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, May 11, 2019

Artist Trading Coins: Controlled Mayhem, with Tutorial

Artist trading coins from Alpha Stamps!  Here's some Controlled Mayhem to brighten your day: five coins and five pockets decorated in a circus theme. I used some metallic paint to brighten up the edge of each coin in shiny gold. Grommets were added to the upper left corner of each pocket, and they were all bound with a binder ring. A tassel made with fun and fuzzy fibers (and a sweet silver elephant) was added to the ring for maximum circus fun.

Here are the pockets and coins before binding. I used a rubber stamp to make the title on the first pocket. Old tickets look fab on the fronts of the rest.

Let's take the coins out!

Circus fun!

Mixed colors and patterns.

 Of course I had to decorate the backs a bit as well.

Here are a few in progress photos and comments about how these were made. My first step was to choose which images I wanted to use on the coins. Once those were chosen, I picked paper for the background and glued it on. Each coin then got a border. Some of the borders were made using black sharpies, and some were done with paint and a spotter, which is actually a tool for decorating fingernails. That's one at the lower left. You can get inexpensive sets of those on Amazon.

Here's what my table looked like when I was choosing the papers for the pockets. You can see the chipboard pocket at the top center. I painted all the edges with a gold metallic paint for a bit of sparkle. IMPORTANT: When I folded up the pocket and adhered the flaps to form the pocket, I did it with a coin inside to make sure I left enough give in the pocket. If you skip this step, your coin may not fit. Using double stick tape insures the pocket will stick firmly.

The photo below shows the three steps I took in covering the pockets. They can be a little tricky because of the rounded corners, but here's an easy way to deal with that.
1. Put double stick tape all around the straight edges of the pockets.
2. Glue the paper you're using, and line it up with the tape at the top of the pocket. Then flip the pocket over and cut as shown. I used an x-acto blade to carefully cut around the corners. Put double stick tape around the edges of the back of the pocket (I did not want to trust glue to hold those edges!) and carefully fold the edges over.
3. Flip over your pocket, and voila! Use an ink pad to darken the edges if you wish. I went around later with a dry brush of the gold metallic paint and added that to the edges as well.

4. Choose the paper you want to use behind the pocket, and glue that to the front of your pocket. Use and x-acto knife to trim around the top edge.

Once that's done, cover the back, and add a grommet to each pocket.

Thread a binder ring through the grommets, and you've got a fun little trading coin pocket book. Don't forget to add a tassel! For a complete list of supplies, click here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Adventures in Needle Felting: Mouse and Squirrel

This weekend, I went on a retreat with a large group of people from We had such a great time. Several people volunteered to give classes, and one of the classes I took was needle felting, something I've never done before. We were given all the supplies we needed, and our amazing instructor had us all make squirrels. Even though we were all rank amateurs, we did pretty well, in my unbiased opinion.

Well, I had roving left over, so I decided to try my hand at doing a little mouse.

His tail is a pipe cleaner wrapped with embroidery floss, which enables him to stand.

 If it's hot outside, a drink umbrella is the perfect size to shade him from the sun's hot rays.

He's a wee little thing!

And here's the squirrel (Dexter) that started it all. Needle felting is fun!
Cheeky bugger.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Dum and Dee, the Tweedles

This month at Alpha Stamps, it's all about Alice. My favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland happen to be the Tweedles, both Dum and Dee. Guess who got star billing on the two works I did this month? 

First, I made an altered tin. I removed the lid before covering the outside with polka dotted paper, and the inside with a beautiful background image from a collage sheet. The outside mushrooms are a chipboard insert. I used colored pencils and Copic markers to paint the mushrooms to match the background. I wanted the largest two mushrooms to extend outside the boundaries of the chipboard, so I painted those two tops separately and then attached the new caps. The white spots on them were added with Gesso.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum had on outfits that were fairly muted, so I bumped up the color a bit with Copic markers. Now they look more at home in their bright surroundings. I also used a marker on Alice's hair. After all, blondes have more fun! Look at the sweet little hedgehog peaking out from behind the mushroom in front. He was so adorable that I just had to include him.

Butterflies were folded and glued down the center to make them appear as if they just landed on the edges of the tin. I love that big silver teapot; it's the perfect topper! It really made the piece come together. Silver beads made for little feet for the tin, and echoed the silver of the teapot. In the picture below, you can see that the Tweedles are mounted on foam tape for extra dimension. Alice is also mounted on foam tape so it appears she is actually peaking out from that giant 'shroom.
Yes, we're all mad here!

