Design team member of Alpha Stamps, moderator at Craftster, lover of ephemera and junk.

Welcome! Grab a cold one, kick off your shoes, and have a look around.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Temperence and Auroria Play Amongst the Crypts

It's that time of year, so buckle up for Halloween crafts! I just finished up a couple of crypts, along with some Victorian girls in bat costumes.

First up: Temperence. She gets bored sitting at home, so she loves to decorate the crypts in the nearby cemetery. Here she's placed several carved pumpkins around the base of the crypt, and is busy stringing up some smaller jack o'lanterns to hang as lanterns. It's dusk, and she's evidently disturbed a few bats, who fly around her head.

To help Temperence stand out, I used adhesive foam tape to attach her to the crypt. The columns and the black vines also help to give this piece a 3D look.

Here's Temperence's younger sister, Auroria. She's known as a bit of a flibbertigibbet. Somehow, she's managed to open the spiderweb gate and gain admission to the interior of this crypt. She hasn't got a care in the world, running around with her glowing jack o'lantern and her three skully balloons. I hope that rat doesn't bite her. That sucker is huge!

A little sideview of the gates. The gates are made of chipboard. I used paint and copic markers to make the columns look a little more like they're made of marble. I toyed with the idea of painting the webbed gate black, but I liked the way the brown color looked with the "bricks" of the crypt. 

The crypts are flat, so in order to enable them to stand, I took some shirt cardboard, folded it as shown, and glued it to the back. Now the crypts stand easily. You can see how the large bat is attached as well. He's actually a cupcake decoration. He was a deep black, but I painted him with gesso and then inked him to help him blend in with the "stonework".

Here's one more photo of the girls. They'd better hurry on home. I'm sure their mummy is getting worried.

For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Freak Show, with tutorial

The circus is in town, and they've brought the sideshow along with them. Using a Split Front Box from Alpha Stamps, I created a circus tent for the sideshow performers, or, as this circus calls it, the Freak Show.

The outside is bright and cheery, full of colorful stripes, polka dots, flags, posters, and curtains.

The inside, though, is a different story. I imagine that the world of the circus freak could be dark and depressing when they were on display. It must be horrible to have people constantly gawking at you because you are different. To reflect this, the inside of the tent is practically devoid of color, as the freaks await their turn on the stage. The only source of light are the footlights behind the stage.

The freaks gather and wait to be displayed in the center box, while the split doors make the perfect viewing place for the individual performers to sit as the curious crowds walk by.  I did not attach the doors to the box, so they can be pulled forward as shown.

Here's a brief tutorial on how I made the box and the circus tent top.

The box come disassembled, so my first plan of action was to see how it goes together. I placed all the pieces flat and made sure that the sides of the box were shorter than the sides of the doors. This photo is of the box (left) and one of the doors (right).

Before covering the box with paper, I taped it together to make sure I had it right. Looks good! One thing I did notice is that the doors hug the box pretty snugly. This would most likely not be an issue if you want to paint it, but since I wanted to cover the box with paper, I had to plan for that. I covered the outside of the box with the bright striped paper, and then covered the inside roof and floors of the doors with the yellow polka dotted paper. I assembled the doors without gluing the tops. I positioned the doors in place on the box, which had three layers of paper stacked on the top, between the top and the top of the door, so I could get a little extra spacing. The papers raised the door top  panel up a bit, and I glued the tabs with those three papers still in place, acting as spacers. When the extra paper is removed, the doors have room to open and close comfortably. Doing this leaves a bit of a gap between the tabs you are gluing, but once you cover the inside and outside walls of the box, the gaps aren't noticeable.

Alpha Stamps has two great collage sheets filled with sideshow and circus performers. I cut out my favorites and gave them all a little color with Copic markers. After I covered the inside of the box with my papers of choice, I arranged the performers to see how they would fit, and then took a quick photo for a reference as I put the box together.

Here's a view of the bottom and sides of the box, with the sideshow performers inside. The snake charmer and the strong man in the back are attached to the back wall with foam tape. Neither of them are touching the floor; I lifted them up so they can be seen. The other performers are backed with some foam core for sturdiness, and affixed to the bottom of the box with a little bit of white glue. The red circle in the photo below is where I put a small hole in the back of the box so the fairy lights could be inserted. Once the lights and the performers were in place, I glued on the top of the box and covered it with the brighter striped paper.

