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

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Arches of Mardi Gras

Did you ever just get a weird idea and decide to run with it? Here's what happened to me when I got the March kit from Alpha Stamps. I fell in love with the color of the G45 papers and the images on the Costumes collage sheet. The arches seemed like the perfect place to host a costume ball, and what do you know? A slew of Mardi Gras babies decided to crash the party!

On the left is a dashing gentleman, a self-described "dreamer". He's offering a flower to the girl of his dreams, but which one is the lucky lady? It's impossible to tell. This fellow's fancy costume was a little clashy with the background, so I used some Copic markers to make the green and red colors of his outfit lean more towards orange and turquoise. After all, clashing with the decor is so uncouth! 

Copic markers helped out the masked woman's costume as well. The poster on the wall was cut from the scrapbook paper. It perfectly set the mood of the party. The "floor" of each panel is a contrasting paper, simply torn so the white edges show. Isn't this woman so fancy with her bronze fan? The ribbons are a couple of strands of embroidery floss.

Here's the lady on the right. Is she going to be the lucky one who receives that flower? Obviously she feels worthy, carrying around that "beautiful" sign. I have to admit that she does look lovely in her harlequin dress. No Copics were needed for this outfit; the colors in her frock were already perfect.

The panels are hinged on the back with strips of coordinating paper with rounded edges. Nothing fancy; I just freehanded the cuts. Let's talk about those babies, though. I guess they caught wind of the planned festivities and just had to join in. I'm kind of fond of this back view, where you can see them all scaling the wall. Cute, or something from a horror flick? Probably leaning towards more horror, especially considering that the baby on the far right of each panel had to suffer a bit of an amputation to get its legs to fit. I nipped a bit off of their left legs with a wire clipper. I can't say I feel good about that, but art requires sacrifice, yes? The climbing babies are each attached with a dab of hot glue.

I got those little naked babies at a party store. For a complete list of all the other supplies, click here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Big Red Circus Wagon, with Lion Cage tutorial

The circus is in town!
I can't help but be a little sad that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus will be closing for good this year. I have always loved the circus, and making circus art. It just so happens that the Alpha Stamps mini 3D Cinderella Coach, with a change of color and adornments, makes the perfect little circus wagon for little peg people. It's been almost two years since I made my Tiny Peg Circus, and it was time for those little performers to have a means of reliable transportation.


The wagon is just the right size to hold six members of the circus. For safety reasons, no one wanted to ride with the lions, so I constructed a little cage to tag along with the wagon. I'll show you how that was made at the end of this post.

Before assembling the wagon, I painted the body red, and the front and back pieces brown. The front seat was painted black, and given tiny gold "buttons", tiny circles which came from Dazzles gold stickers. Some striped paper went behind the seat, and lots more of the Dazzles stickers were applied around the window and doors and along the roof line. Metal stars, leaves, and filigree pieces add a lot of circus glitz.

The back of the wagon also has some stripes, plus a "wooden" painted platform that is just the right size to carry the strong man's barbells.

Here's a view of the back, without the barbells.

The lion cage is tiny, but large enough to comfortably carry a couple of felines. The cage was constructed with cardboard and part of a set of chipboard gates. Those gates made the perfect fancy bars for the cage.

To make the cage, use the smaller gates from the set. Remove the long side of the gate, seen on the left gate below. Figure out how large you want your cage to be. The walls of this one are 2 3/8" tall, and the front and back are 1 5/8" wide. You'll need four slim pieces to fit on each side of the bars for the front and back of the cage; these are 2 3/8" tall by 3/8" wide.

Paint the front and back bars of the gate gold with a paint pen, and paint the remaining cardboard red. Using Aleene's Tacky Glue, glue the narrow pieces right up against the bars, and then glue on the front and back at 90 degree angles. Working quickly, glue the bottom of the cage into place. Using an x-acto knife, carefully cut the bars flush with the bottom of the cage. Keep the part you cut off; you'll use that later. Attach the back of the cage, which consists of the bars with the thin strips attached, and then cut those bars off, again, flush with the bottom of the cage.

Using the gate parts you just trimmed off, cut the excess bars off as shown below, and then remove one of the finials so there are six remaining. These will now fit the front and back of the wagon. Glue into place along the tops.

Glue into place along the tops, as shown below. Wrap a Dazzles sticker around the top of the bars and the bottom of the cage, and glue stars on the front and back corners. Use E6000 to attach the tiny ring handle, decorate the back, and add a flag if you're feeling festive.

