Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine Jewelry

I am back in business!  I'm out of bed and craft supplies are once again laying all over the house.  I got a new camera and photo booth for Christmas.  While they are Faboosh…I need to learn how to use them both.  Some of my pictures are great and some…not so much…. bear with me… user error.

For some reason I decided I wanted to make some Valentine Jewelry… Valentine really ended up mostly because of the colors...I've dabbled in jewelry before with very bumpy results.  Frankly I usually end up frustrated.  For some reason I decided NOW is the time to figure this out.  Along the way I discovered a new product that made me do a big ole happy dance…hint* it involves Swarovski Crystal Chatons…yeah, no, I didn't know what a Chaton was either.  It is the SHAPE of the crystal.

I started with these fun wrapped bracelets.  They are all the rage right now.  There is an artist in California making these high-end by using real diamonds.  She is not me… I ordered the supplies and wish I had ordered a lot more…I really love making them and I love the way they turned out.
The bracelet below is my niece's.  She had a sparkly bracelet that broke and they gave it to me to fix. There was no way I could fix it but I hung on to it because, well it's rhinestone isn't it?  When I was making the pearl wrap bracelet I remember her broken bracelet and the rest is history.

Sticking with the Valentine theme I made this fun necklace.  My Ryann saw it and immediately staked a claim...that is a good thing, right?  I adore it.  I think it is shabby chic but elegant.  All of the beads- except the pink glass heart-are Swarovski crystals or pearls.

I'm not sure what sparked the blue and brown bracelet.  I used a Tim Holtz bracelet and more Swarovski crystals and pearls. 

Can you see me? I'm doing the happy dance!!!  I learned what a Chaton is…This is a Chaton... crystals with the cone shaped bottom.
What is this in the middle of the photo?  Hark... is that a Swarovski ring?  Oh yes it is…. I discovered Crystal Clay.  Crystal Clay is a 2-part Epoxy Clay that is so much fun.  I ordered it from Crystal Clay Online but I see lots of places have it.  Once the two parts are mixed together you have 1 1/2 hours to work with it and it hardens overnight.  The clay comes in like 20 colors.
I bought the white and the silver kit to start.  Each kit includes the clay+the hardener= 2 party epoxy clay, 2 beeswax tipped sticks, a little bag of Chatons, and 1 pair of latex-free gloves for $15.  The little bees wax sticks are invaluable for picking up the Chatons.  You will need to buy extra Chatons because the stones that come with the kit are tiny and there aren't nearly enough to complete a project unless you are designing for the citizens of Whoville.  That said, the kit is a good way to get started.  There are other 2-part epoxy clays, I used Crystal Clay simply because I found it first.  Most of the stores that sell the Crystal Clay Kit also sell a separate bag of mixed Swarovski Chatons for around $5.  The problem with them is they are "mixed" for sure and I can't see getting more than one piece or maybe 2 small piece out of the bag…yes there were extra stones but there aren't enough to actually make another project.  I ended up sourcing the stones individually- not easy and not cheap but I am committed to making these fun pieces.
Front: Red Stones in Silver Clay
Back:Pink Stones in White Clay
There is a learning curve when working with the clay and the stones and I should have realize this and used some cheap acrylic stones to begin with.  Luckily I didn't use an excessive amount of Swarovski stones because my first 2 projects are a fail.  I can't bring myself to throw them away but I will never wear them.  Maybe I will give them to the neighbor kids to play dress up.
This is my first successful ring.  I realize I need to put the stones closer together but this was made using the Chaton Bag that I ordered with my kit and I was limited in the size and selection of stones.  

I didn't love the silver clay as is because it didn't look silver…it looks more grey.  I watched one video where the artist used glitter but frankly it looked like crap.  I was considering what to do and I remembered I have PearlX in several colors. 
Divine right?  I love what the Mica does to the silver.. I used my finger to gently pat the PearlX onto the top of the clay.
 I LOOOOOVE this ring.
I have white pearl PearlX which I will try with the white clay when I make my next ring.  I ran out of gloves so production stopped.  

