Thursday, December 10, 2009

Moved... AGAIN!

For the last time! I have been searching for a cute, clever name for my blog, and never found one until now! I am now and forever more Seriously, it's the last time I'm moving because I'm happy with that name. ^_^

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Handy Hubby's Homemade Stamp-a-ma-jig

I went to a Stampin' Up! party a couple of weeks ago and had a LOT of fun and spent too much money. I think Stampin' Up! is good at that--fun and extra money sucking. And I don't bear them any ill will in saying that, either.

The demonstrator did a great job demonstrating a lot of Stampin' Up! products. One of the things she showed was the Stamp-a-ma-jig, which is awesome, and which I had never ever seen demonstrated before. My shunning of rubber stamps for the ease of clear stamps has officially been ended. I can use my rubber stamps with the same kind of creative abandon I was reserving only for my clear stamps.

Storage problems aside, rubber stamps are great. I'm not going to say they're better than clear stamps. I've been over this before, but I'll say it one more time, just to make sure it sinks in: clear stamps are great and produce perfectly clear images if you use pigment or chalk inks. Dye inks coagulate on the surface of the clear stamp itself and causes the clear stamp to produce a blotchy image. You can either not like this or, like me, you can embrace it and LOVE it and use the effect on purpose to achieve an instant aged look to the images you stamp in your project. Try Tim Holtz distress inks (my favorite color is Vintage Photo) with these stamps and you'll really make something impressive and aged looking without any real effort at all.

As bad as it may make me sound, that's my favorite kind of crafty thing--impressive AND effortless. Ahhh... sweet music!

Back to rubber stamps, though... If you're in a hurry and would like a clear, crisp image without worrying about ink smudges from chalk or pigment inks (since they dry so much slower, but could be heated with a heat gun [read: hair dryer, if you don't have a heat gun] to speed drying), then learning to use a tool like the Stamp-a-ma-jig is a must! Especially if you don't want all of your rubber stamps to sit, lonely and unused, in whatever hole you've managed to carve for them in your itsy-teeny (if not non-existant) crafting space.

Because one of the ladies there mentioned that I could get a tool similar to the Stampin' Up! one at Michael's or JoAnn for cheaper with a coupon, I held off on buying the little marvel in favor of more stamps! However, I got home, and it occurred to me that I could do the same thing this tool does if I just had a right angle of some kind. I told my sweet, adoring, and oh-so eager-to-please husband this and asked if he could just make me something out of scrap wood. The little tool in the photos below is the result. It isn't fancy, but it sure as heck works.

The most important thing my Stampin' Up! demonstrator showed with this tool, I thought, was how she used vellum instead of the clear wipeable thingie that came with the tool to show the stamp, and stored the stamped vellum with her sets. Brilliant! But I'm too cheap, so I used tracing paper. I know you're probably thinking, "Gosh, woman, get on with it," (if you even are still reading my ramblings), so I'll get on talking about this thing, and explain all of what I just said in this paragraph since you're probably lost.

Start with your chosen tool.... Purchased or made or, in a pinch, a couple of books held at a right angle. Anything to get you started with this technique. If you like it, go ahead and buy a new tool.

Set your piece of vellum or tracing paper up against the right angle in your tool as shown above. Make sure your paper has a perfect right angle at the place where it's meeting the right angle of the tool. This is important for the accuracy of your tool!

Ink your stamp and, keeping the paper aligned with the tool, stamp with the edges of the stamp against the inside edges of your tool, as shown.

The stamped image... This is the magical part, I think. (I'm still not over it! It's so awesome!) This is now an image of the precise location of the stamp on the underside of the wooden block, as measured against the tool. If you don't understand it yet, you will!

Trim the paper around the stamp, but do NOT trim the top or left edges, no matter how uneven it looks. You need those edges intact as the image was stamped so that you can use this image as a reference image for future stamping with the tool and the stamp.

Here is one of my stamp sets with all of the papers inside. Most of them have a very obvious top and bottom when stamped, but if it doesn't (such as the flower), I draw a little arrow pointing up to show me which is the top.

To use the little reference tool, trim a piece of paper, or get your project out, or whatever. Although I do recommend doing this on scrap first, to get the hang of it. Position the stamped vellum/tracing paper with the reference image exactly where you want the stamped image to be.

