Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cuttlelola GO!

At my retreat, as you know, we all got bitten by the Pokemon Go! bug HARD. It's SUCH a fun game, and I love that suddenly I now see - wait for it - LIVE HUMAN CHILDREN OUTSIDE.

Prior to this game, it would have been impossible to detect the presence of any children within a ten mile radius of my house. Since the game launched, I have discovered that my neighborhood does, in fact, have some live young in it, and they have now discovered the OUTDOORS.

It's so strange to me that kids here never go outside, and so different from my childhood experience. I worry about their imaginations and their vitamin D levels and their lack of contact with animals. Our days were filled with lizards and snakes and ants and all manner of wildlife. I could have done without the hot water we drank from the hose, but other than that, pretty much all we knew as kids was outside, and it was delightful. I still don't consider a day to be well spent if I haven't had a walk.

On my daily walks I NEVER saw kids and teens on the trails - now the trails are full of the Pokemon hunters - and I love it.

Bravo, Nintendo. The perfect blend of today's technology and the real world. Someone in that company has a lot of soul, a lot of brains, and now, a LOT of money.

Before you get the urge to fun-squash by coming up with a story about how someone fell off a cliff playing Pokemon - stifle yourself. There were stupid people prior to this game. Shoot - I see a woman on Mopac - our expressway - SEVERAL times a week, eating soup while she drives. Just like Facebook and beer don't make you stupid, Pokemon doesn't make you stupid. These people were stupid before they downloaded the app. Now they're just famous and stupid.

You know what's not stupid? Any new technology that brings us together and gives us common interests - across every sort of cultural or temporal divide there is. That is truly the wonder and value of things like this game. People who are quick to write off or criticize these unifying fads, whether serious or silly, are missing the opportunity to find joy in unexpected places, and I think everyone can agree that the world could do with a bit more joy and wonder. 

So try looking for Pikachu and just see if you don't find a little more.

Speaking of technology - I am in love with my newest toy - an early birthday present I bought for myself, along with an art journaling class that I'm LOVING. More on that one later.

But the toy is the Cuttlelola Dots pen. It's basically an electric pointillism machine! And I LOVE stippling/pointillism, but on large projects it can be time consuming and a bit fatiguing.

So I was THRILLED to run across this little wonder and it jumped instantly into my cart. I tried it out for the very first time on this card and filmed the process, so you will see in the video how easy it is to use right out of the box. Check out this stippled version of a rose I did with it.

Cuttlelola Dots Pen Sample by Understand Blue
It's just a thicker pen body, with a little lithium battery inside that powers the stippling motion of the pen. Incredible! Just press the little button (mine is blue, not red), and you're off to the races!
I used the ArtOGraph light box and an image stamped from Rose Wonder to trace the image with the Dots Pen. To finish it off, I used the Hero Arts prayers die for the sentiment for a friend who lost her mother recently.

SO easy and fun and it just took a few minutes - it would have taken me forever manually. When I showed the etched and Zentangled Blended Bloom samples at Convention a few years ago, I had done a stippled version, and just had to show the finished card because it took so long to do by hand. You can see the video on those samples here, and here is my video showing my first time with the Cuttlelola.

I hope you enjoy that - this is quickly becoming an obsession.

So go outside with what's left of the weekend and meet your fellow Pokemon Players. Enjoy the little things. Life is too short to be a fun squasher!


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Retreat + Advance

I am back from my UNWIND Retreat, July edition, and I have more things to say than I have space for, really.

We were in a spectacular setting - (we'll be back in October for the next one and registration is now open) - and we truly were isolated from the outside world, which made for a joyful and serene few days, when I know the rest of the world wasn't exactly joyful and serene, so I'm super grateful for that.

