Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Touch Screen of Death

I saw a super cheesy commercial this morning for some insurance company where two people were happily swooshing things around on an imaginary floor to ceiling touch screen control center thingy.

Why is this presumed to be the technology of the future?

Thankfully, I telecommute now, but when I had to slog to an office every day, I"m just going to be honest - those places are FILTHY! People are filthy! Have you ever seen an office microwave? Ours always looked like someone had cooked several human heads in it. Or have you seen a coworker bring their salad into the BATHROOM and leave it on the sink while they go into a stall and proceed to talk to their mother whilst relieving themselves, and then leave without washing their hands?

I have, my friends. And MUCH, much worse.

The last thing in the WORLD I want is a giant, non-porous surface that is constantly being touched by these same people.


Can you say plague?

Touchscreens should be completely dedicated to one person only. Some things just aren't meant to be communal. Actually, most things aren't.

Keep your germs to yourselves, weird future people!

Okay - remember this card that I made with the new Artisan Embellishment Kit die cut, after turning it into a stencil? And remember in that post on December 11th I told you I'd be back the next day with the OTHER cool thing I did with it? And remember how it's now January 25th?

Whatever. You're too detail-oriented!

Anyhoo - here I am with the second half. So after I sprayed the stencil to make the positive rose design on that card, my stencil was covered in this gorgeous red-gold wet spray - so I MONOPRINTED with it!! Just pressed the wet stencil onto watercolor paper. I actually think I like this method best!

Then I tore my studio apart, threw my house into chaos and only now found the pile that that beautiful little print was in and FULFILLED MY MONTH OLD PROMISE TO SHOW YOU!

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Cool eh? Then I smooshed my Encore gold ink pad onto one of the little hellos in the kit and then mounted it onto the Gold Soiree DSP and then onto Crumb Cake Cardstock.

It's so happy and bright. I find myself grudgingly liking gold these days - I never did before and now it's growing on me.

Unlike communal touchscreens. The toilet seats of the future.

Oh speaking of the future - here are a few more days from my Calendar Art Journal.

This one features Fine Feathers (RETIRED) and Twinkling H20s and a Faber-Castell pencil.

This one is just quick watercolor balloons with Koi watercolor, and strings drawn with a crow quill pen and Bombay India Ink in Turquoise. The sentiment - prepare for smirking - is the FRENCH version of the A Happy Thing Sale-A-Bration set - that's right - I'm a genius. 

When you're done earning all your SAB freebies, you can start over and get them in French! Love it!

La belle vie indeed!

Hope you had a good lazy weekend.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

(You Have No Events Scheduled Today)

For the first time in about 8 months, I woke up to this message in my inbox.


Pure bliss. Especially since I will soon be at Leadership, which will be a non-stop week of 18 hour days including two full hours of access to the TOWER OF TERROR!!!!

At our Manager's reception, among other fantastic perks, we have private access to the Tower of Terror and the Rockin' Rollercoaster - no lines, nothing. I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am. The TOT is my favorite ride on earth. Expect NUMEROUS pictures of me on this ride, because I plan on spending the entire reception on it! The rest of the time will be spent in classes, doing make & takes, and general shenanigans with my friends.

Now a day with no events in it, of course is not a day with no events. It's a day filled with events I don't get to do without guilt when things are scheduled - like ART. Cat patting. Hiking. Doodling around on the internet. Organizing. Napping. Yay for napping!!

I finally had time to take pictures of the second project from our Butterfly Basics class. I used an awesome technique that +Jennifer McGuire showed on her blog for partial die cutting. See her video here.

Click links to buy supplies below!
Stamps: Butterfly Basics - bundle with matching dies. Ink: Coastal Cabana, Daffodil Delight Paper: Painted Blooms

SUCH a cool technique and really easy to do. We had fun. I'll have one more card for you from this class before I head out and then check back for my live Leadership coverage starting Tuesday!

 Now for some exciting news!


Please clear your schedules!

There will be at least 8 classes and it will be a 3 day retreat - the first day will be exclusively for my team - and anyone who joins my team prior to the event is eligible.

The next two days will be open to the public, with two full days of mixed media classes and technique classes.

