and I thought one of the stamps from my Verve Stamps "Filigree Fantasy" set would look perfect as a sort-of medallion on the circle bit. And then I figured I needed some appropriately matching paper, so I dug out the "Enchante" DP from SU (that has long been retired, but I haven't used mine up yet), and this is what I created. It looked a little bare when I finished, though, the greens being all pale and only using that teeny touch of plum. So I used a swirl from my Autumn Leaves/Rhonna Farrar flourishes set, inked up in Perfect Plum, to stamp a little "interest" over on the left panel. (The Verve filigree is stamped in Mellow Moss, BTW.) If you look closely, you can see a little faux stitching along the long sides of the left panel, as well. I did that by inking up a CutterBee perforating wheel with Perfect Plum Craft Ink and running it along the edges hard enough to lay down the ink but not hard enough to actually perforate anything. It's not the straightest "stitching" in the world, but then if I used my actual sewing machine, it wouldn't be, either!

Of course, are these colors any closer to Autumn colors than anything else I've made recently? NO!!! I have GOT to get out of my Spring/Summer mode and scooch on over into Fall/Winter; Thanksgiving/Christmas for the craft fair in October. I made a background using the old SU "Pumpkin Patch" Spectrum pad tonight, but then I just sat and stared at it. Nothing wonderful popped into my head, no great flashes of inspiration. *SIGH* I did make a card for the TechnoStamper challenge this week, but I'll save showing that until tomorrow. The window part was tough, so I decided I wouldn't be making multiples of it to sell at the fair.

Other than that, it's been a pretty useless day. I've been so tired (still from the sinus infection?), and have just had the "don't wanna's" today. About all I've done is hang out and wait for the promised rain bands from Hurricane Dolly (that haven't really arrived yet, although we've had some clouds and a sprinkle or two), and I did manage to shop for my grand-niece's birthday at Target. She just turned 6, she'll be coming to visit over the weekend (staying at my folks', but you can bet we'll be over there all weekend!), and she loves clothes, so that's what I got her. I was really disappointed with Target's selection, though. I finally have a reason to buy girl clothes, and they let me down. Usually they have such cute things, but today there was just bad mojo all around -- shopping and crafting!

Well, there's nothing for it but to give up, surf the web for a little while and then go to bed. I do hope we get the promised rain tomorrow! And I'm going (finally!) to an allergist, so I hope that will work out well, too. Please pray that this man can fix my stupid sinuses!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inspiration, Part Deux

Well, I actually made TWO cards today in the loft, but you don't get to see 'em yet, because I have two to show you from Sunday and Monday. I'm actually "ahead" for a change!

Let's get right to it!

The first one was inspired by Amy Westerman of Heartfelt Greetings blog fame. The post that got me going was this one. She didn't give it a specific name, but I decided to call it "Distress Smoosh Resist." Here's what I did with it:

For my card, I used the "En Francais" background from SU and stamped it in Adirondack Archival Black ink on Whisper White. Then I ran an Embossing Buddy over it and stamped the large swirly bird and a couple of other elements from Gel-a-tins' "Birds of a Feather" set in Versamark, embossing with clear EP. (Amy used white on hers, but the card she got her inspiration from used clear, and I liked the script showing through so I went with the clear.) After the embossing was cooled and set, I got out my nonstick craft sheet and made three "puddles" of Distress Ink on it by smooshing the inkpads down onto the sheet, side-by-side but not touching. The inks I used were Fired Brick, Worn Lipstick and Vintage Photo. Then using a makeup sponge, I picked up the lighter color (Worn Lipstick, in this case) and sponged it around on the card face using a circular motion, being sure to leave plenty of white space. After that I got another sponge and did the same with the darker of the reds (Fired Brick). And finally I did some major distressing using the same technique with the Vintage Photo. When I was finished applying the inks, I used a soft paper towel (I use Viva for my paper crafting) to rub over the card front -- this both softens/blends the inks and wipes them off the embossed bits. Then I just matted and decorated it up the way I wanted to! I think it's a really cool tech (it's probably very close to something TJ), and I'll be using it more, trying different colors. I have several Distress ink pads, but I totally need more! Like, all 24! lol Oh -- the other samp I used was from the "A Beautiful Thing" SU set, and I punched it out with the large oval punch, and backed it with a Basic Black label punch.

And then the second of these two cards was inspired by one from Michelle Zindorf's blog, "Freedom in Creating". Michelle's "painterly" style is all the rage right now, and while I know I can't really match her talent, and won't even try too often, I had to try this tutorial.

First, let me tell you that this is a very labor intensive technique. Especially if you're doing it three times to make three "identical" cards. (I started to make four but totally botched the first one.) Second, this is a very difficult technique to do if you have shaky hands! Tracing lines along other lines is not something the trembly of digits dare without much fear and trepidation. But all-in-all, I think I did a halfway decent job on it. So without further ado, here is my attempt:

Of course, I never, ever like to exactly CASE someone's work, so I didn't use the same stamps as Michelle. And, of course, she used EXACTLY the perfect stamps for this in hers. I don't even own the same flower stamp set. So I substituted a different SU one for the flowers ("Stem Silhouettes"), and a different swirl (SU's "Baroque Basics" swirl). And of course it was harder to use those. But, as I said, I'm not too bummed with how it turned out. I think from now on I will probably save the Zindorf techs for special one-of-a-kind cards, though!