I learned some interesting things too, some of which are:
  • Country dogs are the best.
  • There is wine that has glitter in it. While not for everyone, it's super entertaining to watch other people drink it. I'm thinking their use of the word "natural" on the website might be a bit liberal, as I noticed that it looked EXACTLY like my bowling ball.
  • Royal icing isn't as intimidating as you think it is if you have the right teacher. Making iced cookies is super fun.
  • If some nearby roadway construction work should happen to sever a large portion of the entire county's water lines, 30 women CAN survive a waterless night by using leftover iced tea to flush toilets. We ARE crafters after all, and who needs tea when there's glitter wine? PS - in case you are a city slicker that has never had to survive a hurricane or I-35 construction mishaps - pour the tea in the bowl, not the tank for optimal results in an emergency. If you have ENOUGH tea, fill both. Thanks to both of our hurricane survivors for helping teach people these important life skills.
  • Taking notes during crafty events is essential - I learned a ton, including things about phone apps, new products, storage ideas - you name it. The hive mind rocks. Having one place to write all your ideas down instead of grabbing random scraps of cardstock is best. Try and guess which one I did.
  • Taking "art notes" is amazing too - my friend Meg brought one of her art journals, and for each of the eight classes we had, she would put leftover paint, ink etc. from each project into a page for future finishing. You can take notes on the techniques there too, which is what I use my art journal for - documenting experiments in technique and color.
  • Wet felting soap is easy and fun - muchas gracias to my friend Rebecca for teaching us.
  • Crafty people are the kind of people who buy raffle tickets and put other people's names on them. That actually happened. So sweet.
  • You can indeed have pineapple upside-down bread pudding for breakfast. Proven fact. Do not doubt me. 
  • Canadians get cold in air conditioning. Even when it's 103 outside. Bless their hearts. They are TROOPERS outside.
  • Take ALL the photos :).
  • I'm pretty sure Pokemon Go was released strategically to coincide with the startling number of calories consumed at this retreat - our chef Melanie is amazing. Thank you, Nintendo for recognizing we needed a little exercise after that!
It really was an incredible, peaceful, joyful experience. I can't wait to do it again in a few months.

I am now home and will unpack this week and settle back in, sadly, without my friends here. Thank goodness for the internet and texting.

I did make a card before I left though - and I really liked it - I wanted to bring the Penned & Painted stamp set with me, but ran out of time. I love the loose style of these flowers. A new online class using this set will be posted soon!

Penned & Painted Direct to Paper sample by Understand Blue (Stampin' Up!)
 After I stamped them (I'll have a video on how I placed them soon - that's one of the notes I took at the retreat) - onto a 3" inchie from Inchie Arts, I used the direct-to-paper technique with some new Clearsnap inks we released a Product Focus on today at Splitcoast. These ink pads are great if you are a planner addict because they have seasonal palettes on a single pad so you can ink small planner images separately with one ink pad. I'm not organized to be a planner addict so I used them for direct to paper instead! I loved the spring palette - the right combination of warm and bright and they blend beautifully. I'm LOVING playing with inchies right now. The matboard surface takes ink so beautifully - we used them at retreat for a few projects.

The Mixed Borders set is where I got the sentiment - I love that font - looks like the Ball / Mason Jar font to me.

So what have you been up to while I was gone? Any Pokemon Go fans out there? I have a private FB group for tips & tricks - if you want to be added, just message me on FB!

Hope whatever you're doing, it's fun and colorful. Here are some of my favorite photos from the retreat.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Cold, The Wet, The Misunderstood

I'm here today on behalf of a few misunderstood sea creatures.

When I was little, we used to go to the Texas coast occasionally for a beach vacation.

It's important to note though, that a Texas beach vacation is nothing to write home about. Our beaches are not the sugar sand, clear water beaches you find in the Caribbean and Florida. You're never going to see a Texas beach on Pinterest, unless it's a pin called "Five Ways to Remove Tar From Flip Flops" or maybe "What Makes Water Brown?" It's just a fact. We Texans only go there because it's the only beach you can get to after driving for 9 hours with a bunch of cranky people you're related to.

But you can still do all the fun things you do on pretty beaches - you can look for shells and little crabs, you can see those teeny ground squirrel thingies in the dunes, you can eat sandy hot dogs and drink canned beer and you can hear the ocean, if you like that sort of thing.