Carefully line up the top left corner of the reference paper with the inside corner of your tool. Remove the reference paper without moving the tool and stamp your image with the stamp lined up on the inside of the tool, just like you did when you made your reference image.

You should end up with a stamped image--EXACTLY where you want it! Isn't that COOL!?

Here's a card I made with my newly discovered technique. I did the leaves this way, too, determining exactly where I wanted them, and then aligned the tool accordingly. You won't always be looking at it straight. When I was finished, I felt it needed something more, and I did what I had never dared do before--I stamped, with a rubber stamp, the little line of dots underneath the black paper, AFTER the card was put together.

Here is the little tool my hubby made for me. You can see that he simply attached two pieces of wood together with screws. It works great!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clear Stamp Storage Solution!

This idea is the brain child of three of us at my Riverview JoAnn Scrapbook Social. Barb asked me for ideas about how to store smaller clear stamp sets. I said empty CD cases (which is how I stored them until today). She said she wanted to store them with the rest of her clear stamps in clear page protectors in a 3-ring binder. I said she could, but the problem was that if you try to put more than one set of clear stamps in the page protectors, as in, right on top of each other, they flail around inside the pouch and it makes storage very difficult.

The problem had presented itself in my brain... surely there has to be a way to stop them from sliding all over the place...

Suddenly, I knew the solution! Barb takes quilting classes from Louise, our fun, fabulous, and brilliant quilting teacher (who also just so happens to attend our Scrapbook Social), so I knew she had a sewing machine. I said to measure out what pockets you'd need, sew them up, and cut openings.

Then I thought... how do you cut openings? My plans seemed foiled again until Louise said, "Slip a piece of cardboard in there and cut the openings with an X-acto knife before you sew." AHHHHH!!!!

So, after spending a good chunk of my Sunday afternoon making these thingies (instead of doing the things I SHOULD be doing), I figured I'd post pictures and instructions. This post is dedicated to Barb, who asked the question, and Louise, who helped answer it. I LOVE being connected with other crafty people. We clearly do our best work in groups.

1. Lay your small clear stamp sets on your page protector in whatever pattern you desire and draw around them with a sharpie. Also make marks for any openings you need to cut, as I did above. Don't put them too close together! (I aimed for about 1/4" of space around all sides of each stamp set, so really you're looking at about 1/2" between each set.) It seems like a grid of 9 fits most of the really small sets very nicely.

2. Slip a piece of cardboard/cardstock inside the page protector (I used the cardboard that came IN the pack of page protectors I bought). Using a ruler, cut the lines you drew for your openings.

I cut mine as I drew them--three individual slits (in this example) instead of one long one. It's easier to sew it up that way. Also, remember that you don't need to cut slits for the top pockets because they'll be left open.

3. Sew the lines between your pockets, doing backstitching at the end of each seam so you don't have to worry about unraveling. I just happened to have invisible thread in my sewing machine from my previous craft project. I'm sure any thread would work well. Sewing on plastic is just a tad different from sewing fabric. You have to press and pull it through the machine. After a couple of tries, you'll find the pace you need--not to slow and not too fast.

I sewed my lines from the bottom closed part to the top, then from the sides. I recommend starting, whatever your pocket configuration, from a closed piece of the page protector and going towards the opening. If this isn't possible, just work it out as best you can.

Here is my 9 pocket grid filled with little stamp sets! Cute, huh?

Here are more examples--you can see the different shapes I used. Most of the clear stamp sets store very well side by side, such as the ones from The Paper Studio or Inkadinkadoo, and you won't need to sew pockets for those. However, some of the other stamp set brands out there such as Martha Stewart, Basic Grey (my fave!!!), and others, have weird sizes that don't fit perfectly in the page protectors, or leave a lot of space around. Play around with your stamp sets and see what some of the best arrangements are, then save some space in your binders by sewing your own personalized stamp storage!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Article almost finished, except....

Lately I've been going crazy. I have classes going at two JoAnn stores (which I STILL haven't finished making samples for), I'm running my church ministry, I've been writing an article for Polymer Cafe Magazine which I hope, hope, hope will get published, I've got a jewelry party coming up on the 18th at my friend's house which actually represents the majority of my income for the entire year every year I do it, and somehow I got it into my head to volunteer to do decorations for the ladies' Christmas event at church this year.

