Birds & Words

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cigar Memory Box

Happy Spring, all!!  I'm here in Texas visiting my family and I am LOVING the temperatures and, of course, the bluebonnet wildflower show.  Good for the heart!

April's Creative Adventure is brought to us by Annette Green who has challenged us to create something using a cigar box.  You can see Candy Colwell's take on this theme here.  Fresh inspiration will be coming Tuesdays and Fridays through April 26!

As always, I check Creative Carte Blanche first thing every morning to see what art you all have added.  Just click the "Add Your Link" box at the bottom of Annette's introduction post and follow the prompts.  The challenge is simple:

Okay, on to this month's adventure. Let's Think Outside the Box! Namely, a cigar box. They come in all sizes and are made of tin or wood in most cases, and you can find them everywhere. I find them at my local Goodwill, thrift stores, and of course cigar shops where they'll practically give them away just to get rid of the empties.

As a crafter/artist, I am drawn most often to 3D projects. Getting off the page, so to speak, and this is why I chose this adventure. All you have to do is take that cigar box and turn it into (or incorporate it into) art. So think outside the box, inside the box, all over the box. Whatever your heart desires!

If you don't have and can't find a cigar box, please feel free to improvise!   Use another box OR make your own box, put a cigar in it and call it a cigar box!  If you don't have a cigar, roll up some card stock, burn the end of it and its a cigar.  (Ha!  Just kidding about the cigar stuff.)

REMEMBER - You have carte blanche!!


I guess I've learned something on this Creative Adventure.  When you don't have a clue how to begin, rejoice!  That means you are about to find a new level of inspiration and creativity.  Turns out getting outside your comfort zone is a pretty cool place.

I don't know why this was so hard for me to begin, but it was.  I'll complete the backstory below.  But for now, here's what I did.

I picked up this cigar box from my friend, Carissa.  She and her husband own and run a year round Christmas store in downtown Estes Park, Colorado.  I was surprised when I saw it.  It was much nicer than I expected.  I thought cigar boxes were made of chipboard and hinged with paper and you kept crayons in them.  I guess I need to get out more!  This was a wooden box with pegged hinges.

I gave the box a light sanding and then dry brushed some black paint with the wood grain.  I rubbed in the paint and then waxed it with Annie Sloan dark wax paste, which gave it a rich glow.  It was really amazing how just these simple steps transformed the look.

I lined the inside with Tim Holtz Crowded Attic Paper Stash papers.  My husband cut me some short walnut pegs for the corners on which to suspend a shelf.

This was to be a Memory Box for Carissa's little boy, Tavin.  Tavin was just a baby when his grandfather suddenly passed away.  He was a wonderful, fun loving family man and the whole community was saddened at the loss.  Hopefully, this will help Tavin know his granddad a little bit with pictures and mementoes that will prompt stories of the things he loved from the people who loved him.

I put a picture on top that is the only picture taken of Tavin with his grandfather.  The hinges at the top are non functioning, decorative only.  The word band says "know in your heart that you are loved" and the little heart charm says "beyond measure".  Double click on any of these pictures for a closer look.

I covered a piece of chipboard cut to fit just inside the box with Sticky Back Canvas with an image transferred from another page from Crowded Attic.  If you haven't done image transfers with SBC, here's a video tutorial showing you how.

I put Tim Holtz' Hinge Fasteners in the corners for a lifting mechanism.  I collaged a few bits of memorabilia to the shelf and some loose items for story prompts about Carissa's dad. He loved to play squash and loved to drink Jack Daniels and smoke cigars.  One of Carissa's fond memories is of her dad making her pancakes on Saturday mornings while they listened to the Beatles.

You can lift out the shelf to reveal a section for loose photographs, letter and cards.  I mounted on card stock and fussy cut pics of a New York Jets logo, BMW motorcycle, and Joe Montana, all favorites of Carissa's dad.

This picture always moves me.  Much thanks goes to Carissa's husband, Josh, who gave me guidance on who Kurt was and what he loved.  What he loved most was his daughters.

Carissa gave the cigar box to me and I gave it back to her and to Tavin.  She is the one who really has all the memories and items that ought to fill this box.  My hope is it will become a place to tuck things that will one day go to Tavin and maybe he'll know his granddad a little bit more.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Untroubled "Triple Trouble" - Corrugated, Metal, and Lace

So how are you liking Creative Carte Blanche?  I am just loving this approach to the "online challenge" model which we like to call "creative adventures".  Judging from the fantastic art you've all posted, you are totally getting it and are feeling your freedom.

