Friday, March 27, 2015

Going OFF The Grid is SO 2014

You know how everyone is talking about going off the grid? Except they don't mean it?

If you're talking about "going off the grid" on Facebook or Instagram, let's face it - you're not committed.

People who want to go off the grid probably were never on the grid to start with.

I love the grid. Visually, anyway. There are many sorts of math-like things my visual, right-brained self loves.

I love order. I love algebra. I love logic (that was actually one of my fave college classes because the problems involved dots and we could draw). I didn't, however, love geometry. Or imaginary numbers. If I'm going to make something up, it's going to be in watercolor or acrylic or involve a bear that can fly. Nothing I imagine is going to be anything as boring as a number. PFFT.

BUT - I LOVVVVEEEEEE graph paper.

I have an enormous amount of graph paper. More than is normal, I'm pretty sure. I love the ones that have teeny 1/16" squares, and the ones that have 1/4" squares - I LOVE THEM ALL.

It's great for zentangling, or writing notes, or crossword puzzles, or crossstitch patterns or ALL THE THINGS.

It's just the best paper in the world.

So I'm hosting today's Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast and I had a little fun with a free printable graph paper and the Celebrate Today bundle. You should try this.

So your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the following:

1) Get a sheet of graph paper - or do what I did, and use this file to print onto marker cardstock, plain cardstock or watercolor paper, depending on what mediums you're using.
2) Stamp a large, solid stamp image on top of this paper, using a very light colored ink that will be harmonious with the colors you choose. (The ink counts as medium #1)
3) Using a second medium, use a variety of colors to fill in the squares the image covers, as you can see in my sample.

Don't just go light to dark - you can see I'm using a large balloon image - but I made sure to scatter light and dark throughout.

I chose alcohol markers for mine, and I used 8 different analagous colors to get a lot of variety.

If you don't have a large solid stamp image, then use dies - print the graph paper out, then die cut yourself a large shape and proceed with the technique!

It was so fun to do this - I hope you enjoy it!

Pin It

I love this technique. It's the perfect balance of order and chaos :).

Hope you have a good weekend - on or off the grid!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When To Look In Your Neighbor's Bowl

I went down a rabbit hole the other day - reading an article my friend Dana posted about not raising narcissistic kids, and it contained a Louis C.K. video that had SUCH a great piece of advice in it.

He was trying to tell an angry little daughter who didn't get something that another girl did get that she shouldn't be worried about what the other girl got, and he said this:

“The only time you look in your neighbor's bowl is to make sure that they have enough. You don't look in your neighbor's bowl to see if you have as much as them.”

I love that so, so much.

Lots of the world's problems could be solved with these two sentences I think. I couldn't think of one that couldn't.

Anyway, I just had to pass that along.

I've gotten some questions about my remodel post which you can see here. I have updated the post with a few links to my card display, etc. that I left off the original list, so check that out.

I also got a question about the dental floss - I use dental floss to remove elements of my card that are adhered down crooked - it's so thin and flat, and you just slide it between the layers and poof - it comes off like a dream!

And one person asked about my stamp cleaning tools. I use the Stampin' Scrub for my wood stamps and when I'm using either cling or clear stamps with blocks.

However, for background stamps and stamps on my MISTI I use a shockingly simple and inexpensive stamp cleaning tool that I found accidentally when I was refinishing my stamp table. I was using a non-toxic, no odor whey-based polyurethane from Vermont Naturals - and since it was high gloss, a brush wouldn't work because it would show strokes, so I had to use a furry pad to apply it. I bought a few different kinds to try and had a lightbulb moment.

This is my new stamp cleaner for background stamps and stamps on my MISTI:

I love it! I spray Stampin' Mist on one side and use the other side to dry. So easy to rinse out and it dries really fast by design. They have smaller ones too.

Finally, I converted my clear stamp storage to the pocket system shown by Jennifer McGuire. To give you an idea of how much space this saves, check these out.

Here are the cases I emptied and how they ended up. 

And here, you can see a bin containing 49 stamp sets takes up the same space as 15 sets in their boxes.

Jennifer likes the Avery Elle ones, which have a flap. But I know myself, and I know that the flap would drive me crazy, so I went on the hunt and I found some very inexpensive ones without a flap that are awesome! They are made by Ultra Pro and hold 5" x 7" items - here's a direct link.