On a personal note, things are better around here. I finally poured out my depressed guts to my mom, who is an amazing prayer warrior, and somehow the very next day the spirit of oppression that had been eating my lunch for the past week just really seemed to lift! Things are better with the teenager, and even though Bjorn still has lots to be concerned about (like the fact that the insurance company is going to total his car), we seem to be getting along better, too. God is so amazing. I appreciate all the prayers that have been prayed on my behalf, BTW, so if you've been praying for me, please know that your prayers certainly are playing a part in helping me through this spiritual battle! Don't stop, please! As you well know, it's a never-ending struggle (well, as long as we're on this earth), but I am always SO thankful for the brighter days!

Okay, it's getting a bit late, and I'd really like to get a few more negatives done so I can make some more Bible verse stamps. I don't know if I'll get around to making them tonight, but if I get the negs done, then I'll be ready to go tomorrow (and the ink will be dry so there'll be fewer chances of scratches and smudges on them).

Cheers, and have a great day Wednesday (or Thursday if you're in Australia or New Zealand or along in there!)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Inspiration, Part 1

I will try my utmost to be brief tonight -- brief for me being less than a 300-page novel, lol.

I have been working hard the last few days, mainly because I have been Inspired! Several of the blogs I subscribe to or just have to go look up (because they haven't discovered FeedBlitz yet -- if you don't have a FeedBlitz or similar e-mail subscription on your blog, GET ONE!! It makes life so much easier for the lazier among your readers!) have had some great sketches, challenges or just plain wonderful cards that have inspired me, so I've got some goodies to show you!

I'll do two today, then two next time (hopefully tomorrow).

First, there is a new challenge blog out called Y.OU K.NOW Y.OU R.OCK and their very first challenge is to see what CD you have in your CD player, look at the cover and let it inspire you. Okay, I don't use my CD player anymore, I only use my MP3 player. And pretty much all I have on there at the moment is the Newsboys and Phil Joel. Oh, and some U2. So I kinda cheated a little bit because I knew if I just hit the forward button to the next song it would more than likely be Newsboys, and so I grabbed a Newsboys CD (you knew it would be Newsboys before I ever even mentioned them, didn't you?), and this is the one I got:

(The last one with Phil on it! Sob!!)

This one was pretty straightforward, and I didn't have to be incredibly imaginative, so I probably won't get points for creativity, but here's what I did with it:

I hope the Newsboys won't mind that I turned them into flowers/weeds. The lettering at the top is actually white, not blue, but for some reason my scanner and image program refused to believe that, no matter how I tweaked it. All papers are SU except for the green one which is CTMH. Oddly, it didn't take the black ink as well as the SU ones. Colors are Real Red, CTMH's version of Wild Wasabi, Bashful Blue (I think), Sahara Sand and Summer Sun, as well as Whisper White and Basic Black. Inks are SU's White Craft and Ranger Distress Black Soot. Stamps are SU's "Artistically Asian" (sentiment) and Gel-a-tins "Wild Things". I had the hardest time finding a sentiment that could go at the top that was all on one line and not script, and that would make some semblance of sense on a card. So, no, I may not get points for creativity, but I should get an "A" for effort because it was hard to get these stinkin' little rectangles to behave themselves and line up properly! And I made four of these so I can hopefully sell some at the craft fair in October.

And here's the second one:

Julee Tilman, over at Poetic Artistry, home of the Mojo Monday challenge, had a great, easy technique on her blog on Saturday. She called it Letterpress, and it's basically inking up the bottom inside of a Cuttlebug folder, putting your paper in, and running it through the CBug upside down to get a debossed background instead of an embossed one. You can click the link here to see what she did with hers. I made several different ones, and here's the first card I made with one of the backgrounds:
It's a bit, um GREEN and YELLOW, ay? Oh, well. I based it on an old Techno Stamper sketch (one of the first ones), and also used the Cbug Swiss Dots folder to make the right-hand side of the card. The image is my own Jane Elizabeth stamp, and I also used a Japanese-style butterfly from Art Neko. I stamped "dream" on the ribbon (SU ribbon) with SU Garden Green Craft ink. I can't remember who makes the "dream" stamp -- it came with a set of clear stamps I got at Archivers.

So anyway, there are two of my four Inspiration Cards for the weekend/early this week. I hope you enjoyed looking at them, and I will be back soon with the other two. Until then, happy stamping!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stamp makers and Unmounting and ...

(This is long, but there ARE pics of cards further down!)