The Queen of Vintage Arts, HRH Candy Colwell has suggested an awesome adventure for us this time.  Combine the delicacy of lace, the rigidity of metal, and the texture of corrugated materials and ask them all to dance together on one piece of art.  Let's go for it!
This is the second shot at this one for me.  I first made a card that I will give to my aunt for her birthday, but wanted to keep the design.  So I added to my studio wall by recreating the card as a 4 x 6 burlap panel.  
For my lace element, I went to a huge bolt of wide lace that I bought at a garage sale.  Can you believe it??  I love it when I find stuff like this.
I used some gesso on the lace to stiffen it up a bit and to give it a shabby chic feel.  When I flipped the lace over after brushing on the gesso, I found I liked the flip side better, so I used that side.
 DecoArt Traditions paint in Medium White has become a real go-to medium for me.  Its not really white, more of a light tan color.  I dry brushed a bit of paint in a cross hatch on a panel of Wallflower paper to grunge it up a bit and tone it down.
 Here's my yummy paint.  It adhered to the metal beautifully and dries with a nice matte, chalky finish.
I used my Fiskars paper crimper for my corrugated element.  I scratched the edges of the Wallflower panel and dabbed a bit of Ground Espresso Distress Paint on the edges for definition.  
I used adhesive metal sheets from American Crafts on card stock and die cut Tim Holtz's Layered Butterfly.  My metal wasn't big enough for this big butterfly so I patched it in the middle.  I was going to cover that part anyway.
I mixed a little DecoArt Traditions paint with Mermaid Lagoon and Fossilized Amber Distress Inks on my craft sheet to color my butterfly.
  I tapped the paint on the butterfly with my finger and used a paint brush to pounce the paint into recessed areas and to blend the colors where they met.  I used my heat tool for just a minute and then rubbed paint away from the raised areas.
I poured liquid starch on the gessoed lace panel, let it dry and then die cut another butterfly  for a lace layer behind the metal butterfly.  Its a subtle element, but one that really adds to the piece when you see it in real life.
Tinted, stenciled embossing paste letters give another layer of texture.  I used a heavy gauge wire to back frame the butterfly.  Some of my heavier elements needed a bit more reinforcement than just adhesive, so I stapled it down.
I added a couple of strips of Cavalini wash tape for balance.  This panel is really heavy with the wire, so I drilled some holes with my Dremel and placed a couple of screws to secure it in addition to double stick adhesive.  These will be hidden by Butterfly Girl.
 I didn't plan to keep the "untroubled" theme from last month when I started out, but then I saw this sentiment on a Christy Tomlinson scrapbook paper and it just completed the story!  
The little girl image came from a free download on Tammy Tutterow's blog.  Do visit Tammy there, she does some pretty cool stuff.  Its a regular stop for me!
Our little Butterfly Girl takes her place on my vintage window.  Three done, two more to go!

The entries we already have are so cool in their variation.  Seeing the different ways everyone interprets the same set of parameters is awe inspiring!  So what will you create on your adventure?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mixed Media Embroidery

Creative Carte Blanch

Mixed Media Embroidery
Welcome to what we think is a new approach to online challenges and what we hope will be a regular stop for you to make 2016 your most creative year yet.  

After a lot of discussion and brainstorming, we wanted to make a place that gives you a creative nudge and then sets you free, encouraging you to find and express your own artistic voice.  From the entries thus far, you all are TOTALLY getting it and blowing me away with your art!  This one Creative Adventure could be published as a technique book.  

So far we've had posts from the amazing Candy Colwell and the equally amazing Annette Green.  Our view is not that we "lead" these Adventures but that we are all fellow travelers on this journey!  Look for more on Tuesdays and Fridays from these lovely ladies:

Let's get started!!

I have a passion for the concept of freedom.  It inspires me and causes me to be grateful.  But it's also a little scary!  Sometimes limits and guidelines become a safety zone.  Staring at a completely white canvas with no rules can leave me feeling overwhelmed.

I felt a little like that as I began.  So I started looking back over my art journals, notes, planner and sketches and started thinking about what moved my heart lately.  Then it came to me.  My One Word for this year is:
I knew this would guide my project.  I love dimension and texture and have been looking at lots of embroidered images and words lately and decided to try to tackle that by incorporating embroidery into my art.

Here is my finished Burlap Panel.  I have a collection of these on the wall my classroom and was glad for a chance to add another.  I've completed two, another is designed and ready to glue down and two more to go.

With a palette knife I applied gesso to the burlap panel in a crosshatch fashion.  Once dry, I applied DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic in Cobalt Turquoise.  I used a dry brush as well as my fingers to rub the paint onto the gesso.  I glued down strips of Tim Holtz Tissue Wrap with matte medium.  

