Saturday, June 30, 2012

French Inspired-Ooh La La!

   Bonjour mes amis! Not to worry, I'm not going to do the whole post in French but it IS a post about all things French today.  As some of you may know I was born in France, raised here in the US but my heart has always belonged in France with all the family members from my mother's side. I was fortunate in that from after high school and for some years after I would work 2 jobs to be able to spend 6 weeks there in the summers with my relatives. I so wanted to live there especially with my one dear aunt but alas, a difficult home situation kept me here.  And of course, then I met my hubby. (We were there twice together and now he dreams of living there one day too). The last time I was there was 5 yrs ago now-it was a mother/daughter trip I made with my Mom. Oh I miss being there so, and now my Mom's siblings are getting older and passing away-difficult especially for my Mom.It's wonderful to have so many pictures and happy memories of time spent there.

   On to the art! Recently Retro Café Art offered a free download Parisian Beauty collage sheet which you can download free for yourself by clicking on the link. They have also challenged anyone to post some art (up to 3 pieces) on their FB page to win a gift certificate to their online shop. Now how could I resist? You have up thru July 15th so why not give it a go too? 

  Here is my first project:

   This is a 7" x 7" collage I made using recycled postage stamps and "par avion" from my stash, some pretty paper, UM stamp sentiment, ribbon, lace silk flower, heart button, washi tape and vintage buttons along with images from the Parisian Beauties collage sheet-the girls and the postcard. Unfortunately you can't see the bits of mica flakes I used for a bit of sparkle.

   My second project:

   For this piece I used a wood plaque. I printed out the postcard image twice and covered the front with the images. I then added the Parisian beauty, a bit of torn music paper, two yellow roses from the collage sheet, vintage buttons, and a butterfly sticker. I typed the title and glued it on. It was finished with glitter glue, mica flakes ,some ribbon and lace tied to a wire hanger I made with 24 gauge wire. This is my ode to Edith Piaf-famous French singer and the title is that of one of her most popular songs besides La Vie on Rose. The title says "I regret nothing". The story of her life is heartbreaking but thru those experiences she sang and wrote the most beautiful songs.

  And here is my third project:

   This is a shaker ATC- 2 1/2" x 3 1/2". I used a Parisian beauty image from the sheet and clipped her "name" from a French label, also on the sheet.The ATC was made using dimensional foam tape around all four sides, filled with some beads, flowers and star sequins then covered with a piece of acetate. I  used foil tape around the edges then covered it with lace seam binding. It was finished with 4 fleur de lis tiny gold charms. I actually just gave this to my friend LuAnn cuz when she saw it as we got together earlier today she fell in love with it.

  Now for the second bit of my French "obsession". Is it an obsession as my hubby thinks? You decide. But I'm not admitting anything yet :)

  Le Tour de France for this year began today! I have been faithfully watching the twenty days of bicycling thru France on tv for many years. But I don't just watch it. I can't. Here's what I also do:

   I get out my trusty French Atlas (which I got for next to nothing at a book sale). I print out the tour map, along with each days schedule and complete listing town by town.

   And then I get to work:

   Yes, I find the towns on the maps and mark them onto the papers so I can follow along-the whole race! BTW, I purposely chose the map at right. This is where my one dear Aunt BiBi lives-almost at the tip on the left narrow strip of land just to the right of my paper. How could I not love it there when I can walk one way and be at the Atlantic , or walk out the opposite way to see the Atlantic from where she lives!

  These races can last anywhere from 2 or 3 to over 4 hrs a day and so in order to keep up and bypass all the commercials I tape them each day.

  Yes, we are a bit arcaic and still have VCRs and use VHS tapes so I make sure I have enough new ones to get me thru. Here's the kicker, after all these years I still don't quite understand the placing  and team work in the race, but I do get to travel around France and explore new territory. Voila!

  Merci bien for indulging me in mon péché mignon. I'll be back soon with my entries for Art Journal Everyday and the Kathryn Wheel's Calendar challenges. Still trying to finish my alphabet set in my stamp carving class too.  See you soon. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

 "The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience." Emily Dickenson


Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's All About "Happy"

    Good morning and happy weekend! This post is not only to share my project for this week's Art Journal Everyday but to also mention how the word "happy" presented itself to me in various forms in the last 2 days-obviously the universe was trying to get my attention.