But from a very early age, I always thought the MOST dramatic and interesting thing about Texas beaches was the jellyfish. But in true Texas beach style of only doing things halfway, the jellyfish we encountered weren't even REAL jellyfish - they were Portugese Man o' War, also known - wait for it - as FLOATING TERROR. I'm not making that up.

And they are terrifying - they continue stinging you even after they're dead, even if only little pieces of them are floating around or washed up on the beach, which is where we saw them the most.

Even though we all were very careful not to come into contact with them, having been told dramatic tales by our parents, we still got as close as we could to them on the beach to look at them, because they are so strange and beautiful. They are like a deadly soap bubble - all iridescent and multi-colored. They look so delicate and improbable.

Unlike the FLOATING TERROR, real jellies can move themselves, instead of just floating on currents, and they are actually some of the most efficient swimmers of all sea creatures. It's magical to watch, and the jellies are always my favorite thing to see at aquariums. Their looks and their movements are mesmerizing. If I actually liked the water, and got to be reincarnated as a sea creature, I think I'd come back as a jellyfish.

So, lucky me, there happens to be the most gorgeous jellyfish stamp in the newest My Monthly Hero kit, among other incredible sea-themed images. There was much SQUEE when I opened the stamp set.

The jelly images are actually layering, but I thought the detail layer alone was so delicate and perfect that I used it to do some emboss resist with my beautiful Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors, which I've neglected since May!

I tried to incorporate all the dreamy colors I saw on the washed up Man o' Wars into my more peaceful floating jellyfish.

In the end, it was so pretty and serene I didn't even want to add a sentiment - I just wanted to let the jellies float, wordless, as they do.

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I don't know why, but I really think this is one of my favorite cards I've ever painted. It just is so peaceful.

I painted a bunch of watercolor backgrounds while I had the watercolor out. I used another one for the sweet sea turtles in the set. I wanted the colors to be more turtle-y on this one, so I went heavy on the greens. AREN'T THEY CUTE?

 There's something so soothing about sea images, even though I find the sea completely the opposite of soothing. (Insert screaming from all my beachy friends here. It's okay - I'll wait)

Finally, I had to make a card set with the more graphic images in the set - including an octopus with the most hilarious look in his eye! This time I did use both layers on the jelly, and I combined a few sets for the sentiments, including Hello Gorgeous and the sentiments from the kit. They crack me up.
AND, best news of all - I love it when my crafty purchases go towards a cause - Hero Arts is donating 10% of the profits from the July kit to ocean preservation through the World Wildlife Fund. Since I'm a member, this really spoke to me. I love all creatures great and small and whenever I find an animal-related crafty cause, I have to get behind that. So a big thanks to the kind people at Hero for doing this!

I made a little video for you of the watercolor process for these cards - so you'll see how I fixed a few color mistakes along the way - remember with watercolor - never give up! Contrary to popular belief, it can be a very forgiving medium.

This is a while-supplies-last kit, so move faster than a jellyfish! It's a BIG kit, and includes alllll this:

There are also add-ons, which I will be buying - this completely cracks me up. It comes with dies as well.

And I'm hopping with some friends today if you want to see some more inspiration with these lovelies - the people on this hop have my complete admiration - they are incredible artists!

The Hero Arts Blog
Yana Smakula
Amy Tsuruta
Clare Prezzia
May Park
Laura Bassen
Lydia Fiedler
Jessica Frost-Ballas
Justin Krieger
Jennifer McGuire
Jenn Shurkus
Veronica Zalis
Libby Hickson
Joan Bardee

So thanks for stopping by - I'm swimming off now. Loveyameanitbye.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

In Praise of the Incompl-

I've been enjoying the live chats with Tim Holtz in the Summer of Creative Chemistry at Online Card Classes. If you're not enrolled - I highly recommend his classes there. His product knowledge is mind-boggling, but he also just has a lot of really great advice about art and creating.

My favorite moment of his most recent live chat was his advice to stop worrying about finishing things when you sit down to be creative.

As you know - I could not agree more. I firmly believe in the philosophy of "creating for the trash" - because it is so liberating. If you simply sit down every day solely to create, and not to create a finished card or a (fill in the blank), you will give yourself the freedom to experiment, to make mistakes, and to learn from them.

