Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bear Hugs

It's Thursday - and if you're out of the vodka from yesterday's post - you might need a hug!

I brought you not only a bear with a hug, but a watercolored, die cut inlay bear with shiny eyes, a shiny nose and a HUG.

He's so cute, his name is Picture Book Bear, and he's part of the new Simon Says Stamp One of a Kind collection that is being released today, and he just makes my eyes happy. I need to go back for his cute buddy, the fox. You can see the rest of the new stuff on their blog today.

To make him, I just die cut him twice from two pieces of watercolor paper, being sure to save his little ears, eyes, nose, snout and belly. On the second time, I taped him down to be sure he was straight on the one that would become the negative space. Then, I glued the negative space piece to a piece of Pool Party cardstock, that I had adhered a Sizzix adhesive sheet to, so the open space was sticky.

I watercolored the bear with Daniel Smith Watercolors, dried him with my heat gun, adhered him into the opening with the adhesive, and then added shine to his nose and eyes with an Irresistible Pico Embellisher in black.

After that was all dry, I put that all onto a card base, and popped it into the MISTI to add the sentiment from Concord & 9th Cuddles & Hugs, and then added the die cut from that same bundle on top.

That cute bear and his hug should allow us all to at least survive to the weekend! :)


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

From Coffee to Vodka and Everything In Between

We all have those categories of stamps we can't resist. I have many - florals, cute animals, birds and one of the most important - coffee and tea.

I remember one of the very first Stampin' Up! sets I bought (still have it) in 2001 - I probably made 100 cards with that set - and it was coffee themed, and had the most beautiful coffee bean border stamp. It was called What's Brewin', circa 1999.

If you don't like coffee - you're in my prayers. But if you DO like coffee, you know the strange, overwhelming joy even the word can set off in your lizard brain. It's as much a ritual as it is an amazing, life-giving beverage.

I actually feel equally strongly about tea. I've been drinking hot and cold tea since I was a wee tot. Cold tea - gallons of it - unsweetened, of course, you weirdos - is an actual necessity in our hot climate - and you rarely see a Texan without 32 ounces of iced tea clutched in their paw. But from a very early age, I loved black hot tea with milk, and still do. For some reason, in the summer, hot tea is not as "hot" or heavy as coffee. On my death row meal request list is definitely a London Fog - steamed milk, Earl Grey tea (probably my favorite black tea - this is my favorite brand), vanilla extract and a tiny bit of demerara sugar. I had one this morning, as a matter of fact, and walked through the park before the sun started to beat the will to live out of me. It's a divine drink, and one of the many reasons you should love Captain Picard. But I digress.

So all that to say - if someone makes a coffee or tea stamp - I'm buying it.

One of my favorite things to do with these beverage stamps is just to color the cups abstractly.

The newest Stampin' Up! coffee suite is divine, and I got to finally play with it a bit - just with some no-line watercolor. (I have been listening to the Book Thief this week while I paint.)

On this one, I wanted some twisted complementary colors, so I used Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors - Rose of Ultramarine, which gets some cool granulation between magenta and blue, Amazonite Genuine (in honor of my two favorite companies getting married this week), Quinacridone Gold and Neutral Tint. I put a little of each color in the shadow. I just made a card base of watercolor paper to stamp the image in Antique Linen on, and so there's no layering. Then I popped it in the MISTI to stamp the sentiment from the same suite.
Coffee Cafe Bundle by Understandblue

But let's say it's Monday - or in this case Tuesday, which is my craziest day at work each week. And you've got software issues, cranky people or just a task list longer than a list of elected officials who have been jailed at some point in their careers....

That might call for something stronger than coffee, my friends!

My sweet friend Alma - the genius behind The Cat's Pajamas stamps, has a solution for you. It still involves a mug, but....
This Could be Vodka by Understandblue

Hopefully those two cards take care of ANY beverage situation you might have working today. :)

If you need something to go with either beverage, I recommend my peanut butter banana bread, which won all my personal awards this week.

Please be sure and leave me a beverage themed comment for your chance to win the This Might Be Vodka stamp set - I liked it so much I ordered two so I could give one away! Leave me a comment with your favorite beverage or beverages, and I'll draw a winner on June 30th!

