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, December 3, 2016

Ornaments to Deck Those Halls

I'm crazy about Alpha Stamp's new Layered Ornaments. They each have a laser-cut chipboard scene, two outer edges, and clear plastic low-profile domes that combine to make a snow globe ornament. One of my favorite things about them: even when they're done and fully decorated, they're still lightweight enough to not pull down the branches of your tree!

Here's what I made with this month's kit. I really loved the scene with the deer, so that's the first one I made. I colored the tree and deer with colored pencils, and then brushed white paint on the tree and ground to look like snow. A little bow on the top with a pine cone and some holly complete the ornament.

To get this look, brush some glue on the snow and sprinkled with Diamond Dust. Then, glue the dome to the front of the ornament. Once the glue is good and dry, add some micro beads to give a snow globe effect. Glue the plastic dome to the back circle. While the outside of the back is lying face down, pour a few micro beads into the dome, and then carefully glue the ornament to the back. It helps if you use clothespins to hold all the sides together while your glue dries. Once the ornament is assembled, glue a ribbon around the outer edge and embellish with greenery, charms, etc. as you wish.

My next ornament was the Santa. I really love all the details in this laser cut; it's my favorite. The ribbon on the package and the springs on the Jumping Jack are so delicate! I used acrylic paint to bring Santa to life, along with a gold metallic paint pen. After painting, I brushed glaze over all the painted surfaces to give a little shine.

For the back of this ornament, I chose a holly-covered paper. I added some Diamond Dust snow, some snowflake charms, and some peppermint slices from this cane. Here's the front and back together:

Here's a little quick ornament: after painting the outside with red and green stripes, I painted the laser cut scene black. Before putting the back on, I attached silver stars with the tiniest dab of glue. Diamond Dust snow was added before assembling. I looped a ribbon around the holder and added a snowflake charm.

It's pretty easy to get those stripes placed, if you go about it like you're drawing a clock. Start with stripes at 12, 3, 6, and 9, and then fill in evenly. After the red was done, I painted green stripes between. I liked the look of the cardboard, so the neutral color you see is the unpainted chipboard.

Most of these photos make these ornaments look pretty flat. They're actually about 1/4" wide; the perfect width to add a colorful ribbon to the sides! You can see the depth in this photo:

Last but not least, here's a great way to preserve some Christmas memories. I've taken photos of my girls every year since my older daughter was born. Back in the days before digital cameras, I would take 20 some pictures and then wait for the film to be developed. I always ended up with several outtakes that were not "card worthy". Here is my favorite. My younger daughter was almost two, and in every.single.picture she screamed "tee hee!" My older daughter, who was not excited about taking Christmas photos in the first place, could not hide her exasperation.

Nine years later, the girls agreed to recreate that photo for me for our 2013 Christmas card. That card is one of my all time favorites, and I will love having this ornament on my tree. I am planning on going through all my old cards and making more photo ornaments. Wouldn't these make great gifts for family?
 Time to get to trimming the tree! For a complete list of supplies to make these ornaments, click here.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Holly Jolly Christmas House, with tutorial

Time for Christmas crafts! Inspired by vintage Putz houses, I created this little brick Christmas house. It reminds me a bit of the house I grew up in, although we didn't often have snow, and we for sure didn't have a sweet peppermint walkway to the front door.

This little house stands only about 3" tall, not counting the base. It was made by a kit from Alpha Stamps, and if you read on through to the bottom, I'll talk about how it was put together. Meanwhile, here are some more photos. The tiny family who lives here sure did a good job of decorating the tallest tree! It's easy to attach those beads; I just dipped them in some tacky glue and stuck them into the branches.

I left the front door ajar because it seemed a bit more welcoming. That door is tiny: less than one inch tall, and the doorknob is actually the head of a straight pin. I just pushed the pin through and clipped off the excess. The wreath was punched out with a regular hole punch. I drew around the circumference with some dimensional paint, and then added red holly berries with the head of a pin. Here's a little "in progress" photo. The wreath is sitting on a removable glue dot, on top of an old drink stirrer. That's about the only way I could keep it steady while I painted it!