The finish is the enemy of the start, in my opinion.

Just play.

This is what I also love about Kathy Racoosin's 30 day coloring challenge (next round starts July 5th) - she just encourages people to take a few moments every day to be creative, because it's good for you. It's not about finishing - it's about starting.

To that end, I'm posting an unfinished project today.

This is an experiment I did when I was designing wedding invitations for my nephew and his bride-to-be. They have a beautiful eggplant color in their service, and so I was trying a few different directions, one of which was a hand-watercolored invitation.

One day I sat down just to experiment with Elegant Eggplant.

I stamped the endlessly beautiful retired Stampin' Up! set - Stipple Rose - that I bought from a friend - in Elegant Eggplant on Fabriano hot press watercolor paper. Then I just used a paintbrush to move the ink around, adding some reinker in places, and adding Old Olive ink to the leaves. Purple is such a great shadow for green, that it didn't matter that the image was stamped in purple - they blended beautifully.

Then I just walked away from it.

Stipple Rose watercolor by understandblue
I posted the partial progress on Instagram and Facebook and was surprised that people liked it! It looked so unfinished to me.

But Diana Gibbs just loved it, and so I'm sending it to her - just as is, with not even a hint of a finished project about it.

She made me sign it. :)

I enjoyed the process and now a friend will get a little decoration for her studio, so it's a win.

Forgive yourself for not finishing things, so that you can just START things. You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gotta Love a Heffalump!

My grandparents' house was filled with elephants, that I just adored. Large, carved wooden elephants, tiny wood elephants - they were just everywhere - my grandmother loved them, and I love them too. They traveled all around the world for my grandfather's work, and they collected so many cool and unusual things, many of which were animal themed.

It's impossible for me not to buy every elephant stamp I've ever seen in my life, partially for this reason. They are just near and dear to my heart.

Did you know that elephants are the only surviving family of animals in their order? It's true - all the others are extinct. The order is called Proboscidea (because of their big schnozzes and whatnot.)

One of their closest living relatives is actually another adorable, sweet beastie - the manatee!

I must now go in search of manatee stamps!

Anyhoo, the elephant from Altenew's Baby Zoo set caught my eye, because while it's a layering stamp that is sort of whimsical, the silhouettes in the set are very classy and they stand alone, so I tried two fun things with this heffalump.

First, I stamped him three or four times in Versamark, using my MISTI, to be sure I had the entire image perfectly stamped. Then I applied Pan Pastels to him - I thought since the 4th was coming up, I'd make him a patriotic elephant. I used my brightest red and blue - Ultramarine and Permanent Red. I applied them with this Sofft knife.

I did get some Pan Pastel outside the outline, but if you're careful you can use a sanding eraser like this one or even a regular eraser to remove that and clean up your edges. I actually like the softer look of not staying inside the outline, but I cleaned him up this time and made him a little crisper. I used the mermaid sequins from Hero Arts and the teeny sequins from Concord & 9th to make him blow some matching bubbles. The sentiment is also from Altenew, from Painted Poppy. He is a perfectly patriotic heffalump now. Happy Independence day!

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Speaking of happy, I am happy to be part of a fun blog hop today (with prizes of course) my friends at My Sweet Petunia and Altenew - both of them are giving great prizes away too - two mini MISTIs and 3 Altenew $30 gift certificates - and so I couldn't resist one more super out of the box thing that you can do with larger, solid images like this.

 My sister and I always SAY we're going to get together and craft weekly, and then we don't because a bunch of more boring stuff gets in the way, and that's stupid. But a few months ago, we did make some time, and we played with - wait for it - PERLER BEADS!

We had just been to the opening of Craft, here in Austin, which is a super cool space you can go craft in, take classes, rent by the hour, etc. and we had a ball melting beads there and wanted to do some more. It's a very zen-inducing activity. So I bought this bucket of beads and trays and we just goofed around for the day. I also bought some larger trays like these.

I thought that it would be fun to make an abstract, pixellated heffalump using this nice big, solid stamp - so I stamped it on cardstock and put it under my tray to help me place the beads.

