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.

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!

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!

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.
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