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, June 29, 2011

Circus Elephant

 Michaels is now carrying adorable paper maché animals, including elephants! I went and picked up a few, and here's what I did with the first one: I painted the elephant grey with pink ears and cheeks. I had some great G45 polka dotted scrapbook paper, so I mixed up some colors to match the paper and painted a little blanket with a heart on her back. I painted a paper maché star box the light cream color, and then painted orange-y stripes on the sides. I then glued some more of the scrapbook paper to the top of the star. Once all that was dry, I used some inks to give the box and the elephant a little age and depth.

 Here's where the importance of being a magpie comes in: I found her little rubber ball a few months ago in a parking lot. Yes, they laughed at me when I scooped it up, but who's laughing now? Look how the color goes great with the rest of the piece! It's perfect! I attached the ball by sticking a sharp needle up through it, and then down through the trunk. A little dab of E6000 keeps it secure.

Here's her backside...
                                                                                                              ...isn't her bum so cute?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Castor": A Young Witch

 A good friend of mine sent me this old specimen box from a nature museum (it used to have a fish in it, but it does not stink!) I love it so much that I felt it needed a little witch inside of it. The writing on the back wall was originally on the outside of the box, but it looked so great that I had to invert the back and have it show. I also love that the box was originally hand made out of some other cardboard, so it has type showing on all the interior sides.

Basically, the box itself is so beautiful that I thought I'd keep it simple. I added a vintage image of a young witch from Alpha Stamps, a couple of little watch part bottles, filled with black and orange glitter, and a stack of tiny dice. I cut the word "witch" out of an old dictionary. See the type on the side of the box? Lovely.

The back is taped on with tissue tape. I love the way the tape looks, but it's not as sticky as I'd like, so the tape is actually glued on.

And here it is, ready to hang!
 As always, thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tutorial: Vintage-look Halloween Cat Trinket Box

Let's make Halloween cats!

Here's what you need:
a round paper maché ornament and a paper maché box, black and orange scrapbook paper, black Fimo clay, Mod Podge, some pipe cleaners, ribbon,  an ink pad, hot glue and E6000, and paint and brushes. Let's get started!

Draw on your eye and mouth areas, and paint them with white or cream colored paint.

 Paint the lips and nose orange.

Paint in the black, and add details such as the eyes, teeth, and freckles, as on the cat on the left. Once those are done, take a dry brush with black paint and brush it around the edges, in the freckle area, and on the teeth, as on the cat on the right.

Then, using the cream colored paint, paint the whiskers and add some highlights to the nose and lips.

 For the ears, take a marble sized ball of black Fimo clay and shape it into an ear shape. Make sure the bottom of the ear will fit on the round head of the cat. Bake according to directions and when cooled, paint the inside of the ear with the cream paint.

Now let's do the box.
Give the lid of the box a good coat of Mod Podge and place it face down on the paper you have chosen for the top. Carefully cut around the top with an exacto knife.

Paint the bottom of the box black. Measure the side of the box from the bottom of the box to right where the top of the lid touches, and cut a piece of paper to fit. Ink the edges of the paper before you attach it to the box with Mod Podge. Coat this side, the bottom of the box, and the top of the lid with Mod Podge to seal. (Option: Instead of covering the sides of the box, paint the them with black stripes.) Wrap a ribbon around the side of the lid and make a little bow tie. Attach with glue. (I like to use E6000 with a dab of hot glue to hold in place until the E6000 sets.)

 For the party hat, make a cone template and then cut out your desired paper and glue. Attach a black pipe cleaner around the bottom of the hat with hot glue. Watch your fingers! Stuff the hat with a little tissue paper to make it less likely to crush, and then glue the hat onto the top of the cat's head. Once the hat's in place, glue on the ears. Put a dab of E6000 on them, and then a little hot glue to hold them in place while the E6000 sets.

Glue the head onto the top of the box, and then glue a pipe cleaner around the bottom of the head where the neck would be. This will help stabilize the head.