This retreat will take place in Central Texas, and I'll make it as convenient to a major airport as I can.

Registration dates will be announced, and registration is first come, first served. These classes will all include products to go home and play with, prizes and all the trimmings. So save the dates! What dates? ALL the dates - I don't have the date info yet so just save the whole month!

Speaking of dates, I'm carrying on with my calendar. Here are a few more days worth of experiments.

Fun, eh? The 23rd was created using a technique featured in next Friday's +Splitcoaststampers Mix-Ability mixed media challenge, so stay  tuned! #tease

Hope you are having an uneventful Caturday too!


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Visual Diary

My maternal grandfather, who was a more disciplined person than you'll ever meet among his offspring, kept a diary / datebook that he wrote in every day.

(Were he here today, I am quite sure he would not approve of blogging as a substitute.)

Every year my mom would buy him the datebook, and every year he'd fill them up. I need to see if someone still has them. I'd love to read them. I'm quite certain there were no cat pictures in there, and not just because he didn't have a cat.

My paternal grandmother was a prolific painter. She'd paint on ANYTHING - pieces of wood - pieces of cardboard - any inanimate object.

I realized, after I started my most recent diversion, that there's a chance that I'm not a genius or an inventor, but in fact, quite perfectly settled between a few widely varied chromosomes.

My friend & co-worker Lori inspired me with this pin to embark on this project, which I ADORE.

It's the perfect mix of discipline and artistic chaos. I love it so, so much.

Here's what I did.

After my class last Saturday, I went to Staples and bought this calendar, after touching every calendar in the store - sooo many are wrong for this project. Lines in the squares, squares too small - words everywhere. This one was perfect. It has a very soft, leatherish cover that I like and I like the minimalist design on the front. Now that I found this on Amazon, I am pretty peeved that my Staples didn't have this gorgeous aqua one, but I'll get over it.

Now mind you, I didn't do this until the 17th, after my stamping class, so I was already part of the way through January. But never you mind. Better late than never.

I took my fave gesso - American Journey Gesso (it's my fave because you can watercolor on it - most gesso is made to prime for acrylic) and 1/5th of an old Amazon gift card that I use like a palette knife, and carefully spread gesso onto the square for January 19th - the day I started.

Then I just did a quick little painting on top with Golden Fluid Acrylics. It took me all of about three minutes. And I squealed. And I did it the next day. And I did it today. SO fun.

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For the second day, I used the Indescribable Gift Stamp set, and stamped it in So Saffron on top of the gesso and then just did no-line watercolor over that with Strawberry Slush and Mellow Moss Ink. Again, just a few minutes.

It's so fun and so quick. If I keep it up, won't this be a cool visual diary at the end of the year?

Today, it rained, and so today's little painting is grey - I'll show you that soon.

If you want to do this - be sure and have some freezer paper on hand. Put that between the pages while you're working so that nothing bleeds through the pages before the gesso is dry. Also, on the second day, I taped off my square with 3M tape before starting and it made it easier and cleaner.

I like having the dates show, but you can certainly gesso over those.

I don't have a plan for this other than to take a break each day and do something in it. It's just minutes to do a square. I think I will just let each day dictate what I put there and not overthink it.

I'd definitely recommend a calendar that opens flat like this one.

I'd also recommend not leaving watercolor water on your desk for your cat to knock off, but that's a tale for another day.


Monday, January 19, 2015


So I'm unearthing things as I prepare to move back into my room. Some of it is drudgery. Some of it is hilarious and ridiculous (really? I saved one square inch of white cardstock?) Some of it is sweet.

Some of it is bittersweet.

I joined Stampin' Up! as a demonstrator in May of 2001. I remember this like it was yesterday - honestly. That first party I was "dragged" to by my friend Kris - I only went to be nice, with lots of internal eye rolling. I'm sure many of you got started the same way.

Then I squealed for 3 hours and spent like $400, and the rest is history.

But shortly after that, my life changed with the rest of the world on 9/11.

I remember what felt like years of silence in the months that followed that.

I don't know why I remember the silence, but it was like a lot of snow fell, and everything was quiet for a long, long time.

It was a long time before I remember laughing and having fun without a sense of guilt.