    The first thing that occurred was that I found out that the "Be Happy Swami" Swamiji Anubhavananda is coming to a local Hindu Temple to present workshops and lectures the beginning of July. It's open to the public and free of charge. Click on his name for the link to his website. You can find U-tube links to portions of his talks from this site if you wish to know a little about him. I cannot tell you how elated I was as I had been hoping to hear him again after attending his lectures at the temple several years ago. I had never heard of him before this nor had I ever been in a hindu temple. It was a moving experience I will never forget. The members could not have been kinder and more welcoming, the temple is so beautiful and the Swamiji exuded pure peace and joy. Since then I also attended lectures there given by Shubhraji  another world wide spiritual leader. Of course, at first I heard all the "you're going where, you're doing whats???", especially from my hubby. But guess what? I convinced him to join me one evening and he attended the last few evenings . He loved Shubhraji and how the way she spoke and interpreted her teachings made it easy for him to understand. We're so hoping she will come back again. What an enlightening experience for both of us.

  On to my project. But my table was piled up with used papers etc. so I needed to clean up first and toss some of the piled paper-WHAT??? They actually looked kinda pretty....and my idea for the project was born. I made a little journal from these papers and here's how I did it:

   First I gathered the scrap papers, cut some down, folded one in half and glued the page together for  stability to use as my cover. These truly were scrapped papers as you can see above was one that had been used as a test sheet for aligning my printer ink cartridge!

   After folding and nesting the pages I ran some Tim Holtz tissue tape on the outside and inside crease of my cover where the binding would be sewn.

   I gave it a title-there's that magic word again :) along with my happy stamper. That's a self inking OLD stamper that had been found at a yard sale and I keep it on my table right in front of me. Now for the easy peasy binding.

  I nested my folded pages together and centered them with the fold of the cover, using a large paper clip on one end to keep it all together. I made three holes with my awl, one in the center and one on either side of the center 1" apart. I took a length of black rattail cord (about 2 1/2 x the length of the book) and pulled my cord from the outside center hole to the inside leaving some length for tying in the end. Come out through the bottom inside hole and then into the top hole from the outside as shown.

  From the inside come out the center hole, tie the ends into a double knot and voila! By the way-don't you love the needle I used?? It's actually a length of 24 gauge wire I folded in half and used-something I do quite often when I can't find the right size needle. Pretty nifty huh?

   This is the inside. The papers are varying lengths-I think I have 16 pages. And this is the outside:

  My finished project for Art Journal Everyday at Julie Balzer's blog. But I'm still not done with "happy". Looky here:

  Did you see it in the photo of my book just above this one? Sitting right there in front of me! This darling piece of art made from a nail polish bottle was given to me some years ago by one of  my internet art friends, Paula Dion. Always brings a smile to my face.

 I'll leave you now with one final "happy". This was in the paper yesterday-a Mutts comic strip:

   Love it!!!!!

   Have a beautiful weekend. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Summer Solstice!

  Aaah, summer officially arrives here in the northeast US (EST) at 7:09 PM although the current temp. is 80 degrees F with a humidity level of 79% and it's barely 10AM! The heat index value is supposed to get to 100-103 degrees so as much as I love summer I am ever so thankful to have a place with air conditioning to cool off in. This will be another quick post so I can enjoy the outdoors before the heat of the afternoon sets in.

   Lesson 6 in Stamp Carving 101 was about carving a damask pattern. Since I'm working quickly here please click on the icon at the right for more information on the class, or you can find more info on my lessons in my older posts.

  I chose the pattern Julie provided in the class as I really liked the pattern in this one and knew it would be a nice challenge.

  Here's how it started:


   And after lots of carving, test printing and more carving:

   It just needed a bit of fine tuning and it was finished. Time for making my tags for Lenna Andrews (who's also participating in the class and doing a tag project with me) and myself! Once we are finished with our class and the carvings we are sending each other the collection of tags and we'll each have a nice fat tag book with all our individual carvings. What a really great way to take a class with a buddy and have a beautiful sampler of all our work, don't you think?

 For the base of the tags I used acrylic paints in orange and lime green and stamped my damask with Jet Black Staz-On ink to create a pattern.

  I simply added the sentiment (unfortunately I have no idea where this UM stamp is from) and embellished the tags with some pretty metallic and purple strands and a silver feather charm from ARTchix Studio.

  Lesson 7 involves carving a complete alphabet and number set and before attempting it I thought I should practice and play a little more so I created these two stamps  and made two tags for Lenna and I.

   I knew I wanted to play with carving curves so I made a circle and a teardrop. I have to confess that I wanted the inner curves of the circle to be smooth but somewhere along the way my tool slipped a tad and I ended up with a notch in it. So, I chose to add notches around all the inner curves and am happy with its funky, imperfect curves. The rubber stamp sentiment is by Make an Impression. I also used it on the "leaves" by first inking the leaf with Staz-On Citrus Green then overstamping with the sentiment before  stamping the tag. The bottom is a bit of Tim Holtz tissue tape I inked up before adding at the bottom of the tag.