I took cheap Mart of Wal cardstock, cut it to 5x7 and slipped that in. Then in went the stamp set, and on top of that, the stamp case insert, cut to 5" wide as you can see above -  this basically cuts the spine off.

Then I just purchased the fridge bins that she recommends and they are awesome too.

Now that I have these I can see why she likes them - that little pull handle on the front is really nice.

SHAZAM is this ever going to clear some shelf space. And you know what THAT means! MORE SHOPPING :).

I'm contemplating doing my cling this way too, but I don't want the cling foam to get squished, so I'll have to think about that one a bit more. I love it.

I was playing around with Indescribable Gift this week, and went in an uncharacteristically pastel direction with Chameleon Pens. I ended up really liking the "dawn" colors in this and I thought that was perfect for an Easter card. 

Pin It

Impossible to see in this photo, but there's Tim Holtz Frosted film all over the colored image, so the whole thing is sparkly.

My friends at Splitcoast actually have a review of Chameleon Pens in the newsletter today - you can see that here.

AND - I snuck in for a guest tutorial today as well on my Gilded Relief card. Here's that video, which has been blogged previously, and here's a link to the step-by-step tutorial.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Great Studio Remodel Video Tour

Stick a fork in my remodel - it is done! 

Pin It

Last night I had my "please buy all the stuff that no longer fits in my room" sale, which was extremely fun. I offloaded about 400 individual items to happy crafters and socialized with a bunch of awesome artists & neighbors.

I did sales and studio tours as a bookend to this project. My first sale was on November 1st - and they toured my studio then too. One of them even bought my desk, which really kicked the project into high gear. Then it was time to do demolition.

Demolition was brutal, I'm not going to lie. Taking apart the giant built in desk in there came close to killing us twice, and created huge messes during, which you'll see in the intro to the video.

Emptying the room was overwhelming. Sorting through it was overwhelming.

But I learned so many things I have to share with you.

  • For 12 years I existed in a totally dysfunctional space that just got more and more crowded. I grew to hate it, honestly. For about 8 of those years I whined about needing more space. Then one day last fall I woke up and said to myself "Self - you don't need more space - you need less STUFF." It truly was like a light switch, and then it began. 
  • You MUST empty the room. If I had not emptied the room I would have worked AROUND things I didn't feel like sorting. Because believe me, there were many days I didn't feel like sorting. This is non-negotiable. 
  • On the emptying, I did "loose" sorting. I carried things out to our breakfast area and GENERALLY put similar things together. But as I got deeper into the recesses of my closet that became more difficult because I hadn't had things organized at all in there. Once it was all in a big mountain in the breakfast area - my hand to God - I put tablecloths on it, put a star on top and that was our Christmas tree. The holidays were the best time for me to start this project, and so it just was what it was.
  • I lived in the room for about a month with just a temporary table. I put masking tape on the floor marking out furniture I knew was coming back in the room, and then started investigating what I could and couldn't do in that space. This was VITAL. Had I not done this I would have bought furniture based on aesthetics alone, not on how functionally they fit into the space I was designing. As you will see in the video - I completely maximized the space. I shopped online for items that were precisely the size I needed (Ikea shows you dimensions on hover over, which I love). On my desktop we cut it down to go exactly from the wall to the dresser, as you will see. I'm not one for "perfect" rooms, so I happily collected a series of colorful, fun, functional pieces that came together beautifully. Picking my anchor pieces (the card catalog and the dresser) and then using ONLY size as a criteria for the two work surfaces was perfection.
  • After the furniture was in, it was time for STRICT sorting. This is also non-negotiable. I got many, many boxes and I took everything from the "Christmas Tree" and sorted everything into boxes, throwing away a TON as I did. There was a lot of junk, including an AOL CD, if you can believe that. Our trashcan was full for three months. Nothing was allowed to cross-contaminate a pile - if it wasn't an object that matched other things in a box, it either started a new box or got tossed. This really helped me decide what to put in the dresser and what to put in the card catalog, based on the shape and the quantity of the items. The things in the card catalog tend to be longer, skinnier things: white gel pens, aquapainters, rulers, etc. The things in the dresser are bigger - things like post it notes, stamp cleaners etc.
  • I sold as I went. I started selling small things that were too good to throw away on our neighborhood FB page. If I could sell a storage item for $2 to someone, that was better than tossing it. I sold many things each day as I went through strict sorting. If you have a neighborhood garage sale group on Facebook, I highly recommend joining and participating.
  • After strict sorting I decided what boxes contained things I actually wanted. Many didn't make the cut and were sold or donated. Then I was ready to move in.
  • Through the move-in process I realized that many small drawers are INFINITELY better for craft storage than fewer, larger drawers. This is because when you have a large drawer you feel the need to fill it, which means you stop adhering to strict sorting. You think - well I know this is my hammer drawer, but I am going to put the masking tape in here because there's room. Well what happens is you can't remember that because it doesn't make sense to have the masking tape with the hammers, and that, my friends, is how you end up with 57 rolls of masking tape in 57 locations around the house. Stray from strict sorting even once and that's where you'll end up.
  • I also realized that my floor was the LEAST valuable real estate I had. What possessed me to use the "shove everything against the wall" layout before is beyond me. It's not like I was twirling around like a ballerina in there every day. So after seeing my friend Chriss' studio with a desk in the middle, I moved my desk to the middle. This did several things: It gave me much more storage space in the form of that dresser. It stopped me from facing a wall with my back to the door. I hadn't realized how much I'd hated that and never even consciously knew it until I changed it. I also realized this is the classic corporate America furniture design. And it needs to go away - it's dehumanizing. It allowed me to make good use of my storage bench, both for a cat lounging station and a human lounging station - I was delighted when someone sat down on it last night. - before, my room didn't allow for comfortable seating for a guest. Having my back to my computer while I'm arting is greatly increasing my focus. Similarly, having my back to my art while I'm working does the same. Small change - big difference. 
  • It was not easy. It was four months of really hard work - refinishing furniture, carrying heavy stuff, sorting, painting, sanding, tossing. It's not for the faint of heart. There were times - even a month ago - when I didn't think I'd ever get down to that last box - but I did. And it's amazing. If you're going to do it - do it all the way. I'm so glad I did. I'd say I wish I'd done it earlier, but I don't. I think things come to you when you're ready to do them and I was ready. And I was SO grateful for my Facebook friends, who watched the process, photo by photo, from the very start, and cheered me on the whole way. Thanks for lightening that burden, you silly friends.
I still don't have one piece finished and haven't decided what will go on the wall above my dresser, but I really can call this project done. And I love this space. It is most definitely the happy place I've dreamed about. If you're coming to the retreat, I might even organize a group tour - who knows?  :)

