Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February Stamp Give-Away

Once a month, on the first day of the month, I post a couple of new or gently used stamps to give away. They usually relate to an upcoming holiday. If you want them, leave me a comment and let me know. But you have to be quick! I'll pick in winner in the next 24 hours. The top sentiment stamp is from Club Scrap. The heart is from Stampin' Up.
Let me know if you want the pair.
Edited to Add: Congrats to Deb Turtle on winning the stamps. Check back on March 1 for my next give-away.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vintage Photo Cards with my Counterfeit Kit

I'm always looking for good ideas for using my large collection of vintage photographs, and this month's Counterfeit Kit Challenge Blog Sketch seemed to me like it would work. The sketch came from the Unscripted Sketches Blog (Sketch #141):
What I found intriguing about the sketch is that it reminded me of many scrapbook layouts I see, but that I would never copy,  because they only use one photograph (I usually scrap 3-6 per page) and because I have trouble leaving that much white space (I know I'm supposed to "learn to love white space," but it's hard for me).
But I love, love, love how this sketch worked for making cards which featured my collection of heritage photographs and which used the counterfeit kit I put together for January. Have you ever used a scrapbook sketch for cards? Or vice-versa?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Monday Morning Inspiration

1. Michael DeMeng has a fascinating "quiz" where you try to match a palette with a painter.  Go check it out here.
2.  The Scrappy Tree has this great tutorial for making paper bag gift pockets. What a great way to use that paper which is too gorgeous to cover up! And they would be perfect for holding gift cards. 
3. October Afternoon shows how to do this really cool misting, masking and stamping technique.
4. I'm thinking about joining Ayala's Art 29 Faces challenges for February.
5. I just signed up for this class: The Art of Wild Abandonment with Christy Tomlinson. It starts in March. Thanks for the link Jacky. I think I'm really going to like it.
Weekly OLW Check-In:
1. Organized the front hallway closet. Donated a dozen coats to the coat drive (three big bags), and threw away a huge bag of stuff (including some old Halloween costumes which had gotten icky) from there. I realized that I need to come up with a plan for selecting and storing the heirloom quality toys, children books, and children's clothes I want to keep. I also need to figure out how many family games I want to have on the "game shelf" and need to let the others go.  And what do I do with large, framed, high quality family portraits and framed artwork which we have outgrown? They're stored in the front hallway for now, and I'm not sure what to do with them. Any ideas welcome!
2. Dealt with the three large plastic pieces of kids play equipment languishing in the backyard (2 picnic tables and a slide). Added one to the dump pile and free-cycled the other two.
2. Picked up all my repaired jewelry. Still working on creating a piece with some heirloom stones. I have the diamond from my first engagement ring and two small emeralds. I was thinking about a right hand ring, but now I'm considering a necklace. Any thoughts?
3. Took two bags of clothes to the donation bin and gave one bag of "cool hand-me-downs" to our friends with kids who are just the right age.
4. Finished my gratitude journal and sketchbook project.

A simple altered project

I've had this Bazzill "Memory Mug" gathering dust on my desk for, um, maybe two years! This weekend, I decided to complete the project, spurred on by the current Stampotique challenge to produce an altered item.  I kept it really simple - I started with a fun piece of patterned paper from Club Scrap and lined up my favorite Stampotique girls:
I love it! I don't know if I'm more happy about having the completed mug available to use or about completing another project and getting it off my desk - LOL!
I really do love the entire line of stamps offered by Stampotique, and, once I pulled them out for this project, I found myself making a few other things.  You can look for them on my blog this week. 
Edited to add this as my Monthly Make for January.  Check out other projects at this link.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Paint Party Friday Night: Gratitude Journal

I'm arriving at Paint Party Friday a little late - you can see the other participants at this link. But I'm really happy to have done this page because it finishes up my Gratitude Journal, which I started way back in June, 2010!  The journal is very rustic - the pages are made out of plaster, and this page has also been collaged with an assortment of patterned papers.  The Journal is called "Pieces of Me," and each page describes something for which I am grateful.  Here's a sampling of some of the other pages:
I am so glad to have this journal finally completed!  And it makes me interested in pulling out some more plaster to work with (although it's easiest to work with that medium when the weather is hot and dry, so I may have to wait).  It reminds me of a friend in Southern California who only knits in the winter because her hands get too hat in the summer. Are there certain media that are "season-dependent" for you? 
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Let's Talk Projects/Classes that Overstay their Welcome