  And here's a second tag I made using the teardrop image which reminded me also of a rain drop:

   The sentiment is Stampers Anonymous. I repeatedly stamped the teardrop in Seashells Cloudy Blue ink and Marvy Matchables #12 Grey. I can't believe how old some of my stamp pads are but so long as they still have the ink I'll use them :). I finished the tag with some black and metallic threads and a gold charm which I "antiqued" with Staz-On jet Black ink to tone down the gold.

   If any of you have taken the class or have done some stamp carving, leave me a comment or email with your blog or link-I'd love to see. I also love being able to browse thru the Flickr group that's set up for this class-very impressive stuff!

   Now, if you love summer as much as I do, take a moment to step outside during the official solstice time with a glass of something cool and refreshing and offer your joy and gratitude for its wonder and beauty. 

 " Summer afternoon-summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language."
                                                                                                                  Henry James

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Summer Journal Spread and A Special Piece of Art

   Where does the time go? I'd swear it was just yesterday I posted a spread for the Art Journal Everyday project!  Fortunately I have pages in my takeaway journal that have been sprayed, brushed and stencilled usually during cleaning up from another project. It's much easier not to be facing a white page that's for sure. I started adding more color to sprayed pages by swiping a Distress ink pad in Squeezed Lemonade directly over the pages. Then the fun really began!

   I had recently read Julie Balzer's post regarding her stencil hops which you can see here. She asked which hop or stencil art inspired you the most or surprised you. I chose the "pomegranite" hop because although I liked the stencil OK it wasn't until I saw the artists' projects that I just went "wow, I NEED this stencil!" It has become one of my very favorite "go to" stencils now. As you can see above, both my pages and hands are getting stencilled with pomegranites and the Adirondak paint dauber in Snow Cap! I continued to stencil and add more color with many different ink pads, along with numerous stamps by Dylusions which you already know I love as they seem to appear in my projects alot :)

    Here's my finished spread-WARNING-sunglasses may be necessary!!

      I can't begin to list all the inks and stamps I used!! I do know that the leaf images were stamped in Distress ink Peacock Feathers. The mushroom image was stamped on white cardstock,colored in with Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons, then trimmed and adhered with foam dots. The sweet little moppet on the left is from Paper Whimsy. Her wings were glittered and before adhering her with foam dots I stamped on her dress a bit to incorporate her into the page. The imagine tile was from my stash. The title is from an Oprah magazine. The red stamp image is one I just carved yesterday for fun. Some butterfly and bird stickers were added. I think it's done, don't you? :):)

   And now, about the note I left at the end of my last post about the wonderful world of blogging and giving. I recently went on a blog hop at Alpha Stamps, especially because an internet art friend who's work I so admire, Theresa mARTin, is now a member of their design team and I was especially excited to see what she created to give away! (generally blog hops serve as a way to introduce artists and/or new products, and besides giving lots of tips and inspiration, giveaways are a big part of it all).
Theresa is a very accomplished artist who has been published numerous times and her art has been shown in various exhibitions. Click on her name above and check it out.

   I was especially drawn to this piece of coaster art titled "Time For Spring":

  and as you may have guessed by now- I WON it!!!! I was so excited, especially since I just had a special feeling when commenting about it. The photo doesn't do justice to the multi layered, collaged and stitched papers along with the metal clock, dresden crown and resin(?) numeral! Thank you Theresa!! It truly is special and besides cherishing it, it will also be another reminder to me to give back and to pay it forward. So, be on the lookout for another giveaway from me to you coming soon.

   In the meantime, if you love lavender and pretty projects like I do please visit my friend Patty's blog where she is generously giving away to 6 people a beautiful lavender wand. The giveaway is open up to June 20th so you still have time to enter. She has also provided links on how to create your very own. If you do visit, please leave her a comment. She is so incredibly generous in sharing so many things and works hard on keeping her blog top notch, inspiring, and so lovingly versed in word and art.

  See you next time with more stamp carving. Thanks so much for visiting. I do like to reply when I have an email to reply to but if I don't just know your comments are all much appreciated.

   "It took me a year to paint like Raphael and a lifetime to paint like a child."  Pablo Picasso

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garden Themed Prayer Flags and Carving a Bracket Frame

   Thankfully we had an entire day and evening of rain the other day which kept me inside to catch up on housework and then reward myself with another stamp carving lesson and finishing 9 prayer flags for a swap I'm in.