So take a look and let me know what you think. If you can't see the video player below, click here.  Below the video is a link to where I got all the things in the room.

What do you think? :)

Here's a list of the major things you'll see in the video, and where possible, links where you can read more or purchase them.
  1. Card Catalog - purchased from Remember When Estate Sales
  2. CeCe Caldwell Santa Fe Turquoise Paint
  3. CeCe Caldwell Endurance Wax Finish
  4. Dresser - purchased from Tommy's Furniture, Rockdale, TX.
  5. Desk - Micke White Modern
  6. Desk accessories - Poppin Orange trays and pen holder
  7. Refrigerator Cart - Elfa
  8. File Cabinets - Bisley Orange
  9. Art table tabletop - Ikea VikaFuruskog (no longer available), cut to size and refinished with Vermont Naturals Polywhey - natural, no odor polyurethane
  10. Tiny multi-drawer aqua cabinet purchased from Uncommon Objects.
  11. Label Maker
  12. Black labels with white print for card catalog
  13. Offi Punch Shelves (these appear to be discontinued)
  14. Oven liners used as craft mat
  15. Baby Wipe dispenser and homemade stamp wipes
  16. Combo ink/refill/marker holders
  17. Wallmounted ink/refill holders
  18. Embossing powder containers
  19. Embossing powder spoons and clips for spoons
  20. Paper storage towers
  21. Refrigerator cart
  22. Tripod Update - I now use the Arkon Stand - use code UNDERSTANDBLUE for 20% off.
  23. Iphone mount for tripod
  24. Art desk anti-fatigue stool
  25. Computer desk anti-fatigue stool
  26. Japanese circle stickers
  27. Card sending journal 
  28. Card display rack from Displays2Go
  29. Lights and light fixtures for filming videos 

So there you have it.

Worth every second. If you're ready - what are you waiting for?


Friday, March 20, 2015

Groundhog Day - Bug Attack Loop Edition

So I realized when I was headed to the doctor for my ever worsening eye bite yesterday that I'm trapped in some sort of bug attack time loop.