In addition to the altered tin, I made a tiny book box, which also features the Tweedles. I used the same polka dot paper on the exterior, and used washi tape to attach the cover to the sides. Washi tape is pretty, but it's not really sticky enough for a project like this, so I used a thin strip of double stick tape under the washi tape to make sure the cover is on securely.

When you open the cover, you find the infamous Queen of Hearts, and a teeny tiny deck of cards.

Remove the cards, and there's Alice, all crammed into too small a space.

Even though they're tiny, that's a full deck of cards. I'm holding them here so you can get a sense of scale:

 Hooray for the Tweedles (and Alice)!
For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Maximus the Magnificent

So. I had a little spell of free time where I didn't have a deadline for any art projects, and I decided to look for a tin to alter. I had in mind doing something Spring/Easter related. People are always giving me empty tins, so I looked through my tin drawer hoping to find something different. I found a square green tin (perfect for Spring; let's use that!) but I also pulled out a long skinny gold tin, thinking it would be fun to use for a future project. Well, I fought with the green tin just long enough to remember I had some new gold striped paper that might look really, really good with that second tin. The green tin got tossed aside, and Maximus the Magnificent the Strong Man was born. Maximus himself comes from an awesome collage sheet by Nichola Battilana (love her stuff!). I gave him some wings, a prize fighter belt, and a wee silver crown.

The three blocks I used in this piece are all vintage. I cut the red and white block Maximus stands on in half so it would fit inside the tin, and cut a wheel in half for the top. The sides and back of the tin are covered in patterned paper; the dots around the opening were done with Gesso. I used black and cream striped paper for the inside walls of the tin, some of the pennants in the background, and the belt. The belt buckle is actually a peanut butter label, intended for a dollhouse jar. Maximus' outfit needed a pop of red, and it was the perfect size and shape.

Maximus didn't start out wearing any headgear, but when I found that tiny crown and let him try it on, he refused to take it off. I think it suits him. 

Maximus has been looking for a nice place to live. Currently, he's residing in our keeping room, but he may move into the living room in the near future. You know how those circus folk like to travel.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Tisket, A Tasket, A Checkered Easter Basket

After reading the title of this project, do you have that old children's song in your head? I do. Sorry about that.

But how cute is this new Mini House Front Box from Alpha Stamps? Never mind that I put the house on the back; I wanted the goodies within to show! Here it is with a painted Easter egg, and there's room to spare for candy.

A tiny white rabbit rests on the front lawn (above), and a mischievous rabbit appears in the back. He's gotten into the tiny carrot patch and helped himself to a treat. At least he left a few for later. I used wire cutters to cut the tops off of three tiny clay carrots so they look like they're still partially buried in the ground under the window.

The butterflies were cut from scrapbook paper. On the paper, they're the pale yellow color shown in the photo above. I used Copic markers to color the other three light pink, dark pink, and blue. The butterflies were folded and glued only down the center fold line, so they look like they're actually perching on the house.

The outside of the house is covered with a gingham check paper, but I used a different black and white print on the inside. Mixing prints is fun!

I know this box doesn't consist of your typical Easter colors, but that makes it great for other uses. How about an ATC caddy?

Or perhaps even better, how about a tiny liquor bottle carrier? Now that's a fun Easter surprise!

This little house front box is easy to put together, and doors and windows are also available. If you use paper to cover your base, be sure to leave the cardboard uncovered where the walls are to be inserted into the slits on the base. Red Dresden trim picks up the colors in the windows and door. A little white glue is all you need to keep things together.

The sides of the house come with small holes at the top so you can easily add a handle. I was not sure I was going to add one, so before I covered both sides of the cardboard with paper, I made a template to make the hole easy to locate.  The tinsel I used as a handle has a thin wire that goes through it, so I first punched out the hole with a needle, and then threaded the wire through. You can simply twist the ends of the wire together, and it's hardly noticeable. Here I am using the template to locate the hole. Can you tell I use a piece of tracing paper as many times as humanly possible before getting a new sheet?

Although using this basket as a tiny liquor bottle caddy is tempting, I believe I'll end up using it as an ATC holder. The painted egg I used in these photos has already been cracked and pealed and deviled for last night's dinner. It was delicious.
For a complete list of supplies, click here!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Matchbox Circus

If you know me at all, you know I'm crazy about the circus. It's been a while since I made any circus art, so I decided to have a little fun with another mini matchbox like the one I used a couple of weeks ago to make Mini Mermaids. Here's some more big fun in a little 2 1/2" package.