I need to get my Valentine projects going…problem is my studio is still a mess but I can't create until I clean so I better get cleaning….


Sunday, January 29, 2012

More CHA..Christy Tomlinson

I am still in bed post Prolotherapy.  I am tired and it hurts to be up too long….so I am lopping around in bed.  EDS and Prolo are NOT for the faint of heart.  

The 2012 Winter CHA started today and Tweets and pictures are slowly tricking out. I am sure this evening, after everybody has packed up their booth for the night, there will be lots of pictures flying through the Instagram and Twitter-verse.  My friends over at Things Crafty are there checking everything out.  They will be posting videos on Things Crafty  at some point.  I sent Ilysa a list of all things I wanted her to check out for me…if she has time…I'm hoping she will get some samples and some great videos of my favorites like Tim Holtz, Heidi Swapp, Rhonna Farrer, Janet Hopkins, Christy Tomlinson, and anything Swarovski.

I blogged about Heidi, Rhonna, and Janet's new collections but I haven't shown you Christy's.  Christy owns Scarlet Lime.  She's a mixed media artist- and a mom to 6 kids- among other things.  Her work is very distinctive and she is now in the midst of a full-on licensing bonanza.

To start with she has stamps coming out with Unity Stamp Co
***Excuse me for a moment while I thank the crafting universe..I am so happy that scrapbooking and stamping have finally merged.  For years, I said they needed to be one and the same because as a stamper I was using lots of scrapbooking supplies.  I wanted to go to the scrapbooking or stamp store, find something inspiring and find a new stamp or supply that coordinated with it-intentionally or not-  all at that one store.  The marriage was a bumpy road for sure as nobody was sure how to do it in the beginning.  Stamps were traditionally wood mounted making them expensive and bulky.  Scrapbookers weren't used to paying that much for a supply- those were the old days of stickers and eyelets- and the idea that there was value in that a stamp is reusable didn't catching on at first.  I remember for the first year or two the stamps sold in scrapbook stores were all alphabet stamps.  When the acrylic-unmounted- stamps really took off we were in business because they are cheaper and much easier to store.  I think the other thing that happened which helped bring stamps into the scrapbook and paper crafting universe was the polarity of collage.  Suddenly, it made sense to get fun images which could be used over and over whether in mixed media, scrapbooking, or card making.   Today, almost every scrapbook collection includes at least one coordinating, unmounted, acrylic stamp set.**
We now return you back to our show already in progress..

that are perfect for mixed media projects as they are texture and background stamps.  The long, skinny rectangular shape is perfect for working on canvases and make her designs fresh and exciting.   I can't wait to get ahold of them.  Here's hoping Ilysa can snag one or two for me….
This hodge podge of "border" stamps is super cool for mixed media canvas work.
I would stamp it as is on my canvas but you could also stamp it on
card stock and carefully cut the borders apart 
Other companies have designed backgroud stamps with printed words or book pages,
  but I've not seen this long, thin, rectangle shape before.
 I love that the words fade off the page rather than ending in a neat "justified"  line. 
She made a doll to color anyway we fun!
The Chevron-another big trend right now- with lots
of texture. 
Lots of people have done background/texture stamps like this….
 I recognize this as punchinello aka the waste when sequins
are punched out.  However…..I love this stamp for two reasons:
1: Again the size ands shape is very fresh and perfect
2: I can't find punchinello anywhere where I live. 
You can't stop at just stamps when you are a crafter like Christy.  She also teamed with Pink Paislee to produce a line of papers and ephemera.  While the line looks like a scrapbooking line and is made by a scrapbooking company, it isn't a traditional scrapbooking line.  There are no buttons, ribbons, brads, flags, journaling boxes etc.  It would make a beautiful page or card for sure, but I suspect it was made with more mixed media or art journaling projects in mind….  
The rub-ons make me swoon.  I love rub-ons.  I can't draw and don't like my handwriting so rub-ons to the rescue!  I like to use them in places you might doodle, write a word or two, or maybe a single number.  Rub-ons add texture in a way that stamps can't because they are more opaque and the edges are always crisp.  Rather then use them as they are, I usually cut them up using a portion of the image.  I've noticed that over the past year or so rub-ons are fading from the market.  Noooooooo, say it isn't so….  There are a few companies that still design them-Kaiser Craft and Hambly both have a very large selection.  Basic Grey, was my go-to company for great rub-ons for…well...ever.  They seem to have fallen out of love with rub-ons.  I see the last few collections contained the highly detailed and very specific-to-the collection "rub-on books".  While the images are beautiful, they aren't what I like to use…in fact they are really more like a sticker (see Basic Grey's Indie Bloom Rub-On Book below). I prefer to use something like the Hambly silver lace (left) or the older Basic Grey purple Wisteria rub-ons (above left).  Lucky for me I bought 200 Basic Grey rub-ons- of the older designs- from Ebay for something ridiculous like $36…these are $6 retail.  
Christy has designed one sheet of texture rub-ons (more punchinello, a hand carved heart, and some netting) in basic shapes and one sheet of border rub-ons depicting stitches and lace for her first release.  I love that she did the texture set in multi-color.  

