Saturday, April 27, 2013

April Tim Tag Two

Even though I already posted my Tim Tag for April, I couldn't resist doing one just like Tim's.  I had nearly all of the necessary supplies minus the actual colors he used.  But I improvised with the paints I had and followed his techniques and am very happy with the result.  You can check out Tim's tutorial on his blog to see the exact process.
As always, thanks for stopping.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Storage Stuff

I thought I would share a few photos of ways I store art supplies.  My studio is a separate building on our property (I know - I am very lucky!).  Circumstances have kept me from getting the interior completely finished but it is still a wonderful place to work and create.  I refuse to wait for 'someday when it's done' to use it.  There are lots of windows so the light is great and it is a place completely my own. (Well, except for the home projects that invade the space from time to time.)

I dream of having custom built-ins with a place for everything and everything in it's place.  I pin photos of studios like that.  But reality is a different story, so I find creative ways to store my supplies and keep some semblance of order.

I stumbled across this shadow box in TJ Max one day and thought it just might work for storing my bottles of Glimmer Glam.  I took it home, replaced the ugly knob with something cute, added a little shelf and voila.  The bottles are so handy now, all lined up so I can easily grab the color I want.  And with the glass door they are still visible but not gathering dust.

Many of you have probably seen this before, but it was a light-bulb moment to me when I saw it for the first time - acrylic stamps stored in empty CD cases.  I had tried several other awkward methods of storing my stamps so they would be easy to grab and use, but none of them worked very well for me.  The great part about this discovery was that I had a shelf I had bought for storing my cd's.  It was unfinished and before I could paint it and put it into service, I got an iPod and no longer needed my CD's handy.  So I pulled that shelf out of storage, painted it to match the shadow box, transferred my stamps to CD cases (which I found on clearance at Staples) and I was in business.

The third item I am sharing today is actually a little divided crate I found at Hobby Lobby.  Hung on the wall, it makes a perfect shelf for my ink pads and inks.  Before I had the ink pads in a small suitcase-like box that sat on top of my desk.  The ink pads were in there on their sides and I was afraid the lids might come loose and they would dry out.  Plus, I was always stacking other stuff on top of that box and it made it pretty unhandy to use the ink.  Now the ink pads are right above my desk on the wall and very easy to grab - especially with the label I put on the side of each one that identifies the color.

I'll share some more storage ideas in a future post.  And maybe someday this place will be tidy enough that I can show you the whole thing.  Okay, probably too much to hope for...

As always, thanks for stopping.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Do It With Style

I love gifting my creations as much as I love making them.  So much so, that if I wasn't careful I wouldn't have any samples left of my artwork.  That is the great thing about our digital age.  I can share all I want and still keep the originals.  Or give away the original and have photos of the creative process and the end result.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the creativity and the giving that I forget to take shots of anything.  If that happens, I just ask the recipient to take a photo and send it to me.  They might find this a little inconvenient but they are polite enough not to say so.  :)

Recently, I scanned some of my watercolor paintings, printed them on shrink plastic, cut them in different shapes, baked them and used them for gift items. Sometimes as necklaces, sometimes as just a little something to share with a friend.  They are always thrilled to receive them and I am always happy to have my artwork so well-received.  It is so much more fun when you share that special piece of yourself with others and they gain some happiness from it too.

When I do this, I try to do it with style.  I fasten it to a card, stamp my logo on it, tie some fru-fru on the top.  Give it the stage it deserves.

I have also begun including a card with my blog address so that they can check out my other creations.  Or I include my business card tucked in a little envelope.  This way they have my contact information and another little piece of my art.

Several people have asked me what font I have used for my signature.  This is actually a handmade calligraphy piece I did a few years back.  I then scanned it into the computer and have used it in endless ways ever since.  It is the signature on my emails, I have multiple rubber stamps that I've made with my Teresa Collins Rubber Stamp Maker for stamping the back of my art pieces, it is the logo on my business cards, etc.  No matter what you do or what you create, you should have a signature that is uniquely yours and put it on everything.  That is an important rule for good 'branding'.  Find a signature or logo that is all yours and then stick with it.  After all, it has worked for Coca-Cola!