My first page - describing the purpose of my sketchbook and featuring one of my recent face paintings.
Last spring, I signed up for the Sketchbook Project (see this post for details).  My theme was "In  ten minutes," and I set it up as a smashbook, with prepared backgrounds that I could easily add to and thus create an interesting page in ten minutes or less. When I signed up for it, I thought it would be an easy project to complete. Plus, the deadline was not until the end of January. I started off with a lot of enthusiasm, but it soon languished on my desk with only the occasional entry. Now, with the deadline just a week away, I found the sketchbook and decided to finish it up.  Some pages feature my thoughts about the day's events:
The page on the left chronicles some of the things I accomplished in getting healthy; the page on the right reflects on Sept. 11 - ten years later.
The page on the left is about our vacation to Seattle and the San Juan Islands. The page on the right talks about the upcoming soccer season for my son's team.
Others deal with how I'm feeling about things in my life.
A page about some of the struggles in raising the kids.
A few are just happy art.
As you can tell from the title of today's post, I think this was a project that overstayed its welcome. I should probably have realized that before I signed up for it. I'm best with short-term projects.  I like online classes that are 3-4 weeks long; any longer, and I start to fade. I did fine at the "week in a life" and "photo-a-day for a month" photography projects, but I know I could never do Project 365.  On the other hand, as I finished up my pages today, I found that I really enjoyed them. And, in looking at my completed pages, I was happy that so many incorporated actual drawing and sketching.  These pages feel very different than my art journal pages, and they track the advice about making a sketchbook in the book, Painted Pages, which I'm slowly working through. So, although this does feel like a project that overstayed  its welcome, I feel like I still got something out of it. And, in the end, I'm glad I did it. It also feels good to have it completed. I'll mail it off tomorrow.
So, let's talk about it. . . have you ever started a class or project that overstayed its welcome? Did you regret it? Or was there a benefit to it? Do you feel compelled to finish or do you just let it drift?  I'll leave this post up for a couple days, as I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions!
 "Let's Talk" is a semi-regular series designed to inspire frank discussion and sharing of information on issues relating to photography, art and blogging.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What ever happened to smash books?

Remember smashbooks? They were all the rage last spring and summer? They were the sketchbooks into which you could smash all kinds of ephemera from you daily life and add doodling and journaling to make an inspirational book.
Did you start one? Did you finish it? Is it still in progress? Want to know what I did with mine? Come back tomorrow, and you can read all about it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pastel Faces

After taking a small break from the Faces 101 class to deal with my real work (grading 150 exams from the previous term mainly!), I found a little time today to play.  These faces were made by laying down some pastels and then using a kneaded eraser to wipe away the lighter parts of the face, leaving the pastels to define the shadows. It was a fun (if challenging) assignment.  Particularly because I love pastels. I like how this group of faces look together - sort of like a pair of characters (mother and son, up top) and a couple of guy friends hanging out together and enjoying a beer (the two in the bottom row). Or maybe a family (with mom and dad the faces on the right; then two sons, the older on the bottom row and younger one up top).  What do you see in these faces?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Music Monday: Instrumental and OLW Check-in

For the last in my New Music Monday series, here's an awesome instrumental video from the band Laszlo, featuring the song, "Mr. Sunshine." Guaranteed to get your day off to a happy start!
If you like jazz instrumentals, I can also recommend  two songs by Dakota Suite: "Namiko" and "Heart of Empty."
So, now it's feedback time (and be honest) - do you like this music feature? Should I continue with it? Or would you prefer I stick with  art, photography and more about my life?  If I do continue it, how often? Once a month seems about right to me. What do you think?
Weekly OLW Check-In: Still working on organizing my craft space. Starting on some of the home purging/cleaning, too. This week I
1. Cleared out and reorganized the two drawers and cupboard in the bathroom where I keep craft stuff.  I have an entire drawer full of tapes, glues and adhesives.  Is that excessive?
2. Cleaned out and organized the cabinets, counter and drawers in the kids' bathroom. Felt like I was channeling Stacey from Havoc and Mayhem when I found things to throw out which had expired in the last century!
3. Cleaned out and organized the counter, cabinets and drawers in the master bath. Threw away 12 old tooth brushes!
4. Found someone who wanted the keyboard and convinced them to come pick it up.
5. Organized my chipboard and grungeboard.
6. Cleaned out and organized the completed paper-based art project bin, art projects to do bin, assemblage stuff bin and overflow ephemera box.
7. Mailed off about a dozen stamps to new homes!