Well, I've been a busy girl since my last post. I've made a few new stamps (funny -- or sad, depending on how you look at it -- story there), and I've finally finished unmounting probably 99% of my SU stamps!! Woo hoo!! (That's not counting the alphas. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to unmount them.) Now I have a nice, tall stack of CD cases filled with SU UMs just waiting to be categorized and put into their racks. Of course, that's horribly boring and won't produce cards for me to sell in October, so I don't know when I'll ever get around to doing that!

On the personal side of things, this has been a rough week. I have a husband who is stressed out over all kinds of things (what breadwinner wouldn't be these days?). I have a teenager who basically told me that he's uninterested in or bored with his faith. That was a weird conversation. He told me he still believes in God and he's still a Christian, but I got the distinct impression he just doesn't care about religion right now. I guess that's to be expected at nearly 15. And at least he's not shaving his head and chanting "Hare Krishna" or something. But my faith is the most important thing to me, and I want Christ to be the most important thing in his life, too, and it just tore me up to hear him say and imply the things he did (nothing is more terrifying sometimes than a teenager's shrug!) So with that and several other things eating at me lately, I basically had a major meltdown that day. Not in front of him, heavens no. That would have been about as counterproductive as anything I can think of! But it was a rough day, so all my plans for crafting went out the window that day.

Then the next day I spent running around getting my car registered. It was a little bit overdue for that. Um, like six months. Don't ask me how that happened. My husband is usually all over that stuff like a duck on a June bug, but for some reason it just went past him this year. And neither one of us noticed that the little sticker on the front window said "2/08". Granted, there's a blue backing to the sticker that makes it hard to read from inside the car. And, granted, I never, ever look at the stickers whether I'm inside or out. But, still, it was ridiculously embarrassing! So that day was pretty much shot because I had to take Aidan and his female friend to the mall and then to a going-away party for one of their classmates. Aidan was, of course, on Cloud Nine all evening. I, on the other hand, stayed away from the party, but didn't go home, either, because it was too far away and I didn't want to drive that distance four times total, two of them in the dark. So, no stamping that night. (I did, however, go to Archivers and buy a very cool stamp set by Gel-a-tins called "Birds of a Feather", which I did not need, nor could I really afford. *SIGH*)

ANYWAY ... before I tell you about making stamps yesterday, I might as well get on with showing you the two cards I DID make this week.

The first one was inspired by a card my brother gave my mom for her birthday on Sunday. His was store-bought and mass-produced (although it did claim to be "handmade" on the back! The nerve!!), but it was really cool. It had two birds on the front that had been cut out of some kind of heavy cardstock or chipboard and covered with two different swatches of silk fabric. They were raised on foam adhesive. There were also three or four inch-wide flowers stuck around that were also raised. It was a beautiful card, but I promise you it was NOT handmade, except that maybe some poor human beings were hired to diecut the silk and glue it on the birds. And maybe stick the stuff on it.

So, anyway, I thought, "Hey, I could do that, only better!" So I went home and found my "Always" SU set and made a template from the bird in the set. Then I cut out two birds (no legs) from Club Scrap textured cardstock, and again from some Japanese Washi paper I had purchased from Michaels. I "carved up" the washi paper birds and attached the pieces to the cardstock birds to make them two-toned. Then I colored the bird's feet with Close to Cocoa marker and stamped the feet at the top, but then I realized I couldn't do that with the bottom bird -- he was facing the other way! And I can NOT draw even scrawny bird feet. So I ended up using a flat stamp I have and doing a mirror-image thing, then going over the feet with the marker to make them darker.

After that I stamped the flower branch from SU's "Artfully Asian" set along both sides and colored in the leaves. Then I used the Punch Box triple flower punch from SU to punch flowers out of the washi paper and glued them over the flowers on the stamp, plus a couple of extra places. Then I used glitter pens to fill in the berries and the flower centers, and also the birds' eyes. Finally I stamped the "serenity" kanji from the SU retired "Kanji" set with Encore Gold, embossed it with High Gloss EP, glued it on the card, stuck the birds on the feet with pop dots (aka Stampin' Dimensionals), and voila! A very Japanese looking card! (The background is supposed to be Very Vanilla, but it looks kinda white in the scan, BTW)

And, as with last time, I went VERY different with the next card. I was doing the TechnoStamper sketch for this week, and decided to be a little whimsical with it. I stamped the Penguin Chick from Imaginisce and colored in her bikini top and flower. Then I used my Cricut to cut out a blossom from the "A Walk in My Garden" cartridge, and "George and Basic Shapes" to cut out the square (am I lazy, or what??). Both use the SU DP "Bali Breezes". Then I decided to be all clever and use letter squares to make the arrow, since I didn't want to make one by hand. This was where my mojo went terribly south. I had to use the "sign" function on "George & Basic" to make the letters small enough to fit, then cut the signpost off each one. I used the Cricut to cut out the triangle, too. I made four of these cards, and this is the only one I'll show to anybody! I used Stickles on the first two, and got totally carried away. Actually, I'll probably give one of them to my 6-year-old grand-niece for her belated birthday card, she'll love it. Then I did one where I colored in the letters with a white gel pen and made dots around the arrow. Yuck. Then I decided to past the letters over scraps of the turquoise paper so they'd show up better, and that looked SO much better. So I got one out of four. And I'm pooped!