 How sweet are her girls? This her Paper Doll Bits and Pieces.  Sweet.
 Collage Papers which I think is tissue paper..not sure but I love the print.
She only released one mask/stencil with this line but I know she uses them a lot so expect more in the future.  I love that she went with the doily as it is a big trend right now. 

You can follow Christy and all things Scarlet Lime on her blog.  You can check out and purchase her monthly Kit Clubs , order from her mixed media shop, and check out and/or sign up for her online workshops  as well.  I've take several online workshops from her and she does a great job.

What do you think about Christy's first collection?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Looking for Something FUN to do this weekend? Prolotherapy...

This is not me- but it shows what I had done today.
My doc doesn't draw such detailed doodles on me but I get a few pen marks…
oh and a ton of needle marks and redness and bumps.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I have Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (HEDS).  I mentioned that I haven't felt so well lately.  I mentioned that it hurts…..a lot….all the time.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what is hurting, why I don't feel good and what is messed up.  I do this because I have found that by knocking out things, one at a time, I have greatly lessened my symptoms.  I have fought tooth and nail to drag this messed up body into a place where I don't cry every night.  A place where I don't have to hold a pillow over my head to counter the pressure inside my skull.   A place where I no longer walk through 12 Maxalt MLT (my migraine med of choice) a month.  I spent years doing all three.   HEDS itself doesn't have a treatment; there is no magic pill or super therapy to make it all better.  Ehlers Danlos is a genetic collagen deficiency and- as of 2012 -the medical community can barely diagnose it correctly let alone bring the collagen back. …oh no, the collagen deficiency is genetic and life long.  So, if we can't treat the disorder, we look to treat the symptoms.  The lack of collagen results in connective tissue laxity. In other words ligaments, tendons, and organ tissues are loose, stretchy and not at their best.  I promise I won't bore you with the long sordid details about my 20+ year fight with HEDS and pain…at least I won't today.  Maybe you will be lucky and someday I will document in detail the 10 MRI's that were read as negative, the 10 neurosurgeons who told me there was nothing wrong even though I had no longer had a gag reflex and the bajilion doctors who told me "you looked to good" to be sick.  I bet a male patient has never heard that.

But today I won't bother you with all that. Instead you get the Cliff Note version…because there is a point to this I promise- though it isn't much of one.  I had problems when I was a tween-teenager and was told it was arthritis- it wasn't.  Then I was fine for years.  I started having some problems right out of college and it got much worse after I got married in 1994.  I think it got much worse in 1994 because 1) age just does that and 2) I started doing a lot of step aerobics; all that jumping around was bad for my neck and my ankles.   I spent most of my 20's and all of my 30's trying to get an accurate diagnosis.  Being a medical provider- I'm a nurse practitioner- made me believe there was an answer for me.  Somebody had to know what was wrong.  There is no way that the way I felt was normal…other people didn't feel this way…did they?  When doctor-after-doctor and test-after-test come back negative you really start to wonder if you are in fact making it up...if it is just stress….if it is possibly all in your mind.  When I was at my worst Britney Spears was at her peak and performing all the time.  I remember watching her and thinking that there is no way that what I was feeling was something that stress could cause or what other people felt when they complained of a headache because there was no way I could throw my head around and dance my butt off like Britney did.  I told you I analyzed this all a lot.