 That worked great! I wanted the elephant to be in cool colors, but I wanted the background to emulate a sunset, so I added warm colors. This is what he looked like before I ironed him to melt the beads.

And here's what he looked like after.

I love how some of them totally melted and some didn't.

So if you have some kids around this summer, or some unsupervised adults like me and my sister, try using your solid stamps as a Perler pattern instead of just the basic shapes that come with the kits. It was a fun little relaxing piece of art.

So NOW - onto the hop, with some of my very favorite people on earth!

 Altenew is also having a sale for all you MISTI fans out there, and the winners of all the prizes will be announced on July 3rd on the company blogs.

Thank you so much for stopping by today - and good luck winning those prizes - leave comments everywhere!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Whatever It Is, Just OWN It

I walk every morning that I can.

Walking drives the shiny squirrels from my brain and really helps me focus for work - I'm not sure why. It's also the only time I have to "read" - i.e., listen to audiobooks. I do my best design work on my walks too - just being away from my supplies and the distractions of the day.

I tend to see the same humans and the same dogs on my walk - we are all creatures of habit in my neighborhood.

And one dog in particular makes my day every time I see him.

He's a smallish black lab mix - to me it looks like he's mixed with a collie breed. He is the friendliest, sweetest dog, and always comes to say hi, but not in an aggressive way - I'm allergic to dogs so I'm a little more reluctant to pet strange dogs than most. But he's just a sweetie.

The first morning I ever saw him - he was a dark streak across the soccer field at the park - chasing a frisbee and bringing it back to his owner like a little retrieving lightning bolt. That's where his collie really comes out - in his low, insanely fast sprints. I watched him for a few minutes before moving on, because I was wondering exactly how many hours he would do that before his owner got tired and took him home.

The next time I saw him, he was on the trail I walk, and he was coming towards me - I said hi to his owner and then looked down to greet him and was totally stunned to see that he was missing one of his back legs. Watching his tail wag while I patted him, I thought maybe I had been mistaken - that it wasn't the little furry streak of a dog racing for the frisbee the week before. But it was, and the next time I saw him chase the frisbee, I actually noticed that he only had three legs.

I was amazed.

And to me, anyway, it seemed like he neither knew nor cared that he was at 75% leggedness. He just seemed like he was really completely okay with being the best darn three-legged dog he could possibly be.

And I think he is.

While I definitely have seen animals get embarrassed - if you have pets, you've seen it too - I don't think they have a concept of the sort of worry people have about fitting in or being at least enough like most other people that no one will tweet a photo of them with the hashtag #neverwearthis or #the80scalledtheywanttheirhair back or whatever everyone worries about.

He just owns the three legs he has. It's awesome.

So today - I'm hosting the MIX-Ability challenge on Splitcoast, and my inspiration came from my friend Katherine - beadfreak22 on Splitcoast. She had done an art challenge with her mom and sisters, and had combined a bunch of different stamps - some animal, some human - to create a creature to rule over her budding catnip garden. You can see a photo of her in the challenge post.

I call this the Chimera Challenge - combine your stamps to create new creatures.

It just so happened - this is the hardest part - that I had two stamp sets that were proportioned properly to go together. The Birthday Fiesta llama, and the strong man from Guy Greetings. (This stamp set is extra cool, because it comes in cling, wood and photopolymer - I own the cling and the photopolymer, which is what I used here.) I laughed so hard when I stamped a test at my strange and awesome llama man! I decided to pair him with a message inspired by that little tripod dog, who could not care less about his missing leg. It's a message we all need to hear. Just OWN it and be awesome.

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The sentiment is from The Project Bin, and since I was stamping it onto a background I'd watercolored with Mission Gold on some cold press watercolor cards from Fabriano, I stamped it multiple times with my mini MISTI until it was good and dark.

I used a Colour Shaper brush - it's a cool brush with a rubbery tip on it (I used a #2) - to apply some Daler Rowney Pro White Ink - I picked this up in Santa Fe because I'm always looking for good opaque white products - for some highlights.