You can totally fence your house in, or you can use an xacto knife to cut a little gate. I think it looks nice to have an open gate with the pathway leading to the front door.

Here's something fun: there is a tea light inside the house. At night, the house looks warm and cozy with all the lights on.

Here's how to assemble the house. It arrives flat, so you first need to punch out all the pieces. An xacto knife will help separate the tiny parts that are attached. Below you see Window Trims on the left, the roof and part of the base in the top center, the house itself bottom center, and a Chimney & Dormers set on the right. I used the dormer windows, but not the chimney for this house.

Once your pieces are removed, it's good to lay them out to make sure you have them all together and you know what goes where. That tea light will go into the house before everything is glued up.

I used a circle template to draw a hole in the bottom of the house for the tea light. The hole is just a little smaller than the tealight, so the light can still sit on the floor, but I have access to the on/off switch and the battery.
*Note: while I was working on this prototype, the bottom of the house was redesigned, adding a handy trap door, as shown below. Now, if you wish, you can simply insert the candle through the pre-cut trap door. Easy peasy!

Now back to the tutorial:
Before you go to put things together, paint the window trim. I gently held down each piece and painted the top half. The paint was dry by the time I finished the last one, so I held down the top and finished painting the bottoms. I originally thought the trim would look good this light green color, but then decided to go with white. No problem; I just flipped them all over and painted the backs.

If you choose to cover the walls with paper instead of painting the outside, here's how to cover the walls without covering your windows: place the wall (inside up on the reverse side of the paper) on the corner of the paper you're using. Take a straight pin and punch a hole on each of the four corners of every window. This will show you where to cut out. Make sure you paint the window mullions on the outside wall before you glue your paper down! I painted mine white, to match the trim.

Once you've poked holes on the edges of all your windows, use a straight edge and an xacto to cut out the window holes. Here I've cut three of the sides, then I'll go back and cut out the tops and bottoms.

I painted the inside walls of my house green, thinking it would look good through the windows. However, when I did a test run with the candle inside before things were glued, I didn't like seeing the candle through the windows. I took a piece of light yellow tissue paper and glued it over each window on the inside of the walls, so the light will diffuse nicely. Here I am making sure everything will fit together well. You can see the white window mullions in the top back part of the house, and that one window already has its trim around it. The tea light is held in place with some Apoxie Sculpt, so the house is ready to be assembled.

Put a little bit of glue on the edges of the walls, and assemble. I used Tacky Glue on mine, and I only had to hold things in place a short time before everything was adhered.

One thing I didn't get photos of was the dormer windows. Before I put their little roofs on I held them in place on the roof of the house and used a pencil to draw a square inside the perimeter of the dormer. I then cut that square out of the roof so the light also shines through the dormers. I like it that the entire house is lit up when the tea light is on.

Here's the base of the house, all assembled and painted white. At this point, I have added Tiny Scalloped Shingles to the front of the roof, and applied Snow Tex to the roof and windows of the house. I have also began placing the trees and deer, who although cute, did not make the final cut. I drew around the house and trees with a pencil. If your house lights up, you will need a hole in the base to access that tea light. Cut out that hole before you glue anything down!

Here's the base all snowed in with Snow-Tex. Notice the hole for the tea light access to the house. Once the snow is dry, you can glue down your elements. You may want to go back in and add a little more snow around the house and trees once they're placed.

Once everything's glued down, you've got a Holly Jolly Christmas house that's cute both day and night.

For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Halloween Specimen Tags

Here's a set of three Halloween tags I made, using the "Cabinet of Curiosities" stamp set. These were so quick and easy to do: I painted the tags orange and then played around with ink, stamps, and colored pencils to give them a little depth. The cloches were stamped on cream colored cardstock, and the "glass" was painted with some very light blue. The specimens were stamped on white paper, enhanced with colored pencils, and then cut out and glued inside the cloches. I added some alphabet stickers and a bit of scrapbook paper to the bottom of the tags so the cloches had a place to sit. Once the cloches were adhered to the tags, I went back in with colored pencils and highlighted them and the type. Bada bing, bada boom, scary tags for Halloween!
 Aren't those stamps great? You can get them here

Monday, October 10, 2016

Talking Heads


I just got back today from Stamford, CT, where I spent 4 exciting days going to "art camp" with Art Is...You. Every day there were tons of classes to choose from. I'll have to report in on what all I made, but for now, I want to post my favorite thing, this "Talking Head", from a class by Doreen Kassel. When I saw her work, I knew I had to take this class. I'm not very experienced with working with polymer clay, but I learned lots of great new techniques, and I'm really pleased with how my Talking Head turned out. Lookie!