I'm sure there's something else. But right now, that's all I'm channeling, because it may be all that my brain can handle right now.

I've gotten my article written and ready except for the final piece pictures. Tonight I'm going to have fun getting my torch out to make some fine silver accent pieces for the polymer clay beads. Tomorrow I'll take the pictures and send the article off. If I get published, it's possible that more than two people will read this blog. LoL. Or I'll chase more people away!

As I get a little less busy, I'd like to start posting more projects. I just got "Creating Your Own Antique Jewelry" by cRis Dupouy (not a typo) from the library. There's an updated version of that book out, but this one is the original one I loved--the book that was largely responsible for my second introduction into polymer clay work which turned out to be the introduction that stuck (because I actually got a pasta machine and didn't have to work with only Fimo [shudders]).

All of that to say... I'm feeling a bit nostalgic right now, I suppose. Later tonight I know I'll be sitting with a cup of hot cocoa and flipping through that book for exactly 3.9 seconds (the length of time it will take for me to abandon the book and go MAKE stuff...).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Toothpaste box turned into a pen box

Some pens and markers for scrapping and papercrafting really should be stored flat. Markers or pens with two tips, one on each end, are the main example--storing them flat allows the ink to stay evenly distributed so that both ends keep some ink. Others, such as Sakura glaze pens, should be stored flat because storing them upright can allow air to enter the pen (through the thicker ink, maybe?) and cause it not to write as well.

I am a weird person. (Knowing me only a little bit would seem to make this sentence coming out of my mouth absolutely redundant, but stay with me for a second...) I am notoriously unorganized about pretty much everything, but my craft space is almost always meticulously kept. Virtually everything has a place and when used, an item goes back into its place. I can't stand to have my pens mixed, for instance. I like for all pens of a certain type to be separate from pens of another type so that when I'm reaching for them, I can find them. Throwing the pens and markers that need to be stored flat into a drawer in a big jumble is just not an option for me. I also hate the idea of buying some super expensive organizing tool in a scrapbook store.

Enter this toothpaste box, which I saw last night as I was replacing an empty tube of toothpaste in our master bathroom. I thought... "I wonder if that's long enough to store my glaze pens?..." It was.

1. Cut the flaps off of one end of the box. Sand the box, especially the corners, then age the box with some kind of dye ink.

2. Make a lid for the box. Measure the end piece (in this case, it was 1.25"x1.5") and add 1/2" to each end. Cut a piece of cardstock to match the measurement. Score at the two 1/2" marks to create a lid type shape. Round the corners. Cut each 1/2" section at a slight angle, starting from the middle rectangle piece and going into each rounded corner. You should end up with a roughly rectangular shape with tapering ends. This allows the lid to fit better into the box.

3. For added stability, cut a second piece of cardstock to fit on the underside of the lid. Cut it either 1/8" smaller than the inner rectangle (for 1/16" borders) or 1/4" smaller (for 1/8" angles).

4. Measure the box and cut pieces to fit the sides and bottom. Glue one of the flaps of the lid to the outside of the box, then glue all of the sides in place, gluing one side over the adhered flap of the lid.

5. Decorate as desired. Label as necessary.

Here's my finished box:

I like it a lot! Even I have a hard time believing that it started life as a humble toothpaste box. I made the entire thing using BasicGrey paper and accessories from the Periphery collection. I used Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Vintage Photo and Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive as my glue.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Totally Cute Upcycle

So, in my obsession with being GreenX2 (economic AND ecological), I come up with some pretty weird ideas. I think I've topped myself with this one, though:

Basically, I upcycled the lid of one of my spice jars. I use these empty jars to hold various scrapping supplies after I've destroyed their packages for various projects. I was figuring out all kinds of fun things to do with the jars besides using them to hold stuff (inking the bottoms, for instance, and stamping fun dashed circles), and when staring at one of the lids, I saw a face. Thus, my cutesy skull girl was born.

1. See the face? Sand the top of it. Don't worry, it's not made yet, so it won't hurt.

2. Push the sanded top into a VersaMark embossing pad and sprinkle with white embossing powder. Emboss. Repeat to emboss with 2 layers of white powder.