First, the cover. I put alphabet stickers spelling out the word "circus" on a piece of paper and then cut it out to make a sign for the elephant to hold. Sequin stars add a bit of sparkle. The letters on the spine of the "book" were cut from a collage sheet.

When you open the box, there's a tiny circus performance going on. Or perhaps it's dress rehearsal, seeing as the seats aren't yet filled.

I painted the tiniest of people to create a wee trapeze artist and a ringmaster. I used the thinnest of brushes and the strongest of magnifying glasses to paint these performers. The trapeze artist is perched on her swing, which is actually a thin piece of wire, bent to shape. She's attached to her perch with a little white glue. The baby elephant's blanket is a piece of ribbon, cut to size and glued on.

When I say these people are small, I'm not kidding. Here's the ringmaster with a quarter to show scale. He's just about 3/4" tall.

Star sequins, Dresden trim over the curtains, and gold tape all make the circus shine.

A little bit about how I did part of the box. Here it is before the curtains were added. Obviously, something was needed here!

The curtain image I wanted to use from the the collage sheet was way too wide for the available space in the matchbox, but I really liked the way they looked. I cut them in half to see how they would look if I stitched them together in the center.

I cut the piece on the left along the swag, and then glued the two parts together. If I had thought far enough ahead, I would have saved one of those fringe folds to go in the center, but alas, I had to cut one, and the other was firmly glued to the back of the curtains on the left before I thought this through.

So, I took the thinnest of my pens and drew another fold, then cut it out and glued it on. Voila! Next time, I'll make sure to plan a little better. Meanwhile, however, the show must go on!

Now I have a little pocket circus to take wherever I go.
Need supplies? Click here!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Mini Mermaids, with a Mini Tutorial

I'm not sure why, but I really like to work small. So when I had my choice of projects this month from Alpha Stamps, I chose to work on a Matchbox Sized Faux Book Box (only 2 1/4" tall!) It's the perfect size for a tiny shrine. The papers in this month's kit made me think "beach", and "beach" made me think mermaids.

The outside of the box was wrapped in a lovely shell and seaweed paper, and then covered with a tiny beach poster advertising Mermaid Oysters. I used a couple of charms, a tiny pinch of sheet moss, and some flat back pearls to give the lid a bit of dimension.

The sides of the box have a fun coordinating pattern, and some Dazzles thin line gold border stickers around the edges. I'm sad to report that those stickers have been discontinued, but if you want a little splash of gold, this thin line stripe tape should do the trick.

For the inside of the box, I found a great image of mermaids that coordinates nicely with the new papers. I used three copies of that image to create dimension. Moss, tiny seashells, and a few more pearls were added to the bottom of the box. A brief tutorial is below.

1. Mix acrylic paint to match the colors of the paper you will be using to cover the box. In the photo below, the box is painted and ready to construct. Note that I didn't bother painting the entire cardboard on the sides of the box, because I knew I was going to cover that with paper. I did paint the entire underside of the lid, because I was worried that if that were covered with paper, it would not lay flat when the box is closed. (The middle panel is also not painted, but that's because I forgot about it. Oops. I did go back and paint it later.)

2. You can build up your mermaids using as many images as you wish. Two will work fine, but the box was deep enough to use three, so I decided to go for it. Cut one image out to fit the back of the box, one image of just the mermaids, and one of the two mermaids in the foreground.

3. Put foam tape on the backs of the mermaid images.

4. One at a time, adhere the images to the background. Make sure you do this before you put the background into the box, because you want to make sure your images are lined up perfectly.

5. (See, I did go back and paint that one piece!) I didn't have any cloth bookbinding tape on hand, so I used masking tape to attach the sides and top of the cover to the box. Tape first, making sure the box closes correctly, and then add the scrapbook paper to the top, sides and bottom of the box to hide the majority of the tape.

I wanted a little of the patterned paper on the inside cover, so in order to assure that the box would close correctly, I made sure that the paper was in an area that would fit inside the box part when the lid is closed. 

6. You can leave your box as shown above, but I prefer the box to open more like a book, so I used some white glue to glue the spine to the side of the inside box. Now my box looks like this when opened:

7. A little note on the starfish charm on the front, and the seashell charm on the inside: because they are charms, they each came with a loop. I clipped the loops off with small wire cutters and then used a metal file to smooth down the rough edge a bit.

Here's the final project: a little bit of mermaid magic that fits in your hand.
For a full list of supplies, click here!
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