Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Begining to Look a lot Like Christmas..........

Or not.

But I would like it to look like Christmas, which is strange. I was just lamenting to one of my more decorator inspired pals that I hate how we go from Halloween decorations (in early September) to Christmas taking over before we are even allowed to Trick or Treat.

Then last week, I went in to Michael's. They had row after row of Christmas decorations, ribbons, garlands, ornaments. Don't even get me started on the craft supplies. To push me over the edge once and for all, they threw in a huge container of those cinnamon and orange soaked pine cones.

Screw Thanksgiving. I'm already fat and don't need to eat and entire left over pie as a consolation for staying out of the mall on Black Friday. Besides, I think I am ready to switch out my current fall tablescape.........

Yes, it really does look like that.

I have a confession to make. Last Christmas, I was a bit of a grinch or bitch or some other four letter word, depending on who you ask. I didn't decorate.

Not a bit.

I didn't even get a tree.

I was having one of those....."Christmas is so much work and I have to do everything and none of you ever help because you are all jerks incapable of appreciating me or anything that I do for you which is everything by the way and none of you care any ways because if you cared you would say the house looks lovely and thank you and I end up working so hard for nothing and so we will have no Christmas and that will show you because that is all you deserve because you all suck so there."

About 3 days before Christmas, Austin said "I can't believe you really didn't get a Christmas tree." So, of course, the only person that really sucked was me. I tried to turn it around and say that we are going for that whole minimalist thing. We will still be all together as a family and that is all that matters, which IS true, but I missed the spirit of the season. Missed it by about 1,000,000 miles.

I adore Christmas. My favorite childhood memories are of my mom going all out in every room in the house. Unpacking the Christmas boxes, unwrapping the decorations. It was almost as good as Christmas morning, oohing and ahhing over the beloved treasures only seen a couple of weeks out of the year.

So, this year, I am going all out. Day after Thanksgiving.

I will still eat a whole pie, but it will be for the energy and sugar rush needed to deck this house out. I will put Buddy's spin at Gimbel's to shame.

It should be fun as it will give me a chance to put to use all the vintage goodies I have acquired over the past year of estate sale-ing to use.

Following is the equivalent of the scrapbooking sticker sneeze......the blogger's picture sneeze.

Here are some of my favorite finds that are helping me to get in the mood...................

Vintage Chenille covered ornaments with mercury glass centers.
Can I just tell you how much I adore the 70's colors....avocado, orange and harvest gold.

Snowman ornament. I am not sure of it's origins, but it looks very Made in Japan to me. Since he has a Styrofoam head instead of spun cotton, I am thinking he may be a reproduction.

1950's Holt Howard winking Santa mug.

Two cute Made in Japan ornaments. They have all the best features, don't they? Velveteen paper, rhinestones, perfectly tarnished bells and Dresden golden paper trim.

I nabbed over a dozen of these vintage pins at a very recent estate sale. They were .50 each. Yes, all that chenille pissed off snow man face goodness for .5o!
I adore them. Adore them. Seriously. Adore them.
They are new "old stock" and even though they are completely the Made in Japan style, they are tagged Marshall Fields & Company and even cost $2.50 back in the day!!

These two cuties are a bit worse for the wear, but for $1 each, I could not resist their faces. I really need to figure out a way to clean them up without ruining their flocking or vintage appeal. For now, though, I am happy with their holiday sweetness.

Vintage elf Christmas paper scrap.
I really want to frame this somehow, but not sure how to make it work.

The colors on this one lands this in my top 10 favorite angel finds. Because at this point, I have bought so much shit that I need to break it in to top 10's by categories.

Finally, this is one of my favorite "vignettes."
Yes, I said vignettes.
So there.
This one has some of my best treasures. I adore bottle brush trees and have tons of them everywhere. Add in a sculpture of, well, I don't know what it is, but I adore him. I have his brother (who is done up in shiny eggplant and gold) in my bedroom. I should do some research so that I know what I have, but I do know that they were from an artist in San Fransisco. They are tagged '04 and with the initials HL. Blizz is the amazing snowman done by an incredible folk artist, PineStreetJunction.
Finish it up with my childhood favorite Hagen-Renaker minatures...this one is a deer.....and a Made in Japan golden flocked velvet angel.