   First up: My garden themed prayer flags-

    This swap was hosted by Barb Burkard thru FaceBook after being inspired by the prayer flags picured recently on that site. You can see the first prayer flag I ever made here. Most of the flags on FB had been uploaded by Jane LaFazio who heads up The Prayer Flag Project.  Barb chose a garden theme. There are nine participants. Along with Barb and I are Megan Hull, Martha Brown, Tanya Peacock, G Ian Gioseffi, Sandee Hyde, Nancy Maxwell James and Dawn Gold. I am so thrilled to be amongst such accomplished artists!

   I chose to use a variety of bright floral fabrics, white flowery laces, printed silk flowers (I don't remember where these came from but I had exactly 9 of them and it was perfect that the word "love" along with other affirmations was printed on them!), heart buttons and vintage buttons. The sentiment is an unmounted stamp from Impression Obsession. I stamped it onto a piece of white muslin with a fabric ink (Crafter's-by Clearsnap) which I'm not even sure is manufactured today. I sewed it only on the sides and bottom so it left a "pocket" in which one could slip some names into it if they so choose. My flags are not precision cut or sewn as I chose to give them an "organic" look-meaning really that I didn't want to take the time to mark and measure :). Also, my machine is a bit old and sometimes stitches inconsistently (perfect for mixed media art). I also left edges frayed and left end threads hanging. I'm so looking forward to receiving my flags from everyone and will post a pic of them hanging as soon as I get them.

   And now- my next online Stamp Carving 101 lesson-Lesson Five-the Bracket Stamp. You can click the icon on the side bar at right for a link to the class description and you can see my progress thru the lessons beginning with lesson 1 here. I am thoroughly enjoying the challenges of each lesson and then creating a tag for myself and for Lenna Andrews who's participating with me.

  Getting there:


   As you can see, this stamp required ALOT of carving and I did it in several sittings at different times. The bracket is a design Julie gave us to use and I chose to stick with it although some others chose other designs they found. I didn't find one online I wanted to use and didn't want to take more time looking. Print finally looks good and I'm ready to make the tags.

   I placed the tags side by side and stamped my frame repeatedly using Bright Yellow acrylic paint by Americana. Then, of course, I sprayed away with Dylusions spray inks in Pure Sunshine, Squeezed Orange, Fresh Lime, Vibrant Turquoise and Black Marble.

   I LOVE the way this turned out! See how the acrylic paint stamped frame acted somewhat as a resist to the inks?

   And here are the finished tags:


   The bracket frame was stamped with Staz -On Jet Black ink then trimmed.The sentiment is an old Close To My Heart rubber stamp and that was stamped in Peacock Feathers Distress ink by Ranger. A few paper flowers, a felt butterfly and a pretty ribbon finished them.

  The next lesson (I'm currently working on) is a damask stamp carving-much more intricate-but I say-bring it on!

  Thanks so much for stopping by. Your comments are so appreciated too. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions about anything on my blog. I will have something very special to share very soon-it has something to do with the wonderful world of blogging and giving. Stay tuned. Until next time,

   "Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film.    
    Your bright eyes, your easy smile is your museum."  Ansel Adams

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spiritual Growth Journal Play

  A quick post for today-as the weather becomes increasingly warm and beautiful it's getting harder and harder to spend alot of time inside whether it's at the computer or in the art room. I hope wherever you are you are enjoying the season.

  I'm half way thru my online stamp carving class (click on icon at right in the side bar for class info) and have another post on lesson 5 coming soon. But for now I'll share a journal spread I'm working on (it doesn't look finished to me). This is for Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's Art Journal Everyday Project. Anyone can play along at any time and there are no commitments so if you've done some art journaling Julie has a post each week you can link your pages to. It's also a great way to meet others who post their pages and there's always lots of inspiration and ideas.

  Growing spiritually is something I'm always working on. However, it seems that especially in Spring (which in itself is a time of renewal and growth) I begin to meditate and read more about our connections to the universe and the power we have within ourselves-pretty amazing. Ok, I won't go any further than this, just wanted to explain where this spread came from.

  Obviously, I'm still spraying away with Dylusions ink sprays! I was playing around with my carved chevron stamps from Lesson 4  which you can read about by clicking on the link. I kept thinking about a path so I found this quote that I felt went with this page and the words "spiritual growth".
I'll leave you with the quote I used. Have a beautiful weekend. Thank you for stopping by.