So I will now quickly tell you my stamp making story. I wanted to make some text stamps -- one backgrounder type, and several Bible verses. I wanted the background one to be Japanese letters, and I thought it would be cool if it actually said something, so I found the Beatitudes in Japanese at one of those online Bible search engine sites. I spent eons scaling it and making it just right for the size polymer packet I had (the largest one), and then made the negative. The first stamp I made I did something wrong on and it didn't turn out. So I was very careful on the second one to follow the directions closely. This time I got a beautiful stamp! I was so happy and proud of myself! So I went merrily on my way to make the second stamp -- one in English this time.

Because I never trust myself with instructions, I read them again to make sure I was doing all the steps right. And I discovered something horrible ... I had turned the negative face-down when I made my "sandwich" for my Japanese stamp, and I was supposed to place it face-up! So my Japanese stamp is mirror-imaged! ARRRRRRGH!! Of course, Aidan said only he and I would ever know the difference, but I told him I wanted to sell the cards I made with this stamp, and someone might buy one who spoke Japanese, and THEY would know, and I would look like an idiot. So I totally wasted $20 right there (two large size packets of polymer stuff). Although I can use the background on acetate or vellum until I can save enough money to buy another package of large polymer packets. It's such a beautiful stamp, and it makes such a great image! :(

Well, at least the other three stamps I made turned out okay. I think my motto for this week needs to be "She who pays attention saves aggravation and money." (It wasn't the only thing I screwed up because of lack of attention.)

So, there's my saga for today! I hope you got some enjoyment from it somewhere. Have a great Friday (and weekend, if I don't get back to you before then).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The style gamut

I'm still waiting for comments on my blog about whether you want only part of my entries in your e-mail subscriptions, or if you want the whole thing. Please let me know ... I want your e-mailed-blog-experience with me to be enjoyable!

I can't believe it's Saturday night and I've actually done THREE cards in two days! And, just like today's post title suggests, they vary widely in style! But that actually helped me keep from having "mojo issues", I think. I think it's funny how everybody talks about "losing their mojo" or "having good mojo" in their stamping -- I went to Permian High School -- the original "Friday Night Lights" school -- out in West Texas, and our battle cry was "Mo-Jo! Mo-Jo!" I mean, it was even on our high school building, bigger than the name of the school! If our team was losing, we started screaming that at the top of our lungs, and almost invariably the game turned around and we won. We had a slew of state championships in the years I was a kid out there. Then a few years after I graduated and went off to college, they started tanking. So even awesome high school football teams can eventually lose their Mojo I guess. But the Black & White Permian "Mojo" Panthers used to strike fear and terror into the heart of every 5A high school team in the state of Texas!! That ol' "Go Mojo!!" was enough to paralyze the opposing team! Okay, back to 2008 ...

Anyway, thought I'd show you what I did yesterday and today. First I'll show you my card for this week's TechnoStamper challenge. This is the sketch:

And here's what I did with it, after much labor and toil (and a tiff with my husband that sent me storming out the door and off to Michael's to cool off -- couldn't have finished this without the paper pad I bought called "Zen Papers" ... don't remember at the moment who it's by), once again proving that all things work together for good ... (Sorry, Lord! Maybe I shouldn't joke about that, even if it DID work out well in the end!):

The kitties stamp, as well as the cat whose head is seen in two of the circles are from Onyx Expressions. I'm not sure about the other stamps in the circles -- I thought I was sure they were from Art Neko, but now that I think about it they may actually be Stone House Stamps. I have it noted in my storage notebook, but that's upstairs and I'm too lazy to run up there to check. Anyway, I DO know that the "cat" kanji in the bottom right-hand corner is Art Neko, from the "Babysitter Cats" set. The red/black paper and the oriental script paper are from the "Zen Papers" pad.

So, okay, next is the card I made for my mom's birthday tomorrow. She'll be 76, and she's depressed about the number (why that's worse than 75 I don't know, but maybe I will when I'm there), and she's depressed about the state of the world and the problems her kids and grandkids are having, and she's not in good health ... so I thought I'd do some cheering up for her card. (In general she's not a depressed person, but since she lost her mother back in March, it's been a little easier for her to get a bit down.) So here's the card I made her. I have to tell you God had to help me with this one -- I wasn't pleased with the way it started out, but after a prayer for help, it started coming together nicely, and I really like how it turned out:

The background for this (under the scripture) is a TJ technique called AI (Alcohol Ink) Float. I love this tech, it's really easy and looks REALLY cool no matter what colors you use. The yellow in the corner is really a bit darker -- there's no white on the cardstock -- but I had a dickens of a time trying to get the colors right after I'd scanned it. Anyway, the stamps are Basic Grey, and I wasn't sure I was gonna be able to make them work. There are several of them, and they're meant to be layered, like the designs on a lot of their recent papers, and I'm not that talented. But, like I said, God came to my rescue and helped me get my brain around it, and I think it turned out okay. I think next time I would make the masking over the scripture a little wider so the design stamp wouldn't be right where the words are, but it's still readable, so it's okay.