Are you in the mood yet? I am. Check back in on me on Black Friday. Hopefully all that pie won't change things.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Crafts in November

Of course I am late...........did you expect any less?

Here are two projects that I completed for Halloween. They were both fairly simple in design and once I made up my mind, they were quick to put together.

These were both for swaps hosted by the wonderfully creative Kellylo. They both had a bit of a twist and I enjoyed the challenge.

The first was for a set of ATC's that needed to use canvas as the main element and Halloween as the theme.

I decided that I wanted to try and use a beeswax technique on this one in addition to the canvas requirement. Now mind you, I have never used beeswax before. I had once received a very nice tag that was coated with it and liked the finish. Of course, planning is not my forte, so instead of reading up on the technique, I just decided to buy me a big block and dive in!

I didn't use a melting pot, instead, I thought I would just hit it with my heat gun. It does melt really, really quickly. Turns out, it firms up just as fast. More about that later.

I originally tried to put some alcohol inks in it to add a bit of shimmer. Not surprisingly, that failed. It just balls up and can not be used, which anyone with any knowledge of science would have probably guessed in advance. Oh well, it's not brain surgery, it's paper crafts, so what do you expect from me?? Once I fished through the wax and picked out all of the unusable globs of hardened ink, I switched it to Perfect Pearls powder and that was.....well......perfect!

After picking a picture of an old Victorian style mansion, I copied it over to Photoshop, cropped it up a bit; changed to to black and white and finally, recolored it in shades of blue. Now for the wax. Once I brushed it on, (which by the way, took about five re-heating sessions to keep that crap slightly liquid enough to even apply) it definitely didn't have the look that I was trying to achieve. It was lumpy and thick, not at all shiny and antique like I had expected. Again, had I read up on the technique that might have helped. Also, I was using it on canvas, not on paper. I am pretty sure that made a difference as well. Now I just needed to find a way to fix it.

Thank you, heat gun. I blasted it for a few seconds and it melted down in to the canvas quite nicely. It is a subtle change, but I really like it. It adds a richer dimension than just adding some distressing or ink. I am definitely going to try this again on all types of fabric, wood and paper. I think it will be one of those things that turns out a bit different each time. Besides, I have this big ass block of wax and I need to justify the purchase, you know?

Gasp! I use spray paint, hot glue, wax and all sorts of crap that is not archival. I guess I should apologize, but really, I don't. I guess I just find it hard to believe that of all of the things that get passed on to future generations, this card is going to make the cut. Anyway, back to crafting. I used this great Martha Stewart punch for the fence. I had liked it, but could not justify the $15 cost when it was first released. Found it on sale for $7 and that was about all the justification I needed, so it is MINE. I really do love it and can see using it for other things. Just a snip of the scissors and the bats will be gone and it can be used for any season. After punching it out on scraps of cardstock, I hit it with some paint. I love Hammered spray paint. Actually, I love all spray paints, but not has much as the Hammered ones. I own it in every color and if we go to a store that sells Hammer paint, I am checking to see that they haven't slipped in a new finish without notifying me.

Is it just me or does the mere mention of the word Hammer start
the mindless humming of that damn "ooh can't touch this." Or maybe the huffing of all these paint fumes is one of those things that leads to the repetitive singing of MC Hammer tunes?

I don't know if I am in a rut or if I just like what I like.......... I used my favorite image, printed on cardstock, inked the edges and tucked her behind the fence, which was pop-dotted for a bit of dimension.

I added 2 of my beloved, vintage bat rhinestones and called them done.

The second swap was for altered Halloween coffins. Isn't that just the best idea? How could I resist a coffin? I was paired up with one of my favorite peas, Lisa (JoyNewYork) and was a bit nervous to start. She is an amazing swapper and I have always admired (okay, coveted) her talent.

The swap started with these small wooden coffins that were purchased at Michael's for $1.99.

Of course, I had to pull out my beloved spray cans. I removed all of the hardware and gave it a blast with some black textured paint.

I can't sew. I will do lots and lots to avoid pulling out a sewing machine and even attempting to sew. So, I made a template of the inside of the coffin. I cut the fabric slightly larger than the templates, turned over the edges and hot glued the hell out of it. I was really drawn to the velvet with the touch of gold glitter, so I was glad to finally have a reason to use it.