I was desperate to do something - anything - to make anyone feel better. Or to make myself feel better. Or to make it less quiet and sad everywhere. I felt like stamping had taken over my life at just the right moment.

So when SU came out with the God Bless America stamp shortly after 9/11, it was a huge creative relief. I probably made 300 cards with that stamp. It was just something I could do. It was a happy and sweet image with a simple message and it was just right. Here's an image of the stamp from an Etsy listing.

This was long before I was blogging and before I started my Splitcoast gallery, so these cards I made don't exist anywhere on the interwebz. But I loved them. That stamp may have actually started my mixed media fetish, because I remember loving using my watercolor crayons on this stamp to get the blue and the red together. I bought a few extras and cut them apart to use with ink, too.

Anyway - fast forward to convention 2008.

At this convention, they made a small number of the mag plates for some retired stamp sets available to demonstrators at Memento Mall. I knew what I wanted and was holding my breath as we waited in that long line. I found and grabbed the following: Architectural Elements, Botanicals, Branch (one of my faves ever), Citrus And Such, and...

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I couldn't believe my good fortune when I found this flipping quickly through the bins in a big crowd of people trying to see them all. This one really meant a lot to me, and it felt like I was meant to have it. I'm sure everyone who got some of their favorites that day felt that way.

They all came with these.

There was something very cool about being able to get these plates and knowing that these images would never, ever be produced again. It all just clicked.

So I found these today and set them up where I can see them from my desk. And it's sweet.

Now, my room is still in chaos. I haven't started moving back in yet. I just finished my paper storage today. But I at least can work in the chaos now, which makes me happy.

While I was waiting for the spray paint to dry on the platform for my paper storage today, I did a little ARTING.

I decided to carry on in my art journal, using the A Happy Thing set again. I'm determined to make everyone want this beautiful set.

I documented some of the process here in this Instagram video.

A video posted by Lydia Fiedler (@understand_blue) on
I like doing this because it shows you that at some points along the way, your stuff is really UGLY - but it improves if you keep at it.

I kept the same layout - notes on the left (I had to leave that big hog from the book untouched), and sketch on the right. What I love about this process is the end result doesn't have to be finished, really. It's just practice, so it doesn't have to be perfect.

You'll see that I used almost the identical colors I used here, but much paler and with a different result.

I stamped the bird first in So Saffron, and then just painted over him. Then I added some details back with a pen. I like wrapping up with actual drawing - you lose those skills if you don't use them, and I don't use them enough. The stamp makes it hard to get this part wrong. I left a lot of the text peeking through.

Sweet little birdie.

In case you're wondering about this magical book full of hogs that I'm using for a journal, it's called the Biggle Swine Book "Much old and new hog knowledge, arranged in alternate streaks of fat and lean."

Quite a hoot.

Back to the grindstone for today - I will spend my time outside work this week trying to put pieces of my room together. I can't wait to show you the finished space. I can't wait to BE in the finished space. The kitties are pretty excited too. They show their excitement by sleeping. All day.

God bless America.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Into Each Life, A Little Bird Poop Must Fall

So the remodel is still going. The weather has been very un-Texasy, and it ground progress to a halt for nearly two weeks, as the things that I needed to do involved painting and polyurethaning, which required a little warmth and dry air. Maddening.

However, the sun finally returned and I was able to finish sealing the top of my stamping desk and get that moved into my room on top of my funky orange Bisley filing cabinets. You can see here how much brighter the room is with the lighter top and with no backing on the desk to block the window. I still have to figure out a little platform to extend the windowsill for Maddie & Splotch to lounge on - the back of the old desk created a snug little box against the window that they loved to sleep on, so I have to recreate that for them. Shouldn't be too hard - you can see there is space behind the filing cabinets. We are also going to do a little catification on the wall on the right - a little vertical playground to let them run up the wall towards the ceiling and hang out on top of my IKEA bookcases. There is no remodel that doesn't take the furries' happiness into account!

The filing cabinets will hold my neutral cardstock in hanging folders on top - look at my pretty folders - they match my card catalog:

The bottom drawers will hold (just loose) - current DSP on the left, and on the right, current kits & accessories. This will make it so that when I'm prepping for classes, I don't accidentally include something that is retired.

