Dollar store tray painted and spruced up for Christmas

In anticipation of my Christmas party coming up this Saturday I made this tray as a craft project for the ladies who will be coming. Using examples of some dollar store tray ideas that I had seen on Pinterest, I combined a few paint techniques and added some leaf ribbon of my own. There was also a recipe for making your own chalkboard paint in any color that I used which was great because it's easy and a heck of a lot less toxic. Thanks to Curbly for that great paint recipe!

Now I need to go back to cleaning and decorating the house which seems to take forever. Well at least I'll be done early and can relax for the rest of the holidays.

Thanks for visiting!

Bride of Frankenstein

I made some Bride of Frankenstein wall hangings for some friends for Halloween. I used an image I purchased from the Silhouette store to use in my Silhouette cutter machine. Everything is mounted onto thin black foam core board and finished off with wire to hang and a lace tie.

Happy Halloween to all of you!

Halloween House

My fascination with making little houses started last year with this Halloween house which was made for a challenge in an art group I was attending. Sadly, our group broke up but I have a lovely memory of that fun time. We were to use an egg beaters or something similar like a milk carton and turn it into a Halloween house. Bet you wouldn't have known by looking at it. I had to cut out the indentation and rebuild the top of the house. Before I go on I want to give Mandy Jordan (junqegrrl on flickr) credit for being the inspiration for these houses. Go check out her really cool abandoned houses!

If I remember right I used Jerry's gesso which is very thick or else I may have used joint compound. Wish I took notes! Anyway, after that dried I painted the house in grays and tans wiping off the excess as I went along in order to highlight the texture. I then cut some cardboard for the roof and put more gesso/joint compound with a palette knife dragging it in one direction to get a roof texture. Then that was painted and wiped until I got the look I wanted.

The windows and front door must have been cut beforehand. I remember painting the interior of the house by using a small paint brush with dark gray paint and going through the windows and the door and just slopping it on the best I could. Then I got some florist's foam and carved out a little rocky landscape and plunked in some trees and some painted moss. The house was glued on and spider webbing was added in the trees. There was a big spider on the side of the house but I can't seemed to find it. Maybe it crawled away - eeewww!

Thanks for stopping by!

Upcycled houses part 1

I'm not sure whether to call this new venture upcycled or recycled houses but in a way it's both. I had some "green" kitty litter that I knew the cats probably would balk at and for that matter I'm afraid I'm too used to scoopable litter so I'm using it along with those annoying plastic grocery bags to fill my little houses which will be made from recycled cracker boxes.

A few years ago I came across Bella Dia's cereal box house tutorial and was so inspired that I thought I would try to make some of my own. There were a few modifications I made from the instructions such as don't score along the line on the front and back sides of the house or you'll get an indentation like this...

...which won't resolve itself with several coats of Jerry's gesso. See the indentation at the roof line?  The other thing is that these boxes are made from flimsy cardboard and will cave in here and there from all that gesso. Turning it inside out seemed like a good idea but maybe the moisture barrier keeps the cardboard wet too long which might be the other problem. I did use a lot of water to smooth out the gesso but I think I'll sand it instead. I didn't get any shots of how I did the window - which took a little engineering - but I will on the next one. Meanwhile in the back of my head I'm trying to think about how I want to paint/decorate the houses. I'm open to suggestions as I will (hopefully) be making these to sell at a craft fair in early November! To be continued...

Thanks for stopping by!

Having some fun with lettering

 I've been  having so much fun practicing my lettering while taking Joanne Sharpe's Letter Love online class. These are a few of the many assignments. The letters below were sketched out with a fine black pen then filled in with doodling and colored with various markers.


Here's a word made from this style of lettering.

Thanks for stopping by!

Last but not least Y and Z

 I never thought I would get all the way to the end but here I am at last. It's all about doodling and lettering for these last two tags. This is something I've been practicing while taking lessons from Joanne Sharpe's Letter Love online class.

 The Y is for youth tag should have been youthful but I was concentrating too hard on the lettering and not the spacing but no big deal. It's cute and goofy which is okay by me. I used a .03 pigma pen, markers and mica watercolors. The little flower girl images from Altered Pages were cut from circle punches.