Embellish the hat and the front of the box with buttons, die, trinkets, or pom poms...whatever you like best. Have fun with it!

 Here's looking at you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

7Gypsies Reproduction Ticket Holder

I just realized I never got back to you on the reproduction ticket holder I recently purchased. The first thing I noticed about it was that it looked brand new, so I took some sandpaper to it to rough it up a bit. I also banged out some of the sharp edges with a hammer. When I finished beating it up, it looked like this:

Then for the fun part~ I gathered some of my favorite ephemera, including a letter written in the early 1900's, an old flashcard, a blotter, an art tag, an old receipt, a soap coupon, a milk cap, some dairy coupons, a couple of old stamps, and the photograph we found in my furniture I mentioned here.
The thing I love about this is the fact that it can be constantly changed. I think I'll change it up for major holidays like Halloween and Christmas.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thieves Market

I was driving around in nowhereville, SC, with my two daughters, when we passed a large building with the intriguing name "Thieves Market" on it.  The outside was surrounded with equal parts treasure and junk. Even though we were running a little late to our destination, we found it impossible to resist. We did a quick U-turn and went back to check it out.

That place was chock full to the brim with all sorts of interesting items; I found several old yellowed dictionaries and other old books. My favorite find, though, was a shelf of giant Ziploc bags filled with old wooden toys. I bought three bags, and now I can't wait to see how they will find themselves in new assemblages.

Here are a few of my favorite goodies. This is just a small portion of the total haul.

I'm definitely glad we stopped.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tiny Circus Parade

Keeping along with the circus's a tiny circus parade coming your way! I took three small masonite shrines and transformed them (with a little help from Alpha Stamps supplies and G45 paper) into a wagon train of circus performers. I love the bright colors and the tiny size. Beware: lots of photos ahead.

Depending on your monitor size, you're probably seeing this at just about actual size. The flag on the chimp wagon flies a little less than 2 3/4" high. Here are the backs, with a quarter for scale:

Here are some closeup pics of each car:

I have several more tiny shrines left, just waiting to be altered. They're so much fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Circus Wagon Altered Tin

I think this is my favorite tin to date. This masonite frame, available at Alpha Stamps, was the perfect size for turning a plain Altoid tin into a festive circus wagon! I painted the frame with red and gold paint, and accented it with glitter, metal studs, and shiny star sequins. The banner stands on a toothpick and is topped with a couple of beads. The wheels are painted wooden spools with carpet tack spokes. The horse has real feathers attached to his tiny baker's twine bridle.

The wagon includes the usual cast of circus characters: lions, monkeys, clowns, and even a cat.

Are you getting tired of circus art? I hope not; I'm working on another circus parade, this one made with small masonite shrines. I'll post it later this week.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Circus Print Canvas Frame How-To

I fell in love with this 4" by 4" circus tent art print by elgerboart on Etsy, and ordered it last week. It arrived in the mail yesterday, and it's gorgeous! I want to sit it on a table top, but didn't want to just stick it in a boring frame, so I thought I'd mount it on a canvas instead.

I painted a 5" by 5" chunky canvas black, and then lightly painted the front edges with the green, red, and yellow found in the print. Here's one of the advantages to hoarding scrapbook paper: I found some great striped paper with the perfect colors to match the print in my stash. For the sides of the frame, I cut three pieces about 1/4" smaller than the area to be covered, and then edged them with black ink. I glued them down with a little tacky glue, and then gave the entire frame a once over with Mod Podge to seal it and make it a bit shiny. I added a decorative knob (Tim Holtz) on top, and used four bead caps (found in the jewelry section of Michaels) for little feet. I love how this turned out!