Weather isn't the only setback during this remodel.

Yesterday, while painting my colored cardstock organizers from Stamp-n-Storage, this happened:

I mean REALLY!!!!

Luckily - the tops were already dry, and I'm using a high gloss lacquer spray paint, so I was able to remove all evidence of bird terrorism.

The units are now painted, and today, I'm painting a plywood base that I'm going to add casters to today, so my tower of paper units (four of these) will be up off the floor - away from dustbunnines and the reach of a mop - and I can roll them out to vacuum under etc. They will be very heavy when they're full of paper, so this will be awesome.

I've spent the beginning of every Saturday and Sunday at Home Depot and Lowe's. They're starting to wave and say hi when I show up now.

Before my stamping desk was in, I had to prep for two classes - that was nearly impossible on my teeny computer desk, which is barely bigger than my monitor and keyboard. That was a challenge, but I did it!I even have proof!

Here's one of the projects we did at my Butterfly Basics class - it's a faux tole technique.

Instead of shaping each piece, I left them flat, but elevated them off the card with two layers. 

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The rest of the card was easy - tone on tone stamping with Baked Brown Sugar, and a few accents with a white gel pen.

I've also been battling internet issues for weeks. Every day at about 6, my internet dies. They think that my line is spliced into someone else's.

It's maddening - especially since I use my internet for work, and I work for a company in California, so the last few hours of every work day are useless to me. GRR.

I'm on a texting basis with my AT&T tech now. Hopefully they will figure it out this coming week and life can get back to normal at some point.

So I'm a little late with my Season's Giving prizes, but here they are! If you are a winner, please click the email me button top right and send me an email with redemption instructions! Thanks for your patience and congratulations!!

The winner of Mystery Box #1 is....
The winner of Mystery Box #2 is....
The winner of the $75 shopping spree is...

And, because it took me so long, I'm throwing in an additional prize. You'll find out what it is when you get it!

The winner of the mystery prize is...

I loved reading all your comments - and thank you for sharing your pets, your recipes, your resolutions and some of your favorite projects - I've enjoyed them all and I read every one!

I hope you have a sunny & poop-free week. Actually I hope I do too!


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Art Journaling For The Senile

I have adored art journaling from afar for far too long. I keep telling myself I'll start - and I have bought a million art journals that sit blank in my studio, mocking me.

There are a million reasons I haven't started:

  • I am scared of blank pages.
  • I like to create art in small spaces - that's why I like cards. 
  • There are too many pretty art journals out there for me to make an attempt.
  • I haven't found the "right" journal yet.
  • I don't have good handwriting.
  • I have nothing to journal.
  • I love France Papillon and no way can I make anything like what she makes.
Well we've been chatting - the reluctant art journalers - in the Mixed Media Forum on Splitcoast and we have decided to quit putting it off. So earlier this week, I took some books to sell at Half Price Books - and I got $26! That's unheard of at Half Price. I guess old Slavic Linguistics books never go out of style!

I spent about $1.50 of my haul on two books I thought would make good candidates for an art journal.:

Oh - book worshipers - avert your eyes! These books are going to get arted! Sorry if you're already on the way to your therapist.

Today, after class, I decided to get started, with some nice bright colors to combat our horrid grey skies. Homegirl needs to see the sun - STAT!

I decided I would do art journaling for the senile. Traditionally, people do two page layouts - I thought since I do like the smaller space of a single page, that I'd do one page, and keep color notes on the other page in case I stumble on a combo I want to recreate.

First, I coated both pages lightly with a credit card and American Journey Gesso - I love this gesso because it's the only one that was made to work with watercolor - traditional gessos don't work with watercolor very well. I dried it with my heat gun. I made sure to let the original book page show through - I like that the soul of my book will still be there, although the book worshipers will not be mollified by this.

On the right, I stamped the image from the new Sale-A-Bration set - A Happy Thing - in Yellow Citrus Chalk Ink. Then I painted it with a combination of Golden Fluid Acrylics (I love these because they behave more like watercolor), Lukas watercolor, acrylic paint and graphite (all paints listed below.) I dried it all with a heat gun, and stamped the greeting from Hello Life on top.