Once it was lined, I added a bit of moss, a few coffin flowers and a skull with glittery, Stickled eyes.

For the outside, I used a Tim Holtz bookplate, which I just adore. The picture is a fairly famous print "All is Vanity" and I changed the colors to antique before printing it on fabric-textured paper. I added some more moss, a small skeleton hand and another paper flower.

Adding more didn't seem to help the overall look in this case, so I kept it a bit simpler than I normally do. All and all, very fun swaps.

Now, on to Christmas crafts...............

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Happy Halloween from a Girl Named Sweet Pete

I write a bunch about swapping.

The trials and tribulations of my poor time management, the drive to be creative and grow, the endless acquisition of supplies. Now I don't want to get all deep and profound on you all, but one of the best things to come out of my crafty endeavors has been the people that I have been able to "meet" through the message boards and blogs.

As a little background, I am a bit anti-social. For the most part, I prefer to be alone. I am quite happy to go days and days without any extended human interaction. I find it hard to make a lot of friends and keep up with acquaintances, not because I don't care about people, I do. Deeply. It is just that it is not something that comes easy to me. On those four corner tests, I am SO far in the introverted column, they often need to send out a search party to find me and trust me, when they show up, I'm not all that welcoming......

Part of the reason I started swapping was to get more connected ~ to find people with like interests. I thought going the message board route would be a good start. You can connect and keep your distance all at the same time. Interestingly enough, I still found it hard to completely jump in and stuck more to crafting than to posting.

Then I met Pete.

It was the strangest thing. We had never really interacted much, in fact, I don't think we had even swapped with each other before we got paired on a Christmas partner swap. Then it just was, I don't know, Kismet? Eerie? Lucky? Fate? All of the above?

As part of the swap, you had to fill out this long questionnaire so your pal could get to know you and find out your likes, dislikes, things to make and buy. As soon as I opened hers up, it was almost like reading my own questionnaire. So many similarities. Almost like spooky similar. I kid you not.

We both have partners that love to garden while we both prefer to stay inside covered in glitter and glue. We both have 1 boy, close enough in age, and they are both named after cities! We love the same supplies, collected the same things. We both love Rock-a-Billy, 80's Rap and Patsy Cline. We liked the same movies. It went on and on!!

Since that time, we have spent hours and hours chatting. Jon and I planned our last vacation out her way so that I could meet up with her. We spent a lovely day talking non-stop as we wandered through craft stores and antique malls. We spent the evening listening to a great band while sharing food and drinks.

I feel like I have known her forever. She understands when I go MIA, get stressed out over stupid crafting issues and cheers me up when I am down. She has a wicked sense of humor and we share a snark that really makes me LOL. As if that weren't enough, she sends me happy mail!

I recently got a package from her and in going through it, I was reminded how lucky I am to have a few really good friends. Jon, who is there for me every day, no matter what. Lori, who shares all my silly dreams, knows my youthful indiscretions and still rocks out with me even though I am old and gray. And Pete, my glitter loving pal who understands my need for ribbon and rhinestones; sarcasm and snark; and why some days you need to just "Glue, Bitch, Glue!!"

Oh. My. Holy. Hell.

This was supposed to be a quick and easy "looky what I got" post and has embarrassingly morphed in to an "I love you, man........." post and I haven't even been drinking.


On to the good stuff!!!!

What girl doesn't love being showered in gold?

I bought some of these for a swap and really, really wanted to keep them for myself. Since my estate sale addiction had drained my discretionary income, I was hoping to find some left after the holidays at 50% off. How did she know I needed these?? She actually mails her holiday cards, too! Which really makes her a bit of a show-off, come to think of it. I'm still working on last year's Christmas cards and I don't know that I appreciate her tossing this up in my face.......

Glitter AND Glue.
Does it get any better than that?

I love this plaque. It now has a permanent place on my bookshelf. And the minds and all......I got her the same skull in white. I was holding out for a crown for hers to wear, but UNLIKE Pete, I turned out to be more of a thinker, not a do-er.

Maybe next Halloween it will make it her way.

I love fonts and glitter and vintage, so of course, she knew I would just love this sign. And I do!

