Monday, February 21, 2011

Truth Cards

 I mentioned I am taking the Soul Restoration class offered by Melody Ross as part of her Brave Girls Club.  Part of our work for the class is to make Truth Cards.  These are small cards that we decorate to remind ourselves of the truths in our lives, especially at times when we are feeling low, sad, worthless… you get the idea.  I wanted to share a few of the cards that I have made in the last few weeks.  It is hard for me to not worry about the artwork itself.  It is supposed to be more about the process and the emotional work but I love to do the art and get really hung up on that part.  You know me… I never to fail at school work!  This is our last week already…. I can't  believe how fast time has flown by but lucky for me, she is offering a Soul Restoration II this summer.
My favorite one.  Love the colors and the cool background
This is pretty cool. I like crystals I put in the flowers border.  They are
hard to see in this picture.

This is sort of a mess but I like the glitter on the butterfly.
Love this one.

This is the cover of my Timeline.  The ribbon is a piece
I repurposed from a package
I have done some more cards and finally made some art journal pages that  I think look cool enough to show so look for that post later in the week. 

We have been having some crazy weather here in Southwest Michigan.  It started last night but continues today.  The ice storm was predicted to hit and we knew we were in for something spectacular but I've never seen anything quite like what actually happened.  We had lost almost all of our snow and in fact only had the piles were left.  It started snowing exactly as predicted yesterday- at almost the exact time predicted.  The weirdness began almost immediately as we noticed the snow changed almost every time we looked out the window: small, fast-falling flakes-then huge fast-falling flakes- back to small- then sideways-then big again….. We got a few inches and the grass was completely covered before it started to rain.  It rained and froze yet somehow, the snow stayed.  As time went by it looked like it was just rain coming down but closer inspection showed that everything outside was covered with a thick layer of ice.  Then we noticed all sorts of mini-icicles on everything.  At about midnight Rick and I were standing at the door watching the rain as the temperature was hovering at just above the freezing point, and discussing whether we thought the kids would have school, when we noticed the street light went out.  Then we saw a series of orange flashes of light, like you get from an emergency vehicle, but much larger and clearly NOT from a vehicle.  Part of the eerie part was we didn't hear any noise at all.  After probably 3-4 seconds of those flashes we saw the weirdest weather event I have ever seen…there was a flash of a blue/white light (Rick calls it green but we know how color blind he can be at times).  It was like nothing I have ever seen in my life and to say it freaked me out, is putting it lightly.  It reminded me of what you would see in a sci-fi movie when the aliens have landed or a nuclear bomb has dropped.  We went to the backyard to watch some more and it all happened a second time- the orange flashes (which lasted longer this time) and then that eerie blue/white light flash.  I seriusly was FREAKED.  I am so grateful that Rick was home because I probably would have come undone by myself.  Throughout all of this we never heard anything like a transformer blowing but I got on Facebook and one friend had posted about hearing the transformer blow from the area that I'm sure we saw the light come from.  Rick thinks my scary blue/white light must have been a reflection on all the ice in air at the time.  About 20 minutes later I got up and looked out the window again and we had a 3rd series of flashing orange light and our power went out.  Odd that I looked out the window it see it happen but bummer that we lost power.  It was out for 12 hours and cooled down to 55 degrees in the house but we feel lucky that ours is back on as there are still houses without power around here.  I'm thrilled to report that the aliens either didn't land or they got bored and left Portage looking for better, more interesting humans and there was no nuclear bomb deployed in our neighborhood.  Today it started snowing again on top of all that ice and really is a mess.  I saw pictures on the local news of ice needles that feel onto a tree limb.  The trees are encased in ice and we have limbs and branches down all over the area.  The area around the Kzoo airport was still without power late this afternoon with 3 stoplights out on the busy Portage Road.  The ice on the roads was so rough and bumpy, rather than smooth, that it was't  hard to drive on BEFORE the snow fell today, but after the snow it was a big mess of slippery winter weather.  It is a bigger insult because this all came after 3 days of beautiful 50 degree weather.

Here's to better weather…. think spring!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Change of Address

Oh happy happy day.  I finally got all my junk moved from upstairs to downstairs.  My little studio as it were, is all ready.  Chase can join me down stairs and either play with his toys that live down there, watch a movie or play Wii.  You know how it is with the toys that have been out of sight…out of mind.  Now it is all exciting to him to have a fleet of trucks he forgot about and I get time to create!