The scripture stamp is ... I think Crazy Mountain Stamps. The corner punch is a Fiskars punch. And the PP in the back is SU Bali Breezes.

And now for something completely different.

When I saw the Splitcoast Stampers challenge for this week, for some odd reason the focal stamp of this card popped right into my head. I had just gotten it free from as part of a promotion, and was dying to use it, but didn't have any great ideas. So the sketch and the stamp came together, and voila! -- this is the result:

Isn't this little guy from Imaginisce adorable? And, no, he's not my "regular" style, but I LOVE penguins, and the whole concept of a penguin in trunks at the beach ... I couldn't pass that up. I eventually went and bought his girlfriend, Penguin Chick, at another store ( was out), but haven't stamped her yet. Anyway, the accompanying seahorse and fishies, as well as the sentiment, are stamps from a Heidi Grace set (also not really my style, but it's all about the OCEAN, y'know?), and the snowflake is from an SU set. I drew the "NO" circle myself, which is why it isn't positioned perfectly, but, hey, you get the idea. I used the SU classic inkpads and blender pens, and the ol' "squish the inkpad and use the ink in the top of the lid" technique to color the stamps. I am NOT a good color-er (colorist?) by any stretch. All these people with their Copic markers totally intimidate me. I saw a book I have got to have at a Canadian website today, I think it's called "Watercolouring with Markers" or something. It's a how-to book, and it's all about using WATER-based markers (which I have) to make beautiful watercolor effects with your stamps. The book is $25, so I'll have to save up, but it's still a heckuva lot cheaper than a set of Copics! (I have a set, BTW, small one, but I don't use them much, as they do intimidate me!) I used Stickles to make Penguin Dude's trunks sparkle a little (on the yellow), on his Dreamsicle, the fishies, the seahorse's middle stripe and, of course, the snowflake.

Anyway, that's the fruit of my labor so far this weekend! I've got to start getting ready for the craft fair in October. I really need to up my inventory, and there's never any telling when a sinus infection or some other ridiculous health issue will take me out of my loft for a few days, so I need to make hay while the sun shines! I need to think of this as a JOB (albeit an incredibly fun one!) and just get myself up there in the loft as often as possible! It's not like I don't have enough stamps and I'll get bored with my selection! lol

Happy rest-of-the-weekend, and I hope your MOJO gets cranking!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

First, a question ...

... then some photos. (Um, several photos.)

I know there are a few of you who receive my blog updates in your e-mail. In the past I have experimented with sending out the whole entry, and again with just sending part of it and having a link you can click to get to the actual blog to read the rest. The second option (the one that's currently in use) came about because I tend to be long-winded and I didn't know if y'all would be annoyed at getting a long e-mail. But today I got a full entry from one of the blogs I subscribe to that was very long, and I didn't mind it a bit.

SO ... if you're a subscriber to my blog, would you mind leaving me a comment to let me know which you'd prefer? If I get a majority one way or the other, I'll go with that. If I get a tie, I'll probably just keep it the way it is.

Okay, on to other things!!

I was still feeling too tired today to do anything crafty. It's a brain kind of tired, and I think it's from the antibiotic (Ketek). All I've really wanted to do is sleep, and Heaven help anyone who's had to deal directly with me today. I have been exceedingly crabby and pretty much unable to help it, so I'm blaming the med since I can't blame PMS, and I KNOW it's not my normally charming personality! lol

I did manage to unmount a ton of my SU sets (yay!!). But, of course, showing that is boring. So I decided I would go ahead and show you the rest of the photos of my updated craft loft! You can click on any of the photos to see them bigger.

This is a "broader" view of my pegboard wall than the one I showed last time. For some reason this pic just makes it look messy, but I promise it's really not! It actually looks very well-organized (see the pic from the last entry). I have my SU Ribbon Keepers hanging on the wall (I had to cut X's in the back in the places where the pegs would go), acrylic shelves for inkpads, alcohol inks, colorwash sprays, etc., and old In Color pads (guess I'll have to be making space for the '08 ones soon!). The ribbon basket has now been reorganized, so it doesn't look horrible like that! You can pretty much see the rest of what's there (well, not what's in the drawers, etc., but I'm not going to get THAT detailed with you!!).

Okay, here's the wall that overlooks the entry/front door of our house. SU UMs are in the CD cases to the left (I will have a ton more of them once I get to Office Max and get more cases!), the cabinet holds coloring media (except for loose markers, pens, etc.), embellies and a few odds-n-ends. That's my StampRite Stamp Making Kit on the floor to the right. (I need to get that out again ...). My Stickles and most of my liquid glues are in the little bins on the pegboard.