Happy Halloween all! I hope it was filled with your favorite treats. If you have read this far, I would like to state that thankfully, I seem to have completely drained away my limited ability to be sappy and nice.

The tequila bottle will soon be empty as well.

Our next post will be back to the regularly scheduled angsty, whiny crafting and mindless shopping. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To Bead or Not to Bead

Back in the day, before I became a "Scrapper", I was a "beader." It all started with those power bead bracelets. Remember those? Well, when they first came out way, way back when, they were about $25. There was NO way I was paying that much for them because I just knew that I could make them for so much cheaper. What a mistake that was...... It was the start of my first crafting obsession.

Like all of these things seem to do, it started small. Just a handful of crystals and some elastic thread. Then a few silver colored beads.


Somehow over the course of many years, that turned in to at LEAST a gross of every single damn color of Swarovski crystal in every size and shape. Silver colored became ONLY sterling silver, preferably hand made by artisans in Bali.

Don't even get me started about how I started buying actual stones. Tourmaline, pearls, garnets, turquoise, oh my!

On the plus side, it is SO much easier to hoard beads. Those suckers are small and easily hidden.

Cost wise, well, hell. Let's just say, I could be driving a Volvo.

Thankfully, I have never pined for one. Besides, there is no way I could park it in the cabinets under my bar (hey, I take space where ever I can find it.....) and while it might be a feat of Swedish engineering, they are just a bit too suburban for me. No sparkle.

This on the other hand.........

I might happily be able to trade in all my supplies; paper, metal, crystal and vintage alike for the chance to roll up to the Waffle House in this bitch.

I wandered off again, didn't I?

My awesome pal Pete hosted a recent Halloween swap that included making a piece of Steampunk inspired jewelry. In addition to being full of some awesome paper crafts, it made me go back and fall in love with my beady friends all over again.

To get back in the groove, I started going back through my stash and pulling out some of the things I had made in the past.

I have a deep love for all thing Swarovski. Add Bali sterling silver and *sigh*...

This was a quick little one to put together, but it probably got the most wear. I find the faceted fresh water pearls just lovely and these daisy spacers are like the Bazzil card stock for the beading set.

I had a love of all things Sundance catalog and did my best to copy a many of their styles. Besides, it has a monkey. Everything is more awesome when a monkey is involved.

This was actually one of the last bracelets that I made. It was after I had started hoarding paper products in lieu of beads, but I busted them out for one last grand huzzah about 2 years back.

This was very simple, but I still love, love, love these micro-mini seed beads.

More Sundance style, with turquoise, sunstone, amazonite and silver.

On to the swap.

I decided that this needed a bit more chain and wire work to go along with the theme. I picked a bronzed metal along with purple German glass beads, both new and vintage. There is a little carved skull bead. I can't for the life of me remember where I got him, but looking back, I wish I had bought more than one. What the hell was I thinking? Since when do I have one of anything??!?! I had an awesome partner, though, and was glad to let him go to a new owner.

To keep a bit with the scrappy theme, I used a Making Memories garment pin to attach the skull dangling charm. In addition to feeling clever, I also thought that it would make the necklace more adaptable and give my pal a few different ways to wear it if she so desires.

Here is the necklace as just a solo piece. It is about 20' long, without the charms. I guess she could also triple wrap it as a bracelet, depending on the size of her wrist.

Finally, I made another set of charms without the Halloween theme.

I had a great time revisiting my old hobby. It made me want to start creating again.

Oh if only I actually wore jewelry.

Meh.....who cares?

I have decided that I aspire to being creative, not productive. I mean I call myself a scrapper while I have yet to complete a single scrapbook. Nope. Not one freaking scrapbook. I have about 10 pages. That counts as a start, right?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fun and Games

I have been so busy that a large amount of the "Estate Sale of the Century" finds have been sitting just waiting for me to take the time to open, admire and share.

I think it says something that I haven't gotten around to going through all the packages that I purchased, but more about that later. On the plus side, it should help me from doing more shopping since I can just dig in to this bag of treasures when I feel the need.

Yeah, like that happened.

I just had to stop at another estate sale this Thursday. Hit the mother-lode of "Made in Japan" vintage chenille package ties and vintage velvet ribbons. I try to kid myself that I do not have a problem by hiding them in the stash of items from the last sale. So if it seems that I post time and time again about the incredible finds of this sale, I might be lying. But I digress.