Rewind to November 1st, the date of my first crafty sale that kicked off my remodel. While setting up for the sale, I was stung by the deceptively cuddly worm of death, as detailed in this post. My entire hand was numb for three months.

Now, I was viciously stung in the eye by another bug - RIGHT BEFORE MY SECOND CRAFTY SALE!!

It's like the bug sting version of Groundhog Day - and it's extremely unpleasant, to say the least. Maybe the bugs want me to keep my excess crafty goodies and they're sabotaging me!

Something is definitely up.

Speaking of Groundhog Day, I got this hilarious new set Just Kidding this week and had to bust it out for this week's Mix-Ability challenge - MIX112, hosted by Anna Wight. Her challenge is to use the colors of spring.

Bright lime green is what came to mind, so I started with that as the dominant color, trying out some new German watercolor - FineTec. They are great transparent, beautiful watercolors and come in a nice set that is perfect for traveling. It just took a few minutes to really have a cute, cartoon look for this lady (clearly me) stuck in an endless time loop. 

Pin It

If you're using an aquapainter with your watercolors - use it like a traditional paintbrush - dry barrel and just dip it in water - you can get better control that way.

Here's what the rest of it looks like - hilarious.

It's hard to see in the photos, but her eyes are glossy & shiny. :)

Want your eyes to be glossy & shiny? Sign up for my retreat! Two full days of classes, 24/7 art room access, a celebrity stamping chef, prizes (including a Silhouette Cameo) and adventures in the Texas Hill Country!

Want your eyes to be glossy & shiny? Sign up for my retreat! Two full days of classes, 24/7 art room access, a celebrity stamping chef, prizes (including a Silhouette Cameo) and adventures in the Texas Hill Country!

Oh - did I already say that? I blame it on Groundhog Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Journey of a Thousand Miles...

"a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
                                                                                                                               ~Lao Tzu

I love this wise saying.

It's so deep.

But I'm going to customize it based on something that happened to me yesterday:

"the long Texas summer begins with a single bug bite on your eye."


Welcome to summer, fellow Texans!

A bug bit me not ONCE, but TWICE on my eyelid while I was innocently watercoloring on the back porch the other night.

It was a glorious spring night - that perfect temperature where you don't feel hot or cold, the birds are singing, the daylight hours are long. And then, just before you get too comfortable in the state that is always trying to kill you - BAM - a mysterious bug bites you twice on the eyelid to keep you humble and wary.

Now I look like a freak and my eye hurts.

Welcome, summer.

One of the things I love about stamping is that I can abstractify nature and turn it into a symbolic, idyllic thing that IS NOT always trying to kill you, like it is in the Great Republic.

I did exactly that today - inside, safe from the stinging insects and rattlesnakes.

I thought about trying reflections with the MISTI last night as I was falling asleep, and thankfully, unlike most of the ideas I get before I fall asleep - I didn't forget it! Yay me! So I prepped a big batch of tortilla soup (for which I will thank myself all this week at lunch time, and sat down to try it out with the camera rolling, and here's what I got.

Cool, eh? Love this tree.

If you want to see how I made it, along with some tips for hiding some of the branches behind the leaves, check out my video. (Without a Maddie cameo this time - now that the days are longer, she lies in a beam of sunlight rather than hogging the camera.)

This video is now part of my Master Class on Shadows & Reflections.

Now don't forget - registration for my June retreat is open - and it's first come, first served - I will run out of space fast, so click below or on the retreat tab above to register! You will get to play with a MISTI if you don't have one, learn stenciling and background techniques, and have meals from a celebrity stamping chef, all in the wonderland of a retreat in the Texas Hill Country!


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Red White & Blue - And My Expatriation From Texas (Oh and a June Retreat!)

Welllllll... I'm about to get expatriated. From Texas.

I've complained for decades about a Texas institution - Blue Bell Ice Cream.


For God's sake people - calm down. It's ice cream. Relax.

Blue Bell ice cream is disgusting.

Here are my ice cream credentials.