The photo is attached to the canvas with clear photo corners. The corners are sticky, but I added a little dab of E6000 glue to the back to assure they won't fall off. I also used a few removable glue dots on the print itself to help keep it from buckling. I like knowing that I can remove the photo and re-frame it if I ever get tired of it displayed this way. Here's a view of the side:

And, I always feel it's important to make the backs of my art pretty, even if it's likely that no one will ever see that part. It just gives things a more finished look. For this canvas, I glued the same striped paper to a piece of shirt cardboard, inked the edges, and then glued it to the back. I've made frames for photos of my family before, and have glued a little surprise there, like a fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant, which I think is fun. This one I left plain for now.

If I ever find the perfect fortune, I'll add it later. 

These frames make great gifts if you need a little quickie homemade gift idea. I put this one together in a little under two hours this morning. Maybe you should make one for your Dad for Father's Day!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Woo-wee, it's hot. All the heat makes me think of the beach, so I was inspired to do a beachy tin. I had this great mermaid collage sheet from Alpha Stamps that happened to coordinate beautifully with one of my favorite Graphic45 paper patterns (I love the swirls and that gorgeous turquoise color!), so I put the two together with some glitter, shells, faux pearls, funky yarn, and a couple of gold charms, and here's the result:

Isn't that tiny seahorse charm just the cutest? You can find both it and the swallow charm at Alpha Stamps. The mermaid in the foreground is attached with foam tape, so it's got some dimension.

 Here's the back, with a small reproduction of a vintage souvenir postcard:
 I wish I could say looking at these cool blues and greens makes the heat more tolerable, but I'm afraid it's going to take more than that. Meanwhile, I'll turn on the fan.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More Clowny Mayhem

You know I love me some clowns. And some Altoid tins. Here's my latest tin, fresh off the drawing board. I love using the vintage clown picks on the top of the tins, and nothing says circus like stars and sparkly glitter. I used G45 paper for the stripey tent effect, and clown images from an Alpha Stamps collage sheet. If you don't like clowns, look away!
 I like to decorate the sides and the back as well:

If you don't like clowns, here's some good news: I'm working on a beach theme next.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Sketchbook Project

Last year, I participated in the Sketchbook Project, sponsored by the Art House Co-op. I sent them an entry fee and they sent me a sketchbook to fill out and return. Each book had a theme; mine was "I'm a Scavenger". The book I sent back, along with thousands of others from all over the world, went on a nationwide tour. I was lucky enough to view the project with friends when it showed in Atlanta, and even though we had cursed our sketchbooks as the deadline approached, once we were there to see them in person, along with the books done by people we have come to know through, we decided to participate again this year. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my book, which I was not happy with at all (way too many pages were done hurriedly upon the approach of the deadline!), was not as bad as I remembered, and even had a few pages in it I could be proud of. If you're interested in seeing it, click here for a slideshow scan of all the pages. If you do care to flip through it, I'll bet you'll be able to pick out the pages where I was rushed for time. :D

My theme this year is "I Remember You". Here is my blank book, with a new deadline of January. I'm still trying to decide if I want to make the book a tribute to friends and family members, or if I want to alter vintage images and make up stories about them. Or, maybe, do a combination of both. Either way, I hope I don't procrastinate too much on this one.
 I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Afternoon Quickie

No, it's not what you think! I've been wanting to gussy up some clothespins to use as chip clips for a while, so today, I put on an old movie (All About Eve) and painted up a few. After painting, I edged them with black ink, and then sanded them down to distress them a bit. I like the way they look old:
And then, just for fun, I stamped on them and added some dots and stripes:
I'd still like to attach a few to a board and hang it in the laundry room as a place where orphan socks can hang out until they are (hopefully) reunited with their mates.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Happy Friday!

I still can't show you what secrets we're working on at Alpha Stamps, but while I'm waiting to post that, I have to share what I just bought from there. It's a reproduction vintage ticket holder from those rascals at 7Gypsies, who are always inventing new ways to get my money! I can't wait to play with it.

I can see filling it with old photos, tags, ephemera...when I receive it I'll post a photo of it "stuffed". Meanwhile, have a great weekend!
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