On the left is the senility map. I took an old gift card, cut it into three long strips, and used those as palette knives to swipe cool colors I used upward, and warm colors downward. As I used them on the right, I added them on the left. When I was done, I labeled all the colors with a Pitt Pen.

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I think this method will work for me because it's more of a technique journal than a book full of diary entries.

I really enjoyed it and completely forgot about the cold rain and grey air outside.

Here's a list of the things I used on this spread in case you can't read my writing:

When I was done, I glued each page to the page behind it with Liquitex Matte Gel medium. That makes them sturdier and flatter. 

 So it's no France Papillon, but I like it, and I STARTED! The rest is easy.

 Fun way to spend an afternoon.

I'll be back tomorrow with my class projects and the WINNERS of my Season's Giving drawings - some of you are going to be very happy!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

About That Contact Us Button

I wanted to do a Public Service Announcement about that Contact Us button.

I realize, as a person who uses this button quite a bit, that about 99% of the time, what leads you to click that button is anger about something. I know this because I, too, have clicked this button in anger.

However, it's important to remember that the person who is going to answer your email is NOT the person who:

  • broke your internet connection
  • stomped on your box of Hummel figurines in transit
  • put the bug in your cereal box
  • left 3 essential pieces out of an Ikea furniture box with 60,000 pieces
  • smoked 40 packs of cigarettes while packaging up your rubber stamps on Ebay
They are just a person whose job it is to answer those Contact Us emails. They want to be good at their job, and they want to help you.

I want you to picture this on the other end of that button before you press it and start typing in all caps every dark thought that is buried in your soul:

Now look at that sweet face.

Do you really want to type the following at that furry little face?


Or maybe could you have said: "I'm sorry you sweet, fluffy kitty - my password doesn't seem to be working - can you help me? Thanks so much!"?

Or instead of the following:


you could maybe say "Hi there - I got my order yesterday and the bobbin is missing - can you help me? Thanks so much!"

The reason I bring this up is, as a person who runs a website for a living, I am the human "Contact Us" button.

I am speaking on behalf of human "Contact Us" buttons everywhere, and saying - hey, lighten up. We are people. Be polite. Give us a chance to fix your problem before you start yelling at us. We are real people, and we are awesome. We are indistinguishable from the fluffy kitten pictured above.

You are awesome too. Your emails should reflect that. :)

Even on Facebook, which is everyone's favorite punching bag, when I hit the "report a problem" button, I always end my note with "thanks for what you do" - because I know all they do all day long is get problem reports. They should be thanked for that.

I know it's hard when you're mad. It's hard when I'm mad.

Just something to think about for the new year. Computers don't answer your questions - people do. Remember the furry kitten. Please don't yell at the furry kitten. You will make kitty cry.

All of this came to mind today because of 2 things:

a) A "Contact Us" person sent the NICEST email to me today thanking me for responding to them quickly and on a Sunday, and apologized for not sending her thank you until today. Kid President would totally give her a cookie. Thanks nice person!
b) I flipped through my Occasions Catalog sets and found one I hadn't played with - just perfect for this topic.

Now - I want everyone who freaks out and gets the shakes when I cut up old books or paint pieces of furniture like my card catalog to just go out into the hall for a second while I tell everyone else what I did. Breathe into a paper bag. Hum things to yourselves. Think of the kittens.

Are they all gone?

Okay - for the rest of you - I cut the photopolymer stamp from Adventure Awaits into two pieces.

I know, right?

Believe it or not, I was not immediately sucked down into hell.

I know, there's still time.

The great thing about photopolymer and cling stamps is you can always put them back together on the block. Don't be scared.  

But I wanted the super cool image from Guy Greetings to be sandwiched in between the two phrases so SNIP SNAP.

What do you think?

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Fun, right?

I just did loose wet on wet watercolor with Daffodil Delight, Pear Pizzazz, Melon Mambo and Tempting Turquoise reinkers - seriously a five minute card.

The DSP is Sweet Dreams.

Now isn't that good advice for the new year? Work hard. Stay humble. Please don't yell at kittens.


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