I'm Irish. This means my genetic makeup takes into account the following things:

  • Irish people have scant sources of protein on the little island, or did, back in the day
  • Grey skies, which lead a person to dairy, bleak poetry and general feelings of rebellion (why I don't live in Ireland - I like being rebellious in the sun)
  • An extreme love of animals, which means what other people consider food, we consider pets
  • A certain amount of recklessness, which means that sugar + dairy is better than dairy alone
  • Lots of good grass for our dairy animals (because of all the stupid rain)
  • A sense of humor
  • Hyperbole in all things
  • Cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Buttermilk
  • Is cheesemilk a thing? Because if so, add it to the list. The potatoes failed us in an EPIC fashion once before and we must protect ourselves from that ever happening again if possible.With dairy products.
So among other things, I really can't help what I'm about to say, although I CAN blame it on my parents.

ICE CREAM SHOULD BE MADE OUT OF REAL FOOD. Meaning cream and sugar and eggs and whatnot.

Not gummy garbage and corn syrup and God knows what. So when I went shopping the other day, I snapped a pic of the Haagen Dazs® label and the Blue Bell label, since I live in a mixed-ice cream household.

Which one of these two things do you want to eat, presuming you're not lactose intolerant or a deranged person who doesn't like ice cream?

Obviously, you want to eat the one that's made out of real things, unless you are a fanatical Texas weirdo.

Yes, I said it.

I was already doomed to die like Karen Silkwood over exposing the fact that LEDs are harmful to electronics, so I am past the point of fearing for my life. I'll just stamp until they drag me away to burn me at the stake. Like I did here.

I LOVE red, white & blue together. And I don't just think it's patriotism. It's a beautiful combo. So I fired up the MISTI again for this cute project, with Lovely Amazing You and Sent With Love (retired). So enjoy the video, in which Maddie HOWLS about not being the center of attention. If you don't see a video player below, click here to view it on YouTube.

Pin It

Now don't run away yet - you can see below that my June retreat is open for registration - it's first come first served, so don't wait! You can click the banner below or the retreat tab at the top of this page for details. ONE of you will win a Silhouette Cameo! :)

See you soon!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Love You More Than Pandas

I don't.

Let's face it - no one loves ANYTHING or ANYONE more than they love pandas. There's no point in pretending anyone does.

BUT - if I could feel love greater than the love I feel for pandas, that would definitely be how much I love you.

I went to QuiltCon a few weeks ago. It was AMAZING.

Disclaimer - sewing is NOT my thing. I have a real aversion to sewing machines that I attribute to some weird genetic mutation. My mom & my sister are both great at sewing. But it freaks me out.

But I LOVE seeing beautiful fabric designs, and modern quilting is amazing.

This show was absolutely incredible for two reasons - first - the art quilts. Here are a few that took my breath away.


 And this one broke my heart.

That's what great art should do. Stop you in your tracks, and visually represent what not all the words on earth can convey.

So it was an amazing experience. Probably not at all what people would think of when they think of a quilt show. I loved it.

Since I wasn't a quilter, the booths with tools were so fun, because everything I saw (and didn't understand in a sewing application) could be adapted to papercrafting. I had to rein myself in a few times, but I did come home with some incredible tools I'll be sharing with you. What was so fun was that most of the booths were small manufacturers - American entrepreneurs. Made me happy.

One booth where my sis and I spent some money was the Transdoodle booth. This transfer product was being marketed for a fabric application, but I knew right away what it would be perfect for, so my sister and I split a package so I could test my theory and boy oh boy am I glad I bought it.

It might not be obvious what I did with it from this photo:

Pin It

But it will be obvious after you watch this video:

Soooo fun and easy! To get Transdoodle, just click here.

To get your own Undefined kit, click here.

To get a panda - well, you can't really have a panda.

Sorry. If people were allowed to have house pandas - BELIEVE ME - I'd be posting videos of me and my panda. But it's not to be.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Little Diversion

Because all the shiny squirrel people like us need a diversion right?

I thought so.

I forgot I had videoed one of my calendar art journal squares a while back so I thought I'd share it. This is how I use stamps to inspire me, but I really don't end up with anything that looks like the original stamp image.

For the Ash Wednesday Square I started with a very faint impression of one of the flower clusters from Painted Petals and some of the leaves and stems just as a very loose guide. Then I used my Brusho powdered watercolor pigments to loosely paint on top of that.

Pin It

So here's the video. It's a little on the long side, but I wanted you to see my whole process. Everyone has ten or so minutes in their day to squeeze a little art into, and I've really enjoyed doing this calendar each day.
If you don't see the video player below, click here to view it.

Those disposable washcloths are still proving to be amazing - I have yet to throw one away!

On to the weekend!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...