I took pictures…I was so proud to show you how organized it all is and then I looked at what I had on "film" and sadly it came out looking like a huge mess.  I decided to post them with the caveat that it really does look better in real life… well it did until I got to work making fabric pins and playing with my new Vagabond.

A little tour of my new "Studio"….

My desk
I always need a messy pile near my work
surface to feel  creative
First the new space.  My table sits in the center section of the basement.  Sort of the "hallway".  I covered the carpet with a painter's cloth which, I think, looks super cool.  Truth be told, the real reason I have the carpet protected is because liquid, gravity, and me are the trifecta of a mess.  I try... I really really really try..but I spill.  I need a sippy cup more than my kids ever did.  Covering the carpet keeps me from hyperventilating every time I work with a liquid--paint, ink, Glimmer Mist, coffee, etc.

Ryann's old bookcase and some new wire baskets.
The kids never used the couch in the basement so we got rid of it (thanks to Michelle and Jason) and Rick convinced me to spread my stuff more into the what I thought of as the kid's space.  In all honesty, it is much better being spread out and I guess if the kids do take over the basement, as I always thought they would, I can move back into smaller space.  Jason is making a work table for me from some repurposed wood. He may consider it sort of a repayment for the couch, but that isn't necessary which makes it just a really, really, nice gift from my brother-in-law.  It will be huge, giving me the room I need for all the crap I like to have around me when I create AND the space to create.

I took these before the couch was removed and it looks like a crowded mess.  In person it looks so much better.  I promised my mom I would post these so I will….

vintage spools and vintage metallic
threads from Tinsel Trading
I have come to realize that one of the biggest "must haves" in a well-organized studio space are baskets one can see into.  It is a huge timesaver to be able to immediately find what one needs, especially if you are like me, a crafter that dabbles in all sorts of different crafts and media.  Next would be shallow drawers and lots of them.  Much of my stash is small; small in size, small in number, small in height.  Small items stored in big drawers are soon lost.  Spending half a day trying to find something I must have and I know is somewhere…. if only I could find it…. is no fun at all.

So lots of little things and keeping them all organized are my biggest problem…and never cleaning up completely because I don't finish one project and then start another, instead I get over excited and morph one project into another…Oh, and too much stuff, too many big ideas and not enough time to complete those ideas.  Add feeling like crap all the time and the mess just takes on a mind of it's own.   And grows and grows and grows.

My grandfather made this art box- I repurposed it to hold some
small tags and ephemera

This is my cutting and sewing area. It's a mess because I started
using my new Vagabond to cut felt- LOVE IT! 

Vagabond up close and personal. Who knew I would love
a die-cut machine so much.  Never even wanted one until this hit the market.
Gorgeous hand dyed felt cut with Tim Holtz's Vagabond
PegBoard is terrific but  I just threw stuff on it to get it out of
the way.  Looks terrific when it is organized 
Tower of fabric by color. This IS organized!

My closet holds so much more when it is organized but it still holds lots of
random stuff that has no place to live.  Oh well, at least I can close the door

No matter what the studio looks like in the baseement or on film, it isn't as bad as this mess in my kitchen.  Yikes!!!!!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Fun Valentine Goodies

Cute little Valentine Cards to tuck into a gift
Artwork by House of 3

I made these adorable little cards from artwork I bought from my favorite company, House of 3.  I adore almost everything they put out.  They have a digital component -available on their website and new goodies like paper and embellishments with Pink Paislee and Glimmer products with Tattered Angels.  Gorgeous all the way, anyway!  What I love about Ho3 the most is their laid back aesthetic and the fact that they so freely share all their ideas on their websites (House of 3 House of 3 BlogJanet Hopkins' BlogHeidi Swapp's Blog and Rhonna Farrer's Blog) as well as their weekly live show.  The live show is always a treat.  They show us- "the groupies"- how to make all kinds of cool stuff or show off new products, demonstrating how to incorporate them into a project.  But the best part is it is shot in Heidi's studio and her kids are always running all over the place.  It is refreshing to see a mom, who is so successful but has the exact same issues with her kids as the rest of us. 