  "The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning. The experience of spiritual power is basically a joyful one."
                                                                                                                       M. Scott Peck

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Lesson in Chevron Stamp Carving

  Hopefully I can get thru this post before yet another thunderstorm comes. It's gotten much cooler since yesterday and it certainly was almost a record breaking cool, no, cold! 46 degrees during the night. Thank goodness it's on its way out . I don't want to have to bring out a sweatshirt and slipper socks again for a long time :)

 Yesterday was special to me. I called my friend Lenna Andrews who's taking Stamp Carving 101 online with me and collaborating on a tag project with me. Actually, I called because I was working on Lesson 5 and needed a break, as all the carving involved was starting to make me a little nutty, not to mention my eyes were starting to blur.  I left her a mssg. and when she called back we talked  quite awhile, like friends do. I love when I actually have the opportunity to speak with an online friend because it's so fun being able to put a voice to a name and photo. Lenna's voice is as sweet as her photos just as I expected!

  Now, for the carving. I've completed Lesson 4 which is a chevron set and am quite pleased with the results. Julie also showed another sample set which is a set of banners. I plan on making them at some point too-especially after seeing Lenna's which you can see here. I just love them!

   These are my carvings along with the stamped images:


  This is a sampler tag I made for Lenna and I:

  And here are my finished tags for us:

   I am so hooked on the Dylusions ink sprays and just couldn't resist using them again. The tags were sprayed with Bubblegum Pink and Pure Sunshine-YUM!! The quote is a Stamper's Anonymous rubber stamp. That's my first carved stamp, a heart from Lesson 1 at the bottom. Lesson 5 is just about completed so I 'll be posting that soon. Until next time...and many thanks for stopping by!

      "What seems to be a dead end may be an arrow pointing you in an unexpected direction."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's a Man-tastic Tuesday Trigger!

  Just have time for  a quick post-after my last post only hours ago we were hit with numerous fairly quick but also intense thunderstorms-one of which produced pea sized hail!! Thank goodness the bits of ice were small enough not to cause any damage. So before the next one arrives....

  Fortunately I had more than a week to make a card for this trigger at Moxie Fab World. I love being challenged like this and Cath finds the most enticing photos that just seem to reel me in!

   Here's the trigger:


   and here is my take:

   OK, I know, it's not  "man" tastic , but I am a girly-girl and knew immediately where I wanted to go with this :) I tried to stay with the basic design and color theme. I sewed a line between the leaves with brown thread.

   Products used: Inks; VersaFine Vintage Sepia (Tsukineko), Marvy Matchables #12 Grey, (Uchida), Colorbox Antique Pewter and Skye Blue (Clearsnap), Distress Ink in Festive Berries and Peacock Feathers (Ranger); fabric rose border (Hobby Lobby); clear stamps -Think Big Favorites #4 set,  Sending You set (PaperTrey Ink).

  I can't wait to go and see what some of the others have done with this trigger...the creativity is amazing!

       "Opportunities show up in direct proportion to your willingness to recognize them."
                                                                                                            Alan Cohen

A New Calendar Spread and Art Journaling

   Happy Sunday! I'll probably post several times between today and tomorrow to catch up with the projects I'm currently involved in. The weather has been so beautiful that it's difficult to spend time in my art room when I'd rather be outside watching my hummingbirds and relishing in the beauty of Spring.

   For this week's Art Journal Everyday project I'm going to submit the pages I also did for Kate Crane's 366 Calendar project.  Click on the links for more information. Anyone can join at any time and there's always lots of sharing and inspiration from other member's blogs too!

   For this spread I used acrylic paints in a pink, orange, turquoise and chartreuse. Sorry, I don't recall exactly which brands I used or the specific names as I just randomly grabbed them from a huge drawer filled with a variety of acrylics . I must remember to make a note of it next time. The designs are from one stencil I used- this time a Dylusions 9" x 12" Dotted Flower stencil which I purchased at Collage Stuff. There are lots of really great stencils out there but I am totally hooked on Dylusions and Balzer Designs stencils because you can get versatile and unique designs in two different sizes. Lisa has a fantastic selection of both these brands.

   And here is my calendar spread for June:

   I just love having bright ,happy, colorful pages! It makes it such a pleasure to open it up each day to record a mssg. You can see my other calendar spreads beginning with January thru March on my Flickr photostream, then beginning with April here on my blog.

  I'll be back later to post a card challenge and more stamp carving fun so, stay tuned. It's a joy to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by.

                        "Sometimes your JOY is the source of your smile,
                          but sometimes your SMILE can be the source of your joy."
                                                                                                   Thich Nhat Hanh