The box was nice as is, but a circus needs a tent-like roof! I cut a piece of cardboard with the dimensions shown, and covered it with paper. In the picture below, the entire back of the cardboard is covered, and the paper is trimmed as shown, with the overhang on the bottom. (Please note that this is a dramatic recreation of the roof I used in the art, so the paper in the following photos is plain cardstock instead of polka dotted.)

After you cut out the piece indicated above, use a bone folder to score along the fold lines and fold the front and back of the tent together so the points meet. As you hold the structure, mark the edges where you will cut the extra paper so it wraps neatly around the sides and bottom of the tent. What you cut doesn't have to be perfect, as those flaps will be on the bottom of the box and will not show.

After you've marked both sides,  cut on your lines and then wrap the tent and glue the flaps to the flat bottom of your structure. You should end up with a pyramid shape like the one below. I wanted to put a flag at the apex of my tent top, so I punched a hole with a Japanese hole punch. You could probably also use small scissors or the tip of an exacto blade. When my tent top was done, I added some pom pom fringe around the bottom, strung up the "Freak Show" sign, and raised the flag.

The Freak Show is open for business.

Need supplies to create your own freak show? Click here!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Circus Inchies in Handpainted Frame

New art for the family room!

I found myself at odds recently because I'm in between projects. My studio did get tidied up a bit, but that was no fun. I needed a tiny project. Inchies to the rescue! I had a colorful background made from red and pink tissue paper that I made months (years?) ago, so I cut it into inchie squares and set to work. In the interest of having this be a simple project, I dug up some circus stickers I had that were just the perfect size for tiny art. The next thing I knew, I had a set of 16 inchies. I went back to them several times, adding ink and paint. The once simple project became a bit of an obsession. Once they were done, I liked them so much I decided to mount them. I looked through my paper stash and found the perfect paper for the background. I took this picture so I could remember the order the inchies were in, but that second paper sticking behind convinced me I needed a border, so I chose a nice bright red to go behind the turquoise.

Luckily for me, I had a frame I had purchased at Ikea a while back. The mat was cut to the perfect size for those 16 inchies. The frame was a nice light plain wood, but since we're talking circus, I painted it white with red stripes and then sanded it down a bit to distress it. I used several tiny star sequins in the inchies, so I glued a little silver star on each white stripe as well. Plain frame on the left; painted on the right.

Here's was the first look I had of the framed inchies. I like it, but somehow it needed more. After all, the circus is about excess! (Cell phone photo = not the best quality.)

I took it back to the craft room and looked around for some Dresden trim. I love this light turquoise I found. Matching up the corners nicely took some doing, but I think the trim looks great. Each corner also got a little star. Done! 

Here's the art in its new home. My parents made this plant stand for me for Christmas years ago. Now she finally has something to look at!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ticky Tacky Tiki

What's better than being at the beach and coming up on a little Tiki bar? Why, nothing! Last time I was near the shore, I happened upon this inviting establishment.

OK, full disclosure: this is actually a miniature Tiki bar, and it was photographed in my back yard. I only wish I had come up on it at the beach! I made this little bar using one of the houses from the set I featured in this post. I only adhered one side of the roof, and then supported the other side with a couple of bamboo skewers, creating a little kiosk. To create the bar, I wrapped a thick piece of cardboard with a piece of weathered wood-look scrapbook paper and attached it under the window with hot glue.

Hey, it looks like we're in luck- the bartender is serving up frosty Cosmos, my all-time favorite adult beverage. He's even gone so far as to sugar the rim and add a nice slice of lime on the side. Mmmm! The little sign hanging under the bar states "Always happy hour". I'm telling you: this is my kind of place! 

The bartender looks a little stern, but he's really a fun guy. How festive is that lei he's wearing? It was pretty simple to make; I just used a hole punch to cut several circles from tissue paper, and then poked a threaded needle through small stacks of the punched circles. I tied a little knot between colors to make them look more like individual flowers. It helped to tape down an end while making the lei. Want to know how to make a mini Cosmo? I explained how I did that at the bottom of this post.