After all this was dry, I used Andy Skinner's recipe for "dirty wash" which is my new favorite thing!  DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylic mixture of 70% Paynes Grey and 30% Quinacridone Gold (I just counted drops), thinned down with a blushful of matte medium.  This gives you kind of a gel paint that has a transparent and vintage finish.  You can brush it over your textured backgrounds in art journals, cards, and over dimensional embellishments, and more.  It's a beautiful thing. (The picture above is before dirty wash is applied.)

I stamped flower images from Wendy Vecchi Botanical Art set in Archival Hydrangea and Leaf Green onto Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements fabric, then embroidered the detail in the flowers.  I needed to layer these to make the flowers have enough body to remain stiff when cut out.  I glued the flowers onto card stock panels and then onto panels of crinoline, a rather stiff fabric.

Layers glued together.  I used a brayer to fuse everything together.
My vintage irons help adhesives bind well.

Using a Craft Nib, I picked up a little extra Hydrangea ink and added some shading to the flower petals for depth.

Okay, here I owe an apology to embroidery artists everywhere.  I had my project designed in a sketch and thought I'd just put all together one afternoon.  Uh, no.  I had a lot to learn about embroidery.  So many stitches and techniques!!  If you are interested in embroidery, I highly recommend Mary Corbet's blog.  With dozens of videos and tutorials, it is so well written and instructive that it really makes me want to learn more and add embroidery as another tool in my creative kit.

I'm pretty new to this so don't look at my stitches too closely.  If you wear glasses, don't wear them. If you don't wear glasses, go ahead and put some on!!

I wanted to add a Scripture that provides the basis for my One Word to the burlap panel.  I wrote it out in phrases on pattern tissue paper with a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen.  (FAVORITE pens.  I use them for everything.  Handwriting is difficult for me and these pens give me the perfect drag to help with control.)  Its an alcohol ink, so it won't bleed* when you add your wet adhesive to adhere to the burlap.   Doing it this way enabled me to tear the phrases into strips and gave me control over the line spacing. 

*While the ink doesn't bleed, I did discover that I could apply matte medium to the back of the tissue paper, press onto cotton fabric and the ink would transfer.  I'll need to be playing with this soon!

Elements laid out and ready to adhere.

The label is stitched onto cotton duck material.  The word was just sort of floating there so I used a single strand of embroidery thread and backstitched a border.  The word is done in a simple chain stitch.  My little birdy showed up and settled on the "T".  The little bird is from B Line Designs Flying Friends stamp set.

Close up of my flowers.  I trimmed around the image leaving a wide margin and inked the edges with more Hydrangea on a tiny bit of foam, applied with a pair of tweezers.

The burlap panel mounted on a vintage window.
Then added to the collection.
Have a lovely day and be free!!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Yvonne Blair Designs

Hey everybody!  I know you've arrived all inspired from your visit to Cheryl Boglioli's blog!!

I've taken a nice long break from blogging and am SO glad to break my blogfast with a celebration of Yvonne Blair Designs Impression Obsession stamps, Inky Art Journals, and Journal Buddy stenciling tool.  Everyone who has ever met Yvonne has fallen in love with her.  Her signature products reflect her warmth, her heart, and her inspiring and optimistic outlook on life.

My post today is a tribute to Yvonne.  Her love for butterflies, for the number 3, for vintage style and all things pink.  I love you, dear friend.

I began my Inky Art Journal page by blending Fossilized Amber Distress ink over the entire two page spread.  This is by far my favorite journal to use for art.  The manila pages are nice and thick and can handle gesso, inks and paints.  They open out nice and flat, which I have seen in any other journal.  They come in 6" x 8", 4" x 8", and 4" x 6" sizes.

I used Yvonne's Journal Buddy stenciling tool to create the wavy rainbow.  Twisted Citron, Cracked Pistachio, Wilted Violet and Abandoned Coral.  Some black stenciling and Picket Fence Distress Stain pigment drips help make the colors pop.

One of my very favorite Yvonne Blair Designs stamps.  She certainly listens to the whispers of her own heart and is inspiring us to do the same.  The little star is cut out from another of Yvonne's stamps.  The sentiment is stamped on stenciled bit of paper, colored with blended Victorian Velvet Distress Ink (a shade of Yvonne's favorite color, pink!), and die cut from Styled Labels.  Vintage cheesecloth and doilies peak from behind the label.

Yvonne often used butterflies in her art and this one (cut from Tim Holtz Layered Butterfly die and stenciled with "Art Is" text stencil from Crafter's Workshop and white embossing paste) is a tribute to her free spirit.  She also frequently includes doilies in her pieces and collects items with the number "3".