This is just showing how the corner looks once in a blue moon when I actually clean my desk. Trust me, normally I can't find the corner. Well, the corner of the ROOM, but not the corner of the desk. Anyway, I'm so proud of my file cabinets! When I first took over the loft for my stamping stuff, Bjorn had the file cabs in there to hold up the desktop, but I decided I didn't want them (well, one of the ones that was in there was broken and useless). But after trying umpteen thousand other 8-1/2 x 11 paper storage ideas, I came back to this one. Someone mentioned it (don't remember if it was a comment on this blog or a post on one of my Yahoo groups, but whoever mentioned using file cabinets, thank you!! I have all my SU cardstock in them. My SU 12x12 is in the cabinet in the corner (I don't have a lot of SU 12x12, don't really know why.) Again, various stuff in the drawers.

This is where the good times roll -- my desk area, including the pegboard strip at the top that started it all. Prior to the complete pegboard re-do, this strip was highly crammed with stuff, but now I can give my things breathing room. This strip is reserved for the things I need immediately at hand, like my scissors, rulers, brayers, Staz-On inks, Versamark ink, etc. And I've got other "immediate" items at hand in the shelves on either side of my chair. I luvz it, lazy creature that I am!

And here we have my "Goodies Shelves", which overlook the living room and are to my right when I'm sitting at my desk. Cricut machine, Cuttlebug, my SU inkpads (boy, am I glad I was a demo long enough to get all of 'em!), and, my most prized possessions, my scads of UM rubber/acrylic/photopolymer stamps! All those notebooks are full of 'em (except the last two, which are index books). And I've also got my SU wheels, my big cutting boards, and my very important notebooks that have my Technique Junkies newletters and downloads, my non-TJ tech downloads, my sketches and other various instructions and/or project ideas in them. They're my security blankets, truly!

This shows my current patterned paper (12x12) storage system (and my unfinished steps down into the loft -- we can't decide what to cover them with). The top part is a 12x12 file crate housing the "misc" PP, which is loosely categorized according to theme (I gave this job to my 14-year-old son, so there may have to be some tweaking at some point). Beneath that I have (top shelf) SU PP, put in plastic file envelopes according to "set" (my brain is dead, I can't think of the proper name); (2nd shelf) Club Scrap paper; (3rd shelf) CTMH and TAC PP, also in plastic files, according to "set"; (4th shelf) various misc. books of paper and paper collections; (5th shelf) SU scrapbooking kits; (6th shelf) Various more recent books of paper; and (7th and 8th rows) non-SU solid cardstock. Oh, and you can see a teeny bit of my cool bead curtain my mom gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Yeah, baby.

And lastly, (don't know why this pic is out of order -- like my brain ...)
This is the right side of my desk area. The unruly box full of paper is my "I'm too lazy to put away my large scraps" box.

So, I hope you've enjoyed this semi-brief tour of my little "sacred space". Truly, in a sense it is sacred because God gave me any talent or "gift" I have to be creative, and every time I make something, I'm worshipping Him by the act of being creative. He is, after all, the Ultimate and Original Creator. And it is always, always my heart's desire to give all glory and honor to Him. He gets the credit for my loft, too, because everything I have comes from Him and His loving generosity.

I'm hoping to feel good enough to actually MAKE a card tomorrow. I have an idea for one if I can just get my brain out of its hammock and on the job!

Thanks for sticking with the long post!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Attack of the unruly ribbons ...

So, I don't remember if I mentioned it or not (and I'm too lazy to go check), but last week I ordered this new ribbon organizing system from because my non-rolled ribbons have gotten quite out of hand in my craft loft. This may give you an idea of what I'm dealing with here:

If you look in the upper left-hand corner you can see a basket hanging on the pegboard that's full of ribbon I ended up dumping sort-of willy-nilly in there for lack of a better way to do it. I have my SU Ribbon Keepers up on the wall for my SU and some other rolled ribbon, and other rolled ribbon is on pegs. But this stuff ... nowhere to go. My original plan was to roll it all around clothespins, but the clothespins have been sitting around the loft forever and the ribbon is still not rolled around them.

So I got a newsletter from the other day that was showing this new system by Chicory Chic called "Ribbon Rings". This is what it looks like in use: (This was posted by one of the reviewers on, this isn't my photo.) And this is what the little plastic ribbon holders and ring look like before you load 'em up:
(This is from the Ribbon Ring website.)

I thought it looked kinda innovative, like something I could live with, too. And I could hang 'em up on my pegboard wall. So I bought a couple of starter sets and last night when I wasn't feeling up to stamping anything, I decided to start loading up my little ribbon tags. It's a little labor intensive, but not hard at all, and I really like the look of having all that ribbon together in one place, easily accessible, visible, and NOT all scrunched up, rolled up, wadded up in several different boxes, cases, whatever, very disorganized. I'm trying to keep my like-colors together, so last night I got my neutrals finished, and today sometime I will get back up there and start on the colors. Think I'll go in rainbow order -- you know, what you learned in school, the ol' ROYGBIV order of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. I actually started with the pinks last night (light red, y'know?), and then will go on from there. Cool thing about the rings is that, if you discover a, say, brown ribbon after you've already got all the browns done and have moved on, you can just pop open the ring wherever you want to put the wayward brown ribbon, freshly laced through on its new tag, right with the other browns. You don't have to pull all the other colors off, put the brown one on, then put the others back. That's the beauty of the snap-open rings. (That was probably as clear as mud, but that's where my brain is today. I'm right about here ...)