 HEDS isn't that rare- it is just grossly grossly under diagnosed.  I have diagnosed four individuals with it in the last 3 years..four people that I met casually- a friend's niece I never met, a women in my neighborhood, the receptionist at my hair salon, and a classmate of my son's.  Two of them- the niece and neighbor- have gone on to have the diagnosis confirmed by a geneticist; the other two are young enough that they haven't experienced enough problems to really believe me...but they will…. So how could I have been misdiagnosed for so many years -over 30- when it isn't that hard to diagnose and I had all the classic symptoms?  I still don't know. I suspect it has to do with the medical communities reliance on tests and numbers along with the loss of using their hands and brains.

Pregnancy was my preverbal straw.  I had been looking for answers before I had Ryann….but the way I felt after I delivered….ugh…. I was desperate for answers.  I saw doctor-after-doctor, PT-after-PT, anybody-after-whomever.  I tried it all…medications….vitamins, Tai Chi, weight lifting, walking, sleeping, acupuncture, medications, craniosacral, massage, yoga, medications, diets….. I used to joke that I would have done anything a doctor told me MIGHT help my pain….I would have stood on my head, sang the alphabet backwards in Spanish while knitting if somebody thought it might help.  In 2003, I was- finally- accurately diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and after my son was born in 2005- and he exhibited symptoms of HEDS- all the pieces fell into place.

So I knew what I had- and what I had passed on to my kids- but how to treat it?…hmmmm?…well I have tried just about everything and thankfully over the past 20 years I have found several things that have profoundly helped me deal with the symptoms and pain of HEDS.  I do Pilates with my faboosh trainer- Amy, I use appropriate medications, I work once a week with a very knowledgable Manual Physical Therapist and an unbelievably talented OT (for Craniosacral work), and I get Prolotherapy. (Wow... I took a long time just to get to the point of the post!)  Prolotherapy involves injecting glucose water (aka sugar water) into the ligaments that are too loose.  The result is inflammation, increased blood flow, and while it is healing it causes scaring which in turn tightens the ligament.  Let me tell you it is FUN.  Like Friday night date-night FUN.   F.U.N.  Ok, it really isn't.  It hurts.  A lot.  I asked my doc today if anybody ever screams and he said "ah, yeah".  I don't scream…I don't cry…I sometimes give a "oooooh that one huuuurttts" but no screaming and crying for this girl.  My Doc calls me "tough girl".  That makes me proud and I like to think that he reserves this high compliment for me.

I am tough…I live with pain all the time.  Prolo is no different.  First, the actual injections hurt.  Of course the needle prick hurts, the lidocaine hurts, and the glucose injection hurts.  But the real pain is what happens when the fluid does something deep in the tissues…something that I cannot explain to you unless you have experienced it because the pain is unlike any other pain I have ever felt.  I believe that it is because the fascia-the fibrous connective tissue covering the organs- somehow gets a "cramp"…. I can't prove this.  I have asked the Docs why it hurts like that and they give me really vague and non-answer answers.  The crampy pain only lasts a few moments... then I get a stiff achy feeling.  It is very tolerable at this point but it does slow me down…that and the fatigue.  It just wears me out...In fact, I usually spend a day or two in bed.  The fatigue lasts 2-3 days..I am talking sleep all day kind of tired.  But two days down and I'm good to go and ready for the next treatment in a month.  I have been getting Prolo for 2 years and I can tell you, without a doubt, that my neck, which used to be the biggest issue because it caused me so much pain and caused horrific headaches..knock on wood when you read this please…my neck has been shot every which way BUT I haven't had one of my horrific headaches since June.  June 18th to be exact.  I remember because I was helping with recital rehearsals and it hurt so bad I didn't know how I would get through the next day.  I tried to see my PT but he was booked so in a moment of desperation I stopped at his office and begged him to treat me.  He did... at the expense of the man waiting- ironically a physician- whom I am forever grateful because I would never had been able to help at the recital the next day and probably would have had trouble just watching my daughter's dances if he had not fixed the alignment issues and muscle spasms that set up the headache