I cut two butterflies and layered one on top of the other and placed some foam squares near the body of the butterfly to separate the layers just a little.  I placed the wavy edge of the stencil at the side of the page with a glass cutting mat behind it.  I used a fine tip stylus and followed the wavy line over and over until the line was impressed enough to tear and leave a textured edge.

Straight lines are also from the Journal Buddy with can be used to create lines for journaling or just for interest.  I've used them vertically here.  I LOvE stamps and stencils with lines.  My handwriting tends to lay down and go to sleep on me, so I love to add lines to help keep it straight.  These lines are spaced far enough apart that you can double up and add more lines, or use them as is.

Wildflower stencil from Tim Holtz with white embossing paste and some Fossilized Amber ink blended over.  More butterflies, rub ons from Tim.

Do you LOVE the Journal Buddy Stencil??
You can buy Yvonne's Journal Buddy by emailing her here.

Do you LOVE Yvonne's signature stamps?
You can get your own here.

Do you LOVE Inky Art Journals?
Of course you do. Get yours by emailing her here.  Warning:  Buy several.  You'll be spoiled for any other.

Giveaway alert!!  Leave a comment on all the blog hop stops and get a chance to WIN a Journal Buddy stencil AND a 4 x 8 Inky Art Journal.  This is a new size and its like working on #10 tags.  Yvonne will randomly draw the name of our lucky winner!! 

Now hop on over to visit Linda Ledbetter's blog and feast on some brilliant creativity!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Layering Stencils: Monoprint

Jeepers, is it really the last CC3C?  I miss it already.  What a blast it has been working through Compendium of Curiosities, Volume III with all of you!!  I have been so inspired, so challenged, so thrilled to work through Tim's products and techniques and SO grateful that we all got to do it together.  

It would be so great to get to craft with you in person!!  I, along with some of my crafting besties, will be teaching in Costa Rica in October, 2016.  You can get all the information here about Craftours and Jim West's amazing opportunity to be inspired by the sensational sights, sounds, and scents of beautiful San Jose, Costa Rica.  I would LOVE to meet you there!


On to our challenge....

I have to say, our last challenge features one of my very favorite techniques.
Very simple, very grunge-erific.

A tip: often my very favorite is the second impression I do with this technique.  I lift and reveal the monoprint image and gasp a little.  Really, I do!!  So, get a nice thick stack of tags and play with this one.  I finished my project for my post yesterday, but I was still playing with it today.  Cards, tags, art journals, lots of places to use this one.

I just think this girl's got a secret, don't you?  I had prepared her for a prior challenge but didn't use her.  She refused to be ignored.  This is a technique of Tim's.  A layer of Glossy Accents between the Ideology Facet and the image, which was taken from Photo Booth vintage photos.

A spoon that my huz hammered for me.  I've got dozens and I love them.  I stamped the sentiment with one my very favorites, a Hero Arts alphabet set.  Confession:  I have a set I use and two extra new sets to use when I wear this one out.  I cannot be without these stamps.
To say the things I want to say.

This sentiment was my defining inspiration for today's challenge.  My dear, dear Curiosity Crew sisters and all of YOU inspire and encourage me more than I can say.  How lucky we all are to create art together!!

An old toothbrush (having been run through the dishwasher!!) sprayed liberally with Picket Fence Distress Spray Stain and flickered over my tag.  Don't you love splatters?

Bits of Tim Holtz Emporium Ephemera.  You get a TON of die cut pieces that work for so many different project themes.  I trimmed the bouquet die cut back closer to the image. A letter, a sprig of flowers, a movie ticket.  Memories.


Many, many thanks to our generous, art-hearted sponsors for these challenges.  They have been amazing.  I truly hope you'll keep them at the top of your shopping list for all your art supply needs.  Inspiration Emporium has been amazing and amazingly supportive.  Our sponsor for this challenge is Funkie Junkie Boutique with a $25 gift certificate for a randomly chosen winner.

And, of course, so many thanks to Tim Holtz and to Mario Rossi for their support and friendship.  When you lose your mojo or doubt your artistic ability, please remember and know that Tim would encourage you to Explore Your Curiosity and Enjoy the Journey.  Tim and Mario donated a huge cache at the very beginning of our challenges to be rewarded to the Curiosity Crew winners.  The winner of this challenge will take the last of that incredibly generous, unsolicited donation.  Thanks, guys.  You're amazing.


We've completed the book and our challenges are done.  But we're still curious.  We're not finished creating, are you?
Stay tuned.......