As always, thanks for stopping!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Art Therapy

Some of my friends have asked me "What do you do with the tags?  What are they for?"  Well, at this point I have a display rack in my studio that I have been hanging them on.  And what are they for?  The pure fun of it. :)  It gives me so much joy to try new techniques, new products, new ways of manipulating things to get unique results.  They are a way for me to challenge myself to view everyday things from a new perspective.  The other morning I got out of bed after a really rough night of trying to sleep and getting no where.  (Combine my insomnia with my husband's snoring and you get the picture.)  I was so tired and discouraged and frustrated.  I didn't want to face the day and the things I needed to accomplish - I just wanted to cry.  So I stomped down to my studio, parked my butt at my desk, started playing with paints and before you know it, two hours had passed without a single negative thought.  I was just immersed in the creative process.  After that, I moved on with my day.  Art therapy.

As always, thanks for stopping!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Package

I got so busy last week I forgot to show you the prize package I received for being a March Tag winner.  How could I forget!?!  After emailing my info to Mario, I waited with great anticipation and wonder for 'the package' to arrive.  :)  Surprises are so fun - but so hard to wait for!  This is what I received and it was all wrapped up in tissue paper.   (Which I saved for a future project - of course!)

The fun thing was that none of the items were things that I already had.  This was a bit disappointing to Tiffanie, my daughter-in-law, who benefits from any repeats I might have in my stash.  She is the one who first pointed me to Tim's website so I feel it is only fair to share.

As always, thanks for stopping!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April Tag

Tim Holtz' April Tag
It's 'Tim Tag Time' again. This time Tim focused on different techniques using the new distress paints.  You can view Tim Holtz April Tag and his tutorial on his blog.  Since they are brand new, it was a little hard getting the paints. But I really wanted to try them, so I persevered.  :)  No sacrifice is too great for new supplies...

We are having a normal April here, with lots of rain, so I decided to make that the theme for my tag.  Plus, I have been wanting an excuse to use the Umbrella Man die cut.

The first step involved dabbing multiple colors of paint on my craft mat and then dragging the tag through the paints to create a mottled background.  I wanted dark blues at the top and brights at the bottom, so I arranged the colors on the mat accordingly.  Tim also suggested adding lots of metallic paint to the mix.  The process took some experimenting before I got something I liked.  The first time I drug the tag across too many times and the paints became a muddled brown.  The second time I used too much water and I had a wet mess.  But, as they say, the third time was a charm and I got a result I was very happy with.  You can see the colors I used in the photo.  The bronze paint gave the whole thing an iridescent glimmer.

The next technique I wanted to try was cutting plastic with the dies and then shaping it with a heat gun.  I didn't have any of the art plastic Tim recommended, but I did have lots of plastic packaging. (Save that stuff - it's cool to play with.) I cut the umbrella with the Umbrella Man die and then stamped it by laying it on a globe stamp that I had inked up with black Archival Ink.  (The lines on the map looked like the ribs of an umbrella to me.)  I then heated the plastic with my heat gun and shaped it to look rounded.  I kind of melted the first one and had to cut a second one, but what the heck, it was just packaging that was going into the recycle bin.

Next, I cut a bunch of small flowers out of the same plastic with the Tattered Floral die and colored them with alcohol inks.  I punched a small hole in the center of each, shaped them with the heat gun and dabbed a little of the distress paints on the edges to add some highlights.  I laid them out on my tag for placement and made a small dot on the tag where each flower center was.  This gave me an idea where to place the flower stems and where to punch the holes for attaching the flowers.

I once watched a video online about getting more use out of your acrylic stamps by cutting them apart and using the various pieces in different ways.  I had some flower stamps with stems and leaves so I cut these off and used them to stamp stems and leaves on my tag with Peeled Paint Distress Paint.  I was careful to dry the stems as I went so that I wouldn't smear them.  (Cutting your stamps apart doesn't damage them in any way.  You can re-join them on your stamp block when you want to use them as they were intended.)  I like how the paint worked with the acrylic stamps. When I applied pressure to the stamp, the paint kind of squished out to the edges creating an outline.  Just be sure to wash the paint off of the stamps before it dries.

I punched a hole in the tag at each dot so that I could attach the flowers with brads. The flowers needed a little extra something so I colored some metal floral pieces (Tim Holtz Idea-ology) with the distress paints by just dabbing it on and then drying the pieces with a heat gun.  I dabbed paint on the ends of the brads, dried them and then attached everything to the tag.  The paints come in bottles with sponge applicator tops, so it is quite easy to use them for all sorts of things without having to clean up any brushes.