This zany zentangle tag was entirely done by pigma pen and markers with a little pencil shading. The "Z" was cut out and adhered with pop dots to make it stand out from the background. I have to admit I had my doubts at first about zentangles thinking it was too faddish and silly but once I devoted some time to it I did sorta fall into a trance while doing it. It's probably the best way too keep me quiet!! Don't tell my family that! These aren't the same doodles I've done in the past while in class or on the phone. These require some attention and focus which is something I'm usually lacking in. I really do enjoy it.

Thanks for stopping by and following along!

X is for Xylography

I know I know I'm stretching a little here but there's not a whole lot of art words that begin with X. But did you know that a xylograph is a term for wood cut block print? Neither did I. Fortunately I'm a proud owner of a wood cut block stamp set that I bought several years ago that was languishing in a drawer. When I used the stamp the first time I stamped in the usual way for rubber stamps but did not get a very good print. With a little research I learned that you get a better imprint if you place the paper over the stamp and rub into it with a spoon or something similar. I used Stazon black ink and colored it with some red mica watercolor paint and some Adirondack silver mixatives ink which I used as a paint. I really love how strong the silver came out. I'll be using that in future projects.

U,V,W, only 3 more letters to go!

 Well I'm heading towards the end of the alphabet and these letters are getting a little more difficult. The letter U was tricky but V and W had lots of possibilities.

 For the letter U, I chose upcycle which is kinda what I've been doing here and there along the way. I think I get the terms recycle and upcycle confused. How I understand it is that with upcycling you're taking something that you may not be able to recycle and make it into something useful or pretty. With recycling you or your recycle center are reusing raw materials such as paper, plastic or metal and making something out of it. You know I'm still confused about it. Oh well! For this tag I used a paper towel that I saved which had lots of pretty colored inks left on it from an old project. The letter U was cut out from a paint chip and the leaves and flowers were punched out from tiny scraps of yet more painted paper from my stash. It seems like I never throw anything out but my trash bin looks plenty full!

On to the letter V...
There were lots of great words to use like vintage, vignette, villain, vampire, Venus and so on. I was looking at my various collage sheets from Altered Pages and found this one called Vices. These vampy girls really fit the bill! I fussy cut 3 of the images and adhered them to some red scrapbook paper and some black see through mesh specialty paper. I made the gal on the bottom right stand out with pop dots. The chipboard letter was covered with tortoise shell print paper.

W is for watercolor is pretty self explanatory. I was trying out watercolor pencils and crayons with mixed results along with regular and mica watercolors. All 3 tags have those cute little light bulb safety pins at the top that I love so well.

The past couple of weeks I've been practicing my lettering from an online class by Joanne Sharpe so I've been adding my own lettering bit by bit. Hopefully I will get better as time goes on.

R is for Rust, S is for Soulful, T is for Texture

  I've been in love with rust, brown, camel, and turquoise colors this week and that is why these next 3 tags match. To me the earthy colors are reminiscent of the southwest where I live.

 In this first tag I gathered rusted fabric and used a couple of rusting embossing powders (Ranger Embossing antiquities rust and Tim Holtz Distress vintage photo powders) and while I love the look of the antiquities rust it didn't really look like real rust plus it was kinda shiny. The Tim Holtz one starts out looking shiny but the instructions tell you to lightly sand or rub into the embossed color until it looks more matte which worked better. So I used that for the eyelet and letter. Then I found these gorgeous looking brads called Vintage accents by Creative Charms at a local craft store and added those along with some scrap painted turquoise paper and painted ribbon. At the bottom I added some stripes of turquoise paint. The words were letters individually stamped in black onto a distressed brown background.

When I look at this wonderful image of a gypsy from Altered Pages she looks so soulful and dreamy. She doesn't need anything added to her because she's perfect just the way she is. This tag was going to be about stitching so the background is made up of various scraps of paper in similar colors stitched onto a background and then cut to fit the tag. I did distress the tag and in some areas of the paper to bring out their textures. The S is an old eyelet I had and I used Stazon brown and black inks to cover up the shiny silver. The words were written with a black micron pen.

 Here's another challenging tag that I thought would be quick and easy to do but ended up taking too much time. Just because the tag is small doesn't make it easier to do because you still have to think about composition, shapes and colors in a very limited space. Plus I fuss way too much and get nowhere sometimes! So there's a medley of textures in this one; painted corrigated cardboard, some kind of grass cloth, painted cheesecloth, and snakeskin textured paper. The "T" was covered with a brown leather like paper and the words were embossed on metal and then colored with Stazon brown and black inks. The eyelet sprocket was painted with the same craft paints I used for the cardboard; black, brown iron oxide (Ceramcoat), Laguna blue (Ceramcoat), and golden brown (Plaid).