Stamp Winners and a Peaceful Card

When organizing today, I worked on clearing out the bin I call my "art projects to work on." It contains all kinds of bits and bobs and kits that I started but never completed.  I came across a baggie of color copies I had made of some small collages. I'm sure my plan was to make some cards. So I did - I made nine quick cards simply by trimming the image, matting it and then putting it on a card base. I assume I'm not the only one with an "unfinished projects" bin, am I?
And, I've drawn the stamp winners from Wednesday's give-away:
Cheri will be receiving the "happy stamps."
Melissa will be receiving the farm labels. 
I have your addresses from Ginger's mail art exchange, but email if it's changed since then. 
Congratulations girls! And everyone interested in stamps, please check back on the first of each month when I'll be giving away more new or gently used stamps.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Comfy Self Portrait

Because everything is better when you wear Uggs. This is the first of 12 self portraits for the year, following along with the "In the Picture" challenge from Urban Muser (the first prompt is "a piece of me"). I'm off on a quick business trip, but I'll be back soon to pick the winners for the stamp give-away (go here to enter).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paint Party Friday: Painting Stamped Images

I've been working on a series of ATC's featuring elements from the periodic table (click on the ATC tag below for details and other examples). This one is Thallium, an extremely toxic substance known as "inheritance powder" because it was commonly used to poison people during the mid-1900's.
I used my twinkling H2O's to color in this stamped image. I've never been very good at using markers to color in stamped images (and refused to go down the copic marker rabbit hole of consumption), but I'm pretty happy with how these work. I think I'm just more comfortable with a paint brush in my hand than a marker.  I also like using radiant pearls, but they take too long to dry. Linking up to paint party Friday and asking does anyone else use any type of paint to color stamped images? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Double Duty Stamps and Supplies

I got a little creative time last weekend to finish up my ATC's for the "Elements" swap in which I'm participating.  A friend is coordinating a group of a dozen stampers to make ATC's for all the elements in the periodic table (over the course of about a year). I've posted some of my other contributions here and  here (or click on the ATC tag below). I made Rhenium, above, which is used to make jet engine parts and propellers. I was going to use game spinners for the propeller but didn't have enough and the ones I had were too big, so I used a pair of photo turns instead. I thought it was a nice, creative use of an embellishment!
I also completed Technetium, which is a silver grey radioactive transition metal used in X-rays. It's hard to tell in the picture, but this has a piece of plastic (stamped with the number and letters) stapled on top of a shiny silver paper stamped with the skeleton. It's supposed to look a bit like an x-ray. I didn't have an x-ray stamp, so I used a dancing skeleton from my Halloween stamp bin.  It's nice to use my theme stamps in other ways.
{Tomorrow, I'll post Thallium as part of paint party Friday.}
I liked how my stamps and supplies performed "double duty" in these ATC's - makes me feel less bad about having such a large inventory. And I'm always looking for more ideas in this vein. Have you found a creative, non-traditional use for any of your stamps or supplies lately?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stamp Give-Away

I'm really not as crazy as my post yesterday might suggest  - LOL! I do have a lot of stamps, but I'm happy to hear that are others with a similar addiction.  In my defense, I have been collecting stamps for about 15 years, and I used to teach stamp classes (so got stamps for free or at a serious discount), and I have used almost all of the stamps I own at least once!  But I do have two sets to give away to anyone who wants them .  The first group, includes the image I used for the stamp above.  I'm calling the group "happy stamps."
The second group is a Stampin' Up set featuring farm crate labels:
If you want either (or both),  just let me know in the comments.  I'll draw a name this weekend.  Thanks for helping me get some room to buy more stamps. . . 
Updated to add:  Congratulations Cheri for winning the Happy Stamps and Melissa for winning the Farm Labels.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Confessions of a Stamp Hoarder