I cut Umbrella Man out of a black box I had salvaged and smeared a little Antique Pewter Distress Paint across him with a paper towel to make him look rained on.  I also dabbed the bottoms of his feet and the edge of the umbrella to give the appearance of water.  The handle of the umbrella was made from a piece of copper wire I salvaged from the re-wiring project going on next door.

Using various rubber stamps, I stamped the words on some manilla card stock, distressed and inked the edges and then attached everything with dimensional glue dots.

For the ribbon, I started with some seam tape I had dyed another time in shades of gold with various Glimmer Mists.  I dabbed various colors of distress paint on the wrinkled ribbon making it look almost like an artist's clean-up rag.  I tied it to my tag and called it done.  :)

As always, thanks for stopping!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Our little Princess

Our granddaughter, Libby, lives in a world of magic and make believe.  She loves tiaras, princess gowns, magic wands and glitter covered slippers.  She gets up in the morning, puts on her clothes and then dons a princess dress and tiara to complete the ensemble.  She goes everywhere this way and spreads smiles and magic throughout the land.  Ahhh, to be that young and confident about who you are.  Wonderful!

Last year our daughter-in-law, Lisa, sent me this cuter-than-words picture of Libby sailing down the sidewalk on her scooter wearing her tiara and gown.  They say a picture speaks a thousand words and this one sure did have a lot to say about Libby's personality.  It seemed to capture it all.  I wanted to do something with that photo and then I stumbled on this saying in a catalog.  So I tweaked the words ever so slightly and made this canvas for her.
I started out with a 12'x12' wrapped artist canvas.  (Master's Touch 100% cotton).  I mixed several colors of Tim Holtz Distress Re-inkers in the little mini-mister bottles (one dropper ink and then fill with water) and spritzed the canvas randomly.  I let the colors run together, moving the canvas back and forth.  I kind of alternately dried it and rocked it to get the effect I wanted.  Most of this method is just a happy accident.  Once the colors are dry, then I decide on elements and placement.  The background kind of sets the tone for what comes next.  If you get it dry and you decide it isn't working for the current project, you just set it aside and save it for another.  After the canvas was dry, I sprayed it with Premier Art Print Shield to protect the watercolor background as I added more layers.

Based on where my colors were, I decided some flower elements would be pretty in the corners.  I had a rose stencil in my 'bag of tricks' that I had cut out with my Silhouette for another project.  I taped the stencil on the canvas with some cheap masking tape (you want to use something without much tack so that it doesn't pick up the paint) and also taped over any areas I didn't want to stencil.  I moved the stencil several times, adding leaves and dots here and there with distress stains and a foam applicator.  I used the colors I used to paint the background to keep the look cohesive.
As you can see in this photo, I also let the colors run down the edges of the canvas when I was painting the background.  Wherever there wasn't enough color, I just spritzed some more.  I think it gives it a very finished and 'painterly' look.

I initially thought the large group of roses would go in the lower left, but once I completed the stenciling and looked at the color placement in relation to where I wanted the photo, I decided to turn the canvas.  This puts a glow around the photo and highlights the 'main attraction'.

Next came the tough job of getting my lettering on the canvas without messing up the background.  I don't know how other artists operate, but I often want to quit while I'm ahead.  But no guts, no glory - right?!  I thought the easiest way to do this without messing things up would be to cut out letters from chipboard or cardstock and then glue them on.  I tried this and didn't like the look at all.  They seemed to steal the show and that wasn't the look I was going for.  So out came the rubber stamps.  I had seen other examples where people stamped on canvas and got good results.  One person said they placed a book under the canvas for support.  I searched through all of my books (and I have many) for one the right size.  Each one I tried was either too thin for support or too large to fit.  Finally I found one - my Bible.  (Sorry to say I didn't look there first for the answer.  The story of my life, I'm afraid...)