Every crafter, scrapper and altering artist knows that we have a thing and I mean a
thing, for games. Vintage game pieces, bingo cards, and the like just seem to send us in a frenzy. I don't play bingo, Scrabble or checkers, but I'll' be damned if I can't find a way to stick a game piece on any random layout, card or tag and trust me, I am not alone.

So, of course, when I saw they had a table full of toys and such, I was there throwing things in my bag almost sight unseen.

There was a bag of about 40 mixed vintage wood checkers for $1.50. In addition, I grabbed two more complete boxes of 24 for $1.00 each. What I will do with 70+ checkers is not really the point, so don't ask me about it again.

Okay, this find really made my heart skip a beat. A while back, my awesome pal Pete had sent me a link to an Etsy seller that had some of these cards for sale. My exact comment to her was "Why can't I ever find these?" Low and behold, three weeks later, here they were! Now they weren't black like the cards we saw, but I grabbed them up for $2. I wasn't sure what I would do with them since the red didn't really jive with the Halloween vibe I was going for, but once again, it was Pete to the rescue.....Vintage Inspired Gothic Valentines. How cool is that? Almost as cool as having a friend with inspiration to spare.

What is it about Bingo that we love so much? Again, I have cards on layouts, tags and all sort of altered items, and don't get me wrong they look awesome. I can't resist them, but why? I don't play Bingo. The only person I know that plays Bingo is my Ex and as much as I would love to do a layout about him only leaving the house to go gambling at the Bingo parlor with his Mommy and his Aunties, I think it might be seen as mean....... Okay, back on topic, now. I found this complete vintage Bingo set including cards, markers and all for $2.

Get a load of this awesome set of dominoes. Do you see the lovely dotted texture on the marker side? How about the incredible detailed engraving on the back. The fact that they are tagged Japan..... *sigh*.........and all for the price of a candy bar.

Finally, I found this huge bag of vintage letters. I am assuming they were from some game. Maybe a spelling or school game? I thought they would be great to spell out a page title or one of those altered and inspirational sayings like this.........

Or maybe this.........

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halloween Ornament Swap

I always tell myself, I won't get over my head. I won't get over my head.


I won't.

Well, let's just say we can all see how that turns out.

This swap just about put me over the edge. Well, totally over the edge. I had all these great ideas, none of which worked. I wish I was better about going with the flow. Unfortunately, not on my list of positive traits. Once I get an idea in my head, I just swear it is going to work, regardless of all the obvious signs that it is not.

That said, this was my third attempt at at a Halloween ornament. I am happy with the way that they came out and I definitely have a list of do's and don'ts for the next time I attempt to make them. Which checking on my list of swaps, appears to be next week.


Next week.

The first issue with this was the sheer number of them. I needed to make 20. TWENTY. Regardless of the fact that I had lots of time to do them, that is a LOT of cones, especially to someone with no and I do mean no time management skills.

Let's get started...........

I started making the cones out of my absolute favorite go-to Halloween paper from Making Memories. It is an older release, but I find it very versatile and a great base. I lined them with vintage crepe paper and I will never do that again. It didn't stick well and once I did get it to stick, it tore easily. After all of the stress of getting it all to stay together, you can barely see it in the finished product. On the plus side, the unseen grommets are a definite yes. They added to the strength of the cone, the hanging ribbon and will help it last through repeated use. I was able to throw in a small vintage detail with the silky covered ornaments used to finish out the bottom of the cone.

I love my new Martha Stewart scoring board. At first, I thought it wasn't really necessary but after hearing so many rave reviews, I caved. It is totally worth the cost. I made little medallions out of Basic Grey paper and it went so much quicker with my handy new tool.

I die-cut some pumpkins out of more Basic Grey. In order to dress them up a bit and make them special, I heat embossed the body with black glitter, inked the edges, and backed them with a layer of black card stock for a bit of dimension and definition. I added some Patina Stickles to the stem, hand typed * Halloween * on a little manila banner, inking the edges with some Distress Inks. I finished them up with some tinsel trim around the top and tinsel pipe cleaner around the bottom.

Tah-DAH.............................20 finished ornaments.