He cracks me up, llama man. He's so confident and proud, flexing his llama man muscles in his manpris.

As it should be.

Before I leave, I have to tell you about my favorite new craft room item - my camera stand!!

I read about this stand on Sandy Allnock's blog, and I decided to try it. I film all of my tutorials with my Iphone and I had been using a PVC stand for Periscope and filming tutorials, but my issue is, and always will be - desk real estate. I have a very teeny tiny craft room, and my desk is very short front to back. So even though I chopped the legs down on the PVC stand and weighted them - it was still something I had to put up and take down with each video because it was bulky, in the way, and frankly, not aesthetically pleasing, which - let's face it - we're crafters and a bit princessy that way.

So I ordered the new stand, and having been a consumer of about 300 different types of camera mounts, was skeptical a bit that it would end up being "the one".

But ladies and gentlemen - IT'S THE ONE!!!

Just to give you some perspective - the footprint of the PVC stand on my desk was 16" x 13".

The usable space on my desk is only 88" x 24" - so when I was using it - the stand was taking up about 10% of my desk. Not cool, my friends.

The NEW stand not only has a better, easy to open clamp for the phone, but the height, orientation and angle are all adjustable. It takes up just a tiny amount of space directly in front of my work area. It's got a very heavy base, so it won't tip over, no matter how big your phone is, and it takes about ten seconds to put together and set up. Here it is in action on my desk - always ready for a video and unobtrusive while I'm just crafting. AND my workspace looks neat and PVC-free! :)

The customer service is also great, so all in all, I'm going to give this a ginormous win.

I contacted them and raved about the stand (please do this when you find great products that work - it's just nice to hear thank you at your job :) ) and they were nice enough to offer a coupon code I can share with you. AND, because Independence Day is coming up, they are doubling their normal offer, so you can get 20% off a stand like mine with code UNDERSTANDBLUE. This offer will be good from today until Monday July 11th at 10:00 AM Pacific Time, at which point it will drop to 10%.

My sister just filmed a cooking episode for a PBS contest, and was wishing she'd had this instead of  the awkward setup she rigged up.

I can absolutely promise you this is worth every penny. I'm in love. Huge props to the people at Arkon for an awesome product and for just being nice people.

So that's my crafty tip for the day - the only other thing I'll say before I go - is whatever you are - be a good one. Especially if you're a llama man.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Happiness Test

I was talking to a friend the other day about the fact that I don't watch the news.  EVER.

I stopped watching the news at some point between 9/11 and now. I don't remember exactly when.

But it was absolutely sucking out my happiness like a dementor. Every time I turned it on, there was some asinine political battle, a horrific crime, terrorism or a new reason to be fearful of food, water, air or the insect-borne disease of the day.

I shut down all news inputs. No news apps on my phone, it's never on TV, and I only listen to a local radio talk show that is funny and occasionally discusses local events that are of interest to me.

I developed a test for all sources of information that come into my eyes or ears. It's a very simple test. For any media type, the answer to the two following questions have to be yes for it to be allowed into my brain:

  • Does it entertain me (make me laugh, bring me joy, make me think)?
  • Does it give me power?
It has to do one or both to get in.

A lot of people who are news junkies, and yet distressed by everything they read or see, tell me "I want to be informed." Why? If the information doesn't give you any power, and just gives you anxiety - being informed has no value whatsoever. Examples of knowledge that give you power include:

  • Weather reports. It's good to know if a tornado the size of a skyscraper is headed your way - that's information you can use to run into the bathroom with your mattress and your shoes on. (ALWAYS have your shoes on when there's severe weather about - many people are injured after they've survived a severe weather event because they are barefoot. See? I just gave you power.)
  • Tutorials - education and skills always give you power.
I already know that I need to wash my hands a lot, avoid snakes and bugs, and to wash vegetables before I eat them. I know not to drink 86 cups of coffee in a row. (I know some of you will disagree with me on that). I know to have situational awareness when I'm out and about.

Blocking the barrage of terrible stories I can do nothing about has improved my quality of daily life more than any other single thing I've ever done, I think.