Dupioni Silk with Faux Pearls and Swarovski Crystals

My new obsession is fabric flowers.  I love all sorts of fabrics but my new favorite are flowers made with 100% wool felt.  Wool felt is gorgeous stuff and nothing at all like the crap that they sell in the craft stores.  That crap is made with acrylic or a blend of acrylic and a small amount of wool.  I hear that you want at least 80% wool but I prefer 100% wool.  It is hard to find don't get me wrong….  I stumbled on it 6 years ago when I was making fabric purses.  My local-chain, Field's Fabric, carries the best fabric in town and happened to have a few bolts of 100% wool in black, avocado green and red one day when I was there.  I loved it immediately for the way it felt, the way it looked and the beautiful way it draped.  It holds its shape well and looks expensive… because it is expensive.  It runs about $25/yard but the flowers only take a 2-4 inches.  Like craft felt, wool felt doesn't unravel, but unlike the cheaper imitation, the wool is consistent and doesn't have areas of thick and thin fibers.  I have tried to find other colors of wool felt and I've learned it is hard to find.  I am resigned to the fact I will have to order it online.
White felt flower and pink flower with felt edges and cotton center
Everybody and her sister are making the chiffon/burned edge flowers and I am as well.  I love to layer different fabrics and then add Swarovski crystals into the center of the flower.  Recently I learned how to make the pompon flowers and they are just delicious.  I've made them out of felt, silk, and

cotton and they all look great.  Wool is big and bold and has a finished look to it.  Silk is gorgeous and most definitely my favorite with it's raw edges which give it a grungey look.  The way the light reflects off the silk is just beautiful and no other fabric looks like that.  Cotton is also grungy with a raw edge and comes in far more colors and patterns giving it the most variety.  Each fabric has its place and makes a really pretty flower.  You can find my flowers on my Etsy site
Silk with Crystal Bar Pin 
White Wood Felt with cotton and crystal center,
pink and deep pink cotton with crystal and faux pearls
red felt with vintage earring center
Red wood felt with vintage earring  center
Silk flowers with crystals and pearls
Chiffon, organza, and satin flowers with crystals
Red silk with netting and Swarovski Button center
I L.O.V.E. I love you….That is the first verse of a lullaby I loved to sing my kids.  Well….sing along with the CD because I don't sing well at all.  I made my grandmother a cute door decoration for the holiday in four parts.

Mini DIY Instructions Ahead

I used store bought heart doilies.  I realized the doilies had all sorts of HANGING CHAD meaning I had to spend at least an hour or more getting rid of it all with an Exacto knife.  Sometimes my OCD really kicks in.  I painted the doilies with Tattered Angels Glam which is a thick paintish substance with a lot of glitter which serves to strengthen the fragile doilies a little.  The pink and white polka dot paper is from House of 3 and was cut into a large circle with a circle cutter.  I edged the circle with Distress Ink.  The crepe paper was edged with Tattered Angels Glimmer Glaze which comes in a bottle with a brush like nail polish does.  Using hot glue, I pleated the crepe paper behind the polka-dot circle to make a really pretty Lollie.  I sprayed the chipboard letters L, O, V, and E with Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist giving them a ton of sparkle.  The hanging ribbon was fashioned out of repurposed seam binding.  I think they are really cute and delicate.  Being separate rather than strung together like the current darling of the craft world- the banner- it makes a unique decorations.
Happy Valentine's Day and enjoy the Grammy's, I know I will. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day
It doesn't take long to realize that the world has become red and pink with a splash of white-lace doily.   Even the blogosphere has joined the fun; I've noticed that all my favorite blogs are Love-sick for the Love holiday.  Truth be told….me to.  The condition, it appears, has become an epidemic as bloggers are posting something, anything, to do with the only day of the year that Cupid is gainfully employed. The few bloggers who haven't posted a Valentine craft tutorial have instead posted something we associated with the lovers' favorite holiday.  Some have gone with something heart-shaped instead.  The heart-shaped items can be anything from an object that was shaped into a heart by mother nature herself or something that the blogger arranged or made into a heart shape.  The blogger at Jaros Designs is posting a heart a day on her terrific, very visual, blog and her photos are simple and gorgeous.  To date she has made a heart from a bike chain, ice, and the buttons shown here.   Other blogs have posted Valentine candy,  cookies, and cakes made either with chocolate or in a heart shape; all things pink and red; or the quintessential Valentine gift… jewelry.