I have several sets of alphabet stamps that I decided to mix together for a whimsical look.  If you are going to try this, you need to make sure that they are the same type and brand so that the stamps are the same thickness and will all meet the surface under the same pressure.  (If that makes any sense at all.)  Mine were, so I lined them up on a couple of acrylic blocks spelling out my phrase.  (That only took one sentence to describe but in truth it took several attempts and untold time to get them lined up and tested until I had the look I wanted.)  After testing on scrap, I inked them up with Ranger Archival ink and stamped my canvas.  Alas - the result was not pretty.  The ink was dark in some places and light in others.  Possibly due to varied pressure, possibly due to varied amounts of sealer on the surface - not sure.  But all was not lost.  I took a black gel pen and using the stamped images as my guidelines, I filled in the lettering.  There is usually a save.  Usually.  :)

Next, I needed to print and cut out my image.  I wanted the image to stand out from the canvas, so I needed to make it stable and sturdy.  I printed the image on Epson Matte Presentation Paper.  This paper is cardstock weight and prints nice, crisp photos.  After printing, I carefully cut out the photo with a tiny scissors.  My plan was to cut out the image two more times and then glue them all together for a sturdy figure.  But after the first one, I knew that I would never get them all cut the same and I wasn't totally happy with how the edges were looking - plus, I had scratched the photo with my tiny scissors.  I needed my cutting helper - my Silhouette.  I placed the one I had already cut printed side up on my scanner, placed a black piece of paper on top and then scanned the image into my computer using a black and white setting.  This way all I had was a silhouette of the image.  It was in reverse, but I could flip it in Photoshop and have a nice sharp cut-out without having to do any extractions (removing the background).  I used my selection tool to select the edges of this silhouette and then saved the selection and used it to separate Libby from the original photo and delete the background.  I saved the silhouette of Libby and the photo of Libby and opened them in my Silhouette (the cutting machine) software.  This gave me the ability to make a 'print and cut file' for printing and cutting the image multiple times with my Silhouette Cameo.  (It is much more accurate at cutting than I am.)  The first time I printed it, I used the Epson Matte Presentation Paper again.  However, after I cut it, it would not release from my cutting mat and tore in several places - something about the coating on the paper.  So I ended up printing it on Strathmore Bristol paper instead.  I then cut out just the outline (no printing) from two more sheets of white cardstock.  I inked the edges of each one with some neutral colors so that they wouldn't stand out and then glued them together with a Scotch Mega Glue Stick.  The edges need to be inked before gluing because if you have some squeeze-out the ink will not take where there is glue.  After gluing, I placed the image under some books (grabbed my Bible first this time) and let it dry. 

To highlight the tiara, I added some Studio G glitter glue and Melissa Francis glass glitter.  I used Sew Easy Fancy Floss (We R Memory Keepers) to make a tassel for the handle bar.  I thought I was going to have to make a trip to the fabric store to find something to make the gown dimensional, but I found some netting in my stash of trims.  I ironed out the wrinkles, cut it to length and finger-gathered and glued it at the waist. 

I dyed some seam tape with Distress Stain (Picked Raspberry) and Glimmer Mist (Pearl), wrinkled it, dried it, glued it to the waist and tied it in a bow.  I then fastened the figure to the canvas with some dimensional glue dots.

I felt the canvas needed just a little more magic, so I added some swirls and exhaust trails with the Studio G glitter glue.  It doesn't photograph the best, but hopefully you can get the idea.  After all, Libby spreads her magic wherever she goes.

Hope this isn't "too much information" as they say.  :)  I love to read and learn the details of how things are done but I know it's not for everyone.  As always, I thank you for visiting my blog and I would love it if you left a comment.  Happy creating!

I am linking this to:
 Inspiration Emporium - They are having a challenge to use stencils and masks in a project.

Wow - I won!

I was having trouble sleeping this morning so I decided to get up and move to the sofa so that I wouldn't wake up hubby.  On my way I grabbed my iPad.  (This is my middle-of-the night companion if sleep eludes me.)  I logged on to the stats page of my blog to see if everyone had given up on me since I hadn't managed to write a post last week. (Sorry)  When I saw that I had already had 40 visitors and it was only 2:00 in the morning, I knew something was up.  I quickly went to Tim Holtz' site and discovered that I was on the list of winners for the March Tag challenge!  How fun is that!  Now I know that the winners are random picks but it is still a real thrill!  So many people have stopped by the blog to check out my tag and I've received some lovely comments.  That makes my day.  And as if that isn't enough, a prize package is being sent my way.  Lots of visitors, lovely comments and more Tim Holtz stuff to play with - what better way to start the month!