In social media, I just unfollow people who post (even once) about the news or politics. As a result, my feeds are full of art and funny people, or people who post just about their daily lives, which is much more interesting than news and politics.

I highly recommend trying my test for three months and see if it is not life-changing and calming for you. And I promise you will not be eaten by a chupacabra just because you didn't know about it rampaging through some area 2,000 miles away.

This spring we went on the annual pilgrimage to Santa Fe, and prowled the art galleries. There's always endless inspiration there. For some reason, there were more photography exhibits this year, and one of my favorite stops on Canyon Road had some incredible antique photographs, including many cyanotypes.

It should not come as a huge surprise to you that this is one of my favorite printing techniques since the result is a glorious expanse of shades of blue.

I had it written down on a receipt from the trip (this is why I never can find my ideas again) to do a faux cyanotype technique for a card, so I gave it a whirl today when I had a minute. It's very easy and fun. I made a little notecard set using four stamp sets.

Faux Cyanotype Card Set by Understandblue

Here's a closer look at the individual cards. This one features the ship image from Traveler.

Faux Cyanotype by Understand Blue
 This one features the dog from The Wilderness Awaits.
Faux Cyanotype by Understand Blue
This one features the train image from Traveler.
Faux Cyanotype Train by Understand Blue
And, saving the cat for last - this image is from Sitting Here.

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Isn't that color amazing? The ink I used is Blueprint Sketch Distress Ink, and I applied with my Clarity Stamp Stencil Brushes.

That gorgeous sentiment is from Flourishing Phrases - I think maybe in the top three sentiment sets in the catalog.

I actually had a little crafty time this weekend so I made a video too - enjoy!

So thanks for stopping by - I can't wait to hear how your news blackout goes! I think if enough of us tune out, someone might get the message that a GOOD news network is what we want. 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fiesta Like There's No Manana

If you heard loud screams from west of the Rockies in April, it was me.

I was screaming about a llama.

Or possibly an alpaca, depending on who you talk to.

That's when I got to see the Fiesta Birthday stamp & die set, including the ADORABLE papel picado images in the bundle.

I didn't make a card with him for a while because his awesomeness overwhelmed me.

But finally, this week, after I felt somewhat organized and ran out of excuses, I sat down with him and my Tie Dye technique and oh my goodness I love him!!

On the first card, I used the adorable papel picado stamps in the set - stamping the solid image in Smoky Slate and the top images in black. The llama was tie-dyed with three of his friends on Strathmore Ready-Cut Watercolor paper (cut down to a random measurement I didn't record - but you can see it in my video.).

This card makes me laugh.

This one makes me laugh even harder. There are few things I love more than the cowbell skit from SNL. So when I found a new stamp company called The Project Bin, which makes sentiment stamp sets, and when I saw the cowbell sentiment in the Bazinga set, well... this happened.

This third card also makes me laugh, because the llama looks drunk. He's all "THANK YOU SHOOOO MUSSSHHH FOR THE TEQUILLLAAAAA!" The sentiment is from Thankful Thoughts. PS - I have  a new online class for three clean & simple designs with this set - perfect for making ten quick thank you cards to have on hand if you need them. Check out my online card class here - I'll be pulling down the classes for retired sets soon.

Tie Dyed Llamas by Understand Blue

And finally, I allowed him to regain his dignity with the last card of the set, wherein he realizes that it's okay if he's a little different - because being different is what makes him awesome. Being different is what makes ALL of us awesome, because none of us are anything like each other at all, after all. :)

Tie Dyed Llamas by Understand BluePin It
This sentiment is from the Wise Men set - and I actually did some stamp surgery and cut off the teeny Abraham Lincoln under the quote - sorry Abe!

I did a little video for you on these kooky cards, which you can see below.

All of these are for the rainbow challenge, which I was tagged in by Jacqueline Stephens - and her card is ridiculously awesome - check it out here. Jacqueline is a very talented stamper and a sweet, sweet lady, so it's super awesome to be included in her challenge!