This little gal (I named her "Precious") stands about 6" tall. But the cool thing about Talking Heads is that the body and heads are separate, so you can change them up at will.

Some times,  Precious is just a little piggy.

We had such a blast this year at art camp. I am exhausted. 😄

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Spooky Halloween Banner, with Medallion tutorial

I don't know why I don't have a banner on my mantle every day of the year. I do know, though, that I will always have one for Halloween. Next to Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday to decorate for! Here's a new banner I put together this week with Alpha Stamps supplies.

I used lightweight cardboard to make the pennant shapes. They're 4" wide at the top, and 6" to the point, which allowed me to use 6" by 6" scrapbook paper to cover them. Each pennant is then outlined with a thin Dresden trim, and has a Tim Holtz "Typed Token" attached to the point with a brad.

I tried to represent all the best of Halloween with this banner. First pennant: a happy Halloween moon, a secretive skeleton, and some flying bats. Tim Holtz says, "beware."

What time is it now? Oh, it's the Witching Hour! This witch holds a spooky clock with an eyeball face. There are no hands on this clock, because every hour is witching hour on Halloween. Note: the image of the witch I had was too short to fit on the pennant, and I didn't want her to be cut off, so I gave her a skirt of spiderwebs. Tim Holtz says, "wicked."

Boo! Here's the center of the banner: a spooky flying skull with a Victorian collar (tutorial below). Tim Holtz exclaims, "31". 

The whimsical clock on this banner proclaims it's pumpkin time, and the skelly agrees. He's holding an October 31st sign and a freshly carved jack o'lantern. Tim Holtz says, "spooky." If I saw this guy running down the road, I'm sure I'd agree.

The final banner has two very large and scary spiders. Even that ghoul seems a little concerned. He is well aware that the spiders are poison. Tim Holtz concurs.

This was a quick project that came together in just a couple of days. Nevertheless, I think it looks great on my mantle with a few of my Halloween decorations. This weekend, I'll pull the rest of my decorations out, and spook up my house. Beware!

TUTORIAL:
Here's how I made the Victorian collar and the medallions behind the 2nd and 4th pennants in the banner using a Martha Stewart Mini Score Board. You'll need the score board, a strip of paper 11 1/2" or 12" long, and a circle cut for the back of the medallion. I used a punch to make mine, but you could cut one by hand if you don't have a circle punch, as this will be on the back of the medallion. For this medallion, my strip is 1" wide, which makes a medallion about 2" in diameter.

Place the strip along the top and side guidelines of the scoring board, and using the scoring utensil, score every 1/2" (on the Martha Stewart board, shown here, you would score on each dot.)

Your paper is longer than the board, so when you get to the edge of the board in your scoring, simply slide your paper over to the left to continue scoring your strip.

Once you have scored every 1/2", flip the paper over and score between each scored area. Now you will have a score line every 1/4". Flipping the paper makes it easier to fold.

Finish scoring all the way to the end, and then fold the strip accordion-fashioned. In order to join your medallion correctly, you'll need to cut off one of the ends at the first fold. 

Bring the ends around so your folded paper makes a circle, and use glue to attach the ends.

Stand the strip up on one edge, and using both your hands, gently press the top edge down to the middle to form your medallion.

Use a glue gun to glue around the edges of your cut circle. Place it on the center of the medallion, holding firmly. Make sure you're holding your medallion in place as you perform this tricky maneuver!

Now you have a festive medallion, or collar, or basis for a badge.
 
For a complete list of supplies to make this banner, click here. And happy Halloween!

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!


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