My son has introduced me to, and I have to say it's pretty hysterical at times. I mean, who can beat lolcats? Or especially lolkitties!

Okay, so that's all I have for today. I do have other pics of my craft loft, but will post them at another time. I hope you've enjoyed this little review of the Chicory Chic Ribbon Ring system (and, no, I'm not affiliated, just thought it was cool). Of course, I had to order a Pebbles, Inc. Ribbon Iron today so I could easily flatten out all my weirdly kinked ribbon. I had sworn I would never do such a silly thing when I had a perfectly good iron right there in the craft loft. But after looking at the seeming convenience of this ribbon iron thing ... well ... and I got it at Scrapbook Warehouse for only $12-something. Not bad!

Off to ... whatever. Sleep or do ribbons. I will be SO glad when I'm over this sinus/ear thing!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sick, sick, sick! (Not my mental condition, lol)

Well, it's been an interesting few days. First my cat got sick. Then my computer (which actually died, completely freaking me out), then I got sick. I am happy to say that my cat is ... well, he has meds now, anyway; the computer has a new hard drive (and most of my stuff was backed up to our external drive); and I have meds, too! (Sinus/ear infection AGAIN. But I went a whole month without one!!)

I did lose all my e-mail addresses, so if you regularly correspond with me, PLEASE send me your e-mail addy again!! I don't want to lose touch with anybody just because I was an idiot and didn't think to back up my address book!

And, a word to the wise -- BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP!!! Had I truly lost all my writings, my copies of my cards & LOs, my misc "junk" that makes up my life, I don't know what I would've done. I do have all my writings in hard copy form, but I can't imagine typing them all back in (my current "book" is 2" thick!!). And I have MOST of my original cards, but not all of them. So we're going to find a good online service that I can use to back up ALL my stuff. Almost all my photos are on Kodak Gallery. But not my videos. I can't imagine what I would have done if I'd lost my Newsboys videos that I personally took at the Houston concert in 2006. Kodak Gallery doesn't host vids.

Ah, but God was merciful and I didn't lose that stuff, my husband was merciful and bought me a new hard drive (8 times bigger than my old one! tells you how old it was, huh?), and life can resume normalcy again. WHEW!!!

We had a wonderful party on the 4th. The parade was just plain fun -- lots of hometown goodness. We saluted our vets, celebrated the local high school (even though my son doesn't go there, but attends a private Christian school), waved our arms off at all the "dignitaries" who drove by, as well as the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, the church floats and the highly decorated golf carts. We even accepted flag lapel pins from the local Democrats (which I thought was a hoot -- are they trying to compensate for Mr. Obama's earlier faux pas, or what? And don't take that personally if you're a Democrat, please!). All in all a very delightful morning with very delightful friends.

Since I haven't felt well I've been mostly just unmounting SU stamps and re-mounting on EZMount foam, but I still have some cards to show you that I haven't exhibited to the world yet.
This is one of my recent works of heart, an oriental theme done with washi paper and following the June 16 Mojo Monday sketch from Julee Tilman's Poetic Artistry blog. The paper (isn't it gorgeous!) came from Stone House Stamps, and the camellia stamp is from Art Neko. Both sites have tons of fantastic Asian stamps and supplies. Not much to say about this card -- it was pretty simple to do -- except that the camellia was stamped with Versamark and covered with Pearl Ex (I can't remember now what color, because I tried several different ones before settling on the one I ended up using ... Helpful, aren't I?)

So, that's it for now. I do have other cards to show, but I have to save them for other times when I haven't made anything new. I am making progress on getting my SU stamps unmounted, but now that I'm going through all the sets I have, some of them are less appealing to me than they used to be. I may just keep those mounted and sell them in our citywide garage sale in a couple of months. Or something.

Anyway, off to try to sneak in a nap before Bjorn gets home and wants supper!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spiritual-y things

I hear voices in my head. Often. No, I'm not schizophrenic, and I'm not Joan of Arc. I just watch too many movies. When I wrote "spiritual-y things" I was hearing Mr. Lunt of Veggie Tales fame saying that, like he said "We're supposed to be singing about pirate-y things!" in the "Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" song. Not from that movie ... from a Veggie Tales video that came out years ago. The Pirates' first appearance. I can't remember if it was Josh and the Big Wall or not. Anyway, if you don't know, he's the short gourd in the middle. And for those of you who NEED to know these things, I have a crush on Larry the Cucumber. Not as big as my crush on Phil Joel's hair, but still ...

ANYway ... I have a couple of "spiritual-y things" to show off today. The first is a card I made yesterday using a stamp I got from Eureka Stamps just a couple of days ago. They had a big sale awhile back and I ordered a few UMs from them, and just got them in (they're usually more prompt than that, but they were swamped from this sale). I LOVE this stamp! I love the scripture, I love the script, I love the little doodle-y things, and I love that it's BIG. This is a 5" x 7" card, so you can tell it's a rather large stamp!