I complained that I was having a hard time and had been in bed a lot.  I posted a lot of digital art because I do that from bed.  After much…much…MUCH thought, I realized that my issues- cold sweats, pain, nerve irritation, and shaking- were all caused by something in my lower back.  Odd right?  I realized this after Rick dragged me to the chiropractor and he adjusted me and it went away. Honestly I suspect it was lower back all along and had arguments with the PT about it (we just have that kind of relationship) because he thought it was all disc pain and I kept telling him I didn't think it was.  Last week I realized this was SI/Lumbar something and realized…hmmmm time for more Prolo.

All of this to explain why I still haven't posted lately…why I don't have any pictures of the things I have finished recently, and why my posts are lame.  Hey I got an entire post out of it!   Whew….maybe I should have just posted more digital art.


Monday, January 23, 2012

What The House of 3 Is Now Up To: A Look At The New Products From Rhonna Farrer, Heidi Swapp and Janet Hopkins

I have been remiss..I'm sorry.  I have some projects almost done and ready for blogging.  I also have my studio almost organized.  What a mess that has been.  My health has continued to confound me but I think I am on the path….so it is time to get posting again!!!!

Ok, but I was too lazy to photograph the one small thing I have done… soooo I had to think of something else to blog about.  What to do?  What to do?  Oh, CHA releases.  Everybody is releasing their new products  that will be showcased at CHA at the end of the month.  Here are a few of my favs.

If you have been around long enough you know I HEART the now defunct  House of 3 and the women who lived there Rhonna Farrer, Heidi Swapp, and Janet Hopkins.  All 3 have new lines coming out in the next 6 months.  This makes me very, very happy…I adore the art these 3 faboosh designers make and I think you will too.  They are considered scrapbookers but they are so much more adn their products will be perfect for all sorts of paper crafting.  

Rhonna Farrer has a long history it the craft industry as a designer of digital and hybrid products.  She has an amazing eye and I am thrilled that she is once again sharing her home decor ideas and art projects on Twitter and her blog.  Her new line coming out with My Mind's Eye is called Follow Your Heart and the physical line coordinates with her new digital line of the same name.  You can get more information on the digital files here.  The line will come in two color ways- a light blue and a soft pink/peach.  Some of my favorite pieces are:
Chipboard pieces
Mini Paper Pads
Love the stamps…must have.

Heidi Swapp is a scrapbooker extraordinaire and a terrific teacher.  She has a new line coming out with Pink Paislee.  Unfortunately, there has been only a teaser picture released of her new line but I am excited to see more.  I have taken every class she has offered online in the last year- all those Mouse Paper Scissors classes- and I see images we used in Mouse  Paper Scissors Give…meaning i have the digital files for them…that is fun.  I see she is going with a "bows" are the new "flowers" theme. 
Janet Hopkins hasn't been in the Biz as long but she has a wonderful, clean, aesthetic I love.  She has designed a few digital kits over the last year- I own most- and designed the Advent Calendar kit that i used to make this:
Janet designs amazing little mini albums which she teaches locally in Texas.  She often offers her extra kits for sale on her Etsy shop and  I have been able to pick up a few.  I love her out-of-the-box construction techniques.  This is the woman who made feet from plain wooden candle sticks and attached them to picture frames!
And she is great at designing simple, charming little gifts for kids to give to teachers and classmates. 
Janet has her first line coming out with Bazzill Basic Paper called Wayfarer.  This is the only image that has been released but I can tell that it is all Janet. 
I'm so glad the House of 3 women are continuing to make great art and inspire me.  I must confess that I have continued to stalk follow them hoping they would each continue designing.

Later I will show you Christy Tomlinson's She Art products----super cool and all the TERRIFIC stuff Mr. Holtz is realeasing. As usual he is blazing a trail and changing the game.   I also plan on having a few small give aways in the near future…some products and maybe a piece of my art….