Doesn't that Cosmo look tempting? I'll have one, please!

If you don't like Cosmos, perhaps a nice bucket of beer will suit you better. Umbrellas rent for only $5, so grab one, pull up a beach chair, and come sit next to me.

Here's a nice spot. The beer's on ice, so it's nice and cold. That's my Cosmo on the right, though, so hands off!

One more view before we go. There are so many awesome miniatures that really make this project fun, from the tiny martini shaker to the bucket and tiny ice cubes for the beer. For a complete list of supplies I used, click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Fish House

In continuing on with the summer themed craft projects, I took a folding house shrine from Alpha Stamps and created "The Fish House". When it's all folded up, it looks like a house made of waves. I couldn't resist adding a small window on the side.

The roof is made of corrugated cardboard with the top thin layer of paper removed. A different bathing beauty is featured on the back.

When the house is opened up, it's apparent why I named it The Fish House (or at least I hope it is!)

The King of Fish watches over his kingdom from the center panel, while his loyal subjects collect the perfect fish from the surrounding ocean. He has put those bathing beauties to work! Here's my favorite panel. She's so proud of the catch of the day.

The house is hinged together with washi tape, while the striped outline on the top and bottom of the panels is made from thin strips of the scrapbook paper used in the striped panels. 

Here's the outer view of the opened house, but I have to admit that I'm still partial to the king and his helpers of The Fish House. 

For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Cabana, Cabana, Cosmo!

It's summertime at Alpha Stamps! Not only do I have photos of tiny beach cabanas, there's a sneak peak tutorial and preview of my next project at the end of this post.

Summer means hitting the beach, but where will you change into your suit? If you're lucky, there will be cabanas nearby so you can hit the beach in style. Here are three miniature beachy cabanas, ready when you are (if you're really teeny tiny, that is.) Can you see the bather behind the louvered door in the center house? She's just about ready for her debut.

These chipboard houses come flat, but are simple to assemble. Just fold on the score lines, cover the sides with paper or paint, and glue together with white glue. I used a strong double stick tape to attach the roofs.

Here's the largest cabana. The first bather is just getting ready to exit, while her friend peeks out the window on the side. For the roof on this cabana, I ran some scrapbook paper through a die cutter and layered the strips to look like shingles.

Number 17: Seahorse Inn. A bright gold seahorse on the door will help you to locate this cabana. On the roof, shingles were cut out separately, edges inked, and then applied one by one for a layered look.

 Here's the smallest of the cabanas, number 7. Scalloped scissors made the edges of this roof.

I had fun photographing these houses on sand, but to really get the details, I put them in my photo studio.

I would be remiss not to show you some of the cuties looking out the windows! They are all ready for some fun in the sun!

Seaside details on the back! The cardboard cutouts can be used in many ways. The wave and the draped edge were painted, while colored pencils were used for the palm trees, umbrella, shell, and life preserver.

For a complete list of supplies to make these beach cabanas, click here.

And now for the sneak peek tutorial. My next project was in need of some sort of summery beverage, so naturally I picked my favorite: Cosmopolitans! Here's how I took plain little glasses and made Cosmos.

First off, the glass itself. Look how tiny!

I added the pink color of the Cosmo itself using a mixture of Liquitex Gloss Medium and a little paint. Each glass just needed a drop or two.

Sugar the rim! I love to use Stirrings Cosmopolitan Rimmer on our real Cosmos; it's pink and tasty and fun. I used a little pink glitter to rim the tiny drinks. Use a toothpick to put a thin bead of tacky glue around the rim and then either sprinkle the glitter on, or carefully press the top of the glass into a little pile glitter. I did both, for better coverage. When I did this first round of glasses, I put the limes on before sugaring the rims, but if I had to do it again, I'd add the limes after the glass is sugared.

Every Cosmo needs some lime! This lime cane is the perfect size for a tiny beverage. Simply cut a thin slice with a sharp exacto blade, and take out a small pie-shaped wedge so the slice will fit nicely on the rim of your glass. If the glue from your sugar is still wet, it may be enough to hold the lime on. You can also use a toothpick to put a tiny bead of glue on the inside edges of the lime where you removed the wedge.

Miniscule Cosmos are served! But where?!? Stay tuned...

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