3. Decide how you will decorate the lid. Place brads or stitch as desired. Cut a circle of cardstock to glue to the inside of the lid so that you can't see through any space that might be left in the holes.

4. Cut a circle to fit the front of the lid. (This required at 1.5" circle.) Cut across the circle at a good point to form bangs. Ink the edges with black ink and doodle hair lines. Adhere to the front of the circle, covering the pour spout.

5. Decorate as you see fit--I added buns, using the bones to attach them to the front of the lid and foam adhesive underneath to hold them up.

I added a little bit of thin foam adhesive to the underside of the lid and also used some glue around the edge when I stuck it to my card. The little outfit is a drawing I colored with markers.

I have to admit to being eager to use up some more of my spices to get more of these. Some of my spice shakers have lids that look like stars which will be scary cute when stitched!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zipper Pulls, Purse Charms, and Greeting Card Kits

I promised some more images of the non-jewelry beaded items I've been making. Here are a few of the ones I've done recently:

The cell phone charm is the one with the black loop, and it features the "Colors of Faith" design. This charm is looped through a spot on a cell phone. If yours doesn't have one, you can still use these handy findings to create zipper pulls by looping them through the ends of zippers.

The chain and cross charm piece is meant to be a purse charm. Basically, there's a length of about 5" of chain with a dangly cluster charm attached. The chain is meant to go around a purse strap. This little creation already has a designated future home--on the purse of one of my good friends at church who pretty much never wears ANY jewelry, but still appreciates shiny, pretty things.

The little skull piece is another style of zipper pull which you hook with the lobster claw clasp onto the end of a zipper. Make sure that if you're using one like this, you're not actually pulling on the charm itself, but still using the actual zipper piece to open the zipper.

The funnest part about this little skull design, I have to say, is the fact that it's not a real charm. I feel embarrassed admitting it, almost, but it's actually a leftover from a set of press on nails I got a while back. I had to have them because I adore cutesy skulls and just couldn't bear to throw the extras away. Basically, I just used a drill with a 1/16" bit to drill a hole near the top of the nail, which I then slipped a jump ring through so that I could use it as a charm. I've made pairs of earrings like this, too. I'm almost out of my little nails, though. :( I have to try and find some more and use the entire set as charms this time around. ^_~

AND my funnest thing from today--the BasicGrey greeting card kit I put together! I LOVE this! I got the Marrakech card kit for my birthday (because I love everything BasicGrey, but I love NOTHING more than I love anything Marrakech from BasicGrey) and opened it up when I got it to see that it had all of these pieces designated for certain cards, with little included instructions for making them all. Well, at first I must admit to being somewhat of a little art snob. Me make something from a kit? *sniff, sniff*

I intended to save all of the pieces and make my own designs later, but today I thought, "What the heck?" Teaching paper crafts at TWO stores and freaking out over producing samples and such (which I still haven't finished yet) might do that to you. And all of us need a kick in the pants now and then to release us from our inner snobs. (We all have one somewhere, and if you're utterly convinced that you don't--there it is!)

My favorite online papercrafting store right now is It's a Tuscon based company, so all of you people located in the Phoenix area are thrilled, I'm sure, to know that you get really fast shipping. I love their selection of BasicGrey items, and I HIGHLY recommend these card kits to anyone looking for something different, or to anyone looking for a present for people you know who love to make cards. You learn a lot of great ideas, too, because you're actually putting the designs together instead of just seeing them in some magazine, you know? And once you know how they're constructed, you can duplicate the techniques in your own work.

Here is the Nook and Pantry card kit (one of their newest collections) $11.25:

AND the Indian Summer card kit $11.25:

AND (I can't believe it!) the Wassail collection Christmas card kit for only $10.99!:

Each of these kits makes 8 cards. It includes all of the supplies AND envelopes. I have almost an entire sheet of rubons left from my Marrakech kit that just weren't used in the cards. I would assume that they include this in case you don't want to put a particular message on one card so that you could change it if you would like, or add extra embellishment as you see fit.

I'm probably getting the Wassail one next. I just drool over how beautiful they all are. I mean, I know some people out there probably don't see it. LoL. But BasicGrey is my love and my adoration amongst all scrapbooking supplies. I encourage you, if you're so inclined, to check out the kits. They'll give you great ideas for your own creations and a fun, mindless afternoon of completely no-pressure crafting.