And just to underscore the point made by my llamas - you should fiesta like there's no manana, by the way. Manana is not promised.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pineapple On a Stick

I am here today to give you some crazy true facts about pineapples.

For example - did you know that each of those crazy little shapes on the outside of a pineapple is a "berry" - and that they are considered "multiple fruits" - not one delicious ring-shaped thingy?

It's true.

It's also sort of a mathematical miracle.

The fruit of a pineapple is arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.

When I was an early teen, I worked at the health food store my mom worked at - and I learned many amazing things (and also some completely made up things, if I'm going to be honest) about the medicinal properties of natural foods, and one of the things I learned was that bromelain - which is extracted from a pineapple and concentrated - is a powerful meat tenderizer AND can really reduce the appearance of a bruise. #truefactsofthepineapple

I think the first time I was introduced to it as a symbol was through someone in our church - I believe a German or possibly a Scandinavian - our pastor was Norwegian - who told me it was a symbol to welcome people into your home.

As a person whose life mission it is NEVER to have anyone ring either my doorbell or my cell phone (cue the misophonia), I can't really appreciate that aspect of the pineapple BUT I love the origin of that symbolism, which is that sailors who traveled to tropical lands, would post a pineapple on a stick at their homes to tell people they were back temporarily from their dangerous sailing adventures and were accepting visitors for a brief time.

The difference is they didn't have a loud clangy doorbell back then screwing up their voiceover and scaring their animals. People probably saw the pineapple and softly knocked, like civilized residents of the planet Flat Earth. I wonder what the opposite of a pineapple on a stick is? What fruit or veggie would tell people to quit ringing your doorbell and go away - okra? Green bell peppers? Durian?

ANYWAY - the pineapple is gorgeous in both form and function - it is perhaps my first memory of eating fruit in my life, and I'm still a huge devotee. I love it any way anyone wants to prepare it - fresh, canned, grilled, on or off pizza, upside-down in something, on a sundae - it's all good.

I do also love its stately nature and it's terrific as an art project.

So I wanted to hop with a few uber-talented friends of mine today to celebrate the pineapple. Be sure and visit all the blogs, because my sweet friends at Hero Arts will have prizes if you do - some in the form of pineapples, if you so choose :).

When I got their color layering pineapple bundle, I was super torn. I had an idea in mind with the coordinating pineapple die, but I kept coming back to the idea of the pineapple as a symbol of connectedness to other people, and I really had a specific person in mind when I settled on a design for my card. So I grabbed one of my favorite dies in the world and tried it out.

The pineapple stamp is a 3-step layering stamp, a.k.a. a MISTI ideal set, and they have little ink cube packs that coordinate with this set and others, so I grabbed the one for this set and used it to create a sort of muted pineapple.

With the MISTI, lining it all up and getting it right was easy - my challenge came with the die cutting. I was scared to death!

But I lined up the prayers die across the pineapple after stamping in what looked like the center to me, although I'll freely admit that's not really my spiritual gift.

Then I die cut it, and carried the whole sandwich - both plates and all to my desk so that I didn't lose any of the pieces, and I left them on the sticky side of a post-it note while I worked on the main part of the die cut.

After that, I smooshed Versamark onto the die cut sentiment and embossed it in clear just so that it would stand out a bit, even though I wasn't making it dimensional. I really wanted the image to be the star.

Pin It

Since some of the pieces are super tiny - like the little pieces in the r and the s - I really recommend a QuickStik or a Crystal Katana. I pick up the tiny cardstock, dip it into a little dot of glue on my Ranger craft mat, and then piece it back into the die cut.

Die cut inlay is one of those zen-inducing craft activities like zentangling or swatching your watercolor. You have to focus enough that you forget everything else, but also relaxing and not frustrating. It's like jigsaw puzzles for papercrafters.

So go see what my friends are up to today!

The Hero Arts Blog
Lucy Abrams
Lydia Fiedler
Mariana Grigsby
Tami Hartley
Libby Hickson
Nichol Magouirk
Jayne Nelson
Clare Prezzia
Kathy Racoosin
Kelly Rasmussen
Yana Smakula
Amy Tsuruta


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