I fear that I have too many stamps.  The problem is that I love almost all of them and have trouble figuring out which ones I could give away. It started innocently enough.  I bought a few wood mounted stamps (the first one I bought was a swirly heart).  Then I joined Club Scrap, where I received two stamps a month and I bought others as well.  After a while, I bought these plastic chest of drawers and filled them up:
Each chest has six drawers and most are filled with a double layer of wood mounted stamps, arranged by subject. That wouldn't be so bad, but my wood mounted stamps won't all fit in there.  I've started to create bins arranged by subject, which I store on the top shelf of my clothes closet:
The two small plastic bins on the left have birthday stamps in one and Easter/4 Season sets in the other.  The large rectangular orangish box is full of halloween stamps. The larger circular box in the corner is full of "people" stamps. The two plastic bins on the right have "kids/sports" in one and "birds, fish and seashore" in the other. The small wood box has "mail art" stamps, and  the rectangular box with the rose print houses my Christmas stamps.  The brown leather-like binder and the plastic file have acrylic stamps and cling mounted rubber. Here's what these look like up close:
Because, yes, at some point, I started buying unmounted stamps.  These two containers wouldn't be too bad, but I have more:
I have five binders full of unmounted stamps! I store these in a cupboard in my bathroom. And, finally, for good measure, I have some wood mounted sentiment stamps:
I have three decent sized rectangular containers with stamps in a single layer.
So, there you have it. A full confession and accounting of my stamp collection (foam stamps not included; yes, I have those, too. Sigh). I didn't count my stamps, but, if I had to guess, I would think there's about 1500 wood mounted stamps (based on the fact that there's about 40 in each sentiment container and each row in the plastic drawers) and an equal number of unmounteds (based on about 20 stamps per page in a binder, ten pages per binder, five binders; plus the two storage continers in the closet).  Am I insane? Is this worse than my paper hoarding, described here? How many stamps do you think you have? And do you remember the very first stamp you purchased?
Check back tomorrow for a few stamp give-aways!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Music Monday: The Women

Last Monday, I shared some of the new music which is in circulation on my ipod right now. In looking at it, I realized that it didn't have that many women represented. So, this week, I thought I'd post some videos of my favorite current female recording artists.  Up top, I posted "Simmer Down" by Nostaligia 77.  In a totally different vein:

Here's "Rock On" by Love Inks (I wonder if she stamps?).  I bought a few other songs from her: Skeleton Key, Too Wild, and In My Dreams.  Next a live performance with David Letterman:

This is Feist performing "How Come You Never Go There?" She also has a totally cute Sesame Street video floating around on You Tube! Finally, a woman who has become pretty popular, but I like a couple of her new songs:

This is Florence + Machine performing "No Light, No Light." I also purchased her new song, "Shake It Out."
I hope you enjoy the music today! Got any favorites in this batch? Or any recommendations of your own?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

And so it begins . . .

My son takes such joy in playing soccer - in whatever venue it takes.  This week, the regular high school season began, and I'm looking forward to a little of this:
And a lot of this:
It's going to be a tough season, as the boys moved up to a higher division after winning the championship last year.  But, regardless of what happens, I'm looking forward to spending time with this boy:
I love you, son.
Weekly OLW Check-In.  Things slowed down, as I've been busy grading exams and helping the soccer team, but I did manage to:
1. Finish organizing and filing all my collage images - a big project that I'm glad to have done.
2. Reorganized/expanded my stamp storage and put away the big bag of stamps that had been accumulating for quite some time!  I hope to show you what I've done pretty soon.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Paint Party Friday: Colorful Characters

Thanks to everyone who visited last week as part of Paint Party Friday!  I tried to visit as many of the participants as possible, although blogger seemed to be eating many of my comments.  I really enjoyed the link-up, and I'm back again this week with two more characters.  For these, I wanted to make the faces more colorful (last week's all had fairly true flesh tones), and I really liked the results. In comparing with last week's faces (here and here), these seem to have more character and depth. I think it's a result of my growing confidence.  I want to try something similar using acrylic paints, instead of watercolors.
It's funny, I've always said that I don't like working with watercolors. But what I should really say is that I don't like working with traditional watercolors.  These paintings were done with twinkling H2O's and a water brush.  I'm curious about what other water color and brush combinations people use and like - please share your recommendations in the comments.
And thanks for stopping by!