Q is for Quilt

Before I started getting into mixed media art I was a quilter. So from a machine quilting practice piece that I still had I was able to make this tag. The other thing I like to do and still do is hand embroidery and hand quilting big stitches with embroidery floss and perle cotton.

I started out with a quilted tag that was ho hum so I used some watercolor paint to give it some life. Here's a before and after of the quilted pieces to give you an idea of the difference a little paint makes. The paint dries to a lighter color. The top picture shows it still wet.

A small piece of fine white cotton muslin was lightly painted and the words were stamped with brown permanent ink. Behind it was some white open weave textured ribbon that I also painted.

Another detail of some stitching and some ribbon and a small chipboard circle from Altered Pages that I painted as well. Those little chipboard circles and sprockets sure come in handy for a variety of projects

Here it is straight on or should I say a little crooked. The piece of muslin with the words "is for Quilt looks like it's going downhill. Oh well, I'm striving for a perfectly imperfect look. Right?

N is for Note, O is for Ornate and P is for Painted Paper

I couldn't think of a word that started with the letter N that represents a technique ( I kinda did that on a few already) so I chose the word note as in musical note. The tag was stamped with swirls using clear ink with clear embossing powder. Then brown ink was used to bring out the pattern of the swirls. Next came the stamped music sheet in black and over that I glued a transparency of a treble clef note. The words were printed and then distressed with some more brown ink.

The word ornate seemed like a good word to use for the letter O but I found it very challenging. It started out fun when I took some sparkly metallic watercolor paints and colored some embossed specialty paper. Well it turned out so pretty I didn't want to cover over it but I had to. So I fished around in my supplies and found a swirly thing-a-ma-bob and painted it with gold metallic paint and some more of the sparkly watercolor paints so it would sort of match the background. Then I had this big fat chipboard O which was very plain so I ran it through my Sizzix machine inside an embossing folder. Then more gold paint. Well you can't put that over a busy background so I put both onto a reddish purple rectangle of paper. The words were printed, cut out and inked. Phew! That one was a pain!

This one is my favorite one out of the three tags. All the backgrounds were cut from textured and painted paper I made last year. The background for the words and the letter P come from the same paint - lucky I still had some left over. I wrote out the words with a white gel pen. For me, it's all about the color!

M is for Masking

For this tag I used a Gelli print that had been printed with a leaf branch. The color you see is the original color before the red paint was applied over the mask. The outline of the branch was accented with a little purple to make it stand out. I'm not too crazy about my M or my lettering but I must push on to the rest of the alphabet!

On to J, K, & L alphabet tags

Moving right along we come to J is for Journal which was made from different scrapbook papers and joined together into a sort of tag booklet. I used a little charcoal paint to the front page with a sticker letter J and wrote the words with a pigma pen.

K is for Kick used a green gelli print background with a gypsy image over that and some punched circles from a red gelli print. I then used those same paints to paint the letter and corrugated paper. A scrap of the background was used for the words and written also with a pigma pen.

While antiquing in Pasadena recently I came across some beautiful vintage black lace that I had to have and so I used a piece of it for my L is for Lace tag. Gelli prints were used for the background and words. I added some black and white polka dot washi(?) tape behind the words a a teeny scrap of paper in the same print to use for the eyelet.

My alphabet tag series continued...

Man it's been ages since I posted but then I've been busy with posting for Altered Pages and taking mini vacations this month. So without further ado I will go on to the next letter in my alphabet tag series.
G is for Gelli printing was made with cutouts from different Gelli prints 
including the chipboard letter. scalloped edging and the eyelet flower.

I used some specialty paper from the art supply store and painted it with a charcoal grey. 
The owl image was cut into an oval with yellow paper behind and 
cut with postage stamp decorative scissors. I designed the words in Publisher.

I is for Itsy Bitsy Inchies was inspired by my friend Rita who had just done a recent inchie art swap. Again, a Gelli print was used for the main background as well as the inchies.