And stay tuned for two new online classes coming in the next few weeks!


Friday, June 16, 2017

A Moment With Van Gogh

I didn't expedite my new catalog order because I was still involved in shenanigans with my out-of-town retreat guests on the days an expedited order would have arrived, so I think that's the first time in my 16 years as a demonstrator that I didn't get my new goodies next-day air.

However, after everyone left, I had a day or two to prepare my shelves and make stamp pockets for my new stamps, print labels for all the stamps and dies and be - wait for it - ORGANIZED when the order got here.

So now all the things are labeled, and happily in alphabetical order in their spots, and that's when I feel most creative is when I'm organized and can put my hands on what I need.

One of the shenanigans we did was so fun - it was the Austin Panic Room - I think this will have to become a post-retreat tradition. If you have one of these near you - what are you waiting for? I did one in Cincinnati too that was so much fun.

So after my friends left - sniff - and I got organized, I finally had time to play - and I decided to go big (literally) or go home. Except I was already at home, so that part doesn't really compute, but whatever - stop overthinking my blog post!

My friend Iliana (My Sweet Petunia) did a product swap with my OTHER friend Sally Lynn MacDonald who works with Gel Press, and was nice enough to send me the new Gel Press Impressables, because she knows I'm a gel monoprint FIEND. A FIEND, I tell you! What is super duper extra cool about both the Impressables and their regular gel presses is that you can use them just like stamps in your MISTI.

So the go BIG part was that I decided to use them in my Memory MISTI so that I could have multiple plates working at one time - in various sizes. The thing about gel monoprinting is that you need a decent sized surface area. You need a spot near your dominant hand for rolling paint onto your brayer, you need a place in front of you for your Gel Press, and you need other spots for smaller plates, Impressibles, and your clean paper, and then you need space for drying prints (I use the floor for this.)

BUT - if you have a Memory MISTI - you get two bonus workspaces - the lid of the MISTI, which the presses stick to - the base of the MISTI for another press, AND if you use a Gel Press for your paint plate, you get not only a paint plate, BUT a bonus printing plate! At one point, I had SIX plates working just between the Memory MISTI and the side paint plate - three of the Petites, two Impressibles, and the 5x7 plate. This will make more sense when you see the video - but anyone who has gel printed before will immediately understand this is a HUGE space saver AND multiplies the number of prints you get with a single application of paint. I feel like a smartypants, I'm not gonna lie.

The hugest hit of my retreat was a technique we did that served as a backdrop for the sweet girl from the Birthday Delivery stamp set. My friend Yoorah and my friend Pam did such adorable cards with her throughout the weekend, and my favorites were where she was looking at a piece of art. I decided to make that the focus of my Gel Press cards, so here's what I came up with. After a weekend with these lovely ladies, the sentiment was perfect.

If you don't love this sweet, wistful image from this set, you are a danger to yourself and others. Please turn yourself in somewhere. She just squeezes my heart.

To make the frame - I cut the pieces from gold foil sheets, and rolled them around a pencil to make them rounded. Then I put a dimensional + a mini dimensional (stacked) on the back to attach it to the card without it getting flattened. (The mini dimensionals in the new catalog are one of my favorite products!) The gold strips are embossed with the Garden Trellis Embossing Folder.

So I have a video on the whole process for you - I can't tell you how much fun this is. You'll just have to see for yourselves!

Now before I go, I have to share a few fun things I've come across in the last few weeks. I was supposed to go to Diana Gibbs' retreat, but couldn't go because I had to work. So she boxed up all the gifts and projects and instructions and sent them to me, like the sweet girl she is, and she included what has become an OBSESSION for me - my new favorite pen! I LOVE this pen so freaking much I went and bought it in ALL THE COLORS. I am a complete pen snob, and these are amazing. RUN, don't walk, to get these. The turquoise is my favorite.

I bought everyone the new planner from Stampin' Up! for my team retreat gift. It's SOOOOO pretty! And if you want to add custom pages to it - you need this ingenious plastic punch - I like to add graph paper to mine for lists and zentangling.

And finally, I think I'm the last person to read (listen to) this book, which I loved. For some reason, I had it in my head that it was some sappy story (I'm not into sappy) - but it's not at all. It's wonderful. And speaking of Van Gogh - I'm also listening to this, which is fascinating! So incredible to hear all his frank thoughts he spelled out in his many letters.