After careful consideration and laying in bed for two days with a migraine, I have decided to post my own pink and red bonanza.  I have yet to post about my new studio space, that will be coming, but I have shown pictures of the newly discovered kitchen table and hutch.  After further archeological digging we found out the floor is a laminate and there is  actually a dining room table in the house.  It must date back decades at least.  We took the final set of cabinets down to my studio and I pulled out the Valentine decorations.  The table looks too nice to eat off so we still eat in the living room.  The cute letter place mats are from Pottery Barn Kids a few years ago.  The centerpiece is also Pottery Barn, from their Adult collection, filled with Gen-u-ine Conversation hearts I bought last year and keep in a bag just for decorating.  Candy looks great and is really cheap especially if you save it from year to year.  I wouldn't recommend trying to save chocolate but hard candy saves really well.

I kept the pink feather tree that I used to put up in Ryann's room decorated with princesses.  My mom has a gorgeous Martha Stewart Macy's feather tree she bought several years ago which she keeps up in her kitchen and decorates for the season whatever that ay be.  I guess because it is white and really well made so it works.  I love to see what she put up each season.  I decided that I could keep the pink tree for Valentine's day.  Keep in mind that in person this tree is no where near the horrific fuschia color it came out on camera.  It is indeed a pink not known in the natureal world but not something one-step from a seizure inducer.  I decorated it with some flocked red hearts, a box of clearance red mini-ball Christmas ornaments, and glittered pink and red ribbon.  It is a self-lit tree so I didn't have to deal with lighting this year which was great because my three strands of Valentine lights, which I loved, all bit the big one this year.  I can't believe all three…like they had a 3-way suicide pact or something.  Several years ago you could buy decorative lights for Christmas, Easter, Arbor Day, Flag Day, Aunt Susie's Birthday...but now you can't get anthing outside of December.  Unfortunately for me and my Valentine Tree, this sucker has seen better days so this might be the inauguration and swan song.

Moving on…. my mantel has always the focus point of my living room but the bookcase, which sits directly opposite the mantel, is making a case for itself as well.  I realize it is a huge faux-pois to have both dressed up in their party clothes but I can't chose.  Any designer worth their weight would pooh-pooh my competing double-focal points; thank God I don't know any designers.  Traditionally I decorate the top of the computer armoire as well.  This year it is so uninspired I decided to not show any pictures of it.  I will post the other pics below with the caveat that they look so much better in real life.  I am not sure why the pictures look so plain and flat???

Mantel, jar now has conversation hearts in it


Blurry Mantel Photo

The bookcase

I have retyped this portion of the blog 4 times.  Seriously… this is the 4th time.  It keeps getting erased by my fingers moving faster than my brain.  So, you will probably get the abridged version but let me try A.G.A.I.N.

The adorable Valentine "Friend" at the top of the blog is just about the sweetest thing.  I wish I could tell you I made it but… that would be lying and I don't need a bigger nose.  No, instead I purchased it from an artist on Etsy- you know, my favorite store right after Scrapbooking Warehouse/land/.com/anyplace-that-sells-ink-and-paper.  The scrumptious little pink stuffed can be purchased at her Oh Ma Felt Etsy shop.  She has a cute little selection of non-holiday "Friends" as she calls them and she does terrific custom work.  I know, I bought some.  I stumbled on to her Etsy shop while looking for hand-dyed fabric and just couldn't resist adding a friend to my house.  After I received the adorable little darling, I decided to have the artist make 2 more- custom Friends- for my dear friend Jeania's girls.  We exchange Christmas gifts and I was having a very hard time finding something worthy of conveying how much that family means to me while still getting them something the teenagers would appreciate.  Obviously, I was having trouble as it was late January when I finally got the gifts sent off.  I had Oh Ma (or is it Mrs. Felt?) make the Friends non-Valentiney and in two different color schemes to keep them as individual as the girls are.  Rather than "be mine", Oh Ma embroidered their names on the front.  They turned out super cute and I hope something the girls can keep to decorate their college dorm rooms, their first homes, the nursery of their first babies…. Above all, I hope they serve to remind the girls how very much they mean to me.  It has been 11 years since they were a part of my day-to-day life; eleven years since I was Lexi's best friend; 11 years since she would ask "..can Danee come over and play today:"  The Air Force brought us together and the Air Force forced us apart.  I regret that Jeania and I keep in touch only sporadically, yet she is someone who means the world to me and always will.  

Happy Valentine's Day.