Supplies used can be had at Altered Pages

I'm so excited to share this tag with you because it took my old puzzler some trial and error to come up with a solution to using die cuts with foil. My first attempt was to take a sheet of scor-tape and run it through my die cutter. The idea was that I would peel off one side and place it onto the background, peel off the top layer and then press the foil on it. Well that's great for circles and leaves but for the damask die cut there were some long skinny parts to it so when I tried to peel off one side it just stretched and stretched. Then it folded over itself. I even tried placing wax paper over the picture of the damask die for "perfect" placement so that I could then flip the whole thing sticky side down onto the background and peel away the wax paper. I just couldn't get the little skinny pieces to behave.

Then I noticed that I had a negative cut out of the damask die (the part left over after the pieces are taken out) sitting right there on my table! Well daaaanng! Why didn't I just slap some foil down and then layer the damask cut out over it? I did one better by laying down the scor-tape sheet cut to size onto the tag, put the damask cut out over it and then presssed the foil onto to the exposed sticky areas. I feel so clever! Believe me, that doesn't happen very often for me. I just hope that some of you genius artists out there aren't snickering to yourselves and saying "Well, that's no big deal!"

Well here are some pictures of how I did it.

First, I cut and glued some black cardstock to a tag and trimmed to fit. I traced around it onto the scor-tape and cut it to size. This stuff is really sticky. When you place it on the tag pull back a little to reveal the sticky part, then align it to the tag and slowly peel the backing off. Think contact paper when putting it sown on your shelves.

Then peel off the top layer off.

Here's my gelli printed damask die cut.

It was too big for the tag so I off set it.

Here's the foil on the roll waiting to be cut and applied. Don't forget color side up!
 Trust me you will do the other way!

Here you can see the parts that have come off the foil tape leaving a clear spot. I pressed the foil with my fingers then used a Shading and Texture tool to lightly press the foil into the edges. There's a few areas where I pressed too hard and too much and dulled the foil some. The nice thing about the foil that you can use every square inch of it until there's no more foil left.

Here it is all finished. Yeah! I added some green tape and wrote on it with a .05 pigma pen. Then I added the letter F and secured it with a silver brad. Added some more green tape at the bottom.

These supplies are available at Altered Pages:
Gelli Printing Plate
Shading and Texture Tool


E is for Embellishing

I'm on to the letter E in my alphabet tag series. As with all the tags so far I'm using up some of my Gelli prints for backgrounds, as well as the letter E and the flourish die cuts in this case. The brads were dipped in glue and then glitter. I found some silver ball stickers in the dollar bin at Michael's and I used a silver gel pen to write the words.

Completed Mermaid Treasure Box

This is my finished Mermaid Treasure Box project that was made for a kit at Altered Pages and I will be submitting it to the Unruly PaperArts Reader Art Quest challenge. July's theme is Marvelous Mermaids. Go check it out!

Learning my ABC's

School's just around the corner and you're never too old to try new techniques. I have to admit I was scratching my head wondering what on Earth I was going to post for today. So when in doubt pull out some and start altering away. Thank goodness I had a million Gelli prints in my paper stash to choose from. The beauty of making your own Gelli prints is that you will always have original one of a kind prints to use at your disposal which makes anything you make with them your very own. Then it was just a matter of cutting and pasting papers onto the tags and adding some embellishments. I'm loving those gears - especially the little ones with a little paint added to them - to use in place of the reinforced holes of the tags. My favorite tag so far is the letter C with Mr Lamb professor from the AlteredPages  Curiosity of Nature collage sheet.

Also used:
Manila Tags
Gelli Printing Plates
Chipboard Gears
Lightbulb Safety pins

D is for Doodling

On to D in my alphabet tag series. The background was made from a Gelli print with cheesecloth laid down as a mask. I used a Micron .01 pen to doodle with and then added watercolor pencils to shade and highlight. The tag, pen, Gelli printing plate and lightbulb safety pin are from Altered Pages. The black number tape is from Cavellini & Co.

Vacationing in Washington state

We spent 6 wonderful days in Washington state with family and friends. Such a welcome respite from the Phoenix inferno valley. Wished we could of stayed longer. Sigh. These pictures were taken from our host's camera.

 Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island

 Olympic Mountains at Hurricane Ridge
Rialto Beach near the infamous Forks town where Twilight was filmed.
Going to Seattle for the day.