I had the color scheme in my head before any other aspect of this card. As I was working on the scrapbook page that follows a few days ago, I laid a piece of chocolate brown paper on top of this gorgeous green paper and thought, "That is a terrific color combo that I would never have put together intentionally!" The green doesn't show up properly in the scan -- it's a Club Scrap piece, brighter than the SU Wild Wasabi, but still kinda in that same vein. Anyway, my next thought was that a silhouette stamp done in chocolate brown would look great stamped on that paper. So I pulled out my Gel-a-tins "Wild Things" set, stamped them with SU's Chocolate Chip Craft Ink and embossed with Clear Ultra Gloss EP. (Sadly, in the scan they look black, but trust me, IRL they are shiny and chocolatey and look really awesome on this bright wasabi-ish green!) I stamped the scripture in the same ink, but just heat set it rather than embossing it. (I don't know why I haven't mastered the art of inking up a stamp with craft/pigment ink after doing this for ten years -- I almost always get one bit that's more heavily inked than another, especially if the pad is juicy, like a lot of the SU Craft pads are ... *SIGH*). Anyway, I used another Club Scrap paper for the background (the green on green stems PP), and there you have it! I really love this card. I'm thinking of giving it to my pastor for his birthday, which just happens to be July 4! He'll be at our house that morning for our annual 4th of July Parade Watching Breakfast Potluck/Party.

Our little town has a yearly parade that goes right by our house, so we always hold a party for our friends and family to come eat breakfast and watch the parade. It's a lot of fun, even if it is horribly early (they close the street 1-1/2 hours before the parade starts, so people have to get here by dawn's early light!). It being Texas, and usually being HOT, we have the parade early in the day. There's usually other things going on throughout the day, too, but this is our main gig. It's pretty cool -- the parade participants throw out candy and goodies for the kids, and it's so "home-town", but in a quality, good way -- sometimes cheesy, always terribly patriotic, and lots of home-town pride! Wouldn't have it any other way!

So, anyway, back to the "spiritual-y things" -- I think I already mentioned that I bought a book at Archivers a couple of weeks ago called "Scrapbooking Your Faith" or something like that. It's a great book, the newest of several in my "faithbooking" collection, but there was just something about this one that grabbed my attention and made me buy it. I decided I would just sit this book on my crafting desk and whenever I felt like scrapping my faith, (um, that's "scrapBOOKING" my faith, not chucking it, you understand!), I would just open it up, turn to a topic and go for it. So that's what I did a few days ago. I opened up to the first topic -- "I Believe ..." and went with it. And this is what I ended up with:

The background paper is by a company called FancyPants. I'd just bought it the same day I bought the book, but with no purpose in mind, I just liked it. It turned out to be a perfect fit for the postcard. I've had this postcard for years, since before we moved home to Texas, and I just love the way this painter imagines Jesus to look -- very strong and yet very peaceful. There seems to be a lot of love on His face, too, I think. So, when I started thinking about this page, I just knew I had to finally put this postcard to good use and make it part of a faithbooked page. Anyway, it was also a good chance to use the lyrics to one of my very favorite Rich Mullins songs (which I slightly adapted to make them more of a "creed" than a song).

I used my Cricut "Jasmine" cartridge to make the title; the paper I used for the main letters is some old Basic Grey I had laying around. I'm not sure where the chocolate brown paper came from. I used my Cricut "Home Accents Solutions" cartridge to make the corner flower-things (are those flowers or kinda weeds? whatever, I like 'em). I stamped very lightly over the Bible verse with a Gel-a-tins "Wild Things" flower. Oh! And I used my Basic Grey "Notch and Die" tool to make the slots that the postcard is stuck into. I hardly ever use that thing, so I'm always thrilled when I come up with a use for it!

I didn't make it up into the loft today -- had to go to the bank to fix a couple of issues with the new way we're doing the budget (do not get me started on this), run to the pharmacy, take my weird-acting cat to the vet (doesn't want to eat, and he's normally a pig -- turns out it's probably not anything serious, just a delayed reaction to his shots he got a couple of weeks ago ... we hope), and work on cleaning house. I used my new Shark Steam Mop in my kitchen. I haven't mopped in there in too long, so went over it twice. The mop-head-cloth-thingies (I used two) were black. Very scary. I obviously need to mop more often. The tile is brown, though, so it's hard to tell. (Funny aside ... when I started to type in "Steam" a minute ago, my fingers automatically typed "Stamp"!! lol)

So now my back is nice and sore from mopping AND from skiing last night. Yes, skiing. We bought "WeSki" for our Wii (yes, it's spelled "We" because it's not made by Nintendo) and finally got around to playing it last night. It is a blast! Aidan and I had fun practicing our freestyle jumping. When we finally looked up at the clock, it was 11:40pm!! Too much fun. But, yep, I'm sore today. Am I out of shape or what??

Gotta run. I think Bjorn is feeling abandoned, even if I did do a lot of housework earlier today ...

More later!!