To attach the wheels, add a piece of cardboard to the bottom that's slightly smaller than the bottom itself. This will help stabalize the included rounded pieces that will hold the axles. Glue them in place as shown. Thread the axles through the holes, and put the wheels on. If the wheels tend to slide around, take some masking tape and roll it around the axle. That will keep the wheels in place. At the left of this photo, you can see the trailer hitch. It's simply a piece of cardboard with a hitch fastener punched through one end.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my circus wagon even half as much as I enjoyed making it. Let's all wave goodbye to the circus as it leaves forever.

For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Sewing Queen

I learned to sew when I was around 11. I used to sew lots of my own clothing, and when my girls were small, I used to sew most of their clothes. Now I generally only pull my machine out occasionally, sewing things like pillow covers or fabric bowls. I still enjoy sewing, and often wonder why I don't do it more. Here's a little shrine to those who still sew frequently. To me, you are the Sewing Queens.

This piece was made almost exclusively from Alpha Stamps supplies, with the exception of some vintage buttons and an old button card. Because the buttons are "American Maid Pearls", I gave the Sewing Queen a pearl brooch and a pearl-encrusted crown.

Vintage buttons on the sides.

One of the Queen's besties appears on the back. Don't you just love those tiny thread spools and all the little pairs of scissors? The wooden star button at the top was tied with a bit of baker's twine, and than glued onto a vintage white button before attaching it to the shrine. Two small scissors are at the bottom. A Queen needs her scissors!

The roof is shingled with pieces of a vintage pin strip.
Here's how I made the niche at the top of the shrine: the sewing machine is a bit heavy, and also 3D, so there are not many points in contact with the back of the niche. The bottom of the machine was adhered using E6000 glue, and then a stitch of black thread was taken around the hand wheel on the right of the machine. The thread was both glued and taped to the back of the niche, and the machine is securely attached.

I really liked the round frame with dragon, so the first step was to determine placement. I used it upside down, electing to use the dragons as "scrolls".

Make the niche that the sewing machine will fit into: glue some scrapbook paper to a piece of shirt cardboard. Using a circle template, trace a circle onto it that is just a little smaller than the outer edge of the chipboard frame. Cut it out with scissors.

In this photo, you can see the circle that will be the back of the niche, next to the as yet undecorated frame. At the bottom of the photo is the "wall" of the niche. The flat part of the wall is scored with a bone folder to the desired depth of the niche, and tabs are cut to the fold line.

Bend all the tabs up, and then wrap them around the back of the cardboard circle, forming sides. Glue in place. Add another circle of scrapbook paper to the back. This will not show, but will help assure that the tabs stay adhered. Attach the sewing machine to the back of the niche as instructed above.

Make a support to fit under the niche so it doesn't sag! Measure the depth of the interior of the shrine and using sturdy cardboard, create the support like so. Add a piece of scrapbook paper to the side that will show when the support is in place.
  
Here's the niche with the machine adhered, glued to the top of the shine and sitting on the cardboard support.

Now decorate your frame with paints, colored pencils, and pearls, and glue it on top. Done! Don't forget to add those adorable scissors to the apex of the roof.
 
Here's to all you Sewing Queens out there. Happy stitching! For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Stenciled T

I can't believe it's already the end of January, and I'm finally getting around to writing up my first blog post of the year. Slacker!

I've been away from the craft room for a while with the holidays and what-all, but today, I stenciled a t-shirt. Just an inexpensive shirt from Kohl's, freezer paper and acrylic paint. Because, you know, sometimes you just need a new shirt.

Black and grey, my favorites.

More crafts coming soon. I'm working on it, I promise!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Snow White's Refusal

Snow White had it hard: a wicked stepmother who was so totally consumed with being the fairest of them all that she was willing to do anything to make that happen, including poison apples. Who wants to deal with that?

Here's an altered Altoids tin I decorated to celebrate Snow White refusing that bad apple. I used an old image (Snow White with blonde hair!) and a fairy tale insert frame to highlight the scene. Silver tinsel, silver glitter, snowflake sequins and Diamond Dust help to make this look like a frosty scene. Can't you just imagine Snow White's refusal: "Bitch, Please!" She is definitely not interested.

Some sticks from a twig vine garland are attached to the sides and woven together on the top for a woodsy scene. The snowflakes were attached to the sticks with just a little touch of white glue. The tin stands on some birch slices, all stacked up.

Here's a nice view of the side, so you can see how the Fairy Tale inserts frame the image.

And the back. I kept it simple, because the front has a lot going on!
Good for Snow White for standing up for herself. For a complete list of supplies, click here!

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!

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