I hope you have a colorful week! I'd love to hear any favorite books or recipes you're trying right now. I have a few months at home before my next trip so I'll be devouring audiobooks.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Channeling Hokusai

I have a print on my wall in my stamp room of a beautiful Hokusai painting called Shichirigahama in Sagami Province. You can see the original here. Mine is a hand-painted reproduction, so the blues are much deeper than in that link and it's really stunning. My dad got it in Japan.

The blue in this print, as well as in Hokusai's original woodblock prints is a perfect, true ultramarine, and the prints are largely dominated by blue, which is one of the many reasons I love them.

While the most famous of the Hokusai prints is The Wave (for short), it's also the most terrifying. The poor person in the little boat in that piece of art appears to be a sacrifice that the island demanded, in the words of my beloved Losties.

One person describes The Wave this way:

The drawing of the wave is a deification of the sea made by a painter who lived with the religious terror of the overwhelming ocean completely surrounding his country; He is impressed by the sudden fury of the ocean's leap toward the sky, by the deep blue of the inner side of the curve, by the splash of its claw-like crest as it sprays forth droplets.

TERROR is right. As a land-loving human, that's what I feel when I look at the painting, BUT, as a blue-loving human I also feel great joy, as long as said wave is contained in a safe, lovely woodblock print or in a book. I'm not gonna lie, though, it makes my chest tight just looking at it on Google Images.

When Effie asked me if I wanted to hop with The Ton for their new release, and I saw the images, I went STRAIGHT for her stunning wave image - I am so excited to be able to channel a little Hokusai on a card.

But, being the twisted person I am, I couldn't just make it blue.

I have just spent a week with the amazing people who came to my retreat and stayed after for shenanigans, and I truly have sore jaw muscles from laughing and smiling at their shenanigans. It was a fantastic weekend/week and I miss them all terribly.

What I can tell you is - there is no art without coffee. I should have taken a picture of all of the coffee forms at the retreat. There were about 36 cases of Keurig pods, TONS of High Brew Cold Brew, regular brewed coffee, and many emergency Starbucks runs.

What can I say? It inspired my card today. :)

It's true, you know.

The sentiment is from their Caffeine Crush stamp set and it cracks me up! #seewhatididthere

Now one of the many things I love about this stamp is that it's YUGE, so it can go off the side of a card panel or front. It's hard to see here, but mine is stamped on a 4 x 5.25" panel and that's glued to a card base.

So to stamp it off-edge, I used my Creative Corners (a goodie bag gift for everyone at the retreat), and lined the stamp up this way to do all the layering. The lid of my MISTI is over on the right hand side.

This stamp set has cues on the right and the left to allow you to get perfect alignment for the layers - it comes in three steps, with some additional images for spray and some sentiments, which I used on my second card, which is much more traditional. 

What a stunning image. So much fun. 

If you want to continue on and hop to all the bloggers participating today, you can win this pretty wave, or whatever you want! Details below!

Three $25 gift certificates to The Ton's shop will be given away to random commenters from the hop participant blogs.  To qualify, you must leave a comment on The Ton Blog Hop post. The comment period will close on Monday, June 12th at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced thereafter on The Ton’s blog. Gift certificates will only apply to The Ton Stamps, Dies, Ink and Gilding.​

  1. The Ton
  2. Laura Sterckx
  3. Tae Eun Yoo
  4. Laurel Beard
  5. Mayline Jung
  6. Svitlana Shayevich
  7. Emily Midgett
  8. Dana Gong
  9. Vera Yates
  10. Svetlana Pavlova
  11. Eunji Jung
  12. Amy Tsuruta
  13. Laura Jane Head
  14. Justine Hovey
  15. Sveta Fotinia
  16. Janette Kausen
  17. Marika Rahtu
  18. Jenny Lee Yamasaki
  19. Amy Kolling
  20. Lisa Harrolle
  21. Lydia Fiedler
  22. Brenda Noelke
  23. Olga Matyushevskaya
  24. Chris Dayton
  25. Anna Kutsenko
  26. Kay Miller

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